For five days this month, the SXSW Interactive Festival makes Austin the center of the technology world. An army of smartphone-wielding, laptop-carrying programmers, designers, investors and thinkers crowd the city's convention center, hotel ballrooms and downtown coffee shops to network, brainstorm and hopefully come up with the next big thing. This is where social networking giants Twitter and Foursquare got their big breaks. The conference begins Friday and runs through the following Tuesday, March 12. Last year, more than 24,000 people paid the early-bird rate of $595. Organizers expect attendance to grow to more than 27,000 this year, though the early-bird badge costs $100 more. While attendance has increased by as much as one-fourth over the past few years, said Hugh Forrest, director of SXSW Interactive, the gains are slowing.
VIDEO FROM LAST YEAR AT SXSW INTERACTIVE:
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