One of the most fun Big Ideas conferences is South by Southwest. 20 years ago SXSW started as a homegrown effort to promote local music to national record labels, and today it is one of the foremost arts and technology conferences in the nation. From its original focus on music SXSW added over the years a film festival and an Interactive week focused on the Web, games, and all things digital.

In previous years SXSW collected MP3s from many of the performers and provided them as a bittorrent file. For years this was one of my favorite ways to discover new music. This year it seems they’ve moved away from the open bittorrent platform to a more restrictive deal with iTunes (including an iPhone app). See their tools page.

Even if you can’t afford a pass, it’s still a great time to visit Austin. There are plenty of free shows around the events to make the visit a lot of fun. And if you can’t visit, you can follow along digitally.

There’s no reason a place like Tampa couldn’t use SXSW as a model to create their own multimedia conference. SXSE anyone?


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