A Space Geek's Guide to Voting for SXSW Panels

Fans, friends, and followers:

It is that time of year again: the SXSW PanelPicker has opened for public voting! 2700+ proposals are on the virtual table, and with public input weighing in for 30% of the total score -- which ultimately determinines the panels selected for 2011. The competition is stiff, but we think space exploration and incentive prizes are pretty interesting topics -- so we hope that you will consider supporting us! From our experience last year (with our "Moon 2.0" panel) I can attest that it is a fantastic opportunity to reach a large, tech-oriented crowd, and to show them ways to get actively involved with the space community.

What is SXSW Interactive, anyway?

SXSW Interactive is a large-scale event that takes place every spring in Austin, Texas, which draws together the most creative minds in the online and mobile technology industry.

Ok, cool. What are the space panel proposals & how do I vote?

Step 1: Go here and register. It is easy and they don't spam you with news, so not to worry.

Step 2: Go vote/comment your heart out. But start with these panels:

The Power of Prizes: Crowdsourcing Breakthroughs
A panel organized by X PRIZE. Panelists will include representatives from X PRIZE, DARPA, and Challengepost.com, among others.

The Next Rocket Scientist: You 
Using the social web and open source to engage the crowd in space exploration. Will Pomerantz of X PRIZE will be on this panel, along with Nick Skytland of NASA, Ariel Waldman of Spacehack.org, and George Whitesides of Virgin Galactic.

All These Worlds are Yours: Visualizing Space Data

Could not say it better myself: "At the intersection of video gaming technology, open government and citizen science are new applications making it easier and more fun for the public to explore space data."

Space Buzz – The New High
A NASA panel that will talk about the NASA Buzzroom -- the place where NASA community tweets, videos, and photos are collected.


Done voting? Still reading? Ok, here's a little history about X PRIZE and SXSW.

There is a legend that we tell in the halls of X PRIZE* about the Spring of 2009, when a wise online community manager for a space prize competition broke free from the bonds of his LA cubicle and ventured to the deep south -- Austin, TX -- where he dared to meet the entire internet in person.

The adventure seemed daunting, but upon arrival at SXSW Interactive 2009 he was instantly greeted with BBQ and widespread acceptance by the internet crowd. "We <3 space exploration and people building robots," they said. "Please come back next year! And bring your friends! LOL." **

Our adventurer, Mike, passed the message on to me in the Summer of 2009, and I subsequently submitted the panel proposal for "Moon 2.0: The Outer Limits of Exploration". With the support of the online space community and SXSW, the panel was chosen and a rogue group of space geeks from X PRIZE, NASA, SpaceVidCast, and Masten Space Systems traveled to Austin in 2010 to spread the word about getting everyone involved in exploring the cosmos. Moral of the story: props to Mike, one of the original space ambassadors to the online tech community.

* We don't really tell that story in the hallways. Although stories about Mike are pretty legendary.
** Loosely based on a theoretical conversation.

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