10 must-see sessions at SXSW Interactive

SXSWi is nearly upon us. Simon Willison, co-founder and CEO of Lanyrd, lists 2012's most popular sessions according to the data aggregated by the social conference directory

Lanyrd's unofficial session guide to the 2012 SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, Texas, lets people search and filter their way through the enormous (1,500+ panel) schedule for this year's even, and sign in with Twitter to see what their friends are speaking at or planning to attend. We've been running the tool for several weeks now, and it's giving us a good early indication of which sessions will be the most popular in 2012.

Read on for the top 10 SXSW Interactive panels as picked by Lanyrd's users.

1. Designing for context

When: 2-3pm, Friday 9th March
Where: Town Lake Ballroom, Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin-Town Lake
How popular: 92 planning to attend, 39 tracking

This year's hottest topic looks set to be dealing with the explosion in devices and contexts in which people will access online services. This panel from Ben Fullerton, Nate Bolt, Andrew Crow, Seah Buley and Ryan Freitas will tackle the issue head-on, looking at ways in which to design products and services for different locations, environments and product ecosystems.

Lanyrd allows attendees to create their own personalised schedule, which can be subscribed to in their calendar, as a daily email or through mobile apps

Lanyrd allows attendees to create their own personalised schedule, which can be subscribed to in their calendar, as a daily email or through mobile apps

2. Fireside chat with Vic Gundotra on Google+

When: 3:30pm-4:30pm, Friday 9th March
Where: Ballroom D, Austin Convention Center
How popular: 81 planning to attend, 38 tracking

Google+ is this year's most important new development in the social network space. Guy Kawasaki will be interviewing Vic Gundotra, Senior VP Engineering for Google+ in this Fireside Chat keynote session.

3. The lean startup

When: 9:30am-10:30am, Saturday 10th March
Where: Salon C, Hilton Austin Downtown
How popular: 93 planning to attend, 23 tracking

Saturday is Lean Startup day – Eric Ries and Dave McClure are hosting a full day track covering such topics as analytics, metrics, fast iteration and knowing when to pivot. Camp out in Salon C for a full day of top tier startup advice.

4. Making the real world easier to use

When: 3:30pm-4:30pm, Saturday 10th March
Where: Exhibit Hall 5, Austin Convention Center
How popular: 87 planning to attend, 30 tracking

Foursquare first took off at SXSW 2009, and is guaranteed to be a key app for keeping up with what's going on at the SXSW parties this year. CEO and co-founder Dennis Crowley will be talking to MG Siegler (previously of TechCrunch) about the intersection of mobile technology and the social graph.

Lanyrd provides an attendee directory, showing users not only their Twitter contacts but everyone else who has marked themselves as attending the event

Lanyrd provides an attendee directory, showing users not only their Twitter contacts but everyone else who has marked themselves as attending the event

5. The curators and the curated

When: 3:30pm-4:30pm, Saturday 10th March
Where: Capitol A-D, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol
How popular: 77 planning to attend, 26 tracking

Another hot topic this year: Curation, driven by the explosive growth of services such as Flipboard, Tumblr and Pinterest. Part of the Future of Journalism track, this panel brings the curation platforms together with the publishers to talk about attribution, becoming curator friendly and the distinction between curation and aggregation.

6. HTML5 APIs will change the web: and your designs

When: 11am-12pm, Saturday 10th March
Where: Ballroom A, Austin Convention Center
How popular: 63 planning to attend, 38 tracking

There are plenty of HTML5 talks at this year's conference but this solo talk by Jen Simmons is one of the few to look at new browser capabilities from a design perspective, promising a "non-nerd explanation of the new possibilities created by HTML5's APIs".

7. SoLoMo redefined: next gen social local mobile

When: 3:30pm-4:30pm, Friday 9th March
Where: Salon FG, Hilton Austin Downtown
How popular: 74 planning to attend, 24 tracking

SoLoMo is the combination of Social, Local and Mobile – and is the driving force between a new wave of exciting products and services. This technology focused panel from mobile platform vendors and marketing experts will review the spectrum of available channels and discuss emerging techniques.

8. The state of browser developer tools

When: 9:30am-10:30am, Saturday 10th March
Where: Ballroom A, Austin Convention Center
How popular: 74 planning to attend, 20 tracking

With new web technologies come new debugging challenges. Driven by the popularity of Firebug, browser vendors have realised that built-in developer tools are an essential part of their software. This panel includes representatives from Google Chrome, Opera and Mozilla to talk about the latest round of browser development tools designed with new HTML5 APIs in mind.

You can view your schedule as a grid or list

9. The lean startup: the science of entrepreneurship

When: 5pm-6pm, Friday 9th March
Where: Ballroom D, Austin Convention Center
How popular: 79 planning to attend, 16 tracking

A preview of Saturday's full Lean Startup track, this session on Friday evening is a chance to hear directly from "Lean Startup" author Eric Ries, father of the Lean Startup movement. "Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable."

10. Go forth & make awesomeness: core values & action

When: 5pm-6pm, Saturday 10th March
Where: Ballroom A, Austin Convention Center
How popular: 65 planning to attend, 28 tracking

Jeffrey Zeldman will be inducted in to the SXSW Hall of Fame at this year's conference, the first person to earn the privilege. In this session Jeffrey teams up with Leslie Jensen-Inman to talk about the four Ps: Passion, Purpose, Promise and Pursuit.

Going to SXSW Interactive? Get more out out the event with Lanyrd's unofficial session guide.

Here's a video showing our SXSW tools in action:

And if you're not attending SXSWi and already getting fed up with SXSW tweets filling up your Twitter stream, check out Lanyrd's NotAtSXSW browser extension (for Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera), which will hide any tweets that mention SXSW, or come from somone who has marked themselves as attending the event on Lanyrd.