SXSW banner at Austin Convention Center (courtesy skunks at flickr’s Creative Commons.)I’m infiltrating.  It’s time for more regular folks to attend tech conferences.

No, I’m not a tech geek, whatever that is (so many of us use technical devices and do Internet stuff that I’m not sure what “geek” means anymore.)  I do know that I enjoy the Internet community and the possibilities of online communication, and I’ll bet that you do, too, so let’s infiltrate.

One of the biggest blowouts of the year is just down the road from me in Austin, Texas:  South by Southwest (SXSW.)  It’s actually a three-parter conference of Interactive/tech, Film and Music. 

The organizers describe Interactive as a conference for “digital creatives,” including bloggers, so last year I decided to jump in and attend even though I found it laughable that I would enjoy or have much to contribute to a tech conference.

Still, I registered anyway.  Technology is changing the world too much, including the travel world, for anyone to remain intimidated by the pocket-protector crowd….and as far as I could tell at SXSW, there wasn’t a single pocket protector, just a lot of interesting people with a lot of laptops. 

I had a blast — who knew that so much of Interactive was panels about blogging, podcasting and online media?  As a writer, I was in heaven.

This year, when the call went out for submissions for panel ideas for SXSW 2008, I thought….why not propose a panel on travel blogging? 

Lots of people get started online by blogging about a trip or vacation;  maybe I could help them and anyone else interested in writing about travel.  There are also some great travel bloggers that I would kill to have on the panel with me, but I had to get through Step One.

The good news is that the SXSW organizers thought the idea had merit, so last week my panel suggestion went up for comments and votes, along with, oh, 687 other panel proposals.  The “Panel Picker” process lets future SXSW attendees indicate which panels really interest them, and that weighs heavily into whether a panel is ultimately scheduled for the conference.

Yes, this is one way that people get to speak at a conference: they ask.  Just be ready to stand up and talk if you ask and someone says, “OK!”

If you’re thinking about infiltrating SXSW (and there’s something for everyone, including pet lovers and crafters) then complete the quick/free registration process and vote for my panel:

Blog Highways: Travel Blogging for the Wanderer 

Either as a speaker or audience member, I still plan to attend and get my geek on.

(This is cross-posted on the Family Travel blog.)

Technorati tags: travel, family travel, SXSW, blogging

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I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. NHRA drag racing fan. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.