The ideas, apps, music, and film of SXSW 2014


SXSW, one of the year's biggest celebration all things startup, kicks off this week in sunny Austin, Texas. We've traveled down to the state capital, where we'll be covering a mix of the Film, Interactive, and Music conferences starting today and running through next week. Keep an eye on this Story Stream for everything you need to know about the future of the startup scene, upcoming films, music, and of course, taco trucks.

29 updates and 3046 comments below.

Mar 14 3:12p

Mike Judge thinks we're doomed

Mike Judge has been taking shots at pop culture — and making people laugh in the process — ever since Beavis and Butt-head took MTV by storm. From Office Space to King of the Hill, the writer–director's satirical gaze has spared almost no one, and now he's taking on the tech industry. His new HBO show Silicon Valley debuted at SXSW, and while there may be some surface similarities to other recent shows Valley is most certainly its own thing: it's snarky and unafraid to call things like it...

Continue reading »


A natural glow: these plants produce their own light

Daan Roosegaarde invites me into a cramped, pitch-black photo booth no more than a couple feet wide. "Hold on," the Dutch designer whispers into my ear. "Just give it a minute." Soon, the tiny cucumber plant in his hand begins to emit a faint glow.

As my eyes adjust, it gets brighter. Roosegaarde’s specimen was created by genetically modifying its molecular structure to include luciferin, a chemical that gives jellyfish their radiant glow. "I’m completely obsessed with jellyfish,"...

Continue reading »

Mar 13 7:15p

Meet the tiny printer for libertarians

A new, functional art project by Thibault Brevet that debuted this week at the South By South West festival in Austin, Texas turns ordinary receipt printers to speedy replicators of the US Constitution. Called Consti2Go, Brevet's device uses an Arduino processor hooked up to a small battery pack and serial cable that can be plugged in for "hijacking the existing network of standard receipt printers." Each time you press the button, it proceeds to print a copy of the Constitution — all 4,543...

Continue reading »


The era of Facebook is an anomaly

Researcher danah boyd talks about teens, identity, and the future of digital communication Continue reading »


'Godzilla' is going to be a very different monster movie, says its director

The last two Godzilla trailers have given us a hint of what's to come in the upcoming film, and at SXSW a small audience got the best look yet at the new monster. After a screening of the 1954 Japanese original, director Gareth Edwards introduced an extended sequence from the 2014 version in which the new Godzilla lays waste to Hawaii before squaring off against another giant monster. Even with some unfinished visual effects the clip lived up to our highest hopes — in fact, the only downside...

Continue reading »


Snowden calls on the geeks to save us from the NSA

Early Monday morning, more than 3000 people filed into an auditorium at South by Southwest to see a jittery video stream of Edward Snowden, the man behind the NSA leaks that have become inescapable in the last eight months. The stream kept stalling, often coming off more like a series of stills than a video. Even worse, for a talk that focused so much on encrypted communications, the channel wasn’t secure. "The irony that we’re using Google Hangouts to talk to Ed Snowden has not been lost on...

Continue reading »


Mondo and the lost art of the movie poster

Artists Kevin Tong and Martin Ansin rethink the best of sci-fi in the collectible company's latest show Continue reading »

Mar 11 11:50a

Ernest Cline is the luckiest geek alive

The author of 'Ready Player One' reveals details about writing his next novel, 'Armada,' and the real-life space opera that is his life Continue reading »


Failure to launch: why startups are using SXSW as a testing ground

In March 2007, Twitter became the breakout hit of the South By Southwest Interactive when attendees used the service to discover hot parties and connect with friends at the festival. Two years later, Foursquare replicated the feat, introducing the world to the check-in and giving rise to location-based services. It was only natural that SXSW is the place where Twitter and Foursquare took off — the festival attracted a then-rare concentration of smartphones and the tech elite who used them,...

Continue reading »


Apple partners with Vevo to stream iTunes Festival at SXSW

For its latest iTunes Festival, Apple is getting some outside help. The 2014 edition of the festival kicks off tonight at SXSW in Austin, and Apple has partnered with music video service Vevo to stream it live. The festival can be streamed for free using the Vevo apps for iOS and Apple TV, and you can also watch it directly from Vevo's site (though you'll need to be using Safari to do so). As with previous editions of the event, you'll still be able to watch the show directly through the...

Continue reading »

Mar 10 1:29p

Edward Snowden: 'Would I do it again? Absolutely yes'

NSA leaker Edward Snowden addressed a packed auditorium at South by Southwest today, speaking via livestream from Russia. In response to questions from ACLU program director Ben Wizner, Snowden called on internet service developers to thwart the NSA by making strong encryption ubiquitous. "They're setting fire to the future of the internet," Snowden told the audience. "The people who are in this room now, you're all the firefighters. And we need you to help us fix this."

Continue reading »


The new gold rush: Bitcoin ATMs are coming

Sebuh Honarchian, a developer from Los Angeles, showed up at the South By Southwest Interactive trade show in Austin, Texas on Saturday because he heard there would be a Bitcoin ATM and he needed to pay rent. He found the machine in a corner of the trade floor, flashed it a QR code on his phone, and retrieved $3,000 — less than five BTC at current prices.

"I just cashed my Bitcoin out because I need to pay some bills, you know I got rent and other things," he tells The Verge. "You have to...

Continue reading »



Join the masquerade: Banter tries to reinvent the chat room

Andrew Busey and I met to talk about apps, but we’ve gotten off-topic. "I think there’s a possibility," he says between sips of a quad espresso, "that we see the emergence of true artificial sentience. Where something exists in an ecosystem that has been created, and it interacts in an intelligent way with other things in that ecosystem, and understands them and develops around them, and that creates intelligence… but it’ll be a sort of alien intelligence."

The idea is at the center of...

Continue reading »


Facebook's 'I Fucking Love Science' making the jump to TV

Neil deGrasse Tyson's new version of Cosmos is a more populist take on science programming than most, but an upcoming show could take the genre even further from staid professors and opaque equations on blackboards. Discovery is bringing I Fucking Love Science, a popular Facebook page with over 10 million likes, to its Science channel in the fourth quarter of 2014. This follows the launch last year of IFLS clips starring page creator Elise Andrew on Discovery's TestTube online video network.


Continue reading »

Mar 09 5:02p

Neil Young's high-fidelity iPod competitor will cost $399

The age of the iPod might be over, but music artist Neil Young doesn't believe portable media players are dead. On March 15th, he'll offer pre-orders on Kickstarter for the PonoPlayer, a $399 triangular digital music player designed to sound worlds better. The company describes the sound as "studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible," giving listeners the ability to "experience music the way the artists intended."

The player is designed to be paired with the...

Continue reading »


Google is finally getting serious about wearables

Speaking today at the SXSW conference, Google's SVP of Android and Chrome, Sundar Pichai, said that in two weeks, Google will be releasing a developer SDK that will make it easier for companies to create wearable devices that run on Android. Pichai didn't drop any hints as to whether or not Google itself was working on any devices, but instead said that when it comes to wearables, he thinks about it "at a platform level." That means that Google is focusing on the low-level operating-system...

Continue reading »


This is how supercomputers cook: IBM’s Watson dreams up creative dishes

A master chef can think about a combination of two, maybe three ingredients at a time. Watson, the same IBM supercomputer that won Jeopardy in 2011, can crunch through a quintillion. That's a one and 18 zeroes, as the IBM researchers like to say. But does that make their computer a good cook?

For about two years, IBM's cognitive computing group has been working to apply Watson's vast processing ability to food. The system analyzed about 35,000 existing recipes and about 1,000 chemical flavor...

Continue reading »


'Cosmos' review: making science cool again

Neil deGrasse Tyson's space-time odyssey goes to the stars and beyond Continue reading »


Kapow: Marvel adds sound to comics

Marvel is hoping that sound will be as revolutionary for comics as it was for film. The company just released an updated version of its subscription app, Marvel Unlimited, which includes access to a five-comic storyline carefully scored by Emmy-nominated composer David Ari Leon. It's dramatic. It's engaging. But is it really what people want from digital comics?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker, issues 8, 9, and 11 through 14, is the first sample of Marvel's "adaptive...

Continue reading »

Mar 08 1:45p

The CUPID drone strikes with 80,000 volts to the chest

In a studio in downtown Austin, we're tasing a dummy. We've been instructed to stand back and not to move at all during the test itself, which consists of a six-pronged copter-drone flying closer and closer to a silver mannequin, before it shoots a pair of electrocuted barbs into the layer of foam sitting in front of the dummy's torso.

Continue reading »


'Mario Kart' in real life is real weird

On a spare, concrete track circled by billboards and ads in Austin, Texas, Mario slammed his go-kart into mine (or maybe I slammed mine into his — the exact details are in contention) and my kart sputtered and slowed. Mario — actually fellow Verge editor David Pierce — sped ahead. The race ended, and I placed where I started: dead last.

This is "Mario Karting Reimagined," a real-life go-kart track set up by Pennzoil and Nintendo to promote motor oil and video games at the increasingly...

Continue reading »


Julian Assange at SXSW: 'national security reporters are a new kind of refugee'

Speaking via Skype before an audience of thousands at South by Southwest, Julian Assange made the case for a new golden age of national security reporting, conducted largely by Americans in exile. "National security reporters are a new kind of refugee," Assange said, then ran down a list of American reporters and activists who have left US borders in order to continue their work, including Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Wikileaks' Sarah Harrison, and Tor researcher Jacob Appelbaum.

Continue reading »


Watch Julian Assange at SXSW 2014 now

In addition to a live discussion with Edward Snowden on Monday, The Texas Tribune is today streaming a conversation between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange — joining via Skype — and The Barbarian Group's Benjamin Palmer at 11AM CT. Watch the full discussion live below:

Continue reading »

Mar 07 3:10p

Google's Eric Schmidt: 'let us celebrate capitalism'

Speaking today at a panel at the SXSW conference, Google's executive chairman Eric Schmidt emphasized that Google is "very, very worried" about the class tensions that underlie recent protests in the Bay Area, where high-salaried tech employees have drastically driven up rents.

Gentrification has been going on for 40 years, but it's accelerated recently and we clearly need to do something to "ameliorate" the issue, he told Wired's Steven Levy.

In Schmidt's view, the tensions in the Bay...

Continue reading »


'Game of Thrones' and the Oculus Rift took me from Austin to Westeros

The elevator at Castle Black rumbled beneath my feet. Cold air blasted against my face, reminding me yet again how hostile the environment was here at the Wall, the home of the Night's Watch. At the top, I looked down across the realm from the dizzying, almost impossible heights. I reached out to steady myself, the wind howling in my ears. That's when the scary part began.

Last month in New York HBO launched the latest version of Game of Thrones: The Exhibition. It's a museum-style tour...

Continue reading »


Revenge of the jocks: sports invades tech's Texas utopia

The typical South By Southwest attendee, according to the comedian Alex Blagg, is a "guy who wears cool stuff," and sports a "sweet mustache and glasses," "fancy blazers with tons of zippers and straps," and a "black backpack full of batteries." In other words: hipster meets geek.

Even as SXSW has expanded from music, to film, to the startup world, to the eco movement, the show has maintained a consistent theme. The world of SXSW attracts a young, creative, college-educated,...

Continue reading »

Feb 26 10:18p

IBM uses thinking computer to generate chocolate burritos and other weird food

Cognitive computers — machines capable of learning, rather that simply following programming — may one day be able to mimic human brains. But first, they're being used to invent chocolate burritos and Swiss-Thai asparagus quiche. IBM, a leader in the field of cognitive computing who has been working with DARPA since 2008 on a project to create a computer that thinks as people do, has partnered with the Institute of Culinary Education to take the IBM Food Truck on a tour round the United...

Continue reading »

Feb 19 9:03a

iTunes Festival comes to US for the first time at SXSW

Apple is bringing its iTunes music festival to the United States for the first time. For five nights during SXSW this March, Apple will be streaming concerts live from Austin, with performers including Coldplay, Imagine Dragons, Pitbull, Keith Urban, and ZEDD. The iTunes Festival has been a regular event in London since 2007. "The iTunes Festival in London has become an incredible way for Apple to share its love of music with our customers," Eddy Cue, Apple's iTunes chief, says in a...

Continue reading »

The Verge
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.