SXSW: TIME Reporters on Tech, Politics, Arts, Biz and Social Media

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Thousands of tech geeks, media dorks, political junkies, music lovers and film buffs are descending on Austin, Texas for the annual South By Southwest tech, film and music conferences. What started out as a cozy music festival in 1987 has since exploded into a multi-faceted smorgasbord of panels, lectures and workshops that injects millions into the local economy.

South By Southwest has been a firmly-mainstream affair for years, but it still has a reputation for being ahead-of-the-curve. In 2007, for example, micro-blogging phenom Twitter made a huge splash at the event. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg faced a very public grilling in 2008. Location-based services like Foursquare have been the belle-of-the-ball the last few years. This year, a service called Highlight is the odds-on favorite to beat Jiff, Scribble, and Stamped.

(More: At SXSW Media Zoo, Convergence Is Annual Buzz Word)

Here’s a breakdown of TIME-related panels over the next several days. We’ll see you in Austin!

(Follow TIME’s SXSW coverage here)

Interactive Keynote: TIME’s Lev Grossman will be interviewing futurist and singularity expert Ray Kurzweil on Monday, March 12 about “Expanding Our Intelligence Without Limit.” Grossman profiled Kurzweil in a TIME cover story in February of 2011. #SXIQExpand

Interactive Politics Panel: TIME White House Correspondent Michael Scherer will be moderating a panel on Sunday, March 11 featuring digital experts from media, politics and academia about how the Internet has influenced the 2012 election. Participants include co-founder of Personal Democracy Forum Micah Sifry; North American Editor Claudia Milne; Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Zeynep Tufekci and Digital Director of Obama for America Teddy Goff. #SX2012Elect

Film Arts Panel: TIME media and television critic Jim Poniewozik will be joining a panel during the SXSW Film festival on Sunday, March 11, to discuss the convergence of arts criticism and social media. NPR’s Linda Holmes will be moderating and additional panelists include: Film Crit Hulk; The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum; and GetGlue CEO Alex Iskold. #Arts140

Interactive Tech Panel: Technology Editor, Harry McCracken, will be joining a panel about game-changing startups on Monday, March 12. Additional panelists include: Founder and VP of Engineering at Nest Labs Matt Rogers; Founder and CEO of Lytro Inc. Ren Ng; and VP of Product Management and Strategy at Jawbone Travis Bogard. #disruptsu

Interactive Business Panel: TIME business reporter Sam Gustin will be moderating a panel about mega-mergers and the future of the Internet on Monday, March 12. Additional presenters include: Executive Director of the Media Literacy Project Andrea Quijada; President and CEO of Free Press Craig Aaron; and former FCC commissioner Michael Copps. #megamerge