Keep Austin weird with the weirdest events SXSW has to offer

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Photo Credit: Nathan Burchard | Daily Texan Staff

South By Southwest wouldn’t be an Austin event if it weren’t weird. For those of you who love the unconventional, SXSW Interactive offers robots, brain hacking, a geeky band and more. 

To help you take the road less traveled at SXSW Interactive, The Daily Texan created a list of the festival’s 10 weirdest events.
 

  • Identity Crisis: You’re Not Who You Think You Are
    JW Marriott Room 211-212 
  • 110 E Second St.
  • Monday, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Badge: Interactive, RSVP required

Out-of-body experiences and terrifying illusions prove your brain doesn’t always perceive reality correctly, according to Simon Frantz, editor of BBC Future. Learn more about the fragility of your mind at this event made for “X-Files” junkies and lovers of all things supernatural.

‘Burning Man’ Meet-Up
JW Marriott Room 508 

  • 110 E Second St.
  • Sunday, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • Badge: Interactive

“Burning Man,” the annual burning of a large wooden structure in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, takes place in August, but it’s never too early to start planning your trip. Along with those pyros, this event is also for those with a “burning” curiosity. Meet “Burners” from around the world at this event and connect with representatives with Burning Man HQ. 

Would You Torture a Robot?
JW Marriott Room 210 

  • 110 E Second St.
  • Sunday, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Badge: Interactive, RSVP required

Robots can’t feel pain so torturing one would be easy, right? Wrong. As robots become more lifelike and sociable, people find it harder to mistreat them. But why would we avoid harming machines? Presenter Richard Fisher, deputy editor of BBC Future, examines why this happens and what it says about us. 

DIY Brain Hacking, Electroceuticals and You

  • JW Marriott Salon 2 
  • 110 E Second St.
  • Saturday, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Badge: Interactive

Want to build gadgets that let you control the minds of others? Then attend this talk and learn how to create a device that allows you to hack into a cockroach’s brain and steer it. Brent Williams, retired director of the Kennesaw State University iTeach Center, will explain how electrical stimulation repairs the faulty wiring in our brains and even reshapes them. It might even be the future of 21st-century medicine. 

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  • ‘Coffee Geeks Unite!’ (And Meet-Up!)
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  • JW Marriott Room 509 
  • 110 E Second St.
  • Monday, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Badge: Interactive

Coffee enthusiasts rejoice. “Coffee Geeks Unite!” will get you up to speed on the latest tech in the specialty coffee world. Bring coffee shop recommendations and prepare to write down those of fellow attendees.

Porn, the Quiet Pioneer of Marketing
Hyatt Regency Austin Hill Country ABCD 

  • 208 Barton Springs Rd.
  • Monday, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Badge: Interactive 

Criticize the porn industry all you want, but the industry pioneers in marketing. Porn’s e-commerce success preceded the rise of Amazon and eBay. You can stream movies and TV shows because porn streaming technology came first. Attend this event and learn about how porn has revolutionized, and will continue to revolutionize, internet marketing.

The Plaid Jackets
Palmer Events Center Geek Stage 

  • 900 Barton Springs Rd.
  • Saturday, 7:30 to 8:00 p.m.
  • Badge: Free and Open to the Public

The Plaid Jackets, the geekiest rock band of all time, will bring their talent to SXSW. They wear tacky, plaid jackets, and their songs are tributes to sci-fi and comic book franchises. Their hilarious hits include “Adam West is Batman” and “Ode to Chewbacca.” Expect them to deliver a fun, high-energy performance.

Robot Petting Zoo
JW Marriott Salon E 

  • 110 E Second St.
  • Tuesday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Badge: Interactive

Head to the Robot Petting Zoo and meet robots that you can touch, operate and program. Many ground and aerial robots will be available for your enjoyment — from those that collect data after natural disasters to those that mimic humans. This is a hands-on event that shouldn’t be missed.

Where’s Waldo’s Voice: Social Media for Mascots
Hyatt Regency Austin Hill Country ABCD 

  • 208 Barton Springs Rd.
  • Tuesday, 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Badge: Interactive

In the era of Facebook and Twitter, mascots such as the Chick-fil-A cows and the Aflac duck have their own social media accounts. These mascot accounts interact with the public and advertise their products without being “in your face.” Attend this event to learn about the people behind the mascots’ profiles.

SADvertising: Why Tears Are the New Tactic
Hyatt Regency Austin Hill Country ABCD 

  • 208 Barton Springs Rd.
  • Monday, 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • Badge: Interactive

Commercials aren’t just funny or sexy anymore — they deliver huge punches to the gut. From the moving Budweiser ad about the friendship between a horse and a dog to the MetLife commercial about a poor father struggling to provid for his daughter, tear-inducing content is becoming more popular now than ever before. At this talk, advertisers explain why sob stories are so powerful and why connecting with consumers emotionally is better than persuading them to buy their products logically.