Right now SXSW Interactive 2011, the largest technology/Internet conference in the United States is underway in Austin, Texas. During the day attendees can connect online or in person in the halls, at parties and while attending panels and talks about the convergence of technology with all facets of life.
Many companies are here vying for attendees' attention with everything from free beer to mascots in costumes, and more. Meanwhile, the level of commercialization is at an all-time-high for a conference typically regarded for its indie feel.
One example is the ostentatious partnership between location-based check-in service Foursquare, resulting in a parking lot branded top to tail with Pepsi Max advertising. Hollywood celebrities (such as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher) holding court in the Pepsi Foursquare lot seemed to have geeks shrugging shoulders at celebs' tech trend chasing, rather than being impressed with their presence.
Perhaps the tragedy in Japan - which is heavy on hearts and minds of SXSW Interactive attendees - is keeping eyes open, rather than filling them with stars.