Renegade craft fair at SXSW 2014

Keep Austin weird, buy local from independent stores. Thats the city slogan.

Renegade craft fair SXSW 2014 edition showcased not only Austin independent crafts people, but creators from all over America.

Renegade craft fair SXSW 2014 edition

Public Renegade craft fair SXSW 2014

The artisans showcased their latest work to the public. These are the interesting pieces that I found.

Nous savons SXSW craft


The Gold Bug

The Gold Bug


Field Day

Field Day


Raw Paw

Raw Paw creative platform


GOOD Magazine

GOOD Magazine


There is more in Austin than SXSW 2014

‘No need for stinkin’ badges!’ Restaurants advertise their free live music, free food and free beer during the biggest and well known program SXSW Music 2014 in Austin. And they should, since we are in the live music capital of the world, as the Austinites claim.

I wondered whether there would be some interesting and unusual side programs during SXSW. A fun project from a store to attract new customers or a temporary use of a site for example. Most sites turned themselves into music festivals and that’s what it’s all about right now.

6th Street has lots of bars and restaurants who create their own spin-off festivals with a live music lineup during every day of SXSW Music.

6th street during SXSW

Tunes played by Morgan O’Kane (left) attracted my attention. Especially the song Time (on the album Nine lives) on the banjo, suitcase and bells is very captivating.

An anonymous comic (right) plays air guitar on loud rock music.

off SXSW street artists

Waterloo records is famous for its multiple-day program of good live music during SXSW. They turn their parking lot into a small festival ground. Neighboring shops contribute to the festivities by selling their drinks, food and other products. You can also attend virtually by watching and listening via their live stream.

SXSW waterloo compilation

Hands-on-fun with electronics and 3D printing at SXSW Create 2014


It’s my favorite program of SXSW. Inspiring, do-it-yourself, open to the public, awesome and fun! Makers, Hackers and DIYers presented themselves in a big tent (a big thank you for all the people that stood in the cold all weekend!) and let the public play with their products at SXSW Create 2014.

This year presented 3D printing by Tinkerine, nanocopters by Flexbot, robotics by Texas Instruments, soldering lessons by ATX Hackerspace and more. As a media theorist I know how to apply technology, but I can’t build a circuit or program a command. Products and institutions that help me play with electronics and digital technology attracted my attention.

Get ready for some hands-on-fun!

SXSW create LittleBitsLittleBits makes is easy for me to learn and prototype with electronic modules such as motors, lights, sensors etc. The modules are put in beautiful colorful cases and can be snipped together by tiny magnets. This project where a 6 years old made a Dervish paper doll whirl on the speed of sound is a nice example of how to use the kit.

sxsw create Sparkfun

Sparkfun dressed the public in e-textiles made with LilyPad LED’s, conductive thread and sharpies on a nice piece of fabric. It was challenging for those who couldn’t sow and for those who never attached a LED to fabric. I love their webshop for buying components and kit’s and love their workshops even more for learning how to use it!LilyPad Sparkfun

inventables ShapeokoAnother great webshop for designers is Inventables. They presented their newest open source milling machine kit. Put it together yourself, attach a Dremel machine and cut out or carve your design! People lined up for their customized beer opener.


A fun project from Left Field Labs is MusicDrop. Participants can compose their tune online, a 3D printer prints a drop shaped music box that fits in the palm of your hand that can play this tune.

Music drop

In order to train outstanding designers they need to know about the basics. At Austin Tinkering school kids can work with real tools and real materials. Basics such as mass, aerodynamics and gravity can be experienced best by …. making your own wooden car! At SXSW Create kids build their own design and when finished building, these prototypes were tested on the best track ever. Parents were eager to ‘help’ their offspring 😉sxsw create Wood




Multi-media lesson tools at SXSW Edu Expo 2014

Multimedia education. Luckily I am in Austin when the big festival South by South West is in town. Besides the famous Music and Film program, it also has an Education program.

SXSW Edu expo 2014SXSW Education Expo 2014 features local and national educational institutes, public school districts, smart student start-ups, with special attention for STEM educational tools. It attracts a diverse group of teachers, businesses, advocates and students. It runs from March 4 till 6.

Today I searched for a tool that would empower teachers to create multimedia, interactive, compelling lessons and share these with their students. A friend of mine teaches at the University of Leiden (Holland) and has a hard time finding an easy to use, yet sufficient lecturing tool for his department. He and his colleagues are in need of an environment where they can easily design their lessons, share them with their students and test the knowledge the students were able to gain from the material offered. I am excited about the following tools for diverse reasons.

Simple tool. Buncee is a simple online creation and presentation tool with a chat feature added as well. The look and feel is more suitable for high school students than for university teachers, but its simplicity is striking. The multimedia multi-slide lessons can be shared with students by sending them a link to the presentation. No account needed.


Buncee attracts crowd

Buncee motto


E-learning environment. Memarden aims to create a safe social network for teachers, students and parents. Multimedia lessons can be created and even sold to its community. Reports about students achievements can be made and shared. The look and feel is less simple and more traditional than Buncee. Memarden offers a rich e-learning environment to its participants.


Memarden demo

Another social platform? I wonder if students need another social platform as offered by these services. Both tools offer a social platform to engage students, teachers and even parents. I wonder if these target groups will make the effort to get to know these platforms and use it instead of the platforms already used by schools for their intranet communication, grading and design tools such as Powerpoint and presentation tools such as Youtube. Their simplified editing and presentation feature is interesting though.

Content from experts. Another interesting service I encountered was MIT K12 video’s. Students of this top university come up with topics and together with a film crew turn them into understandable 5 minute video‘s. It’s reliable content and services 1st till 12th grade students. These video’s are a good start of a lesson or an answer to a question.

Question their knowledge. Sapling Learning has made it their business to design questions complementary to almost every standard textbook used in college. I think it is important to question students in order to know if they have implemented the material. Sapling Learning makes it easy for teachers to design (science and economics) homework and analyze the efficiency of their lessons by standardized questions and answers.

Take home? I am not stunned by the tools and services I found. They are not that new or smart. But teachers can’t handle too smart, they need to teach their lessons and be supported by technology. Technology can make education more simple and more efficient like these tools do.