Hugh Forrest - Faces of Innovation
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Hugh Forrest

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Since 1994, Hugh Forrest (@Hugh_W_Forrest) has been the Festival Director of SXSW Interactive (@SXSW), one of the three elements of the nine-day celebration of creativity known as SXSWeek. While the Music and Film portions at SXSW are widely popular and well-known for entertainment, the Interactive Festival showcases some of the world’s most innovative thinkers. SXSW Interactive events include workshops, solo, dual and panel presentations, book readings, meet ups, the Interactive Awards, the SXSW Startup Village, a gaming expo and a trade show. The SXSW Interactive festival serves as ?an incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity.?

While overseeing SXSW Interactive, Forrest has helped boost attendance from less than 5,000 in 2006 to over 30,000 in 2013. And it isn?t hard to see why, both Foursquare and Twitter launched at SXSW and keynote talks have been given by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook; Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX; Evan Williams, while he was CEO of Twitter; Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia; and Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist.

Gatherings like SXSW Interactive bring together the most creative and innovative minds in the tech community to share and build their ideas into products and services that will drive our future economy. Where at previous SXSW events, bands would bring a case full of demo CDs, hoping to get it into the hands or a record executive; today, young entrepreneurs are attending SXSW with their business plans hoping to get it in the hands of venture capital firms. The event is a hot-bed of innovation, new ideas and the potential for the next big product.

More of the products shown at SXSW Interactive are powered by broadband Internet. Whether it is a digitally enhanced surface, a new mobile application, a smart phone, a game, a product or a service, almost all are in some way connected to the Internet. Without high-speed wired and wireless connections many of the products would not be nearly as innovative. The Internet and high-speed broadband connections have fostered a collaborative environment where people can share ideas that grow into the products, software and services being demonstrated at SXSW. The ideal of innovation is at the heart of the Internet; SXSW Interactive has taken this ideal and brought it into the physical world.