As we ramp into 2019, we at the Austin Forum on Technology & Society are especially excited about the content and programming we have in store for you this year. As the founder and executive director, I wanted to take this opportunity to briefly recap 2018, give a preview of what will be an amazing 2019, and share some exciting news about our team.
Last year was our first year in the new Austin Central Library, and we could not be more excited to have the Central Library as a partner and a venue. The Forum and the Library share some common objectives, including providing great information for free to anyone seeking to learn. The new Central Library is not only beautiful, but was designed with community in mind: it has numerous shared learning rooms, a demo amphitheater, and more. We are very fortunate to have our big events in the Special Events center on the ground floor, which can seat well over 300 people in a presentation format. As the largest monthly technology series in Austin, we took great advantage of this extra capacity. We had over 2000 attendees at our monthly events last year, and we expect to break 3000 this year. We are so appreciative of Sharon Herforth and her team at the Library for making us a partner, and for providing a great venue for you to learn, meet experts and passionate Austinites, and be part of the Forum’s growing community.
For 2019, we are already off to a great start! We had nearly 300 people attend the “Tech Trends for 2019 & Beyond” event on January 10, and the RSVPs for our February event are already looking very strong. We hope to see you there for Robyn Metcalfe of Food+City presenting on technology and the future of food. Also, Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer of SXSW, will give a short overview of what to expect at SXSW this year, and will give away two SXSW Interactive 2019 badges! February’s great event is only the beginning of a fantastic year of programming: we will cover digital experiences and marketing, creating successful tech companies, and the impact of 5G this spring, then revisit AI, blockchain and IoT with entirely new presentations and speakers in the summer. The fall and winter programming are being determined now, but potential topics include the commercialization of space, 3D printing and new manufacturing technologies, how technology enables finance, technology for security and defense, and more. Of course, we will also produce Series 2 of the Austin Forum Upload soon, with a great group of experts you’re sure to have heard of—and want to hear insights from! We are going to ramp up the Austin Forum Update blog series starting in February, and we invite YOU to contribute! We will offer a least two workshops—on AI and on IoT—and possibly another special event that I’ll keep a surprise for now… And of course, we will continue the very successful program with Austin Pathways to collect and deliver technology devices to deserving families. Finally, we will close the year by bringing back the “Tech for Giving & Sharing event, with a new format designed to help your companies and organizations know how to give back easily and with real impact. In other words, it’s going to be our best year ever—again!
One reason it’s going to be great is our group of annual partners and advisory board members is the best any organization could possibly hope to have. In addition to technology leaders Dell, Cisco, Arm, and Nvidia, we’ve added CognitiveScale, Hookbang, DoubleA and Agile Stacks. We also continued to benefit from the great support of SXSW, Austin Energy, and Austin Technology Council, and from awesome Austin-based companies: Atchley & Associates, Cesari & Reed, Brad Englert Advisory, and The Ott Group of Keller Williams Realty. These partners make the Austin Forum possible, and make it free for all of you to come learn every month, meet experts and leaders and influencers, forge new collaborations, and make new friendships. They are our lifeblood—and they provide leadership that helps us develop the best content for you! You’ll hear from many of them at events, in podcasts and via blog posts this year, as well as the many other experts we have on tap for 2019.