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Animals make their mark at SXSW

March 16, 2009 |  2:19 pm


AUSTIN, Texas -- It doesn't matter what panel I find myself in, or what situation I stumble across, animals are making their way into the South by Southwest festival conversation.

The first day I got here, I picked up my "big bag." Every year, I like to take a picture of the tens of thousands of bags that sit in large rows waiting to be snatched up by tech, film and music professionals who pilgrimage here once a year for the weeklong festival. This year, the bags were covered by cardboard. Why?


And no, they're not eating the chocolate samples inside the bags, SXSW bag shift leader Jennifer Keane said. Apparently the winged locals hang out in the rafters inside the convention center warehouse and, let's say, stain the bags. Because the volunteers refuse to fight the birds (as if they could), they admitted defeat and used broken-down boxes to protect the bags.

Outside the convention center this morning, attendees were greeted by puppies and dogs looking to be adopted. Austin Pets Alive noticed that a lot of locals (be they Internet professionals or fans of some of the Web personalities and/or local movie buffs) come down to 4th Street. Why not offer them a rescue pet?

Back inside, during a panel discussion about technology-based businesses in China, the subject of a controversial website called the Human Flesh Search Engine arose. The site uses the Web and a committed community to track down terrible people. In November, Forbes wrote about the Chinese site, which helped find a woman, Wang Jue, who killed kittens on video. The site's citizen vigilantes tracked her down and identified her. She not only was forced to apologize, but she and her cameraman lost their jobs because of the negative publicity.

The things you learn here.

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Potential adopters interact with puppies at SXSW.  Credit: Tony Pierce

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