This year, the event to which some refer affectionately as "Spring Break for nerds" is attracting a new brand of geek — the political kind.
Year after year, SXSW has become a sure draw for entertainers, as well as media and technology titans. In some ways, the Austin, Texas conference becomes the closest thing America has to Davos, where the World Economic Forum takes place annually.
Yet this time around, SXSW has come to resemble Davos in more ways than one. While technology has always co-mingled with politics, the 2016 SXSW conference kicked it up a notch.
On Friday, President Barack Obama kicked off the event with a keynote speech, a SXSW first for a sitting president, and his wife is also due to address the conference later this week (also a first). And alongside the president and first lady were a number of White House operatives who were fixtures in several of SXSW's countless panel discussions.
In his speech, Obama called on the tech community to help solve government issues and increase civic engagement. "We are at a moment in history where technology, globalization, our economy is changing so fast," he said to a packed room at the Long Center in Austin, TX.
He acknowledged that his past political campaigns were known for, "having really cool technology, and social media," and defended his work in the White House.
Obama gave a list of his accomplishments during his tenure that boosted the role of technology, including student aid, Social Security, and his controversial health care plan. The Affordable Care Act had a famously rocky roll out, and was plagued with technical difficulties for months.
With his time in office growing shorter, Obama asked the conferees "how can we start coming up with new platforms, new ideas, new approaches across disciplines and across skill sets to solve some of the big problems that we're facing today?"
He also asked attendees to visit the White House website and its platforms to submit ideas.