All Articles Marketing Digital Technology Live from #SXSW: Real-time reactions to the earthquake in Japan

Live from #SXSW: Real-time reactions to the earthquake in Japan

2 min read

Digital Technology

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This guest post is by Daley Epstein, a contributing writer for SmartBrief. She is reporting live from South by Southwest in Austin this week.

Although The New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller was unable to make it to Austin, Texas, because of the earthquake in Japan, he still joined in via video chat to discuss the newspaper’s approach to tackling internationally catastrophic issues in a discussion moderated by Evan Smith, the CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune.

Keller spoke about the significance of reader contribution to The Times’ coverage, specifically in terms of multimedia contribution. Although The Times has about 50 staff members covering the earthquake, nearly half of the material still comes from reader submissions.

Here at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival, conference participants are working together to collect aid for the relief effort. “If we’re not going to use influence in a way that’s truly influential, then what are we here for?” asked Leigh Durst, the principal of Live Path, and one of the panelists leading the discussion.

Durst, along with Blog World conference director Deb Ng and CauseVox founder Rob Wu, launched, a website in partnership with The American Red Cross that collects donations while visually tracking progress toward their goal.

The original goal of $10,000 was quickly accomplished, and the group has now more than doubled their ambitions, hoping to raise $25,000. They are currently working to procure donors to match the funds raised.

The team’s efforts and the feedback from SXSW participants represent the potential of what people can do in a short time if they work diligently together. “It is truly an organic, real-time, crowd source, grassroots process,” Durst said., a website devoted to promoting both for-profit and non-profit causes and run by a SxSW participant, has launched in conjunction with’s efforts, and plans to match up to $10,000 toward aid efforts.

Utilizing social media and their leadership positions, entrepreneurs throughout the country are collaborating in Austin to spread awareness and promote philanthropy. To follow along, use the hashtags for the campaign: #sxswcares and #sxsw4japan.