- The South by Southwest Interactive Festival celebrated the digital industry’s best and latest advancements of 2015 with its SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards ceremony Tuesday evening.
Hosted by comic, actress, writer and life-hacker Brooke Van Poppelen, with special guest Julian Velard, the 19th annual ceremony showcased evolving and broadening trends of the digital industry through its ever-widening variety of platforms, software, apps and devices. Finalists, winners and guests enjoyed additional entertainment from Internet humorists Cracked, interactive game creators Colossi and video game tribute band Descendants of Erdrick.
Thirteen awards and five special honors, including Best of Show, People’s Choice, Breakout Trend of the Event, Speaker of the Event and Meme of the Year, were presented to innovators for exceptional work spanning categories from healthcare to sustainability, privacy & security, music, finance, communication integration and beyond.
The ceremony also inducted Baratunde Thurston into the SXSW Interactive Hall of Fame as the fifth inductee, where he expressed gratitude for innovators who engage positively in their work and strive to keep today’s problems like racism and poverty out of tomorrow’s algorithms and codes. Baratunde is a bestselling author, activist, comedian, entrepreneur and most recently, supervising producer at The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but also a longtime SXSW attendee and speaker.
“I’ve been very happy with the way the SXSW content has continued to grow…to see that we are not just celebrating the what, but are also asking the whys and how of what’s being built and the who of who is doing the building,” said Baratunde during his acceptance speech. “I accept this honor not just for the work I have done; I stand on the backs of such giants—my neighbors and activists who have fought for the algorithms that have allowed me to be here.”
A panel of judges comprised of industry peers and experts selected the winners based on four criteria: creativity, form, function and overall experience, except for the People’s Choice Award. SXSW Interactive attendees voted for the People’s Choice Award at the first annual Innovation Award Finalist Showcase on Monday, March 14, where the 65 finalists had the opportunity to exhibit and demo their work.