South By Southwest Interactive (“South by”, to veterans) is essentially a giant trade show for the entire internet held every year in Austin, Texas. The problem is, badges are far too expensive for the average human, let alone a student, to reasonably afford. Luckily, the conference is giving away free interactive badges to five essay contest winners. At 300 words, it shouldn’t take you too long to write, so it’s worth a shot. 

Don’t take this to mean the conference isn’t worth attending without a badge. We’ve gone the last several years without badges, and haven’t missed a beat. Sure you won’t be able to check out the (mostly boring) panels, but you can still rub elbows with internet-famous folks like Gina Trapani, Molly Wood, and Kelly Sutton at all the parties and local haunts. 

If your essay isn’t picked and you really want a badge though, check out how Kelly got one using nothing but his magical Twitter account. You can also try temping with an exhibitor, or schmoozing the nice people guarding the doors. I know it’s a long way off, but are any of you planning on making it to Austin this year? Let us know your plans in the comments.