2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: The Unruly Mob Would Like to Comment

Written by Megan Simpson | February 7, 2014

Steven Polunsky talks explores hyper-connected Texas politics at SXSW

As a Texas Senate staffer, Steven Polunsky was responsible for a technology initiative that saved thousands of taxpayer dollars, concept-proved an instant feedback loop for public hearings, debuted the use of live geospatial data in a legislative hearing, and produced the first mobile app of any state legislative committee in the country. In this installment of the Session Spotlight we focus on his panel, “The Unruly Mob Would Like to Comment”, which focuses on a case study that brings the Government and the Populace closer together. Follow him on Twitter @StevenPolunsky where he tweets about government insights, policymaking, transportation, and bits of randomness that make him smile.

SXSW: Tell us more about this study of Government and Populace.
Polunsky: Our panelists were there when social media techniques turned a local political debate into a personality-filled global phenomenon. We'll review the key events, separate the real from the rumor, and discuss both the successful and the famously failed tactics.

SXSW: Who are the other people on this panel - can you tell us a bit about them?
Polunsky: Eliza Vielma (David Dewhurst Committee) was driving the message from the right; meanwhile, Joe Deshotel (Travis County Democratic Party) was amplifying the reach of the left and Erica Greider (Texas Monthly) was in the thick middle of it all as a reporter. The panelists are deep thinkers, big doers, and future leaders. And remarkably good looking.

SXSW: What kinds of people will want to attend this session?
Polunsky: Modern political activists, and those who want to learn how to express a viewpoint, will be sharing the room with social media and web designers creating the next generation of advocacy tools.

SXSW: …And why should they attend?
Polunsky: Some SXSW registrants have the motivation to affect policy but don't understand the means. Some are masters of the means but will be amazed by the potential and power demonstrated in this case study.

SXSW: What do you hope to gain from speaking at the SXSW Interactive Festival?
Polunsky: Our panel will help bring the Government and the Populace closer together by helping people understand what works to change policy, what is a waste of time, and what will land you in jail.

SXSW: Let’s do a few fun questions - What’s something we wouldn’t know about you from your official bio?
Polunsky: I am a sucker for movie spoilers.

SXSW: Not necessarily related to your speaking topic at SXSW, what is your favorite current TV show and why?
Polunsky: I'm really enjoying Supernatural. It's Scooby-Doo for adults.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. For tips on interesting sessions to attend, visit the new Recommendation page. Register now to attend “The Unruly Mob would Like to Comment” and other incredible programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.

Photo of Steven Polunsky by Stephanie Renee Hagemeister.