Do This: Gasparilla Interactive Conference

Gasparilla Interactive Conference
Thurs. & Fri., March 10 & 11
HCC Ybor Mainstage Theatre and Performing Arts Building,
2204 N. 15th St., Ybor City.
8:30 a.m., $200.

Last year saw a tech-y new addition to the Gasparilla Arts Month lineup. Founded as a nonprofit by some forward-thinking folks who formerly headed up Tampa’s chapters of the American Advertising Federation and Ad2, the Gasparilla Interactive Conference brought Digital Age entrepreneurial concepts to the Bay area’s annual arty fray. Its first year out, GIC was part speaker series, part expo, combining the cutting-edge ideas, experiences and products pouring forth from marketers, thinkers, evangelists and business owners alike at a Port Tampa Bay terminal in a celebration of innovation.

The minds behind GIC intended for it to evolve as needed, and for its second outing, the festival has relocated to Ybor, and seems to have thinned its consumer/trade-show elements in favor of a schedule heavy on speakers and panels. It’s also expanded to two full days of programming, and features folks from some highly influential “household name” brands on its roster.

Both social-media monolith Facebook and omnipresent online news/media/meme churner BuzzFeed are represented, by product designers Gabriel Galdivia and Allison Chefec, respectively. The former joins the panel “Information Architecture: The Invisible Language of Design” on Friday morning, just after the latter speaks to the need for adaptability and facility for change in the structure of growing media companies. Savannah Peterson, one of Forbes’s “30 under 30 in Consumer Technology” for 2016 and director of innovation strategy at hardware consulting firm Speck Design, returns for her second Gasparilla Interactive Conference.

On the entrepreneurial side, author Tyler Pearson (The End of Jobs) will give a presentation, and local founder/CEOs Phil Michaels (global mobile education initiative Tembo) and Patricia Lawman (technology-driven gene therapy firm Morphogenesis) will be in attendance.

Looking for more local tech-landscape success stories? Jorge Brea, CEO of Tampa-based service Symphonic Distribution — which has paid out more than $8 million in royalties to artists — gives a presentation on the always-evolving digital-music landscape, while Richard Berman, director of USF’s Patel College of Global Sustainability, appears on the panel “Going Beyond Greed: Global Implications of Social Enterprise.”

These are just a few of the highlights of a wide-ranging program that also touches on product release/rollouts, new collaborative uses for audio, virtual reality, the future of transportation, and more. Like its inaugural fest, GIC is more than a series of app commercials or an opportunity to network — there’s potential here for education, inspiration and alternative avenues of thought, and the possibility that the combination of those things just might lead to the next big thing in any number of contemporary fields, or better yet, the places where those fields abut one another to create even more possibilities.

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