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Sea of bags

Friday marked the first day of the annual South by Southwest interactive festival (SXSWi). Thousands of people will be on hand in Austin, Texas, for five days of keynotes, panels, and many other forms of discussions about all topics interactive.

Every participant gets a bag full of literature, buttons, and other goodies. Here, a sea of the bags that have yet to be handed out lay on the floor in the Austin Convention Center.

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Rack of bags

After filling the bags up and laying them down in giant piles on the floor, SXSW volunteers take them and put them on racks, from which they are handed to participants.

The SXSW film and music festivals are taking place over the next week, and participants of each festival get a different bag. Those with gold badges can attend any film or interactive session and get both bags. Those with platinum badges can attend all three festivals and end up with three bags.

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Welcome to SXSW

A big "welcome to SXSW" sign stands at the entrance to the registration room in the Austin Convention Center.

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Sifting through the bag

The bags each participant is given are full of all kinds of literature, buttons, and the like, and all around the Austin Convention Center, you can find people sitting and sifting through the bags, looking to see what's inside.

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Piles of stuff

Immediately after picking up their bags, many people stand at a nearby table and go through them, deciding what they want to keep and what they don't. The result is a big pile of literature and other materials that is left behind. However, the event provides recycling nearby so that the materials aren't thrown in the garbage.

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Kicking panda

A number of companies are on site at SXSW promoting their products and services. Here, a man dressed as a panda is promoting an online service and has decided to express his brand's perspective.

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Lego pile

Each year at SXSW, the event provides a giant stack of Lego bricks for participants to play with. Here, on Friday morning, the first day of SXSW, the pile has barely been touched.

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Shooting Legos

A photographer tries to get an artistic angle on the pile of Lego bricks.

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So many Netbooks

Appropriately for a gathering of thousands of geeks, there are all kinds of gadgets on display at any moment. Here, two people sit by five different Netbook-type machines. Note that this photo was taken before the iPad becomes available.

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So much technology

Taken high above these participants, this photo also showcases how much technology SXSW attendees have with them. Here, we can see seven mobile devices, including four iPhones, as well as five laptops.

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Moment of calm

All around the Austin Convention Center on Friday, there was organized chaos. But this one escalator bank provided a brief moment of calm.

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AOL Seed exhibit

The booth for AOL's Seed, an open content submission platform. This installation was one of the few large-scale booths with an artistic flair at SXSW.

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Seed not ready

Though SXSW has already officially begun, this photo, taken on Friday, shows that the Seed booth isn't quite ready for visitors.

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Check-in screens

This screen, one of many like it around the Austin Convention Center, shows the location--on a map of Austin--of popular Foursquare check-in spots.

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SXXpress

It's not clear if this sign has a typo on it or if someone was cleverly trying to write shorthand for "South by Express."

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