Today sees the start of the interactive portion of the annual South by South West conference in Austin, Texas. Running for five days, the event brings together the brightest minds in web design and development, to share ideas during the days' interactive sessions and the evenings' many parties.

If you're coming along to SXSWi, as it's known, it's worth getting along soon as queues for badge pick-ups are short - and likely to get longer as the day progresses. And despite Austin's reputation for pleasant weather, today's one when you'll need a scarf and umbrella - the morning news called the weather "unseasonably cold".

If you can't make the event, not to worry - we'll be bringing you news and interviews from SXSWi until it wraps up.

First held in 1994 as the SXSW Film and Multimedia Conference, South by South West interactive, or SXSWi for short, saw over 10,000 visitors in 2008 and organisers say they expect an even higher attendance this year.

The conference features around 200 panels and evening events covering subjects as diverse as blogging, web design and development, social networks, education and online privacy.

Here are just some of the events we're looking forward to:

Friday 13 March

Minority Report is Real - 2pm
Why do sci-fi movies have all the cool stuff while in the real world we're stuck with boring mice and keyboards? Well, perhaps we're not...

Games By the People, For the People - 3:30pm
Representatives from Microsoft, Facebook and others discuss the massive growth of community created games.

Saturday 14 March

Civic Technologies and the Future of the Internet - 10am
Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, talks about how the migration to closed systems threatens innovation online - and how we can avoid it.

Feed Me: Bite Size Info for a Hungry Internet - 3:30pm
In the old days people read books and newspapers. Now we get our information from feeds, tweets and status updates. Speakers from Facebook, Microsoft, FriendFeed and VentureBeat discuss these trends.

Collaborative Filters: The Evolution of Recommendation Engines - 5pm
Recommendation engines are everywhere, from Amazon to Digg to Netflix. Digg's Lead Scientist Anton Kast joins representatives from Baynote, The Filter, Netflix and Last.fm to talk about how these engines have evolved.

The Bigg Digg Shindigg - 6:30pm
Running through until 2am, the Bigg Digg Shindigg, at Stubb's Bar-B-Q also features the recording of Diggnation. You don't even need an SXSWi badge to get in. Expect this to be packed.

Sunday 15 March

Violating the Warranty on Your Touch Computing Device - 11:30am
A Microsoft sponsored panel looking at the future of Surface and other touch computing platforms.

How Not To Be Evil (Even By Accident) - 5pm
Danny O'Brien and Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation discuss how you can avoid betraying your users when your web project hits the big time.

12th Annual SXSW Interactive Web Awards Ceremony - 7:30pm
Featuring sites that were launched or redesigned in 2008, and hosted by Baratunde Thurston, who by day works as an editor for The Onion.

Google Reader Blogger Party - 10pm
Grab a beer and have a chat at the Six Lounge with the people behind Blogger and Google Reader while everyone else is still queuing for the Facebook friends.get Party 2009.

Monday 16 March

Browser Wars III: The Platform Wins - 11:30am
Representatives from Mozilla, Microsoft, Apple and Opera come together to talk browsers. Expect lively discussions - either that, or they'll all slag off Chrome and hug each other.

My Car Is Talking But What's it Saying? - 11:30am
How do you design voice and touch interfaces for use in cars? Designers from Microsoft, Razorfish and others outline design principles for the '60mph interface'.

The Great British Booze-up - 7:30pm
Clearleft, Boagworld and Naklab have stuck some cash behind the bar at Shakespeare's Pub, and promise a "good old fashioned knees-up to a soundtrack of great British tunes". At 9:30pm you can always head over to Six Lounge for Mashable's party if you fancy a change of scenery.

Tuesday 17 March

Building Strong Online Comminities - 11:30am
Ken Fisher from Ars Technica, Alexis Ohanian of Reddit, Drew Curtis of Fark and Erin Kotecki Vest of BlogHer share their tips for running successful community based sites.

Tuesday Keynote: Chris Anderson / Guy Kawasaki Conversation - 2pm
Chris Anderson defends his theories from his forthcoming book Free: the past and future of a radical price against questions from Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki.

Too Much Text: When I Was Your Age, We Sent Email - 3:30pm
Come to this panel to feel really old - email, say The Kids, is for old people. So will it even be around in 10 years' time?

SXSW Interactive Closing Party - 7pm
La Zona Rosa is the place to go and wind down at the end of an exhausting schedule for the SXSWi closing party - unless you opted to see The Proclaimers at BritBash instead at Latitude (ticket information for BritBash available at the UK Trade & Investment stand).