​Editor’s note: Laura Baverman is editor of ExitEvent, a news partner of WRAL TechWire.

DURHAM – I got a different feel from SXSW than in years past. With Moogfest coming in May, my thoughts on a role the tech community can play in today’s partisan world.

If there’s one thing I took away from South by Southwest this year, it’s that more open-minded conversation needs to happen in this world.

This might seem like an odd lesson from a festival dedicated to technology, music, film and everything new and cool. But I think it shows discourse around technology is evolving from how it can innovate industry to its impact on people and the world.

I bring this up in light of the repeal of North Carolina’s controversial HB2 bill, a move that legislators promise will restore the state’s appeal and reputation for businesses, sports and entertainers and shows that our very partisan state legislature is able to compromise.

But my time at South by Southwest proved to me that it’s not always about the business case, as much as we care about seeing our economy grow. What HB2 and pending laws in other states show is that there’s a deep divide between people that can really only be bridged with more public conversation and openness to each other’s points of view.

This is the message that I believe the South by Southwest planners hoped to get across through a series of keynote addresses to the thousands of conference attendees, many of whom work in the tech industry. Moogfest, coming May 18-21 to downtown Durham, is planning a similar focus on open discourse and creativity as it relates to gender, discrimination and policy, and the team was present at SXSW teasing the festival with an event of the telling title Synthesize Love.

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SXSW + Moogfest: Fight Discriminatory Policy With Discourse