This past weekend, I attended the South by Southwest interactive festival. It was really a fantastic event! I had a chance to connect with many people that I admire, Andy Hunter (guru of digital communications planning, CEO of reboot strategy), Dr. Henry Jenkins (author of Convergence Culture and professor of Communications, Journalism, Cinematic Arts at USC), and Elvis Mitchell (NPR commentator and producer/writer of HBO’s the Black List)
I would vouch that the interactive portion of SXSW may soon eclipse the importance of the SXSW Music fest.
The key ethnography of those in attendance could neatly be prescribed to the tech geek/hipster tribe: smart, nerdy, wear glasses, skinny jeans, track jackets, etc. It was also very noticeable that there were many Europeans in attendance. The attendance of people from all over the world added to the overall cache that SXSWi currently has.
The staff and management who run this festival should be commended for flawlessly executing the logistics of such a large event and for doing such a great job with the panel and core conversation topics.
Here are a few observations form SXSWi I would like to share:
1. Twitter is All the Rage!!
This year’s festival could have easily been dubbed the Twitter festival. Twitter was used to make real time comments during panels by audience members, it was used as a buzz detector to see which panels were worth attending or not, and it was also used as the primary tool to bring order to the chaos of the SXSWi schedule.
By the end of my attendance at the festival I had Twitter overload. However, I realized that Twitter is a most effective form of communication that will be with us for a while. It is much like a musical instrument. It can be used at a very basic level or it can be used at a virtuoso like advanced level.
2. The iPhone is a Real Game Changer
iPhone has expedited Americans’ ability to use their phones in an advanced manner much like the Japanese do. We are still behind Europe and Japan in smartphone functional usage but the iPhone is helping us to catch up.
Applications will continue to proliferate thus adding to the already great functionality of the iPhone.
3. Augmented Reality or AR is a real mind expander coming to your mobile phone, soon!
Mobile phones will soon be able to use AR to create artificial landscapes in a real world setting. For instance you could use your phone to play a make believe game of tennis in the middle of Times Square with a cohort using their phone as a paddle. AR would allow you to look at your phone and see a tennis court projected onto the street while you and a fellow AR user paddle the ball back and forth on that AR court.
AR can be used in catalogs as well, bringing 3 D images of products that can be manipulated. Some auto manufacturers are already using it in Europe.
4. IM VJ
IM Video Journalism is a new form of journalism coming out of the UK and is pioneered by a black Brit by the name of David Dunkley Gyimah. I learned from David’s lecture that IM VJ, is a form of videojournalism that incorporates design oriented storytelling, efficient and quick shooting, subject driven narrative, and imaginative video techniques. The IM VJ panel goes down as one of the better ones I sat in on at SXSWi. David Gyimah was engaging and extremely well versed.
5. Social Media is Here to Stay
Social Media along with Twitter was the buzz of the festival. Web 2.0 is now the most influential media outside of broadcast TV, and may even surpass TV in importance to GenY . The Obama campaign was the wakeup call to America about the importance of Social Media. The key takeaway from the festival was that those who master the social media tools will be the masters of the marketing and influencing universe. The use of Social Media will intensify and before we know it, email will be obsolete.
6. Social Media as a tool for Activism
I attended a great panel entitled can Social Media End Racism. Of course the answer is it can’t but it can be used to bring racist behavior to light and to call people out. This is the panel where I laughed the most because of two people, Jay Smooth and Phil Yu (Angry Asian Man) they were really funny and insightful.
The bottom line is that Social Media has a HUGE democratizing effect where people can really make themselves heard, and it is an aggregator that can be harnessed for protest and justice.
Those are my highlights but please hit us up to give us your feedback on the festival if you went. We welcome comments.