Despite being in digital media for 13+ years, I recently attended SXSW for the first time. And the words “digital” and “interactive” have now broadened in meaning for me.
The extensive variety of topics was amazing. There were more than 2,600 speakers and hundreds of sessions focused around technology (programming, “cloud” storage, e-wallets, big data, SoMoLo apps, government/privacy), gaming, social media (owned not paid), convergence and emerging technologies.
Sunday’s keynote speaker discussed our digital bad habits: how our phones are the new cigarettes (so true) and how we’ve become digital hoarders (but are just better able to hide it). He also said, in the future, the best technology is going to be invisible and that we should “get out of the way.”
I attended a couple of sessions around “big data” where it was stressed that data vomit is actually data knowledge. The trick is managing data so it is collected, digestible and actionable. Another session was around the semantic web – and how every time I press the “like” button, I have just submitted into the semantic web. And we wonder why they call it “big data.”
I also attended several sessions around owned media – from measurement, to a panel that shared case studies from Doritos and Nike. Nike’s case study was impressive. In a Brazil marathon, when runners wearing Nike shoes passed a marked point, they stepped on a mat that posted their status to Facebook, making the runners not just consumers but media.
Another session was around Google Plus. They have over 100 million users monthly; 50 million are active daily users. I’m signed up but have not adopted it as I have Facebook or even LinkedIn. Google says these users are forming communities based on passions and interests. Maybe that will be the tipping point for me.
Last but not least of these sessions was around Convergence – Multi-Screen, TV and Social. I heard from several companies producing original shows and content just for the web – Yahoo!, Hulu and more. Second screen engagement is already happening and is rapidly growing, with almost 50% smartphone penetration in the US. Three-Screen Minimum was an engaging session that included mentions of Bravo using apps like Shazam linked to their TV output, and Google Hangouts which allow people to watch web video together…online.
So much to take in. Including great food, drinks and fun events held by several media publishers.
Overall, the experience was overwhelming. My advice to future attendees: conduct some in-depth research around the speakers in order to get the most out of the event. The best sessions I attended were not only informative, but also made me excited about what the “near” future holds for all of us.