SXSW Recap: Day 5

17 Mar

The last day of Interactive…made it! I found this out last year – after 5 days of intense brain utilization and also being around a lot of people, I am wiped, but happily so. There really isn’t a way to match the experience of being in a convention center full of people excited about things, building things, selling things, and thinking about things. It’s an incredible adrenaline rush and why I attend Interactive with such gusto.

First up was Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter. We didn’t hear much about Twitter itself other than the point that people now reformat their thoughts into 140 characters or less to fit into a tweet which was something previously never thought of before. Interesting. Stone’s new venture is an app called Jelly, crowd-sourcing help from real people, basically. I downloaded it and have asked a question and gotten useful replies back. Will it change the internet? No. Interestingly that was the summation of a lot of recaps I have read this week – there was nothing at SXSW that is going to change society as we know it. Simply upgrades and new applications to existing technologies. This is to be expected, I suppose.

There’s also a wall people hit, I think, with how much they will use technology and how much this expands within a generation’s lifetime. Interactive TV is not catching on because people don’t want to click around while they watch Orange Is the New Black. They don’t want creative control of House of Cards, they want a great story. In terms of wearable tech, which was one of the buzzwords of the conference, it can mostly be applied to gaming and building alternate reality fields for that…with other more everyday applications being things like…counting your calories burned or body temperature. Nothing incredibly mind-blowing, just more data being collected to apply to already existing analyses.

I’m sure another Twitter will come along, and new things are being born all the time, but this year’s conference seemed to be about applying what we have to be more effective.

Speaking of that, Chelsea Clinton rounded out my Interactive experience with her keynote about applying tech uses to third world nations who need them in ways we don’t here in the U.S. There are simple cell phone programs that provide farmers in Africa with information about weather and when to plant crops. There are text programs to tell caregivers in remote villages when to check on their pregnant women. There are apps that can verify medications to make sure they are not fake when buying them. Really easy, cheap, practical applications for real people who need help. Definitely made some previous panels about TVs with four screens in one that detected eye movement and turned up the volume on the screen you were looking at seem…superfluous.

Clinton implored all the attendees to focus some of their work on this humanitarian side, and while her speech was not the most entertaining one of the week (though her sit down chat interview was way more comfortable than the keynote part), it was arguably one of the more important.

Chelsea gets mobbed.

Then I skipped over to a Music Conference panel about technology in marketing and was told to use Spotify and CD Baby…I left that one early to try and win a ticket to Lady Gaga because, well…I know how to use CD Baby and I wanted to see Gaga. It worked.

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