Sneak Preview into SXSW

Sneak Preview into SXSW

This week I will be as happy as a hipster with a new tiny dog when I step off the plane in Austin, Texas, for my first South by Southwest (SXSW), the ultimate annual mash up of tech, music and culture.

Since 1994, some of the most iconic platform debuts and cultural keynotes have taken place in the fertile grounds of the event’s flowering, collective consciousness. In 1999 LiveJournal said hello, Wikipedia debuted in 2001, followed by MySpace in 2003, Skype, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, FourSquare, Snapchat, Vine, Meerkat. Some names may not be as familiar now as they were then, but that sets the scene for 2017: what will be launched that will alter our connected lives?

As a veteran of Cannes Lions for more than 10 years, I’m used to an intensive week of ‘the next big thing’ in advertising and creativity.  But I am daunted by the magnitude and breadth of SXSW.

In 2016 then-President Obama was welcomed for a speech about civic engagement in the twenty-first century. This year the creators, marketers and entrepreneurs in attendance are primed to expect President Trump politics to overshadow some of the innovation in virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

David Grant, president of PopSugar Studios, sums it up: “Rather than a piece of technology or launch of a new app, this year’s conference will really be about the way all the things happening in politics are being threaded through what everyone does.”

Politics aside, I’m keen to hear the latest insights in how to reach fragmented audiences through an ever-expanding chocolate box of platforms and devices. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality will be hot, with dozens of sessions dedicated to the technologies and how they might improve human efficiency.

No doubt there will be driverless cars and voice-control technology, hopefully moving beyond Amazon Echo and Google Home. Amidst the hype around AI and VR, voice-activated content is big for me – in the near future we will do more without taking devices from our pockets or bags.

Over my long weekend I’ll post about my experience, what I see, who I meet and most of all what I learn that will change your life next year.

Mark Terry-Lush
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