South BY Southwest, Inside-Outside-Upside-Down
I am behind on my SXSW blogging, to the point where I’m pretty sure there’s going to be no one definitive blog. What I did get was a set of topics on which I want to blog, so I’ll be publishing the fruit of SXSW for some time, even if there’s no blow-by-blow rundown of what I did, what I ate, what I bought, who I met, and archive of collected swag. What I am doing instead is publishing links to my collective storify synopses, but I’ll lead off with a few general observations before sending you off to into the minutae.
What was startling about SXSW from the get-go is how effectively it turns all of downtown Austin into Terminal D of the DFW airport. Everyone is squatting around on the floor, competing for plugs, waiting for the doors to open up and get their badges scanned in a manner evocative of lining up at an airport gate. In spite of the amount of personal contact you have with the low-pile carpet in the Austin Convention center, it’s not entirely unpleasant. Within the airport-esque bubble there’s some seriously magical stuff going on. Company sponsored airport lounges, like the one set up by Nest and full-size pop up ads like this one for A&E’s Bates Motel serve to reinforce the idea that your reality has been altered, albeit only in a very specific geography.
Next year, when people pitch their theories for what IBM should do at SXSW, and they include things like handing out grilled cheese sandwiches on the street using a squadron of teenagers on stilts, it’ll seem just slightly less like someone bumped their head than it did before. At least with respect to the grilled cheese sandwiches, the question is “didn’t someone do something just like that last year?”
South By Southwest, Analyses and Day-By-Day, oddly intertwined.
1) Outside the Expo, iPhones are OUT. Inside the expo, iPhone is king.
Samsung was everywhere, handing out batteries and generally kicking ass. And while this is a data set of one Google-owned company, there weren’t recharge plugs available for iphones in Nest’s hangout. On the other hand, there were companies in the expo center who were so exclusively iphone-focused as to be somewhat alarming [Really, Olloclip? Really?] The rate at which they adapt to the changing demographics of Android that going to determine the viability of anyone making a phone accessory. Just plain ignoring it is just plain embarassing.
Are you making a wearable device? Are you Samsung? Or Shaq? Meet the standard by which you will be judged.
3) Things people want to print out: pictures. Things people still can’t quite grok: 3D printing.
At least two of the lounges I saw, and at least two vendors in the expo, were offering digital-turned-paper pictures. It seems we want the bulk of our pictures digitized, but if the paper is instantaneous, we’ll take that too. Whomever owns the Poloroid brand name, take note.
3D Printing was still a big presence, but it’s clear we’re struggling with what precisely to do with it commercially. The most popular item I saw was fake google glass printouts – meaning someone had printed a plastic faker google glass arm. What does it mean when someone wants to pretend to be a glasshole?
4) Social media isn’t fun anymore. It has much more to do now with analyzing the motivations of who’s socializing and scoping out who isn’t.
One of the two panels I got shut out of was on Social Media Analytics, and the best-attended (and most mindblowing one) that I got into was on “What Social Media Analytics Can’t Tell You.” The idea of social media content and strategy being simply a question of acquiring followers and blurting out one sided announcements is so done so as to be laughable. Now not only do you have to mine who’s talking, you need to understand that you’re probably only getting active responses from 32% of the people who are actually looking. Lurkers and how to enfranchise them is the next big question.
I was proud of IBM’s presence in this area, starting with the #socialbizshakeup event at the W and then onto the personality trait analysis available in the expo.
I’m not clear I’m ready to take this unswerving a look in the mirror of my own tweets, but knowledge is power. We also managed to party! On more than one occasion! And only one time was a jazz combo involved.
That is all the news I thought to write down, intermixed with my days [and nights] of SXSW 2014. Enjoy.