GFM will once again be making the trek down to Austin for the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference starting Friday, March 7. Five days of presentations about the ever-changing digital world, big brand activations, startups, breakfast tacos, celebrities, big parties and product launches that we affectionately refer to as “Spring Break for Geeks.”
There’s a ton of content out there about what South by is, how to plan for it and even a recent lengthy (but great) Fast Company article on its history, so rather than duplicating efforts Jon Woods and I would like to highlight what’s on tap for SXSWi 2014:
Themes of this year’s sessions:
- Privacy – Is any content “safe?” And how much information do companies (and governments) have about you?
- Healthcare and Tech – There are numerous sessions outlining the merging of health and technology. We’re just at the tip of the iceberg in this arena.
- The First Year of SXSports – Sports blogs, live tweeting of sporting events, the impact of sports on culture…Shaq and Bill Simmons included.
- Big Data, for Better or Worse – Big data discussions aren’t new to SXSWi, but there are a number of sessions that question the ethics and proper use of all that data.
- The Continued Meld of Design, User Experience and Content – These three topics used to be separate SXSWi topics…now it’s deservedly more of a grey area where everything is talked about in the same sentence. As it should be.
Expected trends outside of the sessions:
- Crowd Management – Lots of backlash in 2013 about sessions being full, long lines and not being able to get into restaurants/parties. SXSWi has created some “sign up ahead of time” sessions, but we expect some more of the same in 2014. Tip to attendees: don’t sweat it. Be flexible and give yourself plenty of options while in Austin. The best things come from off-the-cuff meetings and experiences.
- The Parties – Rainey Street will once again be the place to be because majority of attendees still don’t know about it. We’re particularly looking forward to the Vox Media concert with Local Natives.
- “The Next Twitter” – Every year people want to know which company launched at SXSWi will be the “next Twitter.” There won’t be one. Period. But there will be several apps and products launched that have merit. We’ll post our favorites to the GFM blog while we’re down there.
- Breakfast Tacos – Not a trend, but a way of life. They’ll never go out of style.
- Is SXSW Played Out? – Like the “next Twitter,” hundreds of people will continue to write articles about how this conference is too big, or its gotten away from its roots. That may be true in some senses, but it’s still the place where the tech world goes on Spring Break every March, where new innovations are made, where ideas come to life and where startups actually “start up.” We predict all those things will be the same in 2014.
What we’re most looking forward to:
- All. Of. It. (Especially the breakfast tacos)
~ Jim Licko and Jon Woods