Call it Spring Break for Geeks, call it Hipster Homecoming, call it what you will – South by Southwest Interactive (from here on out: SXSW) is coming and for the third year in a row, Flip the Media will be there to cover it. Running from March 7-11, our team of five will bring you the best of the panels, presentations and parties from Austin’s annual art and media extravaganza.
On the blog we’ll have posts on the highlights of the day, insights, analysis and daily wrap-ups. But SXSW is vast and ever-changing, so make sure to check our Facebook page and Twitter feed throughout the day for shorter updates, quotes and images.
We’ll do our best to cover the wide world of SXSW but it’s very likely we miss something you are interested in. Let us know! Leave comments, tweet us up, hit the Facebook–do what you need to do to get in touch with us but please share your opinion. We’d love to hear from you.
What can you expect to hear from us? Check what our five writers hope to see at SXSW 2014.
Away to Austin
It’s really happening; my living room is liberally scattered with warmer-weather clothing, electronic devices, camera gear, and what looks sadly like a very inadequate suitcase, capacity-wise. Yes, I’m heading off to that great Southwest modern-day – ultra modern-day – adventure: South by Southwest (SXSW).
Our Flip team has spent months working out logistics and planning our schedules, and now it’s time to step onto the roller coaster. The all-but impossible task of planning my schedule is done. Even as I research my chosen topics, I know that unexpected things are ahead and I’ll be going with that weird and fabulous flow that is SXSW.
Wearable technology is my SXSW focus – that tantalizing if at times scary intersection of art, technology, and (in many cases) fashion. I’m looking forward to sessions that will explore the new world of design and the enormous demands it makes on its practitioners: making it fast, making it affordable, making it appealing.
And in at least one session, there’ll be talk about making wearables personal. Top off the entire subject with that overarching question: “Just because we can, should we?” and the fallout should be fascinating. Think smart wristbands to quantify your physical activity, devices that allow you to remotely control systems in your house – think Siri. Do you like her? Do you depend on her a little too much? We’re racing ahead with our wearable technology. We’re pushing the envelope, but it might push back. Check this space again this weekend to see what I’m learning.
Social Connection Through Imagery and Art
Communication is an art form and, given the recent innovations and technological advancements, compelling visuals are becoming more and more important when sharing information and connecting on social media. At SXSW, I am interested in examining how art is influencing and changing the way we communicate. I look forward to attending sessions like “Brands Driven by Artistic Communities” which will look at how artistic communities are transforming imagery or “Visually Turning Complexity into Clarity”, an up-close examination on how to “find stories in the data and visualize them.”
Sessions are great and I plan to go to quite a few but I’m also at SXSW to put my own visual communication strategies and skills into practice to build and inspire connection. Through graphic art, videos, social media and text–all available here at Flip–I seek to learn more about art’s effect on society and as part of my own social experiences.
New Ways to “Beat the Machine”
The SXSW program is like an old almanac: crammed with useful advice and the occasional weird title. But in tech, yesterday’s weird is tomorrow’s wonderful. Wouldn’t it be fun to go to Hacking Meat: Why Insects Are the Future of Food or A Dude & His Prototype Philosophy: A Love Story? The thing is, I can, and it’s a great privilege to have access to all this cutting edge thinking pushing the digital revolution more and more into all aspects of our lives.
I look forward to some of the presentations of innovative thinkers like Kristina Halverson’s (aka the queen of content strategy) enticingly named Go Home Marketing, You Are Drunk . I’ll also stand in line to hear how controversial Wikileaks founder Julian Assange envisions an “Internet Nation” from his room in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. And I will try to use the opportunity to talk to some of creative minds re-imagining storytelling on the web.
In all this, I want to address a natural but worrying trend. The web’s promise of personal empowerment is becoming more hollow as traditional economic and cultural forces reassert themselves in the digital space. Privacy has become a luxury good. Cloud-based computing puts a few large cloud owners in charge of a lot of data. In marketing, small businesses and non-profits lose out on social media as algorithms and user experiences are rejigged to offer reach to the highest bidder. In some ways, this is the web growing up but are we loosing something in the process? At SXSW, I’ll try to find out who had success in levelling the playing field, what tools are available to spread you message on a small budget and how we can use our creativity to “beat the machine”.
Journalism in the Digital Age
With so many great talks to choose from, putting together a schedule was not easy for me. Several of the talks I want to attend follow the same theme, journalism in the digital age. I’m really excited to hear from innovators in this field. I found about a dozen sessions on this topic. Sadly, I can’t make it to all of them, so here are my picks:
M. Scott Havens, president of The Atlantic, will talk about the strategies that propelled the magazine to success while the industry was struggling with declining revenues. http://schedule.sxsw.com/
Bill Adair, creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning site PolitiFact, will discuss the emerging practice of crowdsourcing fact-checking. http://schedule.sxsw.com/
WIRED editor-in-chief, Scott Dadich, will share insights from his experience with wired.com‘s groundbreaking iPad app. http://schedule.sxsw.com/
Such Data. Much Social. So SXSW.
Cynthia Alice Andrews
It recent months, I have found myself drawn to data and the stories held within that are simply waiting to be told. Luckily for me, there is a TON of talk around data storytelling going on right now and a few speakers are bringing that conversation to SXSW. As I look at my schedule and see titles like Beyond Dots on a Map: Visualizing 3 Billion Tweets, Scientist to Storyteller: How to Narrate Data and Make Love with Your Data I can’t help but get a little giddy thinking about all of the exciting/new/awesome things I am going to learn about the intersection of data and storytelling.
Though I am excited for sessions, I am also looking forward to exploring the social side of SXSW. As the Community Manager here at Flip, you can bet I’ll be out there connecting with people in person as well as interacting with them online. As always, I’ll have my face buried in a device (just the way I like it) keeping up with the online conversations going, so make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter so you can keep up with us at SXSW!