A Melbournian’s view of SXSW 2018 Interactive

 Image by  Google

Image by Google

The streets of Austin may be shut down but they still light up with huge brand activations on every street corner. Austin Convention Centre has interesting events, hangouts, meet ups and presentations in every single one of their 7 ballrooms and 54 meeting rooms, and all of the hotels in the city have their ballrooms packed with speakers, events and activations. While being in Austin for SXSW is a sensory overload, everywhere you look there’s something fascinating to explore.

Since I’ve come back I’ve had lots of conversations with people about what stood out for me from SXSW 2018. It will be remembered as the year that Elon Musk made a surprise visit and Steven Spielberg launched a virtual reality universe movie ‘Ready Player One’ but here’s what else I took away;

1. It’s a choose your own adventure experience.

In terms of actually being at the festival, there is so much going on - so walk out of talks and events that don’t interest you. It’s not something we would do in Australia but it’s common at SXSW because there is so much at once that people need to leave early to get to other things in time, or just because there will be something else around the corner they also wanted to get to.

2. Creating a brand experience outside the actual product could be the next way to win customer loyalty.

Gen-Z identify as purpose driven buyers and creating a brand experience that is bigger than just the product you’re selling is the way to show them what your brand stands for that’s bigger than the product. Natura is a brand doing this really well - take a look here

3. The 2018 Future Trends Report was launched

In it, writer and futurist Amy Webb said we are currently in the AI computing era and it hasn’t arrived the way we thought it would. There’s lots of good information about the 2018 Future Trends Report, I recommend taking a read of it here.

4. The problem with this AI computing era is regulation isn’t keeping up with where the technology is going.

Chelsea Manning believes it’s up to coders and developers to create a code of ethics they will be self-governed by. On my flight home the Facebook data breach story broke and possibly changed the way we look at using the internet forever.

5. My podcast hero Ira Glass gave some great tips on the way he thinks about telling a good story:

  1. How to tell a story - they have a plot and things that happened, they are about emotion, there needs to be a momentum of events. The question arrives; what will happen next?  On the radio someone needs to have an idea about the plot, and needs to provide some comment to stories.
  2. Failure is success - Success often comes from things people are obsessed with. They kill between a 3rd and half of everything they start at the This American Life podcast. Good stories are ones that the whole team really love, they are happy to kill a story that’s good but not great even if they have worked on it for years. If the interviews aren’t good the story isn’t good. "Stories happen to people that can tell them."
  3. Amuse yourself - bring your passion for the interviewees to the story. Make the person you're interviewing likeable for your audience so they will be drawn in. Part of the design of the show is to bring humour to the stories because it also helps keep people listening. What do you say in the first minute that will keep people listening for the whole show? Even if they are going to tackle a hard subject they will bring in the humour.

This was also the first year that G’Day USA hosted Australia House. It was a huge success and a great way to showcase what Australia has to offer. Australia’s best coffee, technology, music and people on show and the house was going off.

I’m looking forward to going back next year!