My first SXSW. Great food, margaritas and content – an overwhelming number of sessions. By sticking to the keynotes, I felt I was making the most of my first time there.
What Went Down?
As always with these kinds of events, the people were the highlight. I saw a lot of famous names get up and speak, including some of my personal favourites – Tim Ferris, Astro Teller and Steve Case. These speakers made the biggest impact for me and definitely left me with something to think about.
I also listened to some people that I’ve not heard of before - Jennifer Hyman (Rent The Runway), Paola Antonelli (Senior Curator at The Museum of Modern Art) and Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud who I didn’t actually associate with interactive until I heard her speak about it with such authority.
What Did I Learn?
The SxSW themes that have stayed with me include:
- quantum design – what does it mean, and how does it relate to role of designers... It was described as “Curious Bridges”, describing how designers grow the future, and tackling one of design's most fundamental tasks - to help people deal with change.
- social good – the significance of this as a reality not only for attracting new talent but also as a measure for capitalist success. It’s always been there, but increasingly more relevant.
- ...and disruption - the true meaning of an exponential impact rather than an incremental change.
Most of all, what I learnt was that there are a lot of really impressive people out there creating products and services to help make the world better, in many shapes and forms. To paraphrase Larry Page, 99.99% of people are not working on something that could change the world or making it better. SxSW is where at least a tiny fraction of true innovators congregate.
I’ve written more in-depth articles on the Expedia blog, particularly focusing on Austin City, social good and disruptive technology.