Okay, it’s now just over a week since I got back from SXSW and I am already getting withdrawal from all the BBQ meat – I am planning a trip to Pitt Cue next week to help me feed the gap. So what was the general consensus about SXSW 2012. For me it was my first one and while not blown away by it, I certainly got a lot of value from it and definitely will be back in 2013 (and will be better for this first experience). However truth is I am still digesting what I saw and as with most things will only see the value for most of us who attending will be seen in the next 3-6 months as the ideas/thoughts/trends feeds into the work we deliver for our clients. But what were the key trends, what technologies should we be looking out for and what tops can we give for anyone attending in 2013. Well I thought the best way of finding this out would be to ask the numerous Socials who were out there with me alongside some of our CS friends. Overall it seems that SXSW was a hit (73% of those asked voted it as hot) despite the rain, the best app should have been Highlight but it drained all the batteries (which incidentally was good for Mophie), everyone has their own favourite restaurant and for some reason Seb Royce still seems to be shouting (I am guessing he went to the Music festival straight after).

The following all contributed (including myself):

  • Andy Kinsella (@hellokinsella), Executive Producer, Stink Digital
  • Ben Cooper (@benhamin), Digital Director (The Monkeys, Sydney)
  • Daniele Fiandaca (@yellif), Head of Innovation, Cheil London
  • Fabio Simoes (@fratura), Creative Director Saatchi&Saatchi LA
  • Gareth Kay (@garethk), Chief Strategy Officer, Goodby Silverstein and Partners
  • Katy Lindemann (@katylindemann), Freelance Strategist
  • James Cooper (@koopstakov), Chief Creative Innovation Officer. JWT New York.
  • Michael Aneto, head of strategy, perfect fools
  • Nigel Gwilliam (NigelG), Consultant Head of Digital, IPA
  • Seb Royce (@sebroyce), ECD, Glue Isobar
  • Tom Sacchi (@TheTomSac) – Partner, Unit 9

Update: Fernanda Romano (@fefaromano), Nadya Powell (@NadsBads), Director of Social and Emerging Behaviour, Dare and Pablo Marques (@pablo_marques), CD, BBH add their own thoughts

Anyway hope you find their answers useful:

Favourite talk

  • AK, JC, NG: Ray Kurzweil, Expanding Our Intelligence Without Limit
  • BC, FS: Ambient Location and the Future of Interface . Amber Case
  • DF: Brands as patterns

View more presentations from Method, Inc.

  • GK: The New Aesthetic
  • KI: Three way tie between The New Aesthetic (James Bridle & co), The Mind & Consciousness As an Interface (the Near Future Laboratory) and Designing Tomorrow’s Digital/Physical Interfaces (MIT Media Lab, Sifteo & Fabian Hemmert). That’s being exceptionally greedy, I know [Editors note: I would call it showing off]
  • JC: Apart from own which was amazing, the Ray Kurzweil keynote and the Kinect Hack session.
  • MA: Kevin Smith – The Business Of Kevin Smith
  • SR, TS: Frank Abagnate ‘Catch me if you can’
  • ND:
  • For amusement: Top Chef: How Transmedia is changing TV
  • For most inspiring person: Cool Hunting and Cool Farming with Social Media, Peter Gloor, MIT
  • For most mind blowing creative experiments: Designing Tomorrow’s Digital/Physical Interfaces today
  • PM: Wolfram Alpha, the stuff he is doing with his engine and mathematica are probably going to catch a lot of people off guard and it shouldn’t.

Hottest App

  • AK: Foursquare Explore.
  • BC: Couldn’t live without Foursquare, to know where everyone was Highlight apparently – but it killed my battery, so I deleted it.
  • DF: Instagram on Android (imminent launch announced)
  • FS, MA: Highlight

  • GK, SR: Picle
  • JC: I don’t think any new App really bossed SXSW but I used GroupMe a lot.
  • KL: Not Highlight (because you’re draining battery fast enough as it is, and when the motto at SXSW is ABC – always be charging – the last thing you need is an app which kills your phone completely). For me Foursquare is still the essential app for SXSW as you can triangulate essential drinking with friends at scale.
  • NG: Not BA
  • TS: Get a taxi app?
  • ND: SXSW Go, of course
  • PM: By far. Mathematica. It is evolving into a fully fledged natural language. It was beautiful to see wolfram playing with it live.

Hottest Trend

  • AK, DF: Making things people want; instead of making people want things – @willsh
  • BC: Personal analytics and the rise of the Human API
  • FS: Geofencing
  • GK: The recombination of existing platforms eg photos with audio, location with social graph, etc.
  • KL: Technology serving us as citizens. Keynote sessions about Coding for America, and digital democracy from Al Gore & Sean Parker, as well as a dedicated ‘The Greater Good’ track showed promising signs of the fetishisation of technology & geek culture in and of itself, tipping into a focus on how we can use this technology to better ends on a mass scale.
  • JC: Ping Pong. I played (and won, obviously) the first SXSW Ping Pong Tournament and just for that was interviewed by Entrepreneur magazine, IFC (Independent Film Channel) and MSNBC. It’s so fucking hot right now.
  • MA: Ambient social
  • NG: serendipity
  • TS: Waiting for taxi’s
  • FR: Less tech, more talk.
  • ND: Creator Culture, aka DIY Culture – the increasing rise of people making stuff, open sourcing its design, funding it, marketing it – all from the comfort of their own homes.
  • PM: Mathematica

Technology we should look out for

  • AK: Personal computing and convergence.
  • BC: Extended battery packs, making our devices last longer – like Mophie
  • DF: Facial recognition technology – and ability to serve ads based on people watching it (from Immersive Advertising)
  • FS: www.wolframalpha.com
  • GK: Nike Fuel. There’s a lot that can be added eg NFC chip and you have a wallet on your wrist
  • KL: Drones. Lots and lots of drones.
  • MA: Personally, I thought there was a lack of truly disruptive technology. Everything seemed quite familiar. More cute than wow. A few thoughts.
  • Bio-tech. Several keynotes speakers talked about modern technology as an integrated part of our bodies, not an extension.
  • Google’s eyeglasses are going to rock.
  • Saw a good example of a minority report type display. Checked me out and then starting showing relevant stuff. When a girl stood next to me figured we were a couple and stuff changed accordingly.
  • JC: I suppose the only new Tech that people were talking about was the Nike Fuelband. I didn’t get one but I sort of wish I had now as they are sold out everywhere.

  • NG: Contact lens HUDs, US Military’s Thought Helmet
  • SR: More NFC
  • TS: Taxi finding
  • FR: Life caching and uploading our brain.
  • ND: The blurring of the physical and the digital. Think interactive wallpaper – for example, wallpaper with pictures of birds on which when you roll over your iphone shows AR birds flying past.PM: AI. Loads of discussions that lead down that path. Again, specially wolfram.

Three key learnings from SXSW 2012

AK – 1. People matter, 2. Face-to-face is better than digital, 3. One-to-one is better than mass media.

BC – 1.Product experience first, 2. Brand patterns, fragmented stories making a whole, 3.The ‘stacks’ can fall (Bruce Sterling) – I.e. Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, MS

FS – 1. Great subjects/panelists do not equal great talks, 2. People selected panels equals people/companies selling themselves, 3. Panels should be inspiring, not informational.

GK – 1. Big brands are crowding the startups out, 2. It’s far easier to complicate than simplify, 3. Prepare to queue

KL – 1. The importance of a sense of humanity in technology, brought beautifully to life by Ping Fu at the TED@SXSW salon, 2. We may not yet have jetpacks or hoverboards but the future as envisaged in scifi movies isn’t that far off – the technology for robot arms controlled by monkey’s brainwaves is already here (yes REALLY), 3.It really is possible to eat too much BBQ. Meat sweats are a dead giveaway.

JC 1. Always do the simulcast of the keynotes, you can come and go as you please and turn up 5 minutes late. And eat food, 2. Don’t try to see everything. Be content with your choices, 3.Having a house rather than a hotel is the way forward. Especially when it’s pissing it down with rain.

MA 1. Discipline of UX needs to evolve, 2. Google+ goes beyond pages, it’s the layer across everything they do. Now and in the future, 3.It’s okay to be a creepy app…just don’t drain battery

NG – 1. ubiquitous, 2. ambient, 3.intelligent tech.


TS – 1. Austin is shit at Taxi’s, 2. Austin really does close at 2am, 3. Its’ not difficult to find a drink in Austin

FR – 1. Austin cab drivers love classical music, 2. be bear schools for talent, 3. everyone should learn to code.

ND – 1. The UK creative industry is full of brilliant people and it made me proud to be part of it, 2. The continuing revolution kick started by the web is going to make 2012 and 2013 unbelievably exciting – 4G, Internet TV – bring it on, 3. We should all just get out there and make stuff – embrace creator culture and be part of it

PM – 1. Agencies are having an identity crisis, 2. Everyone loves tech now, it’s not scary anymore, 3. Make more stuff.

Favourite restaurant in Austin

  • AK: Stubbs BBQ
  • BC, GK: UchieKo
  • DF, ND: Iron Works BBQ
  • JC: Chris Berger’s Famous Peakaboo Eggs.
  • KL: Boiling Pot. Anywhere you get a bucket of crustaceans and sausage emptied onto a table, a bib tied on you and handed a mallet with which to attack your prey, and have neither crockery nor cutlery, is a place worth visiting in my book. And the food is awesome.
  • MA: Salt Lick @ Austin Airport (I actually smuggled in two platters to Ams)
  • NG: Moonshine Bar & Grill
  • TS: Eddie V’s

Funniest moment

  • BC: Mob of people in skin suits and some local bloke thinking his luck was in.
  • Until he got closer!
  • DF, KL: @DrunkHulk live tweeting the Anthony Bourdain digital debauchery session. Genius.
  • GK: The line for passes
  • JC: Winning – not winning actually, DOMINATING, the ping pong tournament against a guy who was taking it way too seriously.
  • MA: Everything involving Raj from AMV
  • NG: Graham Drew’s Cloak of Selfish
  • TS: Finding a taxi in the rain
  • ND :As one Twitter person said SXSW is Spring Break for 30 somethings. Use your imagination.
  • PM: Funny or Die panel, dying.

SXSW 2012 Hot or not?

  • AK: Mostly hot, but the hot stuff was hugely oversubscribed
  • BC: My first. Loved it.
  • DF: More Hot than Not. Am sure that my second one will be much better for going the first time (provided it does not get too mobbed)
  • FS: Not
  • GK: Not
  • KL: Quite chilly actually. But inspiring.
  • JC: Hot. Other than when it was raining.
  • MA: Hot
  • NG: Hot
  • TS: Not
  • FR: Uber HOT
  • ND: So hot my nail varnish crinkled
  • PM: Very hot but too wet.

Top tip for anyone going to SXSW 2013

  • BC: Get a hotel close to the action, and book it now.
  • DF: Plan your schedule ahead. Make sure that you book your hotel or house early (make sure you find somewhere you can walk home. If you can’t turn up without a hotel and you will find one). Hang around with Micheal Aneto (he will get you tickets to see Jay Z)
  • FS: Plan ahead. Stay close to the center. Plan ahead. Focus on a subject. Stay for the music festival.
  • GK: Top tip for anyone going to SXSW 2013 Allow plenty of time for queues and bring a spare battery back for your phone
  • KL: Book early. Take an umbrella. And a spare iPhone battery. Don’t go to stuff that sounds like it’ll be useful for your job (it’ll be too familiar) – go to weird sessions where you’re learn loads of new stuff.
  • JC: Enter your own panel. We were a last minute addition. We had probably the worst time slot, 9.30am on Sunday, after the clocks had gone back and it was still raining. I honestly didn’t think anyone was going to turn up but we had about 150 people come, some great conversations and interesting emails since. And you get a free badge for you and your speakers.
  • MA: Stay in South Congress through airbnb
  • NG: Book early and pack an umbrella
  • TS: Book a hotel yesterday
  • FR: Plan ahead. Don’t drink too much. Stay for music.
  • ND: Read the SXSW handbook, you get it when you register – it is the best guide to the conference
  • PM: Plan ahead, clear your work schedule, do not bring the accounts person with you.

Anyway hope to see y’all in 2013.