SXSW kicked itself off to a worthy start this year amidst the radical growth of its host city which is growing new hotels and condos all over itself. The opening address by the always dry genius, Hugh Forrest, saw an exhibit hall full of diverse, excited newbies, influencers, and tech tourists already buzzing, interfacing and trading rumors about the best parties. Lines formed, food trucks opened their flaps, bars crowded and speakers took the stage…all ready to geek out and immerse themselves for the next crazy 6 days.
This year the buzzwords included IoT, Meerkat, Ex Machina, Google X, aggregation, beacons, disruption, and interruption. VR, UX and big data dominated the line-up, with several guilty pleasure panels including “Inside DARPA” with Dan Kaufman, our personal hero, and “Using Touch in Creative Design” with David Birnbaum.
Grumpy cat was adorably sculpted out of bacon, and he was not happy about it.
Audiences audibly ooh’ed and ahh’ed at the Marketing Group’s infamous show-and-tell, while Mophie’s Saint Bernard’s dispatched around the festival to bring badge-holders phone chargers drew crowds of onlookers too delighted to care about the gimmick factor.
The Trade Show was an amalgam of professionals hocking their aggregation apps, sound cloud organization systems, gadgets, and many big names including NASA and IBM who were simply there maintaining relevance. Screen-printing on the spot was a forerunner in immersive branding, with other brands like Capitol One, McDonald’s, Visa, Nat Geo and Samsung standing out as main brands exploring the experiential space.
Grumpy cat was sculpted out of bacon (with a block-long line to view), people waited in line for the Mashable party for 4 hours, and superstars like Ron Perelman, Shiza Shahid, Edward Snowden (according to Bruce Sterling), Al Gore, Astro Teller, and Will Ferrell intermingled with the crowd throughout the week.
A Vegas for us nerds, the world was our oyster at SXSWi 2015 – we look forward to next year and, most importantly, what the shared innovations of this past SXSW will bring.