Thousands of representatives from electronic and traditional media outlets descend on Austin every spring to report on all the creativity, innovation and inspiration that happens at the SXSW Interactive Festival. Other content about the event is published via personal and company blog posts.
One of our favorite recap essays appears in TIP Strategies. Titled “SXSW Interactive: Through the Economic Development Looking Glass”, this post was penned by Jon Roberts:
The real power of SXSW lies in what Tony Hsieh, of Zappos fame, calls collisions—connections that occur spontaneously and bring together individuals and companies that might never have connected before. The sheer number and variety of panels, speakers, and registrants makes this goal relatively easy to accomplish. It can be as simple as colliding with the AT&T team during the Ping-Pong tournament (and, in my case, losing to them) then learning what AT&T is doing, what their talent strategy is, and what their new product line will look like. If I’m busy “recruiting companies,” I miss out on these chance encounters; my agenda gets in the way of making real connections. Sometimes an indirect approach is the surer path towards one’s goal.
And even if you weren’t able to experience the randomness of SXSW, you couldn’t fail to miss this year’s driving theme. It was already apparent on the first day and gathered steam throughout the event: Internet privacy. First Julian Assange, via Skype from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, then Edward Snowden from an undisclosed location in Russia (routed through multiple ISPs). Whatever one’s political attitude towards Assange and Snowden, their message is coming through loud and clear and is being fully embraced by the tech crowd: privacy matters.
The question of Internet privacy has numerous dimensions. It is not exclusively governmental. It extends to transactional privacy with corporations and to the question of who owns our personal data (our Internet identity). The default answer should not be that this information is “owned” by corporations or the government (or health care providers). We—it is being argued—have an absolute right to our personal data and we ought not to be giving it up (or having it taken from us) without our informed consent. This, of course, is a discussion that requires a much larger platform. At a minimum, however, SXSW is signaling a shift in how we think about our use of the Internet. I’ll venture to say it signals a sea change, one whose implications may be profound.
Want to be part of SXSW Interactive in Austin next spring? Then mark your calendar for March 13-17, 2015 — and don’t forget to purchase your badge in early August 2014 when the registration process begins.
Or, get a taste of the March event much sooner by attending SXSW V2V, which occurs July 13-16 in Las Vegas.
Other compelling press accounts from SXSW Interactive 2014 include: