South by Southwest Interactive is my Super Bowl, the busiest work time of the year for me and, often, the most rewarding in terms of meeting people, seeing a lot in a compressed amount of time and pushing myself to see and do as much as possible for those five days.
But it’s often not till a few days or weeks later that I really feel like I understand what I witnessed and this year I took a step back before writing my annual wrap-up of the festival. That piece ran in Tuesday’s print edition of the American-Statesman and on MyStatesman.com, where you’ll find the things I feel we learned at this year’s SXSWi and where those lessons are pointing us next.
Here’s an excerpt from the column:
Trend: Everything right now.We’ve become accustomed to watching TV in any way we want with streaming services such as Netflix, posting photos rapidly with Instagram and even catching a ride without phone calls with ride hailing services such as Lyft and Uber. The I Don’t Want To Wait Economy gains new tools every day; the two people were talking about at the fest were Meerkat (see Digital Savant Micro), for quickly streaming live video from an iPhone without much fuss or setup, and FireChat. FireChat creates a network among its users to allow you to send messages even when you don’t have a Wi-Fi or cell connection. So-called “off-the-grid messaging” means staying plugged in and accessible even when you’re not.
What’s next: Meerkat and another live-streaming app from Twitter called Periscope are gaining thousands of new users ever day. Expect live streaming to get very popular very quickly. Will people find amazing things to do with it, or will everyone get bored when we can see in real time how mundane a lot of the streams are? Another big emerging trend, which I’ll write about in a future column, is the popularity of anonymous apps such as Yik Yak on college campuses. The panel featuring the founders of Yik Yak focused largely on the company’s fast growth and its efforts to be seen as something other than a tool for cyberbullies. And as far as transportation, the app ride-hailing trend shows no sign of slowing down. But what about traffic? One company, AeroMobil, believes flying cars will be commercially available as early as 2017. Stop us if you’ve heard that one before.
You can read the full column here. Everyone’s SXSW is different and I’d love to hear about your experiences if you attended (or if you just followed along on the sidelines or ignored the whole thing). Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of this year’s SX.