SXSW 2015 Trending Stories

I’ve been working on a lengthy post for this week and initially wasn’t planning on writing a second one. However, with all the fresh, innovative technologies and ideas coming out of South by Southwest (SXSW), which just wrapped its interactive portion on Tuesday, I couldn’t wait to share. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to attend the festival in person but here are a few stories I’ve seen trending online and I’ve gathered my favourites.

You couldn’t follow SXSW without reading or hearing about Meerkat, a live-streaming app that allows users to broadcast content to their Twitter followers. Casey Newton has a great write-up on the Verge about the breakout star of the festival, chronicling Meerkat’s early hype and meteoric rise. The popularity of this app demonstrates a new level of speed and immediacy available in emerging social media tools, and there are certainly benefits to connecting to one another in this way. However, moving forward with this level of immediacy, users and organizations need to carefully consider what they share because once you post, there’s no going back. Although content on Meerkat can only be watched live and the streams aren’t saved, the reality is that on the internet, things can live forever. It’s only a matter of time before someone develops a way to circumvent this rule, allowing Meerkat streams to be saved and captured. It’s not to say that organizations should share highly choreographed and staged content – my guess is that users want something less filtered and curated – but awareness of your content and its context is critical. While there’s a considerable amount of excitement surrounding Meerkat already, how the company is able to capitalize on the momentum of their success and how organizations/users adopt this technology is left to be seen.

Another great story to come out of SXSW was presented during Buzzfeed co-founder, Jonah Peretti’s talk, which offered a new vision for the monumentally popular website. He posited the idea of allowing users to access Buzzfeed content in their preferred social media channel without attempting to redirect traffic to their website. I’m still processing the ideas and will need to research his talk more thoroughly, likely examining the concept further in a future post. What’s clear is that if Peretti’s vision takes hold, it has the potential to transform the way in which organization produce content and do business, with particular respect to advertising. Mashable provides a thoughtful analysis and delves into the topic further here.

The last story on my list isn’t getting quite as much traction as the previous two, and reveals a personal bias. Although I’m interested in technology, my training is firmly planted in the arts and it was intriguing to see keynote speaker Paolo Antonelli, senior curator and director of research and development at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City open the festival with her talk, “Curious Bridges: How Designers Grow the Future”, which married two of my interests. Even more compelling is this article by Vikki Chowney where she bridges ideas between Antonelli’s talk and one made by HeyHuman’s “Neuroplasticity and Tech: Why Brands Have to Change” to offer valuable insight on the role of marketers and communicators.

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