Following is a list of the panels I attended at the 2013 SXSW interactive conference and what I learned from them.
From a simple animating file to a form of art, the GIF has grown up since it was first used 25 years ago and it’s currently experiencing a resurgence thanks to Tumblr. I went to this panel to support my friend Lindsey Weber but also hoped to leave with a few bits of knowledge for clients. Lindsey rocked this panel and if you look back at the hashtag on Twitter, 85% of the quotes came straight from her mouth. Unfortunately the other panelists left something to be desired but that’s because I wanted to learn more about how brands should be using GIFs and didn’t care to hear about how it’s been elevated to an art form.
— Contagious (@contagious) March 8, 2013
I’m not really sure why I put this panel on my schedule initially but when a friend mentioned he was going, it validated my choice and so I started my day early. The content of this panel was both too close and too far away to my area of focus to be interesting. I spent most of the time fending off vultures who wanted the seat I saved for my friend that never showed (nudge-nudge Matthew) and then left early. I learned nothing.
— Muck Rack (@muckrack) March 9, 2013
I really enjoyed the book The Power of Habit and thought this panel would also talk about how to leverage the psychology behind habit formation in marketing. While I didn’t walk away with many marketing gems I was compelled enough to sign up for one of BJ Fogg’s 5 day sessions. I am really interested in seeing if I can remove guilt and the need for will power as I work toward my goals of getting in shape and learning to code.
“Get specific with your goal. Abstract goals don’t succeed.” – This made me think about how so many marketers set an engagement goal when it comes to social media. We need to drill them on what specifically they want and help define what engagement really means.
I went to this panel purely for the entertainment value and it didn’t disappoint. I heard more F bombs dropped before the panel even started than I had in the previous two days at SXSW. This was one hour of Sig Hansen unfiltered and I loved every minute of it. When you are a celebrity who’s been made famous by being raw and real you can be as crass as you want in social.
“Social media is like a spider web. All you have to do is use a hashtag to build and expand that web.” This from Captain Keith the @crabwizard. He spoke more intelligently about social media than most “gurus” I’ve heard.
After hearing that people had been in line for the Al Gore panel for 3 hours I decided to stay put at the Hyatt and find out what Peter Sagal looks like. His words, not mine: “you’re a lot shorter and balder than I imagined.” This panel didn’t end up being a game of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! but I did find it very interesting. The panelists included Gene Koo from iCivics.org and game designer Dan Norton. They talked about the games they’re making to teach middle schoolers about civics and how important gaming is to education today. The games actually look really fun to play and I’m hoping they can teach me a thing or two as I’m embarrassed to say I couldn’t remember what the three branches of government of were.
— Sara DeWitt (@saradewitt) March 9, 2013
I had a few other panels starred at this time but if I hadn’t attended his panel, Colin would likely have fired me. Once it going I was psyched I was there as it’s helpful to understand how small companies with practically no marketing budget are getting their stories out there and becoming successful. There’s so much big brands can learn from the tactics and strategies these small companies are using. For example each week Of a Kind holds a “customer of the week” meeting in which they use Google to learn more about their customers. It helps them get out of the trap many big brands fall into when they only focus on one demographic that was determined by some research study.
— Kristin Maverick (@kmaverick) March 10, 2013
Maybe I secretly want to be a teacher as this was the 2nd panel I attended that focused on technology in the classroom. The Harvard professor leading this panel is using data from old maps and photographs to create a virtual reality of the Giza pyramids. One might think its a virtual reality like those found in games but the difference is that this one is based on data that’s nearly 99% accurate. In fact they have no idea what the models will look like until the computers are done rendering. Considering how quickly archeological sites degrade and how some, like Giza, can become difficult to travel to during an uprising, their work is extremely important. I can’t say I’ll use what I learned in this panel in my day-to-day work but it was fascinating.
— Matias Dutto (@dmatias) March 11, 2013
What do space and LeVar Burton have in common? The 100 Year Starship project. As a disclaimer I’ll mention that The Barbarian Group just launched the website for the 100YSS but I didn’t work on this project and had no idea what it was about until SXSW. This panel absolutely blew my mind and not just because it featured LeVar Burton. The women were inspiring. Dr. Mae Jemison was the first woman of color in space and Jill Tarter was the inspiration for the book that Contact was based on. Their mission is to make interstellar travel a reality within the next 100 years. How awesome is it to consider that our children may be traveling outside of our solar system in their lifetime. But lots needs to happen in order to make that a reality, the least of which is building a spaceship. They need people from all walks of life and throughout the world to get involved. I encourage you to donate here as I know I’m going to.
— The Barbarian Group (@barbariangroup) March 11, 2013