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5 Things I Learned at SXSW

March 15, 2011

[Guest post by Tom Christmann, Executive Creative Director at JWT]

Okay. Just checked into the airport on foursquare. So now it’s time to write about all the insightful stuff I learned at South By Southwest Interactive, the annual coming-together (super-duper swarm badge!) of marketers, engineers, and cybernerds.

It was my first SouthBy and I was sort of overwhelmed. The crowds were enormous. I missed a lot of things I wanted to see. For instance, I still don’t know if my above use of the term “SouthBy” makes me a douche. Because I didn’t go to the panel entitled “How Not To Be A Douche At SXSW.” I suspect it does though, so I’ll stop now and just get to some of the things I took away from the craziness:

5 Things I Learned at SXSW is a good title for a blog entry.

I’m a big fan of The Oatmeal, the writer and illustrator of the hilarious webcomic of the same name who gave a talk about how his blog came about and what made it so popular so quickly. He simply picks subjects that he thinks a lot of people will like and then makes a bit of content that is short and simple. Then he tells them they’re going to get some quick and easy value based on that thing. My favorite of his is a quiz he made entitled “How Many Five Year Olds Can You Take In A Fight?” Who wouldn’t want to know that?

The hottest new technology is… texting?

Group texting to be exact. Sites like Groupon have inspired new sites and tools like Fast Society, GroupMe, and Beluga. The last one allows you to create a pod of friends (you know, like whales do!) and then text to everyone in the pod at once, whether they have Beluga or not. And you can add your location so your pod can follow you wherever you go. I find it interesting that with all the new 3d supertechnology and wireless gizmos coming out every day, the older technology of texting seems to be the one with the most innovation around it. It makes sense. After all, it’s what people use.

The second hottest technology is bacon.

From the pork buns I had at the Wieden party to the Baconator Bacone (yes that’s bacon in a bacon cone with coleslaw and hot sauce and yes it’s delicious) to the JWT BBQ truck tweeting its way through Austin, the pig product loved by millions kept showing up in surprising, innovative, and interactive ways. It made me realize, as The Oatmeal mentioned in his talk, that pigs are pretty cool creatures. Did you know their orgasms last 30 minutes? Pass the ribs.

It’s all about insurgency.

From the workers who are using GoogleDocs without IT’s permission to the Egyptians who held up signs with the word #FAIL on them in Revolution Square, the people who get it are increasingly just ignoring the rules of those who don’t and doing things in their own way. And you cannot stop them. But you can give them the tools to do more for themselves. Sometimes it can be seriously rewarding, as in the case of a mobile phone discussion group in the UK that was so popular, the owner decided to take all of the users’ best ideas and make a mobile service out of them. The best part is that he spends no money on advertising or customer service, which is all handled by, you guessed it, his customers themselves.

You can do anything.

The best part about SXSW is seeing all the amazing things that humans are doing on planet earth right now. Every single person I met was doing something amazing. From Wall Sushi to Bacones to Belugas to losing 100 pounds to Video DJing in Giant Power Plants, the human brain is figuring out ways to make stuff happen. So figure it out. Set a goal. Make your deadline next year’s SXSW. And then do it.

I can’t wait to see what we’ve all done next year. Extra points if your idea is something to do with bacon.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Benny permalink
    March 17, 2011 6:18 am

    YES SIR!!! Bacon in a cone!

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