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SXSW 2016
INTERACTIVE
THEMES
CURATED BY
CARAT
The annual
interactive, film, and
music get together
in the free-spirit
capital of Texas has
come a long way
over 30 years.
The festival – not a
conference – is a mixture
of events, panels,
speeches, meet ups,
mentoring sessions,
exhibits, pop-ups and
shows. The model has
proven successful, aided
due to the sunny weather,
delicious southwestern
cuisine, and the
hospitable attitude of
Austinites (just don’t call
them Austonians).
With over 72,000 registrants, this year’s
fest is sure to be the largest to date when it
ends just days from now. The 2016
gathering of artists, marketers and
scientists, trendsetters and nerds has
already proven successful in more ways
that one; within two days, Tinder (the
global dating app) achieved 182,000
successful matches. For many, that’s
reason enough to do ‘South by’.
Aside from the great atmosphere, there
are hundreds, if not thousands, of
excellent sessions covering themes like
Convergence, Intelligent Future, Content
Distribution, Start-ups, Entertainment,
Government Policy, etc. From our curated
list, we attended talks titled ‘Big Data and
AI: Sci-Fi vs. Everyday Applications’, ‘We’re
Not Gonna Take It: Ad Blocking and User
Revolt’, ‘Diversity and Tech: Breaking
Down Unconscious Bias’, ‘Innovators or
Idiots – Mobile’s Next Hits or Misses’. And
of course, there were the keynotes from
Brene Brown (scholar, author and speaker
exploring vulnerability), Kevin Plank
(Founder and CEO of Under Armour),
Casey Gerald (founder of MBAs across
America), Andy Puddicome (founder of
Headspace) and last but definitely not
least, Barack Obama (The President of
the United States).
This report covers the themes, new news,
exciting talks and sadly, the sessions that
were skip-worthy.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 2
Throughout the festival, there were many
sessions related to the before mentioned. For
the most part, the theme was consistent. Yes,
vast amounts of cleaned and stored data will
eventually lead to AI, and when paired with
robots with human characteristics, we get
androids that could live with humans….but that
is a long way away (unless you live in Japan).
‘We all need to just chill out’ was the
overwhelming message from most speakers on
the topic of AI. Yes, machine learning is
advancing, but we are far from the point where
machines can think beyond the data put into
them and explain the choices it makes. Today,
most AI systems are still based on key word
recognizing patterns. There is little progress in
connecting disparate pieces of data and
understanding emotion.
Ask an AI machine a complex question like,
‘who was president when JFK was born?’ and
you will likely get pages of search results but not
answer, Woodrow Wilson. It is difficult to
connect disparate bits of data, and in the
marketing world, this will be exasperated by the
inability to match data sets and consumer IDs
across differing ecosystems, e.g. Facebook to
Google to Twitter.
Having said that, expect the marketing
community to lead in AI within single ecosystem
platforms as an error in advertising is far less
threatening than an error in say healthcare,
finance or transportation. After all, advertising
isn’t brain surgery.
In the near term, expect AI to help teach
and tutor. AI will propose hypothesis, but a
person is still needed to apply an emotional
and lateral-thinking filter to the hypothesis.
In the area of robotics and androids,
exciting work is coming from Hiroshi
Ishiguro (and his Android). He is creating
humanlike androids and other robots to
assist in everything from teaching children,
keeping the elderly company and speaking
at conferences. At the most basic level, his
creations can incorporate smart phones and
teach new languages. At a more complex
level, his creations can serve as a sort of a
human form Skype call or even and
translate conversations.
Expect more headlines about AI, Robotics
and Androids over the coming months.
THEME 1:
AI, ROBOTS, AND
ANDROIDS, OH MY –
DYSTOPIA OR UTOPIA.
SORTING THE MYTH
FROM REALITY.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 3
A slew of talks explored how
data can be used for public
good, especially via the US
government. Many
representatives from the Obama
administration and government
were on differing stages
exploring ways that data
is improving policy. There were
even talks exploring how data
can predict social uprisings
and war.
Data was also referenced in almost every AI talk,
as it’s widely known that AI is only as good as
the data that feeds it. As a tangible example, key
words search has led to Google’s AI efforts.
Expect the advertising industry to lead the data
for AI efforts.
During the keynote address from the founder
and CEO of Under Armour, data was explored
as a way to turn the healthcare industry into one
of maintaining wellness by monitoring personal
health data instead of simply treating sickness.
The wealth of data from Under Armour’s scaled
apps and wearables will alter the fitness industry
in 2016 and continue their streak of 20
consistent business quarters at +20% growth.
THEME 2:
YEH DATA,
BUT FOR WHAT?
Data was a reoccurring theme in
many session titles, yet the talks
were often about an outcome or
an insight from the data. 2016
is the year that the masses
comprehend data as an input,
an ingredient, for other great
things. The takeaway is that
data proficiency is now table
stakes.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 4
THEME 3:
VIRTUAL REALITY, AS
AN EVERYDAY REALITY
The powers that be – especially
Samsung and Oculus – are
determined to make VR a reality
in in 2016. The headsets were
everywhere, from the Samsung
popup to pedicabs to startups
exhibits. With so many using the
headsets as a storytelling device,
VR is sure to be a part of our
world at home or at work.
If experience leads to trust than
VR is the next best thing to
being there. See the hotel
room or apartment before you
rent, experience a holiday
before booking, test drive a car
from your living room, learn
the subject first hand, the
scenarios for this technology
and content are endless.
It was reported that many waited in line for over two hours to
experience the Samsung Virtual Reality roller coaster.
It’s important to note that while Oculus did not have a booth at
the festival, Mark Zuckerberg did announce this week that
Oculus will launch with 30 games available just weeks from
now.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 5
THEME 4:
CIVIC GOOD – WHEN
YOU KNOW BETTER,
YOU DO BETTER
Civic duty and social good were
topics covered on many stages.
President Obama visited the
festival to call for attendees to
participate in solving the
challenges facing America and
the world. He stressed that a
democracy needs public
participation. On other stages,
war and injustice were being
tackled through data and
technology.
The Human Rights Foundation
and North Korean defectors
specifically raised awareness of
efforts to penetrate the hermit
kingdom with outside media
through air-ballooning donated
USB devices over the border.
David Mace explored how to
use data to predict and prevent
war. Even #blacklivesmatter
was on stage calling for new
ideas behind the movement.
Ken Burns and Henry Louis
Gates explored race in
America.
It’s clear that businesses and brands will
need to increasingly take a stand against
inequality and injustice.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 6
THEME 5:
PIXELATING THE REAL
WORLD – BEYOND THE
SCREEN & KEYBOARD
Perhaps some of the newest
thinking came from those
sessions exploring the use of IoT,
wearables and human interface.
In one session titled ‘New Human
Machine Interface and the Future
of Work’, the person that inspired
the interactive computer screens
in the movie Minority Report,
explored how rooms can now be
turned into interactive spaces for
collaboration through scanners,
sensors, projectors, videos, voice
recognition, and hand gestures.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 7
THEME 6:
GENDER AND
DIVERSITY
EQUALITY AND
INCLUSION
There’s still a lot of work to
do, so the women’s equality
and inclusion movement
continues to garner worhty
attention.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
There seemed to be a concerted effort to
represent men and women equally on stage.
This was refreshing as all too often the
conference circuit stages are crammed with
white middle-aged men.
One keynote address chaired by the US Chief
Technology Officer, titled ‘Elephant in the
Valley’, explored female inequality and
representation in tech.
There were many sessions and meet ups
related to gender and LGBT issues.
Sadly, while racial diversity was discussed in a
few sessions, SXSW is still very much an event
attended by a lot of white people.
18/03/2016 8
THEME 7:
HEY, BLOCK YOU!
THE RISE OF
ADBLOCKERS
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
In one of the more tense panels, representatives
from Adblock Plus and publisher, Forbes,
debated the topic of adblocking. Emotion gets
involved when two sides have such strongly
opposing views. DVorkin from Forbes used
words like ‘black mail’ whereas Williams from
Adblock Plus argued, "when there are fewer ads
online, the quality conceivably could go up.”
You would think adblockers were born out of a mission-
driven movement. With session headlines like
‘Were Not Going to Take It – Ad Blocking and User Revolt’,
‘Adblockageddon – How to Survive and Prosper’ and
‘Economic Realities: Ad Blocking and Consumer Control’,
the battle lines were clear. Those that champion ad
blockers, e.g. Head of Operations at Adblock Plus, are on
a mission to save the consumer from a ‘laggy, tag-strewn,
data-guzzling user experience’. Whereas agencies and
publishers are determined to win back the ‘eyeballs and
emotions of the adblock generation’. It seems all agree
that great content should make it to consumers but few will
admit that their content is worth blocking. Some serious
self-reflection is needed to preserve the digital-ad-serving
model as we know it as those on a blocking mission are
gaining momentum.
18/03/2016 9
THEME 8:
NERDS – IT’S COOL
TO BE UNCOOL
While not an overt theme, there
does seem to be something in
the air where techies, coders and
entrepreneurs carry a certain
renewed confidence as top
politicians and Hollywood stars,
the President of the United States
to J.J. Abrams and Kerry
Washington, participated in the
Interactive portions of SXSW.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 10
THEME 9:
NEW NEWS –
NOT SO MUCH.
Whilst SXSW has witnessed
launches like Twitter, Foursquare
and Meerkat, there were no big
launches this year. However, that
may mean we are moving out of
the app and platform economy
and into the data, AI and robotics
economy – those topics were all
the rage this year.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 11
Knowing that mobile penetration and
consumer usage has never been higher, we
attended as many mobile sessions as
possible. Sadly, none presented us with new
solutions. Interestingly, there was almost no
talk of Facebook, which is odd considering
how much time consumers spend on that
specific mobile app. It is almost like few
want to admit to what degree their hands
are tied with such an omnipresent walled
garden platform. Even talks focused on the
mobile journey seemed to not offer up any
solution other than push notifications and
geo context. And in terms of social apps on
mobile devices, there were very few talks
focused on this topic.
While there were no big mobile launches,
there were some apps receiving praise,
the included:
• Enlight – An addictive and creative
photography app.
• Vibble – An app that turns absolutely anyone
into a DJ by accessing and mixing tracks
from all major streaming music services.
• Slack – the collaboration platform continues
to be praised by the community.
• Recharge – an app available in California
that allows you to rent unused hotel rooms
by the hour (for napping and showering!)
• Skirt – LA-based car rental app that makes
renting a car much smoother procedure.
• Likeso – app that measures your verbal fillers
while talking or giving speeches
• Flycar – why not rent your car to others while
in long-term parking at the airport?
• Hound – voice search, yes. But it actually
works very well. Hound takes speed and
accuracy to a whole new level by combining
speech recognition and language
understanding. This speech-to-meaning
capability makes Hound the new way to
search and do things faster without typing.
• Pause – much like the headspace app, this
new app helps you relax, except it uses
mezmeriszing visuals activated by your
fingertip to do so.
THEME 10:
MOBILE, A MUCH
OF A MUCHNESS –
WHAT THE SPEAKERS
CONSISTENTLY
DIDN’T SAY
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
18/03/2016 12
THE SIMPLY
IRRESISTIBLE SESSIONS
– THE SESSIONS THAT
INSPIRED THE MOST.
Space and Mars exploration was a
hot topic covered in a few different
sessions by NASA, Mars One, and
Google Lunar Xprize.
AI, Robotics and Android
advancements made for some jaw-
dropping moments. From witnessing
a talking android to shaking hands
with robots, the non-human were
some of the best presenters.
Unrelted, the keynote from Brene’
Brown about ‘daring greatly’ struck
at a few heart strings and motivated
the crowd. Her studies and famous
Ted Talk about vulnerability are
important for anyone that has or will
fail in life and work.
@CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia

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SXSW Interactive Curated By Carat

  • 1. SXSW 2016 INTERACTIVE THEMES CURATED BY CARAT The annual interactive, film, and music get together in the free-spirit capital of Texas has come a long way over 30 years. The festival – not a conference – is a mixture of events, panels, speeches, meet ups, mentoring sessions, exhibits, pop-ups and shows. The model has proven successful, aided due to the sunny weather, delicious southwestern cuisine, and the hospitable attitude of Austinites (just don’t call them Austonians). With over 72,000 registrants, this year’s fest is sure to be the largest to date when it ends just days from now. The 2016 gathering of artists, marketers and scientists, trendsetters and nerds has already proven successful in more ways that one; within two days, Tinder (the global dating app) achieved 182,000 successful matches. For many, that’s reason enough to do ‘South by’. Aside from the great atmosphere, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of excellent sessions covering themes like Convergence, Intelligent Future, Content Distribution, Start-ups, Entertainment, Government Policy, etc. From our curated list, we attended talks titled ‘Big Data and AI: Sci-Fi vs. Everyday Applications’, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It: Ad Blocking and User Revolt’, ‘Diversity and Tech: Breaking Down Unconscious Bias’, ‘Innovators or Idiots – Mobile’s Next Hits or Misses’. And of course, there were the keynotes from Brene Brown (scholar, author and speaker exploring vulnerability), Kevin Plank (Founder and CEO of Under Armour), Casey Gerald (founder of MBAs across America), Andy Puddicome (founder of Headspace) and last but definitely not least, Barack Obama (The President of the United States). This report covers the themes, new news, exciting talks and sadly, the sessions that were skip-worthy. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 2. 18/03/2016 2 Throughout the festival, there were many sessions related to the before mentioned. For the most part, the theme was consistent. Yes, vast amounts of cleaned and stored data will eventually lead to AI, and when paired with robots with human characteristics, we get androids that could live with humans….but that is a long way away (unless you live in Japan). ‘We all need to just chill out’ was the overwhelming message from most speakers on the topic of AI. Yes, machine learning is advancing, but we are far from the point where machines can think beyond the data put into them and explain the choices it makes. Today, most AI systems are still based on key word recognizing patterns. There is little progress in connecting disparate pieces of data and understanding emotion. Ask an AI machine a complex question like, ‘who was president when JFK was born?’ and you will likely get pages of search results but not answer, Woodrow Wilson. It is difficult to connect disparate bits of data, and in the marketing world, this will be exasperated by the inability to match data sets and consumer IDs across differing ecosystems, e.g. Facebook to Google to Twitter. Having said that, expect the marketing community to lead in AI within single ecosystem platforms as an error in advertising is far less threatening than an error in say healthcare, finance or transportation. After all, advertising isn’t brain surgery. In the near term, expect AI to help teach and tutor. AI will propose hypothesis, but a person is still needed to apply an emotional and lateral-thinking filter to the hypothesis. In the area of robotics and androids, exciting work is coming from Hiroshi Ishiguro (and his Android). He is creating humanlike androids and other robots to assist in everything from teaching children, keeping the elderly company and speaking at conferences. At the most basic level, his creations can incorporate smart phones and teach new languages. At a more complex level, his creations can serve as a sort of a human form Skype call or even and translate conversations. Expect more headlines about AI, Robotics and Androids over the coming months. THEME 1: AI, ROBOTS, AND ANDROIDS, OH MY – DYSTOPIA OR UTOPIA. SORTING THE MYTH FROM REALITY. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 3. 18/03/2016 3 A slew of talks explored how data can be used for public good, especially via the US government. Many representatives from the Obama administration and government were on differing stages exploring ways that data is improving policy. There were even talks exploring how data can predict social uprisings and war. Data was also referenced in almost every AI talk, as it’s widely known that AI is only as good as the data that feeds it. As a tangible example, key words search has led to Google’s AI efforts. Expect the advertising industry to lead the data for AI efforts. During the keynote address from the founder and CEO of Under Armour, data was explored as a way to turn the healthcare industry into one of maintaining wellness by monitoring personal health data instead of simply treating sickness. The wealth of data from Under Armour’s scaled apps and wearables will alter the fitness industry in 2016 and continue their streak of 20 consistent business quarters at +20% growth. THEME 2: YEH DATA, BUT FOR WHAT? Data was a reoccurring theme in many session titles, yet the talks were often about an outcome or an insight from the data. 2016 is the year that the masses comprehend data as an input, an ingredient, for other great things. The takeaway is that data proficiency is now table stakes. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 4. 18/03/2016 4 THEME 3: VIRTUAL REALITY, AS AN EVERYDAY REALITY The powers that be – especially Samsung and Oculus – are determined to make VR a reality in in 2016. The headsets were everywhere, from the Samsung popup to pedicabs to startups exhibits. With so many using the headsets as a storytelling device, VR is sure to be a part of our world at home or at work. If experience leads to trust than VR is the next best thing to being there. See the hotel room or apartment before you rent, experience a holiday before booking, test drive a car from your living room, learn the subject first hand, the scenarios for this technology and content are endless. It was reported that many waited in line for over two hours to experience the Samsung Virtual Reality roller coaster. It’s important to note that while Oculus did not have a booth at the festival, Mark Zuckerberg did announce this week that Oculus will launch with 30 games available just weeks from now. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 5. 18/03/2016 5 THEME 4: CIVIC GOOD – WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, YOU DO BETTER Civic duty and social good were topics covered on many stages. President Obama visited the festival to call for attendees to participate in solving the challenges facing America and the world. He stressed that a democracy needs public participation. On other stages, war and injustice were being tackled through data and technology. The Human Rights Foundation and North Korean defectors specifically raised awareness of efforts to penetrate the hermit kingdom with outside media through air-ballooning donated USB devices over the border. David Mace explored how to use data to predict and prevent war. Even #blacklivesmatter was on stage calling for new ideas behind the movement. Ken Burns and Henry Louis Gates explored race in America. It’s clear that businesses and brands will need to increasingly take a stand against inequality and injustice. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 6. 18/03/2016 6 THEME 5: PIXELATING THE REAL WORLD – BEYOND THE SCREEN & KEYBOARD Perhaps some of the newest thinking came from those sessions exploring the use of IoT, wearables and human interface. In one session titled ‘New Human Machine Interface and the Future of Work’, the person that inspired the interactive computer screens in the movie Minority Report, explored how rooms can now be turned into interactive spaces for collaboration through scanners, sensors, projectors, videos, voice recognition, and hand gestures. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 7. 18/03/2016 7 THEME 6: GENDER AND DIVERSITY EQUALITY AND INCLUSION There’s still a lot of work to do, so the women’s equality and inclusion movement continues to garner worhty attention. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia There seemed to be a concerted effort to represent men and women equally on stage. This was refreshing as all too often the conference circuit stages are crammed with white middle-aged men. One keynote address chaired by the US Chief Technology Officer, titled ‘Elephant in the Valley’, explored female inequality and representation in tech. There were many sessions and meet ups related to gender and LGBT issues. Sadly, while racial diversity was discussed in a few sessions, SXSW is still very much an event attended by a lot of white people.
  • 8. 18/03/2016 8 THEME 7: HEY, BLOCK YOU! THE RISE OF ADBLOCKERS @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia In one of the more tense panels, representatives from Adblock Plus and publisher, Forbes, debated the topic of adblocking. Emotion gets involved when two sides have such strongly opposing views. DVorkin from Forbes used words like ‘black mail’ whereas Williams from Adblock Plus argued, "when there are fewer ads online, the quality conceivably could go up.” You would think adblockers were born out of a mission- driven movement. With session headlines like ‘Were Not Going to Take It – Ad Blocking and User Revolt’, ‘Adblockageddon – How to Survive and Prosper’ and ‘Economic Realities: Ad Blocking and Consumer Control’, the battle lines were clear. Those that champion ad blockers, e.g. Head of Operations at Adblock Plus, are on a mission to save the consumer from a ‘laggy, tag-strewn, data-guzzling user experience’. Whereas agencies and publishers are determined to win back the ‘eyeballs and emotions of the adblock generation’. It seems all agree that great content should make it to consumers but few will admit that their content is worth blocking. Some serious self-reflection is needed to preserve the digital-ad-serving model as we know it as those on a blocking mission are gaining momentum.
  • 9. 18/03/2016 9 THEME 8: NERDS – IT’S COOL TO BE UNCOOL While not an overt theme, there does seem to be something in the air where techies, coders and entrepreneurs carry a certain renewed confidence as top politicians and Hollywood stars, the President of the United States to J.J. Abrams and Kerry Washington, participated in the Interactive portions of SXSW. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 10. 18/03/2016 10 THEME 9: NEW NEWS – NOT SO MUCH. Whilst SXSW has witnessed launches like Twitter, Foursquare and Meerkat, there were no big launches this year. However, that may mean we are moving out of the app and platform economy and into the data, AI and robotics economy – those topics were all the rage this year. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 11. 18/03/2016 11 Knowing that mobile penetration and consumer usage has never been higher, we attended as many mobile sessions as possible. Sadly, none presented us with new solutions. Interestingly, there was almost no talk of Facebook, which is odd considering how much time consumers spend on that specific mobile app. It is almost like few want to admit to what degree their hands are tied with such an omnipresent walled garden platform. Even talks focused on the mobile journey seemed to not offer up any solution other than push notifications and geo context. And in terms of social apps on mobile devices, there were very few talks focused on this topic. While there were no big mobile launches, there were some apps receiving praise, the included: • Enlight – An addictive and creative photography app. • Vibble – An app that turns absolutely anyone into a DJ by accessing and mixing tracks from all major streaming music services. • Slack – the collaboration platform continues to be praised by the community. • Recharge – an app available in California that allows you to rent unused hotel rooms by the hour (for napping and showering!) • Skirt – LA-based car rental app that makes renting a car much smoother procedure. • Likeso – app that measures your verbal fillers while talking or giving speeches • Flycar – why not rent your car to others while in long-term parking at the airport? • Hound – voice search, yes. But it actually works very well. Hound takes speed and accuracy to a whole new level by combining speech recognition and language understanding. This speech-to-meaning capability makes Hound the new way to search and do things faster without typing. • Pause – much like the headspace app, this new app helps you relax, except it uses mezmeriszing visuals activated by your fingertip to do so. THEME 10: MOBILE, A MUCH OF A MUCHNESS – WHAT THE SPEAKERS CONSISTENTLY DIDN’T SAY @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia
  • 12. 18/03/2016 12 THE SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE SESSIONS – THE SESSIONS THAT INSPIRED THE MOST. Space and Mars exploration was a hot topic covered in a few different sessions by NASA, Mars One, and Google Lunar Xprize. AI, Robotics and Android advancements made for some jaw- dropping moments. From witnessing a talking android to shaking hands with robots, the non-human were some of the best presenters. Unrelted, the keynote from Brene’ Brown about ‘daring greatly’ struck at a few heart strings and motivated the crowd. Her studies and famous Ted Talk about vulnerability are important for anyone that has or will fail in life and work. @CaratGlobal #SXSW #RedefiningMedia