StopPress@SXSW 2014: five big things—day one

  • SXSW
  • March 10, 2014
  • Haydn Kerr
StopPress@SXSW 2014: five big things—day one

DDB NZ's new digital creative director Haydn Kerr is getting a glimpse of the future at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Here's what he's learned so far. 

1. Welcome to SQSW

You may have paid US$1200 to be here, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll see anything. I arrived 30 minutes early for my first session, but the queue was already around the corner. More than 500 people trying to get into a session in a yoga studio. The lesson: be crazy early.

2. Kids in Shenzen are hacking factories to make $12 smartphones

This is from Jochi Ito, director of the MIT media lab. He sent students to Shenzen to learn from these young Chinese developers. They rework their factories at night and produce new models of smartphone each week. Jochi Ito sees the future of manufacturing as this kind of blend: large-scale factory production meets artisanal, intuitive makers.

3. In the future, we’ll grow a chair from a seed

“Printing genes at home will happen in our lifetime.” This again from Jochi Ito. He compared the current state of biotech to the early days of the internet.  Fight it all you like, but eventually you’ll need to know about bioengineering. Remember, a chromosome can hold more data than a hard disk.

And it’s worth listening to him on this: he was an early investor in Twitter, Path, Flickr, Lastfm and Kickstarter, to name a few.

4. Plan digital events like live TV

Tool of North America produced some of my favourite content campaigns – Clouds over CubaScrew*dTake this lollipop. Recently they came to our part of the world and made Remote Control Tourist in Melbourne. Their secret sauce? Treat your digital project like a TV show. Eliminate all possible dull moments. Make casting your most important decision. Give fans ‘another channel’ so viewers can 'flick over' when the content loses their attention.

5. Girls in Egypt use Google maps to avoid NATO bombing

And you think the internet is important to your life. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, and Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas, kicked off SXSW with a discussion that rambled across a range of unstable countries. And while technology brings freedom, Cohen was quick to point out it can also get you shot. Forces like the Syrian Electronic Army are all the more dangerous because their activity is invisible. But the Google execs didn't forget to tell the audience that their data is ”very safe” from any governments, domestic or foreign.

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