SXSW Interactive: A Roundedcube Recap

Roundedcube Roundedcube
March 18, 2014
Company News

Last week, Roundedcube took a trip to Austin to attend SXSW Interactive for the first time. We had a few thoughts and expectations as we headed out and we shared a few tips we learned along the way. Now that we've had a few days to reflect on our time spent at SXSW, here are some of our thoughts and recaps from a few noteworthy sessions we attended.

Olivia's Overall Thoughts:

During SXSW Interactive, I decided to focus my time on sessions with a few different themes: digital marketing, content strategy, creativity, celebrities, and…whatever else was located near my previous session. I sat in on "The Secrets Behind Addictive Storytelling" with panelists Bob DeBitetto of A&E, Joanna Coles of Cosmopolitan, Jonathan Perelman of Buzzfeed, and Terry Wood of One Three Media. They shared some of their personal success they've had with creating compelling content and emphasized that viewing content is just the first step; the crucial part is getting that content shared so that a community can be formed and your brand can truly be built. Today, people are re-tweeting or sharing articles before they even read them and truthfully, they probably never will.

I also enjoyed a few sessions on iBeacons (which the official SXSW GO app used), mobile experience and personalization. As part of the digital marketing team here at Roundedcube, I'm always thinking about the best ways for our clients to use personalization to tailor content, so it was interesting to hear how brands such as AllReciples.com are customizing the user experience.

The last session I attended at the conference was "Chaos and Creativity: A Love Story" with Patricia Korth-McDonnell of Huge. She discussed how to create a company culture that fosters creativity and what to do to improve that initiative. It was a great way to end the conference, with information that I could really carry with me. There's a great recap on Inc. with more of the main takeaways.

Gilbert's Google Takeaway

The session "The New Digital Age" sticks with me, even days after attending. The panel, with Eric Schmidt (Google Executive Chairman) and Jared Cohen (Director of Google Ideas), was moderated by Steven Levy (Technical Writer). Although many topics were touched on, the basis of their discussion was on how we, the American innovators of the web, have to discover a way to translate our knowledge into positivity and opportunity abroad.

There are internet users in many other countries that use the online technology, that some of us take for granted every day, to not only simplify their day to day activities, but to ensure their safety. But, while the open access to the web, in popular opinion, is beneficial to the knowledge of the world, the same open access, is also a threat amongst 3rd world societies whose government and war terrorists use the web, and its data, against the civilians. The number one adversary in protecting the user information that is being used as a weapon, is America. There is a global demand for online security and protection, without balkanization, and we, the American innovators of the web have the responsibility to provide it.

Jason's Eye-Opening Workshop

I attended the "Designing Products for Behavioral Change" workshop. From the author of the O’Reilly book of similar name Designing for Behavior Change: Applying Psychology and Behavioral Economics By Stephen Wendel. The 2.5 hour session had takeaways, a spirited presentation and group exercises. Taking common human actions and "system 1" behavior and parsing it into a workshopped "Discover, Design and Refine" process, we applied all the latest research in behavioral design to our own hypothetical products.

As for me, we design "products" every day as websites and web apps, so the leap from a user-centric psychological approach made a lot of sense. Out of all the sessions I might have attended, this one was a clear winner for me that combined natural and industrial sciences and behavioral studies in order to come up with a repeatable, thorough methodology.

Rich's New Favorite Fact

Mind blowing information I learned at SXSW 2014 from astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Here it goes. If the earth is a 20" beach ball, then the moon is a 5" ball and Mars is a 12" ball. The moon would be about 20’ away from the earth in this scenario - much further than most of us thought. Mars however, [silent pause for dramatic effect] would be about 1.5 miles away from the earth beach ball. Let that sink in a minute....................Kaboom!

 SXSW Interactive Recap

And, the recent record breaking space jump where a man sky dived from so called "space" would have been from about 2mm above the 20" beach ball. Dr. Tyson said that is not far enough away from earth to see the earth as round. It is the use of a fish-eye lens on the camera that gives this impression. Who knew? Apparently Neil deGrasse Tyson and we do too.

Overall, SXSW was a great experience and our takeaways were countless. Did you attend SXSW Interactive? We'd love to hear about your most memorable sessions or workshops.

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