A Visual Recap of SXSW Interactive 2013

March 15, 2013

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This year at SXSW Interactive, ImageThink headed up the SXnotes initiative. As part of that, we covered a dozen featured sessions over the 5-day conference. We’ve distilled all of those talks into a collection of common themes and big ideas we heard again and again from speakers like Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, Tina Roth Eisenberg of SwissMiss, Phil Libin of Evernote and Matthew Inman of the Oatmeal, to name just a few.

Key Themes from SXSW Interactive 2013

6_sx_recap_AvoidConnectivity Burn-out is Growing. The giddiness of new apps, smart phones, and social media platforms has given way to the realization that these tools are transforming the way we relate to each other. We’re overindulging in connection, and the result is we’re becoming distracted from bigger ideas and our stress level is on the rise. 2_sx_recap_NoiseInformation Overload is Making Us Stupid and Angry: Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com and Douglas Rushkoff both spoke of the perils of too much information. Clay Johnson warned of the dangers in overly-processed information. Silver reminded us that at other points in history when information became more plentiful due to innovation (i.e. the printing press) conflict also increased. The more information that is shared, the more people form opinions and take action. But the type of information we consume affect the conclusions we draw. Rushkoff coined the term fractal-noia for the erroneous connections we make from seemingly unrelated information. 1_SX_recap_Geeks Geeks are the Future. From cartoonist and keynote speaker, Matthew Inman’s reverence for inventor Nicola Tesla, to Alexis Ohanian’s cry for more geeks in office. Ariel Waldman of ScienceHackDay.com spoke wistfully of the hacker-age of NASA in the 1960’s. Appreciation and celebration of the geek ethos of curiosity, exploration and experimentation was a thread woven across the festival. 5_sx_recap_Live Disruption Isn’t Pretty. Bruce Sterling closed the five-day festival with a dramatic and critical talk during which he accused the audience of “killing” previously-lauded types of media. “You have to eat what you kill,” said Sterling. “Eat your dead media.” While electric vehicle and spacecraft pioneer Elon Musk urged entrepreneurs to “look for disruption,” disruption also was the driving force behind this so-called killing. Evernote CEO Phil Libin urged startups to make value the goal, not disruption, stating that it should be a side-effect of success. 4_sx_recap_Make Play Around and Make Stuff. MakerBot founder Bre Pettis, a prime figure in the Maker Movement, kicked off the festival, stating that “iteration is the MakerBot way.” Jessica Hagy of thisisindexed.com, Tina Roth Eisenberg (@SwissMiss) and Ariel Waldman all celebrated the creative process. The consensus was that play, intuition, and exploration feed creativity and innovation. Julie Uhrman of Ouya also touched on the importance of inviting your audience into your creative process to iterate and innovate. SXSW Recap Images Make Space & Time. Douglas Rushkoff’s explanation for the anxiety and franticness of our lives was the incongruous mapping of what he calls “industrial time” onto “digital time.” Tina Roth Eisenberg, the designer behind Creative Mornings and apps like TeuxDeux, reminded us that wonderful things happen with an empty mind so we should make time to think and breathe. Would you like to see all the sketchnotes we created from the entire conference? Click here to view the entire gallery.