South by Southwest

Dispatches From Our Man At SXSW

Ramblings from Day 1 at SXSW Interactive

After early morning listening to some intense douchebaggery at JFK, I was a bit concerned that SXSW had morphed, or grown, into something that may not be the solid experience it had been.

Well…you win some, you lose some.

Thankfully though, that string of thought did not continue. The first day was full of great seminars and talks.

Anti-social social media


NBA legend and Turner Analyst Charles Barkley discussed why he will never be on social media in a talk entitled “How to remain relevant in a Digital Age”. Now you know those Barkley social accounts are all zombie ones.

Basically he said it’s become such a mean spirited space, describing it as being like “the homecoming queen – all the ugly girls hate you.”

Barkley’s hilarious honesty made for good food for thought.  My two favorites:

On retirement: “If you work past 60, you’re stupid”

And on golf and sex: “You could suck at both and still have a good time”

The beauty of ambiguous designs 


Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, gave the next keynote

I will admit that MoMA is like Disneyland for me- the happiest place on earth!

In her TED-style presentation she described  design as Parkour: the ability to move through spaces in a creative way, always advancing and exploring the connection between the elements of science, nature and technology.

She marveled on the concept of quantum design which lives in the “in between” as a concept. It explores natural science, organic patterns and, in a sense, conceptual thinking almost like 3D chess (That’s my analogy).

“This is a view of design that is dynamic—that’s about ambiguity and interstitial spaces”, she said.

She showed some great videos, one particularly disgusting yet beautiful, of silkworms making their cocooning silk threads in a man made frame. The film featured a soundtrack using the sound of the silkworms creating their natural filament.  It showcased the art of structure while relying on nature and insects – a perfect example of what combining disciplines is all about.

Challenge. Innovate. Repeat.

After that, I was off to a presentation by luxury focused agency Hudson Rouge, the ad partner for Lincoln. After a solid run of innovative advertising, they ran a day of talks and panels, showcasing their efforts for Lincoln. From a 360º music video featuring American singer-songwriter Beck Hansen, to a music selfie online experience, where the points of your face translate into music riffs. Of course they did the Matthew McConaughey spots, which I now can’t see without thinking of Jim Carrey’s spoof.

Part of the success stemmed from a client who asked to be challenged with innovation. For real.

It worked out well for them, as other luxury brand’s CMOs were in the audience and immediately began a conversation both in the presentation, and after. I think they scored at least one new client yesterday. Take note agencies.

Then it was a night for catching up with friends, hearing some great music by the Funk Masters and Charli 2NA (from Jurassic 5) and figuring how much sleep I needed to start my next day of seminars.

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