Mar 07, 2014

#SXSW Interactive 2014 : First Look At Trends & Themes

sxlogoWe’re in Austin this week for South By Southwest Interactive, which kicks off later today.

This event is one of my favorite of the year – for me, it’s a one-week crash course in what the future holds for anyone involved in the digital space.

A 360 degree look at privacy

Despite the fact that SXSWi is now firmly in the mainstream, and is no longer a funky little nerdfest, a look at emerging themes from this year show the event hasn’t strayed far from its roots.   The big story this year is our notion of privacy, and (more specifically) where privacy intersects with things like national security and digital marketing.

Edward Snowden and Julian Assange will both be addressing the digital faithful, via satellite.  (The Texas Tribune will be livestreaming Snowden’s address here: http://www.texastribune.org on Monday, March 10 at 11 CT.)

My partner in crime at SXSW - PR Newswire's VP of audience development, Vicky Harres.

My partner in crime at SXSW – PR Newswire’s VP of audience development, Vicky Harres.

Underpinning the focus on privacy is an emerging theme of “how to do what is right” with respect to user data and individual privacy.  On the one hand, organizations can use our individual data to provide us with customized experiences, relevant information and advertising that actually reflects things we care about.  On the other hand, some of these measures are designed specifically to separate us from our dollars, and let’s face it – some of it is creepy.  The panels and keynotes around privacy promise to make us think and, true to the SXSW spirit, some promise to stand conventional wisdom on its head.

The digital user experience

Web design evolves incredibly quickly, keeping pace with emergence of new platforms and devices we use to live our lives online, and I remain convinced that content creators (PR people, I’m talking to you too!) can learn a lot from the wizards of UXD (user experience design) – after all, they are creating the environment in which our content will be consumed.    This year it looks like personalization will be a consistent theme in the UX sessions.

Do it all differently, and better

Fostering innovation, continuous learning and recalibrating our organizations to absorb and captitalize upon the changes the digital revolution continues to bring are the focus of a large set of panels and keynotes.    After all, SXSW is first and foremost about change, but for change to happen, organzations and people need to be ready to embrace it.

How we’re covering SXSW:

Keep your eye on the Beyond PR blog – we’ll be posting updates over the weekend, and re-blogging posts from Beyond Bylines, our new media blog.

Vicky and I will be live-tweeting sessions via @PRNewswire and our own handles, @sarahskerik and @victoriaharres.

Additionally, we’ll be sharing pictures on the PR Newswire Tumblr too.

If you’re here, tweet us, we’d love to say hi in person.  And if you’re not, join us in spirit digtially as we dive into SXSWi!

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of  the ebook  New School Press Release TacticsFollow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik.

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