SXSWi 2014: Day two (9 March)

Don’t put too much stock in the title of this blog. It is not the second day of SXSWi, it’s the third. I just called it day two because that’s how long I’ve been here.

It’s a singular numbering system, but I’m not changing it now. I just wanted to offer some clarity on a subject because I’ve spent the day dealing with conflicting ideas and vague answers.

I attended a panel session this morning that promised to reveal the overarching trends of the festival. Apart from rain, tacos and free juice, the big topic at SXSWi 2014 is privacy – inevitable with both Julian Assange and Edward Snowden on the speakers list. Hardly a talk goes by without someone asking what the technology means for people’s privacy.

Even Shaquille O’Neal, in a talk about wearable technology (another big trend at SXSWi 2014) revealed that he uses an alias (Tom Jones) when signing up to health monitoring networks.

But, at the same time, almost every start-up CEO making a pitch has ended by saying how they will make most of their money by harvesting their customers’ data.

Someone on this morning’s trend panel asked whether these two topics had yet clashed in a session; whether a concerned attendee had raged at a tech company for selling people’s information. No one had heard of it happening, yet.

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