Post-script to SXSW: geeks really are taking over the world and we’re all the better for it

I’m home now from SXSW and able to reflect on some of the bigger themes that came out of it. There was hard evidence that the “internet of things” is becoming a reality – from Google’s experiments with self-driving cars, a pair of talking shoes and the rise and rise of 3D printing. Software is the future of hardware. And it’s really only just begun.
Related to that is the theme of wearable technology. The Google Glass demo (which I am gutted to have missed) got a lot of buzz. Indeed, according to Mashable, it was the highlight of this year’s conference (http://mashable.com/2013/03/13/google-glass-buzz-sxsw/). Read more on Post-script to SXSW: geeks really are taking over the world and we’re all the better for it…

Beyond dual screening: how to bake in viewer participation

A few advertisers have tried Shazam, we’ve witnessed an exceptional Mercedes campaign (www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1152769), we’ve got excited about Zeebox…but the potential of dual screening is being realised better and more consistently in the US. The evidence is staring me in the face at a session at SXSW in which two US networks are sharing their work in this area.
In the UK, our broadcasters, like our advertisers, have only scratched the surface so far. While shows like X Factor and I’m A Celebrity give viewers a vote, they don’t acknowledge the viewers’ voice within the show itself. All those tweets and Facebook posts are ignored on air. It’s almost as if the programme makers don’t know what to do with them. Read more on Beyond dual screening: how to bake in viewer participation…

The future and other small things: SXSW gets macro

I’ve spent the first couple of days at SXSW diving into some fairly micro topics. It’s been a wee bit hit and miss, as you’d expect, but fascinating nonetheless. Today, though, I’ve gone macro: Al Gore on “The Future”; Elon Musk on space travel, solar energy and the bid to save humanity; and perhaps most inspiring of all, Chinese-American entrepreneur Ping Fu on life under Mao and how her incredible personal story has made her into such a strong and successful innovator. Only at SXSW. Read more on The future and other small things: SXSW gets macro…

Lessons from the shanzhai: what Chinese counterfeiters can teach us about innovation

The idea that imitators can teach anyone anything about innovation seems at first to be absurd. Surely, the one is the opposite of the other? Not according to Lyn Jeffery, a student of what she calls the Chinese “informal economy.” Today I am learning all about how the imitators have turned innovators at a small session at SXSW.

As Research Director of Institute of the Future in California, Jeffery has undertaken some fascinating research into the “shanzhai” – which, literally translated, means “mountain fortress” and, in Chinese culture, has Robin Hood style overtones. It now refers specifically to the 15% or so of the Chinese manufacturing sector that is dedicated to the production of fake, branded goods. This loosely networked body of disparate small businesses employs 16m Chinese (as opposed to the 11m employed in the entire US manufacturing industry). Read more on Lessons from the shanzhai: what Chinese counterfeiters can teach us about innovation…

How tablets are changing the shape of news

First time at SXSW. My God there’s a lot on. From “naked ladies reading” (I kid you not) to a talk on “the Consumerisation of Revolutions”…via “the architecture of the air”…where to begin? A Hot Polish dog at Frank’s, of course. But then?

For my virginal SXSW experience, I decide to avoid the esoteric and the wilfully weird in favour of a sensible-sounding talk on something I know little about: designing tablet news experiences. It turns out be a good call. As an ex-journalist whose agency’s clients now include Metro, I find it properly interesting. Read more on How tablets are changing the shape of news…

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