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SXSW Highlights Day 1

March 12, 2017

SXSW can be dizzying with the events, concerts, parties, and panels. B-Reel is on the ground in Austin, and sharing our favorite panels of each day.

Make it Hard: Benefits of Creative Problem Making

Theme: Creative problem solving

Who: Jordan Stone and Andrew Geller of 1st Ave Machine and special guest Aaron Duffy. Presenter's creds ranged from The Writing’s on the Wall OK Go video to Chrome Speed Test videos. Flula Borg also made a surprise video appearance. 

What: Interactive talk in which the audience created a music video using props and audience-created sounds which was edited live on the spot. The presenters used creative ways to solve how to create a music without any real instruments. The result...

What We Liked: The presentation was interactive – a lot of audience participation and anyone could be the problem solver. It was also low tech - in a festival dominated by technology it was fun to go analogue for a little while. They took a new and creative approach to problems. It would be easy to make a drumbeat on a drum but harder to do so with a balloon - and with a more interesting result.  All in all it was a fun panel, engaging, risky, funny.

Takeaway: Create your own obstacles in order to have a much more interesting and exciting result.

Start Over: The Next Age of Digital Media

Who: Joshua Topolsky

Co-Founder of The Verge and Vox Media, and recently launched “The Outline” – new take on online media outlet, which he discussed in this panel.

Theme: Building a media brand and what matters in 2017

What: Ads that run on online magazines are outdated, having been developed 20 years ago. Everyone hates banner ads (including a lot of folks that have to make them). The ads, however, shape the format of the magazines. What Josh suggests is to create advertising that fits with the publication and the content. He also touched on how it seems that everyone is trying to cater to everyone, sharing traffic and competing for clicks. He is trying to target a specific group that he believes The Outline can cater to and be close to.

Liked: We think that he is right. Ad formats have to evolve as the current and outdated system isn’t working. Josh’s approach of native integration of ads and content, built for mobile are going to be the next step in online advertising.  The ads are not jarring and annoying, but rather fit with the aesthetic of the publication. This creates more interesting opportunities to create work in that space. They add (no pun intended) to the experience rather than distract from it. As advertisers ourselves we think this is a great idea.

Takeaway: Feel free to send a brief our way!

HI + AI: What is the future of Intelligence

Who: Adam Cheyer - Viv Labs, Bryan Johnson - Kernel, Reshma Shetty - Ginko BioWorks, Nancy Giordano - Play Big Inc

What: Panel discussion on the future of combining human intelligence and artificial intelligence and the ethical implications therein.

Theme: Evolution is increasingly self directed. The line between what’s a tool and what’s a talent grows less clear each passing day. The future of intelligence is profoundly contested.

Liked: This panel of experts brought the topic of AI to a new holistic level. It explored the ethics of AI and brought in the human aspect of it; not just the cool things about AI (while the tech is very exciting) but also the applications and repercussions. Could it create a new kind class warfare? New stage of colonization of humans vs. bio humans? The discussion emphasized the importance of society that decides on how the tools are to be used and deeply questioned the ethics of AI and integrating with HI as AI is still in its infancy. In all, the panel cut through the hype and brought it into the realm of practical application.

Takeaway: The time of our robot overlords is not yet nigh. In fact, we are a long, long way to go before AI gets sentient on us.

You can check out all of our top top panel picks and their links here!


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