You may not read the whole story, but that’s ok
In times of attention deficit, the significance of SXSW for Talquimy and be summarized in a word: possibilities. If you’ve read this far, chances are you might get to the Chico Science part.
Despite a screenless world, the proliferation of Blockchain technology across various industries like space travel, autonomous airplanes, and artificial intelligence, we can say this year’s SXSW didn’t focus so much on next-generation technologies, but rather centered the discussion on where human relationships are headed in the midst of all of it.
At the Mckinsey event with Brazilian executives, the consensus seemed to be that the festival was more about behavior than technology. Romeo Bussarelo, director of marketing for Tecnisa, and professor at Insper, FIA and ESPM, shared his sense that we are experiencing transition from “show me the money” to “show me the meaning.”
The folks at Jet Propulsion at NASA highlighted the value of the word “meaning.” By presenting their communication efforts to announce their mission to Mars, the panel participants reminded everyone that in space there’s no such thing as a giant leap for mankind if we’re not able to explain what that means to those on Earth.
Looking at it that way, a communications agency and a special government agency aren’t that different. Both must overcome the ordinary, yet indispensable challenge of developing narratives that provide meaningful value.
Those engagements gave fruit to many learnings, but I will focus on three things, already commonplace in Talquimy’s routine, and which inspire evolution.
How to manage the different levels of attention from the audiences we activate?
It’s been said for some time that we’re living through a transformation. Perhaps we’re just at its peak and, this time, the cause isn’t a new social media network, but rather people’s real capacity to pay attention.
An interesting theory by Alex Chung, creator of Giphy, predicted the end of content, but really his presentation gives focus to a sea of opportunities. The premise lies in that people’s attention spans are abundant and superficial – believe me, there’s nothing wrong with that. To navigate that scenario, we have to dive head-first into the production of non-textual micro-content.
Selling himself, Chung talks about his proposal for a sort of “Netflix” for original gifs, but that’s just one example, among many, as we need only limit ourselves to seconds and others come up.
Finally, if we’re talking about other stimuli to attract the attention at different levels, we can’t leave out the significance of sound. Here we revisit the podcasts. The Marvel movie “Wolverine: The Long Night” and the funny Ira Glass with his “American Life” show the power of format used to reach different attention spans.
The next subject is about the world of data. Big Data was once big news and que issue is no longer how we process information at scale. It’s about people’s and companies’ behavior towards large amounts of available data and what will eventually become policies and code of conduct for getting use out of it.
The Fjord trends report covers, among many things, the importance of caution when obtaining data, emphasizing the inherent risks to privacy. Meanwhile, a Blockcahin and Civil Liberties panel focused on how technological innovation, based on decentralized form of validating information, depend on a set of behaviors to verify that data.
The way of sharing information was also a subject of discussion. There was no shortage of tables about data storytelling, with interesting cases about data visualization. During the discussion with The Pudding, Viacomm and Datawheel, the topic of combining data about art in order to convert information into impactful stories was also of great value.
The Importance of the Process
To sum it up, SXSW was far more that just an agenda of activities. It was lesson about how processes can lead to connections. As you go through the circuit of more or less 30 presentations, meetings, movies, shows, cereal bars, briskets, talks with clients and random strangers, you end up discovering the mechanism that drives the festival and you find your own way to get the most out of it.
The madness is very well thought through and the process of exploring it is pretty gratifying. The saying, “try, learn, and adapt,” which was affixed to Jeff Taylor’s presentation, Instagram’s Product Marketing, could have been at the entrance in Austin, welcome message.
In making a connection, true to the style of the event, it’s important to remember that a good part of the content chaos was intensifying back in 1994, when SXSW was including a division in technology, better-known as “interactive,” which has hosted a slew of big names in innovation.
During the same year, on the other side of America, Chico Science, one of the most chaotic Brazilian composers in history, first launched the album “De Lama a Caos” (From Mud to Chaos), in which he sang, “as I get organized, I can unorganize, and as I unorganize, I can organize again.” Chico Science never went to SXSW, but his thought process would have made an excellent panel. Who knows? Maybe next year? We’ll see.