SXSWi: Media Evolution, The Gospel of Doubt, and More

By Chrissie Hanson, Head of Strategy, West Coast, Mindshare North America

SXSWi is a conference that delivers a journey of your own making. My own personal journey has been one that blended work and life, one that asked the big important questions and also brought forth surprise, intrigue, and delight.  And a number of the sessions here have reminded me of the journey that our media industry has taken, and how everything is cyclical…how a change in technology (TV, broadband) fundamentally changes human behavior, and with that creates the space for business growth and innovation.Lerer’s Theory of Media Evolution session yesterday focused on the role that today’s digital content companies will play in harnessing data, social, and talent (influencers) to deliver great content with a real editorial soul.

Next, in The Next Multi-Billion Opp: Marketing in Messaging, we were reminded that brands are only ever “one swipe away from being irrelevant” and that the only way to access the most sacred media channel today (the mobile phone), is for a brand to demonstrate its value to consumers, and perhaps even society.

Purpose and meaning rang loud and clear in Casey Gerald’s keynote. His Gospel of Doubt was a powerful reminder of “the value of doubting things that you deeply believe in” because it’s crucial for work (and life) to remember that there is always another way. A critical lesson for organizations seeking to innovate.

Deep Web and Dark Social: Is Anything Really Privateexplored data and personal freedom, and discussed the balance we strike every day between privacy and convenience. The very act of using Google Maps to get me from my hotel to the Austin Convention Center puts me on the grid and easily identifiable, but can I be bothered to explore encryption and onion routing with the likes of Torproject.org and, like the Navy, go dark and be untrackable?

Finally, there was the riveting panel, Is Your Biological Data Safe? With an FBI spokesperson on the fantastic all-women panel, I was riveted by the threat of DNA spoofing (the FBI put our fears to rest on that one) and enthralled by the idea of DNA home kits that let you swab your colleagues’ pet’s saliva and figure out which dog was really responsible for doing their business in the office. But all joking aside, we learned that the bigger concern on the horizon is the fusion of genomics to big data. The hacking of genetics services like 23andMe and the manipulation of entire databases is where the future may get nefarious. But for now, let’s keep to imagining the positive applications of innovation in the genetics space – so personalized medicine and preventative care – and leave the apocalyptic imaginings to the film makers who will be in Austin next week.