I Watched A Grown Man Eat Chicken for an Hour
by Ben Travis, Viget
If you were in Austin, you may have seen us running around, giving workshops, or enjoying some local eats. SXSW 2017 was a blast, and we were able to catch up with friends and the latest tech.
We arrived on the festival’s first day to fantastic weather and the smell of delicious tacos. There were thousands of talks during the interactive segment, covering many different topics. However, there were a few popular themes that stood out:
Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR)
Last year, we said Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality would blow up, and we saw some ingenious uses of these technologies. Related products were highlights of the expo, and many speakers focused on the intersection of immersive storytelling and VR/AR/MR. Innovators are now using this technology to sell homes, share immersive journalism, enhance music experiences, explore space, and push the boundaries of cinema.
The Blending of Journalism, Politics, and Tech
On the heels of an administration change, there was a surprisingly large spotlight on social and political issues. Van Jones, Joe Biden, the NYT, and others tackled controversial issues and encouraged renewed action from attendees. Journalists also discussed the risk of pushing the boundaries of privacy and going beyond ethical storytelling in the wake of new technological developments.
Connected hardware is near and dear to us at Viget, and we were happy to see it all over Austin. From meetups to sessions to events, we saw IoT lovers everywhere. Eager innovators were looking to bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds (s/o to our friends at SparkFun!). Covering everything from industrial production, cooking, and home security, there were some seriously smart products that got us thinking about our next projects!
I did not actually plan on watching a grown man eat chicken for an hour, and yet there I was on Wednesday morning doing just that. It was one of a few sessions I attended that discussed the interesting (and bizarre) followings and subcultures on the internet. I found myself asking, “What can I learn from this odd but popular content?” numerous times at the festival, whether it was about people live-streaming their eating habits, eSports, or ridiculously tiny kitchens. As the internet has removed many barriers to entry, digital influencers can gain huge followings and change real opinions and behaviors, bringing up interesting ethical, sociological, and business questions.
One of the biggest highlights each year is meeting up with clients, alumni, other agencies, and new friends. You never know who you'll run into in downtown Austin! This year, we decided to throw our very first (official) Viget SXSW Happy Hour on Rainey Street at Craft Pride, a fantastic Texas-only craft beer saloon. With the help of an open tab and patio, we caught up with current and potential clients in earshot of some great music artists.
The Interactive Festival is a great place to mingle with and learn from our talented peers. One of the perks of joining a network like the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA) is the ability to meet with other agencies through SXSW events like their Member Dinner and Happy Hour. There, we saw familiar faces and were also introduced to new agencies, both local and global, with whom we discussed project processes, challenges, and recent trends. Kudos to their team for well-organized, well-attended, and fun events this year!
For more of the Viget experience (complete with photos and video!) at SXSW, feel free to click here. Until next time – thanks, Austin!
About the Author: Based in Boulder, Colorado, Ben Travis currently serves as Viget’s Marketing Manager. Always inquisitive, Ben seeks out not just answers, but underlying reasons. After falling in love with digital analytics (who hasn’t?), he realized the importance of defining success in the world of digital marketing. Now, he uses data to drive marketing efforts, aided by an unhealthy obsession with spreadsheets.