Biz Stone’s keynote at SXSW Interactive on Monday, Content as a Means for Social Change, came right after the internet exploded with coverage of “Homeless Hotspots,” a program that featured homeless people offering 4G wireless connections for SXSWi participants for a small fee. Though he didn’t mention the hotspots specifically, Stone suggested that marketing is the new philanthropy and should work to benefit multiple people and parties. He also called for people to be creative, embrace failure, ask questions, and develop empathy–obviously good goals, but harder to execute on than it might seem. Still, it’s worth keeping these goals in mind when situations become frustrating for technical or interpersonal reasons.
Our previous coverage of SXSWi trends focused on the user as creator and APIs as tools of empowerment. The third trend, then, is that humans are the key in technology. We are the ones who use it and ensure that it works for us. To underscore the humanity in technology, Biz Stone announced a new video series where he’ll interview high-profile people using new models of business and outreach, and invited the audience to send in questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
On the technology note, 44Doors‘ Tim Hayden gave a good overview of the upcoming mobile market, asserting that the Xbox will be Microsoft’s iPod–the device that converts people. Ads displayed using Microsoft Surface technology will help the company fight back against Apple and Android dominance. This vision of a Microsoft utopia (or dystopia?) is interesting when juxtaposed to the emphasis on humans in technology, as Microsoft’s reputation isn’t necessarily all that warm and fuzzy. Can Microsoft overcome this with the more instinctive, human nature of Kinect technology (no device/controller needed)?
Moving from technology to brand affinity, Lisa Joy Rosner of NetBase shared some of our human preferences as revealed by social media. Unfortunately, those preferences kind of make us out to be greedy consumerists, with ice cream being the number one thing women want and cars the number one thing that men want. Still, Rosner’s presentation gave good insight into the different brands that fall under desires, and it was also interesting to see a 70% overlap between what men and women want. The categories (ice cream, pizza, cookies) are often the same for both genders, but the brands in each category are different.
No matter the technology or brand, the solutions that speak to our humanity will be the ones that win out in the end. SXSWi has been a great experience, and we hope to have another wrapup of events tomorrow. Then it’s back to business as usual, or at least Cloudforce in San Francisco on Thursday!
Featured image from Humans the band, who’ll play at the “original” SXSW starting this Thursday.