A Look at New Technology at SXSW
As I write this, I'm on my way to Germany, headed for the FIPP 7th annual Digital Innovators' Summit at the Deutsch Telecom Center in Berlin. I had the good fortune to attend last year, and as I reported to you then, it was one of the best conferences I had been to in quite some time.
I go to these functions because it helps me keep up to date in our ever-changing media distribution business. Last year I hit six countries and 38 cities.
Yesterday I finished writing an article about South by Southwest (SXSW) from a publisher's perspective for the pages of the soon-to-be printed magazine Publishing Executive.
I thought I would take a few minutes to recap some of my reactions after five full days at SXSW seeking the implications there for the magazine media industry, and now share with you the events that were not directly connected to magazine media. I attended a wide array of disconnected events and heard many successful spokespersons, some from more traditional businesses and other, outer-edge representatives from bootstrap startup entrepreneurs.
Here, as everywhere at SXSW, the theme I heard was ubiquitous connectivity. One of the more intriguing meetings titled "The Future of Networked Humans" was about body computing. The talk focused on the growing creative synthesis of medicine, business, people, and social interactivity. The forecast here focused on new technologies and discussed how the human machine will be evolving and actually creating relationships with machines. These devices were noted as "technologies for the humanities." Some of the items discussed were rechargeable, very thin, plastic sensors worn on the body and charged by light. I also heard about wearable biometrics of all sorts, sizes and unique applications. One of the more intriguing uses is a type of tattoo that will monitor many of our bodily functions and report to doctors the necessary medical information.
This kind of technology completes the relationship between humanity and technology, merging our body sensors with machines measuring our biometrics for health, for sports, and for shared better medical techniques; in other words, for continuous diagnostics that are tailored and targeted for individual therapies of all kinds.
Speaking of medical information, I attended a passionate and compassionate keynote by Chelsea Clinton where she discussed, among the many other humanitarian crises that the Clinton Foundation works on, helping developing countries that are struggling due to a lack of access to clean water.
In a separate session, I listened to the founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie, who stated that he believes that "doing it different" is as important to success as "doing it good." This belief seems to be growing in some sectors and has made a huge impact on many parts of the world. Blake said that he believed we should focus on being disruptive by disregarding traditional business wisdom and that this is the only way to take our ideas to the next level. Blake Mycoskie is the Founder, sometimes called the Chief Shoe Giver, of TOMS, and he is the person behind the idea of One for One, a business model to help a people in need with every product purchased. It's a simple idea with great global potential. TOMS Shoes has provided over 10 million pairs of shoes to children since 2006, and TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to over 175,000 people since launching the eyewear division in 2011. In 2014 TOMS Roasting Company was founded with the mission to provide clean water to developing communities with the purchase of premium coffee.
I saw dozens of other lectures and talks, but the last speaker I would like to mention in this essay is Tim Berners-Lee, a personal hero of mine and the actual inventor of the Internet just 25 years and a few weeks ago. Since I publish the world's oldest electronic newsletter, it make sense, at least to me, that I would have a special connection with the originator of the internet. His discussion was about what he perceived the biggest technological challenge facing us today is. And that would be the freedom of information distribution on the web. He suggested that we all must pay special attention to the "openness" and availability of the Internet for everyone.
So these are some of the sessions that I went to that had nothing to do with magazine media. Nothing except the on-going digital disruption of everything that will be with us far into the foreseeable future. These disruptions or realignments are not just technology-based phenomenon, but a total reworking of both our business and social paradigms. Everything is or will be connected ubiquitously and globally. In that regard, words are data, too. We will connect, collaborate, and create as never before possible, and that statement does reflect on the next and new magazine media business model still under development.