Why go to SXSW? Share in the experience and 6 quick tips for 2019

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For 4 years running, Wendy Perry, MD of Workforce BluePrint has invested significant time and effort to get to SXSW Interactive – when asked why, Wendy says,

“There is nothing else on the planet like SXSW.  The combination of leading edge thinking, the latest in tech, immersive experiences, networking and making global connections is incomparable to any other event.  With so many sessions to choose from, houses to visit, parties to go to, it is the serendipitous moments that stand out.  For example, this year I met Anu Passi-Rauste from Headai Ltd using AI to solve skills challenges for Helsinski to get a better match between workforce demand and supply.  This was at the Women@Austin event on Friday night, then we had a meeting at the Dell House and now we are working on an international partnership.  This is only one amongst so many opportunities and following the intelligent future and workforce tracks, I now have so much new insight and knowledge to share with our clients and colleagues.”

When asked, would you recommend SXSW to others?

“If you want to be ahead of your industry, disruption and changes then absolutely yes, the investment is worth it.  Also, the city I live in, Adelaide in South Australia has a sister city partnership with Austin, Texas and this relationship has proven invaluable in opening up doors and smoothing connections.”

“On a quick side note, last year I contacted Hugh the SXSW Programmer and suggested that in the daily email, alongside the degrees F temperature, they should add degrees C for those from other parts of the world.  This year it was great to see they took on board this suggestion and implemented new features to help make the SXSW experience smoother.”

Tracking through the SXSW 2018 experience, share in what it is like to attend this massive festival with more than 400 000 people participating in SXSW week and 70 000+ attending Interactive, Film and Music conferences.

In the few days prior to flying to the USA, I was in Ubud, Bali meeting the third group of entrepreneurs including unicorns, record fund raisers and Venture Capital Associations, who will visit Australia in late April – mid May 2018.  This meant I flew from Bali to Sydney, then to Dallas and on to Austin arriving in the afternoon on Thursday 8 March.

Catching the metro bus from Austin Airport to the Convention Center was really easy and only cost $1.25 USD with other SXers on board.  “Happy to be at #SXSW2018 #SXSW thanks to @perrylogic got my badge & it is the quiet before the storm tomorrow, looking forward to all things #future related.”

Arriving at SXSW 2018 – the calm before the storm

Tip #1: Catch the metro bus from the airport to the Austin Convention Center and pick up your badge on Thursday afternoon or evening to avoid queues the next day (day 1 official start).

The full on experience that is #SXSW2018 is about to begin, picking sessions with a future theme across #AI #MachineLearning #Robots #gender #investment #startups #blockchain #work plus a party or two!

What AI Reveals About Our Place in the Universe was the first session for my SXSW Festival.

Tip #2: Use the SXSW Go app and favourite everything that takes your fancy rather than worrying about which sessions cross over each other.

An intelligent thing is constantly reacting to the world & learning from it, not like a computer that shuts down says Sean M Carroll.

What is intelligence?  There isn’t an agreed definition so how about artificial intelligence?

Collective intelligence #hiveminds to think together as a system, converge on answers in ways you couldn’t do this alone, connect via feedback loops Unanimous AI look to nature for examples such as the swarm intelligence that bees and birds demonstrate.

Brain of brains takes intelligence to the next level – tighter systems to think in larger groups and get smarter together.

Would you like a sense of smell like a dog? Alternative intelligence and sensing could do this where humans can take on other capabilities that we may have never considered before explains David Eagleman.

There are always new experiences, products and technologies launched at SXSW and this year there was the opening night party of the Ready Player One Experience where Steven Spielberg unveiled the film to a packed theater.  You can find a session on anything you might be interested and the networking opportunities are remarkable, for example you can meet mayors from across the country to learn about taking a holiday in orbit where the views are out of this world.

Virtual Reality (VR) umbrellas were used to explore an alternative underwater marine world but you better hold on tight as the floor drops away within a massive wave.

Tip #3: If you can’t make it to SX in person, there are many sessions that are live streamed.

The Future of Machine Learning is it worth the hype? Data to decisions #datascientist #AI sense making #robots interacting with a physical world Trip Advisor understanding sentiment analysis, intent of traveller & image recognition.

Interesting discussion on ethics in AI and Machine Learning with consideration of values, who it impacts & measurement of effects, societal decision rather than one engineer, suggestion of over estimating #AI in the short term but underestimating in the long run?

Reaching Out: The Networking Strategy You Need Today saw Molly Beck demonstrating how to Reach Out – fearlessly, strategically and every day of the work week.

Practicing reaching out to build a handpicked community and know more people, hack networking as you can change this for yourself to get mentors and job opportunities.  Every day reach out to someone new via email or send a Linkedin message being deliberate to curate a network.

Networking activities need to be related to what your goals are right now says Molly Beck who can help you meet your goals? People from the past, current acquaintances, people you have met recently, friends of friends, (some) strangers.

Tip #4: Reach Out to people whilst you are at SXSW – because you are in Austin, they are too and you have the SX connection, you are likely to get a conversation going or a meeting.

DISRUPTERS: Gender Equity Strategies for 2018 session where systems stand in the way of equality and overcoming embedded barriers is the key through disruption and technology – a world of ‘and’ not ‘or’.

Reflect on these questions,

When you see inequity what do you do? Have you stood up & called it out? It is a system based problem to be disrupted – how can we change it? What will you change?

Fascinating story on how to track and identify criminals on the dark web using data and image analysis combined with connecting with international undercover police investigators tracking activity and history but this is hacking and journalism for good.  The story connected good hackers in Europe with the Australian Federal Police to bust an international ring.

Tip #5: Go along to some sessions that you might not usually choose as seeing into another industry or topic, outside of your usual perspective, can be fascinating,

Trying out the Augmented Reality games at the Sony Wow Studio showed the cool interactive #tech on offer including Virtual Reality and Wearables – watch the video.

Tip #6: Make come time to visit all of the technology houses, see the new tech in action and give yourself time to play with it, understand it, and try it out.

Mark the SXSW 2019 dates in your calendar now!

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