Each year thousands of technology advocates, new media marketers, and multi-channel storytellers come together in the home town of Convio for five days of networking, parties, and sharing. The SXSW Interactive (#SXSWi) Conference is difficult to describe to someone who has not yet experienced it. Part conference, part festival, it’s an opportunity for people who embrace technology to find others with similar interests. Over the last several years, the result has been explosive discovery of new companies and ideas, cultivation of sentiment and meaning in professions, and identification of leaders within the interactive community.
This year I felt especially lucky to be able to attend #SXSWi because having just become a new dad, I’m not able to attend the NTEN Conference which is my annual recharge for why I believe in what I do. The SXSW Interactive Festival is a close second to NTC for the energy and meaning for those of us who believe that technology is a means to make the world a better place.
Though there is still a day and a half of the conference left, the two themes of this year’s SXSWi Festival for me have been: gaming mechanics and measuring influence. There have been plenty of other interesting conversations and presentations, but I’ll leave this year thinking about these two things.
Gaming Mechanics: Seth Priebatsch, the founder of SCVNGR spoke a lot about this in his keynote on Saturday. Until I listened to him, I had thought of Game Mechanics as Zynga, Foursquare, and Xbox. I hadn’t thought about how education, global warming, and governance could be better managed using these principals. There are so many opportunities for nonprofits to be #winning by applying some of these concepts. What are your ideas and new campaigns?
Measuring Influence: Facebook launched in Feb 2004, Twitter in March 2006. The Internet, arguably has been around since 1990. It’s about time that we figure out how to measure influence online and holistic influence across multiple channels. Marshall Kirkpatrick facilitated an amazing panel on the science of influence on Sunday morning. The day before, Robert Rosenthal brought together a panel of nonprofit techies to focus on engagement and commitment to causes.
You’ve surely heard all the stories about how SXSWi is about the next new app, technology, or web service. Or maybe you’ve heard about the celebrity appearances and wild parties. True, they are all there. There’s also the Beacon Lounge and nonprofit meetups, the Greater Good sessions, and the SXSW sponsored efforts to support Japan. There are cause marketing sessions and spontaneous ideas of using apps to benefit nonprofit orgs. There are also book signings by some of the brightest nptech leaders and happy hours sponsored by the people we work with.
So, what I’m saying is to watch SXSWi not only for the latest innovation in web apps and social media, but also for how you’ll be able to innovate for your cause. There’s a lot to be learned and a passionate group of techies to help.