I have been busy with SXSW lately and taken a pretty long break from writing. Unlike so many in the professional and personal blogosphere I’m too overwhelmed with sessions, pitches and expos at SXSW that I can’t really find “the thing” that broke out or defined the mood of the conference. If I had to mention particular technologies and social media it would be beacons and Meerkat. Beacon technology signals positions to Mobile Apps on a micro-local scale, and deliver hyper-contextual content to users based on location. So if you are looking at a nice new dress in a store beacon technology can send discount coupons to your phone. Meerkat is the hot new app that lets you livestream your environment to social media. I consider none of these technologies disruptive or particularly transformative.
But SXSW this year was not so much about specific technologies. It was about sweeping changes in the macro-environment that will impact us in the future and the way we use said technologies. So in many ways it was a “meta-conference”. Issues like the rights of mind-clones (digital replications of your brain), privacy in a world of big data and women’s glass ceiling were issues that set the tone for the conference this year. Gone is the time when a new hipsterish app can take off just by making a tech pilgrimage to Austin. Apps come and go, but the deeper questions and macro-trends stay with us.
Educational software and wearables that track health information, like the Apple watch are technologies I think we will see more of in the future.
So next year I think we might see less “shiny gizmos” and more cutting edge technology that aims to bring technological breakthroughs to solve hindrances in our physical environment, whether those hindrances are related to health, environment or scarce resources like water.