#SNDBXSXSW 2016 — Day One

Howdy y’all…

Who knew Texas could be so green. Apparently it rains a lot in Austin, but who needs an umbrella.

Made it through our first official day at the SXSW 2016, to sum it up: great beer, great BBQ, bustling city, amazing crowd and tons of learning.

Day one was a little overwhelming with hundreds of sessions spread across multiple venues. We split up after a hearty Texas-sized brunch just south of the gorgeous Austin State Capitol building and headed to our first sessions: Fluidity and Honesty: Gen Z and Identity in 2025 and Trust Me I’m An Algorithm. We ‘d love to tell you that “trust me I’m an algorithm” worked as a pickup line but we’d be lying. But we’ll tell you more about the actual sessions later.

The Biggest highlight of the day was President Barack Obama’s keynote address and interview with Evan Smith, CEO, and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune. With over 30,000 attendees crammed into the downtown Austin, there was no way we could all see Obama in the flesh. Unfortunately, neither of us were lucky enough to win the lottery to get on the list. Even with all the bro time between Justin and Obama, the Canadian card didn’t work.

Despite our frustrations, we were able to see President Obama’s address via video conference live stream. What a captivating speaker. Despite not being in the room with him, his presence, command and charm were undeniable. Amongst many other things discussed, the President focused on civic engagement particularly of youth and individuals with the tech and creative industries. In between a few, not so subtle jabs at the Texas legislation and their inability to move forward into the 21st century, he highlighted several government programs and initiatives that focus on utilizing technology to facilitate the ease in which citizens can communicate and interact with their day-to-day government services.

He ended with a call to the attendees and wider tech and creative community to be more involved and spearhead their own initiatives and reach out to their government for the support they need.

All right, enough about the Justin’s new BFF. Seriously, we weren’t kidding about the beer and BBQ. In between sessions, the diligent SXSW army of volunteers and staff take every opportunity to hand you a beer and a plate of brisket. In between tasty morsels, we hit a few more exhibitions and booths to get a look at some of the latest technologies being showcased.

After the first day we’ve started to see a few possible trends and key topics emerging:

· We’ve all heard about Gen Y, Millennial’s and now Gen Z. But what impact will they have on the future of our industry? In the US, GenZ now accounts for more than 25% of the population, in Canada, the number is at 23% according to the 2011 census. This demographic over the next 10 years will become increasingly important not only because of their purchasing power but because of their fluid and constantly shifting identity structure.

“Trust me I’m an algorithm”. We won’t tell you who said it but it didn’t go over well… The key focus of this session centered on brands helping decrease the cognitive load of their consumers, ie. The decision-making process. To do this, the speaker emphasized brand being able to play to their consumer’s emotions and create a reliable and quality service, as opposed to just trying to sell them a product.

Last but not least for day one. VIRTUAL REALITY aka VR. We swung by the Samsung and a few other VR booths and tried on some of the latest gear. We clutched each others hands in fear as we road a virtual rollercoaster courtesy of Samsung and Six Flags. Looking for someone to recommend a pants store in Austin.

What a ride it’s been this first 24 hours. We’re both feeling much more enriched and with a few belt notches looser and many new friends from across America would look forward to what comes next.

Day 2 promises to bring even more excitement, an afternoon meeting scheduled with some friends from Spotify who’ve promised to give us a sneak peek at the Spotify House which is opening tonight in anticipation of SXSW music which kicks off officially next week.

Y’all come back now ya here.

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