The South by Southwest Interactive Festival promises to have a very different tone than last year, when then-President Obama was warmly welcomed for a keynote presentation on civic engagement in the 21st century. For the creators, marketers and entrepreneurs descending this weekend on Austin, Texas, politics in the wake of President Trump will surely be top of mind, perhaps even overshadowing some of the innovation in virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Instead of undermining the value for marketers eager to enlist technology in their work, however, the dynamic might highlight connections that are increasingly important to recognize.
“Rather than a piece of technology or launch of a new app, this year’s conference will really be about the way all the things happening in politics are being threaded through what everyone does,” said David Grant, president of PopSugar Studios, the video unit at publisher PopSugar. “While in the past typically the focus is on a few new toys to play with, this year it is about how do these new toys affect journalism access and the ability to distinguish between real and fake news?”
From New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s opening keynote to a panel on sexual harassment and gender bias in the advertising industry, social impact and civic activism will be a running theme throughout the music, film and entertainment confab.