Column: 10 lessons to take away from SXSW Interactive 2014

10 lessons to take forward from this year’s SXSW Interactive

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For a giant, sprawling tech festival like South by Southwest Interactive, it's not always obvious what lessons to take away as the fest is happening (or in the exhaustion haze that follows).  

But after a week or so, you can draw some conclusions, as I did in today's Digital Savant column about SXSW Interactive, which ran in Tuesday's American-Statesman print edition and which is available on In the column, I take a look at 10 take-aways from the fest that I think will apply to our lives for the rest of the year. Included in the column are thoughts on the evolution of wearables, how indie games are aiming for the heart and why personal genetics may be the future of health.

And because you're reading about it here on the blog, here are two bonus take-aways from the fest:

Free food works -- Smart brands at the fest this year replaced street teams, useless flyers and disposable swag with food trucks and personalized meal delivery. It didn't always work; some of the food was terrible, but marketers looking to get some one-on-one time with festgoers were smart to lure them with the promise of free tacos or pizza.

First-timers still come -- For fest veterans, there are always lots of familiar faces on panels and just milling around, but I was taken aback by how many people I met said this was their first SXSW Interactive after years of just  hearing about it. It's possible that there's some churn happening; I also heard from lots of veterans of the fest who said they bowed out of this year's Interactive due to rising costs of registration and hotels.

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