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SXSW 2016 - A Year Without Tech

By: Isobar Director of Strategy, Tim Dunn
This year, you didn’t have to wait until the alcohol cleared the bloodstream, the leg cramps from the must-view-session-sprints eased, or the pressure around the waistline caused by inhaling every taco known to Texas had abated, before realizing that this year at SXSW, something was different.

Where was the ‘breakout app’ from SXSW? Last year everyone was breathing
nitrogen, oxygen, and Meerkat. Where was the awesome breakthrough technology? We’re used to jumping off a wall with the Game of Thrones cast to prove the power of Virtual Reality, but this year it all felt so functional and, well, practical.

The desperate need to find big news stories about the imminent transformation of our lives through tech is what irks many observers about SXSW; there’s a perception, which is not entirely inaccurate, that a bunch of hipsters and VC junkies feel they can change the world through the power of their own start-up chops. As with most things in life, there are shades of grey to this. While Meerkat, a live-video app, has failed to take off, its legacy lives on through Facebook Live and live video in general, which is indeed set to be highly impactful for media consumption. Then of course there’s Firechat, a messaging app that serves as a classic case of a one-use app guaranteed to be a one-South-By flameout.

But this year was different. As we gathered our crew around for breakfast on the final day, we realized that none of this had taken place. Perhaps we have
more important things to worry about, typified by the packed hall that turned out for an audience with Henry Louis Gates and Ken Burns on “Race and America.”

Find out more about our take on SXSW 2016 here.

3/25/2016

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