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Trends from SXSW Interactive 2011

SXSWi 2011 trends: Technology has zoomed in on humans and their strange behaviour, and games can motivate them to change it. The web has stopped being a separate world, doing good is now a serious business strategy, and the future is not coming – it’s here!

There is of cause no possible way to condense 5 days packed with tech- and interactive goodies into a handful of trends, but well, that’s never stopped anyone – so here’s my take on the most interesting trends at SXSW Interactive 2011

If you build it for humans, they may actually come – and stay too!
A predominant trend is the realisation, that those using tech are humans – experts from fields such as psychology and cognitive science are now talking about feedback loops, human behaviour and how we need to build our tech for humans – and for the best for humans. And motivation becomes the single central issue. How do we get and keep people motivated? The fitness 3.0-crowd were discussing this issue, Aza Raskin had a great session on the broken feedback-loops in the health field, and Stephen Anderson talked about using the psychology of motivation to sustain passionate users. Motivation was everywhere – and if not, then the debate about how to get it, spread it and keep it.

Doing Good is good for business!
Doing good does not have to be a non-profit venture. Blake from Tom’s Shoes was preaching that doing good is good for business, and the Gary Vee’s “Thank You Economy” takes that wisdom into the field of marketing – where being a pushy idiot actually seem to be going put of fashion (they may not all get it just yet, but wow!)

Total convergence
The border between online and offline has disappeared… Yes the border has been blurred for years, but until now we’ve mostly seen “offline life” going online. But now online behaviour is going offline too, and changing our offline behaviour. People drive hour-long detours for virtual badges. Status bars are used to bait us into completing all sorts of stuff, TV production is being crowd sourced, and online shopping has goes offline with services like Groupon. Online is modifying offline behaviour and offline stuff (fitness gear and teddy bears) have tracking webpages. And educational toys come with touch sensors and react to kinetics. And we don’t notice the magic anymore. We’re used to it. Actually we expect it.

The end may not be nigh, but the future sure is!
Robot dogs are already teaching themselves to play ball
Robotic prosthetics controlled by a chip in your brain? Coming right up (ETA june 2011)
And we’re working on training machines to watch video – since surveillance drones has recorded more than we can ever watch…

Gaming as a driver
One of the big themes was Gaming as a driver – again: Making humans change their offline behaviour. Seth Priebatch had a full ballroom turn into a trading pit of coloured cards and solve a difficult quest in 180 seconds. Motivating factors: The time limit, serving a greater good (charity), the game-element itself. And by viewing other systems as games throwing a new light on things. Yes it’s hyped and the metaphor is stretched a bit far now and again – but it offers interesting perspectives. Why build a school system, that only has negative points? Why not a level-up point system?
LBS-service Foursquare was omnipresent with their 3.0 edition – and co-founder Dennis Crowley’s interview gave interesting insights into the many layers of the game – but also into the back-to-basics thinking: It has to create value. For the users and for the shopowners. Otherwise we’ll only play the game for a couple of weeks (at the most).

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