Looking at the Interactive lineup this year, I see a couple significant themes. The first one is user-generated content. The space between the consumer and the seller used to be a defined line, but with blogging, cheap access to video and design software the line is definitely now more like a gray blur. Trendwatching.com has a good overview of user-generated content. I think it’s a current infatuation more than anything, with more weaknesses than strengths. I’ll go into more detail when the Interactive starts, but the panels will present both sides (and that gray middle) of the issue. Some of these panels include “Emerging Social and Technology Trends,” “User Generated Content and Original Editorial: Friend or Foe?” and “Can Social Networking Build Your Brand?”
The other theme deals with virtual/avatar-based marketing in places such as Second Life. In a way, the avatar-based world and user-generated content are more similar than different. They both tap into a deep pyschology of individualism (but, ironically, using a simple psuedonymn on one hand or a fully-fleshed out digital character on the other). Avatar-based worlds are nowhere near mainstream yet (4 million+ members on SecondLife vs. somewhere between 43 – 100 million Myspace members vs. 98% of all U.S. housholds who own a tv.) Some intriguing panels include “Every Breath You Take: Identity, Attention, Presence and Reputation” and “Avatar-Based Marketing in Synthetic Worlds.”
There will also be panels discussing mobile devices, design aesthetic and the future of television. And even though the last video game system I am fluent in is this one, I really want to check out the Screenburn Arcade.
Party-wise, Frog Design is once again hosting the kickoff evening party for the Interactive festival. I also really want to check out the 10th Annual SXSW Web Awards afterparty at Club Deville. I can’t wait to see a bunch of web programmers dancing to some hot DJ Mel mashups.
*03/02 update: Adweek has a good article covering Digital Commerce at the 4A’s Media Conference.
posted by Bryan Keplesky