A Peek Inside First-Time Experience at SXSW – Day 2

Fahlgren Mortine Associates Share Their Experience at SXSW Interactive

After a successful first day at SXSW Interactive, Mary Hoy and Dennis Brown share their thoughts about day two in these emails.


My day two was all about brains and barbecue. Sandwiched around sessions on predictive modeling and the role of journalism in advocacy, I attended three events on biohacking. After today, I believe this convergence of biology and technology is going to revolutionize healthcare and personal performance. In the morning, I learned how DARPA-funded research is improving the quality of prosthetics and allowing amputees, paraplegics and quadriplegics to move prosthetic limbs through computer chips placed on their brains. Check out this video to see it in action. That session also covered how the growth in brain training games like Lumosity are creating a wealth of data that scientists are now able to use for early detection of Alzheimer’s. They can get scale through the mainstream tools like Lumosity that they could never achieve in clinical studies.

In a later session I learned about two other exciting brain technologies: 3D printed EEG’s and transcranial direct current stimulation. The 3D printed EEGs are coming on the market now from companies like OpenBCI and have the potential to allow individuals to monitor our brain activity in our homes whenever we want— open source and the use of 3D printing makes it both personalized and affordable.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS), is the use of low-frequency electrical stimulation of the brain from electrodes attached to the skin. This simple, seemingly safe technology shows promise in dealing with mental problems, such as depression and addiction, and in improving personal performance. It’s so simple it can’t be patented and so easy to build the FDA can’t really regulate it. These systems are already on the market today through companies like The Brain Stimulator, and I think once this gains some traction in the market it could be huge. I’ll let you know how it works as soon as I get my device.

I even went to a biohackers meetup where I learned about some of the startups hoping to build businesses around this trend and got a glimpse into the DIY community growing up around biohacking. Fascinating stuff.

Oh, and I also ate a bunch of barbecue.




So jealous of the BBQ, but I can’t tear myself away from the idea of tacos at every meal! My day two was fantastic. I purposefully went after a ton of variety, and surprisingly, I found a ton of similarities across industries, topics and technology. Here are two lists to sum up 80 percent of my day:

Celebrities I heard from:

  • Morgan Spurlock on video formats and storytelling
  • Victor Cruz on how he uses both data and trusted humans to be better athletes
  • Karlie Kloss on how social media has empowered anyone to influence the fashion industry

Themes and buzzwords:

  • Democratization, in every way, of tools in video making, of data and individual use, of what is deemed popular. More people have access to more things, more voices can be heard and more viewpoints should be utilized. Decisions about what to use and how to use it are critical.
  • Authenticity and brand trust are essential in storytelling, disruptive marketing practices around proximity and crafting a social media presence.
  • Formats, tools and platforms are ever-evolving and best used when you choose those that best match your stories and/or you design content purposefully to capitalize on them.

And then I arrived at my last session of the day… a panel of powerhouse women: Kara Swisher (re/code), Lisa Stone (BlogHer), Kira Wampler (Lyft) and Sara Clemens (Pandora). They talked about lessons they’ve learned on their way to the top. It was a fast-paced, raw and revealing hour of no-holds-barred opinion on the state of affairs for working women. The panelists didn’t agree on everything and had vastly different approaches, but the mutual respect was evident and Swisher, as one would expect, moderated expertly. The key takeaways were big and apply as equally to a man as to a woman. Clearly not everything is in our control, however, you can stack the deck by choosing to surround yourself (professionally and personally) with individuals who value what you value, choosing to work for companies that value inclusivity in finding the best ideas, creating the best products and paying-it-forward by leading with character and confidence. If you’re interested, check out #CWord on Twitter – I think the conversation is still going.

All in all, an amazing end to the day. Ironically, I didn’t expect themes to emerge when I chose sessions in film, sports, fashion and beacon technology, but emerge they did. Hope your day was as good as mine!


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