Small disclaimer: This list only includes things we actually saw with our own eyes, so that means the incredible WestWorld activation and the premier of John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place (100% on Rotten Tomatoes) do not make our 2018 list.
SXSW 2018 was one heck of a ride.
On one hand, SXSW can feel like the longest, most exciting week of the year considering all of the sensory overload. On the other hand, the entire festival is a freight train that passes by in the blink of an eye. Now that we’ve had a week to decompress, the time has come to rank our highlights of SXSW 2018.
#6: Viceland Party Lot
In the midst of the inspiring talks and informative panels, the Viceland Party Lot was a welcome distraction. Viceland-land included a baby goat petting zoo, DJ sets, drinks, chill vibes, Vice swag, good food, and plenty of fantastic people to meet. We also witnessed some goat-on-goat crime firsthand that resulted in a baby goat getting flung into a large tub of drinking water by a bigger more aggressive baby goat. I guess a week of SXSW can make even the cutest baby goats cranky.
#5: Sony's WOW Studio
Sony had some sick cutting-edge technology on display at their activation. And boy, did we enjoy it. The Sony Wow Studio was a massive laboratory with awesome gadgets, futuristic A(i)r Hockey, interactive cubes, VR soccer, and much more. The laboratory was a big flex by Sony and it’s hard to imagine anyone that visited, leaving the activation unimpressed. It was a great mix of design, technology, interactivity, and user experience that felt like an awesome high-tech arcade of tomorrow.
#4: The Freehold Party
For Brooklynites, the best way to describe Freehold is just, cool. The Williamsburg Restaurant and Bar never disappoints at SXSW, where they converted a recording studio into a lively melange of social spaces and performance areas, with interspersed bars throughout. The coolest part of Freehold’s 2-day event had to be the close proximity between performers and the audience. Separated only by a dark floor rug that designated the ‘stage,’ every show felt like less like a performance, and more like a jam session. Awesome Party, Fat Tony, Great Crowd, Great Environment, A perfect way to close out a great night, and great week.
#3: Tanehisi Coates' Keynote
Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of America’s brightest and most important minds, had an amazing conversation with The Atlantic’s Editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg. Despite the fact that the two participants are professional colleagues at The Atlantic, the conversation was riveting and challenging. Coates had a lot to say about Black Panther, Race in America, the state of journalism, and his thoughts on what a mission-driven career should look and feel like. Very inspiring stuff.
#2: The Ready Player One VR Experience
Ready Player One is one of the most highly-anticipated movies to come out this year, especially us Ernest Cline fans. Ready Player One took over Brazos Hall in Downtown Austin, and Warner Bros did not hold back in creating a unique, exciting, and extraordinary Ready Player One experience. The second level brought together a nostalgic array of 80’s relics, from Back to the Future’s DeLorean, to a wall-filled mosaic of cassette tapes. If the second level was a look backward, the roof looked ahead to the dystopian future ‘stacks’ portrayed in the movie. The grand finale (for those of us who braved the long lines) was a VR experience with HTC’s new Vive Pro (wireless!), and it did not disappoint. Not sure what this had to do with the movie, but no complaints here. A surprise bonus were live interviews with Ben Mendelsohn and the whole kid crew - Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Lena Waithe, Philip Zhao, and Win Morisaki. The entire experience was a delightful taste of the upcoming Spielberg movie.
#1: The Westworld Panel (w/ Special Guest Elon Musk)
The Westworld panel featured Jonah Nolan, Lisa Joy, Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, and the tour-de-force, Thandie Newton. The panel had already spent an hour with the entire audience eating from the palm of their hand when Nolan went off on what seemed like a very odd tangent about space (Interstellar 2 perhaps?). Instead he introduced Elon Musk to a shocked audience, who proceeded to blow our collective minds by touching on the future, space, and the human spirit. If that wasn’t enough, Nolan and Musk debuted a Nolan-directed trailed of the successful Falcon Heavy mission. The best comparison I could come up with for the experience was the same feeling you get when you step off a roller coaster. Easily the highlight of our week.
Honorable Mention: Superform's Positioning360 Framework
We also had a big week wit the successful unveiling of our newly developed strategic framework – Positioning360.
This new framework outlines a streamlined process for defining key positioning elements like: core values, missions, customer needs, value propositions, and vision statements.Positioning elements are usually pretty well understood in isolation, but as soon as these elements are called upon to work together, especially across distributed business units, things can get murky.
Positioning360 is designed to both set positioning at a point in time, as well as manage positioning into the future as companies react to ever-changing markets, competitors, and global trends.
Launching Positioning360 in Austin was the icing on our SXSW 2018 cake. We’ll see you next year, Austin!