25 . 3 . 14

SXSW – Work Hard, Play Hard & Eat Hard

We’re back in our offices after quite a few days of working hard, playing hard and eating hard in Austin, Texas at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival. Now, this is the kind of motto around which I live my life in general, so South by Southwest was definitely my perfect playground.  After 5 intense days, I touched back down in New York City with too many ideas, bags under my eyes and a few extra pounds (as in weight, not money). I know, I know… I really can’t complain as South by Southwest was a fantastic experience filled with information, inspiration and tons of new experiences. The best experience for anyone working in the digital space!


Working hard or hardly working?  Despite the several pictures of us sitting around chatting, we went to plenty of informative sessions about the latest trends in digital, what’s new in the market and the latest toys around. We were also lucky enough to be inspired by brilliant minds and personalities like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Kevin Bacon, Mindy Kaling and Mark Cuban.


So, here are my personal favorite new devices and sessions from SXSW!

  • Home Proxy – A new type of video messaging, connecting your homes with video messaging and live videos. This is all about being connected to loved ones but in a more natural way through your home environment. Before watching the video, keep in mind that the acting is not amazing, but it does its job of showing you how the Home Proxy works.
  • Beam – This was hands down my favorite new tool. I’m sure we’ve all seen some sort of version of this (or joke about it) in the Big Bang Theory, Red Dwarf or even Arrested Development,  but this ‘robot’ is on the market and available for purchase. While it’s probably a bit too out there for right now, it’s just a great example of how technology is advancing and helping to improve communications across the world, especially in global businesses. To put it simply, you can ‘beam’ yourself anywhere (provided a robot is there, of course) so working remotely is not a problem. It’s not just a conversation on Skype, you can actually physically move the robot so it walks through to different offices. At the SXSW exhibition, the Beam team had staff from their offices ‘Beam’ in and walk around the exhibition hall speaking to people.  It was pretty incredible.
  • IllumiRoom – Using Kinect for Windows, you can augment the area around the television screen and throughout the whole room so your experience extends beyond the screen.  While I highly doubt this will be hitting the shelves tomorrow or that our wallets could stretch so far, it is an incredible new device enabling you to completely immerse yourself in any digital experience.
  • Maker Faire – Brought you by Maker Media, Maker Faire is a bit of ‘science fair meets county fair’ enabling ‘makers’ to share their creations. With events across the US and in the UK too, it’s a great place to get inspired and check out the latest inventions from around the world. While I’ll be attending the Maker Faire in NYC, you should definitely check out the one in Newcastle in April!  Or hey, come join me in New York!
  • Keynote Speaker Neil Tyson, host of the Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey  – Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most inspirational speakers I have ever seen – charismatic, brilliant and absolutely hilarious. He encourages people to question what they blindly believe as facts – questioning our perception of the solar system and its vastness. He’s just launched the Cosmos program with Seth MacFarlane (creator of Family Guy, American Dad, etc.) and is sure to inspire you. Find him on twitter @neiltyson and check out the ‘Cosmos’.
  • Scratch – Brought to you by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group and MIT, this is an app that enables children to work together, creating stories and sharing experiences.



Playing hard – I don’t think I can cope with another open bar event until at least a few days. Samsung, eConsultancy, Adobe, Getty Images, Spotify…  These are just a few of the incredible brands that hosted fantastic networking events. It was a great way to get to know people in the digital space while also letting your hair down and finally relaxing.




Eating hard – Okay, my jeans were actually tighter on the flight back. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. Austin is an amazing city for food and South by Southwest does NOT disappoint. Tex Mex tacos, brisket burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, nachos with cheese, chilli and jalapenos… So, that’s the first day of consumption covered. Seriously, no diets were adhered to across our week there and I can just about see my toes when I stand up. Who wants to eat a salad when there are loads of gluttonous delights staring you in the stomach! Here are a few eating highlights…

  • East Side King at Liberty Bar – This is food truck at the back of a bar. It was created by Paul Qui and Moto Utsunomiya . It’s basically Michelin Star dining – available in a beer garden . Fried beets, tongue, brussels sprout salad and more.
  • Moonshine Restaurant Patio Bar and Grill This was my one attempt at healthy. After a really rich artichoke and spinach dip with garlic bread (not sounding healthy so far…), I had the salmon and convinced my colleague, Tim, to test out the fried chicken and waffles. This is FAMOUS southern fare… He was not impressed and pretty angry.
  • 24 Diner – If you find yourself roaming downtown Austin on 6th street in search of food after about midnight, just go to 24 Diner. Do not believe anything else is open – we learned this lesson the hard and exhausting way.


That’s all from us for now!



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