Hugh Forrest

@hugh_w_forrest

12 Trends to Watch For at SXSW 2018

The Forrest Four-Cast: November 27, 2017

SXSW is the place to discover the top trends that will define the creative landscape for the coming years. To this end, the event helps attendees discover the artists, the formats, the platforms and the technologies that will be hot in the next few years.

Listed alphabetically by first word, the top twelve trends for the 2018 event are as follows:

The Blockchain Rises. It’s not just about finance. Blockchain is the new new, as this technology is being experimented with in areas as diverse as smart contracts (music and healthcare), identity (passports, personal ID), the Internet of Things (smart appliances, supply chain), and digital rights management (music and film).

Convergence is Everywhere. SXSW continues to bring people from different industries and disciplines together, making new and meaningful connections and driving creativity. As we define ourselves in less specific ways and place increased importance on our ability to adapt, we create an environment that values flexibility over rigidity.

Empowerment, Inclusion and Activism in Business and the Arts. As politics aims to divide, we are seeing more voices organize and rise up both online and offline in support of a more inclusive society here and abroad. Diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of innovative and creative societies the world over.

Ethical Design. As we move towards a post-device era we are beginning to see the longer-term social and psychological effects our devices, apps and AI have had. What has happened to us since the dawn of the smartphone, social networking and mobile apps? What will happen to us if we don’t recognize these effects and learn from them?

Frontline Cities. The roles and responsibilities of cities are evolving in response to a more connected, more tumultuous world. As big government seems to be stuck in a stutter or start/stop, forward-thinking cities are paving the way towards the future, providing stability, growth and community for their citizens.

Hacking Health and Our Bodies. Data from our devices and deeper understandings of the matter we are made from is leading to a new era in healthcare. From hacking our own genome to building medicines that are as unique as the condition and person they are treating, things are becoming very personal with the interface that is the human body.

Music Revenue and the Power of the Playlist. Revenue from sales and streaming on a macro level is finally trending back upwards after years of sluggish numbers. Now that the money is coming in and optimism is rebounding, where is all the money going, how is it being distributed, and where is the transparency?

New Media Companies Breaking into Film and TV. A number of non-traditional companies are attempting to break into the film and TV industry: Apple, Facebook, Buzzfeed, and Refinery29, to name a few. These companies have more money to spend than many film production companies, and less to lose as well. What happens as the pace quickens and the spending war for eyeballs seems to have no end in sight?

The Omnipresent AI. Whether it’s artificial intelligence providing automation tools for creators, predicting the habits of consumers or writing code on its own, the future of intelligent machines is both bright and concerning as we head into uncharted waters.

The Rapid Rise of Short Form Documentary Content. We are consuming more and more well-produced short-form documentary content. From Casey Neistat to Field of Vision and Great Big Story, this content is more prevalent than ever. Where does it go next?

Startups in the Age of the Big Four Tech Giants. The allure of discovering founders who are developing the next big thing remains a key part of SXSW. But as the Big Four — Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook — continue to have huge technological influence, the question remains: will this kind of total domination stifle tomorrow’s innovation?

VR’s Maturity Speeds Up. Production technology and standards continue to increase rapidly, furthering the acceleration of VR towards a mainstream technology and opening the door wider for both AR and MR and development (as illustrated in the photo above).

Read more about these 12 ideas including the tracks that most closely align with each trend by visiting the trends page on the SXSW website.

Or browse the 1000+ sessions located here to arrive at your own predictions of what will be the biggest trends at March Magic 2018. Use the “Search” button at the top right corner of the interface to find the content that interests you the most.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.

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