By James Bush, Head of Creative Technology, Dentsu Creative
Another day at SXSW Sydney and more AI, but we’ll get to that.
I started the day with Rohit Bhargava and his session on How non-obvious thinkers change the world. I really enjoyed how he talked about optimism and how we should avoid future pessimism when solving problems or looking at new ideas. To do this we should try to step out of the algorithm we find ourselves trapped in thanks to our content consumption habits. For example, read more widely, on topics that might not interest you, or challenge you to understand the topic – think about what you are consuming and what the non-obvious answers might be.
Whilst Rohit is well known for his trends books, it was interesting to hear his thoughts on how trends are the beginning not the end. We should try to identify the intersecting trends and use them as springboards and where possible zoom out so that we can visualise the whole picture.
The session that followed this perfectly was Cindy Gallop’s keynote on How to reinvent aspirational culture and make a huge amount of money.
I don’t really know where to start with this session as Cindy is wonderfully quotable, and the topics she discusses are provocative and inspirational, but I’ll try…
She started with “The power of aspiration” and the idea of striving for better, be that new models, new structures or a new purpose, before moving on to the female gaze, normalising and de-stigmatising sex, celebrating women in business, how you can make money and do good. Or to quote her directly, “There’s a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously”
As someone who has been there, done it and still proudly doing it at aged 63, #sayyourage, in both the advertising and porn industry, she joyfully closed her talk with Alan Kay’s quote “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
After lunch, I accidentally found myself in Dispatches from… An insider’s view into international reporting. I am incredibly glad that I did. To hear firsthand from frontline journalist James Waterhouse was a perspective I could never have imagined and illustrated the importance of how trust in news media is earned. The panel talked in length about the importance of trust, impartiality and the depth of channels where news is consumed. What I found most interesting was to hear the panel’s views on the use of AI, they were cautiously optimistic for it to be used to tackle misinformation and disinformation, or to scrape data records or historical news sources.
I finished the day at the featured session: Drive To Survive To Full Swing – Paul Martin On Making Sports Documentaries That Cut Through And Create Noise. As a huge Drive To Survive fan it was brilliant to hear Paul take us on the journey of how the opportunity came about and how serendipity played a part in an initial idea becoming a reality.
The topic of AI was raised in the Q&A section of the session and it was refreshing to hear Paul speak positively about AI, observing that AI gives producers and content makers the opportunity to solve a problem in storytelling or narrative, be that generating a still or sequence from archive footage, but not for the sake of using it. I like that the magic of storytelling hasn’t been lost at the cost of technology.
Another cracking day. Tomorrow looks even better.