Five cool things I saw at SXSW: Daniel Harvey, experience design director, SapientNitro

By Daniel Harvey, Chief Creative Officer

March 19, 2015 | 3 min read

With SXSW Interactive over for another year, SapientNitro's Daniel Harvey brings us the final installment in our 'five cool things' series with a round-up of the best stuff that caught his eye this year.

“The comic book is a strategic document” – Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs

Nel delivered that terrific line during his panel called 'How SciFi Drives Marketing In the Exponential Age'. Nel was joined by his agency partner, Ari Popper, CEO and founder of SciFutures and roboticist Marco Mascorro to talk about how they mine the practice of science fiction authorship to create new products and services for the home improvement giant.

“The human penis cannot vibrate on command. VRporn will take it over at some point" – Brian Shuster, CEO Utherverse Digital Inc

Brian Shuster, adult industry pioneer and patent holder, gave the audience at SXSW a crash course on the history of how the porn / technology relationship swings both ways, teledildonics, software development kits for interactive porn and the oncoming sexual singularity. Shuster’s award-winning Red Light Center, a virtual reality simulation of Amsterdam’s world-famous Red Light District, was showcased as an example of what’s to come as VR headsets become the top xmas present this year. Or is that XXXmas?

“There is a lot of data in your shit" – Daniel Fogg, strategist and founder of Grafft

Fogg was joined by Jennifer Dunnam, associate creative director of Frog and Chris McRobbie, product designer. They shared nine provocations for 10/20/50 years out. The quote above is from an idea for an ingestible sensor paired to a smart toilet for waste analysis in the pursuit of better health. Fogg oft repeated that many of these ideas might seem creepy or sinister but that’s because we don’t have the accrued cultural context for the world to come wherein ideas like these could be the norm.

“Mmm, bacon” – Simon James, global lead, performance analytics at SapientNitro

I should point out that I work with Simon. That said, he absolutely smashed it in his presentation, 'Humans Are Predictable: Exploit It In Eight Charts'. He had a packed room in stitches as he took the piss out of an array of sacred cows in advertising ranging from personas to NPS to loyalty programs.

"It's so tempting to just show up drunk here..." – Bruce Sterling

The high priest of SXSW was surprisingly upbeat compared to the tongue-lashings of recent years. As is his want, Sterling walked the crowd through a whistle-stop narrative including Sarah Palin, climate change, the internet of things, international law, the ongoing balkanisation of the internet thanks to Google, Apple, Facebook, etc and more. An avid 'maker' in his own right, what little venom he did direct to the audience was toward other makers. Sterling chided the output as “strangely homeless and homely” and challenged everyone to up their game.

Follow Daniel on Twitter @dancharvey


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