The Democracy of the Internet and Other Takeaways from SXSW

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a 10-day interactive film and music festival that happens annually in Austin, Texas. Hundreds of thousands of influencers, visionaries, fans, entrepreneurs, and leaders in their space descend upon this state capital to share ideas and stories. I was there just recently for this year’s event, eager to discover new concepts, strategies, and everyone’s opinions of the democracy of the internet. Here are some key takeaways from SXSW.

As a marketer in the digital experience space, I am always curious to learn about new technology trends. With the advancement of the world wide web, we’re becoming more connected and powerful by the minute. And as these trends begin to form, questions arise:

  • How can we interact with new technologies?
  • How can we incorporate them into our lives?
  • And, how can we use new technologies to enhance our experience with life itself?

WordPress is built on open-source, which truly means, if you dream it, you can build it. The future is now, and the ability to design and develop the digital experience of your dreams is here. Consumers are beginning to expect more and more personalized experiences. Brands want to own and retain creative rights to their content. And consumers want everything right now instantaneously.

One of the topics at SXSW that first caught my attention was around the big digital and social media brands (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and the content that is displayed on them and to whom. It’s a hot topic because as brands continue to turn to these platforms to market, the results continue to vary as companies like Facebook and Instagram have made it continuously difficult to get your content in front of your audience authentically.

As a consumer, but also a marketer, I truly experience this from both ends of the situation. You have brands struggling to cut through and speak to the right consumer and instead are having to turn to alternative measures to engage with their audience.

Another aspect of this is on the subject of democracy of the internet. Lots of big supporters of the open web were at SXSW, such as representatives from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Golden Frog. They often touched on the subject any chance they got, comparing what large commercial ISPs, like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, are doing by already beginning to throttle certain types of content to what we’ve already begun to see happen through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

All of this just means to me that we’re going to continuously need to keep fighting for the right to own, create, and distribute our own content. It’s why WordPress is as powerful as it is, and why, to me, it’s the only place I trust my content on the internet.

So on one hand, we’re fighting for our right to publish, and see what content we want. And on the other hand, we have the introduction of new tech like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) creating new technology categories that we have to account for when crafting digital experiences.

Almost everyone could describe to you the type of way in which they’d like to receive and engage with content, but very few can actually recreate and tell you how to execute that type of experience. And I think that’s where digital agencies like ours are uniquely positioned to interpret these new types of policies and technologies that are filtering into our space and help craft compelling and unique ways to approach the situation.

If you find yourself struggling to customize how content is displayed, experienced, and consumed on your website, know that you’re not alone. From big to small, brands everywhere are developing new strategies to overcome these challenges. Contact us for assistance to help you with yours.


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