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Highlights from SXSW 2016

frogs who attended the SXSW Interactive Festival share their most memorable moments from Austin:
  • Katie Inglis, Principal Designer: A quote from John Maeda’s Design in Tech Report: “Thinking critically about design means considering the broader impact of a product or service that goes beyond profitability.” It left me thinking about the true potential impact of a design decision. Planning for the ecosystems of culture, business and the dissemination of information is crucial as we look outside of the screen and design for education, addiction, bias and diversity. We have to consider the ethical questions and implications that are embedded in the act of design.
  • Emily Chong, VP Global Marketing: Listening to Megan Smith (CTO of the US government), Laura Weidman Powers (CEO of CODE2040), Michele Madansky and Trae Vassallo speak about Elephant in the Valley, a research study inspired by the Ellen Pao trial on gender bias and inequalities in Silicon Valley. Some of the issues (i.e. feedback & promotion, inclusion, unconscious biases, motherhood, and harassment & safety) were upsetting, but it’s a huge step forward to openly discuss them. I would love to see this research applied to other industries like design, or carried to other parts of the world. Specific stats that have stayed with me include:
    • 60% of women in tech reported unwanted sexual advances
    • 1 in 3 felt afraid of their personal safety because of work related circumstances
    • Women in color receive significantly less feedback because their superiors are afraid to offend them
  • Alejandro De La Cruz, Senior Marketing Manager: The Google Fiber happy hour showcased Tilt Brush, a 3D painting software for virtual reality. A team of Hollywood animators sketched goolish monsters in virtual reality and it raised the question: is the next content creator going to be a “VR producer?”
  • Lindsey Mosby, Executive Strategy Director, Healthcare: Two quotes from sessions stood out for me:
    • “Data is the new oil.” Kevin Plank, UnderArmour CEO
    • “There are a million cheap seats in the world. If you aren’t in the arena (actually putting yourself on the line), I don’t care what you think.” Brené Brown, Author of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
  • Amy MacMillan, Global Editor: frog Umy Boonmarlart took on the complex issues of death and grieving as he discussed how technology can support those who have lost a loved one. He made a point about grief that is both applicable to design and to our interpersonal interactions in general: “We aren’t comfortable with people who are sad – we just want them to be happy. But what they need is empathy and a safe space for grief.”
  • Robert Tuttle, Executive Technology Director: Live unscripted coding on WolframAlpha by Stephen “Effing” Wolfram himself! Datalicious!

See a full roundup of quotes, photos, and reactions via our SxSW Twitter hashtag.

Alejandro De La Cruz
Alejandro De La Cruz
Alejandro De La Cruz

Alejandro likes talking about the evolution of new media, photography, and all things regarding Mexican culture.

Amy Macmillan
Amy Macmillan
Amy Macmillan

As global editor, Amy worked with frogs around the world to craft stories about the impact of design and technology on society.

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