SXSW March 12 – Virtual reality, the actual reality of internet hate… and cheese

Based on the sheer number of vendors showcasing VR/AR products on the trade show floor of the conference, I would say that the arrival of VR/AR into the mainstream was one of the big themes of SXSW 2018.

Augmented reality in the grocery aisles?

I started the day with a visit to Accenture Interactive’s “Innovation Hub,” which was showcasing applications of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) in a variety of businesses, notably in customizing retail shopping experiences. (Accenture recently acquired a VR firm called Fjord, which serves as the consulting firm’s VR/AR unit.) One pilot for Whole Foods’ 365 stores, which was on display, involves using mobile phones – and in the future, of course, wearables – to augment the physical, in-store shopping experience with virtual content overlays based on a user’s preferences, as expressed, for example, on a shopping list or a list of food preferences and allergies. It was very clever, but will it make the in-store shopping experience more compelling, or rather, is the future of the grocery business to make the ecommerce experience virtual, letting shoppers “walk” aisles from home and skip the store altogether? It will be interesting to see which VR/AR approaches win out in the grocery space.

Love your trolls

I was hoping for a little bit of serendipity at SXSW, and this was exactly what I got with “The Opposite of Hate: How To Change Your Trolls.” I arrived at this session purely by mistake, and I am glad that I did. Though author Sally Kohn’s session was billed specifically as advice for social media managers on how to deal with online trolls, in reality it addressed an issue of broader interest and concern, at this moment of extreme political polarization and cultural siloing: how do we deal with people whose views we might find hard to understand, and who might even express those views with hostility. The best part about the session was Sally Kohn herself, who had a lot of substance behind her entertaining delivery. Her fundamental point of view is captured by a Martin Luther King quote that she shared: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” I’ll leave it there. Go get her book to enjoy the story of her interactions with online trolls, including several of her own trolls whom she personally interviewed. (I love the Internet – you can have your own personal trolls!) Audio of her talk and Q&A are available here. (Yours truly asks the first question at about 21:40 into the recording.)

If it’s the “world’s longest cheese board,” it must be Wisconsin

I don’t think it is Guinness Book-certified, but it was a very long cheese table indeed, courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Take a look.


Categorised as: News and Views, SXSW 2018