Being at SXSW can feel overwhelming, with so much information and new experiences coming at you all the time. And given that this is one of the premier events in the world for industry, society, and tech, pretty much all that information is new, fresh, and insightful. It can be hard to keep it straight! But lucky for you, Start it @KBC was on the scene to help you make sense of it all. Here are three really big ideas coming out of the panels on SXSW day 3!
#1 The “Bay Area” is now in China, not the Valley
SXSW Speaker Bay McLaughlin has been at the heart of the global tech industry for the last decade, supporting innovative startups all across the valley. But at this year’s event, he told us why “The Bay Area” we all know and love is no longer in California, but in China.
We’ve all been hearing the China story for years by this point. But now, several cities in China’s Guangdong province (Shenzhen, Dongguan and Shenzhen) have renamed the Pearl River Bay Delta as “The Bay Area.” This shows the level of their commitment to become the new heart of the Global Tech industry. They’re investing heavily here, with high-speed trains to enable far easier travel between the 11 cities of the area.
And local government efforts are supporting ’super clusters’ where each city specialises in one subspecialty, like electronic or higher education or manufacturing. What’s going on in China is already affecting you, but this will continue growing. You need to educate yourself so that as this increases, you can know and adapt to the circumstances.
There are lots of resources on China out there. Start reading the South China Morning Post, or follow some top China specialists on Twitter. You could also download WeChat, the main messaging software in China, to familiarize yourself. And startup founders can apply for the Mass Entrepreneurship Programmes - and get funding and support from the Chinese government to attend and get your startup translated. Go international!
#2 How to Fix the Future - According to Andrew Keen
Big tech monopolies, mass surveillance, hyper-capitalism, economic inequality, technological unemployment, fake news, echo chamber culture & social media addiction. These are the ills of our time, and to some, the future seems bleak. So how do we fix the future and create the future we want and deserve? Keen had some insightful ideas.
First we have to rekindle our interest in civic participation. Technology, globalisation, education, governance are making us demand less of each other and become more passive. We can’t just rely on technology to solve these issues for us, because computers and technology don’t have a moral sense or intuition about the human future. We need to do it ourselves!
But for this work, we need good regulation. In the 1990s we saw some large companies broken up through antitrust policies, and though Keen is not advocating for this now, the fact that this happened reminds us what we can do when we put our minds to changing the concentration of power. Maybe what we need now is more accountability from customers to companies - teach us how to be more sophisticated consumers
#3 Get ready for the new workforce
Over the past half century, the American workforce has transformed, but the workplace has barely changed at all - until now. Melinda Gates and a panel of innovators walked us through what it’s going to start to look like in the “Future of Work” as a host of new technologies and practices start to take hold in offices and coworking spaces across the country
If you want to raise something in the company, first make sure you ask for the data. This helps position you as an honest broker and not someone out to make trouble. It also means that you can defend what you describe when you’re done.
Remember that “you accomplish what you measure”. Also, when you are hiring, take some extra time to search for candidates that fill profiles not within your team, invite them to lunch, go the extra step to make them feel comfortable and to mentor them towards a strong application. You’d be surprised how much more diverse it can make your team. This might end up taking longer, but thinking about what we know about diverse teams being stronger, this is an investment worth making!
Creating the right trust and support and advancement circles and groups within your company will make sure that people can thrive and grow no matter their backgrounds. Otherwise, they will be immediately disadvantaged in comparison to those who are pulling up others.
The future is coming at us - FAST! From factories in China, to civic engagement in American public life to the changing patterns of the office, we need to get ready for it. Every year, SXSW make clear that these are the people who are helping making the future happen, so their insight will help us ride the wave!
Written by Magali De Reu