From looking at product design through the eyes of science fiction to searching for the most influential people using your product, topics at this year's SXSW are as varied as usual, and they're almost as thought-provoking as the queso is delicious. (Which is to say, very.)
A couple of main themes to talk about so far, from my perspective as Emma's product manager.
1. Collaboration, innovation & expectations. As we all know, consumer expectations have changed. Not only do we want access to the latest information and support when we encounter problems, but as consumers we also want to be a part of the product itself. To that end, it's important that companies don't create new products in a vacuum. After all, we're creating and building something that we hope will bring value to our customers, so we should get them involved early in the process and let them help shape the final result.
We're also learning that releasing new products or features is just the beginning of the process. New technologies to collect and respond to feedback, paired with iterative development techniques, are giving users a more active voice in how products evolve over time. As product builders, our role is to listen to lots of single voices and ideas, and then synthesize and reshape that information to create innovative solutions that do more than just solve problems – they create value.
It's not quite a haiku, but:
Collaboration leads to innovation…
Innovation is shaped through iteration…
Iteration validates the vision…
The vision inspires collaboration.
2. Social space trends: reach & influence. So if reach indicates how wide your network is and influence indicates how much your endorsements matter, it's time to rethink what's actually more important. Reach used to be all the rage, but influence is measurable.
And as for the science fiction, one session about "design fiction" emphasized that story-telling, including science fiction, can do things that science itself cannot. Imagining people in the future keeps ideas focused on how we'll work and play, buy stuff, communicate with friends and coworkers and so on. As the stories of people emerge, the objects and gadgets and interfaces that they'll use start to magically appear right along with them. And sometimes those objects look very different than if the conversation starts by trying to envision the "future version" of the gadgets we use today. People use products, so the more clearly we can visualize how people will change, the more clearly we can aim the technology to support those new stories.
And with that I give you the future of note-taking – maybe.