SXSW, or South By Southwest drew unimaginable crowds to Austin, TX this month. Every year, SXSW draws the latest trends in culture, music, and tech for a month long festival of the year’s up and comers. It was a good year for technology, and some of the biggest in the tech biz came and presented the new trends, ideas, and solutions for the future. Consider it a meeting of the minds, as it brings together all regions of the U.S. and the world- and it will absolutely blow your mind. Things you couldn’t even think of are out there. Think of it as a sneak peek at the future.
One of the evident themes throughout the month-long event in Austin is to be on the cutting edge. You may think you are, but until you go out there and see it for yourself you don’t really understand the concept. Especially today, one of the most important traits of any company is to be on the cutting edge. Being one step ahead is no longer a key to success- you gotta be leading the pack by a mile if you want to last. Companies are going under because they can’t adapt to the changing economy, not because of the economy itself. Tech is booming, and every industry could benefit from being tech savvy.
Trends come and go, but usually they find their areas of influence and even fads that die have characteristics that remain. Politics is no different, and last week in Austin the festival showed us what we can take and implement into the political arena that will change the way things are done.
So, what trends emerged this year that could innovate the political scene?
- The Foursquare Concept
This is quickly becoming valuable to the political world. Both Foursquare and Facebook are now key platforms for check-ins. In our wired world, we still want time for real human interaction (surprising, right?) and there’s no better way to meet up with old friends, and find new companions by seeing if they are out and about. Sure, there are some complications to this as it could enable the annoying friend to tout the line of stalking, but it’s valuable in so many ways- especially to politics.
For a campaign, people want to see hard work. What better way to show your stump speech schedule than to check in at the events? And, using Twitter and Facebook to spread your schedule is just one added benefit- check in, and share that with your friends. It can mobilize the grassroots supporters to show up, and it can create an online buzz. If you’re at 10 barbeques on Tuesday, tell the world. For the hard working candidate, there’s no better way to demonstrate dedication to the campaign.
- Social Discovery
Last week, we got our phone book delivered to the office. What did we do with it? Well, we spilled something and used it to clean up the mess. We were out of paper towels.
Why is that relevant? Well, because people are turning to the net to find phone numbers, people, and interests. This year, that trend will get even bigger. Mobile devices can now give recommendations for restaurants, bars, and other services in an instant. Paper is a thing of the past, and campaigns need to get with this trend.
Instead of recommending a bar, could your phone recommend a candidate? We think so. Some services like Glancee and Highlight are gaining popularity, despite the inherent concerns with security that they may raise- but other services like Yelp have raised the usage of online reviews without the personal data. Given that these trends are increasing, it wouldn’t be surprising if this trend comes to political tech. Imagine if you could answer a few simple questions and be matched with potential candidates? What if you could type in your location and see all the political events, groups, parties, and personalities in your area? This will be something for campaigns to capitalize upon in the near future, and in that regard, this trend shows unlimited promise for politicos.
We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been waiting in line, at a restaurant, or out somewhere and our wait was extended because the “credit card machine was down”. It seems to happen to every business at some point. Well, things are changing.
Welcome to the world of micropayments. Now, your backup plan can be right at home on your mobile device. Thanks to tech such as Square-up, credit cards can now be swiped onto your mobile device, and the money put into your account overnight. This will certainly shake things up.
Everyone in politics has heard “We’d love to donate, but we didn’t bring cash (or a check).”
Well, what if you could respond “Oh, well that’s no problem, we can get your credit card right here”? As you pull out your IPhone or Droid, a small quarter sized attachment scans the payment and the money shows up in the bank immediately- this revelation will have a huge impact on campaigns. Behold, Fundraising at a second’s notice. It’s one of those small advances that will take campaign tech into a new era.
So, how will these trends impact political campaigns? It all depends. Will the winners most likely pick up on these trends and implement them into their campaigns? We think so. While there are concerns with some of these trends, it’s clear that there is some benefit to them already in their infancy. Tech wins. As the world changes, the most qualified candidates have to understand that these technologies are out there as a means to increase efficiency and messaging- not to complicate them. Candidates must be aware of this, and get with the program.
If not, chances are someone will and they will go back home unhappy.