This year marked the first year for SXSW to have a dedicated health track. The inclusion of health on this forward facing landscape was pretty cool. Most importantly it was exciting to see non-health people taking interest in what we do. Kudos to Hugh Forrest and the folks at SXSW for helping facilitate health’s coming out.
We saw the launch of Rock Health, designed to facilitate the recruitment of talent in the health space. Todd Park’s remarkable progress at HHS packed rooms. Social pharma folks and agency representatives were on hand to feel the pulse of things. HealthTap had its coming out party. As evidence of SXSW’s evolution beyond the skateboard crowd, Bob Pearson at WCG brought in some of the private sector’s power players to his Pre-commerce seminar that involved a frank discussion on what works and what doesn’t in social media. This is included some compelling dialog from Pfizer’s Sr VP of Worldwide Comm, Ray Kerins (“we launched our Twitter feed then called legal”) and others.
The most important meetings happened in hallways, hotel lobbies and noisy 6th Street joints. I’m drawn to the energy and personalities and the thinking that SXSW draws.
A couple of things that southby could use:
Definition. SXSW health needs definition. With the increasing number of social health meetings beginning to evolve, SXSW will need to define itself in some way. Is it a meeting that offers 101 level information for those coming to understand where social interaction works in health or is it the meeting that holds itself to the standard of cutting edge dialog, progressive thinking and disruptive ideas? These audiences demand entirely different programming.
Featured panels. The social health echochamber likes to circle the wagons which puts us at risk for hearing the same speakers at health meetings. Crowdsourcing panels creates the potential for student council syndrome – we vote for who we know the best. I might suggest that we initiate featured panels of speakers composed of leaders who might be overlooked by the crowd. These kinds of panels will push the envelope and position SXSW as a place where new ideas are heard.
Big health thinkers. I would like to see the health and medicine permeate the main ballrooms with featured keynote speakers. This would not only continue to push attendance for the health track but would round out the main program. As an example, Craig Venter’s prezi on artificial genetic material was amazing. This level of thinking in health and medicine will define SXSW. This is the stuff that moves my mind.
Accelerator. Health Accelerator lost velocity this winter with less interest than anticipated. This is not the end of Health Accelerator and I suspect that once we connect with the right people it will be off and running. This element will further reinforce the foundation of social health under SXSW.
For more insight on SXSWi Health peek at Matt Cyr’s write up on Social Well, or Reed Smith’s 3 Reasons SXSW Can Change Social Health.
I’d like to write more but I just realized it’s almost April 1st. Gotta run to reserve my hotel for 2012.