The 2011 South by Southwest Interactive festival last month brought almost 19,000 attendees to Austin, Texas from all over the globe, a 40% increase over last year. The additional numbers were noticeable, right from the start. Sessions filled up quickly, escalators jammed more frequently, and the conference locales spread out from the Austin Convention Center to numerous hotels. Nevertheless, there were many highlights and some excellent topics that we plan to focus on as a technical team in the next year.
- Gaming is emerging as a dominant component of online applications. Millions of people use Foursquare, SCVNGR , and social games such as Farmville on Facebook every day. This tidal wave of users tuning into games says a lot about what people expect from online content – engagement, entertainment, social collaboration and even a challenge or two. At AIDS.gov, gaming is an aspect that we are paying a lot of attention to, including emerging games that deal specifically with HIV/AIDS.
- Health and behavior change are converging in interesting ways. With mobile devices capable of delivering real-time notifications, monitoring activity, and serving as input and recording devices for adherence, behavior change through a combination of mobile intervention, good design, and compelling content is a viable strategy. Doing it well takes a lot of hard work and thought, as we learned from bedsider.org’s presentation.
- Location will continue to merge with mobile. During the conference, we learned that over 40% of searches on Google Maps come via mobile devices. Expect that number to surpass 50% this year alone as smartphones replace older phones without geolocation capabilities. The combination of location, mobile, and health services with the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Service Locator have proven to be the right combination, as use of the application continues to grow.
These lessons and others we learned throughout the conference will continue to inform and shape our communications and technical strategy over the next year. Do you see these same trends shaping your response to HIV/AIDS?