By christinewatson / / From Organic CCO Conor Brady All the things I thought I would like at SXSW, I didn’t, but there were a couple of really amazing moments that surprised me and made all of the tacos and rain worth it. The events were pretty much over-subscribed and became a real pain to get into – I missed LEGO – but despite this it was the people that made it, not the presentations. This festival is huge. These were the 5 highlights that I walked away with: 1. Listening to BILLY CORGAN (of the Smashing Pumpkins) pull apart and condemn the music industry, and those who support what it has become (manufactured shallow nonsense) was a hairs on your neck standing ovation sort of moment. A guy talking with passion and pushing nothing other than a strong POV – that is hard to beat. 2. Listening to AL GORE get passionate about Democracy with a capital D in a wonderfully human and articulate way (so why did this guy not make president?). He and Sean Parker (Napster founder) talked about how social should be the platform to occupy democracy and break the big media hold on politics. This was thought provoking and radical. 3. Any brand thinking of having a presence at one of these things really needs to think seriously about what you do – especially if Nike is showing up. They killed it with the NIKE FUEL BAND launch. Every single detail was.…..well Nike. Quality and beautifully produced. 4. Microsoft launched CRONOZOOM It is the most amazing visualization tool, and it is free. 5. The amazing WOLFRAM answers engine stole the show on awards, and Made By Many held a workshop where they invented an App, made it, and launched it before the workshop was over. It rocks and is called PICLE. Clients were in that room and saw that, and are going to start asking for it. Two key takeaways for marketers: 1: There has to be more than social media. The conversation is getting a little tired. We need knew topics, new things to say and think. At SXSWi, there were way too many people talking about brands and the impact of social. Every third presentation had social in the title and were all saying the same thing. Hearing Al Gore talk about it and the practicality it brings to government was incredible – but it isn’t marketing. 2: “Big data is great and allows us to predict what you want. In fact we know what you need before you need it” – that was one quote that creeped me out. Really you know what I want? Where is the serendipity? The fun in the find? Discovery through searching? The brands that get the balance right between discovery and prediction will own their customers.