Ted Newcomb (tcn) Wed 14 Mar 12 05:30
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 15 Mar 12 08:46
Jon Lebkowsky is an author, activist, journalist, and blogger who writes about the future of the Internet, digital culture, media, and society. He's been associated with various projects and organizations, including FringeWare, Whole Earth, WorldChanging, Mondo 2000, bOING bOING, Factsheet Five, the WELL, the Austin Chronicle, EFF-Austin, Society of Participatory Medicine, Extreme Democracy, Digital Convergence Initiative, Plutopia Productions, Polycot Consulting, Social Web Strategies, Solar Austin, Well Aware, and Project VRM. He's also a web strategist and developer at Polycot Associates.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 15 Mar 12 08:48
Ted Newcomb is a happily retired grandpa, living in Phoenix, AZ. Digital bon vivant;curating and blogging on digital culture. 10 years in single's and youth ministry,adjunct professor of philosophy,30 years in hotel/resort management. Masters degrees in Religion, Theology, and Philosophy...life long student and co-learner. Most recently involved with Howard Rheingold and his Rheingold Youniversity. I've been in and out of the WELL since 1995 and currently spend my time in the Virtual Communites Conference and Inkwell.vue
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 15 Mar 12 08:48
Welcome Jon and thanks for doing this. SXSW is in full swing, the Interactive portion just having come to a close and the Music portion ongoing now. What are your reflections on Interactive and your overall take on the Festival so far?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 15 Mar 12 10:02
SXSW started in 1987 as a quirky event inspired by New York City's New Music Seminar and festival, but I didn't get involved until 1994, when the event added Multimedia to the mix. I've been going and involved in various ways ever since. We were encouraging the producers of Multimedia to include Internet programming, and my recollection is that it took 2-3 years for the Multimedia conference to become Internet-focused. The name changed to SXSW Interactive in 1999. Interactive was at that point smaller than Music and Film, and in the early years of blogging and social software, it became a go-to conference to people with that focus. I wouldn't say it's ever been a digital technology conference, though there are always sessions that are about tech. It's more of a digital culture conference encompassing a broad range of online scenes, activities, platforms etc. As such, the conference/festival tends to reflect the state of the online world in any given year. Following digital convergence, all media are digital media. Analog has become a quaint exception. Given that, there's huge interest in all things interactive, and the festival has become the largest of its kind - in fact there's nothing quite like it. This year Internet has mainstreamed, broadband adoption is high, even your 90 year old grandmother is liable to have a Facebook account - probably to track what the kids are doing, but once you're online you're drawn into any number of scenes and pursuits. Digital culture is not just culture. Everything has digital implications. So the interesting thing about SXSW this year was that there wasn't much new. As a friend was pointing out to me, it was less about hearing about new cool stuff or jamming in innovative ways, and more about exposure to the best of the best of technology and culture. The conference is so huge, it attracts those people, and that creates a special kind of energy, though not the same as the energy of the festival when it was smaller, quirkier, more innovative. And it's a place where everybody shows up, so there are a lot of people who have working and personal relationships online but never get to see each other face to face; they can come together here and have side meetings of some duration, get things done, have a brief but deeper experience of each other.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 15 Mar 12 11:27
The sheer size and scale of the many talks and events is mind boggling. There were a few podcasts and live streaming events this year. Will there be a more virtual way for people to become involved who cannot be present physically; perhaps a small fee for feeds, both audio and/or video?
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 15 Mar 12 16:37
And what people, topics, or events have stood out for you?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 15 Mar 12 23:55
SXSW is not like the TED conference - it has a lot more content, and the content is longer form, usually at least an hour. It probably doesn't make sense to put a lot of the content online. I expect the conference will continue to be selective about the content it publishes. Also the real value of the conference is in the experience of being there. Acknowledging that people prefer active conversation to passive listening, they've been adding more meetups and core conversations to the schedule. Amber Case on cyborg anthropology and augmented reality, and Jennifer Pahlka on developing code for government were highlights for me. I missed him, but friends told me that Stephen Wolfram gave a great talk.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 04:43
The reviews for Interactive are just starting to come in. Here's one from the NYT, by Jenna Wortham...(http://beta620.nytimes.com/viewer/times-skimmer/) Seems to echo your observation Jon: Tech Is No Longer for the Digital Elite: To the dismay of those who traveled to Austin with high hopes of seeing the next big thing before everyone else, there wasn't a single standout service that had attendees in a tizzy. That's not bad, in and of itself...we're just seeing develop of the platforms and services. You're right. Like the early, heady days of Comdex and Interop, it's all about the connections and being there.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 04:46
Great visualization of Steve Wolfram's talk via Ogilvy Notes: http://ogilvynotes.com/49790/455111/sxsw-2012/computation-and-its-impact-on-th e-future
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 05:13
A la Monty Python, "what's the buzz"? Or was there one? Seems that as tech rolls out into social and mobile this is a year for apps, tools, platforms that enhance everyday user experience. Mundane, but not in the perjorative sense of the word. Tech coming to flatland.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 05:19
If I could have attended I definitely would have caught Jason Lanier's and Nicholas Thompson's talk 'Is Technology Making our Lives Richer or Poorer'. Fortunately, I was able to peek in via Lanyard, Twitter hashtags, and a nice Storigy by Laurens Vreekamp (http://storify.com/campodipace/is-technology-making-our-lives-richer-or-poorer ). One take-away line from Jaron: "There are two digital versions of you, the one you see and the analytics version. You should own both!" Amen to that!
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 07:13
Our own Ed Ward (captward) posts his impressions of SXSW 2012 Interactive on his blog the Ward Report (http://www.realeyz.tv/en/blog/category/the-ward-report) ... it now appears that SXSW Interactive is outdrawing SXSW Film and SXSW Music. Not surprising, considering that the ubiquity of the digital realm is causing the other two to converge with it. Myself, I'm worried about what I do for a living, so I've been following the Journalism and Online Content track over the past couple of days, hoping to learn something. I really should know better; the concern here isn't content as content, but, rather, content as an object which is manipulated, monetized, and commodified. In other words, they're not concerned with what it says. And all too often, what passes for insight seems blindingly obvious, like the kind of stuff you get from business school which causes "real" academics to scorn MBAs. Maybe the people who are sharing it don't see it that way, but I haven't really found much to take home with me yet.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 08:46
None of this is to say a great time wasn't had by all. Todd Watson captures that sentiment in his review on The Internet Evolution: There really wasn't any huge new new thing at this year's SXSW... It was really a lot of the same old thing with a few new ingredients mixed in. But lingering in the air, there was an optimism and sense of opportunity that transcended the often selfish inclinations of SXSW past, one that was more worldly and altruistic in nature. A spirit that attempted to bring people closer together in small networks to be able to meet and to get to know one another and to get things done. I ran into Robert Scoble, the renowned tech blogger whom I've never before met, and he explained to me on the expo floor that the big deal of the event was "Highlights," an iOS-based application that helps do just that, bring people together in the most serendipitous of ways based on their location and data from their Facebook graph. (http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=587&doc_id=240704&f_src =internetevolution_gnews)
Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 16 Mar 12 09:37
for some reason i ended up being on a list for 7X7, which is paradigmatic '10 places to get sushi after midnight' daily 'lifestyle' newsletter clearly aimed at consumers in their 20s and 30s in sf. which is why it was strange to see this, about lack of human interaction at sxsw, today http://tinyurl.com/75gx976
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 16 Mar 12 10:13
Good curation, Ted. And lots to think about and respond to. I'll try to touch all of your comments The two reviews you posted to echo my comment that there was not much new under the sun this year. You ask about what was buzzing I did hear a few people say that this year's theme and "marvel" was "social-discovery." The one app that seemed to be getting some traction at the event was Highlight, a smartphone app that tells you when someone with similar interests and shared friends is near. Justin Hall and I were discussing how this is an older, much-discussed concept that's more doable with the current devices and infrastructure. I said I wasn't finding it very compelling, and Justin said he couldn't see using it at SXSW, but might use it in a long overlay at an airport. I kept wanting to say "self-discovery" instead of social discovery. We were thinking it might be cooler to focus on self-discovery apps. I suppose "quantified self" apps fit that category. Which reminds me that I didn't hear much about health at the conference. Very happy to see the visualization of Wolfram's talk, which (as mentioned) I unfortunately missed. I had a very interesting long lunch with Amber Case where we talked about cyborg evolution. I'd like to see the conference go even deeper into human extensions and enhancement, which is implicit in many of the talks and areas of focus. There were a lot of activist and government technology people and discussions at the conference, but I think there's still confusion about civic applications of technology. Given that confusion, it was good that Jennifer Pahlka's talk was clear about some of the opportunities. Some bits that I tweeted: "We're fighting the slow crumbling of our will to do things together - with a geek army!" "We have built an amazing consumer Internet, now we can build the citizens' Internet." "We're getting pretty good at enabling collective action with technology." "What is the notion of government? Get rid of baggage and consider that government is what we do together." You mention content as content as "an object which is manipulated, monetized, and commodified." Bruce Sterling said at lunch, and later that day in his talk, that the people who use various only platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google's various products, etc.) are not customers or users, they're products. They create the content for each other, and their attention is sold to advertisers. Think of the implications. There are a lot of parties at SXSW, many with free food and booze, and they tend to be pretty terrible. Example: we went to the PBS Sherlock Holmes party thinking it had to be a cool event, given how much we like the contemporary re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes and the quality of the new series. But it was just awful, generic, pedestrian. Very loud thump-thump techno throbbing as people lined up for marginal and sparse Texas BBQ. The creators of the series spoke for five minutes, were clearly uncomfortable with the scene, just wanted to go to bed. I mean, why would you serve *Texas BBQ* at a Sherlock Holmes event? No imagination at all. At an event that's all about creativity and culture, this was a terrible gaffe. Re people eschewing human interaction and focusing on their phones, the 7X7SF post that's just clueless. What do they think people are doing with those phones? They're socially interating with other humans.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 16 Mar 12 10:13
(Waving at Paulina)
Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 16 Mar 12 11:22
hey, just being the transmedium here! oddly i just got off the phone with a friend who is a longtime futurist/branding/advertising/technologist/researcher type-guy --- and he reported to -me- that he was hearing from the marketing and ad people that they feel sxsw is -over-, and that the future is now at CES. which is redonk, but there you go
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 16 Mar 12 12:55
Well, sure, the future for marketing and ad people is always at marketing events. SXSW has always been more of a cultural event; the marketing and ad people who show up are just an annoyance (though sometimes amusing). Also CES has about seven times more people attending, so there's more "potential impressions."
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 16:30
Speaking of attendance...this year's numbers are impressive. You've been involved for a long time, what's it like to produce a Festival like this? I imagine the team is already starting on next year's production and probably outlining 2014.
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 16 Mar 12 17:00
I'm going with the reactionaries at 7x7. The whole purpose of being at a thing like this is talking with others, sharing ideas, and the heat of live interaction which, unlike staring zombie-like into a screen, can make quantum leaps happen in the right company. All of these apps I'm seeing here do nothing but alienate people from F2F interaction. Not a good idea. That blog post I did made some fun of Glomper, except that I found out what it does today, and, well, Bruce was right. I wish I'd seen his speech -- totally spaced on it.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 20:06
As to Paulina's friend's comment that SXSW is "over". I doubt that very much. There were more than 3200 panel proposals for this year's Interactive, of which about 400 were chosen. As per everyone's comments, there is something quite unique about SXSW from any of the trade shows. I imagine this year will be a maturing one for all things 'social' and next year's SXSW will be a time for reflection and re-direction a la Bruce's prescient remarks.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 16 Mar 12 20:09
Ed, I loved the humor in your blog. <The whole purpose of being at a thing like this is talking with others, sharing ideas, and the heat of live interaction which, unlike staring zombie-like into a screen, can make quantum leaps happen in the right company.> Any 'quantum leaps' this year, or is it too early?
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 16 Mar 12 21:08
Hell, there weren't any in the journalism track of Interactive, and there sure aren't gonna be any in the music part. I'm pretty sure I'll get through this year without seeing any showcasing music, but maybe not: I might go see Gary Lucas play his soundtrack to "Tonight I Will Possess Your Corpse," just because I like the name of the movie. But maybe not. I found out too late that I won two tickets to the Springsteen secret concert. Damn, a month's rent from scalping just fell through my fingers!
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 17 Mar 12 03:21
Storify wins top SXSW award for Social Media. And no wonder, check out some of the 1000 stories filed: http://storify.com/topics/sxsw-2012
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 17 Mar 12 03:28
And Chelsea Stark, via Mashable, came up with wonderful visualizations of the top Panels: http://mashable.com/2012/03/12/sxsw-2012-illustrated-panels/#53365Emotional-Eq uations-to-Connect-with-Your-Customers
Members: Enter the conference to participate