Friday, April 07, 2006
And, it looks as though the conference has grown so much that next year, it will be moving to a bigger venue.
Robert Picard of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard is about to give the Keynote Address.
More to come...
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Well, it's the last day of the festival, and I got to make a trip to my favorite grocer, Central Market. It is a rainy day, and the melancholy sets in as SXSW 2006 slowly becomes a memory... It was a great experience, lots of interesting information, some good films, great music. I highly recommend it.
And, I'd like to give a shout out to all my former students that I ran into this week, Omar, Caroling, Lou, Jonathan, Lucy, Jenn, Rachel...I am exceedingly proud of all that you are doing.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Friday, March 17, 2006
Lead singer of the Old 97s performs his solo material in this showcase, which was billed as Stewart Ransom Miller and the Believers. This was in a small venue, so the secret billing was a clue to real Old 97s fans (Barrier Reef lyrics). He was also on the bill at the Esquire party at Stubbs for Saturday night. Miller is a great songwriter and gives a high energy performance.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
This show was announced just hours before it happened on Thursday at 7:15pm, although it had been rumored all week. There was a long line, even though it was open only to people with badges (for SXSW, you can buy a badge, which gives you all access, get a wristband, that gets you into shows, space available, or pay an over-priced cover). I was able to get in about halfway through the set, just in time for No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn and get all the way up front. It was a great way to see them perform. They treated the crowd to all the hits, including Brass Monkey and Ch-Check It Out.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
The Beastie Boys talked about their documentary in which fans were given camcorders to shoot a show at Madison Square Garden. I attended the screening of the film, and if you are a Beastie fan, you will appreciate it. It definitely gives the feel of the live experience.
During the panel discussion, they fielded questions from the audience. They were adorable and funny, and even alluded to a SURPRISE show. See above.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
The 2006 SXSW Interactive wrapped up with a spirited conversation with Bruce Sterling, author and Wired contributor. He discussed exciting new technologies, directions for the future, socio-political/global issues and some interesting directions. These talks have become the perfect capstone for each Interactive festival. The 2006 one was a great mix of skills, insight, concepts, and issues. It was a great way to interactive with others that share the passion of the industry and to learn about all the fascinating new things going on in new media. Definitely worth the trip, cramming more professional development than one could think possible in a mere four days. I got to see former students, who I am happy to say are working in the Web/new media environment, hang with old friends, and meet some new ones. All in all, a great week in Austin.
Burns started with a history of the phone company's role in the network, then moved to the debate over whether content or access providers should be footing the expense of developing the networks, particularly in this multimedia environment. He made a point of singling out Google as a company that is often called out as taking a free ride, also iTunes. Priority access was discussed, with the ramifications and considerations, who gets it for how much, how it is prioritized... making more predictions, access providers will figure out ways to charge for both upload and download.
He also predicted the effect on tv and film to be lower viewership, fewer people watching tv, less going to the theaters, but a better question is what are tv and film going to do about it?
Network strategies: network for anything, quantity (put lots out there and see what sticks), channel changing, fill the pipe. Online Networks (iTunes, YouTube, Xbox 360 Marketplace) are different, how? not that much, looks like what we had before, podcasting is like cable.
R v B is an independent company. They want to stay that way, protect their ability to deliver content. Burns encouraged others in the audience to talk about the way they create and deliver content.
He said that sometimes iTunes or other podcast technologies circumvent people's visiting the Web sites, the place where he wants his audience to go.
...on a personal note, saw The Strokes (Julian, Albert, Fabrizio) at lunch. They were eating BBQ on the patio of the restaurant I was dining at... more celebrity sightings are likely this week.
Panelists Brant Barton (Bazarvoice), Dave Ellett (Powered), Dave Evans (Digital Voodoo), Prescott Lee (FilmLoop), Dominique McAree (Wild Tangent).
Ellett - give consumers information they need when they want it. Sony - digital video tutorial that is product agnostic, but Sony merchandising is done through product placement and call outs at appropriate times; adjust based on users profile, reg information, etc. Get qualified consumers - are active in the buying process; interaction time is longer when engaging with the media. Win/win for advertiser and consumer. Higher ROI.So far, my impression of this panel is that these are more traditional marketers trying to figure out how to integrate convergence to their offerings. They seemed to be focusing on quick fixes and fads, rather than embracing new apps. Very little enthusiasm coming from this panel. Lots of jargon like "growth opportunities" and "fast food mentality" and "real-time, two-way channel" and "turnkey solution" and "push commerce." The discussion was not as fresh nor cutting edge as the one from yesterday on Selling Ideas to Big Clients.
McAfee -focused on using games in advertising (and vice versa) to engage consumers.
Lee - Film Loop - photocasting platform, share photos, content to desktops. Users create loops of photos. Also broadcasting aspect. Subscribe to loops like an rss feed or podcast, with ads. Photo loops embedded in corporate Web sites.
Barton-Measurement for consumer insight; consumer generated media (CGM, seems to be the buzzword, discussed in yesterday's panel as well). 1 in 4 consumers are involved in content creation. Advertisers can tap for customer insight.
This panel showed some of the panel member's usage of video. Freevlog.org actually shows you the basics of getting your video hosted and on your blog. Some of the panelist simply shoot videos of their lives (dailyexperience.com & michaelverdi.com). Michael Verdi showed a funny and poignant clip of his father, post open heart surgery, talking about the irony of wishing on a Wishbone.
Geek Entertainment TV videos friends in the context of Internet and technology. Their proximity to San Francisco gives them good access to people in the tech world. Videos were funny and entertaining.
The reasons why people video blog: some don't like to write, some are more visual, more comfortable in a visual medium, takes advantage of multimedia feature of Web; can have othr voices than your own on the video (as opposed to most blogs where it is simply the author's voice); communicate ideas without having it be about the author; some want to be better film makers, want to tell better stories.
Rabinowitz - everybody loves Moms. Videos of mothers seem to be very popular. People want to tell their stories.
A question from the audience involved some of the technical aspects of video blogging, so the panelists first talked about their cameras. Rabinowitz simply uses the video feature of his digital camera. Others like a flip around lcd screen.
Most agreed that shorter is better - 30-60 seconds; users have a short attention span, try to keep below 1mb, 320x240.
Copyright issues were discussed, video taping concerts, etc. There was a bit of disagreement, non-commercial usage, quality, length of video. Some felt it was beneficial to artist, wouldn't effect their sales/marketing. But, the bottom line was that artists/labels COULD use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act could be imposed. It will continue to be a problem, however, because cellphones and recorders and cameras will increase in quality and we'll see this over and over again. No one discussed fair use issues, though. I think those tests are becoming outdated and don't provide enough protection, are not clearly articulated. Also, attribution helps, linking back to source if you are scraping rss feeds...
The panel included Faruk Ates (Kurafire Network), James Craig (cookiecrook.com),
Derek Featherstone (furtherahead.com), Shawn Lawton Henry (WC3), and Matt Vande Voorde (Accessible Content Magazine).
The panel included Holland Hofma Brown (Harris Interactive), Joel Greenberg (GSD&M), Max Kalehoff (Nielsen Buzz Metrics), and Michele Madansky (Yahoo, Inc.).
Monday, March 13, 2006
Had a chance to see a film screening of Bickford Schmeckler's Cool Ideas starring Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous, Saved) and directed by Steve Lew, his first time out. This movie is about a troubled college student who lives mostly in his head. He's trying to express himself in writing something he simply calls The Book. When a coed steals The Book, it takes on a life of its own, having some unexpected effects on readers. Schmeckler ultimately reacquires The Book, comes to grips with his life and obsessions and sets The Book free.While The Book is a hand-printed effort, the movie is really a metaphor for many of the themes going on in the world of online publishing, the fact that information wants to be free, the greed of the publishing industry, and the ways that meaning is made within the reader, not just resident in the author. Appearances by Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Matthew Lilliard (Scooby Doo) round out a strong cast. This is a funny movie that will make you think.
Fugit and Lew were on hand to answer audience questions after the screening. It's always fun to hear about the process. As you can see from the photo above, Lew is confined to a wheelchair, proving that the disabled can participate and enjoy success as filmmakers.
He showed some images of campaigns he had worked on: Hyundai Azera Web site - more conventional approach; Pork the Other White Meat (online video); unconventional approach. Presell idea, get excitement going.
Home Depot - ESPN Gameday - site with Blogs; can get a phone call from host.
Chick Fil A - Eat More Chicken - compete with burger chains, not other chicken chains. Tie ins with print, Web site, calendar, other merch, photo ops, etc.
Thomas - understanding clients needs and understanding of clients expertise, understanding, risk taking. Will to buy into it.
True (true.com)- online dating, debunking the lack of truth in online dating services; Connect services in the Web site with the campaign; element of reality TV, presented online; social networking oriented - friends following along online, commenting on date. Presentation of online diaries. Simple, wrapped around business model that client can own and understand, and that public will find interesting.
Benjamin - funny, innovate, viral - but also succeeds in a pretty spectacular way. Sometimes you don't really know which campaign or idea is going to be the big idea. Different ways of selling things to different clients. Must be passionate about the big idea.
Subservient Chicken - Web app., chicken that will do anything you want; for Burger King. Relates to idea of "Have it Your Way."
Car sites - evolution of selecting auto features and see how much it will cost. Inspired by Run Lola Run, configure car and then see it in a film. Went through several clients before finding one that had the same passion. Originated with Saturn but they turned down.
Volkswagen - eventually sold to them; interactive, narrative fiction in advertising. Big ideas were revolutionary, but sometimes have to be sold to client as evolutionary. Built on something that has already existed. Tied to new V Dub campaign. Helps in selling big ideas. Brought woman from ads into Web site.
Benjamin had some pretty astute and memorable comments to end the session. When asked about where the next big idea would come from, he thought that we might be looking at things that were more useful than funny, and that the next idea would probably not come from advertisers, but from people like the ones attending the festival, those that are passionate about technology and its usage (apps like Dodgeball, Flicker, Google Maps). This highlights the importance of bringing in voices outside of ones specific field that can support and compliment. We can't really think in terms of designers, communicators, developers as separate entities, but simply all part of the communications process.
This session is really the highlight of the festival. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist (www.craigslist.org), is interviewed by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org). Both are pioneers in the community-oriented usage of the Web. Craigslist has turned the classified ad industry upside down, and Wikipedia has changed the way we think about information and its authors.
The first area of questioning dealt with scams on the Web, particulary of interest to both these sites. Both said that these problems are happening, but are not necessarily prominent and have been part of their sites since the beginning, not a new concept due to their current popularity. Wales said that most people are inherently good, but often it is the bad things that are emphasized in media.
Wales asked Newmark about his recent comment that Wikipedia would be the savior of democracy. Newmark went into a divergence on West Wing episodes, but then came back to answering the question. Skipping through commercials (including political commercials), and that would be a good thing. The nature of news and political advertising would have to change. DVR manufacturers should create a 30-second skip feature. Newmark said he did not usually express publicly his own politics, but talked about the importance of community to circumvent traditional campaigns and positioning in media.
Wales said that on Wikipedia, it is not always an argument between left vs. right, but mostly an argument between the reasonable and the jerks. Newmark said he tries to reason with most, but sometimes has to block unreasonable users or solicit help from their ISPs. Although, he said that most were reasonable.
A major part of the discussion dealt with the changes in journalism to the role that Craigslist is playing with Journalism. Quite often, there are important issues addressed online, but are not emphasized in the mainstream media. He mentioned Oh My News and the work of Dan Gilmor (We the Media) in regard to citizen journalism. These are both topics that we discussed in MASC 151. He also mentioned the Center for Public Integrity, documenting unethical behavior in elections, but publishing it a year later doesn't help. It would be helpful it was blogged as it was happening and can have an impact on the election.
Newmark was a funny speaker, with many divergences and antecdotes. He said the most trusted news sources are Daily Show and Colbert Report (only slightly tongue in cheek), and making a reference to show on another channel (referring to O’Reilly) that’s not as good as Colbert.
Newmark responded to a question about old media. He said that paper and delivery are expensive, and electronic media is going to happen. It is just a matter of time before the devices allow us to have the same level of access and portability. He also said that investigative reporting would be revolutionized with the Web.
Challenges to investigative journalism:
Accuracy, fact-checking (newspapers do a good job of this), pressures of 24-hour cycle mean that sometimes misinformation gets out there. Has always been a problem, just more of a problem now. Factcheck.org – look at all sides of story, fact-checker training, referenced the Daily Show. Wales suggested a hybrid model of mainstream and citizen journalism. Newmark agreed that there is a spectrum of quality across both categories.
A question was asked about charging schemes and other changes on Craiglist. One is a debate over whether the homepage should lose the San Francisco focus. In regard to charging, Newmark discussed how certain areas, like real estate listings in large cities like NY, would have charges associated, but the large majority of postings would still be free.
Newmark, people who use the site are the people that run it. We just need to get out of the way.
A question was asked about Ebay’s ownership. Newmark said it was the result of a former employee selling their shares to Ebay. They have little influence, but he does sometimes use them for their power with ISPs.
In regard to censorship, Wales said that Wikipedia would not compromise by censoring content in China. He did say that he did understand Google’s position and that they were getting a hard time in the media. Newmark said that Google might do more good by being, slow gradual approach. Newmark said that we have our own issues of censorship and freedom of information in the US.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Saturday's keynote was an interesting conversation between two very popular bloggers, Heather Armstrong (www.dooce.com) and Jason Kottke (kottke.org). This discussion demonstrated how bloggers can approach things in very different ways and still be successful. Armstrong is a full-time blogger, and her husband quit his job to dedicate time the site, so the entire family's financial well-being is relying on the blog. Dooced, by the way, has become known as "being fired from one's job due to one's blog." Armstrong blogs about her life, family, personal things. Her value is in her wit and quality of writing. She takes what she does very seriously and approaches it professionally. She is currently the 12th Most Popular Blog according to Technorati (http://www.technorati.com/pop/blogs/).
Kottke, on the other hand, chooses not to blog about personal things. Instead, he is known for the quality of the links he provides. He spends a good deal of time trolling the Web for interesting sites, blogs, etc., and makes those links available to his readers.
Armstrong and Kottke have embraced different business models as professional bloggers. Armstrong went to an ad-based model, even though it displeased many of her readers. Kottke experimented with a subscription-based service, but is rethinking that model. A good bit of the discussion was around the pros and cons of each. Kottke's blog is currently 22 on Technorati.
Really, both these bloggers are leading admirable lifestyles. They defy conventional career strategies, really set their own schedules, and are able to make a decent living. Armstrong described how important her time with her family is to the success of her blog. "I have to live the content." At something like SXSW, both Armstrong and Kottke are rock stars.
Musician and spoken word artist turned actor Henry Rollins was interviewed by local music writer Andy Langer. Rollins discussed his USO tours in light of his non-support of the war and his associated politics. It was a lively, interesting, and smart session.
Now the question is Where Are the Women Bloggers? How do you find them without searching for women and getting a lot of porn.
Bolt, as a veteran SXSW attendee, indicated that when she first started coming to the festival, she was invisible. She didn't try to meet people, didn't try to be more visible. But, she found the conference fascinating and became a believer in the conference topics, things like standards. She needed resources to facilitate her teaching. She started a blog www.webteacher.ws, reviewing design books. This activity helped get her a reputation to review texts and then to write her own book. Now, she's on a panel at SXSW, instead of hiding in the back.
Obstacles to visibility:
-great blog, get your voice heard. It doesn't need to start out that way. Write comments to other blogs. Participate in the social networking element of the blogs; just keep on going (from an audience member)
-Another audience member, need more than a good blog, need a network, and sometime quality is not enough.
-Hunt - have an authentic voice; same hierarchies in life, comes down to what we value as voices and topics in society. Mommybloggers are not looked upon and talked about as "serious."
-Write to your audience; but Henry said that sometimes those 23-year-old tech guys might need to gain a perspective on something other than what is of direct relation to them.
-Is reach important?; does it matter if a few people or many read your blog?
-Should you have multiple blogs to address personal, political, professional, or should they be integrated?
This was an interesting session. Young women discussed their usage of online spaces. They talked about issues concerning their online presence, how open they are in their online spaces, things they don't share, the ramifications of their online usage... One interesting panelist, Casey Lewis writes a blog Teen Fashionista. She's from a small town in Missouri, and intimated that her computer has been her lifeline. Being from a small town, she would never have the exposure to things that she now has, and would not have had opportunities, such as attending this conference as a panelist and being invited to Fashion Week in New York. She also stated that her teachers were not as tech-savvy as they could be. They, like other older people, respond to images in media that are negative regarding online spaces and teen usage.I can relate. I grew up in a small town, and would have welcomed the opportunity to connect with people who were doing different things, being able to be exposed to different ideas, culture. I used other media, primarily television to make those connections, but today's teens have more empowerment and agency in gaining access to information. Listen to the audio post to hear some of the panel.
This panel included moderator John Allsop from westciv.com, Matt May from blueflavor.com, Maxine Sherrin (Web Essentials), and Alex Williams (Courante). The topic was discussing the pros and cons of podcasting an event. Allsop explained that podcasting can make an event more asynchronous, allowing people to attend that cannot physically do so and can't do so at the live time of the event. Allsop has a blog at http://blogs.westciv.com/dog_or_higher/ that collected comments during this session.Williams first comment was a very important one, "always have a backup." He also stated that you should know your podcast team (sound engineers and AV teams), and be very confident in their abilities. He said that many of these experts don't really understand podcasting.
Allsop said that if you have any kind of an event where someone is speaking, it is worth podcasting, despite the technical problems/challenges. May talked about some of the technical solutions, particularly associated with audio levels and post production.
Sherrin organized the Web Essentials conference. They used GarageBand, and had a bad experience, lost 3 out of 15 sessions recorded. The result was disappointment for users and speakers. Her advice was to make sure that someone is responsible for watching the quality of the recording at every minute.
Williams said to seek the help of other podcasters, ask questions, find out about their lessons learned.
Allsop talked about bandwidth issues, both for users (download time) and for hosting (expense). He made a good point regarding the tradeoff between filesize and quality. Each of the panelist discussed what was "good enough" to satisfy their quality requirements and balance their cost to host. It's a good idea to record at a high level then post at lower quality levels. That way, you have a good quality original to work with for whatever needs you have in the future.
Eric Meyer was on the panel to talk about some of the downsides. He speaks at many events, and there are issues with intellectual property of the speakers words. There might be different ways that people prepare for an event, knowing that it will be podcast and kept for posterity. He still feels that the people at the event are the most important audience, but it might change speakers habits as podcasting becomes more prominent. I think this is interesting, because as an instructor, I have some of the same issues with students taping lectures or putting those tapes online. I wonder if that will change the nature of the lecture or the experience of the students in the course. Allsop also brought up the issue of copyright of material in a presentation, which might be fine when you are limited to presenting to a group of 300 in a room on a one-time basis, but change when it is put on the Web for perpetuity. May discussed some of the legal implications, particularly if the Web site to which the podcast is assigned begins to generate revenue or if you use copyrighted music on your Podcast.
He did say that certain events work well as podcasts, others don't. For example, the Malcolm Gladwell keynote from last year's SXSW or this year's interview with Henry Rollins would work well, but something like a demonstration that is very visual or if there are pauses to wait for audience input, these things might not be that interesting for a podcast listener. Williams mentioned that the future will be more people video podcasting, which will alleviate some issues and create new ones.
Williams also mentioned the importance of supplying links, shownotes, and resources to accompany podcasts.
One of the common feelings at this conference is the DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic. We are still in a period in which many are still figuring things out and are learning as they go. The Web provides good opportunities for a wide range of people to do so.
The better panel of the day was entitled How to Make $$ with your Blog Design Skills. I didn't care about the financial implications of blogging, but I did learn a good deal about the future of the blogging platform. The panel included moderator Paul Chaney (Blogging Systems), Peter Flaschner (The Blog Studio), Suzie Gardner (hopstudios.com), Joelle Reeder (Moxie Design Studios), and Lisa Sabin (E. Webspaces). All these people make their living developing blogs for business and using blog technology as their development platforms. During the session, it became apparent that blogging is not merely a way for people to rant and comment, but is becoming a sophisticated development platform. Skills in designing blogs for businesses will be highly sought after. Blog technology is largely based on CSS (cascading stylesheets) and backend database management and programming (php or other languages).
And, there are some creative ways that blog software can be used to create advanced functionality on Web sites, like event calendars or other database driven activities that allow for easy, template-driven user access.
The users talked about the blog development platforms they use, including WordPress and Expression Engine. Check out Reeder's Moxie site at http://www.lovemoxie.com/ for an idea of a site that uses blog technology for full Web-site design.
So, I will be making a goal of focusing more on blogs, blog software and blog development.
Now, I am on to a session entitled How [and Why] to Podcast an Event. More later...
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Delicious mole enchiladas from Las Manitas! Well, I arrived in Austin around noon, so the first thing I had to do was get some authentic Mexican food. One of my favorite Austin restaurants is Las Manitas, conveniently located downtown on Congress, just a few blocks from the convention center. One of the specialties at Las Manitas is their Mole Enchiladas. Mole is a sauce made from things like chocolate and cinnamon and other spices, and it all comes out in a delicious smooth flaver. I know it sounds weird, but if should try some authentic mole when you have a chance. Of course, the meal came with yummy chips and salsa. Now, back to the conference.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Then, starting next Wed., about 1300 bands will descend on Austin to perform in 50+ venues. It will be a complete media and entertainment overload. Stay tuned here for more commentary and photos.
You can get more info at www.sxsw.com.