No word yet if my "blink and you’ll miss it" interview is in the final cut, but even the trailer is making me feel a bit wistful. Airs tonight on BBC2 Scotland, but I guess the iPlayer will have it for everyone else.
Posts Tagged ‘sxsw’
Glancee looks interesting ("a fun and safe way to interact with people near you, who share mutual friends, common affiliations, and similar interests"), although you need to be geographically close to people to discover them and any shared interests. Still, at events with big crowds of smartphone toting hipsters (cough, Austin in March), this could prove to be very useful.
South by Southwest has opened up their submission system for the 2012 Interactive, Film and Music panels. Submit your ideas from now until Mid-July, and then the internet will vote on which ideas it thinks it wants to hear about in March next year – or simply vote for the panel with Felicia Day on it… just because. I’ve a doozy of a panel idea, which will be going up next week, once I check in with Eric, Rachel and the rest of my SouthBy Posse.
(And yes, this really belongs on SXSW Baby! but we’re still fighting Brad’s B2Evo/PHP/EE code lash up and we’re not adding to the site until we do a decent software upgrade in July. Give us time on that one).
There’s no getting away from the big issue of this year’s South by Southwest Interactive was the size of the conference. With close to 20,000 attendees, all the official hotels sold out (something that Interactive has managed that the Music Festival hasn’t), and multiple hotels around the city of Austin holding conference sessions throughout the day, there is no doubt that SXSW Interactive is just mind-bogglingly huge.
Was it worthwhile?
That’s always tough, because everyone is going to go to Interactive wanting to get different things out of SXSW. This year I was doing a mix of reporting what was going on (for STV, SXSW Baby and others), connecting with old friends, and getting my annual “feel” on what’s happening in tech circles. On the whole, I was pretty pleased with my personal outcome – while there wasn’t any major victory, I wasn’t looking for one of those. It was the cumulative little victories that added up (and made it, in the words of one… “awesome!”)
What I found interesting was the evening party scene. Unlike other years, i didn’t feel turned away or crushed out of any of the evening events – now that could be down to planning out various choices in advance, going with the flow (and Foursquare), or not wanting to “touch Pete Cashmore”, but not once during the evenings did I feel I as missing out. And the once event that I did not want to miss (whatever was on at Six on the Tuesday night…) wasn’t missed.
Whatever was tweaked to improve the Interactive evening experience, same again please. But SXSW Interactive are going to need to seriously think about the logistics around the sessions.
First up, I think there are too many of them. And with such a high volume of sessions, they had to be placed over something like nine campuses (Hotels and Conference Spaces) to get them all in. That’s just crazy.
Somewhere, the decision was made to have a lot of sessions, and to get as many speakers in the doors as possible. After the last few years at Interactive, I’d say the pendulum has swung too far to quantity and needs to be brought back to quality. That means a radical look at how sessions are decided on. I’d like to see three criteria applied.
- A radical reduction in the number of session that are put on, for the reasons above.
- Far more curation involved from the organisers and a curtailing of the panel picker – turning session choice into a popularity contest is a natural inhibitor on new stories and technology coming through
- Make the submission and decision process much closer to the event. How can you stay cutting edge when you ask for submissions in June the year before. The internet struggles to predict what’s going to be hot next week, let alone nine months down the line
It goes without saying (ie I say it every year) but there needs to be some thought put in to have more professional panels and speakers. People buying tickets to SXSW need to have panels, moderators, speakers and others who are on top of their game and can deliver. SXSW may be spring break, but speaking at SXSW is not a free pass to have a wee holiday. Organisers need to send more than an email that essentially reads like a scout’s promise to “do a good panel” and if that means having mandatory training sessions on the first day or your complimentary badge gets pulled, so be it.
But there were a lot of gems in the mix this year, and while there were a lot more attendees, I think this year went far better than 2009 in terms of value v. noise in the halls and streets of Austin. There is still room for improvement, and the elephant in the room of quality sessions is still there, just another year where it gets bigger, and more out of control,
Now that the jetlag is under control (if not yet full banished) it’s time to look back on my time at South by Southwest 2011, some thoughts, and what happens next. First up though, a relatively slow pitch up the middle with links to my coverage of SXSW for STV.
Introduction to SXSW:
- Kid Canaveral set to use SXSW as their launch pad.
- Rachel Sermanni discusses the excitement of SXSW.
- Withered Hand is making his mark on SXSW by the power of Twitter.
- Scottish company Lingo24 plans to take the States by storm.
- Interface 3 bring American Football coaching application to SXSW.
Before I start, all my thanks to Tom Scott for this one. I came up with the original spark of an idea, and Tom picked up the gauntlet for the coding. Brickbats to me, bouquets to him, please!
Not to steal the thunder of companies like #Hashable, GroupMe or anyone else launching or debuting at South by Southwest, but there’s a bigger problem to be solved. So after the bolt of lightning moment, the thinking around the idea went a bit like this.
It seems to me that at SXSW interactive people either want to show Robert Scoble a new application or service, or wanted to have a quiet pint without a million fanboys and girls descending on the prolific Scobleizer. Both of these problems were asking the same simple question, and one that can be answered easily with social media and the latest smartphones. Put simply… ‘Is Scoble in this room?‘"
So let’s answer that question for you.
Just point your browser at www.isscobleinthisroom.com and we’ll let you know just how close you are to your hero/nemesis (your choice).
A complicated problem, an elegant solution, a simple UI… surely this has all the hallmarks of “Killer App at SXSW?”
South by Southwest starts in just over a week (for Interactive and Film) and two weeks (for Music), and the excitement is building. Over at SXSW Baby! I’ve just posted details of our “Sampler” collection of the showcase bands at SXSW.
With 1700 performers, it’s a tough call for anyone to listen to them all, so we’ve put together a shorter collection of just 80 tracks that are our favourites. I know it says the “best” but it’s a personal best, so your enjoyment may vary. But to be honest I think there’ll be a lot in this collection for any music lover to enjoy.
There’s a wide range of genres in this mix, and I’ve spent some time putting them in a good playlist order that works either as a single 5 hour session of listening, or in batches of ten or so. I’ve even got some playlist names and breaks for you to split it up on your MP3 player.
- Send a shiver down your spine (Tracks 1-10)
- The Feminine Electric (Tracks 11-19)
- Slow, Soaring and Seventies (Tracks 20-29)
- The Fast and the Fury (Tracks 30-41)
- Voices of the Generations (Tracks 42-51)
- The Quirks of Nature (Tracks 52-59)
- Digital Needs a B-Side (Tracks 60-69)
- Assault on Precinct Midnight (Tracks 70–80)
So to sum up, it’s 80 bands from SXSW that have caught the ear of the SXSW Baby team, playlisted, and ready to drop into your player of choice. Oh and all the music was found from freely available sources online, they’ve just been put in one place and levelled for sound.
Thanks to Baby! writer Kevin from Operation Every Band for the long list and Simon at Outroversion for the original idea. And don’t forget to follow SXSW Baby on the web (or @sxswbaby) for a bundle of SXSW news, views, events, and a daily audio show of interviews and fun from Austin!
Adam Arcuragi and the Lupine Choral Society, Agnes Obel, Alexander, An Horse, April Smith and the Great Picture Show, ARMS, Army Navy, Back and Forth, Brett Dennen, California Wives, Cast Spells, Choir of Young Believers, Chromeo, Darren Hanlon, Deer Tick, Delmore Pilcrow, Dessa, Doomtree, Dual Core, El Da Sensei, Emma Acs, Erza Furman and the Harpoons, Final Flash, Fitz and the Tantrums, French Horn Rebellion, Funeral Suites, Golden Bear, Ha Ha Tonks, Honey Honey, If Only, James Vincent McMurrow, Jenn Grant, Jesse Malin and the St Marks, John Grant (ft Midlakez), Josh Ritter, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Lazerbeak, Locksley, Lord Huron, Macklemore (ft Fences), Marco Benevento, Matthew and the Atlas, Nicole Atkins, Noah and the Whale, Oh No Oh My, P.O.S., Portugal The Man, Rah Rah, Random Recipe, Ron Sexsmith, Rosie and Me, Ruby Jane, Sahara Smith, Scala and the Kolancy Brothers, Smile Smile, Spooky Folk, Sun Bears!, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, The Civil Wars, The Crookes, The Epstein, The Jezabels, The Limousines, The Lonely Forest, The Naked and Famous, The O’s, The Rumour Said Fire, The Rural Alberta Advantage, The Spring Standards, The Submariners, Vetiver, Viper Creek Club, Wakey! Wakey!, Yellowbirds, and Zowie.
In six weeks time, South by Southwest 2011 will start, and as usual I’ll be there on the ground, but this year with a slight difference.
In previous years the daily podcast from Austin has been co-hosted on the SXSW Baby blog (www.sxswbaby.com), and this arrangement is going ahead in 2011 again – if you’re in Austin with a great story, get in touch to arrange an interview – but after Brad Graham’s sudden death last year, the Baby was left without a sitter. Those of us still there had our logins, but it turns out there were no other admins, super-admins, or alternative names with the hosting company.
[insert lots of frustrated noises here]
Something had to be done, and with the blessing of everyone still involved with the site, the goal was clear. To get back in, to get control, and keep the site (which was started back in 2000 ad has passed through many hands in that time) alive and thriving as it entered its second decade.
And that means that I’m the next “Dread Pirate Roberts” steering the good ship through the chaotic, fun, exhilarating world of SXSW for 2011.
So a big thank you to everyone who has helped in the past, who’s helping now, and who’s going to be using this valuable resource.
Carrying on with my musical highlights of the South by Southwest Music festival and I’m getting through the meta-stack of CD’s, EP’s and USB memory sticks I was handed in Austin.
Five more choice cuts from artists that I’m pretty sure you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future… especially if you head to their websites and tell them how much you enjoyed them!
TPN Rock SXSW Retrospective #3
Out of Control, by Dash and Will (www.dashandwill.com)
The Rain Pauly, by Boat Beam (Boat Beam on MySpace)
The Sea is Rising, by Bliss N Eso (Bliss N Eso on MySpace)
You Gotta Let Go, by The City Lives (The City Lives on MySpace)
White Out, by Dirty Epics (www.dirtyepics.com)
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More musical highlights from South by Southwest music, with bands from the UK popping, the occasional bit of smart marketing, and some disappointment that there’s no personal flying transport system yet. And a bundle of great music!
Also, I set myself a little challenge to see how many Enfield and Whitehouse nods I can manage in this show.
TPN Rock: SXSW 2010 Retrospective #2
Fast Car, by The Frantic (www.thefrantic.com)
Emily, by ‘Allo Darlin’ (www.allodarlin.com)
Edge of My Seat, by Amber Rubarth (www.amberrubarth.com)
Baba Bossa, by Sinem Saniye (www.sinem.net)
It’s Thunder and Lightning, by We Were Promised Jetpacks (We Were Promised Jetpacks on MySpace).
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So, one of the many adventures I got up to in Austin was co-hosting the recap show from Chris Heuer’s Social Media Clubhouse with Amanda Coolong and Techzulu. SXSW is a packed event, and trying to get the event into a single hour of live TV (yes I know, streaming online video, blah, blah, blah) is a challenge in itself – herding cats is easier than herding guests to a green room (or bus).
But no matter, live is always fun, especially live with a co-host who’s likely to throw you the ball at any moment, a rapidly changing set of guests and researching the interviews on a bus straight out of The Brady Bunch.
So here’s the list of who was on camera with me thanks to all of them, a brave bunch indeed.
- Show 1
With Brian Solis, Chris Heuer, Hank Wasiak, Erica O’Grady and Jeremy Johnson
- Show 2
With Danny Robinson, Ben Pickering, Dave Olson, Erika Lehmann and Matt Macnaughton
- Show 3
With Slava Rubin, John Atkinson, Frank Langston, Joshua Strebel and Tim Schigel.
Now are there any vacancies for a UK chat show host at the moment?
I’ve already mentioned it in the SXSW recap, but thank you again to everyone who turned up and made the start of SXSW on the Saturday morning so brilliant and intimate and friendly for another year – even though technically the fun started on Thursday night for many of us.
Adele managed to grab this wonderful shot (on Flickr), and I’m going to call it “Surfing Social” which pretty much sums up my mindset during SXSW – bounce around, meet everyone, ride the waves you find and have fun!
To answer the most popular question on the night, “yes, it is real.” Here’s the Amazon link for The Secret Room
It’s not often that I put up video of my stage performances online (I rarely mention them, truth be told), but Fray Cafe at SXSW every year is something that I look forward to. It’s a chance to tell a real story, and I spend time thinking about what I can do. This year was a bit more light-hearted, as I decided to talk about one of the stories that my daughters read at school.
It’s the greatest horror story ever written.
So by way of H.P. Lovecraft, Niki Lauda, Stephen King and Alias Smith and Jones (a rather meandering route, it’s one of those stories), here’s my reading of “The Secret Room” from this year’s Fray Cafe.
As you can tell, we never did a run through to sort the lighting levels and cues, but like Fray it’s rough, ready, and true to life. Enjoy!
PS: It’s only after editing the video that I saw the running time, and I went waaaaay over the traditional ten minute running time of a Fray story. Sorry.
South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the high points of my year. With so much going on it still continues to surprise me with what emotions and experiences it throws up. I’ll speak about the myth that Interactive has somehow ‘jumped the shark’ in a later post, for now I want to talk about some of the things that made the week special for me.
Let’s Have A Party Right Here.
For all the organisation and big parties, most of the conversations that stick in my head are not from the big parties, but from the hotel lobbies and bars where a group of people just sat down and started talking, inviting a few people by direct message, until the collective brain (of Twitter, Gowalla and Foursquare) started to pass the rumour that "Brian Solis has bought more champagne.” Only one night went by without me heading to an impromptu party, and that was Sunday night… Fray night.
Following on from the Emu Unboxes an X6 video over Christmas, I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable puppet that I could make my own and not be haunted by the ghost of Rod Hull. Step forward Cthulhu (note, he’s just a teenager, and not fully grown yet). Vikki finished sewing him the night before I left, and he popped up a few times during SXSW, including this meeting with Shel. What was delightful is the number of people who recognised him, even from a distance, and the character that slowly came out of the puppet as the week progressed. I think you’ll be seeing more of him in the future.
Motorhead playing at Stubbs.
Because it was Motorhead… playing at Stubbs… rawck!
Brad Graham performs at Fray Cafe
Brad passed away suddenly at the end of January, yet his presence still lingers in Austin. As well as the Break Bread for Brad meet and greet on the first night, the most powerful moment was the opening of Fray Cafe. Fray is a SXSW institution, running for more than ten years on the Sunday night. It’s a simple event; an open mic and people tell true stories about their life. And Kevin Smokler opened this year’s event with a simple "Welcome to Fray, our first story tonight is from Brad Graham."
So to a dimmed stage and an empty mic, we all sat and listened to Brad’s story of "his second time" from last year, which I had recorded. Powerful stuff, especially as the 2010 crowd reacted just like the 2009 crowd, and just as Brad played to the crowd then, he seemed to feed off this year’s crowd.
She and Him in an Ally
M Ward and Zooey Deschanel’s band might have been playing three times through SXSW, but I didn’t want to see them at the big outdoor stages or mega-venues. I wanted to see them in the little stage at Cedar Street Courtyard, a public space slightly bigger than an alley squeezed between two bars. It’s a great venue, rich in character and charm. This was the perfect setting for the bubblegum 60′s influenced sound of the duo that I’ve been hooked on since discovering their first album last year.
Magnolia Cafe and the Social Media Breakfast
I love Magnolia’s in Austin – it’s the perfect cafe where everyone knows your name, or at least remembers the mad Scotsman (err, me) who turns up every year and takes over the patio for a meet and greet event on the Saturday morning of SXSW Interactive. It takes some dedication to get up for an 8am Breakfast event, especially one that’s a little bit out the way, but those that come along to it know it’s worth it for the food and the friends. It was good to see the regulars along this year – it was the only chance that I got to see some of them through the whole of SXSW – but also many new faces who had picked it up on the grapevine, or had finally remembered that this was an event they had always wanted to go to.
The Frantic in the Trophy Room
There’s a certain amount of delight in just walking down Sixth Street until you hear something you like, going into the bar, and listening. That’s how I found The Frantic, from Chicago, a band that I’d cheekily describe as "19 year old pretty boys with guitars, but who can make each tune sound different." Definitely a band I want to find out more about, and likely to be on a Rock Show podcast in the near future.
Bill Hick’s Funeral
"You passed the test," I was told after interviewing the producer and director of American, the Bill Hicks Story. Turns out that after countless interviews, they’ve been playing a game of does the journalist really get Bill, or just doing his work? For those that pass (which included myself), they had a little present. One of the last cards that was made for Bill’s funeral. A box of them was found in the family archives, and his Mum asked them to pass them on to people who would appreciate them.
Carrying on the links to the media I worked on at SXSW this year is the series of interviews and profiles I did for STV at the Austin festival. It seemed that everyone joked that they had found the secret to getting STV to pay attention (fly to Texas), but they were all doing the right thing by attending SXSW, which is raising your profile, getting noticed, and gathering contacts.
- SXSW – a cocktail of music, film, interactivity and a chap from STV
Ewan Spence brings his view of South By South West the festival where, in its own words, tomorrow happens.
- Scots BAFTA winner laughs all the way to digital launch
Crying With Laughter writer Justin Molotnikov was at the South By South West festival preparing for his award winning film’s public launch on both sides of the Atlantic.
- The Scots business making like Americans
Simon Montford’s company – that works to link your friends to your sales on the likes of Ebay – is expanding from Edinburgh to California.
- From Stirling to Texas, OneDrum is beating at SXSW
Jasper Westaway’s company develops new technology in Scotland which will allow easier working across the globe.
- Musical Scotland on tour… on line
SXSW brings Dear Scotland its busiest week of the year, but the man behind the website has time for a chat.
- Frightened Rabbit gaining confidence
Scotland’s indie rockers were to be found at nine gigs during South by Southwest, and here they explain their punishing schedule
- Hudson Mohawke: superstar in disguise
An unassuming young Scot is taking the sophisticated South by Southwest crowds by storm.