Posts Tagged ‘sxsw’

SXSW 2012 pops up on the radar

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

It’s still distant, but the blip is there, calling many. Given I’m the babysitter over at SXSW Baby! that includes me! So here are the badge prices, the call for music submissions, Baratunde is keynoting, how to submit your films, nomination forms for the Interactive Awards and the new branding logos.

A lot to take in? Probably, but I’m just glad it didn’t hit next week when the Fringe gets under way!

It’s not just popularity that brings you to Austin

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

SXSW take on the issue of the Panel Picker and how it feels like a popularity contest.

Yes, all ideas that are sent in to this interface are displayed in the online voting interface (which goes live Monday, August 15 and stays open through Friday, September 2). However, voting from the general public accounts for only 30% of the decision-making process on any given idea. Much more important is feedback from the SXSW Advisory Board (40%), as well as input from the SXSW Staff (30%).

The problem, as with many things in the modern web, isn’t the reality of the situation but the perception of the situation. And the latter is much harder to shift.

Scotland Rocks SXSW, the documentary, airs tonight

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

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.

Is Glancee the first pitch for SXSW 2012′s killer app?

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

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.

SXSW 2012 Panel Picker opens, let the popularity contest begin

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

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).

SXSW 2011 Thoughts: Interactive

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

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,

Thoughts from SXSW: Scottish Television coverage

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

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:




The SXSW Killer App will be “Is Scoble In This Room?”

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

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 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?”

Is Scoble In This Room?

From 1700 bands to just 80. Download my pick of the SXSW Music 2011 line-up

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

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.

DOWNLOAD the SXSW Baby! “Best of SXSW 2011” sampler
 Dropbox linkRapidshare link (301 MB)

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!

Bands featured:

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.

SXSW gets a new babysitter as 2011 event approaches

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

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 (, 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.

I’ll see you there!

TPN Rock SXSW 2010 Retrospective #3

Friday, April 9th, 2010

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MP3 File
Show NotesRSS FeediTunes Link

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 (
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 (

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TPN Rock: SXSW 2010 Retrospective #2

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

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MP3 FileShow NotesRSS FeediTunes Link

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 (
Emily, by ‘Allo Darlin’ (
Edge of My Seat, by Amber Rubarth (
Baba Bossa, by Sinem Saniye (
It’s Thunder and Lightning, by We Were Promised Jetpacks (We Were Promised Jetpacks on MySpace).

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Going Live at SXSW with Techzulu

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

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.

And here’s one of the recording. I don’t think Craig Ferguson has anything to worry about. Jay Leno on the other hand…

Now are there any vacancies for a UK chat show host at the moment?

Riding the Social Breakfast at SXSW

Monday, March 29th, 2010

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.

Magnolia Cafe, SXSW 2010 Social Breakfast 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!

Fray Cafe: The Greatest Horror Story Ever Written

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

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.