Todd "Turbo" Watson -- IBM Corporation
The SXSWi liveblogging continues with the beginning of the audience Q&A here in the online magazine session, which has been, far and away, the best of SXSW 2007.
It has been what a good panel should be: entertaining and informative.
The first questioner in the audience Q&A began a rambling and hilarious set of 8 questions ranging from George Bush to the Hush Puppies phenomenon in NYC in the late 90s in "The Tipping Point" (I think it was Keds, but who's counting.)
And CollegeHumor and The Onion editors going at it point/counterpoint:
CollegeHumor: "We made America laugh after 9/11, what did you do?"
The Onion: One conspiracy theory after another.
Chris Messina is chatting about the geography of the wiki in my current panel, "Get Unstuck: Move From Web 1.0 to 2.0."
And people are listening. We're in a big room with a couple hundred folks.
But this conference is all about the chatter behind the chatter.
Twitter is this year's conference's consciousness. I've seen back channel conversations transpire via IRC in the past, but this year, Twitter is ubiquitious and ever-present.
There are over 1,000 SXSWers registered for the SWSW Twitter channel, and one is able to follow multiple sessions via Twitterer's comments and, potentially, physically change sessions midstream based on what others are saying about the session they're sitting in.
As to "Syriana," I wasn't feeling up to more SXSW parties last night, so I went home and watched it again via my Time-Warner HD DVR.
I got it this time around. And it slowly dawned on me through the course of the movie what was going on was even more devious than I had originally thought.
It really helps to be able to hit pause and rewind to go back and make sure you clearly understood what individuals were saying.
ADDENDUM: What I didn't realize is that there was some heated chatter going on about the chatter behind the chatter (from someone who's not even HERE, I might add), and could SXSW portend the beginning of the end of Twitter?
I'll just say that I am happy to put the Twitter management team in touch with an IBM eServer and WebSphere salesperson to help them scale their operations to handle all the disgruntled SXSW Twitterers.
I'm just sayin'.[Read More]
I'm in a session on "The Future of Online Magazines."
More streams from other sessions, several of which at this time I wish I were able to attend.
This just in via Twitter from Henry Jenkins being interviewed by danah boyd: "Web 2.0 is fandom without stigma."
More on the magazine session as I figure out where their heads are at.
"Twitter hate. It's the new black."
This year's SXSW 2007 unofficial conference slogan.
I was bored silly this morning listening to the "RSS For Marketers" panel discussion here at SXSWi, so I did what only seemed like the most logical thing I could: I started reading RSS feeds.
That's when I crossed paths with an Om Malik post on "Peak Pitch," the snowy twist on the standard VC elevator pitch.
Here's how it works: Entrepreneurs pitch their startup ideas to VCs on the chair lift ride up to the top of a mountain in a northeastern ski resort. If the VC likes what they hear, the next Google could very well be born somewhere above "Raptor's Run."
Talk about a captive audience.
Depending on how many inexperienced skiers happen to be on your lift during your pitch, that 10 minute ride could turn into 20 what with all the chair lift halts, giving said entrepreneur the opportunity to seal that angel round.
But words of wisdom for all you black diamond startup wannabes: Don't forget your mufflers and earmuffs.
It could get downright chilly up there if your pitch goes stumbling down the slopes.
Get your lift pass at PeakPitch.[Read More]
SXSWi Day 1: Kids Need Mentors, Not Filters, and Kathy Sierra's Oversubscribed Keynote Pleads for More Humanity
SXSWi 2007 is off to a boisterous start.
Let me set the scene:
First, there are way more people here than last year, probably 40% or so. Fortunately, Hugh and the gang have found a way to put more pixels into the finite Austin Convention Center screen.
Despite taking forever to once again get my badge, clearly a rite of passage at SXSW (How long did YOU wait in line?), the fare is rich and its diversity plenty.
I led off in the AM with a discussion on the online advertising networks, featuring blast-from-the-digital-past moderator Jonathan Weber, formerly publisher of Industry Standard magazine and now publisher of Montana-based New West Networks.
The net? There's still a whole bunch of advertising money not being spent online that's soon going to be spent online, and the ad networks like Tacoda and YPN and others are here to help you spend it.
More interesting was social and teen computing stalwart, danah boyd, who explained in a panel entitled "Under 18: Blogs, Wikis, and Online Social Networks for Youth" that the Internet has "reopened public life for teenagers."
boyd spelled out four key principles of the implications for teens of growing up online:
Persistence: What you say sticks around
Other panelists suggested that too many parents and school administrators were trying to legislate teen behavior online through filtering, as opposed to what they thought would be a more productive way forward: having a dialogue and educating teens about both the dangers and opportunities presented by the interactive media.
Yet others noted that not all teens and tweens were created equal, explaining that the needs of a 10 year-old online were very different from that of an 18 year-old.
Next up: Kathy Sierra's oversubscribed keynote in one of two overflow rooms.
Back by popular demand, the HeadFirst series author and "Creating Passionate Users" blogger pleaded for a little common sense in online app and software FAQs and help and, just a little more humanity.
First, Sierra divided the room into threes: Designers, Coders, and Money People, then posed the following question:
"If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or take a photograph, how would you tag it in Flickr?"
She had us at hello.
But the net net was this: Our apps needs to know when the user is confused.
How? Let the user hit what Sierra called her "WTF" button, choosing a high-level statement such as "I'm lost," then allowing them to narrow the context with one or more user choices.
Ultimately, what you want people to say was this: "They knew exactly what I was thinking."
Also, don't treat the people who have already paid you so much worse than those yet to pay, explaining the investment differential in glossy color sales brochures versus plain Jane black and white user manuals.
It was a funny and common sensical, if roving, keynote from an articulate and plainspoken advocate of we humans in the ongoing Technology v. Bots struggle.
Humans 2, the Bots 1.[Read More]
I missed the implosion of the never-finished Intel shell structure in downtown Austin during my recent business trip to NY.
I also missed Obama's visit to our fair city.
And now I've apparently missed the wi-fi-enabled Roomba-turned-Frogger frog zipping across Sixth Street in downtown Austin!
And I was in town for this one!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, SXSWi (i for interactive) is set to kick into full swing this weekend. Know that this blogger will likely disappear into the wilds of the Austin Convention Center for several days of full digital immersion, in case you wonder where I've gone.
SXSWi is clearly off to a very good start.
Overnight, CNET reported that a robotic frog was released into the wilds of Austin's 6th Street.
Make magazine editor Phil Torrone and DIY electronics pioneer Limor Fried performed just a small bit of retro video game street protest by running a "tricked-out Roomba vacuum cleaner in a seeming reenactment of Frogger.
As one observer said: "That's the coolest thing I ever heard."
Hmm, I wonder if the Frogger Rumba might be making house calls.
My carpet could use a little sprucing up.
Man, it's all about the Internet telephony this week.
Earlier this week, at VoiceCon, IBM and Cisco announced a new Eclipse/OSGi-based unified communications and collaboration platform to help customers build new applications and services featuring instant messaging, VoIP connections, video, and related voice services.
Me, I particularly look forward to the day when I can click on an instant message I send myself, which then calls into my voicemail, which then leaves me a voice message reminding me to turn on my "Away" message when l leave my computer.
But I suspect such things are still at least a few months off in the future.
Meanwhile, know that I may be desperately needing my Web-based VoIP client full-time if my Vonage service gets shut down after this week's ruling in a patent infringement case against the company.
Vonage got hit with a $58M fine after being found guilty of violating three of Verizon's patents for connecting VoIP calls to the POTS phone network. Verizon may be looking for an injunction to bar Vonage users like myself from using Verizon's technology to call out to regular phone lines.
Does that mean soon I'll be able to talk to only the other couple million Vonage users?
"Hey, how ya doin'? Yeah, it pretty much blows that we can't call anybody on the regular phone network anymore. Although it's great I don't hear from those pesty in-laws anymore, heh heh."
But turns out, we have options. I could check out Skype's new "Prime" service to help me make some of those dinero back.
Skype users are soon expected to be able to use the new Prime service to charge per-minute rates for their incoming calls.
Prime is "aimed mainly at consultants and other professionals looking for an easy way to monetize their phone calls," according to WebWare.
Yeah, sure, consultants. Consultants with a capital C. Not any of those friendly folks you see advertising inside the seemier sections of Craig's List.
Skype's cut? 30% off the top.
And you thought talk over the Internet was cheap.
"Optimism about the U.S. economy improved this quarter among chief financial officers, but their expectations remain modest by historic standards."
So begins the press release announcing the results of Duke University's most recent "CFO Business Outlook."
Larry Kudlow and company were spinning this on CNBC this evening, so I thought I'd track it down to get the results myself.
Drum roll, please:
So, to net it out: You can expect to pay more salary to less people with higher healthcare costs so you can buy more companies and spend more capital to meet less demand.
Meanwhile, this just in from ZDNet's Donna Bogatin: Where is Yahoo looking for talent to sell Yahoo online job classifieds services?
Why, Craig's List, of course!
That is so wrong and so funny in so many ways I don't even know where to start. So I won't.
Finally, the digital engines are starting to rev up here in Austin as SXSW Interactive gets set to fire up starting on Saturday.
Old media's Dan Rather, who has some digs here in Austin, will be one of the keynoters.
I've always been a big Dan fan myself, but one does have to wonder why an old media stalwart is keynoting a new media event. It's almost...retro.
Fear not, dear Reader. I'll be keeping a real close eye out to see and report back on what kinds of digital gadgets Dan carries about his person.
Finally, I once again am certainly not going to be holding my breath that Antonella Barba gets rightfully booted off "American Idol" again this evening.
Remember, "Vote For the Worst.Com!"[Read More]
In case you've been hiding under a rock, the Geico cavemen are going prime time.
As you may have seen from their TV spots, it's not easy being a Neanderthal. But Walt Disney and Geico are counting on the magic of the Geico caveman spots to make the transition from one small screen to another.
As Forbes reports, a proposed TV series entitled, ugh, "Cavemen," is one of 14 pilots they will bring to their spring production schedule.
If you haven't checked out the swanky Caveman's Crib online, it's definitely worth a visit. Just keep an eye out for the glow emanating from the large HDTV screen.
And if you still can't get enough of those wacky Homo neanderthalensis, be sure to see the golf spot they filmed with Phil Simms on YouTube.
Lest we forget the key message behind all this caveman celebrity, the tag line "So easy a caveman can do it" refers to the Geico Web site, where one can get those most basic of human tools -- flint excluded -- that are necessary for purchasing an insurance policy.
I checked out the Geico site earlier today, and lo and behold, found myself beginning to grunt as I surfed around, it was so easy!
Meanwhile, inquiring paleoanthropologic minds wonder what the Geico gecko thinks of all this newfound Neanderthal hullaballoo, as he's forced to share the spotlight with the Geico cavemen.
This blogger carefully reached out and under a rock to the gecko for comment, but was only able to elicit a few chirping sounds...in a proper British accent, of course.
My fondest wish: That the cavemen and the gecko make peace in time for a gecko guest appearance -- but then again, mixing a company's celebrity spokespeople can send mixed messages about a brand, and cause no end of conflict among their Hollywood agents, so it will be interesting to see whether or not the new series' creators are clever enough to work Sir Gecko into the plotline.
Only evolutionary biological history...and a future sweeps week...will tell.