SXSWi 2010

Day One wrapup


developerWorks: I'm Scott Laningham for developerWorks at South by Southwest (SXSW) day one, here with "Turbo" Todd Watson.

I know that you have some thoughts to share about some very very interesting (and, in some ways, "disturbing") changes with the registration process here. I had a few thoughts. But you kick it off because I know you're kind of disturbed about what's happened.

Watson: So 6,000 geeks have invaded Austin, and we're certainly glad to have them, but yes! My event started out yesterday where I didn't have to wait in a line the length of a USSR breadline to get my badge, and that was really disappointing. You know I've been used to sitting around and waiting for hours and hours in line to get my badge. I used to get girls' phone numbers standing in that line. I used to get extensive movie recommendations standing in that line.

That line was like its own crowdsourcing experience. And I'm really ticked off that SXSW has gotten so efficient that the line is no more. So SXSW, bring back that line!

developerWorks: [LAUGHTER] Well, I can say I don't miss that line because when I arrived, it was up and down the escalators last year, and this time it's in a big open ballroom kind of area. And a matter of fact, they have the snaking line that runs around all the poles to help the crowd move and there were so few in the line that to walk your way through that maze, you could see on everyone's face that they were thinking about hopping those things. But I don't think they had the hurdler instincts in them; they were worried about making them all fall down like dominos. [LAUGHTER]

So, I found it very pleasant. The only weird part was standing behind the green line to get your badge while they were printing it.

Watson: Was it better than the Green Zone? Green light?

developerWorks: I guess you could call it a Green Zone. And there wasn't enough Green Zone space behind the green line, so all of those waiting were getting very, very close to each other, let's say.

Watson: Ahhhh.

developerWorks: And some conversations breaking out.

Watson: You know, I have to give them credit, or I was trying to give them credit, because of the expansion. You know, we're now in four different venues. The hotels are all over the place. Many more rooms it seems like here at ACC, the convention center, but I was ... as I was tweeting about that early this morning, cause I was in this Rushoff session, the keynote session at 2 p.m., and there was like all kinds of seats, but apparently down here where we're now, in your Ballroom B, it was way over-subscribed, and in fact, people were really starting to complain.

So I don't know if they over-registered, whatever.

I saw one session here at the end of the day about mobile computing because ... excuse me ... every session at SXSW 2010 Interactive is about mobile computing. And there was a line literally all the way up to Texas capital. I don't know how they're going to get all those people in.

developerWorks: What about Rushkoff? Can you give like the 60-, 90-second recap of that? That looks like a very interesting one. I didn't get to make that.

Watson: You know better than to have me do anything in 60 or 90 seconds.

OK. Well, he started off by saying that it used to be going online was akin to dropping acid and changing reality. And [it] would let us change the world.

Well, here we are, you know, 18 years later (cause you remember Rushkoff's been doing this for a while) and anybody who can go online does so with great triviality. And he was really kind of comparing the environment of technology to the greater world.

If you look at where we are: We're at the point where banks were giving loans to one another because there was nobody that was borrowing money, and there was all this funny money floating around, and I really think it was suggesting an absence of a larger fundamental foundation in the world. From economics to government; and he seems to suggest there's kind of a fatalism, a gloom and doom that's hanging over us that's really pulverizing us.

And if you look at a lot of the shouting matches online, you're for or against. If you look at the political realm, you're for or against. There's a lot of polarity out there and I think he seems to suggest that the code that we're basing all this on ... it's too binary. We need to get ... we need to realize there's a level of complexity there. We all can't be consumers; we need more producers and that includes in the US realm in terms of just manufacturing things. Building things. Creating new ideas. And I think that he's suggesting there's been a deficit there.

So he went on to launch his "10 commands" ... get it? "Program or be programmed." "Commands," not "commandments." And I'm not going to go into each and everyone of those, but as an example he said:

"Thou shalt not do from a distance that which can be done in person."

So, there were a number of these that kind of, I think, mirrored some of the larger comments. Here's what I think. I think you should go and listen to it if you can find it online (they probably put up a podcast [and] certainly you can read some other blog synopsis including on mine here soon) but I think he did a nice job of setting a big-picture setup for 2010.

And then, somebody went and pulled the damn fire alarm, Scott, so we better leave.

developerWorks: You know, listening about what you're ... how you're describing Rushkoff, one of the things that I wanted to do here ... or at least it's just kind of natural for me with all the talk that we do on IBM and developerWorks about the Smarter Planet theme ... is to see how that's connecting with the kinds of things that are being talked about here.

And certainly what Rushkoff was talking about ... about being more productive, about being more (to use that buzzword) innovative ... that certainly goes right along with that idea I would think.

Watson: I think that if you look back at our recent Tivoli® Pulse conference and some of the words of wisdom Al Gore had ... this notion of efficiency, of making better utilization of all the world's resources including it's people by the way, but certainly the precious natural resources ... if you look at the continued need to better understand the relationship the physical analog world and what we're doing with the information technology, whether that's better instrumentation of our vehicles so we can better manage trucking routes or some of those types of things ... better management of our precious petroleum resources around the globe by better exploration and instrumentation of pipelines, so when a pipeline goes out, we know that and we're not spilling oil all over the place.

I mean all of those, including the insight that can come out of that, what we call "new intelligence." I think he was kind of heading in that direction but he's saying we've got to stop and pause, smell the roses, including the real roses, not just the ones in Second Life, every once in a while to help us kind of remagnetize ourselves to magnetic north.

developerWorks: It looks like it's going to be a very good conference and we've got full schedules, you and I, and David Salinas who's going to join us over the next few days to talk some as well, and we'll be reporting back each day at the end of the day (at least as long as we can keep up the stamina to do that) and share the things that we're learning here at SXSW Interactive 2010 in Austin, Texas.

Scott Laningham again with Todd Watson. Glad you're here, Todd.

Watson: Glad to be here and looking forward to the next several days.

developerWorks: Talk to you all tomorrow. This is a developerWorks podcast.

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ArticleTitle=SXSWi 2010: Day One wrapup