SXSWi 2011, Day Three: "Augmented reality? Really! ..."
"... I can barely take real reality!"
developerWorks: Day three, South by Southwest Interactive. I'm Scott Laningham for the developerWorks podcast. I'm here with Todd Watson. Todd, you attended a lot of sessions today, I have not. I've been interviewing people, test driving new Chevrolets and eating food for free as often as I can find it.
Watson: Well, that's just not right.
developerWorks: But it's been fun.
Watson: What happened today 2.5? Didn't we have 2.5 last year? [LAUGHTER]
developerWorks: Actually, that's what this is, isn't it?
Watson: I think we're at about 2.5.
developerWorks: Right, yes. What have you been up to today?
Watson: Well, actually, the session yesterday at the end of the day was interesting, that I wanted to mention, because I think it's something that hasn't been talked about a lot here, and that's augmented reality. Are you aware of what that is?
Watson: So you can take these mobile devices ...
developerWorks: That's this, what's going on right now.
Watson: Well, yes, we've always got augmented reality, but it's where you can take mobile devices in the physical world and for example point your camera, and because of all the newfangled technology and the geospatial positioning and all of that, you know, you can learn more about a place.
So for example, we actually did this for Wimbledon at IBM a couple of years ago, where you could easily locate some of the landmarks just by pointing your iPhone. Obviously the technology is getting more sophisticated, and as I had just walked out of a session about politics and new media, Joe Trippi, who ran Howard Dean's campaign was there, and I started thinking about the potential implications of that technology for elections and things of that nature. So that's been an interesting thing.
This morning, I was not so blown away, I was in a session on influencers and social media. And you know, I think we've done a lot of investigation on that at IBM, so that was a little pedestrian, so I ended up leaving that.
And the session that I thought was fascinating, which I know you didn't get to go to, which has been a phenomenon lost on me, was Chris Poole and 4chan and the image sharing site which is just ridiculous, the amount of usage that that site has. It started in 2003, and Chris Poole said it was a small chat room with about 20 people, and now they have about 12 million uniques a month.
developerWorks: What exactly is 4chan?
Watson: Well, it's hard to describe. Think of it as kind of the next generation of BBSs that we used to see in the nineties and eighties, that started in 2003, where people could go and it started out just sharing simple things like images. But then you started seeing all these names that emerged, like L-O-L-cats and some of these other things.
And then later is when you started to see some of the individual sharing on that site get involved with some of the issues around Scientology, and later with the group Anonymous, which helped reveal some of that information as well as some of the information from Wikileaks.
Chris Poole didn't get into a lot of that dark side of this stuff, which I was disappointed, because he was really kind of using it as a commercial for his property, which is very interesting and obviously the South by Southwest audience was wrapped by it. I mean, it was ...
developerWorks: It was the keynote of the day.
Watson: Keynote, and it was everywhere. I mean, it was simulcast everywhere. But I just didn't feel like he got into some of the darker side, which is what, being a dark person, I was interested in ... [LAUGHTER]
developerWorks: You are very dark, Todd. [LAUGHTER] That's the first term that always comes to my mind when I think of you.
Watson: Yeah, right.
I didn't get to hear that. I did spend some time doing some interviews. I did run into some people. You may remember our former IBM colleague Tim Washer, I don't know if you knew Tim ...
Watson: Yes, absolutely. He's at Cisco now?
developerWorks: Yes, he's at Cisco doing the social media ...
Watson: He's a funny guy.
developerWorks: ... networking program there.
He was on a panel with David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and author. And one of David's new books is about marketing lessons from The Grateful Dead, and I think he gave a session about that yesterday, actually. I may be wrong, it may have been today. But I know that this panel, that was one of the things that David was talking about.
And then Tim came up and was talking about comedy and the entertainment element that needs to be in there in successful marketing, in successful social networking, social business, whatever. And so Tim and I met for a little bit and talked outside of the sports bar across the street ...
Watson: Very cool.
developerWorks: ... where you and I have hung out before.
Watson: I'm totally bummed, I've always wanted to meet him, and ...
developerWorks: Oh, he's a good guy.
Watson: Tim, if you're listening, next time, you know, look me up.
developerWorks: He might come by the Elephant Room tonight for a little jazz. But who knows who's going to be awake at that hour.
Watson: Well, that's a really good example that you cite of his work, because I think Tim has kind of been very emblematic of the need for good story telling. And yes, comedy has a role in that, but that's another meme I'm hearing coming out of the event, is the need for good story telling to put all of this back into more human terms.
You know, Guy Kawasaki gave a great talk about enchantment; he's got a new book out by that title. And it's all about how the smaller Davids versus the Goliaths can use the social media to do that kind of outreach effectively. But he gave like a top 10 list, and my notes got crashed, so I don't have them, so I'll just say go read the book. It's definitely worth investigating.
But a big one of what he was saying, a big take-away, was people need to be able to learn how to communicate ideas and tell stories whether you're the CEO pitching your product or you're the product guy talking to a customer or what have you. And I think along with that, another key one is authenticity. And that's another one we're hearing a lot about even in the political session I was just in.
developerWorks: Some great ... you know, the story telling thing you're talking about is a theme that I'm seeing, and maybe it's always been at South by Southwest Interactive, I don't know, since I haven't been here as many years as you have. This is my third year. But I'm seeing a lot of sessions about that, and there's one coming up at five o'clock that I'm going to try to sneak into, why journalists need to think like geeks.
And it's interesting, the premise of the talk is that you know, sometimes its' an easier transition for geeks to understand the playing field for journalism and to interact with journalists. But I think the people on this panel are putting forth the idea that journalists need to do a lot more work to try to understand the way a developer's mind works, for example.
But, a lot of interesting talks here in sessions, some others at five o'clock today as well, about the need for good communicators, good story tellers and writers that can animate and illustrate these ideas, because sometimes they're so abstract, aren't they?
Watson: Yes, I think that's true, and I think the fact that this is a nexus of film, music and interactive, you know, we ought to see that be more pervasive, right? We ought to see that ... . I mean, it all gets back to really simple Aristotelian methodologies: you know, beginning, middle and end. But I think somewhere along the way, a lot of people get lost in the middle.
And that's why it was so interesting to hear Trippi talking about the Howard Dean campaign. I thought that they did a really good job for a while there of telling that in narrative, because they were completely outgunned, if you remember, by, my guess, Cary, to try to get the nomination.
developerWorks: Right, yes.
Watson: And Edwards and others.
And so they turned to the social media, but they had a really good narrative. And what Trippi is saying is these tools are going to continue to evolve, he said, because the Obama campaign came along, did a tremendous job, but he said in another, you know, probably in the next election cycle ... It's going to be completely different because the tools are going to have completely changed the location base, services are likely going to play a much bigger role in the next election. But through all of that, the spine I think for effective communication is that good story telling, whether it's a movie or a political campaign.
developerWorks: Right. Where are you off to with what's left of the day, because ...
Watson: Oh, I'm going to the bar. [LAUGHTER]
developerWorks: I'm going to go and try and hit a couple of talks at five o'clock, although I do have an interview that's just showing up now.
Watson: I think there is a session that my buddy is going to. It's about the Old Spice campaign. I might drop by there and see the Old Spice guy. So, we'll ... but if not, I'll be at the bar.
developerWorks: Are you thinking about coming by the Elephant Room tonight on Congress? Or you can't stay up that late?
Watson: I will see. [LAUGHTER]
developerWorks: We're going to have a jazz jam at the Elephant Room tonight. We're going to talk spontaneously, and the band hasn't noticed yet, but we're going to talk about the correlation between social media, social business, innovation, teaming, improvisation, jazz.
developerWorks: Every time they ask me to "trade fours" or take a drum solo, I'm just going to walk up to the mic and start riffing on that, so. [LAUGHTER] You're going to miss ...
Watson: Well, good luck with that. [LAUGHTER]
developerWorks: So, anyway, more to come tomorrow, and of course, tomorrow night we have a reception at the Four Seasons here in Austin with the Dr. Ferrucci ...
Watson: Dave Ferrucci, who is the principal investigator behind the IBM Watson ...
developerWorks: Watson and Jeopardy thing, right.
Watson: ... Jeopardy project.
developerWorks: So he's going to give a press conference and then a short talk, and there's going to be a networking session there with food and drink and an opportunity to talk with him and meet some of the other people that may be involved in that ...
Watson: Oh, and before you close on that topic, Joe Trippi actually held IBM up as one of the hallmark companies for social media. He apparently consulted with us a number of years ago, which I thought was kind of a nice public kudos. I wasn't aware that he had consulted with us. But he had paid a visit, several visits to Armonk, apparently, and had talked about how to embrace this, and this was several years ago, so it wasn't like ... you know, it was early on.
Watson: And so I think we saw a result of that with the Watson initiative, if you looked at a lot of the social media activity, so.
developerWorks: Has anybody gotten him a t-shirt? He needs a t-shirt for that.
Watson: He needs a t-shirt. [LAUGHTER] We'll work on that.
developerWorks: Is your iPad working okay?
Watson: My iPad is mostly working okay. What I love about the iPad is the battery lasts much longer than my micro pro, and I've been trying to take notes so I can make some sense out of all this, and the iPad is definitely saving the day. Although, I did see the new one, and it's much smaller and cooler, so I don't feel hip anymore.
developerWorks: You know it sold out in one day.
Watson: Yes, I heard that.
developerWorks: Everyone in town, and you know, I'm sure there were 10 million ...
Watson: Our friend from Russia we interviewed said she's going to sell hers back in Moscow ... [LAUGHTER]
developerWorks: And make some good money off that. That's why I have my, you can't see this on radio, of course, but I have my notepad here, my Think notepad.
Watson: So Scott's holding up a classic T.J. Watson Think notebook. It's a hipster pad.
developerWorks: Do you know how long the battery lasts in this?
Watson: I imagine a long time. Probably in perpetuity.
developerWorks: An era, yes. Todd Watson of course is ... well, you know, I don't have to explain who he is, you all know who Turbo Todd is.
Watson: I wish somebody who would explain who I am. [LAUGHTER]
developerWorks: We will continue this discussion tomorrow, and from South by Southwest Interactive 2011, I'm Scott Laningham with Turbo Todd. Talk to you later.
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