When I was at SXSW, I got to share the experience with some great people. My friend Scott Biggers sent me his recap and I asked him if I could share it here. To which he said, “of course!” So here goes…
My impressions of 2011 SXSW.
- Overwhelming. The conference feels too big. Too many locations, SRO sessions, and escalator jams. Too many people, hipster hats and iPads, as well. Aside: When I sat next to some iPad toting developer in a session, he glanced at me with my primitive notebook and phone and said, with a mix of reassurance and condescension, “That’s OK. I’ve got an iPhone, too.”
- The impressive writeups of the sessions rarely matched the sessions themselves.
- Presentations are more informative than panel discussions. Panel discussions are more entertaining than presentations.
- Love the serendipitous meetings and networking opportunities. (Especially when you’re hanging with someone like Larry.)
- Overuse of the mysterious “social graph” term.
Top three quotes
- “Geospatial reasoning” – Even though the context was the geo-location game session, my geek buzzword siren went off.
- “Ceding control to the peeps” – Bob Garfield, half-jokingly getting hip
- “Thinking in real time” – Classic.
My ten favorite observations from the sessions:
- Check in is a brick and mortar “like” button
- TV used to be the definition of being at home. Only way it could grow was to escape from the home.
- Social TV simply mirrors the allure of watching TV together. (Remember the laugh track?)
- Number of followers and likes in social media is not a good measurement of engagement.
- Nor is giving a thumbs up or making a comment; that’s not engagement
- Agencies are afraid of non-fiction for the brands they represent. They’re used to putting Vaseline on the lens.
- 40 year old mom is the hardcore gamer for Zynga
- Augmented Reality leads us to the Outernet, where the phone becomes your mouse and everything is clickable. (The Internet of Things)
- Customers are more interested in talking to your employees than to your brand.
- Innovation is driven by desires. It used to be driven by companies – but now is driven by consumers. Mobile TV has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with people
To elaborate on that final point:
Amid the promises, explorations, and celebrations of the latest technology at SXSW, there was a constant reminder of humanity. As in technology and innovation only work when they provide a utility and serve the needs of people. Also, that people love stories – and they love to be part of stories.