10 Mar 2013

All posts from 10 Mar 2013

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SXSW Wrap up Day 3

SXSW Day 2

A busy day on the convention hall floor at SXSW

Here at SXSW, the Flip team is working hard to bring you the highlights of the Interactive conference.  The Sunday program was as packed as the other days have been, but the sun was shining and we were in the mood to indulge some of our more frivolous interests.  So here is the glorious grab bag of the bright shiny objects that caught our attention.

Patrick Doherty couldn’t resist the Rachel Maddow session:

Rachel Maddow, while not being at all specific to the topic of interactive- gave a compelling talk about the US war machine. Whatever your politics she highlighted some pretty stunning absurdities and contradictions in US foreign and defense policy. And she’s a Guinness drinker.

Also Guy Kawasaki interviewed Amit Singhal, Senior VP and Google Fellow.

Nine snippets for you:

  1. A perfect search engine knows exactly what you mean and gives you exactly what you want.
  2. The search algorithm uses 200 search signals to do a search.
  3. There are 30 trillion web addresses and 250 m domains on the Internet.
  4. When desktop search use goes down mobile use goes up – people are searching all the time.
  5. The best SEO tip – build high quality content that is adding value that people want on fast web sites.
  6. For search, speed is still the killer app.
  7. The future is about building the “Star Trek’ computer – allowing search in any modality (type, voice etc).
  8. Google Now – anticipates what you need to know so you don’t have to ask eg it tells you your flight is late.
  9. Thus ultimate goal – People can walk around connected to all of humanity’s knowledge. Everyone will have access to zall the information they need to improve their lives.

 

Bizzy Schorr noticed a trend in the events she covered today:

Today’s theme was paradigm shift.  Doctors may have to shift how they define themselves and their value propositions; technology industries have to shift how they treat and portray women; copyright (pro)opponents need to shift the focus of their arguments; and my paradigm of Russian food got blown completely to pieces!

Daimon Eklund spent the day exploring the art of the story:

My third day at SXSW was all about the importance of story, no matter what technology you use to tell it. I started with a panel on Big Data in Journalism, where the main message was data is only useful if you can find a story to tell about it. Later on, Nate Silver talked about the dangers of telling the wrong story by cherry-picking data instead of making sure you really know what the numbers are telling you. And I finished the day with one of the most genuine and sincere panels I’ve seen, where a group of journalists and activists discussed how to use the power of storytelling to cut through the clutter and make an Internet audience care.

Carolyn Higgins delved into the world of entertainment:

Glee Interview 2-ps

Jennifer Jolly interviews Glee cast members Melissa Benoist and Kevin McHale

Day 3 for me was about celebrity and story – a highly enjoyable mix.  Serendipity led me to a session in the Roku lounge where Jennifer Jolly interviewed GLEE cast members Kevin McHale and Melissa Benoist.  Visit this site tomorrow to see what they had to say about life in perpetual high school, social media, and their fellow cast members.  I followed up this light-hearted session with a discussion on what neuro science can tell us about storytelling.  The BBC’s Matt Danzico and Amy O’Leary of the New York Times presented their research and experience with the science of storytelling and talked about what it all means for today’s storytellers.  JASP is a new Google comedy offering.  I watched Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, and rap-comic Reggie Watts share the stage to talk about what JASP will be.  Unsurprisingly, this panel was not a dry Powerpoint presentation with charts and graphs or a predictable ending.

Conrado Tapado found a silver lining:

Today I hit the infamous “full session” phenomenon. As I approached the venue, I noticed a line of people around the corner and down block. I thought, surely all these people couldn’t be in line for a session on data! Lo and behold, we were informed that the 9:30 am session on “Data, Storytelling and Breaking Through the Noise” was full, and by default, it became the line for the 11:00 am session on “Journalism by #s: Data Will Change Nature of News.”  As a self-confessed numbers and data geek, I was both disappointed but intrigued.  To their credit, the SXSW staff did their best to mitigate the mass frustration by offering the crowd free breakfast tacos. Suddenly the wait didn’t seem so bad.

Join us again on Monday for our Day 4 coverage.

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SXSW Wrap up Day 3
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The Future: Al Gore tells Walt Mossberg all about it at SXSW

Al Gore @ SXSW Day 2

Al Gore @ SXSW Day 2

The word “exciting” is in danger of being overused at SXSW.  The panels I’ve attended to date have been stimulating and well-attended,  and each created its own level of buzz.  The gasp-meter, however, pegged yesterday during Walt Mossberg’s interview of Al Gore about his new book “The Future” and his take on recent events.

The mood was set when Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell took the stage to introduce Gore.  “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome former President Al Gore,” he began.  That reference to the 2000 election was not lost on the crowd and Gore entered to appreciative applause.  Interviewer Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal made it clear that he was not there to pander to the celebrity of Al Gore and proceeded to hold him to a tight line of questions about his book, the challenges ahead for the planet and for us, and why we might dare to be hopeful.

“How do you justify working with Al Jazeera?” asked Mossberg – this in reference to the fact that the privately-owned media company is based in Quatar, predominantly an oil-producing economy.  “How do you justify working for Rupert Murdoch?” shot back Gore, and the gloves were off.  Mossberg rejoined that Murdoch is not in the oil business, only to met quickly with Gore’s sally that he hadn’t known Murdoch to be strictly in the news business, either.  The crowd was delighted.

The conversation did take a serious turn over the six drivers of change detailed in “The Future”: work, communication, power, demographics, biotechnology, and climate change. “Our democracy has been hacked,” stated Gore, noting that too much power in the hands of a small group is dangerous to liberty. Not since the 1890s, he added, has so much money and power rested in the hands of so few in the U.S.  Additionally, he called for the overturn of the Citizens United decision – again to loud approval from the audience.

The welfare of citizens needs to become the focus of government again, Gore insisted. The average incumbent, he says, now spends five hours a day raising money rather than attending to state business.  This represents not only time lost running affairs of state, but a perpetual tie to special interest groups who are, in essence, running the country.  Decision-making by the U.S. government doesn’t take our welfare into heart, he said, and that is expressed by actions such as the U.S. entry into the Iraq war, “a dumb-ass decision.”

We knew that climate change would merit attention, and Gore did not fall short of expectation when he got to the subject.  “We’re using the atmosphere as a sewer,” he said. And it’s costing us in every way – including monetarily.  According to Gore, $110 billion in climate-related disasters has been incurred.

Despite the looming problems, there is reason to be hopeful, Gore asserted.  But meeting these mounting challenges means “taking back American democracy and making it function again”, said Gore.  It will also take imagination and the willingness to embrace change.  “Disruptive technologies create more jobs than they displace,” he said.  The U.S. is “the only country who can lead the world out of this,” stated Gore.  The challenge is before us.

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The Future: Al Gore tells Walt Mossberg all about it at SXSW