SXSW Interactive Warmup

There seems to be a few events each year that go a bit overboard. One where no matter where you are in the social media swim you hear about it. Right now we are building up to that with SXSW in Austin, TX.

This mega conference has been building up lots of steam as each year passes. From the music to the movies to the internet, it can interest nearly everyone. It is long too, as It starts on March 13 on a Friday afternoon and doesn’t end until 10 days later on March 22.

For my part, I am going for personal an work. Since both of are in the internet business, I can’t wait to launch into the conference frenzy. I must say that conferences by internet and social media geeks is like no other I have been to. There are so many back channels, methods of communication, product releases, start-ups, and money being tossed around it can make you lose all sense of normalcy.

This being my third go round at internet/social media revelry, I am determined to take it easy. I’m gonna attend some choice sessions, talk to some fun folk, and then soak in the learning. In the past, it is just go-go-go. This year I want to take it back a notch. Not sure if this is possible.

Especially as SXSW Interactive where there over 180 sessions…during the day! Not to mention all of the other events throughout the evening and night. This is going to be sensory overload and especially since this is my first SXSW, making me a SWirgin. I think I have a few cards up my sleeve to help me out here.

First, I have been pre-thinking about what I want to learn. Most of my top themes relate to web design and new tools. Although, some relate to mobility, best practices in production, and a few “hot new things”. Having this list in mind should help me to sift through the multitude.

Second, the echo chamber is in full effect. Not that I’m saying its a bad thing, in fact I value the echo chamber. Just not when I’m flying so far to learn. In Austin, I am looking to learn and so I will skip all the also-ran, heard it all before presentations (marketing in new media, how to establish your brand, just what is new media).

Third, hey if you hang around long enough you can figure out who the cool kids are. In this case, I’m talking about the  brilliant, always engaging, knock your socks off folks. Check out my short list below for some of them.

Fourth, and final, I am a pro. I am really. I am rolling in with an MacBook Air, an iPhone tweaked for the conference, light weight backpack with necessary dongles and such, and finally a smart mentality. The mobility of the MBA and iPhone is essential for tight spaces, long days, and maximum efficiency. The smart mentality means skipping the bad food, stupid handouts, and even worse middle-of-the-hall sales pitch. It is essential to leave yourself enough energy for the night-time in your new city and avoiding the death by vendor attack.

That’s it, time to get some rest before my early flight, but first here are some hot tips:

Links

SXSW Interactice – list of sessions

SXSW Scheduling tool

Alltop SXSW news

Recommended Sessions

Change v2 – Lawrence Lessig

Obama has awoken a once in a century passion for reform. What will it take to make it work? What would “work” mean?

Using GPS & Location to Enhance Social Networking – Panel (twttr, brightkite, garmin…)

First there were social networks, and then there were location-based social networks, and now GPS and navigation-enhanced mobile social networks. This panel will explore how these emerging platforms integrate with existing social networks (facebook, twitter, etc), leverage GPS navigation functionality, and take location-aware social networking to the next level.

Buzz Out Loud Podcast Taping – Natali, Tom, and Jason

Buzz Out Loud is CNET’s premiere daily podcast hosted by Natali Del Conte, Tom Merritt, and Jason Howell. They cover all the tech news with their own and their audience’s takes on what it all means, often with hilarity ensuing. They’ll cover the top SXSW stories with special guests. If you want to understand what’s happening in the tech world, especially at SXSW, you need to listen to Buzz Out Loud.

iPhone Tweakage

At the conference this year, I am going to be testing out all that the iPhone can offer. To include the WordPress iPhone app for live blogging. Photos uploaded on-the-spot. Twitter streaming SMS to my phone. Google Alerts and Yahoo listservs to my gmail inbox. Hopefully, a whole lot of location based community building for meet-ups, spontaneous get togethers, and a little where the heck is everyone (not sure how this will work out…). Just wish I could record some vids on the phone…

Computer Troubles

Is it possible that computers are just too hard. That they are just so complicated that it requires a degree to understand them. Yes.

Is it also possible that we have been turned off by computers. They prevent us being outside and experiencing things. They make things harder instead of easier. They are just not that important to our lives. Yes.

Those are the two most important problems I see in our culture. We are afraid of computers and turned off by them. It goes deeper than that though. They challenge our basic beliefs about the value of things like books, one on one encounters, and more.

Most believe its just not possible be into computers and have a healthy lifestyle with a balanced family and outdoor activities. In our minds computers and technology have ceased to make things easier and become a burden on us.

Most of us take a half-n-half approach. We will invest some time in computers to get our jobs done and then go home and stay away from them. Yeah we know email, but when we get home email is business and we want to play. News is easy to get on the internet but we still like the paper. We want to have keep a sense of nostalgia and intimacy with our world that computers just can’t provide.

Its too bad really. We can have the best of both. It is possible to be completely invested in computers and have the life we want. The trouble is that no one’s really doing it. Not that it can’t be done, just no one’s doing it.

It takes a new approach to our thinking and our methods. It takes change. Not dramatic, deep change like a political campaign would spout off. Just tweaking of your lifestyle. Subtle tips that can make it happen for you and even bring you back to the simple lost traits of our culture:

  • Community – technology is now social and you should look to friends and family for new tools, tips, and uses. Ask friends what they like and don’t like. Share with them what you have learned.
  • Fresh Perspective – not every new tool is amazing and a good dose of skepticism is good, but that can quickly cloud your judgment. In today’s rapidly evolving market new and amazing tools that can make your life better are constantly coming out. Your skepticism could prevent you from finding them or being open to the ways they could improve your life.
  • Research – research is one of the basic fundamentals of learning in our lives. Learn how to do research on the internet. Start with search engines like Google. They are so advanced at this point that your query can simply be your question. Then take some time to browse the answers/results. Learn how to differentiate quality from conjecture. After a certain point you will notice patterns and can develop routines that allow your research to be fast and effective (and on any topic you want).

Finally, its all about fun and making our lives better. I recommend that everyone look to their future and notice our impending alliance with technology and computers. They will be a part of our lives, forever.

The best thing you can do is enjoy it. Watch a cute video on YouTube, laugh at silly photos of cats, form a “fan of Indiana Jones” club on Facebook, or just post pictures of your Halloween adventures.

Thanks for reading and please share any subtle tips you have found.

internet pop culture 2

*Update: this is an update to the original internet pop culture post*

My pop culture is the internet. I love its news and information. I enjoy watching its tv channels and free movies. I do my research, I attend school, and I hang out with my friends.

The internet enhances my life in so many ways. Read on for my favorites of internet pop culture.

First, lets start off with the current slang.

  • Common terms for the internet are: internets, interweb, and intertron.
  • Abbreviations: ur, omw (on my way), OH (overhead), RT (retweet), btw (by the way)
  • Plurality everywhere: jut add “s” to everything, srsly do it, its fun
  • Making up words: like i told a friend the other night, i pretty much mastered the english language 15 years ago, now its time to have some fun with it
  • 80s are back: rad, my favorite word
  • Meme: means something that is hot on the intertron

Next, my top sites. Pulled from the newest version of Firefox (FF3) which captures that data for you:

  1. Gmail
  2. Concord (my online law school)
  3. Twitter
  4. Google Finance
  5. My Life (this site)
  6. Facebook
  7. E-Trade (my bank)

Now, here is how I get my news. My favorite tech news site in the whole world, techmeme. I check it pretty much everyday, multiple times a day. It has a magical algorithm, popularized by google news, that finds popular items through links and then pulls them together. On any given day you can find the best story on a hot new topic as well as the next best articles and all the discusison around them. Truly a cool agreggator of news, much better than RSS in my time starved day.

Beyond that I use google finance for my stock news. NY Times for editorials by thomas friedman and news on the war front in Iraq.

Seems kinda lacking doesn’t it? That is because I get my information from twitter. As of today, Oct 19, I am following 394 people. Except some of them aren’t people they are direct news feeds delivered to me, wherever I am (home, on the go). Then there are my several hundred friends who constantly post the latest news. They select it for me, they are my filter and my RSS feed.

So far its working out really well. I get what I want and my scope is constantly expanded (thx twitter friendses).

Finally, and most importantly, my tv/movies. If you haven’t heard, hulu, is the hottest tv site on the internet. It has free shows/movies/cips. There are commercials but just one and if its a long episode then it’s one every 5-10 minutes. Lately, I have watched:

  • TV: Heroes (season 3), Burn Notice (all seasons), and House.
  • Movie: Groundhog Day, Karate Kid trilogy (go 80’s!), Sleepless in Seattle, Spy Game, and Men in Black.
  • Clips: SNL (saturday night live), Colbert Report, Jon Stewart, Sesame Street.

Well, that’s not everything. I know I left out large sections of the poppy culture but I hope anyone reading this can comment on the stuff I forgot. Thx!

Senate Hearing Discusses Web 2.0 to Improve our Democracy

Wow, I am really excited. Something amazing happened yesterday, Dec 11, 2007, for the American people, democracy, and my work. I will try to break it down for you in a simplified way. The story is pulled from several statements, 60 plus pages, and a Senate Hearing. Here it is:

A Congressional Hearing was called by Senators Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins to discuss the state of the web, our government, and web 2.0. They invited Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Google, the OMB, and the Center for Internet and Democracy.

The session was all about opening up our government websites to the people of America (and the world) by introducing collaboration and transparency into the process of democracy. Senator Susan Mullins, in her opening remarks, states that the internet has been around for 20 years, but the “federal commitment to the web…is only 5 years old” (see E-Gov, 2002). Meaning that they have a lot of catching up to do.

First on the agenda was search engines. A Pew study conducted in 2004 shows that 77% of Americans get information about their government via search engines [1, pdf]. Furthermore JL Needham, of Google, stated that, “we can assume that this already impressive number has risen farther” since 2004. I can easily imagine this number today being in the 90th percentile.

The speakers go on to demonstrate that a surprisingly large amount of publicly available government information is not searchable. They cite various reasons, one being that websites are using *robots.txt* files, which prohibit search engines from “crawling” the data. The conclusion and recommendations from all was that this needs to change. Senator Lieberman, even questioned whether this was an accident or just simply “not going the extra mile”.

Imagine what resources could be made available to anyone using a search engine once this issue is resolved. We are talking about science reports, emergency information, available grants, and much more.

The second recommendation was for the government to embrace collaboration and openness. Not only within the government but with the American people. In the words of Senator Lieberman,

“Today, we will also examine how new collaborative technologies can strengthen interaction among government agencies and the public. Jimmy Wales – the founder of Wikipedia, the most thrilling example of what collaborative technology can produce – will walk us through the concepts behind Wikipedia and how similar technologies can be applied to government for greater information sharing, collaboration, and communication both within government and with the public.”

That was his opening line! To his credit, Mr. Wales impressively laid out the business process and features of Wikipedia in a clear and simple way. Making sure to answer some of the more controversial aspects of the online encyclopedia, while also providing examples of how the process can be used for government agencies.

His prepared speech impressed me the most and I recommend reading it (pdf). In it he discusses how the First Amendment, freedom of speech, is being both protected and fulfilled in Wikipedia, and how this very same process can,

“…improve our government’s ability to gather and share information for increased security, for increased governmental responsiveness in our open society, and for the preservation of democratic values.”

His final recommendation was for the American government to use wiki’s, both internally and for the public. The public wiki angle excites me the most as this is something I have been asking for and speaking about for a while. Engaging the American people in a dialogue about our laws, amendments, problems, programs, and more using a wiki can have a tremendous impact on democracy in America. I can imagine our laws being drafted in a public wiki, and citizens can directly edit, discuss, and impact the laws of our federal, state, and local governments.

Forget, “get out the vote”, lets go with “wikify the government”.

I know things like this will definitely take time, but this is an important first step. Having the right people, saying the right things also helps too. What an exciting moment and an invigorating era to be alive in!

Reference Materials:

Further interesting observations:

Who knew lobbyists, or rather Google lobbysits, would be pushing for this?

Even more so, who knew that in 6 years a little known project called Wikipedia that called for “free access to the sum of all human knowledge” would be before Congress asking them to join in?

Senator Lieberman – Both the Legislative and Executive branches must “increase its transparency and expand its interactive relationship with the public “ [2, pdf]

JL Needham – “Making publicly available government information more accessible and useful to citizens…makes our democracy more transparent, accountable, and relevant to its citizens.”

Mr. Needham, again – “In the Web 2.0 world, where more and more citizens are using blogs, wikis, online mapping, video sharing services, and social networking sites to communicate and collaborate with each other, there will be even more demand for government to bring information to citizens where they are through these new platforms. This information will also help serve as a core component of the user-generated content that is driving the deeper engagement of Americans with each other, and with our democracy, through the Web.” [3, pdf]

President George HW Bush – “…expanding the use of the Internet and computer resources in order to deliver Government services, […] for a citizen-centered, results-oriented, and market-based Government.” [4]

Jimmy Wales – “it is important that governments use technology wisely to communicate with the public, and also to allow the public to communicate with the government.” [5, pdf]

internet pop culture

Almost every time I hang out with a friend they drop some line on me like “have you seen this commercial?” or “did you watch the last episode of…?”.

The answer is usually no. I am almost completely removed from American pop culture. If you read my post titled, cancel your cable, you will like it, then you know that I have been cable free since Feb 2007. The results of this are strange and exciting, with some positive and negative aspects to it.

The negative first. I am somewhat removed from my friends and the average person. I can’t strike up that casual conversation with folks over pop culture that I used to, sometimes I miss that common ground… I also miss key tv events, like sports games on cable-only channels, music events on MTV, and other “special” pop culture moments.

Really, though, that is it. Everything else has been a boon to my life. I have more free time, I save money by avoiding the 100 dollar cable bill, and I avoid the always annoying commercial spam.

The free time does give me a chance to write more, which i love, but I still miss good content. For that I have turned to internet pop culture. On the net, I can watch full episodes of lots of tv shows, I can keep up with news, and there are even internet celebrities. And, more and more content is popping up. I can get content from the pro sources like ESPN, NBC, Comedy Central and user generated sources like audio/video podcasts and youtube.

At this point, I have all that I need and more. I love my new internet pop culture in all its nerdy goodness.

I hope to share this goodness with you through my delicious bookmarks tagged with swordplaytv and tvnews. Take a look below and feel free to share your bookmarks with me using that tag too:

+ Add me to your delicious network

[rsslist:http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/swordplaytv]

—————

[rsslist:http://del.icio.us/rss/tag/swordplaytvnews]