SXSW Interactive
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SXSW Interactive
News from SXSW Interactive.
Curated by Marta Majewska
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Temporary Apple Store to Open in Austin for SXSW | Liz Gannes | NetworkEffect | AllThingsD

Temporary Apple Store to Open in Austin for SXSW | Liz Gannes | NetworkEffect | AllThingsD | SXSW Interactive |
Apple is reportedly preparing to open a pop-up shop during SXSW at 6th and Congress in downtown Austin. Will we see you there?
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SXSW by the numbers [infographic] | The Wall Blog

SXSW by the numbers [infographic] | The Wall Blog | SXSW Interactive |
Have you ever wondered how many people visited the SXSW conference last year? Or perhaps you wanted to know where everyone came from and what the economic
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At SXSW, Advertising Was This Year’s Twitter, iPad 2 Was This Year’s Foursquare

At SXSW, Advertising Was This Year’s Twitter, iPad 2 Was This Year’s Foursquare | SXSW Interactive |
Now that the interactive portion of the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas is over, the key question is already rolling in: who won?

What this really means, of course, is: what service was the breakout hit of the conference? After all, in past years, the conference has helped launch both Twitter and Foursquare into widespread usage. So the question really is: who was this year's Twitter? Or what was this year's Foursquare?

The answer this year is a bit different, a little disappointing, and perhaps not all that surprising.
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MediaShift . Oversharing, Overstimulated and Setting Boundaries at SXSW | PBS

MediaShift . Oversharing, Overstimulated and Setting Boundaries at SXSW | PBS | SXSW Interactive |
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Who Dominated the Social Conversation About SXSW? Well, Mashable | Digital - Advertising Age

Who Dominated the Social Conversation About SXSW? Well, Mashable | Digital - Advertising Age | SXSW Interactive |
Who dominated the social conversation about SXSW? Mashable had the most mentions on Twitter and Facebook during the confab.
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#SXSW 2011: Day To Night

Right now SXSW Interactive 2011, the largest technology/Internet conference in the United States is underway in Austin, Texas. During the day attendees can connect online or in person in the halls, at parties and while attending panels and talks about the convergence of technology with all facets of life.

Many companies are here vying for attendees’ attention with everything from free beer to mascots in costumes, and more. Meanwhile, the level of commercialization is at an all-time-high for a conference typically regarded for its indie feel.

One example is the ostentatious partnership between location-based check-in service Foursquare, resulting in a parking lot branded top to tail with Pepsi Max advertising. Hollywood celebrities (such as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher) holding court in the Pepsi Foursquare lot seemed to have geeks shrugging shoulders at celebs’ tech trend chasing, rather than being impressed with their presence.

Perhaps the tragedy in Japan - which is heavy on hearts and minds of SXSW Interactive attendees - is keeping eyes open, rather than filling them with stars.

See the entire SXSW Day to Night gallery here.
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CNN at #SXSW: All about citizen media, connected TV

CNN at #SXSW: All about citizen media, connected TV | SXSW Interactive |
AUSTIN, Texas--The horrifying consequences of the recent earthquake in Japan have been yet another proving point for the promises of "citizen" journalism, K.C. Estenson, general manager at CNN Digital, said at an event that the news network held at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival (SXSW) this evening.

"We now have over 50 people on the ground from CNN, the men and women of CNN who report on these things, there in Japan," Estenson said. "(But) in the 36 hours that led up from Friday through the weekend, we just couldn't get people in. It's a long way to Japan, the infrastructure wasn't set up to get outside correspondents in and this is where the power of iReport (CNN's citizen journalism initiative) really comes to life for us, and it's frankly at the core of why we're here at SXSW is this user empowerment that's happening that's changing the course of journalism as we know it."

The event today was held at the "CNN Grill," an elaborate space that CNN had set up two blocks away from the Austin Convention Center--completely re-branding a bar with a massive neon sign out front, TV screens inside, and a CNN-branded bus parked at the sidewalk.

Estenson, in his talk about "the future of news and what's next," previewed a new interface for watching CNN video online (it'll launch "earlier in the summer") in high-definition with the ability to creat drag-and-drop playlists, an experience possible both on the Web and on apps for tablets like the iPad. The audience applauded when Estenson demonstrated pausing mid-video on the Web site and then restarting it from the same moment in the iPad app as well as on a Google TV device.

"Imagine just building your own CNN, the subjects you love, the topics you love, and being able to stack those videos in and carry with you wherever you go," Estenson said.

Also coming this summer is video commenting on CNN online stories, he added in a side note. More importantly, he said that CNN's iReport will become more like a technology API, from its partnership with Apple that makes uploading straight to iReport an option on iMovie, to a partnership with Gowalla that allows iReport contributors to earn a special badge. On CNN's Web site, this will pan out in a new interface called "Open Story" that logs reports on a certain topic chronologically, aggregating both CNN journalists and correspondents alongside iReport in a series of avatars not at all unlike a Twitter timeline and then overlaid on a map.

He pitched CNN as a brand of authenticity in a news world that's grown cluttered with content, much of which has been produced for money rather than quality. "We're not a synthetic news organization," he said, bringing in undertones of the controversial "content farm" publishing that's come to populate search engines. "There are other news organizations that are, maybe, slaves to search engines, might be using algorithms and technology to amplify their traffic, sort of like an anabolic steroids approach to the sport. We're about soul."
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#SXSW: Social Media and Location-based Services

#SXSW: Social Media and Location-based Services | SXSW Interactive |
My first session of the day was “Enabling New Experiences and Creating Serendipity Through Check-ins,” an interview of Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare, by Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore. Despite the massive room it was held in, the interview felt rather intimate and informal. The first thing I noticed was that Crowley was wearing a super sweet yellow watch–okay, you’ve got my attention. Now I want to hear some good news about how you’re improving the way businesses can find and connect with new customers. And I may have gotten it.

The following are some of the potential issues that Williams warns against for location-based services:

* Checking-in — Williams warned about check-in overload. Everyone is adding some sort of checkin functionality to their apps, and he feels that if this trend continues, it will create too much noise and people will tune it out.
* Usefulness — He also warned about not adding in too many game mechanics. They’re just schtick, and the novelty will wear off. Must provide something useful to users.
* Badges — Similar to the point above, must provide something more useful than badges.
* Social Validation — People use social media for validation of thoughts and opinions (you tweet to get retweeted, post to get comments). If social validation is not incorporated into location-based services, they will not get used.
* Geo-noise – No one outside of SXSW cares about all of our activity this week (I do apologize to my friends and followers)! To become relevant to a larger audience or your entire audience, must provide something more people-friendly.

And these are the future trends he sees (or at least hopes for):

* Location is the key ingredient to great mobile experiences
* Must design for mobile because that is the future
* Passive applications — must not interrupt daily lives; ask if you want to check in since you’re close; however, these drain battery life so need to improve that first
* Social good — mobile text donations, promoting causes through mobile and social, and companies being developed around the idea of giving back will become more prevalent in future
* Story — stop focusing on gaming, and start creating and telling stories
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Trends emerge at #SXSW Interactive

AUSTIN (KXAN) - South by Southwest Interactive wraps up Tuesday - trailing hundreds of pitches for new products in its wake.

Most have been smartphone apps - usually with some kind of social networking angle.

This was the largest interactive event in the festival's history. An estimated 18,000 participants which is up 30 to 40 percent from last year.

And the conference expanded this year to ten campuses including the convention center and hotels around Austin.

"All the people here -- there is such great energy," said Brett Kopf, a grad student from Chicago.

Energy brought innovation for Kopf who launched

"Remind 101 is a website that sends students text message and email reminders to study for any of their assignments, so once their syllabus is on our site the whole class can subscribe to it," he said.

Borja Prieto came from Spain to promote -- which makes Facebook apps for musicians.

"Basically you can put music into your Facebook and sell your own merchandise and also sell your tickets through our apps," said Prieto.

And Jin Zhou boarded a start up bus in San Francisco bound for Austin to launch event backer -- a site that matches event planners with sponsors.

"You just have to do it. If you dream about something you just have to do it," said Zhou.

Conference organizers said trends this year included social networking in political turmoil and activism, advances in geolocation, new gaming concepts for everday life and businesss, group messaging and the mainstreaming of geek culture.

"We know one of the most popular movies from last year was 'The Social Network,' geeks are maybe the new rock stars, right?" said SXSW Interactive Director Hugh Forrest.

Christian Arno with Lingo24, a translation company that promotes foreign language internet, said connections and communication made at South By will benefit him in the UK - and his customers around the world.

"Austin is an incredibly progressive place and it's a good place to center internationally-minded operations, yeah we'll be back every year I think," said Arno.

Although South By Southwest is the place where things like Twitter and Gowalla launched and became everyday names - the organizers say it will still be a few months before they know which product and concepts hit it big this year.
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Another Group Messaging App At #SXSW 2011 – Grouped{in}

Another Group Messaging App At #SXSW 2011 – Grouped{in} | SXSW Interactive |
Group Text/Messaging is all the rage at SXSW 2011. One app in the genre that’s making its debut this week is Appconomy’s Grouped{in}. Just getting its app store approval on Friday, Grouped{in} surfaces with many features of similar apps like Beluga and GroupMe (group messaging, conference call, etc), however according to Appconomy’s President Brian Magierski, it has at least one unique differentiator that you can see near the end of the video below called Featured Groups. I ran into Brian at the conference and he gave me a quick demo of Grouped{in} which has been designed to help ”organize and simplify private group communication across multiple channels”.
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Live From #SXSW Interactive: A Chat With Barry Diller

Live From #SXSW Interactive: A Chat With Barry Diller | SXSW Interactive |
IAC Chairman and CEO Barry Diller may have started out in the mailroom at the William Morris agency 50 years ago, but certainly no moss has grown on him since then.

In his keynote interview this morning, Diller outlined a utopian, if bumpy, ride to get to his vision for the future of Internet infotainment, one that (hopefully) would be rid of too much government interference and would allow a million Internet entrepreneurs to blossom.

(Hey Barry, while you're at it, could you talk to the staff over at Match.Com and get me an actual date instead of being chatted up by girls desperate to leave the Ukraine?)

Diller was funny, and the interviewer from CNN did a good job of staying out of his way. First, She chocked up Diller's bona fides: Cheers, The Simpsons, Fox Broadcasting, HSN, and now IAC, before diving into questions about the new Internet bubble.

Then, Diller explained that he chases good ideas, not valuations, but understands how "money chases things." But he was still impressed by "the amount of sheer invention that's going on."

He explained some of the recent valuations are mathematically insane, but he's still a believer and got into the Internet space very early on (1992-1993). The reason he likes this space? People follow their curiosity, and it's more interesting "to start businesses on my own, ideas we can support, than to chase crowds."

The Internet, he explained, is a miracle that allows everybody to participate.

Diller talked as well about his recent investment in Newsweek and its combination with Tina Brown's Daily Beast, explaining this was "an original Internet vehicle based on its merit."

Though he was more cautious about the business model of Apple for magazine and content publishers, Diller did explain he likes the new iPad 2, explaining it's "just a better product" and, like the Kindle, the second was better than the first.

Diller was also passionate about his defense of net neutrality, explaining that not having it "is the only thing threatening Internet freedom." We are not where we need to be, he explained, and he finds the lack of screaming on the part of the people who are in various ways part of the vineyard, very surprising.

The logical evolution of Diller's argument is that no net neutrality would allow the trolls to charge for additional capacity based on usage in a way that could lead to the economics that determined the shaping of broadcast news, where scarcity ruled and therefore the economics played tremendously in favor of the distributor.

As he explained, most cable producers now work for a "boss," and the independent producer has largely gone the way of the dodo bird. The power resides at the top, but the Internet "miracle" has liberated us from that ogolopoly... well, so far.

So, go ahead and run out onto the Information Superhighway and explain, "I'm sick and tired and I'm not gonna take it anymore."

Meanwhile, Diller seems to have suggested he's about to start spreading out more investments, particularly in video online, and assumably with the idea that someone, somewhere will figure out this regulation thing.

In three years, he explained, you're going to have Internet TV be out there, able to be accessed by everybody, navigated sensibly, and anybody with an idea and some backing can be a producer. All of this is now possible.

And yet, Google TV could hardly get out of the gate because the broadcast networks were scared of being "Apple-fied" and giving their content up to the Google black box.

Where will all this end up in the next several years? Will the victors be the Internet TV box, the mobile handset, some new device we've not even thought of yet?

Who knows? But one thing I'll likely bank on, and that's Barry Diller being right at the center of the action.

Now, if he could just get his Web service to get me a successful date.
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#SXSW Interactive: Why We'll All Be Playing Games Soon

#SXSW Interactive: Why We'll All Be Playing Games Soon | SXSW Interactive |
At SXSW Interactive, you're occasionally going to run into this profile: 22-year-old CEO of company, dropped out of Princeton after a year, has given himself the title "Chief Ninja." And, yes, those of us whose corporate backgrounds include pre-Zuckerbergian strata have to resist the urge to eyeroll when faced with such a profile.

And yet, one person with that profile -- SCVNGR's Seth Priebatsch -- delivered a fascinating keynote speech on Day 2 of SXSW 2011 on Saturday afternoon. So fascinating, in fact, that the typically cynical SXSWi crowd, known to tweet that cynicism in a richly-entertaining way that pretty much necessitates using a keynote's Twitter stream as color commentary, was downright bubbly.

While much of the commentary was focused on Priebatsch's youthful exuberance and general marveling over his age and dropout status, the substance of his talk is really what's worth focusing on, because it signals a trend in online engagement that could have widespread market impact.

The keynote, titled "The Game Layer on Top of the World," noted that the past decade of interactive work has been dedicated to building a social network that allows us to connect to one another, and notes that this work is now basically completed. The next decade, in his view, will be dedicated to the game layer, which will build upon that social network, and give us the potential to meet a number of issues head-on -- including issues that have indeed been created by the formation of that social network.

He organized his talk by addressing five core issues and how they fit within the worldview of someone consumed with how games work, why we play games and what elements keep us coming back to games. The issues: school, customer acquisition, loyalty, bringing location-based services (such as Foursquare and Gowalla) to the mainstream, and global warming. (The last one, though obviously big, was a more illustrative than literal point, but revealed at the end of the speech to be not entirely untenable.)

The school section felt the most fleshed-out of all five points, and Priebatsch's views were a fascinating look into our education system from the view of a game designer.

School is, in Priebatsch's view, a nearly-perfect game ecosystem, with motivated players, challenges, time constraints, rules, rewards, and enemies. And yet, he notes that the two problems with school right now are a lack of motivation and engagement in players, and cheating.

To address the cheating issue in particular, Priebatsch looked at his alma mater's adoption of an honor code for exams, designed for students to police themselves and each other -- and noted that the paradigm shift created by the test becoming "the enemy," rather than an instructor or other proctor placed in the enforcer role, dramatically reduced instances of cheating.

Looking at the issue of customer acquisition, and how gaming can help there, Priebatsch looked at the popularity of Groupon, and how it's turned coupon purchasing into a game that a lot of people want to play, by requiring a number of Groupon subscribers to purchase a given day's offering to trigger the discounts.

He sees a trio of essential gaming qualities at work: the free lunch concept (in essence, that you're getting something for participation, but the way Groupon designs it, the numbers of people participating in order to trigger the reward makes us less suspicious of it), communal gameplay (requiring multiple participants working with each other to activate that days' Groupon offering), and a countdown (which introduces the racing-against-time element into the proceedings).

To address the loyalty issue, Priebatsch cited several examples drawing on the concepts of inclusive ownership -- including one of SCVNGR's latest ventures, LevelUp, which takes the basic Groupon model but allows users to achieve higher levels of buy-in in which they'll get more for what they purchase at progressively higher levels. In talking about the ancillary concept of exclusive ownership -- where a customer is made to feel that he or she is solely reaping the rewards of having something -- he drew upon the classic game Risk, which sent little ripples of reverie through much of the room, especially when he drifted into fond recollections of owning Kamchatka.

His look at the issue of mainstreaming location-based services wasn't as fleshed out as the first three. Though the pie chart that showed "people in this room" to be a significant portion of Foursquare and Gowalla users was funny, his querying about the possibility of checking into locations with the intent of being there rather than actually being there didn't seem to address what might really be the core issues around geolocation apps -- people not seeing adequate rewards for broadcasting their location to the rest of the world (or, at least, to those people they've allowed to glimpse that).

The final point -- how gaming solves global warming -- was illustrated with a game involving color-coded cards, requiring the audience to work together to present them in a certain pattern within a specific window of time.

While the game didn't explicitly show how thorny global issues like global warning could specifically be addressed, Priebatsch used the game as an illustration of the geopolitical world as a specific gaming ecosystem with constraints around communication and available resources. And while getting color-coded cards to face a certain way is not exactly analogous to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in developed and developing nations, it did effectively show that there are lessons from games -- and looking at issues with a game designer's perspective -- that go beyond owning and controlling Kamchatka.
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Foursquare 'can be better at loyalty than anybody else', says founder #SxSW

Foursquare 'can be better at loyalty than anybody else', says founder #SxSW | SXSW Interactive |
Providing merchants with a way to reach their most loyal customers is how Foursquare plans to succeed, its co-founder, Dennis Crowley, has said.

“Giving merchants the ability to reach out to targeted customers is a big opportunity for us,” he said. “Nobody has done this.”

Speaking at the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference which last year helped to grow the popularity of his location-based social network, Crowley said: “We have an opportunity to be better at loyalty than anyone else.”

Foursquare’s plans go beyond using location services to offer deals to customers in cafes and restaurants. Crowley also talked about how a brand such as Pampers could use the service as a promotional tool by finding local playgrounds, for example.

The company released a new version of its app before SXSW and Crowley stressed that the company was keen to listen to users as the service develops. Though his plans for the service are clearly commercial, Crowley does not want that to drive users away.

He said that he and his staff used the app themselves and “we’re not going to do anything with the app that causes us to use it less.”

Crowley said he felt that the core of the service had to remain social even as merchants offered deals to customers. “I’m not convinced that people want the coupon that pushes to your pocket when you walk by the coffee shop,” he said. “I want the stuff that says ‘this is the coffee shop that Alice always talks about and that you’ve never noticed before’.”

Asked about how he saw the next five years developing, Crowley said: “Five years is tough. If you think that five years ago we didn’t even have the iPhone... The iPhone is the thing that busted the whole space open for everyone.”
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SXSW 2011: Jane McGonigal on the beneficial effects of video games – Telegraph Blogs

SXSW 2011: Jane McGonigal on the beneficial effects of video games – Telegraph Blogs | SXSW Interactive |
It's common to read about the damaging effects of video games, quite often without any supporting evidence whatsoever (hello Baroness Greenfield!). It was refreshing therefore to hear Dr Jane McGonigal at SXSW yesterday talking about the positive effects...
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CNN at SXSW: All about citizen media, connected TV | SXSW - CNET Blogs

CNN at SXSW: All about citizen media, connected TV | SXSW - CNET Blogs | SXSW Interactive |
The news network's head of digital strategy previewed some new additions to its online platforms that will see video commenting and a new viewing interface coming to the Web, iPad and elsewhere. Read this blog post by Caroline McCarthy on SXSW.
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» The Economy of SXSW: Music, Film and Media [Infographic]

» The Economy of SXSW: Music, Film and Media [Infographic] | SXSW Interactive |
By now you must be familiar with SXSW, the annual conference combining music, film and interactive (media) in sunny Austin, Texas. The folks behind RetailMeNot, an Austin based startup ...
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SXSW 2011: Great for Networking, But No Technology Breakthroughs « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing

SXSW 2011: Great for Networking, But No Technology Breakthroughs « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web Marketing | SXSW Interactive |
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GroupMe Won The SXSW Group Messaging Wars, Says Infographic

GroupMe Won The SXSW Group Messaging Wars, Says Infographic | SXSW Interactive |
Group messaging was absolutely not as useful as we thought it would be this year at SXSW. Whether you were using Beluga, GroupMe, Kik, Yobongo or Fast Society or others, everyone had high hopes for a breakout group messaging app, simply because we spoiled tech brats are already bored with the ones we already have.

I know it's old school, but towards the tail end of the conference simple SMS won out (for me at least), because SXSW isn't about hanging out with the same groups of people all the time, but rather about having variety of exclusive options. In practice group messaging is kind of weak on the exclusivity thing, because you're almost always roped into groups with at least one person you don't like.
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Silicon Valley, New York Teams Win #SXSW Startup Bus battle

Silicon Valley, New York Teams Win #SXSW Startup Bus battle | SXSW Interactive |
Teams from Silicon Valley and New York won the South by Southwest Startup Bus competition.

Six busloads of tech startups that drove to the SXSW festival in Austin, TX from across the country participated in the competition, which was won by TripMedi and WalkIN.

The Silicon Valley startup WalkIN developed a mobile phone app with an alert feature that helps diners avoid waiting in long lines.
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#SXSW – Startups battle for mobile application downloads

You can almost feel a buzz on the fingertips of attendees shaking hands at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival in Austin, Texas – one of the world's biggest networking opportunities for the web community.
A little micro-blogging site called Twitter launched here as a start-up in 2007 – and there are plenty of people attending this year who want emulate their success.
The technology enthusiasts behind a myriad start-up companies have flocked to Texas this week for one reason: to get their applications onto the mobile phones of trend-setting early adopters.
Dennis Crowley is the co-founder of , a mobile application allowing users to “check-in” at locations, from cafes to concerts to office buildings, and send that information to friends also using the app.
Foursquare launched here in 2009, picked up 5,000 users in four days and is now a sizeable social media player, boasting of some seven million users. Mr Crowley says there are few other events where start-ups can “push the gas to the floor”, accelerating both excitement about their companies and growth.
“It's a great little laboratory for developers,” Mr Crowley says.
“[For us] it's one of these things where it spread really quickly in four days of the conference. It has turned into a really good launchpad for start-ups because you have just the right amount of people that are in this early adopter community, and they're down there specifically not so much to go to the conference, but to go to the parties, hang out and socialise.
“And a lot of the tools that people are really interested in building are tools that allow people to go out and socialise.”
So what are some of the hottest applications in town this year – and who are the people behind them?
is a location-based mobile app similar to Foursquare that asks individuals checking in to a location to complete challenges created by businesses, institutions or fans of the application.
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#SXSW panel: Steve Jobs and the Rise of the Techno-Priests

#SXSW panel: Steve Jobs and the Rise of the Techno-Priests | SXSW Interactive |
The gist: Religion and churches used to centralize power and control thought. Today, the influencers like Google, Apple and Facebook have also centralized power and information.

Quotes: “Apple changed the game when they introduced the app store. They created an eco-system. They control the content of everything you see and everything you do.” — Kempton

“Google’s mission is to compile all the world’s knowledge and distribute it in a way that is accessible. They are also working on translation. That will be an extremely powerful technology. Imagine if you could get translations to the Middle East protests in real-time.” — Kempton

“We saw a point in history where the centralized control of content and knowledge shaped a belief system for thousands of years.” — Kempton

“Look at who is influencing the influencers. The tech media blogs: Engadget. Gizmodo. Mashable. And the tech leaders. The Steve Jobs. The Bill Gates. The Mark Zuckerbergs.” — Kempton

“The cathedrals were designed to illicit a response. The tech devices are designed to be magic like the cathedrals were designed. Look to the future…the devices are getting more intimate. More powerful.” — Kempton

“It’s possible in the future we might have to legislate what percent of a person’s body has to be organic to be a sentient being.” — Kempton

“Imagine for one minute if the entire Western seaboard of the United States were murdered or starved to death and left to rot. The reason that happened in (WWII) was because of the ideas and belief system of just a very few people.” — Kempton

“We’re in an age today where the ideologies that form who we are and what we believe are being shaped by the technology developers. By the people that control content. A small algorithm that puts one news story in front of another. The people who are pushing those ideologies - for good or for ill - are folks like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and you and I.” — Kempton

“Apple has always tried to create an emotional response. They’ve designed the software to make you feel a certain way. They use terms like ‘magical’ and ‘beautiful.’ The way Apple goes about controlling its ecosystem feels very much like the way the church controlled content.” — Kempton

“Linux users are the flagellant monks among us.” — Kempton

Takeaways: It’s no accident that Apple and Facebook - 2 of the most highly-valued companies in the world - both have “walled gardens” where they control content. Kempton’s historically-based talk was heady, deep and appeared to hit frighteningly close to home for the 100 or so SXSW Interactive participants in attendance.
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Books And Their Future: #SXSW 2011

Books And Their Future: #SXSW 2011 | SXSW Interactive |
Last night, I was at the CaveHenricks Books & Bytes party at SXSW 2011 in Austin TX with Barbara Cave-Henricks, Rusty Shelton and a host of people who love books: people who write books, who write and talk about books, people who publish books, above all, people who care about books.

Some of the discussion was along the lines of: “I like the smell of old books,” as Peter Georgescu, Chairman Emeritus, Young & Rubicam wrote recently. There’s nothing like the experience of a physical book.

For example, last night, Carol Sanford was clutching the first physical copies of her new book, The Responsible Corporation: Reimagining Sustainable and Success, like a baby. Carol is “on a mission to create a better world, and she believes that business can and will play a major role in accomplishing that. It’s more than just a responsibility program. Responsibility will be in the DNA of the business and everyone will participate to make a real difference.” Having the physical book in hand helps make the vision real.

And yet, some of the discussion was also along the lines of Fred Allen’s recent discourse on the subject: “I never would have expected this just a couple of years ago, but I do almost all my book reading electronically now. I use the Kindle apps on my iPad and iPod Touch. I love the versatility of the devices, that I can read while standing on line at the drugstore, or in bed without bothering my wife, and the fact that I can travel with a library effortlessly, instead of lugging around the piles of books I used to haul everywhere.”

When you think of someone reading a wonderful substantive book on a Kindle or an iPad, wouldn’t it be seductive to be able to digress, and listen to an aside by the author, what he or she was thinking when this passage was written, or a conversation with one of the participants, or a set of dazzling pictures of what was under discussion? Who would be able to resist this seduction?

Isn’t this ultimately what John Hagel, co-author of the path-breaking book, The Power of Pull (2010), was really talking about when he foreshadowed the end of the era of pushing products and services at customers, and manufacturing demand, and the beginning of a new era in which the winners will be those who can can “pull” people into a different world and interact with them. It’s a world focused on outcomes rather than outputs; on relationships rather than transactions; on people rather than things.

If the new kinds of books can make the future more understandable, more transparent, more accessible, bring it on!
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#SXSW 2011: The internet is over

#SXSW 2011: The internet is over | SXSW Interactive |
Oliver Burkeman went to Texas to the South by Southwest festival of film, music and technology, in search of the next big idea. After three days he found it: the boundary between 'real life' and 'online' has disappeared
If my grandchildren ever ask me where I was when I realised the internet was over – they won't, of course, because they'll be too busy playing with the teleportation console – I'll be able to be quite specific: I was in a Mexican restaurant opposite a cemetery in Austin, Texas, halfway through eating a taco. It was the end of day two of South by Southwest Interactive, the world's highest-profile gathering of geeks and the venture capitalists who love them, and I'd been pursuing a policy of asking those I met, perhaps a little too aggressively, what it was exactly that they did. What is "user experience", really? What the hell is "the gamification of healthcare"? Or "geofencing"? Or "design thinking"? Or "open source government"? What is "content strategy"? No, I mean, like, specifically?

The content strategist across the table took a sip of his orange-coloured cocktail. He looked slightly exasperated. "Well, from one perspective, I guess," he said, "it's kind of everything."

This, for outsiders, is the fundamental obstacle to understanding where technology culture is heading: increasingly, it's about everything. The vaguely intimidating twentysomethings who prowl the corridors of the Austin Convention Centre, juggling coffee cups, iPad 2s and the festival's 330-page schedule of events, are no longer content with transforming that part of your life you spend at your computer, or even on your smartphone. This is not just grandiosity on their part. Rather – and this is a technological point, but also a philosophical one – they herald the final disappearance of the boundary between "life online" and "real life", between the physical and the virtual. It thus requires only a small (and hopefully permissible) amount of journalistic hyperbole to suggest that the days of "the internet" as an identifiably separate thing may be behind us. After a few hours at South by Southwest (SXSW), the 330-page programme in my bag started triggering shoulder aches, but to be honest it was a marvel of brevity: after all, the festival was pretty much about everything.

We've been hearing about this moment in digital history since at least 1988, when the Xerox technologist Mark Weiser coined the term "ubiquitous computing", referring to the point at which devices and systems would become so numerous and pervasive that "technology recedes into the background of our lives". (To be fair, Weiser also called this "the age of calm technology", implying a serenity that the caffeinated, Twitter-distracted masses in Austin this week didn't seem yet to have attained.) And it's almost a decade since annoying tech-marketing types started using "mobile" as an abstract noun, referring to the end of computing as a desktop-only affair. But the arrival of the truly ubiquitous internet is something new, with implications both thrilling and sinister – and it has a way of rendering many of the questions we've been asking about technology in recent years almost meaningless. Did social media cause the recent Arab uprisings? Is the web distracting us from living? Are online friendships as rich as those offline? When the lines between reality and virtuality dissolve, both sides of such debates are left looking oddly anachronistic. Here, then, is a short tour of where we might be headed instead:

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Microsoft Showcases Windows Phone 7 Apps at #SXSW

Microsoft Showcases Windows Phone 7 Apps at #SXSW | SXSW Interactive |
The handpicked set of apps range from personal finance to fitness and, Microsoft says, fully utilize the design innovations of the Windows Phone 7 OS.

For example, the best WP7 apps are built on pages (or "panes") that can be moved backwards and forwards from side to side, as well as scrolled up or down to get to all the content on one "pane." The best apps have a "hub" on the WP7 home screen that displays dynamic information from the app (e.g. "The Weather Channel" app).

Microsoft has a booth set up on the fourth floor of the conference center here in Austin, near the press room, where it is showing off its best Windows Phone 7 apps.

The company has been working hard since last November's WP7 to get developers to write apps for the platform. Microsoft has taken special pains to make sure that the most popular apps on the Android and iPhone platforms are available on WP7; this, of course, is crucial to consumers considering the leap of faith to WP7.

The gaming line up on WP7 is shaping up nicely, possibly because of the platform's close tie with Xbox Live. Angry Birds, I'm told, is coming to WP7 in April.

Microsoft says its WP7 app store now contains nearly 10,000 apps. A spokesman told me that Microsoft's app approval requirements are somewhere between Google's "pretty much anything goes" policy and Apple's fussy "no riff raff" approach.

Anyway, the apps Microsoft is showcasing here include:
SXSW Go, a social mapping and information site to help SXSW attendees find where they're going.

Zagat, the popular restaurant info and reservation app-now on WP7!

21 Pro Blackjack

The Revenants, an action game

The Weather Channel, which has a cool dynamic hub button on the WP7 home screen that displays the current temperature, etc.


Live Share, a cloud-based content sharing app

Enigmo, the 3D puzzle game

USAA Mobile, an all-purpose app that helps USAA members manage finances, find a rental car, get roadside assistance, buy insurance and a bunch of other things.

Runkeeper, an app that follows your progress on your exercise route, gives you calories burned information, then creates a map of where you walked or ran or biked.
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'Google Circles' Looms, But Do Google's Nerds 'Get' Social? #SxSW

'Google Circles' Looms, But Do Google's Nerds 'Get' Social? #SxSW | SXSW Interactive |
It's not a revelation Google might take another stab at the massive social networking space, and not an unreasonable idea that it would announce the new service here at SXSW interactive, which is all about social networking sites and apps. So today ReadWriteWeb had the story, reporting that Google will announce a social networking site -- Google Circles -- here at South by Southwest in Austin.

Google Circles, ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick explains, will allow people to share photos, videos, and status messages with people in their social circle. Google's site will be unique, the speculation goes, because it will seek to understand how we relate to our various social networking friends, determine how truly close to them we are, then adjust the amount of content we share with those people.

If it works well, this could be a major selling point against rival Facebook which, by and large, seems to want us to be close friends with as many people as possible, and share our intimate content accordingly.

But my question still remains: Does Google really "get" social? Services like "Buzz" make me think they don't. The nerds at Google probably spend a lot of time at work, looking at white boards and computer screens, thinking about code. They may have deep theoretical thoughts about social networking.

But do they have a good enough understanding of the nuances of human social interaction in real life to craft an online service that can weave into the natural fabric of the lives of normal people?

Anyway, a little later today, Liz Gannes at All Things Digital threw cold water on the idea that Google Circles would debut here at SXSW. She says Google flatly denies this will happen, but, Gannes writes, Google did not deny that a new social networking service is being developed. But the company did tweet, as @googlesxsw, that "We're not launching any products at #SXSW but we're doing plenty else."

I will attend the Google/ACLU event here in Austin tonight just in case the new service is announced, or demo'd. If we don't see the new service here, it's likely that it will be debuted in May at the Google I/O developer event, which I will also attend.
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