SXSW Wrap – Politics, Speeches and Music

Had a weekend to reflect on the “week that was” at SXSW 20. Here are a few other notable items:

Mark Warner Rally at Stubbs

I met Gov. Warner shortly after he took office as Gov of Virgina about 4 years ago. I was very attracted to his pro-business, pro-social network message – how we can get both (with both perhaps being a little imperfect, but with everyone gaining) if we just work together. I liked his tech background and his “approach-ableness.” His wife seemed very down to Earth and centering for him. We had a wonderful visit at the home of an Austin friend, Rex Van Middlesworth. When Warner’s term drew to a close last year, I called Rex and told him I was interested in getting involved with any activity in Austin, if Warner decided to make a run for national office.

Indeed, Warner came through Austin in February and we attended a dinner event at Tom and Lynn Meredith’s home to raise money and welcome him. Then, last weekend, a few of the tech folk running the web portion of the Warner “campaign” pulled together some of the VIPs from SXSW Interactive to have some barbecue and gab at Stubbs. Nathan, Trey, and Jerome were the organizers and pulled together folks like David Issen, Craig, and many others. They are out to win on the web, with Warner using the best that Web2.0 has to offer!


Every year, my one “can’t miss” speech at SXSW Interactive is the Bruce Sterling rant/lecture/sermon/dervish. A self-described “visionary in residence,” Sterling is undeniably thought-provoking, entertaining and funny. And this year, there was a little extra helping of passion. He spoke of the “disorder” as having replaced conventional warfare…yoru enemy is a ghost, victim and perpetrator, all in one package. He spoke of his theory object “spime,” a speculative imaginative object existing between space and time.

He spoke of an historic movement on the “slider bar” between the unthinkable and the unimaginable. He talked about how we’ve moved beyond legacy systems and legacy media – we’re talking legacy people. And he urged that if we want to get anywhere, we have to become the change we want to be, we have to make no decision based on fear, and how the solution for “the stampede of the righteous state” is historical perspective.

He closed with a poem, “The people” by Carl Sandburg, that was heart-breaking, voice-cracking, and emotionally raw. “This old anvil breaks many hammers” – indeed! Bravo Bruce…you are the worst and the best that SXSW has to offer and why I keep coming back.


Well, I went to the grand music show Thursday night. Went to the BBC showcase to see what I could see. I kinda cut in line because I had cash and there was this enormous line at 6:45 PM (show started at 7) running from the Austin Music Hall all the way our nearly to 5th street. So, I walked all of the way to the front and there was this little tiny line of people who were waiting to just pay cash. (Well, as it turned out later, a bunch of people that were in the really long line had intended to pay cash too – but I just hung around the front and got in pretty quickly – $50!)

We missed the first act waiting outside, the Zutons, who only played 30 minutes but looked like they were rocking. Then a pretty black girl named Corinne something who was supposedly #1 in the UK came out and sang exactly 3 songs. Just her and her tambourine and an acoustic guitarist accompanying. She reminded me of Carole King and Janis Ian of the 60s/70s. Then, a guy named Richard Hawley came out and played an hour-long set. He totally reminded me of a cross between Chris Isaac and Elvis Costello. Melodic, English pop-rock. Good (not great).

Then, after a brief interlude, the main man – Morrissey, and he was GREAT! He played about 90 minutes and did a great mix of his old solo stuff, his new stuff and his hits from the Smiths. It was very rock-star-ish! The place was packed and it looked like he enjoyed it. After Morrissey, we waited for a “special guest” to perform – some said the Kinks, some said a former member of the Kinks (I spread my Flaming Lips rumor). Ultimately, it turned out that I guess they didn’t have anyone particular in mind and that it was an extra slot “just in case” because they went straight into the final showcase by a group called Goldfrapp. They’re supposed to be huge in theUK right now and just did the Jay Leno show.

They totally reminded me of a cross between Heart (two sexy-ish front girls, one singer one keyboard/guitarist) and a group called Curve from the Netherlands. They were an extremely heavy, loud beat and kinda slow, frankly. I listened to their first 3 numbers and, by then when they hadn’t wowed me, I took off, seeing as it was past midnight and I was afraid my car might have been towed (which it hadn’t). So, that was my SXSW 20 Music experience. Fabulous.

Time to sign off, good night, love you, see you next week!

Ideas galore at SXSW 20

SXSW 20 is in Austin. A nice place and time to launch a blog.

As always, SXSW is inspiring. It’s a guilty pleasure to roam the halls and soak in all of the energy. Here’s some of what I heard and learned…


Regarding the open source/web logging community: Don’t think in terms of professionals versus amateurs. Instead of amateurs, think of enthusiasts. The Internet is about discovery. Create your audience. The Web is the product manual. Power is in becoming the place that others reference. Don’t be afraid of “free.” Read John P Barlow’s “Death from Above.” The community of blogs has made mothering a less lonely job. What source can you trust more? Reputation is paramount. Technorati. Blog measurement from Buzzmetrics, but remember to measure occurrence AND tone. We’re all authors of each other


Regarding app development via standards versus “getting it done”: Sometimes there’s no other way to get things done than via hacks. For example, to make server push work with Google chat required a combination of IE Active-X internals, tricks with Firefox and other non-standard hacks to “get the job done.” How about using Flash for UI? Examples include – Video: Odeo. Rich type: Newsmap. Embedded widgets: Myspace. Coming soon: the Google Page Creator. Code validators are a means, not an end. But, at the end of the day, know which rules you are breaking & why. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t be use hacks.


Regarding Criag Newmark and craigslist: There are only 19 people in the organization. Craig is Customer Service Rep and Founder. He claims to speak with about 200 people per week. What he loves about wikipedia is that no longer is it the case that only the winners get to write the history books. The biggest challenge to craigslist is staying out of the way of the community. Much of recent “customer service” is sorting out the dis-information. Unfortunately, crooks are early adopters of technology. Fortunately, most of the web seems to work accoring to the “golden rule.” Places where Craig finds truth: OhmyNews, The Guardian, Jeff Jarvis, Jay Rosen, Dan Gillmor, Phil Meyer, Onevoice, Where Craig gets his news: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Onion. Oh…and Craig is very proud of the job that President Bartlet is doing.

That’s it for SXSW Interactive this year.

Good night, love you, see you next week!