While at South By Southwest in Austin this year, I did a crazy thing and signed up for a 10-minute session with a SXSW Mentor. I did it on a lark because I figured, at the very least, I could get another contact out of it. I picked the guy with the most interesting job, and, after choking down a free hot dog, I hopped in a “Catch-a-Chevy” and took off for the inconveniently located Holiday Inn. The guy with the interesting job is named Butch Lazorchak, and he works as a Digital Archivist for the Library of Congress. Pretty sweet, right? Well, I thought so anyway. Butch and I touched on a pretty wide variety of things during our 20 minutes together (I got a bonus session because the guy before me didn’t show up) but we mainly talked about the future of Flash, the potential for a new app and technology called Aurasma, and how the Library of Congress is trying to preserve fragments of society and culture at a glacier (ahem, governmental) pace.
I glazed over the current big debate on whether or not Flash is “dying” or if it’s just getting redefined and relocated to a niche market, and he assured me that it was dying. I don’t agree with him there, though - Flash is far too useful as a quick animation platform, and is uniquely positioned as one of the few object-oriented platforms who’s projects can be shoved directly on the web. And it takes only a bit of skill in coding to produce a pretty slick looking project, to boot. I think it’s just being redefined as a tool for banner ads, quick animation, prototypes, and non-internet digital interaction (like you might see in future gas pumps or washing machines). Besides, the people who are truly Flash designers have spent way too much time and effort learning and investing in the thing to let it completely die.
When we got to the part where we discussed how the Library of Congress knows what it has catalogued, I asked him if he had ever heard of Aurasma. He hadn’t, and I explained how it was this really cool new app that let you “see” an image with your smartphone or device and that image would trigger an animation or video clip which you would then view on your phone or device. The device tracks the flat image of the photo no matter if it turns or tilts or moves further toward or away from the camera. It’s really very cool. I started to go into what I had seen from the team that came and spoke to us at Elon - how architects could design a 3D scale of their design, look at it through Aurasma, and actually pull out floors to look at individually. I mean, the possibilities for this app, for this technology, are endless. I’m sure Butch called a halt when he noticed the slightly maniacal glint in my eyes. He reminded me he was working for the government and that they were still trying to make the move from card catalogue to digital. He did write the name of the app down and promised to look into it. I started to get excited again. I mean, the Library of Congress is huge! I don’t even know if they know all the great stuff they’ve got. But imagine walking down a row of books so old and venerable you can’t even read the title on the spine, and being able to hold an iPad up to the cover to discover what’s inside. It could be so much more than a jacket or a back cover summary. And just when I was getting a full head of steam, the lady came in and said our time was up… It was sad. But Butch and I exchanged business cards and he looked at me and said, “Have you ever thought about a career in government?”
I mean, yeah, I’ve thought about running for Senate or Vice President, but not seriously. And whoever thinks of all the other entities when considering a career in government? The Library of Congress? Doesn’t really pop up on the job-radar. But think of the opportunities - The Smithsonian Museums, the Department of the Treasury, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Federal Reserve Bank, all these departments are trying to either preserve all this amazing stuff or else they’re trying to promote their public image. Digital interaction is the new standard. The Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta has a game that kids can play to learn about how bank loans work, and you can bet it cost oodles of money. There are whole warehouses around the country that just have endless archival footage and documents just waiting for someone to come along and slap it digital. We are uniquely positioned to do exactly this sort of work, if we have the guts to stand up and say, “I know what to do.” Job opportunities in or for government are endless, I think. We are at an age of exponential government growth, and it seems prudent to maybe take advantage of it.
SXSW left me with a whole lotta business cards and a broken knee. It also left me with a creepy new way to creep, a lot of boys on bikes and a bit to be desired. Although there was no new GroupMe or Foursquare (Pinterest announced iPad plans) here are some SouthX standouts…
So I made it back alive. After successfully surviving my first SXSWi, I wanted to share a brief recap of some of the top trends & themes from this year’s event. Here are the Top 5, in no particular order:
Location, Location, Location
Foursquare (launched at SXSW ‘09) was still the dominant…
Great SXSW Recap! We’ll have some takeaways of our own up by end of the day!
“The mission of Pinterest is not to keep people on the site for ever, but drive them out to where they can find these products. It’s about helping people discover things they didn’t know they wanted.”—Ben Silbermann, co-founder of Pinterest @ SXSW talk today.
Great discussion at 9:30 this morning about what’s the right app to have: Native or Web. There was some full out disagreement and lively back-and-forth on the panel + a bat decided to liven the event with a fly by.
Buzz Andersen, Dir of Mobile, Tumblr Jacob Bijani, Prod Engineer, Tumblr Majd Taby, Software Engineer, Facebook Matthew Delaney, WebKit Engineer, (formerly at Apple) Tom Dale, Sr Software Engineer, Ember.js
- Hybrid applications may seem like a great solution, but really they are “a road fraught with danger” according to Taby. If you are trying to make an app quickly and update-able, Hybrid still has all the difficulties of Native.
- PhoneGap is not the answer. Uncanny Valley effect with web apps that have native looking controls. “Let mobile web apps be proper web apps, native scrolling is tough to emulate,” said Dale. Taby actually agreed and said when people open mobile safari/web browser they understand that it is going to be a different experience.
"It’s like getting served steak dinner in a bathroom, context matters," said Dale.
It was supposed to be a look at Content as a Means for Social Change, but this session turned into more of a pep-talk and life advice seminar than anything else.
Words of Advice from Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter:
- Change is not a triumph of technology it’s a triumph of humanity.
- Opportunities can be manufactured.
- Creativity is a renewable resource. (There is no end to how much creativity you can bring. Every challenge at work, school, managerial, becomes fun like a game if you think about laterally and all the ways you can solve something.)
- To succeed spectacularly, be ready to fail spectacularly. (If you are a start-up stop hedging and go for it, if is something you believe in.)
- There is a compound interest in altruism. (The early you get involved the more impact you’ll have overtime. If you are job hunting, go volunteer. It’s better than daily rejection and it builds confidence and networks.)
- “We’re not able to multitask completely so what are we missing out on?”
- We are more okay with people talking to us about the content we post on Facebook. We are now opening ourselves up to an always on philosophy and less privacy. Not a bad thing because openness and vulnerability are making us more creative and innovative.
- We don’t know how to be alone.
- Re: News -The speed of social networks has no comparison, but it’s not always correct.
-Using your smartphone as an alarm clock, doesn’t allow for deep REM sleep because your subconscious is still aware of incoming data. Turn your phone to airport mode and get some rest!
Lou Kerner, head of private shares group, Liquidnet.
- “Facebook is only 7-years-old, it’s so brand new. We have no idea what it is?”
- Majority of info that people get from Facebook is not from their closest friends. A lot of people say negatives about social media is that it’s an echo chamber. “I think television is an echo chamber. I think in a lot of ways social media is actually enlarging people’s minds.”
- I retweet myself. I look at it like a broadcast platform, they air repeats, so do I. I gain more traction on fourth of fifth RT, or I lose followers.
Tarah Feinberg, head of Live Media Studio, iCrossing
- I assume everything I do online is public and permanent.
After striking up a small email correspondence last December with CEO and Founder Alex Iskold over a student-run usability study we conducted on GetGlue, I met up with him to ask a few quick questions after the Social Olympics Panel.
Q: What inspired you to invest in GetGlue as a start-up?
Iskold: Entertainment is a huge part of life. I’m a big fan of all sorts, TV, Movies, Books and there was potential (like Foursquare connects people around location) to connect people around entertainment.
Q: What idea came first the check-in or the stickers?
Q: What has been the GetGlue’s success and gathering 2 million users in two years?
Iskold: Saying no to a lot of things and focus on the details down to every little pixel.
Q: What’s next for Social TV and GetGlue?
Iskold: For us it’s sticking with the very basics of mainstream behaviors: the guide, what’s on tonight … It’s not as sexy as others, but we focus on the basics.
Alex had to run, he’s in high-demand this SXSW with GetGlue participating in several panels on Social TV. If you haven’t heard of GetGlue, check it out! For a TV fan, they are a great place to spark up a conversation about your favorite show.
This panel discussed what the plan is to make this summer’s Olympics as social and interactive as possible. Here’s a take-away of what was discussed.
First of all, Youtube will be live streaming the Olympics! All of the Olympics, every minute, so prepare to procrastinate and watch equestrian and shooting. (Technorati article)
Matthew Moller, Sr Mgr Samsung:
Samsung sent video bloggers to Vancouver Olympics and it created a lot of user interest, going to leverage success to build a community.
The Samsung U.S. Olympic Genome project - A Facebook App to draw connections between viewers and the Olympians. How are you connected? Can change how people look at the Olympics. http://www.samsung.com/howolympicareyou
Social Media can help level the playing field between Para-Olympic and regular Olympic coverage and storytelling
Shira Lazar, Co-Founder whatstrending.com:
More athletes than ever will be updating in almost real-time.
Looking to cover memes, find a Lin-sanity at the Olympics.
Digital was an accessory, now it’s at the forefront of thought process by coverage. Looking forward to innovations like data visualization and real-time interaction.
Lauren Pasquale, from Olympic Committee:
Creating engagement platforms to have fans feel connected to Athletes
Biggest difference this year is that scale is so much greater than even Vancouver. Want them to be truthful and tell their story.
Rules: Athletes “Can’t tell the story of the games” - Can’t be journalists reporting on what’s happening in the moment. Restrictions on athletes endorsements.
Alex Iskold, CEO/Founder GetGlue
Content consumption happens around Olympics - want to build real-time filter technologies that eliminate noise and allow for good conversation.
Magical things about GetGlue and Social Media is that the niche groups ( like fans of the lesser known Olympic sports) popup and can have meaningful conversation.
In response to question about Shazam, says audio recognition tech seems a little early, looking into similar check-in synch.
Alex Balfour, Head of New Media for London 2012, was in the audience and shared some insight on how the Olmypics is planning New Media creation on the ground. He’ll be talking Monday at a 9:30 AM Panel in Omni - that sounds like a great event to attend.
“In The Future of Sports Fandom:
• Fan Grouping Apps
• Crowdsourced coaching
• In-arena personalization
• Frictionless sharing via NFC
• Explosion of second screen apps
• Biometric-enhanced box scores
• Remote fandom via telepresence
• Redefinition of fan access”—
The Sports Fan in 2015
A great talk about what is next for interactive experiences for sports fans
- Kyle Bunch Exec Producer, Mobile & Social Platforms The Daily Bunch -Richard Ting VP, Exec Creative Dir, Mobile & Social Platforms R/GA
There was a lot of great talk at the SoLoMo Redefined panel. It was a packed house! Here’s a roundup of best knowledge tidbits.
"Have to be careful about bringing assumptions that we have to the applications that we build." - Chris Messina, open web advocate at Google, in response to the question of whether the future of app development was being influence to heavily by 20-something dudes that are making them. "I’m a privileged white guy," Messina said before making a call to action for apps that appeal and engage people from all different experiences and backgrounds.
"From a brand perspective: Don’t fuck your users?" - Succinct summation of privacy and user agreement guidelines.
Socially ambient apps - this is a buzz trend, but technology and phone battery life is ready for full integration. Because of this intelligence needs to be applied to ambient awareness.
Fundamental issues with laws. For example, Netflix can’t share movie history because of archaic laws that wouldn’t let movie rentals share that information. From a brand perspective it’s important to think about what it means to make a promise of “I’m not going to embarrass you?” But how can that happen without needing to write laws.
Data security is a big concern. Americans more willing to blindly give up, but not so in all countries. The UK has a much more skeptical audience that need to see real value before they will share information like location data.
Damage done by a data breach could kill a startup. People need to take it way more seriously.
The general summation of these TV marketing and digital media VPs is that yes social media has an impact, but scientifically they can’t prove it directly corresponds to rating increases. Although there are many positives!
Colin Helms SVP MTV Digital Media MTV Networks, said that the key to social media was community not necessarily a campaign. Communities help fill in the bridge during TV’s long off-seasons.
The keys to successful social media usage are that they complement television programs but also enhance and enrich the linear storytelling with unique user engagement.
Talent can be very beneficial to social media but also pose challenges. If the talent brand conflicts with the show/network brand it can alienate and confuse audiences and fans. Hard to beat that feeling of talking to talent as if they are your friends, so have to capitalize said Ellen Stone, Sr VP Mktg Bravo Networks. Talent may now have social media obligations in contract.
One challenge is how to integrate advertisers. It can be tricky to do it organically when the main goal is to directly engage conversation with fans. David Jones, EVP Mktg Shazam Entertainment, using sponsors can be a subtle solution, but has challenges when social media sponsors conflict with the show’s advertisers.
On attendee asked, “How do you monetize social?” Stone, said with social at an early stage, for now, they are focusing on embracing it. Financial ROI not as important, but something everyone would obviously like to figure out.
Some lasting questions that social TV people are looking to answer:
How do you have social engagement with a cracker?
What is the value of a tag vs tweet vs post vs like?
Social Media strategy has to be kind of company wide to be on top of the latest and best creative ideas.