I snapped the photo below well across the river away from downtown Austin. I don’t think the sign was meant to celebrate #SXSW but, instead, be a warning to all of the locals to prepare for the “geek madness” that overtakes their city each year.
While it’s difficult to distill pages of notes, tweets, interactions, and thoughts into a blog post, here’s what I’m leaving Austin with as I sit 35,000 feet above the air en route back to Boston:
#1. After 20 years, we’re still having to justify the Web.
I keep a print in my office of the very first website which launched 20 years ago (this coming August). And, yet, I’m amazed that 2 decades later (and despite the fact that just about everyone in the US is online at this point) that the web is still perceived (by many) as a “second thought.”
NBC writers are, understandably, extremely busy writing for TV so they use writers assistants for any online extension content. Yet, NBC is the #4 television network whileNBC.com is the #1 TV network website – all done on a shoestring budget.
#2. Without dispute, “socialTV” is hot right now.
A very interesting thing happened outside the highly anticipated #socialTV panel. Apparently a shuttle carrying attendees to where the panel was being held, was late and the event was already at capacity. So the dozens of people stuck outside started up their own panel.
Yet with all of the hype (which I, admittedly subscribe to and happily evangelize) around social media + TV convergence, we’re all trying to figure out the “ideal” two-screen experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my informal conversations with Miso’s Somrat Nioygi and NBC News’ Ryan Osborn. It’s good to be reminded that people’s needs around television are pretty basic – and so anything that we do to create an “enhanced” 2nd screen experience has to be equally basic and complimentary. We’re still in the experimental phase.
#3. What some say are game changers, others say are fads.
Seth Priebatsch’s #gamelayer keynote was absolutely terrific. His passion and energy are convincingly contagious. It’s easy to get into the hype of the “gamification of the web” (I know I do) but at the end of the day the layers that we put on things (be they games, check-ins, back channels, etc.) don’t matter if the content they serve is bad.
While some publically said at #SXSW that these tactics are mere fads, I would never say that. After all, many people thought Twitter and Facebook were fads. Some still think that social media is a fad. The yet-to-be-answered question, though, is whether or not the game-layer is a “game changer?” Stay tuned.
#4. It’s easy for a hot startup to become a “diva.”
So here’s a tale of two startups – both of whom I very often proudly blog about, tweet about, use heavily, and discuss with my clients. I was suddenly brought back to the days of Paula Abdul on American Idol when she’d note contestants that became “affected” by their instant fame.
One of the start-ups (which I won’t call out) seemed a lot more interested in living the lifestyle of the characters on Entourage – I’ll just leave it at that. While, in stark contrast, Boxee kept it as real, open, and authentic as it gets. Andrew Kippen is an absolute class act. And Boxee’s back-yard BBQ was one of the highlights of SXSW for me -- These are the kinds of people I will go out of my way to do business with. Perhaps it’s the “New Hampshire” in me.
#5. We’ve only just begun to experience what’s possible.
It’s become cliché, at this point, to say mobile is big. And I loved the CEO of Gowalla’s quote, “In a mobile device, we’ve been given a magic box. If the best we can do is give someone a badge + a buck off a coffee, we’ve failed.”
I first started my blog because I was moved by how increasingly accelerated “breakthroughs” in tech & app development were happening – And it keeps accelerating. Just look at how, in just mere months, amazing things were done by hacking the Xbox Kinect platform. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to get even more interesting (and delightfully crazy)
Mike cross-posted this on his blog Harmonic Aftershock.