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Recovering from SXSW

Discoveries and insights from going to sxsw will trickle out in bits and pieces, but suffice to say I had a great time and learned a lot, both about technology and new ways of storytelling. I also met a lot of cool people, all with unique backgrounds and talents. Here’s a notes section for sxsw conference, and possibly I may be posting mp3’s. Interestingly, at about the same time, Oreilly’s Emergent Technology conference was showing at about the same time (which is kind of stupid, if you think of it).

itconversations.com features archived audio of conference talks from all kinds of conferences, and the person who runs it mentioned that he’ll probably be putting up some sxsw talks as well.

Particularly good talks: Bruce Sterling’s Keynote, a panel on mobile storytelling, a panel on making a respectable online adult website, how to run art community sites, several on High-Definition Cameras (in preparation for my documentary project), and probably more than I can think of now.

Disappointing: 3 keynotes by big name bloggers and writers who had already turned into bigtime celebritiies. Also, I was extremely disappointed to hear about an impromptu session called “Future of Online Critics” only after the fact. Several distinguished writers and critics were at the conference and it would have been nice to discuss web issues (on the other hand, there was a panel about film criticism which I missed).

Also, I met the world’s youngest videoblogger, the founder of free.net, a former creative director of Legos, and a hundred other people I have forgotten. At the conference, Tantek and Matt Mullenweg and Eric Meyer were touting XFN in an effort to create momentum (which is good, I guess). In the next few days, I’ll make a post of everybody I met with the requisite rel=met tag . (Curiously, although I’ve been tagging my bloglist for XFN, nobody has been tagging me). I wrote an article about XFN already, unnoticed as usual.

Observed memes: XFN, microformatting, (XHTML custom classes to create semantic meaning), videoblogging (in a big way), flickr and why it’s fantastic, community sites and why they’re a pain in the neck to run (but still rewarding), and the professionalization of the blogging world (with gawker and bloggers, inc.) and newspapers transmogrifying into blogging portals. The gawker media bloggers (fleshbot, wonkette, etc) need to post a minimum of 12 posts a day to earn their full time paycheck. The Red v. blue videomakers post a new video once every week. The A-list videobloggers are posting a new video every goddam day. Two other memes I heard about secondhand: bots manipulating pageclicks and ad statistics, wreaking havoc on online advertising methods and using “social solutions” instead of “technological solutions” to defang abusive community members. Rather than blocking somebody from a discussion board, just asking that person to “play nice” is sometimes sufficient. All these things gave me a lot of ideas for my own literary community site still in the making.

Interestingly, certain memes just disappear the following year at sxsw. For the last two years the conference has focused a lot on creative commons. Now, everyone is pretty much on the same page about using creative commons licenses and not even getting angry at Big Media’s dominance (which is just taken as a given). At this conference, Time-Warner, Random House, Viacom and Universal Music are virtually ignored by everybody.

Finally, Bruce Sterling introduced the term “protocrat,” the digital avante-garde eager to embrace forward-looking technology and ecological solutions. It’s a fairly meaningless term, but their existence as a class (and as a social force to be reckoned with) is undeniable.

Oh, yes, a story of mine might be released on a storytelling CD, and I think I was on one of the outtakes of MTV’s The Real World (currently filming in Austin).

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