I’ve seen a fair number of remarkable events at SXSW over the years, but I’ve never seen anything quite like what unfolded at the New Think for Old Publishers panel yesterday afternoon.
On paper, the panel must have seemed like a great idea. The publishing industry is in transition with the rise of digital reading and devices like the Kindle, iPhone, and applications like Stanza. SXSW has always been about convergence and the evolution of old media in the digital age. Why not bring a group of book publishers together to address the digerati at SXSW about the changing nature of their industry?
As the twitter stream reveals, the panel never quite lived up to its promise. Now that the dust has cleared, I feel compelled to describe what happened at the New Think panel. From a remote distance it wasn’t necessarily clear what prompted the audience uprising.
This wasn’t a case of digital natives waging a mindless war against old media. On the contrary, at the beginning of the session a show of hands revealed a high density of heavy readers in the audience. Throughout the session audience members demonstrated a profound love for books. Combine that with the fact that the panel featured the ever popular Clay Shirky, and the publishers started the session with what might best be described as a sympathetic audience.
Half the Loper team has trekked to Austin this week for SXSW Interactive. We’re braving unseasonably cold weather, extremely poor AT&T service, and record crowds, to bring you full coverage.
Follow @kirkbiglione and @booksquare on twitter for regular updates.
As digital media professionals from across the country and around the globe pack their bags for the annual trek to Austin, one question is emerging that will likely dominate the conversation at this year’s SXSW festival — can Twitter survive it’s own success?
Last year Twitter emerged as the runaway hit at an annual event that’s been described as spring break for geeks. At the time I speculated that something better would almost certainly come along within the next year. Surprisingly, a year later Twitter is still going strong. I say surprising, because Twitter is such a simple concept that it should have been easily usurped by something better.
In the past year Twitter has successfully resisted insurgencies from rival applications, including Jaiku, and to a lesser degree Pownce (which still lacks basic SMS support). That Twitter has succeeded where its competitors have failed is all the more amazing considering the downtime and performance issues the application has suffered.
Twitter’s performance problems have been blamed all manner of causes, including the service’s hosting environment, phenomenal user growth, the Rails platform, and the underlying application architecture. Regardless of the cause, the Twitter faithful continue to use the application, although they grumble mightily when the service fails.
A social messaging application called Twitter has taken SxSW by storm like nothing in recent memory. It seems like everyone in Austin is either Twittering, deconstructing the relevance of Twitter, building a Twitter enhancement, or wondering why the hell they didn’t have the idea first. It’s pretty clear that SxSW 2007 will bee seen as the moment where Twitter hit its tipping point.
If you’re not familiar with Twitter, it’s a web 2.0ish chat/SMS mashup that allows users to send quick messages to friends (or the world) from just about anywhere. Unlike traditional chat and SMS, Twitter seems to be more group based and messages have persistence. Your most recent twit becomes something of a short-term status for your entire life.
Twitter messages are the kind of thing most of us would never bother to put into a blog post. Unlike chat, they tend to be more like random messages to the universe — frequently with little or no discernible purpose.
Part Two: The Role of The Curator, Or Why Disk Jockeys Could Be More Relevant Than Ever
Continuing analysis of the SXSW panel called “The Future of Radio”. Panelists included moderator Kevin Smokler, Celia Hirschman of Downtown Marketing and KCRW, Roman Mars of WBEZ, Elise Nordling from SomaFM, and Tim Westergren of Pandora, bringing together lifelong radio listeners, public radio professionals, Internet radio stars, and purveyors of social networking applications. Part One is here.
New services (like, oh, Medialoper) are designed to help consumers sift through the mass of media being thrown their way. In the past, disk jockeys served as curators of music. In today’s world, the increased level of programming makes the curator process even more important. This means aligning consumers with trusted sources of information. A trust relationship develops between the two parties — without that trust — in taste, quality, integrity — the consumer goes away.