2 3 live&learn&rejoice: interactive

March 20, 2011


read the following WSJ article online about sxsw tech shows and had lots of homework to do just to get the gist of it. i thought sxsw interactive was supposed to be cutting edge, intellectual, introducing groundbreaking technology and i learn from this piece that maybe it is more limited to just social media, which i guess is trendy these days but less interesting to me.

in any event here's my homework notes first, a primer that might be helpful before reading the article

b-round definition thanks to http://definitions.uslegal.com/s/series-b-round/

Series B Round is the second round of financing by venture capitalists. This round comes after the Series A round. Receiving a Series B round denotes that professional investors are interested in providing finance to the company after the Series A round.
When a company raises venture capital by selling its preferred stock, the shares of preferred stock sold in a given financing round are defined with a letter. "Series A" shares are shares sold in the first financing round. Subsequent rounds are called "B", "C", "D", and so on. Shares in a particular series have similar rights.
definition courtesy of http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/Evernet
The term Evernet has been used to describe the convergence of wireless, broadband, and Internet telephony technologies that will result in the ability to be continuously connected to the Web anywhere using virtually any information device. Considered the next generation of Internet access, the Evernet assumes the emergence of an amount of bandwidth that would enable millions of homes to access the Web through inexpensive cable modem, DSL, or wireless connections.

The "Evernet" can also be considered to include common household appliances and home and office networks that include devices that control the environment; such networks require an "always on" capability. In addition, portable devices that can connect quickly and easily without wires to other devices (see Bluetooth) might also be considered part of the Evernet.

(and if that definition leaves you with a little hollow feeling, not to worry there are loads of Evernet consultants available via Google--assuming that's still cool to use...maybe Evernet is more relevant to areas that don't have high speed Internet access now? maybe i'm not understanding what this is . . .)

and i know what foursquare is and what it does, i just don't know why anybody cares. people post on fb that they are at starbucks or walmart or the gym or wherever their daily life takes them. i assume everyone is leading their daily life. why on earth would i care that you were at starbucks. hell, i barely care that i'm at starbucks.

so foursquare i've heard of before & know, but it is a total mystery nonetheless.

besides, isn't foursquare yesterday's news?

ashton kutcher & demi moore
Really, like foursquare i've heard of them and really a big yawn. who cares where they are or what they are or are not doing. and yes i know they have gazillion twitter fans. makes you wonder about twitter, doesn't it? no, probably not, makes you wonder about me . . . or not. i can think of nothing less interesting than second-rate celebrities (except the things that follow)

hashable, a fun and useful way to track your relationships
jeeze, please spare me

omg, the company takes credit for farmville and all those other lame time suck games on fb. okay, i'll grant you they are popular and i imagine mr and mrs zynga are making big bucks but really have some pride and NEVER admit you have such a low opinion of human beings that you designed farm/pet/whateverville.

group me
group messaging. are you serious? please. this is like pretending the towel is a new exciting product you created.

so if this piece fairly represents what went on at sxsw interactive, i don't feel bad missing it . . .
Navigating a Texas-Size Fest
By Katherine Rosman
912 words
15 March 2011
The Wall Street Journal Online
NY Culture
Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Austin, Texas

Overheard this weekend at South By Southwest, the festival here at which Internet entrepreneurs, engineers, journalists, promoters, moneymen and web-savvy Hollywood types meet to discuss technology, brand and buzz:

"We're monetizing."

"I'm building a CRM."

"We're building an API."

"We closed a B-round."

"Social media is dead. The new Net is the Evernet." (We have no idea what that means, but you read it here first.)

When South By Southwest was launched in 1987, it was centered on the discovery of musical talent. In 1994, a few days devoted to new media and film were added to the agenda. Now the "interactive" portion is a huge draw. This year, more than 17,000 people are expected to have attended the five-day interactive conference, which offers panels with titles like "Slaying the Four Horsemen of the Social-Media Apocalypse" and "I'm So Productive, I Never Get Anything Done."

But for many, the panels are the justification for attending a days-long party where you might see Conan O'Brien, Twitter fiends Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, or Rainn Wilson from "The Office," who was promoting a few indie features here. South By Southwest is the Sundance of the Internet industry. But don't call it "South By Southwest."

"Unless you know to call it 'South By,' you shouldn't be at South By," explained Mark Sullivan, a Houston-based publicist.

Some of the most coveted party invitations celebrate companies that might be obscure in middle America but in Austin are like Coca-Cola: Foursquare, Mashable, Hashable, Zynga, GroupMe and Fast Society. Late-night, the hotel bars become jam-packed.

At the W Hotel in downtown Austin, guys—there's a high ratio of men to women—in jeans (dress code: I-didn't-give-this-outfit-much-thought casual) sit on low couches drinking and talking start-ups. Matt Bijur came to South By from Los Angeles to try to build buzz for Squabbler, a social-debate site in which users post 30-second videos to argue a particular position. Mr. Bijur was hanging out with Kevin Zellmer, head of strategic partnerships at KickApps, a company that helps brands with their social media outreach. Mr. Zellmer's agenda was fluid. He hoped to network and get a sense of "the space" (big buzzword). For him and his cohort, attendance was mandatory.

"You have to be here," he said.

A unique social etiquette pervades the event. At the door of the bar or hotel, a PR neophyte searches an iPad for your name. Once you pass muster, you "check in" to the venue on your geo-location social network of choice. Next, via your preferred group text-messaging app, you text a core of friends alerting them to your whereabouts. You sidle up to the bar and order a Shiner Bock. (It's a Texas beer and you're here to enjoy the local culture, right?) You snap an arty photo of the scene with your iPhone camera and post it on Instagram and Twitter, affixing "#sxsw" to the end of your micro-message so all your followers know you are in-the-know and on the list.

Then, casually, you sip your drink, checking your device to see who has retweeted you, the warm glow of the screen casting you in the right light. The tech-obsessed indulge, free of judgment. Overheard (or, in Twitter parlance, "OH"): "Looking down is the new looking up."

Charging batteries is a priority, and there is major competition for electrical outlets at the Austin Convention Center. You can catch a buzz on the street: representatives from Sonos, a wireless stereo company, carry mini-generators in backpacks and let passers-by plug-in.

The most exclusive place to recharge was the CNN Grill SXSW, where nearly every table had its own power strip. In an effort to be known for more than hard news coverage, the cable network took over Max's Wine Dive, a popular restaurant known for authentic Southern comfort food. A huge neon CNN sign outside the restaurant replaces Max's regular branding.

Like sponsors do at Sundance, CNN also dispensed with the normal menu, instead giving control of the kitchen to Union Square Hospitality Group, the New York restaurant company run by Danny Meyer. You need special credentials to enter.

Inside, bloggers blog, journalists tweet and entrepreneurs plot. On Saturday, three gentlemen from the search engine StumbleUpon.com discussed how to maximize their SXSW exposure by hiding "golden tickets" around town. Clues to the location of these tickets are being disseminated on Twitter. The first person to find the ticket, photograph it and tweet the photo wins a prize like a Macbook computer. It was finally decided that the golden ticket would be given to Danny Sullivan to hide and tweet about. Mr. Sullivan is the editor of SearchEngineLand.com and has more than 100,000 followers on Twitter.

"Not just a hat-rack," said Anthony Napolitano, StumbleUpon's director of sales, as he tapped his forehead.

On Sunday, those actually looking for a little Texas with their tech gathered at a party for the Houston Web site CultureMap. This was at Scholz Garten, a banquet hall first opened in 1866. The lighting wasn't fancy. The square dancing was raucous. The barbecue was spicy.

Write to Katherine Rosman at katherine.rosman@wsj.com

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