Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘sxsw

Spaceships, Aliens, And Androids: The Scott & Todd SXSW 2013 Podcast Debrief

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Scott Laningham and I first met around six years ago at SXSW Interactive.  Scott was already well known for his developerWorks podcast series and blog, and he was walking around the conference talking to people, so we decided to sit down and do a podcast discussing all the cool things we’d seen and learned about during the conference.

It was the beginning of a wonderful and still ongoing collaboration, and since that time, Scott and I have shared the stage at numerous IBM conferences, interviewing industry luminaries, IBM executives and business partners, and other thought leaders.

But we always come back to SXSW Interactive. And so it was with 2013.

Scott and I sat down on Friday via Skype and chatted for nearly 30 minutes about all the interesting things we heard and learned about at this year’s event, the first time it reached over 30,000 attendees.

Some would say SouthBy has jumped the shark. I’m not so sure. I joked early on in the event last week that perhaps it had jumped a few dolphins.

Has it gotten a lot more crowded?  Absolutely.

Has it stretched the outer limits of Austin’s hotel and transportation capacity?  Without question.

Do you have to wait in long lines stretching halfway around the Austin Convention Center just to see a keynote?  Yes yes yes.

And to my mind, it’s still worth every minute.

P.S. Scott has also established a new blog, which you can find right here on WordPress.

Written by turbotodd

March 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

Samsung Theatre, RSS-Less Google

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Anybody watch that Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last night on the Webcast from Radio City Music Hall in New York City?

Well, the latest episode of Smash it certainly was not.  I think the entire show could probably have used a dramaturg, but hey, what do I know? The last show I saw at Radio City Music Hall was Iron Maiden sometime around 1985.

But, if Samsung doesn’t exactly have a handle on the number of the thespian beast, they certainly do seem to have learned how to make smartphones.

Once I got past all the drama last night, I was ready to shell out a few hundred bucks to move back into the smartphone camp (I’m currently carrying an LG feature phone from Verizon, because unlike most people, I actually still use my cell phone to TALK to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.)  I currently depend on an iPod Touch 5th gen for most of my tablet computing (news consumption, email, calendaring, shooter games, travel, etc.)

But at some point, I’m going to create my own harmonic computing convergence and try to come back to one device.

Of course, the price point for an unlocked Galaxy S4 will likely require a second mortage, and that’s if you can even find one.

So I’m also keeping an eye on the downmarket players like BLU Products, a little known player from whom I recently ordered an unlocked feature phone for $35 that I now use as my bat phone.

BLU is introducing a whole slate of new smartphones in April, entitled “Live View,” “Life One,” and “Life Play,” all of which will allegedly be sold unlocked on Amazon and range between $229 and $299.

The Life View model will include a 5.7-inch display (bigger than the Galaxy 5 at 5 inches), a 12-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front camera, 1GB RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, and also a 2,600Ah battery for those lonnngg plane rides to Bangalore.

I imagine that phone will be “good enough,” and you can learn more here on Engadget.

What’s apparently not good enough for Google is having an RSS reader. It was just announced that Google Reader was going to be taken out back to the Google woodshed and shot, as of July 1 of this year, a resultant casualty of Google’s annual “Spring Cleaning.”

To whit I ask, couldn’t they have found something less useful to “clean?”

Not to pile on, but this is a really dumb move for Google, if not for the bad PR value alone (and there’s been plenty of that). Google Reader was a beloved product, if only by the niche social digerati — you know, all those massive influencers with a big social media megaphone.

For my money, it’s a jaded move — Google’s not making any money off Reader, and RSS feeds are notoriously difficult to measure, so why not bury it in the Mountain View backyard? On the other hand, it would be nice for them to keep a useful tool that helps we bloggers keep our blogging sanity, and Reader does/did? just that.

C’est la Google vie…I’ve turned to Feedly online and on the iPod, and Reeder on the Mac, to assuage my soon-to-be Google Readerless existence.  So far, I’m digging the newspaper-ish like layout.  I just hope I can learn how to add and subtract feeds as easily as I was able to on the Google Reader cloud.

As for my post-SXSW-partum depression, the sun’s shining in Austin and I plan to get out and play some golf this weekend.  But I’ll just say this: For me, Best SouthBy ever.  I saw a lot of great speakers and sessions, talked to a lot of cool and interesting people, consumed some of my native city’s great food and drink, and enjoyed myself all the way around.

And for those of you who made it to the IBM party at Haven Saturday night, well how about that?  Definitely NOT your father’s IBM.

The bar she has been raised.

SXSW 2013 Day 2: Let’s Get Physical

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It’s day two of SXSW Interactive 2013, and I’m a little more optimistic after a good night’s sleep and several actual informative sessions.

I also survived the Spredfast party last evening — I don’t know where the Austin fire marshals were, but as I navigated my way around the lovely but jam packed rooftop, all I could think about were fire exits — and jumping from a three story roof didn’t seem like a great option.

There are definitely some key themes emerging at SXSW Interactive 2013, other than that logistics matter (see yesterday’s snarky post for more on that topic) — the dolphins have receded back into Town Lake for the moment.

One theme has to do with the re-emergence of the physical world. Yesterday, Bre Pettis’ keynote on 3D printing was, for me, an eye-opener. His “Makerbot” company, which emerged at SXSW 2009, has emerged as a real and viable player in 3D printing, and for my money, the 3D printing notion is just the marker of a much larger paradigm shift: The opportunity to meld the digital and the physical and reshape design iteration, for all kinds of objects and products.

His 3D printing capability demonstrated that for not a lot of money, even the average Joe can jump into the design and manufacturing game, and organizations small and large can benefit from this downsizing of design iteration.

The other theme that has emerged is “Mobile” with a capital “M.” I’ve already attended several sessions tending to the opportunities and issues of the mobile realm, and I have a feeling we’ve only just begun.

The Google Android session this morning was an excellent example, where I learned some of the founding principles behind Android’s design from some of the people worked on it.

The rules of the road seemed logical enough: “Give me tricks that work everywhere” and “It’s not my fault” and “Make important things fast.”

But once the Googlers walked the audience through some specific examples, it made much more sense (and hard to describe here, since it required some show n tell).

Suffice it to say, the principles were very human and user experience-oriented, considering the fact that they were talking about an Android, and it’s the kind of thinking I’d like to see more mobile apps have taken into account.

And as I debate the pros and cons of eventually going back to a smartphone, the Android column certainly just garnered a few more points.

Logistics-wise, sessions I wished to attend continue to be oversubscribed, so get there early and/or be flexible continue to be core design principles for SXSW 2013.

Dolphin Jumping @ SXSW

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They call it jumping the shark when a TV show reaches the end of its prime.

I’m not sure what they call a conference that does the same, but assuming I can co-opt the saying for events, methinks SXSW Interactive may be closer to the shark’s teeth than ever.

I first attended SXSW Interactive in 2000, while I was living in NYC. I had a speaking engagement on one of the panel discussions, and it was literally weeks before signs emerged that the dot com bubble was going to start to burst.

Headhunters were everywhere, jobs were abundant (particularly for developers), the parties were crazy. This, of course, was only weeks before the infamous Barron’s article appeared that announced all the dot com startups were running out of money.

It was a heady time, but little did we know the headwinds we were about to face.

Of course, this was at the dawn of what we were soon going to call “social media.” The authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto were in attendance, and explained to us all how the network was a conversation and that the world was about to change, but mostly nobody listened.

This was well before Friendster, or Myspace, or LinkedIn, or Facebook, or Twitter. We were still using Listservs and email distribution. Social was what we did on happy hour Friday night…and at all the SXSW parties.

Flash forward to 2013. Social media is an industry. And 27,000+ people invade Austin every March looking for….a job? Insights? A drunkfest?

I’m not looking for a job. I’m definitely looking for insights. The drunkfest we’ll have to wait and see…but logistics matter.

I’ve talked to two people this morning already, one a close colleague, another a complete stranger from Philly, who complained they had travelled to an offsite location from the Austin Convention Center to attend a session, but the sessions were already filled, and the line to get back via the shuttle was 30-40 people long and it was raining.
UPS explains it all when they talk about “logistics.” All this virtual convening in a physical space is fantastic, but only if the physical space can facilitate the virtual conversation.

Despite having distributed and automated the registration and badge pickup process this year — that alone is a huge step forward — the fact that the venues can’t accommodate the interested attendees suggests that SXSW Interactive 2013 could be the beginning of its end.
I’ll reserve my complete judgment until we get a little further into the conference.

But if SXSW Interactive hasn’t completely jumped the shark, I think I definitely saw at least a few dolphins swimming around down there in Town Lake…and they looked hungry.

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Written by turbotodd

March 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Gartner Fellow Mark McDonald On The Social Organization

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Mark McDonald is a group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs, and also a Gartner Fellow, and recently co-authored the book The Social Organization, along with his fellow author Anthony Bradley.

During our time together at SXSW Interactive, Mark explained to Scott and I how enterprises are successfully using social media and mass collaboration to achieve new business value, and how many of them are addressing what he called “boundary spanning” issues in order to achieve the greatest success in social business.

Mark is also the co-author with Peter Keen of The eProcess Edge and the author of Architecting Enterprises — Achieving Performance and Flexibility. He has also been interviewed or published in the Wall Street Journal, Computerworld, CIO Magazine, the Financial Times and other publications. He routinely works with senior business and technology executives and is currently working on the issue of innovation in management.

Impressions From SXSW 2012: “Conversational Commerce” with Opus Research’ Dan Miller

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If you want to better understand the looming intersection between voice recognition and artificial intelligence, you don’t want to talk to HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” or even IBM’s Watson.

You want to speak with Opus Research analyst and co-founder, Dan Miller, which is precisely what Scott Laningham and I did recently at SXSW Interactive 2012.

Dan has spent his 20+ year career focused on marketing, business development, and corporate strategy for telecom service providers, computer manufacturers, and application software developers.

He founded Opus Research in 1985, and helped define the Conversational Access Technologies marketplace by authoring scores of reports, advisories, and newsletters addressing business opportunities that reside where automated speech leverages Web services, mobility, and enterprise software infrastructure.

If you’re thinking about things like Siri, or voice biometrics identification, or the opportunity that your voice response unit has for automating marketing touches, then Dan’s your man.

We spent a good 10 minutes talking with Dan about the idea behind “conversational commerce,”  and how important user authentication becomes in a world where the professional and personal are increasingly intertwined, and where IT staffs everywhere are suddenly confronted with new requirements brought about by the “BYOD” (Bring Your Own Device) movement into the enterprise.

SXSW Interactive 2012: The Turbo Debrief

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A picture from the SXSW show floor coverage from TechCrunch at SXSW Interactive 2012. Be sure to keep an eye here on Turbotodd.com for more interviews conducted by Turbo and Scott Laningham through the course of this year's event.

Well, SXSW 2012 is finally over… And over 25,000 computer geeks from around the world were probably about ready for it be over, fun as it was.

There was lots to be said about this year’s SXSW, both good and bad, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was the best SXSW interactive ever, and I’ve been to quite a few.

I was there for the Mark Zuckerberg and Sarah Lacy interview debacle several years back… I was there for the yawner Twitter interview with Evan Williams a couple of years back… I was even there when Christopher Locke introduced The Cluetrain Manifesto in 2000, just before the bubble burst, and burst hard.

And despite the insane and torrential rains that we had in Austin, which we had been waiting on for well over a year, in the midst of our atrocious drought, it didn’t surprise me at all that the rain clouds followed the digerati to Austin before the heavens would completely open up.  Geeks bring rain!

There really wasn’t any huge new new thing at this year’s SXSW… It was really a lot of the same old thing with a few new ingredients mixed in. But lingering in the air, there was an optimism and sense of opportunity that transcended the often selfish inclinations of SXSW past, one that was more worldly and altruistic in nature.

A spirit that attempted to bring people closer together in small networks to be able to meet and to get to know one another and to get things done. I ran into Robert Scoble, the renowned tech blogger whom I’ve never before met, and he explained to me on the expo floor that the big deal of the event was “Highlights,” an iOS-based application that helps do just that, bring people together in the most serendipitous of ways based on their location and data from their Facebook graph.

Assuming one can get past the privacy implications of such a tool, it’s actually very cool. And I certainly wish I had had it once upon a time in my virtual dating life.

There was also a lot of almost Beckett-like absurdity, including the registration badge pickup line that seemed to linger all the way into South Austin this year. I spent over an hour waiting in that line for my badge, when it seems to me, it would have been just as easy for SXSW to have mailed it to me well in advance. Ever heard of RFID tags??

I did use that waiting time productively, and met someone from a startup whom I spoke with about the mobile boom for most of our time in line. But I’m sure somebody from IBM’s smarter cities initiative would be more than happy to sit down and discuss with SXSW the opportunity that a smarter queuing solution might present.

There were more companies at SXSW this year than ever before, and by companies I mean enterprise companies, not just startups. I saw attendees from the likes of Oracle and Microsoft and IBM in more numbers than ever, just to mention a few, and so the former digital divide between startups and developers and the enterprise seems to have started to close at this year’s SXSW, which I think is a good thing: We need them, and they need us.

The keynotes from the likes of Ray Kurzweil and Stephen Wolfram seemed to suggest we’re on the brink of breaking through in AI and speech recognition — the former invented core speech recognition technologies being used today in product’s like “Dragon Dictation” (which I used to assist me in writing this blog post), and both mentioned Watson as demonstrating this new direction. I’ll be looking forward to the day soon when I can run most of my computing devices, smartphone and otherwise, through voice and facial recognition.

But we also saw some nods to the past, including on the SXSW expo floor. There was a machine that presses vinyl records (I’m sure most of the attendees had never seen a long-play record!), along with a killer jet black keyboard from “Daskeyboard” that mimics the clickety-clack spring action of the old IBM Model M keyboard.

What’s old is new, even in technology.

Be sure to come back and visit turbotodd.com in the days and weeks ahead, as I’ll continue to post the fascinating interviews that Scott Laningham and I recorded with a garden variety of digital thought leaders in the IBM “Future of Social” lounge.

In the meantime, I’ll be preparing for SXSW Interactive 2013.

Wouldn’t miss it for all the Austin rain in the world!

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