Turbotodd

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

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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.

Having Impact

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It’s the end of a long Friday, and you’re sitting there thinking to yourself, “Hmm, what in the world am I going to be doing starting on Sunday, April 29th?!!”

I’m from headquarters and I’m here to help.

If you’re a business or technology leader trying to understand and keep up with the insane amount of change going on in our industry, my recommendation is you hop on a plane and head out to attend the IBM Impact 2012 Global Conference from April 29-May 4.

No, it’s NOT “The Hangover,” thank goodness — neither part one nor part deux — but what it IS is an opportunity to mix it up with your peers and to hear from some of our industry’s key thought leaders.

Let’s start with the keynotes: Author of the acclaimed Steve Jobs biography entitled Steve Jobs, as well as president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, Walter Isaacson, will be a featured speaker this year. Isaacson is a former correspondent and new media editor of Time magazine, who went on to serve as chairman and CEO of CNN from 2001-2003.

“Chic Geek” and 2011 audience favorite Katie Linendoll will also be making a return engagement to Impact. Katie is going to be leading the day 2 general session, as well as moderating a “Women’s Panel” later that Tuesday afternoon (May 1).

And if you’ve never heard from Jane McGonigal, creative director of Social Chocolate and a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games…well, prepare to have your mind blown. I’ve heard Jane at a couple of SXSW Interactives, and Jane’s view of the world is one you’ll want to look into.  She’s also the author of the New York Times bestseller, Reality is Broken.

And those are just the guest speakers.  You’ll also hear from a powerhouse cadre of IBM experts and executives, starting with senior veep Steve Mills. Also in attendance: Rod Smith, our VP emerging technologies…Marie Wieck, GM of the AIM organization…Bridget van Kralingen, senior veep of IBM Global Business Services…Jerry Cuomo, IBM Fellow and WebSphere veep…and a host of others.

But let’s not forget one of the most important aspects of Impact: The networking prowess of 9,000 tech and business leaders all under the same roof.  You can get started in the conversation well ahead of the event by following and contributing to the Impact Social Media Aggregator, and onsite, by visiting the “Impact Social Playground,” a new social hub that will provide enhanced social networking facilities for all attendees, Tweeps, bloggers, analysts, media, and Business Partners.

If you just want to follow along on Twitter, make sure you’re using the #IBMImpact hash tag.

developerWorks blogger and podcaster extraordinaire, Scott Laningham, will also be in attendance, along with yours truly, where we will be conducting live and recorded interviews throughout the event for “ImpactTV.”  So far, we have a committed lineup of the best and brightest…and then there’s Scott and I!

Here’s the link where it all starts for Impact 2012.

I, for one, can’t wait.  Last year was my first Impact, and I had more fun and talked to more cool people than a person has a right to.  And I learned more than I could keep in my head…but of course, that’s not saying much.

And iffen your boss is giving you a hard time about taking time out of your hectic schedule, we’ve even got that covered with our “5 Reasons to Attend Impact 2012.”

I hope to see you there, and if you can’t make it live and in person, be sure to keep an eye on ImpactTV from April 29 through May 4.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that the Goo Goo Dolls are playing???

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.

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With IBM Social Leaders George Faulkner & Susan Emerick

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One of the best parts of attending SXSW Interactive 2012 these days is to meet other IBMers.

That wasn’t always the case — for many years, it was a lonely IBM vista in March at SXSW Interactive.

But this year, all that changed, and two of my good friends and colleagues in particular, George Faulkner and Susan Emerick, spent some time with Scott and I on the IBM “Future of Social” couch discussing how IBM approaches the social media.

George has been a stalwart in IBM social media — I worked with him way back in the Jurassic Age of the social Web, in 2006, on the IBM ShortCuts podcast series.

And Susan has been a digital leader in and of her own right, most recently helping IBMers who haven’t been as active in the social media to get up on their feet and establish their social media eminence.

This thought-provoking interview opens the kimono a bit on the challenges and opportunities a large organization like IBM faces in opening itself up to the social media, and explains how, in fact, IBM gets 400,000 IBMers on the same page so they can successfully change the corporate social media light bulb.

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With Twitter-Challenged Cisco Social Video Guru Tim “Washtub” Washer

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I apologize in advance for the following interview.

A colleague responded to my posting of this video on Facebook and wrote “Wins the award for least content in an interview.”

Noah, you’re really being far too generous.

That said, there’s nothing more fun than interviewing Tim “Washtub” Washer, former IBM social media pioneer and now social video guru with Cisco.

Tim is a comedy writer and actor whose credits range from The Late Show With David LettermanLate Night with Conan O’Brien, Saturday Night Live, and more recently, The Onion.

As you’ll see from our interview, all Tim has to do is show up and breathe and Scott and I would laugh.  Really! The fact that we couldn’t seem to land an actual time to conduct the interview amidst a SXSW chock full of social mediated, geo-located smartphone applications…well, that tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

During his tenure at Big Blue, Washer produced one of the most brilliant corporate social video campaigns ever, “The Art of the Sale,” which was selected as a Comedy Central “Staff Favorite.”  And you know they were reaching for the bottom of the barrel when selecting an IBM video series for such a distinguished honor.

Tim’s work has been covered by Advertising Age, NPR, and The New York Times, and he holds an MBA from the University of Texas.

When we weren’t laughing, Scott and I spoke with Tim about his having left IBM under auspicious circumstances, how he came to be a corporate comedian, and why it was that we couldn’t use Cisco Telepresence technology to conduct such a scintillating interview.

Impressions From SXSW Interactive 2012: Q&A With Mark McKinnon, Political Innovator…and The Most Interesting Man in the World!

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When I realized I had a way to reach out to and speak with Austin’s-own “political innovator” Mark McKinnon, a former Bush media strategist and longtime political maverick, at SXSW Interactive 2012 I seized the opportunity.

Mark has been a familiar part of the American political landscape for several decades, having worked for causes, companies, and candidates ranging from 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain, late former Texas Governor Ann Richards, Congressman Charlie Wilson, Lance Armstrong, Bono, and many others.

Most recently, McKinnon has served as Global Vice-Chairman of Hill & Knowlton Strategies, an international communications consultancy, and the President of Maverick Media. He is also co-founder of No Labels and serves on the Board of Advisors of Americans Elect, an organization whose stated goal is “to nominate a presidential ticket that answers directly to voters—not the political system.”

We spoke with Mark about a number of topics, not the least of which included his experiences working with Congressman Charlie Wilson, the role of social media in politics, and the opportunity Americans Elect has to alter the U.S. presidential election landscape.

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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