SXSW Recap: Day 1

8 Mar

Finally, it came. I found a sweet (and legal and cheap) place to park and I collected my various devices and their chargers along with a few Clif Bars and I was ready to roll. The 11 AM panels were sparse in number, meaning…everyone wanted into them. I got to the 11 AM too late and was turned away, but that just made me super early for the next one called “Content and Commerce: The Digital Cronut.” The founder of Thrillist Media explained how they are pioneering a model where their company sells the products they write about directly. It’s a lifestyle site for dudes, basically, so when they write about an amazing shirt or gadget, they sell that shirt or gadget directly. This seems kind of obvious to me as a person that talks about music and sells it, but he’s right…it’s rather new to online media. There are no billion dollar media companies (Huffington Post, the big ‘un, sold for “only” 315 million), and they are stifled by this inability to sell product to their cadre of willing consumers. Thrillist is changing this model and it makes sense. Watch out for more ads disguised as articles, though.

Then it was on to the keynote speaker of the day, Austin Kleon. I love his book “Steal Like An Artist,” and he just released his new one “Show Your Work.” He discussed the myth of the lone, anti-social genius, laboring away in isolation. A lot of great work has gotten done this way, sure. However, he talked about the idea of the “scenius,” where new ideas and work come from being in a community and interacting. Not necessarily “group work,” but just interacting with the people around you for ideas and inspiration. Super good.

I’ll admit I lost interest in the next panel about the live-streamed reality show “Remote Control Tourist.” Interesting concept (interactive online television, essentially), but it was heavy on logistics explanation and coding a TV show is not really in my wheelhouse. Plus the thought of directing characters on a show and tweeting while I watch is exhausting. I kind of feel like most of the planet isn’t into interactive TV because that’s the one thing they can do without being engaged in something else. And yes, we all send out snarky tweets about things we watch, but being involved in the storyline in real time would make my brain explode.

Lastly, my favorite panel of the day, “How Twitter Humorists Landed Sweet Real World Gigs,” included Megan Amram (a writer for Parks & Recreation), Josh Hara, and Jenny Johnson. It was as funny as you’d think, and really cool to hear the process of joke-telling in the Twitter medium. It made the point that Twitter truly is the perfect medium for humor, and the barrier for entry is low. Tweet. Keep tweeting. (Also, it helps if you tick off a celebrity).

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