sxsw 2012 notes mbu

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A 14-page personal, subjective, selective summary of my SXSW 2012 (the interactive part) visit.


  • 1.South by Southwest 2012 -- summary Introduction This is my brief report on South by Southwest (SXSW), a massive music, film and interactive festival held in March in Austin, Texas. I will try to keep it short: writing and distributing reports like this is a bit old school, SXSW is typically something to track real-time through for instance Twitter, and through other online sources (many many blogs were posted; and some videos). And yet, it seems really useful to share some of what I witnessed. SXSW hardly offers video streams. I recommend those that are interested to check out the web, and next time witness SXSW or parts of it real-time through the social infrastructure. What follows is a subjective selection, written in haste over the Easter weekend. There will be errors and mistakes in here, I did not allow for anyone else checking it: no time. It is an incomplete summary of some things I have seen. What I have witnessed over there: probably accounts for less than 10% of the total offering of the interactive part of the event. This interactive part lasted for five days, and often had some 10-12 parallel one-hour sessions, all day long, next to meet-ups, stands, drinks, parties and other get-togethers. It is overwhelming. The fear of missing out (FOMO) was palpable. (I also attended a very small part of the music festival. And a handful of films.) This is a big hip festival. It is celebrity-infested. It is well organised, though very crowded. More and more people go there these days. Myself, I am a late adopter, this being my first visit. It was time well spent. It is quite a trip but the costs are limited (some $1,000 for the event itself) and I did pick up some really good things. I also get a better picture of what some other people worry about. For networking, too, it can be a good spot. Even for Dutch networking: alarmingly many Dutch people there (left: some nice ones; FMT, AVRO). page 1

2. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary Strangely, there are few old media people there I have seen few people from publishers or broadcasters. SXSW is dominated by young new media and technology people. I tend to think that big events in the US are better than those elsewhere like it or not, the online world is still being driven by US innovation. I think that visiting this event makes sense for our company, and deserves time, some costs, and a bit more structured approach (see wrap-up & next steps). In this document, I deliberately left out most links to web sites, videos and exact names and titles of talks, books and persons. My guess is that those factoids would make tiresome reading. For those interested: give me a call and I will provide you with more such factual details, if desired. I am 100% certain that there is more information to be found on everything I review here; and on that I have not witnessed or discussed below. Google will lead you the way. Confession: I skipped sessions with two celebrities I actively dislike Al Gore (hardcore liar on so-called global warming; and self-appointed inventor of the Internet) and Bruce Springsteen. Celebrities I missed with some regret included Robert Metcalfe (of Metcalfes law) and Willem Dafoe (the actor). I did witness Mark Mothersbaugh (founder of Devo) and Anthony Bourdain (maker of entertaining cooking TV and books, but loudly self-congratulating). Here are some loosely structured take-aways. In the next chapter I list some topics in a very high-level, snacky fashion. In the chapter thereafter I spend some more text on some selected topics. All this is superficial. There are enormous amounts of books, articles, blogs, videos and tweets of relevance. I tried to make it clear where opinions are mine. I urge all people reading this to also look up additional sources to get a more complete, broader picture, and to finetune or refute my observations. There is a lot. Key themes in short These were threads I saw coming back in many sessions. Many were to be expected I guess. Here I list the ones I remember. Old & new media: lots of discussions on old and new media, mostly rather inward-looking, often from the point of view of the professionals involved. Not always about the behaviours and desires of consumers. Or advertisers. Often emotional, with elements of triumphalism (from new), denialism (from old) and narrowness (from various sides). Clearly, some media are shrinking, some are growing, not all new things come on top of the old but some substitute, or at least compete for time. There is broad agreement that media are changing, of course (from the Dept of Open Doors). There was one venue in which almost solely sessions took place that had to do with journalism, in its different forms. Quite OK, many of them, in spite of lots of grumbling and complaining (democracy is going to die! etc). Lots about curation and aggregation, of course, there. page 2 3. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary Generational friction: this is related to the previous one. People keep asking can a 50-year old understand a 20-year old?, in the light of making media. The simplistic take on this I liked best was something like who cares just hire some 20-year olds and make sure they can help you. Also, it seems that many people actually research their children these days. (I have once read translated 2500-year old Egyptian papyrus scrolls pointing at this generational theme. It looked like it was written yesterday. I guess we are stuck with this generational phenomenon. In media, too.) Analytics: hard figures are making their way into content production and distribution. Measuring, measuring, measuring engineering methods. There was a lot of attention for quantitative approaches to editorial work; and to things one can no longer call editorial. More later on. This topic is somewhat related to the rise of machine computing (note: I do not use thinking here, but sometimes I do it is quite impossible to find the right words, if you think it over), i.e. to the power of algorithmic approaches. Relevant for us this. We have already started some things. We should go faster, I now think. This does impact our way of working. More to come. Of course, the term big data was used, too, at SXSW. It is certainly not the same what I describe here as analytics, but I chose to leave out other flavours of big data for (mainly because I did not attended those specific sessions). SoLoMo: social local mobile, everything seems to go that way. A quite generic theme of course, but also quite real. One might wonder: why even work on web sites as we know them? Why launch such a thing or put a big effort in, whereas especially social and mobile, and to a lesser extent local stuff seems to draw so much attention and energy? This is my take-away. OK, let me also say: mobile and social are not yet getting a proportional part of the advertising pie. Not at all. This is puzzling. The social dimension of TV was a recurring theme, too. There were some pretty good examples, but also some boring, open doors re-opened. I would expect battles in the social TV dimension shortly. Several speakers expected or witness massive amounts of experimentation. Some asked: how many per-TV programme apps can the public absorb, or are we heading for generic TV apps? Two social phenomenons mentioned (praised) most included Instagram and Pinterest (graph right). Are these passing fads? I guess not. Are there many trendy social things that will not make any real needle move? I guess so. And yet, there will be more, many more. But, as Lanier hinted: how much space does Facebooks network effect allow for others? What sort of things can one still do outside of Facebook? page 3 4. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary Curation, aggregation: a very interesting, somewhat divisive matter. More later on in this document. I think this is about new, disruptive approaches to forms of journalism. Think of Jeff Jarvis slogan do what you do best and link to the rest. That taken to extremes: journalists who dont write. More later. The photo tsunami: photography has exploded, and keeps growing. Everybody can make and distribute (quite good) photos. Increasing smartphone penetration will push this phenomenon further but where to? Will this merely produce a sea of mediocrity, or even worse? More later on. Computation, AI, the Singularity: the rise of machine thinking and the future role of technology. Will we witness and: be able to control? the extension of the human brain? In how we produce and distribute content? My worry: can we take this matter in a rational fashion, or are we either too afraid (like we were of HAL, in 2001 A Space Odyssey, picture right), or too excited, to come to a cool-headed judgment? Maybe there is a matter of faith at play here. Several speakers were believers. These were quite smart people with a track record though. Some other people are reluctant to allow machines to take a certain role in, say, content production, selection or distribution. I personally think it might be better to experiment with automated intelligence and think really hard about it. Actually, most of us using Zite, or Spotify, or Google are already doing that. Meanwhile, technology is developing sort of exponentially. More later. User interfaces: it is now becoming clear that interaction between people and machines has changed for ever. Look at the role of multitouch, for instance. That said: regarding Siri (voice recognition) and related stuff, I am a skeptic, for now. Will this evolution of interaction continue? Most experts said yes. Personally, I believe that some 20-30 years from now we will laugh at what we are now working with, that our current stuff will look medieval in just a couple of decades. May I suggest: have a look at some of the videos of Corning, the glass company. And look at Kinect (Microsoft). Mobile markets and advertising: there was a lot about mobile, but most of it did not make massive sense to me. What I observe is broad and deep uncertainty as to how mobile will work, business-wise, and to what extent it will supplant or add to existing media, from magazines to web to TV (as for newspapers, I do not doubt that mobile is the way to go). Also, mobile is a great transactional platform, that was confirmed. A bit more later on. And now for some relative depth. page 4 5. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary Analytics One of the sessions I attended involved people from Wired magazine, and from Cond Nasts analytics unit. They observed: there have always been analytical data on sales and usage, but those have through online and on tablets become incredibly much more; and heterogenous; and (mostly) real-time. Also, you can now apply those figures on content; and not just on circulation. From the providers side, you can measure almost everything; and use that in your editorial process. Which can turn things upside down. This is about accurate data on who read what, when, and what else, what buttons were pushed and what not, on traffic streams, conversion, the profiles of people reading specific stuff, as well as who wrote what, and how the consumption of contributions from different authors differs. All of this real-time. All of this as direct input into the editorial process. All this connecting content and commercial messages. Think of the extremist example, the way for instance Demand Media works: it creates content purely based on the popularity of search terms. Without any interest in the content itself (which is quite visible if you consumt Demands stuff: most of it is outright dreadful, in my view). In online versions of magazines and related online sites and apps, there is a wealth of usage data that still has to be gathered and used. This topic popped up in other sessions, too. My guess is that the analytical, quant approach that is already in use in transactional systems, including in online advertising, is coming to the editorial world, to a certain (?) extent. Some tools that were mentioned include ChartBeat, LightBulb and VisualRevenue. I have not checked these, I have suggested some others to do that. I guess Wolfram Alpha (see elsewhere in this document) is of a different nature but deserves to be mentioned here too (I found Wolfram stunning). We had already started some experiments along these lines, and we will speed up. This is pretty much something one just has to try to bring further. It does require an open mind as it is quite different from the classic approach. It is more about understanding the pull, than about planning the push. It reminds me in a way of the switch from conventional above-the-line marketing to below-the-line, direct methods. Which brought approaches that were not always understandable, but they worked the figures just showed it worked. It is pretty much about adapting your behaviour (=production) to what the numbers say, as opposed to having your professional intuition lead the way. This topic also related to the computation stuff (see below) that was discussed here and there. Once you have this sea of analytical data, you can start number crunching. Several people (strongly) suggested that the speed and quality of that number crunching is likely to keep increasing steeply, or even in the case of Kurzweil to increase to unimaginable levels. For me, a significant increase seems enough to make me rethink some things. Nirvana can come later. page 5 6. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary Curation & aggregation I got to see and listen to Maria Popova (on the left)! She curates stuff on, a site I read daily (some 3-4 tweets from @brainpicker per day I guess). There were also leading people from,, and from Flipboard. All curation stuff, of various nature. Several of them are really good at finding and re-arranging existing stuff, sometimes new, but sometimes rally old, and putting that into some sort of a new context, and delivering that to people in a more or less personalised manner. Many sorts and tastes. More tools exist (think of Zite), and many more will come (Zeen, so it seems, is about to be launched, by the Youtube founders). I am not getting into the finer details here I just talk about re-use of existing content. There were some people who took a romantic stance: only content that you have either made, or paid for, is OK. Content you found and put together cannot be good, will not add value. Was what people seemed to argue. Personally, I think that that does not adequately value curation (a well-defined concept?), nor does it acknowledge that quite a bit of paper journalism comes with aggregating, curating existing stuff as well. Which is a professional skill. Popova skillfully argued that there is so much old, really good content on the web. Which can or should be put to use, again, because it is so good, or (again) relevant, and can be made even better if it is combined with other content. If a new context or target audience is created. A simple view: watch Popova proving that daily. The other platforms mentioned above are not so bad either. I find Zite acquired by CNN!? nice, and I am convinced that the current Zite and its peers will in a few years time be seen as simplistic, handicapped, dumb tools. In their current form, these are sort of LPs, or early cars. Zite will be much smarter and better in just 2-3 years. So will many others. Same for Pinterest, the womens curation thing. Same for Spotify, or a Spotify derivative for news, or for magazines, etcetera. Will that be triggered by human curation or by machine intelligence I guess both, but I dont really care. Lets see, lets try. page 6 7. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary There were emotions. Those tend to get amplified by asking this: how does a human curator compare to an algorithm? This machine dimension fuels an emotional experience. For some. the human touch seems almost sacred. For few, it seems easily missable. The debate made me think of debates on computer chess or Turing tests, in which people sometimes criticise machines for not being able to walk on water, and seemingly overlook that the machine is actually walking, or sometimes even running (on the ground, that is). Kurzweil similarly mentioned the chess-playing dog. This discussion also came up in a seminar on online musicologists I attended. Which was also about the differences between human curation and algorithms. There, most people tended towards who cares?! Another thing I picked up there hinged on the fun factor many people experience while getting lost, to a certain extent. People like to wander on the web, now and then. It is good to face some unexpected diversion while consuming information like you do in a newspaper or magazine. Highly personalised media cannot easily do without that serendipity factor. I remember Negroponte writing, long ago, that in personalised streams, one should include random bits of news, just to create an experience similar to a newspaper or a magazine. Someone nicely called the web a giant serendipity machine. I am inclined to think that a wide and wild variety of both man and machine methods should be tried, mixed and tested, and that both will have their function, and some surprising results should be expected. I am in favour of non-ideological, unemotional approaches that seem like evolution, and bring out the fittest. I guess I miss out on some emotions with this stance. That happens more often. I do think the machine dimension is important, but that man-made curation (and aggregation, or how one would define those things) is equally important, and even more of today. Popova read out a text on circulation management for newspapers, dated 1923, that was pretty much the same we would nowadays say about search engine optimisation (SEO). Quite funny. Quantitative optimisation methods evolve. David Carr, the media critic of the New York Times, also appeared in this panel. An unconventional, grumbling personality. I recommend reading his pieces. He is quite present in Page One Inside the New York Times documentary (I found that so-so, as it seemed part nostalgia, but it is an enjoyable sketch of a monument, I would say). Carrs articles are always insighful. His grumbling here was good. Photo tsunami Instagram was all over the place at SXSW so it seemed. Understandably. Its CEO, Kevin Systrom, took part in several panels. I amongst others attended one by Koci Hernandez who both discussed the perceived mediocrity of all these photos people make; and gave a 10-minute workshop, to underpin his point that quality is not so far away for many of us. I assume that this session page 7 8. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary was not easy to swallow for many classic, professional photographers. Nor for me. Hernandez was inspiring, funny and made most of the audience think. He is quite present on the web (blog, other stuff) recommended. Hernandez did a workshop. Even I got it, partly (I am a photography Neanderthaler). He showed the use FilterStorm (2.99) and ProCamera (0.79) on an iPhone impressive (for me at least). He had been playing with some 200 photo apps so he told. And a wave of Android photo apps has yet to arrive. Having heard several not-so-structured discussions on modern and upcoming photography its dirt cheap production, smart tools, endlessly long tail of topics, frictionless distribution I expect an even bigger role from non-professionals in there. Like it or not. It also brings to mind the concept of good enough: many things do not have to be top-quality, in many cases mediocre quality suffices. This is hard to admit for professionals, but it is true. One can make too good quality. Technology can be too good as well, at least for wide-ranging, mass applications. Is what I learned from a Wired article of some years back and that pops up in my mind now and then. It applies to apps in general: mostly mediocre stuff. It might apply to photography. But, that said, with modern tools, even a 0.01% is really good score of contemporary photography would create an amazing quantity of good photos. This was also observed by a Library of Congress person responsible for archiving photography, a daunting task most people felt. (One thing that was not discussed but which may be of utmost importance in some future, regarding this topic: intelligent, visual search. It was not mentioned. I assume some people in certain offices are thinking really, really hard on that. It is worth money, lots of it.) The Instagram person shared what companies have done the smartest things with his tool so far, in his view: Burberry, GE and Audi. Check it out. Computation & AI There were several sessions that had to do with the future of technology. Various Big Names discussed this somewhat philosophical theme, but it did become very practical now and then. Those I witnessed included Ray Kurzweil (of The Singularity Is Near), Stephen Wolfram (of Mathematica and of Wolfram Alpha) and (picture left) Jaron Lanier (of You Are Not A Gadget). Lanier was inspiring. page 8 9. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary These three have some overlaps, especially Wolfram and Kurzweil, who are in the optimist hard-core techy camp. They argue that technology will go further and further. Further than most people can oversee. These are believers, and so I think they have valid insights. I do think it is important to stay calm, as these guys have a following that now and then blurs some things. I am certain that guys like them do not have their own interests in mind like some big companies do (this was debated, too, here and there are they evil?). Lanier, first. Intriguing he is. He confused the audience now and then interrupting the interview for a musical intermezzo him, playing on a self-made instrument. Interesting. Weird. Sounded bloody awful, frankly (I made a video). This was philosophical. Really good. Difficult to summarise. This man puts question marks at unexpected places. I was impressed. Some things he said I would find difficult to summarise. Relatively simple things he said included: Google, Facebook and Apple are growing, growing and growing. But isnt it quite likely and explainable that they are meanwhile actually shrinking the rest, both in the physical and in the online world? Arent they sucking value out of others, or out of whole markets? With the massive network effect (aka Metcalfes law) of Facebook, it becomes practically impossible to get something going outside Facebook, in some areas anything with a strong social dimension. That has a business impact. Should one even consider to do certain things outside Facebook? Is Facebook a de facto necessity? Should it have a regulatory impact? (He talked about Facebook. Some of these considerations could equally or similarly be applied to Apple or Google. Or even to some local classifieds markets. There are winner-takes-all effects in digital markets.) Privacy regulation is going in the wrong direction. The starting point should be: one legally owns his/her own data, all data that describe or refer to that person. Ownership of that data should be legally defined. That would turn around the whole debate. It requires a very different approach. (For me, it is hard to think through what this means. I know it is very different from current practice. It sounds good. I personally think it is too late, we are stuck in an old and not so relevant legal model. I foresee decades of muddling through.) (As for privacy: there were systems at SXSW that classified passers-by automatically. Here, I am seen, labelled as young adult male. I leave out the one where it said old woman.) His observations on Aristotle were profound, but difficult: when the machines operate themselves, we can free the slaves. I think that Laniers session could be summarised as: technology will continue to be a driving force of this civilisation, possibly even more so than up till now, but we need to think harder how to steer that, to keep it under control. page 9 10. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary An then Kurzweil: who claims that in some decades from now, total machine intelligence on this planet will surpass collective human intelligence. That moment is The Singularity. It is not quite clear what that will look like, but it is a Big Thing. He has some data to underpin his claims (see his books and his videos, all over the web). It is all about exponential effects, the law of accelerating returns based on technology that facilitates development of even better technology. But Moores Law is a nice, simple illustration. He is a slightly strange evangelist with an impressive track record. One of his claims is that with genetic technology, biology has become computer science we can build and alter life now. He seriously thinks almost-endless life is within reach; and swallows some 200 pills per day to increase the probability that he will witness the Singularity. I should mention Craig Venter here, he who sequenced the human genome. He decoded DNA, which was commonly considered impossible. Nowadays, one can have his/het DNA sequenced for about $100. Which is astonishing. This does illustrate one of Kurzweils points. If you look through the almost-religious atmosphere surrounding Kurzweil, there is a scientific and actually mostly realistic thinker at work. Kurzweil likes to talk about Siri (the Apple iPhone 4S voice interface) and Watson (a program that beat humans at Jeopardy). He observes that the some of these things are often downplayed, using an analogy of sure, that dog can play chess, but he is not very good in the end game. I can attest to that from my days at university, where computer chess was a ridiculed research topic in the 80s. Deep Blue beat Kasparov in 1997 there is not a human anymore better at chess than a strong program. Kurzweil argues we are a human- machine civilisation, everybody in this room is enhanced with computer technology referring especially to medical technology, from pacemakers to Viagra. McLuhan already saw TV as the extension of the human nerve system. By the way, Kurzweil did deliver some inventions: optical character regognition (OCR), the electronic piano and a (computerised, of course) method to deal with dyslexia. A somewhat sad documentary on him is Transcendent Man. He just founded the Singularity University, partly founded by Google and NASA. He has a following which shows slightly religious traits. page 10 11. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary As an aside, referring to our relationship with Wikipedia, Youtube and the like, he stated that current educational methods are woefully inadequate if one takes into account that detailed knowledge and advanced methods to retrieve and use that knowledge are easily available to half of the worlds population. Kurzweil, and Wolfram, see humankind as a fundamentally technological sort. They see evolution of us as a series of technology advancements. Kurzweils point is that things go exponentially. Take Moores Law which states that computational power doubles every eigtheen months. That means: it grows to a thousand-fold as big (roughly 2 to the power of 10) in 15 years. Have a look at the To the power of ten video by Eames to try to perceive this. Wolfram talked in a subdued manner about the tools he made. These include Mathematica, an extremely powerful tool to automate mathematics; and Wolfram Alpha. He showed the latest version of the latter. This was overwhelming. Wolfram Alpha builds on Mathematica. It is a computational machine that can be confused with a search engine. It has a form of logic inside, and mountains of data. It is fundamentally different from, say, Google, which searches the web. This Wolfram Alpha is an attempt at an intelligent machine. The modest talk by Mr Wolfram was rather staggering because of the examples. Trust me, I was not the one most impressed. I had some very down-to-earth colleagues sitting next to me who were possibly more astonished by the computational examples that Wolfram showed think of him entering flights overhead which produced a real-time picture of all airplanes that were just hovering over Austin, Texas. Het also did some mathematics with his machine that showed more understanding than 99% of humans could ever reach note, this was not number crunching, but manupilating formulas. Myself, later, on Wolfram Alpha, I played around with Internet penetration, average length, income and other demopgraphics for various countries. Mastering Wolfram Alpha is a task in itself. I skipped the real mathematics stuff (but I know it is very powerful). The new Wolfram Alpha Pro facilitates uploading data and finding all sorts of relationships in there. Wolfram showed some examples, like an analysis of his own millions of keystrokes dating back to 1989. This was weird, and yet, insightful. I think we should play around with this a bit (we already started). (I find it hard to reconstruct Wolframs talk. I was somewhat astonished. It made me think of Arthur C. Clarkes statement any science, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic. That is strong, but it was overwhelming.) page 11 12. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary What this might mean: machine intelligence is still progressing, probably rapidly. Is it real intelligence? I dont care. Does it work like our brain? No. Will it surpass our computational abilities? In many respects, yes. Is there any point in comparing it to our brain? I believe not. Actually, I believe that is a quite common and persistent mistake. But these and other machines will do at least interesting, probably some really effective work, in chess, in manipulating data, in search, or in for instance curation. I think that a bit of the power of Wolfram Alpha included in Zite, or in Spotify, or in Pinterest, will create really new stuff, that will effectively address some of the informational needs of some people. At least. this I took from Kurzweil and Wolfram. Also, both argued that education should be rethought in the light of progressing thinking technology. And what I took from Lanier: think about all this really hard, in an independent, fresh manner. This needs other approaches than current copyright and privacy laws. For instance. Stop looking into the rear view mirror, McLuhan would say. My lesson from the past (computer chess, for instance): thinking that machines take over from humans does not really help. This is the standard science fiction topic, as in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep aka Blade Runner. There are very smart tools, even smarter ones under way, and experimenting with them is the best way forward. Human curation and human editorial interventions will continue to play a role but some things might change. Machines may well do some things better, or cheaper. They will certainly help. Stuff like Zite, Spotify, Pinterest and next generations of such tools will play a big and bigger role in re-creating content, connecting consumers and advertisers. I saw some movies (documentaries), too. One of them (picture left) was about this man-machine theme, about how one lives with technology. It featured several of this festivals speakers (Lanier, Kurzweil), but also Ted the Unabomber Kaczynski, his victim David Gelernter (of Mirror Worlds), Kevin Kelly (of What Technology Wants) and Shelly Turkle (of Alone Together). I found the packaging of the movie the maker is worried over his childrens survival irritating, but the whole thing thought-provoking. I disagree with The Unabomber and his erstwhile mouthpiece David Skrbina (a professor), but I do think their views that technology enslaves people and should actively be restrained are page 12 13. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary worth reading and add value to a discussion on how to steer technology. I recommend reading the Unabombers manifesto, I say with some hesitation. His methods (bombing people) were very unsavoury. Mobile Let me start with a quote I heard (again): your mobile phone will be your remote control for life. Some 10 years ago, I worked at Orange, and its founder Hans Snook used to say that too. Literally. It seems quite true. It will be the dominant medium for many things. There are currently 800 thousand Android phones connected daily, worldwide, and competition in supply will only increase so prices will go down, penetration will go up. The big battle for tablets has yet to start. Brace yourselves. It will probably ignite in the second half of 2012 (with Nokia/Microsoft and Google entering the tablet market). One of the sessions I attended involved senior people from AirBNB (where I found and rented my place to stay for SXSW, a sort of garden shed outside downtown Austin, far cheaper than a hotel picture right which only made me rent a bike as well, at Lance Armstrongs shop). Other people in this session represented eBay and Groupon. (An observation about mobile. This is the term that is often used. I think that may be incorrect. My guess is that one should more or less always distinguish the former phone a relatively small screen from the tablet. I think these are different media.) Mobile is a highly personal, always-on medium. Mobile market/exchange users respond within one-third of the time of others. Mobile users show some 50% less expiring reservations. Mobile drives some 15% of all transactions. About 1 million people in the US made their first buy at eBay in 2011, through mobile. Some mobile exchange owners have separate teams working for consumers and for merchants, respectively. Because they act and think so differently. Also, several of them follow the mobile first adage first coined by Google I believe in their development. For them, this is about real and growing revenue. They consider it an almost frictionless medium, the trailblazer, with the web merely following. Mobile seems to click, as in successfully facilitating transactions. But, someone stated: anything but the most lightweight interaction just will not fly. It has to be dead simple. Look at how Amazon acts? The sessions I witnessed on old style mobile advertising (display) did not really enlighten me. I remember one session in which terms like holistic, evolution, ecosystem and cross-platform were used in rapid succession. I left soon after. page 13 14. South by Southwest 2012 -- summary Wrap-up This is it for now. If you have linearly reached this point I have probably not wasted your (and my) time. Then, I suggest that you browse the web a bit for more depth. Or lets have some discussions. Also, I recommend reading some notes by my colleague Kirsten Jassies (two of her articles are on, or look up various things by Erwin Blom (, And lots of other things. I have made some plans for SXSW 2013 which I am not yet going to distribute in detail here and now. Let me say: although this event runs the risk of collapsing under its own weight a singularity, some would say I do think it makes sense to go there again; and to divide the key parallel sessions over a handful of colleagues. Also, I think it would be worth considering to act as speaker. The panel picking process starts in August 2012. Lets think this over. On the content side: some of the stuff mentioned above I will most probably voice again over the coming weeks and months. Although some of it is already aging. Action, as in geen woorden maar daden: I have started (to push) some things. For now: I hope this texts enlightens some things. And triggers some fruitful discussions. Bye to yall, from Texas. Michiel page 14