I was in Austin last week holding a Core Conversation at South By Southwest (aka SXSW) Interactive in Austin Texas. SILS was well represented with panels featuring Ryan Shaw and Evan Carroll. Also attending was Adam Rogers who is now a Library Fellow at NCSU. Several of the News21 folks from the J-school were there as well.

There were 20,000 attendees at the conference which was well-covered by media if in a fairly superficial way. As the subject says, I saw the main themes as Gamification, Anon. vs Authenticity, Location(still), NetNeutrality(sorta), Open Gov, DataViz, MySpace 3.0 A bit about each.

Gamification is an inane term for adding the “game layer” to any use of technology be that education, eating out, taking trips, partying, purchasing anything, or just passing time on Facebook. New startup SCVNGR’s boy wonder and Mark Zuckerberg wannabe, Seth Priebatsch, gave a well received — if snarked at — keynote pushing the subject into the stratosphere and remarked on here in the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/pda/2011/mar/14/sxsw-2011-scvngr-seth-priebatsch Just say Games it’s much less painful than “funware.”

If you follow the link to the Guardian, you’ll see that Priebatsch’s talk was turned into a poster by Oglivy Notes. This may remind you of work done a conferences like PopTech (by AlphaChimp http://www.alphachimp.com/poptech-art/ ) or Royal Society for the Arts etc (RSA Animate http://www.youtube.com/user/theRSAorg). Oglivy had illustrators/sketchers/cartoonists at many of the talk and those large posters were changed into limited print runs (I have a few) and are also available online here: http://ogilvynotes.com/

One of the key tensions covered was that of Authenticity and vanishing but important Anonymity. Facebook Connect seen as the champion of authenticity (carp as you will) and on the other end 4Chan as the champion of anonymity. A keynote by 4chan’s moot aka Christopher Poole took on the Zuckerbergification of identity and is described here at ComputerWorld http://blogs.computerworld.com/17966/anonymity_zuckerberg_wrong_says_4chans_moot_sxsw?ud Note the story at the link includes an Olgivy Note poster.

Location as service, as a way to target services, as a way to game. etc was still big everywhere including journalism and advertising. Gowalla which adds games, interacts with existing location apps like Facebook Places, Twitter, Foursquare, and Tumblr spent a lot of $$$ to get their name out to attendees. They’ve also partnered with Associated Press and others to gain a presence on several college campuses. See http://gowalla.com/sxsw to see how they present themselves and their gamification badges.

Senator Al Franken gave a very well attended talk on Network Neutrality. Covered here by TechCrunch http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/14/techcrunch-interview-senator-al-franken-talks-net-neutrality-and-his-morning-workout-routine/ ending with the memorable call to action:

“Letís not sell out. And letís not let the government sell us out. Letís fight for net neutrality. Letís keep Austin weird. Letís keep the Internet weird. Letís keep the Internet free.”

Franken was followed by a series of Network Neutrality sessions including an intimate conversation with Master Switch author Tim Wu.

Open Government whether as a term on its own or affixed with a 2.0 or 3.0. Kicked off by Tim O’Reilly’s fireside chat and his support of Code4Gov and other Open Government initiatives. http://blog.opengovernment.org/ for some happenings in that area.

I’m late in this report to be mentioning Ryan Shaw’s data visualization panel which filled a very large room and gathered a lot of attention far beyond the Humanities information being visualized as the example. Journalists in particular were quick to pick up on how the geo-temporal issues in visualization could be generalized. http://www.geotemporalviz.org/ for some of the presentations (I have more links some place).

As you might guess, several trade show companies were trying to justify their staying over for the Music week as well. To that end, many had an Interactive pitch and a Music pitch in reserve. One of the more interesting to me was WebDoc which assist in threaded multimedia conversations. The Music pitch: fan created material can easily be curated and presented with official band or label material. http://www.webdoc.com/ Fans and bands and anyone else can also easily Perez Hilton-ify their photos for example (If you don’t know what I’m talking about you are living a better but too safe of a life).

A conference this large has much more going on, but I have the schedule, some Olgivy Notes and a sharp memory in case you have any questions for me. http://sxsw.com/interactive

I can also chat about how the official Journalism sessions were mostly retread of older sustaining and perplexing topics — bloggers vs journos, pay walls, citizen journalism as being mediaActive, Googlization (at a time when Facebookization is on a lot more minds), etc.

Peace out,