I've been in Austin over two and a half years now and this is the first time I bought a wristband for SXSW. Honestly, I don't know what I was thinking by not taking advantage of this in years past - it's fantasticly fun. Over 2,000 bands and people from all over the world descend upon Austin for 5 days of non-stop live music across the city.
Here are some highlights:
Top 6 bands for me:
1) White Lies
2) Delta Spirit (pic below)
3) Blind Pilot
4) The Decemberists
5) The Avett Brothers
6) The Thermals
So, those were my favorite bands - ones that I've bought music from and can't wait to listen to more. These next six were my top favorite shows, ones that were insanely fun and sounded great, even though a few were pretty far from my typical music taste.
Top 6 Performances:
1) King Khan & The Shrines
3) The Decemberists
4) White Lies
5) We Were Promised Jetpacks
6) Say Hi (pic below)
One of the holdover themes from music to interactive was the whole wisdom of crowds thing. My neighbor and I were talking about how you can spend hours upon hours researching or you can just listen for buzz, look for lines and pay attention to the crowd.
Curious to hear other people's favorites - please share!
As a SXi first-timer, I wasn't really sure what to expect. I knew I'd meet great authors (thank you Andy Hunter for hooking me up w/dual day stage introduction gig) and I thought I'd like some talks. Now, two days later, I'm still feeling the after-glow of five days of awesomeness. This picture from the bottom floor of the convention center sums up my sx experience:
Overall, it was a fantastic revival of creative energy for me. Wonder, play, possibility. Not all of the sessions were great (in fact, many were pretty awful), but as I was telling a friend, the whole was more than the sum of its parts here.
The collective energy of the people, the panels, the parties - it sustained me when 4 hours of sleep did not. Even the crap talks had the benefit of the shadow conference, which David Bryant from Strawberry Frog explains:
"The Interactive conference is effectively two conferences - the real life one where people talk. And the meta-conference where people are... talking about the people talking. This takes place in tweets, blogs, posts, emails, IM and just about everything else. My friend Alan Wolk pointed out that this second conference hosted in the twittersphere is actually the more interesting."
I plan to write about Behance, the brain panel, Bruce Sterling and Rick Webb among others. But for now (as day 2 of music closes in), I just want to bottle the energy from SXi and save it for quick hits later. It was a great time - thanks to all of you who made it that way.
I love this presentation. In typical random web fashion, I came across it tonight on Andy Hunter's blog who pulled it from Lee Maicon's blog who got it from Tom from MotiveQuest who seems to have stumbled upon it on slideshare as posted by Marta Kagan.
The other amazing thing - this deck is 8 months old. An eon in online-time, this means that between when this was posted and now, 32 million people have joined facebook in the U.S. alone (160 worldwide). Twitter has really taken off since then and there are buckets of new platforms now that didn't even exist 8 months ago. Just keeping up with this stuff is completely exhausting, but it's also kind of insane in a good way. Endless possibilities.
Last week's New Yorker had a great piece on Rahm Emanuel who I'm endlessly fascinated with. Admit it - he's so much more interesting than Obama. The larger than life personality, the laser-like focus, the unapologetic profanity - the id is always more fun to watch than the super-ego.
I think I knew this at one point, but I was intrigued to read that Rahm's brother - Ari Emanuel - was the basis for Ari Gold's character on Entourage. Same personality traits listed above, different industry.
Which made me wonder - who is advertising's big personality these days? In the earlier part of the decade, it had to be Donny Deutsch of CNBC fame. Now I'd probably nominate Alex Bogusky; that guy is everywhere these days. Agency of the year stuff aside, he's written a diet book, he's heading up a major bike sharing movement and he just caused a mild social media uproar. He'll be speaking at SXSW interactive later this week, surely to a packed crowd.
No doubt there are lots of big personalities in politics, entertainment, advertising, etc. What makes the above three so appealing (as opposed to Rush, Harvey and Donny) is a shared sense of almost childlike exuberance. Their energy feels fresh, contagious even. I wonder who else belongs in this category right now... Any thoughts?
Much like the poorly-named bumvertising and the nicely parodied moonvertising after that, headvertising (or cranial billboards as this recent article puts it) is unlikely to give other forms of advertising a run for their money.
I think most of us can agree that this is a good thing. While our choice of clothing, shoes, etc. all say a little something about us, the idea of using ourselves as paid ad space feels wrong. Instead of the Tide NASCAR, picture the Tide Human. No good. Yet I couldn't help but love this guy:
My creative director James passed him on the streets a few months ago and snapped the picture. He's walking down the sidewalk here in Austin... wearing a Kudos box over his head. He's smartly cut out eye-holes, though they seem somewhat ill-placed. I think I like this because there is an extremely low chance that Kudos paid him to do this. Not only does the box look worn down, but I'm pretty sure Kudos isn't even around anymore. The website has a product locator feature that couldn't find any store that carried Kudos within a 100 mile radius of my house. This means that this guy just felt like wearing a Kudos box on his head that day. Strangely awesome.
Last week I read a great piece written by Richard Florida for The Atlantic about how the recession will re-shape America's cities (hint: NYC, Boston and Austin look good, more bad news for the Sun Belt and the Rust Belt).
After you're done scanning for your city's fate there, check out this cool graphing tool from the NYTimes. It allows you to look up the housing price trends in your city vs. the national average. You can see that Boston is close to the national average and only suffering modest declines whereas Phoenix spiked way up and then way down. Still wondering when rock bottom hits.