I have not yet had a chance to prepare my thoughts on the Zuckerberg keynote, but I couldn't resist getting this posted. Sarah Lacy makes so many inaccurate comments here. She incorrectly categorizes SXSW as a "developer conference," when it is attended by a diverse, intelligent, and insightful audience that includes designers, journalists, students, educators, executives, professionals, enthusiasts, and yes, developers. So, her first mistake was not knowing her audience. And, SXSW has had some very high profile speakers in the past including Jimmy Wales, Craig Newmark, Lawrence Lessig, and Will Wright. Henry Jenkins and Steven Johnson aren't exactly nobodies. None of these people discussed APIs, and I find the majority of SXSW panels to cover broad strategic insights.
Perhaps Lacy's heard of a Mr. Dan Rather...he was interviewed by female publisher Jane Hamsher last year. And while that interview was slightly off the mark for the SXSW audience, no one blamed the interviewer. Not to mention that SXSW hosts the top musical acts and film celebrities every year, so they have some experience with dealing with those of high profile.
Lacy is in a damage-control mode in this video. When SXSW releases the video of the actual interview, see for yourself. I became irritated with her style from the beginning. She talked about herself too much. She giggled and twirled her hair. She made silly insider comments about their previous interactions. She interrupted him on multiple occasions, just when he was getting into interesting territory. Eventually, you could see she was annoying him, with his short answers of "Sure" and a pause, before giving a more thoughtful response. I was hoping throughout that she would become self-aware at some point and dial it back a notch, but she never did. A quiet backlash was brewing, and the crowd erupted when first an audience member ("ask something interesting") and ultimately Zuckerberg ("you have to ask questions") articulated the mass frustration.
And, in terms of the gender implications of her participation in the industry, it is unprofessional and amateurish behavior like this that makes it harder for women who are trying to do good work and be taken seriously. Yes, there is room for fun and even flirtation, but this was way over the top and inappropriate for the venue.
I have to say, I admire her false sense of confidence. She blames the audience for not getting it, she blames SXSW for being too amateurish to handle a speaker of Zuckerberg's caliber, and she makes us feel sorry for her because "it's the price of being high profile, unfortunately." Geesh...it never occurs to her to admit that she did a bad interview?
Before this, I probably would have considered reading her book, that is yet unreleased. But, having this insight into the author, I doubt I'll pick it up. The irony, however, is that this ineptitude will probably garner her more attention and result in better sales.
If this debacle hinders SXSW's ability to secure high profile speakers in the future, it is Lacy's fault, not that of an audience that was merely excited to hear from someone they respected and revered so highly.