Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Onion... "The world's most important news network"?

The Onion self-proclaims:

 “This panel will give the audience a behind the scenes look at the creative process, as well as the production and business model of the world's most important news network.” (Emphasis mine)

Child Bankrupts Make-A-Wish Foundation With Wish For Unlimited Wishes


I already loved the Onion. Now I can love the Onion in person.

Thank you SXSW Interactive!!!


I am looking forward to this. The video aspect was sort of a surprise. Before today, I only knew the Onion in the print edition Onion and Onion sponsored concerts ways.

Now I can know them in the Interactive way.

I am hoping they will discuss some of the print-to-web process and issues as well as the online video production.


And mostly I hope to laugh.



Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Survival Tips

This is my fourth year attending the Interactive festival and, like, my 10,000th year going out to hear music during SXSW. Lots of Austinites steer clear of downtown during this media overload, but I just think it is the best time of year. Better than Christmas or my birthday...way better. But, here's some advice that might help you get through any rough patches.
  • Before coming to the festival, there are a few things that you can do to maximize your enjoyment. Get some rest, take your vitamins, don't engage in any excessive workouts and try not to expose yourself to disease. OK, this is mainly advice for me... Every year during SXSW, I have run the gamut of having a mild cold, to completely losing my voice, to having my back go out...SXSW is painful under the best circumstances, so try to stay healthy.
  • Do some preliminary planning. Check the schedule, as I did in my previous post, and do some research. You'll be happy you did. But, feel free to vary from that schedule if something else comes up.
  • Wear comfortable clothes, shoes. You'll been maneuvering downtime parking, and may have to walk a few blocks to the Convention Center. You'll be walking a lot during the thing, and you'll be sitting for long periods of time, sometimes in crowded sessions. Don't feel that you have to dress to impress. People will be casual, although some of them will attempt to be hip.
  • In regard to parking, downtown street parking is free on the weekends. You'll probably have to pay for a parking garage during the week. Better yet, take a bus, check out the Cap Metro Schedule.
  • You will be overwhelmed. There will more things that you want to do than time in a day. Don't worry about it, relax...sit down... open up your schedule ...and breath. With hundreds of speakers, there is no way you can take it all in over four days. Forget about the music, 1700 bands, really, you think you are going to make a dent in that?
  • Drink caffeinated beverages with reckless abandon.
  • Talk to people. People from all over the globe come to SXSW for the Interactive Festival. They like to talk to locals, they love Austin. This is a great opportunity to network and just be friendly. Have some business cards, but don't view this as something extra high-pressure or corporate.
  • When blogging, I find it best to take notes during a session, then compile them and any media, photos and video, into a blog right after. Others prefer to live blog a session. Do what you are most comfortable. Don't feel like you have to capture every word, just the overall summary of the discussion, maybe some key quotes.
  • If you can, talk to panelists after their sessions. Ask questions during sessions. This is your chance to speak with some of the most influential people in technology and media. This will also add to your blog coverage.
  • Visit the trade show. It's fun and you might find someone or something interesting there. Get free stuff, stop at the book table. Guess what? There are even more panels on the Adobe Day Stage. Visit the ScreenBurn Arcade, if you are into video games.
  • In the evenings, after a long day of blogging and learning, enjoy the bounty of all the social activities that Austin has to offer. The student day passes don't get you into any "official parties," but there is so much going on downtown during SXSW. Check out some of the tips for free stuff at and Austinist. Waterloo Records has awesome, free instores, too.
Just have fun and enjoy Austin in the springtime. Then, go home and think about how smart you are, how you will be able to impress your friends with the latest in technology buzzwords and acronyms...and put SXSW 2009 on your calendar.

A Game Plan

While many of these posts have focused on the Keynotes for this year's interactive festival, or just the general enthusiasm for being able to participate, there really are some rock stars down in the details. I perused the Interactive Schedule, and there are gems throughout.

First rock star, Kathy Sierra. I saw her Keynote in 2007 about Creating Passionate Users, and that became my mantra in class. Shortly thereafter, Kathy received online threats and dropped out of sight for a while. It was deeply troubling and sad, brings up the worst in gender implications of technology, but it is good to see that she is ready to move on. Her concepts are simple, yet important: don't make people who use your technology feel stupid. She's on Sunday at 3:30pm on a session entitled Tools for Enchantment: 20 Ways to Woo Users. It will no doubt be a triumphant return.

Did you see this?: Michael Eisner, former Disney CEO is on Tuesday at 11:30am. It's a joint session with the Film conference.

Need another rock star? How about Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia? In 2006, he interviewed Craig from Craigslist as a Keynote, but this time, he's on a panel Textbooks of the Future: Free & Collaborative! on Sunday at 11:30am. Another on the panel is part of the One Laptop Per Child organization (it's headed by Nicholas Negroponte).

Various and sundry other rock stars will be roaming the building, including designers Jeffrey Zeldman and Douglas Bowman (look them up on the schedule - good picks), as well as blogger Heather Armstrong of She and Jason Kotke were a joint keynote in 2006. She's on two panels, Online Adulation: Use/Don't Abuse Your Fans on Monday at 3:30pm and Content Boundaries: A 12-step Program on Sunday at 3:30pm.

Heard of Marshall Herskovitz? Maybe you were a fan of that great show, My So-Called Life, or if you are a bit older Thirty Something. Herskovitz is talking about Quarterlife, his Internet TV show, on Tuesday at 5pm.

Jon Lebkowsky, Austin tech and social media guru, is on a panel on Tuesday at 11:30am, entitled Visualizing Sustainability and Daniel Pink, author of the great book on creativity A Whole New Mind is on a panel on Japanese Manga comics on Sunday at 10am. Another important blogger, Jeff Jarvis of, will be on a panel about the 10 worst online ad campaigns of 2007, Saturday at 11:30am.

And, here are just some panels that look particularly interesting to me:
  • Where are the Black Tech Bloggers? Sunday 3:30pm
  • Social Networking and Your Brand - Monday 11:30am - features someone from LinkedIn
  • Designing for Freedom - Sunday at 2pm, features people from Ning, Google, and Apple
  • Behind the Scenes at The Onion News Network - Saturday 5-6pm
  • Peas in a Pod: Advertising, Monetization, and Social Media - Tuesday at 11:30am - features people from Facebook, Ask a Ninja, and Fast Company (by the way, "monetization" is my least favorite word in the English language).
  • Browser Wars: Deja Vu All Over Again - Monday, 2pm - featuring people from Firefox, Microsoft, and Opera.
  • Go For It! Attracting Girls to Technology - Saturday, 3:30pm - featuring people from UT and Girlstart.
  • What Women Need to Succeed - Saturday, 5pm

So, I've planned out your conference. Actually, there are so many things from which to choose, that you will quickly find yourself double-booked. You might want to focus on video game panels or lean more toward technology sessions. Just have fun and soak up as much as you can. My next post will be on some survival tips for making the most of out of SXSW.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I get to see Mark Z!!

Hey there,

I'm Theresa and I am the Advertising junkie in this bunch. I got my bachelor's in advertising from UT @ Austin in 2003 and then worked as a Media Planner and then, later, a Research Executive evaluating online advertising campaigns. I am a teaching assistant at Texas State for the massive undergraduate class for Introduction to Advertising (328 students this semester) and I am currently giving 4 lectures this semester. I am stoked that next semester I get my own section to instruct.

While I was working in research, my favorite part of the day was our brainstorming sessions on new designs for research methods online. As new online technology is rapidly being created and consumers are getting more and more control over content, it is an ever increasing challenge for researchers to evaluate advertising campaigns on the Internet. At the same time, because the technology exists, the expectation level of clients is also increasing, making it even more of a challenge to design new research techniques that will provide the most accurate results. I love to see brands do well in advertising and I also like to tell them when it's not the right approach because I have numbers that say I'm right!

I am so excited to see Mark Zuckerberg speak this year - he is a phenomenal example of when a great idea, hard work, and smart people meet and create something that is so useful, fun, and has endless possibilities for people all over the world - before even reaching the age of 20. I am hoping he will talk a lot about his future plans for Facebook. He recently opened it up to all ages and to all developers as an application platform. I am curious what his next move is - especially regarding the advertising relationship with Microsoft with the price tag of $240 million...stay tuned!

Friday, February 22, 2008

SXSW, here I come

Let's start with a quick introduction-my name is Dee and I'm in my last semester of Grad school at Texas State University in San Marcos. I am also a teaching assistant there and whatever time I have left after school/work, I spend online or playing videogames. I am a HUGE Nintendo junkie and have all the old systems. I even figured out how to get my 1st gen gameboy to keep working after its batteries melted inside it years ago. Yes yes, I've got mad skillz. So imagine just how excited I am that I get to attend the SXSW interactive conference on a day where not only is video game technology a hot topic, but Jane McGonigal is a keynote. To read up a bit more on Jane, check out her Wikipedia entry and especially check out this article about the "Pinocchio effect" in gaming (the desire for a game to become reality or for reality to become a game). Also, you can always keep up with her blog here.

Essentially, Jane is a game designer who works with reality/alternate-reality based games. I'm fascinated by this especially right now as we see the emergence of a whole new way of thinking in games being released for the Wii and especially for the Nintendo DS. It's moved way beyond traditional genres and even beyond the new crop of's now become about using gaming in every aspect of your life. Want to learn a language? Check. Play an instrument? Check (Sort of). You can do it all on your console or hand held. The way we play and just the very definition of 'play' is evolving, and its a beautiful time to be alive if you're into this sort of thing. I'd love to be able to ask Jane what one escapist game (as she calls them) is her absolute favorite. I think right now that's the only question I can think of because I'm so overwhelmed and excited about all of this.

A word... or several...

Hi, I'm Anna, and I'm a social networking/convergence junkie.

It started out innocently enough, a friend of mine told me to look at her photos on Friendster (2003) and another added me to her circle of friends on Bebo. We used to spend (entirely too much) time drawing on each others' White Boards. I thought it was over after that. But no, MySpace came. And then Facebook. And then I created an entry on Spoke just for "professional" social networking. Yeah right. Our entire online world is now (what seems to be) a giant network, where everyone knows your name (and the name of your six best friends, your job, and the last time you colored your hair). I'm convinced that it's no longer six degrees of separation, but five, or maybe even four.

It is for this reason that SXSW Interactive has me so super excited. I get to talk social networking with the little brains who created it all. And one of those gurus is none other than Henry Jenkins, who is doing the opening remarks on Saturday, March 8. Mr. Jenkins is the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities. He's written several books, most recently Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture.

Which means the man knows his stuff.

As a young journalist, I'm interested to see what the experts in my field think about the world of professional and citizen reporting coming together. I take real issue with the bloggers calling themselves journalists, and at the same time I want to know what they really think about what I'm writing (and in turn, what they're reading). We have to learn to handle the give and take. And it's like that with other new mash-ups that are occurring thanks to new media: corporate and grassroots advertising, filesharing, emergency communication, and online versus print.

I'm sure all of this and more will be discussed by Mr. Jenkins. It's going to be awesome.

Look for more of my recommendations on Saturday's program in the coming weeks.

SXSW Interactive is Going to be Amazing

I am really excited to be a part of the SXSW Interactive coverage this year. This will obviously be my first time, and I look forward to reporting on a variety of events....and seeing a whole lot of culture. Aside from seeing Mark Zuckerberg's speech (which I can't wait to hear), I see that they are holding their 11th Annual SXSW Web Awards Ceremony. Are we able to go to this?? If so, it sounds pretty amazing, especially since it's hosted by Adobe.

While some of these titles seem a little ambiguous
as to what exactly will be covered (Communal Narrative: Exquisite Corpse Filmmaking???), panels like "Africa 2.0: Affecting Change Using Technology" and "Life After the i-Phone" are also piquing my interest due to my interest in how technology diffuses and their effects on definitely seems like this festival has a lot to offer.

I was really surprised to see how many of the panels are game-related. I guess gaming is really the epitome of interactivity and it's increasingly popular, so why not? Also, I saw a few related to "going green" with technology - again, not sure exactly what that could entail, but it sure seems interesting. I wish they had descriptions!

Anyway, I really hope to be able to shoot some video and post it on the blog. I think there will be an abundance of sights and sounds...and I hope I have enough tape to get it all!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Changing conceptions of privacy?

I'm curious what Mark Zuckerburg will have to say in his SXSW keynote address about privacy issues. On the heels of some recent press about the difficulty in deleting your information from Facebook, the Berkman Center's Digital Natives blog asks an interesting question: Has Facebook changed our conceptions of privacy?

It's worth pondering. Has our society's concept of privacy changed? Are Facebook and other Web 2.0 applications responsible for this? Or is this the by-product of a generation that's grown up reality television and a new kind of personal openness in the Information Age ?

I'm also intrigued by an entry on SXSW's Interactive Hub about a documentary on virtual worlds that Pure West Films will be premiering at SXSW:

Second Skin takes an intimate look at computer gamers whose lives have been transformed by the emerging genre of Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs). World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Everquest allow millions of users to simultaneously interact in virtual spaces. Second Skin introduces us to couples who have fallen in love without meeting, disabled players who have found new purpose, addicts, Chinese gold-farming sweatshop workers, wealthy online entrepreneurs and legendary guild leaders - all living in a world that doesn’t quite exist.

I'll definitely be checking that one out.

Oh, and I suppose I should introduce myself.

My name is Fazia Rizvi. I’ve been active online since 1988, (yes, you read that date right) did web site and web-related software design and development in academia for more than a decade, and now I’m a graduate student of anthropology, studying culture online. I blog on these subjects at Bits and Bytes. I’m attending SXSW, hoping to meet others doing academic research on online communities, virtual worlds, social networking or any other aspect of “cyber culture”. I will be going to every social panel I can manage to squeeze into!

Fazia Rizvi's Facebook profile

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm Gonna Blog SXSW

I have visited SXSW over the past five years, purely on a musical level. I have ventured into the interactive pavilion only to have my brain catch fire with all the technological devices. That fact remains the same. But, this year I will take a step closer to understanding this techno field of interactivity. 

I will be the one sitting leaned up against the wall outside the conference hall banging commentary into my Mac. I may not have a clue what I'm hearing or talking about but I'm looking forward to it and am sure I'll enjoy it. 

Who knows, maybe by the end of the interactive conference I'll drop that land-line telephone and get myself a cell phone. I'm just not sure the technology's going to pan out. 


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Welcome to South By Texas State

This blog, hosted by graduate students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University in San Marcos, will showcase activities at the 2008 South By Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, TX. I would like to thank the organizers of SXSW for giving us the opportunity to participate and for sponsoring this wonderful event. This year's conference is already garnering lots of buzz with keynotes by author and technologist Henry Jenkins and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as well as Post Secret founder Frank Warren and game designer Jane McGonigal. Four days of panels and activities are scheduled for what promises to be a fun and interesting time!

The students that are blogging this event are (mostly) members of my Issues in New Media course at Texas State. This is a great opportunity for them to engage with the theories and concepts we are discussing, and to interact with the people who are influencing technological and social change.

During the next few weeks, we 'll be blogging about our plans for the event. On March 8, we go live at the Convention Center in Austin, so be sure to check in frequently.