Sunday, March 09, 2008

sxsw Interactive Web Conference Coverage

sxsw: Austin opens its doors

I left Atlanta and the wind was blustery and blowing snow sideways, but the descent into Austin was sunny and smooth. I was suprised to find that my seatmate was an associate editor, online for Scientific American, coming in from NYC for the interactive web meeting. Turns out he went to Emory and his undergrad degree was neurosciences.

I am getting started and about to listen to the sxsw Interactive Web conference keynote speakers and the crowd grows with seekers. The energy here is always palpable because the 500, maybe 800, souls in this room are explorers and innovators! Remember that sxsw uses conversations and QA to drive its sessions - democracy and shared learning! Let’s go!

sxsw: Keynote Henry Jenkins and Steven Johnson

Session bottom line words: new generation experiences, measuring knowledge, the language of "we", neighborhoods of people and ideas

Let’s start with the speaker bios since the keynotes each day at 2 pm are well-known in interactive. Also, the format of this session is a conversation between the two.

Co-Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, Henry Jenkins authored books including "Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide" and "Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture."

Steven Johnson is the author of "Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software," “Everything Bad Is Good for You”, "Interface Culture," “Mind Wide Open," and numerous other popular books about emerging technology. He recently started the web company, which he describes as "an attempt to collectively build the geographic Web, neighborhood by neighborhood." 

Session bottom line words: new generation experiences, measuring knowledge, the language of "we", neighborhoods of people and ideas

Steve asks Henry about backlash against the wave of young persons use of interactive web, and the affect of digital media on the generation. Young people are early adopters of new media and fascinated with the use of new media and how are older generations seeing this wave. IQ and school based worries by parents, but learning is coming in many new ways. They discuss standardized testing to measure the kinds of learning that is taking place with new media.

Steve asks Henry if he sees any new technology he thinks is stupid. He says it may look interesting but then crossing the comfort zone to learn this new media to better understand.

What about popular focus on TV shows. Looking at Lost, there is immense attention via multimedia and engaging with TV. Fan creation of social interaction represents creativity but unfortunately there is so little opportunity in the workplace – so little change to use their intellectual capacity to stretch them in new directions. How can we create a better society with play and apply it to serious undertakings. How can we live in a knowledge culture and social apparatus to trust each other, how can we transform the culture of America.

Harry Potter is an example of generating interest in reading and writing in young people. Wizard Rock is music based on Harry Potter and circulates outside the commercial sphere. Now young people are becoming political – global network. Harry Potter Alliance is focused on the world’s issues and young people are inspired. Illustrative of play and what we will do with this world – kids now play with information. They are adept at navigating and will change the world.

18-24-year-olds – what about them? Entrepreneurial, political, and more engaged. People are articulating their world and turn their attention to Obama. Yes We Can – what does this mean? What about the language of “we” – he uses this like young people on line. Social networks and collective intelligence has been captured by Obama with Yes We Can. So modeling society is changing – borrowing and pooling ideas and using others’ comments, it is about time to collect information from diverse communities to transform society – it is a Movement. Obama brings a democratic collective. The campaign and the political process is changing – we have been learning to get skills to deploy to reach people. Our institutions cannot keep up with this – they scratch their heads and cannot figure out what is going on.

What about civic engagement? Breakdown and decline of old society could be about leadership learned through gaming and other new media. The Knight is trying to interpret this and figure out how we feel as a community – not the Internet – but now our friendship networks are carried on our backs like a turtle everywhere we go and those we have a common interest with are always with us. What does this mean to our towns and information systems?

Steve says is about the digital revolution, a city is a device whereby many neighborhood communities where people care. This new service helps see this world with geotagging – everything in your zip code. Online Radar – working with Yahoo to launch – lets you see what conversations are taking place by zooming into a neighborhood, your actual hood or one you want to have a conversation in around the world. The geographic web is challenging – the pothole is interesting on your street but not anywhere else. The geographic web can build filters.

Henry says kids are using LiveJournal while schools are closing down programs – can young people be freed up to cover important things without censorship. They are trying to express their ideas.

Sxsw: 3.8.08 Managing the Media Blur

Session bottom line words: human conciousness, knowledge acquisition, finding

Douglas Merrill joined Google late in 2003 as Senior Director of Information Systems. In this capacity he led multiple strategic efforts including Google's 2004 IPO and its related regulatory activities. He holds direct line accountability for all internal engineering and support worldwide. Previously, Douglas was senior vice president at Charles Schwab and was responsible for such functions as information security, common infrastructure, and human resources strategy and operations. Prior to his tenure there, Douglas worked at Price Waterhouse as a senior manager, ultimately becoming a leader in security implementation practices. Before that, he was an information scientist at the RAND Corporation, where he studied topics such as computer simulation in education, team dynamics and organizational effectiveness. Douglas holds a BA from the University of Tulsa in Social and Political Organization, and an MA and Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University.

Quentin Hardy is the Silicon Valley Bureau Chief of Forbes Magazine. He joined the magazine in March 1999, and has written cover stories on Yahoo, Google, Hewlett Packard, telecommunications, and philanthropy, among others. He is a regular on "Forbes on Fox," a weekly show on the Fox Cable News Network. Prior to joining Forbes, Mr. Hardy spent eight years at The Wall Street Journal, covering the Japanese financial meltdown in Tokyo and the late-nineties boom in the Silicon Valley. Mr. Hardy also teaches at the Information School of the University of California, Berkeley, and has lectured at Stanford University's schools of Journalism and Computer Science.

Hardy starts with human consciousness and he says it is changing. He goes through a series of examples of how ideas and fact were changing. He covered some of what Journalism 101 might cover, so I am in a hurry for him to get to the profound ideas of the 21st century. Okay language and power – he is moving along with ideas about social change – but too much background with conversation about photography’s influence. Radio then gave voice to issues. Then TV covered relationships like families – but with TV in many rooms, even the family did not have to group for a show and interaction. I am getting very impatient….

Okay, now to connectivity with the Internet. Web 1.0 mimics publications and old media. Web 2.0 does its own thing. Now neighborhoods of trust, important part of who we are and we are trying to figure out where we are in the new blur.

Merrill starts off with people – he trained as a psychologist. Action on information is what is important – but information overload in nothing new. We have had it since the Gutenburg press started. We talk about this a lot now – about attention and whether we are aware of our surroundings. Working memory and coding and then recall. What is recall? We can recognize but not recall that easily. You elaborate what you might have been doing to figure out your memories.

By encoding your goals you are more likely to find it later – an intention to try to do something… elaboration is simpler and encoding is simpler. Get people to mark what they are doing.

Tools that we have built are now working. Knowledge acquisition should be active not passive. Raised journalists and consumers to be passive – an expert talks but can you really use that information? Telling a story and democratization of information. We should build tools across languages and to find it by what you are doing. This does not sync with the media market right now where someone talks and you listen.

The conversation that is somewhat off track for the media blur conversation …

A question comes about “authority” and emergent authority from groups is the answer. So does this mean that these speakers as well as the keynotes early are all saying the masses will speak and no authority will eventually rule what we know. Maybe this is a concept we find with the Wikipedia where anyone can provide facts and many can adjust this information. This is based on a communal effort. questioner asks about connections around interests – one way to cut back on the blur he says – can have a tagging element. Rather than making clutter, the autotagging feature will allow you to come in with your interests and it bubbles up your interests. Twine vs Google is more specific, speaker says.