Category Archives: Events

After the culture shock of Day 2,  I adapted fairly quickly and thrived on the following two days. Much like CES though, it’s easy to get information overload. I’m definitely suffering from Festival Fatigue, but in a good way.

I chose a couple key items on Saturday and managed to get into those sessions without a problem. I started with the Tim Berners-Lee talk. This is the guy who changed everything. For all practical purposes, he “invented” the Internet. Sometimes it’s great to hear a big thinker. When he says, “I haven’t yet accomplished world peace,” I believe he has that on his to-do list. He’s the kind of guy who can affect change. His key takeaways for us? Create a platform, device and OS independent. He advocates open web standards and open platforms. More importantly, he asked us to be part of the solution. Create things that will make a difference.

Admittedly, I sat through the Elon Musk keynote, but it was streamed into the conference room for my next session. Elon Musk is impressive, with PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX under his belt at the age of 41 …. at the same time, I sort of felt like I was watching a rich, white guy answer interview questions with not that much personality. Personal opinion only, of course.

My real goal was to sit through UX Designer and author Russ Unger’s session on the similarities between Jim Henson’s works and processes to modern day UX design. It was a creative session that I thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, at different points, the entire audience was singing Fraggle Rock and Rainbow Connection, and I think everyone in the room was born in the 1970s. But the session inspired some creativity in me and that’s why I’m here.

Sunday, we took a different tact and avoided sessions altogether. We went outside the session to what was happening outside the convention center. Samsung painted an empty building and turned it into their own pseudo-bar and restaurant, showcasing their latest tech. Rackspace an Salesforce both co-opted existing bars. Mashable has a tent that even includes Grumpy Cat as a special guest.

"beam" your drink and food choices to the kitchen at Samsung

And then there was the trade show. While not as large as CES, it was definitely reminiscent. iPhone cases and apps and web sites. Hosting companies, marketing tools, and tools for effective design. It’s all there. Can I say anything really blew me away? Not really. Over the next few days, I’ll blog about a couple of the apps and companies that seemed  a little more special.  But will you hear from those companies in a year? Not sure.

Not Quite Larger Than Life Trade Show

Tomorrow is Monday and I head back to San Francisco from the wonderfully weird Austin. SXSW has been a blast and I’m pretty sure, now knowing how to navigate it, I’ll be back again next year. Coming later this week – the best and worst marketing ploys of SXSWi 2013.

Every year, thousands descend upon Austin, Texas: music geeks, film geeks, and then the rest of us – tech and marketing geeks. After hearing stories of this event for years, I decided to embark upon my first SXSW Interactive.

My first day was a bit of a culture shock. I’ve attended in many conferences, usually focused on a particular niche, and I expected the same sort of dynamic.

Lesson #1: SXSWi is a beast unto itself.

I got lucky. Being an early riser, I made it to the first sessions, on digital marketing and mobile, quite early. Those sessions are held way across town. SXSW is huge – and therefore, it is quite spread out.

Lesson #2: Get there early.

Long Lines in the Rain

I hung out in the mobile marketing sessions from 9:30 until about 11. When I walked back outside, I was shocked. There was a line down the stairs and out the door to get into these sessions!

Lesson #3: Dress for wind and rain.

It was also pouring the rain. I waited in the rain and crowded onto a shuttle back to the convention center. For the rest of the afternoon,  I failed at attending sessions. There were lines wrapped around buildings – lines that continued long after the sessions had begun.

Lesson #4: Think outside of the session box.

So with 20,000+ people attending SXSWi, it’s a basic fact that I won’t get into all the sessions I’d like to see. My new strategy is to pick two, maybe three sessions, and strategically plan around those, understanding that I’m losing a part of my day to standing in line and making friends with those around me. But, it’s not all about the sessions at SXSWi. Companies and groups have set up tents everywhere, and there are exhibits and food crawls and start-up events. It’s time to think outside of the session box and explore everything else SXSW has to offer.

What I’m noticing is that everyone fits in and everyone is friendly and excited. The attendees are very international and everyone is willing  to discuss the latest tech and the craziest marketing ploys.

Today I’m better planned out and, and an hour early, I’m sitting here typing outside a  venue. I’m ready for all weather and have backup plans for everything.

SXSWi is an experience. It reminds me of CES, in that it is overwhelming and a bit of a behemoth. A lot of information, a lot of smart people, and a lot of crazy marketers trying to launch the next big thing.

It’s been windy and rainy in the Texas capitol, but there’s still 24,000 people huddled together for SXSWi. Day One of Interactive (for me) was about mobile marketing. Tim Reis, the head of advertising for Google, kicked it off:

Mobile marketing/advertising is now about weaving into the consumer’s device. It’s about having a conversation with the consumer. The device is used for dialogue, and marketers now have to do more than just throw banner ads out there. The real opportunity is to learn how people use their devices and interact with them to build a relationship with them.

Mobile is the signature device of the 21st century. It will also interact with the device of the 20th century: the TV. The second screen experience is where your primary focus should be for mobile advertising.

What is mobility and context? New patterns are emerging as consumers integrate multiple screens into their day. Context used to mean placing an ad next to content. Now it means where the consumer is and what they’re doing, and what mood and mode they’re in. You need electronic cigarette usa to focus on how the consumer moves across multiple screens, and their ever-changing context is.

Consumers weave seamlessly through context, doing what they do at any given moment. Devices are blurry — phones are getting larger and acting like tablets, tablets are getting smaller. The device itself is no longer important. Context is what it’s all about. We used to think about intent. Intent is a powerful signal. Combine intent and context, and you see the direction we’re going in.

Five years ago marketers thought of social, local and mobile as buckets. As new tech emerges, we tend to box them into buckets we can understand. Consumers don’t see these buckets, however.

Contextual opportunities are the essence of mobile. Consumers take their digital life with them.

Friction is also key. Eliminating friction in the process empowers your connection to your consumer (stop asking someone for their city and state when you’re also asking them for their zip code). On a phone, that friction is big. Bigger than on a laptop. Think through the friction points. Erase friction.

Ikea announced today that they will partner with Marriott to create a new budget “hotel brand” based on their prefabricated furniture model. The hotels won’t include Ikea furniture, but instead will be built based on new construction methods that stress lower-cost materials. Prefabricated hotel rooms will be built in a central location and placed wherever needs arise. This is a similar model to what some retailers are doing with popup stores in areas that swarm with large groups of people for specific events. Kind of like what Apple did at SXSW during its iPad launch the electronic cigarettes — quickly create a popup store to sell items where people are gathered, and then take the store down after the event is over.

Popup hotels could be quickly assembled in areas where events bring large amounts of people together. Even here in Austin right now, it’s virtually impossible to get a hotel room, and if you do, it’s easily $400 a night. Popup hotels could offer some relief to the need for rooms, and will attract a younger, more budget-conscious traveler.

Ikea and Marriott will launch their first popup hotel in Milan this year.

It’s been quite a year. So many memorable moments across tech, politics, the economy, and so many other areas that it seems at times overwhelming to try and keep up with it all. When reflecting on the year, there’s a few things that stick out in my mind as top moments worth remembering. I’ve managed to keep the list to 10 items (barely) and yes, I decided to NOT add “Facebook goes public” or “Facebook buys Instagram”… as a matter of fact… Facebook isn’t on MY list at all! These moments mattered to me because I’m a tech junkie, a political junkie, and somewhat of a sports fan… Here goes:

Windows 8 is Released

There was a lot of talk this year about the impact Windows 8 is/will/may have on all of us as we move to more gesture-based computing. I see Win8 as a giant leap forward for mankind. While Apple twiddles with it’s tired-looking skeuomorphic software designs and its old-school looking Mac UI, Microsoft has shown us what the future of computing looks like. The Metro UI which easily adapts to multiple devices is the friendliest, easiest computing OS I’ve ever seen. Adoption may be slow, but in one big release, Microsoft has taken the lead in future-proofing our computing experiences across multiple devices.

Jim Lehrer Moderates the First Presidential Debate

By mid-year I think most of us were frustrated and tired with politics. Luckily, living in California, I wasn’t inundated with political ads. I heard from friends in Ohio that wanted the election to be over long before it really was because of the constant stream of ads they were bombarded with. As the debates approached, I was finding it hard to believe there would be anyone left in the country that hadn’t made up their mind already. However, the show wasn’t really over as Jim Lehrer proved. His performance was unexpected from such a veteran newsman. The halting lack of control over the candidates, the meandering miasma of his inane questions let a top-of-form Romney command the stage and made Barack look like he’d forgotten to do his homework. We have come to expect more from our TV news anchors, and Jim just had a terrible moment… really, a terrible 90 minutes.

David Byrne Tells Us How Music Works

I’ve been following David Byrne since he started blogging and posting online. Long before, naturally, I was a Talking Heads fan and I’ll never forget the day I bought the cassette of My Life In The Bush of Ghosts. So, sure, Byrne is a fixture for me. It’s fun to follow him online however, because he is leading quite an interesting post-Heads life. This year he released a book “How Music Works” where he takes us on a journey to the inner-workings of what music really is and what it feels like and how and why it plays such a big part in our lives. In addition to reading the book, I had the extra pleasure of seeing him in discussion about it in San Francisco with Bernie Krause. Along with a few quirky anecdotes, I got to experience Byrne giving a PowerPoint presentation filled with bird sounds. Yeah, Byrne and PowerPoint. What a great moment!

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the London Olympics

It seemed like when I was a kid, the Olympics were a much bigger deal. However, with the games in London this year, I thought I’d tune in and watch as much as I could… well that didn’t work out. What did work out was the opening and closing ceremonies. Man, do the Brits know how to put on a show. These events are becoming like the Halftime shows on the Super Bowl. Yeah, a tad over-the-top, but a visually stunning show all the same. And, oh yeah, the USA won the most medals (104)!

The Mars Rover Safely Lands

Yeah, yeah, the comparisons to Wall-E were rampant, but think about it. NASA designed and built a device that not only made it Mars, but made it in one piece with cameras attached to send us photos and videos. This still blows my mind when I think about it.

The Pope Tweets

Yeah, it’s a moment that matters. I’m not Catholic, however, the old man holed up in the fancy flowing robes in the Vatican actually sliding up to an iPad and tweeting is something to remember. I know it’s all symbolic… but just imagine how ubiquitous Twitter has become now when Da Popa feels the need to send out his own thoughts in 140 characters or less. This could have an interesting impact on those really long liturgies.

The San Francisco Giants Win the World Series

Yeah, the Giants won in 2010 as well. And that was exciting because it had been the first time since they moved to SF that they won a World Series. But it’s just as cool knowing my home team is the reigning World Champions again. And although I didn’t have tickets to the games, I had front row seating in front of my HDTV. And there’s nothing like baseball on a big-screen HDTV. And there’s nothing like the show the Giants gave us this year as well.

John McAfee Goes On the Run

I love having instant access in real-time to news. The Internet has given us an impatience with “breaking news” — we want to know what’s happening now! Late in the year, I discovered software pioneer John McAfee’s blog and the clusterf*ck drama he was embroiled in down in Belize. While he was on the run from the Belize law enforcement, he kept us all informed with constant blog posts. There’s nothing more warming to the geek heart than a guy on the run, but still able to connect and update via the Internet. Who knows how sane the man actually is, and who knows if he actually committed a crime… this was REAL reality TV unfolding before us as it happened.

Bill Clinton Tells Us Like It Is

I like Obama’s soaring, elegiac speeches. He’s kinda like a modern-day television evangelist when he gets all fired up. But, rosy and uplifting as he always is, it took Bill Clinton to paint a more realistic picture of where we’re all headed and what the impact of the election would have. His speech this year at the Democrats’ nominating convention easily captured for him the title of “Great Communicator” from Reagan. Clinton handedly laid out the pros and cons of the choice we faced between Obama and Romney and more than likely in that 49-minute speech single-handedly sealed Obama’s re-election.

OH, right… a 10th unforgettable moment. Well, I was going to add Newtown. But it’s so tragic that words aren’t coming. All I can hope for is that we as a nation have a good dialog in 2013 about the issue and try to come to some common-sense solutions to make sure our kids are as safe as they can be. Happy New Year!

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