A brief summary of a fantastic week at SXSWi

I just finished writing this summary for work, and it took me HOURS, so I thought I’d share it here as well. Crossposted from http://www.hastac.org/blogs/ruby-sinreich/sxsw-interactive-30000-feet

I just returned/recovered from attending my second South by Southwest Interactive, and I must say SXSW has really solidified its place in my heart as one of the very best tech conferences one can attend these days.  The content is broader and and more innovative than I get at my typical nonprofit tech gatherings, but still has a place for discussing the social uses and implications of always-evolving online communication.  Most of the panels and speaker were top-notch, bringing not only informed ideas, but clever and engaging presentations.  Each session came with it’s own official Twitter hashtag, which functioned as both a backchannel and a Q&A tool (for the more wired facilitators).

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Visual problem-solving: 5 diagrams

As you probably figured out if you follow me on Twitter, I had the pleasure of attending South by Southwest Interactive this year. (Only my second time, and the first since 2006.) I went to over 15 different panels and talks, and most were excellent. I did a lot of live-tweeting of the good ideas from them as @HASTAC (a shared work alter ego).

Only one session inspired me to actually take notes and it was the shortest one I attended. Visual Problem Solving: 5 Diagrams in 15 Minutes was led by Dean Myers who quickly demonstrated the use of 5 techniques for visualizing thought processes. I consider myself a mostly-visual thinker, but I’m also pretty linear/logical in my thought (and I can’t draw at all) so I’m a big fan of diagrams. I was familiar with most of these examples, but I really appreciated how they were presented as a toolbox, with the different advantages and features of each.

So with no further delay: here are my notes from this session. Sorry I haven’t had time to illustrate it visually as I should, so I am scanning in Dean’s hand out… Continue reading “Visual problem-solving: 5 diagrams”

I am a great panelist

Why do I mention it? Well neither of my brilliant proposals for sessions at South by Southwest Interactive 2007 were accepted, but I really, really want to go. It’s a lot easier to ask my organization to foot the travel bill if I can get a free registration and a little good publicity for our many good ideas.

Also, I want to bring my husband who is even less likely to get his employer to pay for it. If I am already covered, I can better help pay for his registration. We already have a free place to stay with my grandmother who lives in Austin.

So if you are putting together a panel for next year, please consider what a fun and informative speaker I can be. People said I was the highlight of my SXSW panel last year in spite of being the least famous person on it.

Here are the two panels I proposed, but I can talk – at length – about just about anything. (Just ask my husband. 😉 )

  • If All Politics is Local, Why Are you Still Reading DailyKOS?
    In the small ponds of city and county politics, bloggers can be very big fish. Just like the much-celebrated national bloggers that aim to set the tone in Washington, local blogs are increasingly influential. Like their national counterparts, local blogs also have the eyes of the media, elected officials, and even voters. Local political blogging can arguably be more powerful than national blogs – join us to discuss the potential and the reality.
  • Advocacy 2.0: Movement-building in the Age of Connectivity
    The technology shifting our culture is also changing the context for political and issue organizing. Nonprofits and community groups have been getting on the cluetrain. New organizing strategies leverage today’s tools to empower and connect activists and volunteers to each other and action. Call it user-oriented, bottom-up, network-centric, or web 2.0. Campaigns must encourage their supporters to express their voices or they’ll take their time, opinions and dollars elsewhere.

Other things I would kick ass talking about include:

  • Second Life, especially advocacy and social change work therein
  • Nonprofits, how they do and don’t use technology, what they need, and what they want
  • Social networks, mapping and analysis, tools, use in community organizing
  • Blogging and community, both virtual and not, blogger outreach
  • Local advocacy, municipal and county politics, city planning, growth management, local candidates and campaigns

Help pick SXSWi 2007 panels

South by Southwest is inviting folks to help them select the panels for their 2007 Interactive conference. I put in two proposals: “If All Politics is Local, Why Are you Still Reading DailyKOS?” and “Advocacy 2.0: Movement-building in the Age of Connectivity” (featuring Marty Kearns). Both are listed in the politics/social activism category. There are 173 proposals so I recommend using categories to navigate, even though they are kind of silly.

Offical announcement from the wonderful and talented Hugh Forrest after the jump…

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Mark Warner wants blogger love

One of the several SXSW “parties” that I attended on Sunday was hosted by folks working for former Virginia Governor Mark Warner. He’s been making presidential noises, and he has a John-Edwards-like ability to talk about his Christian family values, etc, etc. Personally, I don’t have any reason to favor him over Edwards in ’08, but that’s a long way away.

Anyway, in the above picture from that event I am hanging out with Joi Ito, Halley Suit, and Doc Searls. Doc is an old old friend from when we lived in a little hippy community outside of Chapel Hill in the 70’s. In those days, he was called “Doctor Dave” and was known for his clever quips, some of which mimeographed and posted on everyone’s fridges.

Revenge of the panelists

Today’s SXSW panel “Revenge of the Blogs” – organized by Henry Copeland and featuring me, Markos Moulitsas, and Mike Krempasky – turned out very well. We struck a good balance between talking about the influence of local and national blogs, and some people even began to draw a connection between the two. Judging by the people who came up to talk with me afterward, I think I must have said some interesting and useful things.

I used the issue of red light cameras in Chapel Hill (thanks, Will) to illustrate how Orange Politics has had concrete impact. I also referenced an insightful comment from an earlier conversation with the Independent‘s Kirk Ross to talk about what happens when journalists start blogging. It’s a new challenge for them to suddenly put themselves in the story which they’ve been trained and ingrained not to do as reporters.

One audience member asked Markos what he was doing to help his readers who might live near each other to find each other. He wasn’t very interested in this very good idea, which is disappointing especially considering the great number of free tools which can do exactly this. I think the panel might have been better attended if Markos’ presence had been advertised better (see below) but maybe that’s for the best.

There were lots of good ideas discussed during and after the session and I just have to thank Henry Copeland again for inviting me. I hope it’s not my last trip to SXSW. And now, on to the parties….

Kos is coming

I have seen various descriptions of the panel I will be on this afternoon at South by Southwest. They all list me and Mike Krempasky (RedState .org), as well as our facilitator Henry Copeland from BlogAds.com. But only a few of them listed Markos Moulitsas of dailyKOS.com which has been the movement central of countless thousands of online liberal activists since 2004.

It’s official, Markos blogged that he’ll be there, and he even generously dropped in a link to OrangePolitics.org. Thanks dude! See you soon…