I spoke at SXSW Music again this year on my current favorite topic: Music 20/20 and how we can proactively affect the future. SXSW, however, is not just about speaking. It is about diving deeply into diverse ideas with diverse people. It is one of my annual addictions.
This is my 7th year going to SXSW — I think. They blur together. I started going to SXSW Interactive and enjoying the diverse voices, sharing areas I knew nothing about. I would go to session on digital changes in Latin America and Eastern Europe, meeting people I would never have seen otherwise. I learned about location-based mobile tools at SXSW first, learning what was being done on the ground from front-line users in arts, documentaries, and the like. I also hear dynamic voices that really resonate for me. I heard here first from Amber Case on tech anthropology. I first heard at SXSW about shifts in search engine trends. I first heard here about new heads-up displays for cars to keep the clutter down and compete with smartphone structures. I first heard at SXSW ideas about non-interface interfaces.
I also learned about breakfast tacos in the early years. Tacos? For breakfast?
My experience now is different. I don’t find many technologies I haven’t seen yet. Perhaps this is because I’m hip-deep in leading-edge technologies at other events from my current role at UCLA Center for Music Innovation. Maybe because the event is much heavier in startups competing for attention and big companies trying to get attention as well. The era of the breakout new tech service or product getting lots of buzz at SXSW seems to have made way for the McDonald’s custom burger, Mazda free rides, and esurance tech giveaways.
I do continue to get my favorite things from it: real-life implementations and dynamic voices. I enjoy learning from implementers on a local basis, running in-context, in-place real life examples of disruptive and collaborative tech — in use, with all its headaches and glory. I find that often the people drawn to the conversation IN the room are more intriguing than those on the dias, and conversations that follow provide all sorts of connected bridges to new engagement. In most rooms, the volunteer session wranglers needed to push everyone outside to finish conversations. . . not just about selling things and ideas to the speakers, but also to connect the folks who want to keep the conversation going in how these challenges apply in their own sector or local community.
It also continues to be a great mix of voices and use cases. This year, northern European languages abounded as people flew great distances to be in these conversations, with their own stories and questions. I met many executives and creative executives from Asia. On the US front, I met several mayors, many non-profits, and lots of university students, sharing ideas and interests.
As a result of my going to SXSWedu, Interactive, AND Music (two weeks in total), my highlights this year are a mixed bag.
Jane McGonigal at SXSWedu talking about how we can understand and think about the future. I do a lot of futurist work and hang out in that space. Her talk brought it into focus for folks wanting to understand how to be a Futurist in their everyday lives. That recording I have shared with a half-dozen people I’m working with and they are changing some of the questions they ask about the Signals they see.
The British Museum, with Samsung, using VR to take young students into the Bronze Age and see artifacts in context.
Lots of conflicting information and predictions in sessions on location-based mobile tools and big data about consumers.
Beacons, beacons, and more beacons. . . especially in retail.
New ways to make assets liquid, including MoveLoot, which helps you resell the used furniture in your home.
Battling apps about food — including finding food trucks, bringing us food on the spot, and in-app learning from videos of making food.
Cities wrestling with how to use big data and action research.
Local music venues dealing with the impact of streaming music and gentrification on local clubs.
I really enjoy the amazing speakers.
Brene Brown — live. I’m a big fangirl and have been consuming her books and audiobooks, so listening to her live was a real treat. I also brought along a friend from a big tech organization who needed to hear her messages. . . that week . . .
Ira Glass on the nature of hard work and creativity, and the difference between trying to edit documentary audio to elicit an emotional shift and writing it for feature film. (And how to make a balloon animal.)
Anthony Bourdain on how to urge your TV show crew to incorporate ideas from art films. . . and live a very big life.
Other take-aways were more contextual:
Joys of sitting in St. David’s waiting for a thunderstorm to clear while talking with 3 students and a record executive.
The crowded rooms that continue to see VR for the first time
Having people stop you in the hallway, bookstore, and bathroom to make comments and ask questions from your panel
The magic of good pulled pork and the challenge of keeping my breakfast taco intake low
The beauty of walking down a hallway in the Convention Center and despite there being more than 20,000 people in town for the event walking into people you know . . . from your own city . . .
Now back home for a short while, I think about the people I want to connect with further, to bring their local ideas into my local spheres, and ideas that I can play with and pitch for when when I come back again next year.
In older days, I would Google myself to see how I surfaced. That’s not just an ego thing — I found many strange things attributed to me. I research myself, or at least my professional reach.
In current days, there are tools that help me “research myself” using visualization tools.
I’m sharing two here:
InMaps from LinkedIn Labs
(revision: This tool is no longer available.)
I have a lot of LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn says 500+; it is a lot more than that.
LinkedIn Labs provides Inmaps, an intriguing tool to visually map the inter-connectivity of your Connections. It gives you a color coded interconnected visual that you need to figure the connections out for yourself.
Here is mine, updated to today:
The labels on the bottom left are provided by color code, and you can roll over each of the dots to see who each person is. You then can extrapolate for yourself the nature of the connections that are influencing the color codes. The Green on the bottom left, for example, are many of my friends from Fielding Graduate University in educational research, who are some distance away from my Blue friends on the bottom right, who mostly are digital media professional acquaintances from the past decade plus. LinkedIn has a good video from 2011 on how to use this tool on YouTube here.
(Revision: Now called Audiense)
There are many tools to look at Twitter. I have (at least) two Twitter “handles”: @maremel and @gigijohnson. I try to use @maremel for industry trend information and new Maremel programs and projects. @gigijohnson, on the other hand, is for more perspective comments. I have faded with both into retweeting articles I enjoy, and I can see that in my own casual observation.
SocialBro lets me take this a little further. I can break my Twitter followers into a wide variety of categories, including how often they Tweet and how stale their Tweets are or how many influencers follow them. Here’s a partial visualization of Twitter followers with larger followings who follow @maremel, as well as below that a tag cloud of what types of words Followers use in their bios:
I pay for the service about $7/month; price is related to the volume of followers you are analyzing. It also can track the overlap between your followers and other third-party accounts. I use the tool to analyze similar companies to various clients and partners to see who are combined influencers and who might be intriguing to start to follow or converse with in the Twittersphere.
What other visualization tools do you use to spy on your social self?
Digital Hollywood has been a semi-annual ritual for us for more than five years. Our president, Dr. Gigi Johnson, moderated a panel to a packed room on “The Facebook Factor,” with the following introductory slides on the size and scale of Facebook in the United States:
[Revised Jan. 22, 2014]
Back in August 2013, SXSW started its crowdsourced panel picking process for 2014. Each year, thousands of people pitch great ideas to be voted on in a big crowdsourced process. According to a recent email, 700 people pitched SXSWedu (education) panels for that conference. More than 3,000 pitched for SXSW Interactive. Who knows how many pitched for SXSW Music. A person can only pitch one for each.
We submitted 3 pitches around innovation: educational, social media, and interpersonal:
- SXSWedu (March 3-6, 2013): “To MOOC or Not To MOOC: Real Questions at the Core” (http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/22546).
- Pitch: MOOCs (Massively Open Online Classes) have dominated the educational trade press in both 2012 and 2013, stirring both enthusiasm and anxiety. This session will look at their impact on higher education planning, economics, and “the rest of us.” What have we learned from MOOCs? How can universities use these learnings to create our own environments for the next decade? This session will frame ways to have concrete and beneficial discussions about learnings from these broadly MOOC-labeled experiences in our blended university environments. Questions can arise beyond the economics of learning at scale, focusing on the learning science, design, and differences in qualities, as well as the real learning outcomes. With this lens, we also can examine what “works” in the 700-person lecture hall and in more intimate distributed learning platforms.
- Find a supporting Prezi at http://prezi.com/4v2xo7rreyur/to-mooc-or-not-to-mooc)
- SXSW Interactive (March 7-11, 2013): “Pixelating Reality: How Smartphones Shift Now“ (http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/24245).
- Pitch: Many of us carry smartphones wherever we go. Increasingly, we are leaning on them as active and passive gathering devices of data and images. Google Glass and other recording devices bring the question further front and center—how is our recording and perpetually digitally checking in affecting our everyday lives? How are those check-ins and recordings shifting our being “present” in our shared Now and Here? Are we increasingly taking the opportunity to be digitally Elsewhere and not Present?
- Find my supporting YouTube video at http://youtu.be/VdTW_82j3G4.
- SXSW Music (March 11-16, 2013): “Building Your Digital Brand Using Social Media” (http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/24226).
- This ties into my Udemy course and my UCLA Music course as well, plus benefits from work this summer in helping relaunch a long-time software product.
- Pitch: The digital world for musicians continues to change dramatically. We can self-market and create communities directly with listeners and also can thrive in online communities with influencers and other musicians around the world. Digital has transformed not just the way we get the word out, but also how we create and collaborate. Internet marketing has morphed into Internet community crowdsourcing of rich relationships—a very different world for musicians and musical organizations. How can you – a busy musician and/or support team – use the resources of social media to use your time, energy, and money well to create your long-term audience and profitable Super Fans?
- Find a supporting Prezi at http://prezi.com/apns-9wld0vo/building-your-digital-brand-using-social-media/.
We were thrilled that our favorite won: Pixelating Reality. You’ll be able to join that session at SXSW on March 11 at SXSW Interactive.
A reporter from a major newspaper emailed me on Friday with three questions about the Ryan Seacrest/NBC Universal two-year, multi-platform deal. He had found me from one of my non-Maremel roles: lecturer at UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management. (I’m off this quarter, and back in June with their summer program.)
He asked about (1) whether ubiquity is necessary in media these days, (2) what the deal was like from a management point-of-view with Ryan as a business, and (3) whether there is a risk of backlash.
I thought about these issues, and came back with five ways to view the deal:
- Diversification of his brand portfolio with this deal, to expand into prime time, sports, elections, and a broader morning show portfolio.
- Comcast/NBCUniversal’s need to bring younger audiences to NBC News, and elections, and possibly women to Sports.
- Social Media, essentially in “buying” a Klout score
- Ubiquity – Wow, he’s been ubiquitous for years
- Strategic role vs. being the product
- Diversification: I’d contest he already is ubiquitous, though in entertainment modes across the US and some global distribution. What this deal gives him is diversification; it helps him move from an entertainment brand to a news, politics, sports, and prime time brand. Bluntly, it could reduce his “fluff factor.”
- Comcast audience challenge: The TV audiences are getting older, or younger viewers are finding other modes of engagement instead of watching network TV as network TV. Ryan is a broadly appealing brand with a younger audience base than election coverage usually attracts. Whether the Today Show, the news, or even Prime Time, Ryan brings a potentially younger demographic than currently is showing up to those genres. For US elections, this age gap in attention on Network TV is of increasingly important; as Morley Winograd says in his work on Millenials, “only 5% of Super Tuesday’s votes were cast by people under 30,” while they make up a much larger percentage of the US population. (http://communicationleadership.usc.edu/blog/post_6.html)
- Social Media: He also brings a nice, high Klout score (85), a strong Twitter following (6.6 million), robust Facebook following (487,000 subscribers), and other direct connections with fans. That asset set dramatically could help the interconnections with these old and new media delivery arenas for NBC Universal.
- Ubiquity: Being in LA, Ryan has been everywhere for years. I think I first heard him on KYSR back in the 1990s. As he added in his American Idol, E!, and American Top 40 expansions, it felt to many of my friends here that Ryan was everywhere all the time…quite a while ago.
My funny story there: My two teenage daughters joined me at a much younger age to see an American Idol live taping, I think in Season 2. Ryan came into the audience and spoke with them a while, which both my (now) 14-year-old and I remember vividly. She remembers that moment now, mentioning that it was so cool as he was a famous person (back then). I asked her about him now. “Well, he’s a lot less famous now.” I think that the “ubiquity” might be apparent now to those Americans who spend time in traditional television; it won’t affect or even be noticed by my 14-year-old unless those outlets come into her social media sphere to do more than just hire Ryan.
- Strategic Role vs. Being the Product: He already was amazingly busy as an individual. I’m not sure how all of this will work for him. As a leader of a production holding company, his time will be swamped out by all of this face-time. I don’t know Adam Sher and Jeff Refold from his company management team, or his support network including his CAA team – I’m hoping that they will be able to leverage these new demands on his time, as well as the January co-investment in AXS TV and new incoming funds from Clear Channel and others. Hopefully they can mix this all with his time and health, creating strategic opportunities for him to make it all happen.
Some comparisons have been made with Dick Clark. Dick Clark Productions leveraged his time, making his ideas come to life. Dick did a lot of things himself, but seemed to structure his business world to help him amplify his influence beyond his appearance. Ryan has made some efforts in that regard, but the deals in January would be the core to help him create robust, permanent economic legacies for him other than his charm and appearance. Perhaps this NBC Universal deal can help him bridge in this direction as well. I hope that it doesn’t put too much complex pressure on his time that may pull pieces out of a complex puzzle.
Ryan Seacrest ubiquitous? Nah. 😉