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?
We enjoyed our adventures at CES 2014. Dr. Johnson came hold with a nasty convention cold, and now that she is almost human again, we thought we would share the human-adjacent technologies about robots, eye tracking, 3D printing, telepresence, quad copters, cars, and other things that go bump in the night from future and present technology trends.
See anything you’d like?
[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.
We’ve just come back from a series of unique conferences, each with a very different view of the world. Given our overly connected digital world, the proliferation and expansion of live events is intriguing. These were just the four we picked of the dozen or so going on during this same three week period of time. Some are pricey — over $1,500 a seat before paying for room, board, and travel — and others are less than $100 for attendees.
Sponsors are abundant — is this the real sign that we are coming firmly out of the recession?
Or is it that in this crowded business-to-business marketing world that face-time for new brands is so essential? I’m working with quite a few new educational technology brands right now . . . who each are having to rationalize how and where they invest their time and money to meet the right adventurous partners for trials. A growing portion of my advisory time through Maremel is working with innovative leaders about this exact question set.
We had bypassed this event last year and was amazed by the 1,500 attendees at more than $1,500 a pop for three days. This was a well-heeled crowd of investors and new educational technology ventures, as well as many leading voices from traditional firms, NGOs, and government forces. The dance was intriguing, with 170+ short presentation pitches. The more intriguing discussions were happening in the hallways and central seating areas. Deals and gossip seemed evenly matched. We overheard a lot of conversations about competitors about to run out of funds.
Viewpoints: Adaptive learning is the next new great thing. Give our new company money and we will save the educational world (mostly US). Selective viewpoint: We’re already an adventurous organization, doing cool things, and we are at this event quietly to see what is coming up the pike that doesn’t have revenue yet.
Embracing the Small Screen: How Independents Are Defining Their Future in Television and Digital Media
We enjoyed this conference, run by what used to be the American Film Marketing Association, and was renamed IFTA (International Film & Television Association) many years ago.
The day was broken into the Buyers and the Sellers, and I could see why this was also a sell-out event. The audience was filled with aspiringl producers, but the panels were filled with those really doing business in digital video production and distribution in a big way.
Viewpoints: The money isn’t there yet, but exciting things are afoot. Big names were wondering how the money was being made. Digital distributors were sharing some cases, but keeping some of the data close to the vest.
American Educational Research Association
How do you fit 14,000 educational researchers in a group of hotels in 5 days in San Francisco with thousands of presentations, and often more than 75 simultanous events? With a phone-book sized guide with 7+ digit codes and a almost-connected App.
This group has seven different technology-oriented special interest groups, each with overlapping content and interests. We spent time with both the TICL (Technology, Instruction, Cognition, and Learning) and TACTL (Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching and Learning) groups, who call themselves “Tickle” and “Tactile” respectively. There was intriguing research in cognitive load theory in teaching (making the content format decisions make the learning easier, not harder) and evidence-based educational design.
The conversations continued that started at GSV/ASU: Why does the research being done on learning science NOT flow into learning design, both in terms of products and content?
We ask the reverse: why should it flow? What would be the connective tissue to tie it together?
Viewpoints: Our research is wonderful — why doesn’t the world want it? Peer reviewed journal research is of value, not necessarily research happening by non-universities (undercurrent of conversations).
The Community Movement Partnership — http://www.business4better.org/
What a different perspective! In Anaheim, CA, we caught the second day of this UBM-hosted conference that brought together community partners in social support from around mostly Orange County, each with little booths waiting for people to come by. This was the most old-fashioned of the conferences, and the thinnest attended, but the one at which we had the most sincere conversations.
Viewpoints: We are helping our communities. How can we bring new awareness and resources in?
All of these were valuable conversations — all local and all connecting ideas in the light of our digital world. How do we connect the right resources, ideas, and different frames of mind?
Live and local becomes even more important in this overly connected age.