SXSW Interactive Sunday Recap

112426749_bf0b640c20_m.jpgI managed to spend most of the afternoon burrowed into the frosty innards of the Austin Convention Center yesterday. I was running late for the Conversation with Henry Rollins, but managed to cash in some good parking karma and get a metered spot on San Jacinto across the street from the Real World Austin house which is in the process of becoming a mexican restaurant.

I got a seat towards the back just minutes before Rollins and Austin’s own Andy Langer settled themselves into their comfy chairs to talk film, politics and music. The conversation ranged fairly equally over those three topics. Rollins gets greyer and greyer each time I see him. It’ll soon be impossible to see that once prominent spot on the back of his head where a kick from a boot back in the day caused him premature grey. Rollins was there to plug his new IFC show, The Henry Rollins Show which starts in April. He mentioned interviews with Don Cheadle, Penelope Cruz among others, saying that his subjects seemed excited to discuss aspects of their career that aren’t typically covered by most interview talk shows. He focused on Rwanda with Cheadle and Cruz’s foreign films.

112426309_ca126fc56d_m.jpgRollins talked about some of the humanitarian/charity stuff he’s been involved in over the past few years, focusing mainly on the USO tours and his support for the West Memphis Three. Langer asked him whether with all of this focus on film and politics meant that he wasn’t interested in music anymore. Rollins quipped that he was still very much interested in music, it just isn’t interested in him. He pointed to younger audiences seeing him as too old to take seriously and his longtime audience being too old to get out and see him with any consistency. I thought it was interesting that he focused on the touring aspect of his music career as opposed to album sales. He made many references throughout the talk about kicking Donald Rumsfeld in the nuts. Langer later asked Rollins about how he thinks he’s typically seen by the public, prompting Rollins to come up with “jackass of all tirades”. I got the feeling he’s used that phrase to describe himself before. A friend sent me a text message while I was in the next panel letting me know that Rollins had just walked into Maudie’s on South Lamar to get something to eat. Too bad for Rollins. That isn’t the first place I’d take someone from out-of-town for Mexicam/Tex-Mex.

I followed up the Rollins conversation with the Jason Kottke – Heather Armstrong Keynote. I have to start by saying that I’ve never read or, so I don’t really have the emotional, financial or time investment that many in the packed room may have. I found the conversation somewhat boring and annoying. Jason strikes me as not really knowing what he wants to do and seems to be somewhat of a waffler. Heather seemed to have decided on what she’s doing and how to make a living at it. They both addressed some of the jealousy that surrounds being able to support yourself blogging. It’s interesting to note that Jason met his soon-to-be wife at SXSW several years ago, so there’s hope for all you single geeks out there. I left before the Q&A session began.

112426625_d5fd104ca9_m.jpgNext up was Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing. A recent interview with Adam. His talk focused on main points from his book and he spent a fair amount of time on an article that he wrote in late 2004 outlining ethical guidelines of ubiquitous computing.

Adam’s well-spoken and a well-known UI guru, but I honestly thought that I could’ve gotten most of what he discussed from the book and his articles. The “RFID as mark of the beast” idea only partially reared its ugly head. Greenfield’s main point was that “ubicomp” is coming and we’d better start having discussions about it now. He maintains that he wrote his book to foster that discussion. Bruce Sterling’s eTech talk last week ties in with Greenfield’s work. It’ll be interesting to see how much of that same thread shows up tomorrow in his state of the world speech.

112427060_952b6c69a1_m.jpgFinally, I sat in on Revenge of the Blogs: Election 2008. This was the least well attended panel that I myself attended (I think I just confused myself). I’m not sure if the lack of interest was because there’re no elections of interest at the moment or if people just aren’t interested in politics when there’s sexier geek stuff afoot. The panel included Markos of DailyKos, Michael Krempasky of and Ruby Sinreich of In the end, there wasn’t much substance to the panel as a whole. I did get a little more insight into the conservative fundraising mind. Krempasky came off as a typically smug conservative with Sinreich and Kos doing a bit of eye rolling or “here he goes” looks to the audience. I was kind of annoyed that the whole panel was framed by the Red vs. Blue, Liberal vs. Conservative viewpoint with Kos and Krempasky playing those parts and Sinreich trying to distance herself somewhat from the other two, both because of politics and because her site is more locally focused. I liked Sinreich a lot and would’ve liked to have heard more from her. She was at the EFF/Creative Commons party last night, but I didn’t have a chance to talk with her.

Update: Kos has a few posts related to the SXSW panel and so does Ruby and Krempasky.

3 Comments so far

  1. wae (unregistered) on March 14th, 2006 @ 10:53 am

    My favorite Rollins comments (paraphrased and half-remembered … feel free to correct) came in summation of his music career.

    On whether he has lost his passion for music relative to his writing, TV, and radio activities: “I’m still passionate about music. Music just isn’t passionate about me.”

    On his feelings about his music not being embraced in a youth-oriented industry: “That sucks but that’s the truth. The truth often sucks. And that sucks.”

  2. AG (unregistered) on March 14th, 2006 @ 9:16 pm

    “…but I honestly thought that I could’ve gotten most of what he discussed from the book and his articles.”

    Maybe so, Tim. Might I respectfully suggest, though, that almost none of the people in that room had any familiarity at all with the interview or other articles, and would have little incentive to check either them or the book itself out without the talk?

    It’s always a delicate balance between cheating your audience by giving a talk that overlaps 100% with the book, and cheating your audience by giving a talk that’s orthogonal to the subject they thought they were coming to hear about. Given that my assumption was that relatively few of those folks had heard of me, or had any idea what my line on everyware was, I thought it safe to err on the side of repetition.

    Anyway, thanks for coming. I’m sorry you didn’t feel it was a better use of your time.

  3. ttrentham (unregistered) on March 15th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    Well, isn’t there a middle ground between covering much of the written material and giving something orthogonal to the advertised subject of the talk? If you’re looking at it as an opportunity to broach the subject and raise awareness of the book, then I agree, you achieved your goal.

    Here’s that the SF Chronicle had to say about the talk. Their headline and take on it seemed much more alarmist than what I took away.

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