Gross generalizations and over-simplifications from South by Southwest

Michael Silberman's picture



Gross generalizations and over-simplifications from South by Southwest

South by Southwest Interactive has evolved into a truly massive event -- with up to twelve simultaneous sessions at a time and scores of official and unofficial parties each night. As most vets will advise, your best bet is simply to ride the wave and explore new ideas since you can't catch it all or meet everyone if you tried.

So, in no particular order, my gross generalizations from this year while it's still fresh:

  • The professionalization of online community building and online community management has arrived. The excitement that I saw in previous years around social tools like twitter, photo sharing sites, blog communities, mobile apps, etc are still present, but the conversation has evolved in include a strong focus on how to facilitate, design for, and manage online conversations and communities.
  • And now it's normal to hear about an "Online Community Manager" position
  • Add pictures of adorable puppies to your presentation decks so that you can win the hearts and minds of your audience.
  • Listen to your users and be responsive to their feedback. But not too much, or else you risk losing sight of your vision or next breakthrough.
  • OMG twitter twitter twitter
  • "Social media for social good" may be the new "cause marketing" for corporations who want to appear to be doing some good. And many are doing actual good. But as the concept grows in popularity, we can be sure to find some less than virtuous social media campaigns.
  • Live chatrooms (or IRC backchannels) during panels and presentations have been replaced by twitter hashtags; from small panels to large keynotes, moderators declared tags that they commit to monitoring via twitter search or via their twitter client, and session participants use the tag to track live comments for the speakers or simply to track notes and ideas.
  • was an under-utilized tool for collective note-taking during sessions
  • If you're a hip and edgy panelist, you'll need to drop the f-bomb a lot to prove it.
  • At long last there are some useful tools out there for organizing and managing conference schedules and participant communications. Check out (a) and, works great on iphone too, and (b) The Social Collective,, which powered the "my.sxsw" participant networking and schedule creator tools that i don't think anyone really used.
  • People still have ridiculous titles out in web 2.0 land. Alexi Ohanian is the Product Manager of Awesome at
  • Tweetdeck is clearly the twitter client of choice for power tweeters... who don't need to be logged into multiple accounts, in which case I still love twhirl, and tweetie for the iphone
  • It's true, we didn't call or write because ATT's network in Austin was a disaster. And we couldn't borrow anyone else's phone because every single attendee literally had an iphone, accompanied by a macbook.
  • Most talked about presenters / presentations included -- Kathy Sierra Gary Vaynerchuck, Chris Anderson (new book, Free), Guy Kawasaki, Tony Hsieh (Zappos CEO), James Powderly, plus a ton of other really interesting people -- please drop names/links in the comment thread!

I see you like to read printed material. You should check out Nicco's book The End of Big: