Sunday, August 22, 2010

SXSW panel shopping? 13, er, 14 items in my cart

If you're like me, you're inundated with tweets, emails, Facebook messages and spamblasts soliciting your vote on proposed SXSW panels. No wonder. Public "thumbs-up" and comments count for 30 percent of the decision-making process. (Sort of like hinging a college admission on the dubious qualifier of how many letters of recommendation a candidate drums up.) Over 2300 panels were proposed this year. Your two cents counts in deciding which ones are chosen. How to shop through them if you're not a bot? You could start with the ones I'm buying, listed in no particular order:

1. Tweeting On Weekends: Are We Becoming Socially Anti-Social?
As technology allows us to share every moment instantaneously online, are we missing out on what is right in front of us? Posing this question (and presumably answering it) is Ogilvy's Rohit Bhargava, author of the new marketing book, Personality Not Included and writer of Influential Marketing blog.
Recommended For: anyone who's ever been grappled with the question of text-iquette or gotten the stink-eye for tweeting under the table

Vote and/or comment here.
2. Ad Agencies Need a New Mindset to Survive
Will the ad agency survive now that the reins of media have transferred from a few professionals to 2 billion individuals? If so, it will have to revamp its entire way of thinking. How? Find out from Edward Boches, CCO, Mullen who's organizing a panel including Rob Schwartz, CCO, TBWA\CHIAT\DAY, John Winsor, Founder & CEO of Victors & Spoils and Ben Malbon, co-founder of BBH Labs.
Recommended For: marketers, branders, anybody with a job in adland, or looking for one. Great networking possibilities.
Vote and/or comment here.
3. Ladies Claim Digital Strategy is the New Creativity
What makes this panel interesting to me isn't only its topic (what the heck constitutes creativity now?) but the fact that the panelists are all of the female persuasion. Which may be a first at this testosteroned geekfest. Organizer is Ana Andjelic, i [love] marketing blogger and contributor to AdAge. Panelists include former BBH Chairman Cindy Gallop known for her irreverance onstage and off, who I once saw flabbergast into silence a (mostly male) audience by holding up⎯and explaining⎯ a new kind of dildo.
Recommended For: creatives, strategists, planners, social media pundits. With ovaries and without.
Vote and/or comment here.

4. I'm So Productive, I Never Get Anything Done
Hoping that, for my own state of productivity, this one makes it. David Carr, digiculture columnist for New York Times, promises to shed light on a question that hobbles more of us every day: how to get things done when you're busy doing myriad other things. Like, um, writing blog posts. He produced a book. So maybe he knows.
Recommended For: anybody with a to-do list and easy access to interwebs
Vote and/or comment here.
5. Why Doesn't This TV Have a Pause Button?
Kids are growing up in a world where connectivity is as taken for granted as air. How will this affect the future of media? Spatial relationships? Multi-tasking? Panel features experts on this topic⎯kids. Moderated by Alan Wolk of KickApps, writer of acclaimed blog ToadStool⎯and dad.
Recommended For: Anyone who plans to be around in the future.
Vote and/or comment here.
6. Genius Steals: Remix Culture IS Culture
According to Faris Yakob, MDC Partners, the only way to achieve new is to remix the old. In fact, he says, recombinant processes are the only source of novelty, from sexual reproduction to idea creation to technology. Faris is a thoughtful and riveting presenter, more fun than you'd think a guy with a doctorate from Oxford would be, and I look forward to the originality with which he's sure to support his assertion that Originality is a Myth.
Recommended For: writers, strategists, creatives, thinkers, content creators
Vote and/or comment here.
7. Community Thunderdome--Branded vs Unbranded, You Decide
This panel was given last year and I was going to blow it off. It was on the last day I was there, it was early and I was exhausted. But it turned out to be one of the best I attended. Ostensibly, its subject is serious: how can brands harness crowds and collaborate with communities to find meaning within culture and market products? But more compellingly⎯it's a lot of fun. Sitting back and watching fantastic collection of entertainments compiled by Bud Caddell (creator of Bucket Brigade publishing project) and Mike Arauz (Undercurrent) provides much needed respite from talking heads.
Recommended For: anyone afloat in the information-overload that is SXSWi
Vote and/or comment here.
8. Keds. The Original Sneaker, Relaunched
What's great about SXSW is how many ideas are discussed, how many assumptions challenged. But sometimes you need a break from the headiness, to sink your teeth into a meaty case study. Darren Paul tells the story of how his interactive shop Night Agency succeeded in making a century-old brand relavent again. The tale isn't just about creativity. It's about strategies for aligning the forces of three brands with seemingly little in common⎯Bloomingdales, Keds and the Whitney Museum.
Recommended For: marketers, branders, advertisers, anybody with something to sell
Vote and/or comment here.
9. Better Crowdsourcing: Lessons Learned from the 3six5 Project
One of the most innovative crowd-fueled ideas I know: diary of a year as told from 365 points of view. Imagine having to rally, coach, edit and proofread a different writer every day. (Disclosure: I am honored to be one of those writers.) Take a peek into amazing collective consciousness created so far. I look forward to hearing behind-the-scenes stories and learning from the3six5 creators Len Kendall and Daniel Honigman as they talk about mistakes and revelations.
Recommended For: content creators, nonfiction writers, publishers, digital strategists, rabble-rousers
Vote and/or comment here.
10. Futureproof Publishing: Interactivity, Magazines, Journalism and Augmented Reality
Does the internet need to kill journalism and quality publishing or might it be what saves the industry by creating a new kind of interactive magazine? As an industry that survives on marketing dollars, how can interactivity make the publishing industry more attractive to marketers? These and other questions impacting the future of publishing will be explored in a panel moderated by Benjamin Palmer, co-founder of The Barbarian Group which has recently made interesting forays into futureproofing corporate communication.
Recommended For: writers, publishers, journalists, digital strategists, content creators, storymakers
Vote and/or comment here.
11. Interactive Narratives: Creating the Future of Literature
Oh, yea. The emerging field of creating new narratives is a topic in which I am very interested. Razorfish's Andrew Lewellen is putting together a panel of experts to explore how technologies like augmented reality, transmedia storytelling and interactive stories offer new ways for narratives to be created and experienced. What's more, he promises insights into how writers and developers can work together to go so far as to create new forms of literature.
Recommended For: writers, AR creatives, transmedia tellers, content creators, creative technologists, readers of all persuasions
Vote and/or comment here
12. Transmedia Artists Guild: New Media Needs New Representation
And who'll represent the interest of players emerging onto this new field? At SXSW last year, a group of transmedia, ARG and net-native story designers formed a new advocacy organization, representing individual producers and artists working in this still-hazily-defined world: the Transmedia Artists Guild. TAG seeks to fulfill needs that are currently overlooked by established creative guilds and advocacy organizations. What is it and how can it transform your career? Panel organized by Jay Bushman, with whom I shared a fun panel at Digital Hollywood, so I can vouch for his entertainment skills.
Recommended For: writers and creators of fictional worlds that spin off from the page or screen where they first combusted
Vote and/or comment here
13. Saying It Short: Writing Workshop with @BettyDraper
Yup, this is my own session. (If you can't sell yourself, how can you hope to sell anything else?) It's on a topic I hope interests others as much as it does me: how our definition of good writing is evolving in an age ruled by search engines and character counts. I'll take what I've learned winning writing awards in three areas (advertising, social media, litworld), pull out teaching chops (one student went on to become Lady Gaga) and, with the help of like-minded others (you!), put on a show that's interactive, informative, learning-based entertainment.
Recommended For: anyone writing today, which is to say pretty much everyone
Vote and/or comment here.
Let me know if I've missed any unadvertised specials. Shopping ends Friday, 11:59 CDT, geektime. Your two cents matters even if you can't be at the conference. SXSW releases podcasts of presentations, so you don't have to miss them even if you don't make the digipalooza in person.

UPDATE: How, in my original post, did I omit the timely Is Facebook Skynet? which explores the all-too-real possibility that as in Terminator (remember?) the platform is growing progressively smart enough to annhiliate the whole human race. (Already, it's terminated life as we knew it.) Panel led by Ian Schafer, CEO of Mad Men agency Deep Focus, who is touting it with Draperly genius: a trailer.
Recommended For: 500 million Facebook players and marketers who love them

Vote and/or comment here.


Daniel Honigman said...

Honored to have you as part of the project. Thanks for including the3six5 in your list. We hope to make it to Austin to share our stories, and the stores our contributors have written as well!

Unknown said...

Thanks Helen - this is an excellent list overall - a couple panels I was not aware of yet, so double thanks.

One more, that I think is a great idea - Campfire's Brian Cain has a great proposal called "Evil and UnDead: The Hottest Thing in Pop" about vampires and zombies and why they're suddenly so hot:

Jim Dudley said...

Love the list. I am going to pimp for a colleague's topic, however. "Advertising: Digital or Traditional is the wrong question." (

It's a topic that we obsess about within our industry, while our clients don't give a damn. They just want to sell more whatsahoosits, be it via digital, broadcast, or old-school print (what's that?).

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks, Daniel. Loved being part of the3six5 and love even more watching how it evolves. Look forward to hearing what goes on behind digital doors.

Thanks for the heads up, Alan. Crain's panel sounds monstrously good.

Jim, thanks for weighing in. Somehow missed this one. Excellent question and topic. +1.

RSA Course said...

Wow there are some great points on this list -#4 is my personal favorite ;).
I agree with #1 very much, I think too much tech has made people anti-social. Think about it, when's the last time you just talked to the person next to you instead of texting, tweeting, or facebooking?

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

@RSA Course Great point. And. What about couples constantly calling/tweeting others while ostensibly dining out with each other. #sad