SXSW Interactive Highlights

Nico Macdonald asked a few of us to feedback from the events we’d been to this year at his Innovation Forum last night. Since Andy Hobsbawm did such a good job talking about TED, I shared a few thoughts about what was good at SXSW Interactive.

Steven Johnson’s talk about the Ecosystem of News was superb. He’s put it online as well which is a very good thing to do with these kinds of things I think. His basic point was don’t panic about what’s happening in the news industry at the moment, from a citizen’s point of view, we’re nowhere near seeing how this is going to play out. He also gave School of Everything a good plug which is always good.

Laurence Lessig’s Change v2.0 talk was very slick. I remember the first time I saw him do his Free Culture presentation back in 2003 and how blown away I was by the way he used Apple’s Keynote. Well he’s still the master. Here’s a video of him doing the talk elsewhere:

I do have a bit of a problem with his version of democracy though. I think by focusing so much on the money he’s missing a bigger problem with the basic idea of representative democracy. I’m not saying we don’t need it — of course we do — but I think he needs to question the basic way we structure democracy as well as the way we fund it.

The final highlight for me was Bruce Sterling who played conference grouch. He talked about everything that was going wrong in the world and all the things that social media had harmed such as his ability to have good parties and the way that people don’t pay attention to conference talks (he got his own back by bringing his own beer and crisps because he said if the audience was gong to behave like that then he could do what he wanted on stage as well). He’s right of course, I know I certainly find some aspects of social media pretty unhealthy.

But through the humour and how he ended the talk you could tell he’s actually an optimist. Just go and do something he said, no matter how small. Use your abilities as humans and technologists to make the world a better place. Amen to that.