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4 Takeaways from SXSW 2010

This year’s SXSWi was a cacophony of parties, cowboy hatted street teams and networking with a few panels and prepared speakers tucked in between. My extreme desire to sift logic from chaos and the peace of a few hours of distance has left me mulling the following 4 takeaways:

Content Creators Must Get Paid – If you braved the distraction of a fire alarm and came back into the building, you were privy to an educated man’s verbal smackdown the likes of which I had not previously seen in public – Marc Cuban vs. Boxee’s Avner Ronen. Cuban artfully beat the drum that pay tv is going to continue to dominate (and that cash is king –  jabbing at Boxee’s “revenue free” model again and again). Avner had a bit of a “home audience” advantage being surrounded by self-admitted geeks who don’t like paying for anything. But if stolen internet content wins – who will pay for great content to still be created? TV shows do not have the same tour-for-cash out that music artists have used to weather the a la carte iTunes model. Later speaker Ze Frank also mused this same dilemma – being unable to monetize his awesome web content, but unable to break into the Hollywood revenue model in a meaningful way. I have no idea what the future holds, but someone needs to get paid or the only shows being made will be for the least common denominator.

Publicizing Public Information is a Violation of Privacy – If you followed the tweetstream from Austin this weekend, you probably saw that the most substantive traffic from any session seemed to come from the very meaty presentation from MSFT-based social network researcher danah boyd (@zephoria). This is a talk that will be worth watching in its entirety (read the transcript here), but if I was struck by one takeaway it is the difference between “public” information – information that can be obtained in some way – and information that we want publicized. danah boyd strongly believes that taking something that someone has written on a public site – say a forum about travel – and using it an ad or republishing it on an aggregator – is a violation of the author’s privacy because it violates the social norms and reasonable assumptions under which the author originally shared. It was a great reminder to begin all digital strategies with the purpose of adding value to all audiences – readers and content creators alike.

QR Codes are Coming – Previously categorized as “big in Asia”, SXSW badges boasted QR codes that, with the addition of an “app for that”, allowed users to share their information with the capture of an encoded 2D barcode. The advent of this technology is just another reason to think about danahboyd’s talk and what you decide to keep private, public, or publicize in social media.

Geolocation is a Foregone Conclusion – While pre-SXSW discussion seemed to be dominated by “geolocation is the new Twitter” discussion, by the time we got to the event, it was simply accepted as a given and everyone was on to the next topic. The only discussion I did hear was a bit of debate between hometown fave Gowalla and Foursquare.

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