True confessions here:  I have hardly made it to any South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) tech conference panels or speakers this year.  Clearly I haven’t spent time blogging either, since there’s been nothing posted here since Nerd Notes Day One.

This is not unusual for those who regularly attend this event;  once you know some people, it makes more sense to spend quality business discussion time with a few of the right individuals than fighting the madness of one panel after another or getting tied to one’s computer. I usually do try to make it to more panels than this, but an annoying cough (often jokingly called “SXSW SARS”) has me dragging.

There have been a few good takeaways for me from the hallways and social events….

  1. There are a lot of worthy causes that could use the oomph of the social Web, and some are finding ways to give back and provide that kind of help.  For example, newly-launched Zoetica Media hosted a Brainstorming Brunch at SXSWi to bring together the kinds of communicators who could help Safe Place use the Web more effectively in their efforts to end domestic and sexual violence.
  2. Always be able to answer the “So What?” question about your service or product, and be able to explain it clearly in plain language.  I spent an hour in a panel about the “semantic Web” and still have no cotton-picking idea what it is. Props to one of the eight panelists – yes, eight, which is absurd – Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, for some trenchant observations that, you know, some dullard with only a Master’s degree like me could understand.  Lazy Language Dunce Cap to the panelist who said “paradigm” not once, but twice.
  3. Anyone can have their own radio or TV show.  Okay, maybe not in the traditional way over-the-airwaves way but if you have good things to say, a microphone and/or a decent camera, you are on your way to being a broadcaster.  We talked about social media and tourism with the Jennifer Navarrete and Luis Sandoval Tech in Twenty crew at SXSWi – they do audio and video podcasts about the latest tech news.
  4. The overall winner of the Texas Social Media Awards was Austin-based location service Gowalla (similar to Foursquare) which is sort of a mobile-based game for checking in to various places like restaurants, stores and bars.  CEO Josh Williams is fired up about Gowalla’s applicability to travel and exploring. So am I.

Wrap-up post to follow; thanks for your patience.