Picking panels for SXSW 2010

SXSW 2010 PanelPicker

SXSW was good but some of the panels weren’t – too many sessions were the result of concerted ballot stuffing by well-connected and determined groups of people (especially that one about the LA tech community).

However, this year I’m aware of various friends and acquaintances who have panels shortlisted in the Panel Picker – SXSW would undoubtedly be improved by their presence so I’ve voted for them. These are they:

You can sign up and vote for these folks too if you like. Either way, good luck to Capsule, Mudlark, Clare Reddington, Andy Gibson and Lloyd Davis.

And in case you were wondering this isn’t matey ballot-stuffing. Nothing at all like that.

SXSWi bits n bobs

It was a while ago now, but I’ve got a few notes left over from a couple of panels I went to and I may as well dump them here in a single post – you never know what someone else will find useful, so here they are:

Regional Whuffie – Attracting Innovation

Or ‘the co-working panel’. Truth be told, ‘awesome fatigue’ had taken hold around this point and so, although the panelists were all interesting people doing interesting things, the excessive chuminess and back-slapping was a little hard to stomach.

It’s a problem that marred many of the panels – a lack of incisive questioning which glossed over the troubles, mistakes and difficulties to allow much less useful evangelism/self-promotion.

To spin the self-promotion more positively, this panel saw some interesting case-studies including The Runway Project and ArtCamp.

On the question of how to fund a coworking space, the advice was to not think of it as a business but to do the minimum necessary at any time. Focus on improving community and the city as a whole. The space will follow.

The other piece of advice was to adopt successful international projects such as Pecha Kucha nights, Ignite or 20×2.

How LA Built a Successful Tech Community

The worst panel I attended but the fascinating awfulness of it all left me rooted to my chair. Apparently LA’s scene is a humble one, living in the shadow of LA’s entertainment industry and the San Francisco scene. I didn’t see a lot of humility though.

Half the room were LA residents and things never really lifted above being an insular love-in/bitching session.

The lessons, such as there were any, were to self-promote and to promote others around you. Actually, this is probably worth bearing in mind – there’s been plenty of good stuff happening in Birmingham but information about this rarely gets outside the bubble. The social media surgeries, for example, tend to generate a few blog posts where people say what a good thing they are and those posts are read by others who attended. What about writing a press release and sending it to a newspaper/some council officers/charity workers instead?

A post about posters

As a little light relief from the semi-coherent notes from SXSW that I’ve been posting, here’s something a little different.

On the last night in Austin we were at the Brit Bash, having a merry old time and looking forward to seeing the headliners when a wall of posters caught my eye. This one, in fact:

SXSW 2009

All the posters were advertising the efforts of various UK regions to promote their musical talent – in this pic you can see the North West, Belfast, Yorkshire and Scotland (twice) all represented.

Alice Russell played on the night and was ace. I saw her at Glastonbury a couple of years back when she sang with the Quantic Soul Orchestra – their take on Sunshine Anderson’s ‘Heard it All Before’ was superb.