The closing keynote speaker at South By Southwest Interactive described his talk as one about “comics, creativity, crowdfunding and poop jokes.”
I’d say that was a pretty accurate description. Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, had a packed room at the Austin Convention Center laughing throughout his keynote address. Inman has used The Oatmeal as a platform for observing the evolution of words like “douchebag” in today’s vernacular and explaining how your cat may be plotting to kill you. Inman also headed two successful crowdfunding campaigns in 2012, one of which turned a nuisance lawsuit on its head by raising money for charity instead of paying damages to a rival website.
Before touching on his crowdfunding campaigns, Inman spoke about how he gets his inspiration.
“I’m not a cartoonist. I’m a stand-up comedian whose stage is the Web,” Inman said. “I write comics where I tell truths, anecdotes and observations.”
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been told to be professional on social networking sites because future employers could be looking at my profiles, I’d have… a lot of nickels. However, professors and mentors hardly ever tell students how they can use social networking to help them get a job.
Luckily for you, I went to an awesome panel called “Using Your Online Network to Get a Job #IRL” at SXSW Interactive a few days ago, and I’m nice enough to share what I learned.
The panel was led by Jocelyn Lai and Justin Gignac, who offered two unique positions about the importance of peoples’ social media presences. Lai is a talent acquisitions manager in Austin who uses social networks as a tool to recruit and connect with people. Gignac is a freelance art director who founded a real-time network that connects freelance creatives with agencies and companies looking to hire them.
Zero Charisma, directed by Katie Graham and Andrew Matthews, follows anti-hero Scott as his weekly fantasy tabletop game falls apart, as does everything else around him.
Scott is the Dungeon Master of his Dungeons and Dragons-like game, and it is the most important thing to him in the world. He plays with his four friends, but when one of them quits to work on his failing marriage, Scott has to find a new player to fill his spot. Enter Miles, a mustache toting hipster who runs his own geek news blog.
Miles is everything Scott isn’t— funny, cool, charismatic. Scott’s friends like Miles way more than him, and justifiably so. Scott is abrasive and borderline abusive, especially towards his best friend Wayne.
But not only is his fantasy world in turmoil, his family life is also headed downhill.
By far the most beautiful and disturbing movie I’ve watched all festival was a film a woman made about her sister’s suicide.
Director Petra Costa narrates over a mix of home movies and dreamy images, splicing in interviews with her mother, leading the audience from her sister Elena’s childhood to her death. Costa tells the story in second person, speaking to her dead sister as she describes scenes from their life together. The movie hits it’s emotional peak when Costa describes how Elena thinks her dreams of working in theatre will never be realized and overdoses on pills.
Costa had thought of making the movie since she was 18 years old, but a recent dream of her sister promoted her to take the plunge and finally start filming.
“It’s empowering to share this story. Of course it’s hard to be with the material and deal with death, and miss my sister again and again, but sometimes I could see it just as a story I wanted to tell,” Costa said.
Unveiling the next cutting-edge startup, app or service promising to make waves in an industry is what SXSW Interactive is all about. During her keynote address Sunday, Julie Uhrman attempted to do just that by touting OUYA, her crowd-funded gaming console built on Android that will have a limited release at the end of this month.
The conversation, moderated by Joshua Topolsky, editor-in-chief of The Verge, covered the idea behind OUYA and its beginnings with Kickstarter, with Uhrman attempting to play down mistakes that she may have made along the way.
OUYA is a return to the traditional home-gaming approach, Uhrman said. She aims to recreate the childhood experience of playing video games with friends — hands cramping from gripping the controller too hard, sitting in front of the television for hours with the volume on max and all.
SXSW Interactive officially ended Tuesday, but it has taken until now for me to fully recover. However, I will say that life at Texas State prepared me for most of the South By chaos.
I feel that I would not have been able to expertly push my way through hoards of people in the Austin Convention Center had I not mastered the art of walking through the Quad. Years of ignoring outstretched hands clutching flyers for shady parties (“Come on, there will be trash can punch!!!”) prepared me well when it came to turning down weird freebies and avoiding unwanted conversations (“Donate to the Kickstarter for my super-secret new startup and I’ll give you a free XXL T-shirt!!!). That being said, SXSW still wore me out. Today I’ll catch up on blogging about all of the cool panels I went to.
I have made it through SXSW without losing my keys, phone, wallet, backpack, computer, chargers; without being towed, lost or mauled by hordes of SXSW’ers in line for Al Gore or Nate Silver; and without very much time for blogging. Here’s an attempt to catch up:
This morning I went to a panel called “The Big Power Shift in Media” put on by Jonah Peretti, the founder and CEO of BuzzFeed. It was excellent and discussed how we—consumers of media/people bored at work—have changed the way we share and consume our news. And BuzzFeed is trying to keep up with us.
I was totally fascinated to see this journalism panel because it was headed up by one of the most unlikely person: Craig Newmark.
Newmark is the founder of Craigslist, the website program that has fundamentally changed advertising and has sent waves throughout the journalism industry.
Newspapers used to lean heavily on classified advertisement revenue, and when Craigslist digitized that, newspapers suffered.
According to information provided by Kelly McBride, co-panelist and senior faculty at the Poynter Institute, almost one quarter of working journalists have lost their jobs since 2007. For every $1 gained in digital advertising, $7 were lost in the print product (and that’s being generous, according to McBride.)
Newspaper revenues are down 40 percent, and there’s a crisis of confidence.
So why is Newmark there?
“I take a lot of grief from certain people who see you as the beginning of the decline,” McBride said to Newmark.