South By 2…(43 of 90)

The first full day of South by Southwest is over, 18 hours after it began. It’s unclear if I’ll survive the gauntlet in front of me considering my inability to finish anything.

This is a price worth paying.

The day started at 9 am at the convention center (after an aborted run due to hamstring issues). I sat down to check my schedule and – as oftentimes happens here – I struck up a conversation with the folks at the table. First timers covering the event. We went through their schedule. I pointed them in the direction I found most interesting.

Then ran into my pal Tim Malbon (@malbonster for you Twitter folks), one of the founding partners for Made by Many, an amazing British company that builds the back-end content management technology, creates the media and manages the community for companies.


Along for the ride was Brian Sheridan , a journalism professor whom I met a few years back when I delivered a talk at a regional SPJ conference.

We headed over to the Cedar Door, one of the mainstays of life at South By. On the way out the door, we ran into Shane Richmond (@shanerichmond), a technology editor at The Telegraph.

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South By…(42 of 90)

18 years.

I’ve been coming to Austin, and South by Southwest, for almost longer than I haven’t been coming. Which is something that happens to me more and more. For someone who doesn’t finish much, I’ve certainly got quite a bit of unfinished history happening.

I am simply in love with this city, this event and the people who come here. It’s 6 glorious days without explanations, justifications or convincing. The people here simple get the digital life.

Not that it’s all roses. I’ve lived long enough to see this grow from a few hundred people sitting around tiny breakout session rooms into teeming masses of fanboys and fangirls. I’ve seen the haters slag on this event, this amazing mass of techno-nerdgasm. These folks, all of them, miss much of the grand nature of the conference. The brilliant minds that are here, oftentimes away from the throngs of Users.

For me, South by Southwest (SXSW) – South by to me – is simply the Greatest Show on Earth.

Highlights from Thursday:

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Techno-Files, or Anatomy of a Link-Bait Vanity Fair Story

Nearly three weeks after the Vanity Fair thrashing Cincinnati and Appalachia hit the Web, my hometown media finally caught the Fever. The last 24 hours has been an interesting mix of blogo-rage, media coverage and Twitter conversation.

As a journalist, a professor and an author, I’m intrigued by how stories develop. This one in particular.

My casual tracking points to the idea that this was started because two former members of the media were annoyed. While my response passed through the Gawker/digerati circles, it was Kate, who I believe has connections to the traditional media in Cincinnati, who was picked up by the local NBC affiliate WLWT.

Her post – along with mine – were classified as “a groundswell,” which has all kinds of problems. Although it may be that I’ve simply missed a series of blogs posts on this. I can only go by what was reported.

Regardless, there’s an even more disturbing problem: The length of time between the publication of Vanity Fair’s article and the response in Cincinnati by the local media.

I’m not sure what this says. That the coasts are so disconnected from the Midwest that the media and blogosphere’s pay little attention to each other? That Appalachians have simply grown accustomed to such intellectually lazy work about them?

It’s probably more complex than I can suss out.

While it suggests a common problem with the traditional media, that’s a criticism for another time. For now, here’s the story timeline:

Jan 25, 2010: The original Vanity Fair article, “Roll Over, Charles Darwin

Jan 25, 2010: My Twitter rage

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F-U iPhone

The restrictive nature of Apple keeps me from ever purchasing one of their products, so I’m quite happy to have Google enter the marketplace. And this video…OH, the Spoof-manity.

“Not Because they are Easy. Because They Are Hard.”

  • On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy asked Congress to commit several billion dollars in funds so that America could lead the rest of the world to the moon.
  • On September 12, 1962, Kennedy visited Rice University, in Houston, to outline the effort (these remarks follow).

The video is an art project celebrating the achievement of the decade-long effort that lead to the Apollo project, which placed 12 American men on the moon and cost 8 others their lives in this pursuit. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, I hope you will take a minute to reflect on the glorious scientific age that we live in.

And to remember that our country’s true “manifest destiny” isn’t as the world’s police or superpower. We are more than that. If there is such thing as manifest destiny, it is to lead all of mankind into a place of peace and prosperity, of knowledge and science.

A goal we achieved on July 20, 1969 when two men — Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldren — touched down in Tranquility Bay while Command Module Pilot Michael Collins orbited above.


I am delighted to be here and I’m particularly delighted to be here on this occasion.

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