The 3 Buzzword Takeaway of SXSWi 2008

I’m on a plane traveling back from my very first SXSWi. If you’re a geek, and there’s a chance you are if you’re reading SuperGeekery.com, there is a special place and time waiting for you down in Austin next year at SXSWi. Put simply, it’s dorks, nerds and geeks gathering in one place sharing/challenging ideas, rubbing shoulders the Internet famous, and going out drinking and partying like it’s pledge week at a college where the jocks are nowhere in sight.

I’ve had many people tell me this week that the scheduled SXSWi sessions are incidental reasons for attending; the people you meet and become friends with are what make this such a special experience. I feel like I met fewer people than the typical geek but I still managed to meet quite a few people that I hope to keep in touch with. If you’re one of them, thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear from you, just shoot me an email.

If you didn’t attend though, I want to give you a 3 buzzword take-away of what I’m taking home with me, minus the networking and friend-making.

Buzzword #1: TwitterThis is the second year of Twitter at SXSWi. I followed SXSWi vicariously last year from NYC via the web. Last year was Twitter’s introduction. In one short year, it has become the glue that held this large conference together. It was vital my experience there. What is Twitter? There’s a popular YouTube video floating around that describes it.My definition? Twitter is a “broadcast” version of instant messaging. You follow people and people follow you to exchange status updates. For example, I “follow” people I want to keep up with in both my personal life and my professional life. Those people update their status regularly, in 140 characters or less, and I receive that update. People who want to keep up with me can follow me as well.Sometimes these broadcast messages spark public conversations, sometimes private (or in Twitter-speak “direct” conversations) between just 2 people. You can use Twitter via the web, your mobile phone, and a variety of desktop applications. Twitter gets better the more you use it and refine who you follow. Being at SXSW was a great way to meet people I’ve been following for a while in person. If you want to follow me, just visit my Twitter page..The best summation of it that I’ve read is by Dan Light, who beautifully called SXSWi “mass intimacy”. Check out his post here.Buzzword #2: Social MediaSince I’m in the ad world, I attended quite a few marketing related sessions and nearly every session mentioned “social media.” I think I heard “viral marketing” mentioned once as passé buzzword. Perhaps “social media” or the “social web” is only simply the phrase du jour, but social media as a concept is the realization of the Internet’s potential and it will only grow. What “social media” is attempting to summarize is a huge bucket of other Internet buzzwords (like viral marketing, blogs, community, MySpace, or Facebook) but it basically means that the little guy has the power and that’s coming at the expense of the big corporate entity dominating the dialog. This is an unstoppable force. The Internet and the voice it’s given to the individual cannot be ignored. Ignore it at your own risk. Check out Get Satisfaction for a great example of the power of social media.Buzzword #3: Real timeI wouldn’t call “real time” a buzz word, but a buzz concept. The proliferation of real-time media creation was amazing at the conference. I mentioned Twitter as buzzword #1 and it deserves that place, but there were many other examples of real-time documentation happening. Take Francine Hardaway for example, she was “liveblogging” all through the conference using Utterz, Kyte, and of course, Twitter. Her experience at the conference sometimes overlapped mine and her tweets (“tweets” are what individual entries on Twitter are called) gave perspective on events I was witnessing. Sometimes she was somewhere else and I was able to be 2 places at once.Want more “real-time” experiences? Here are a few more to check out: Qik (regularly used by Robert Scoble and Jason Calacanis to stream video from their phones), Yahoo Live (http://live.yahoo.com), Drop.io (http://drop.io/). There’s also Tumblr.com, which is less about real time, but more about easily posting short hits to a blog. I use it for my hits page here. I’m sure there are many more examples of real time media online and more on the way. There is more emphasis on “now” than ever before.Overall, SXSW was really fun and inspiring. I hope to see you there next year.

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