Really interesting article in today’s Guardian (20th March 2010)
It questions whether the interactive element of the festival now dominates the event:
“This year has seemed like two tribes – music fan and geek, who, while not quite at war, are engaged in something of a grapple for SXSW’s soul. With fewer members of the music media, including the British contingent, one blogger asked this week: “Has SXSW jumped the shark?”
Grulke says: “There are definitely two different mindsets. Interactive people, all they do is go to panels with smartphones and laptops and music people are like, ‘let’s get to a club, get a beer and watch a rock band’.”
One reason that it feels like the techies have taken over is that the first half of SXSW is now so dominated by digital media: MacBooks and Google Phones are hauled along to Austin and the techies vie to become virtual “mayor” of the Austin Convention Centre on the hit location-based mobile phone game Foursquare whilst simultaneously watching the likes of Williams and Ek – appearances which are furiously blogged and tweeted.
By midway through the festival the city’s hotel lobbies are abuzz with activity as the techies check out to leave and, sizing them up a little suspiciously, the music crowd arrive and check in.”
Personally, I can relate to the issue of real time blogging and tweeting, something that I am also guilty of. It feels like no-one is living in the moment and there is a sense of ingesting information with a satellite delay. By the time you’ve tweeted you have semi-missed the next bit of the panel. It raised the question for me- are we society’s ADHD kids? Looking behind me in sessions I saw people catching up on email, playing Bejewelled on their iphones, surfing the net and generally not paying full attention. Contrast this to the film panel I went to where people *shock* used paper and pencils to write notes. When I got out my Mac to tweet the session people visibly turned round and tutted. There was a sense of attention and focus that was sometimes visibly lacking in the interactive audiences.
Geeks. Put the gadgets down, step away from the gadgets…
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