Monday, March 15, 2010

SxSW 2010 - Day 4

Panels

Adobe HTML5 vs. Flash debate

This talk was essentially an Adobe product plug. One interesting thing mentioned however, was their Packager for iPhone. It allows Adobe developers to create iPhone apps, without leaving the Adobe environment.

Who needs Venture Capital?

This was a paenl very near and dear to my heart, given my personal experience with failed startups. The talk was fairly balanced, having both bootstrappers, and VC wonks on the panel.

I especially appreciated the fact that the panel included, Chris Wanswrath (aka. defunkt) from github. I am a huge fan of github for their service, and I also love their no nonsense, no VC approach. They're quite inspiring actually.

I was able to talk to defunkt after the panel, and received some bonus schwag because I was one of the few people (perhaps the only person) in the room that had listened to their github podcast.

Evan Williams Keynote Address

Evan is one of the founders of twitter. Twitter was launched at SxSWi in 2007. Having only gotten a music badge that year, I heard the buzz and signed up for an account that week, but didn't really understand what it was. Several months later a friend, Ian Varley, suggested we connect at an AMF mixer. This was about a month before SxSW 2008. It took a year, but I think that is when it clicked for me.

Back to the present

Evan drew a big crowd. So big in fact, that it required 3 satellite ballrooms in the Austin Convention Center, with live video piped in to the other rooms. There was nothing really surprising said during this address, since I was well aware of Twitter history and lore. The latter part of Evan's interview was mostly a pitch for Twitter's @Everywhere.

Jaron Lanier Talk

Virtual reality pioneer and guru, Jaron Lanier gave a talk around the subjects covered in his new book, You Are Not A Gadget. Before beginning the talk, he took the opportunity to play a reed, wind instrument from Ancient Greco-Roman times, that was a predecessor to the Pipe Organ.

His main argument seems to be concern about the future economy. He believes that the digital revolution will eventually put almost everyone out of work. I agree that there is some room for concern, but his arguments sound very similar to Ray Kurzweil's Singularity predictions, or those from the Hard AI movement. Although I have not read his book yet, I think some of his assertions are overblown. I also feel that he is overly dependent upon what I call zero-sum game thinking.

None the less, his talk was provocative, and I am looking forward to reading his book on my Kindle. Jaron finished the talk with another instrument from his collection of over a thousand, a pair of Ukrainian reed flutes (for lack of a better name).

Jaron Lanier

Films

Lemmy

The first film of the night was a biographical documentary about the larger than life front-man of Motorhead, Lemmy Kilmister. Although I am not a Metal Head, this was a fun movie. Lemmy and his entourage (who looked like they stepped right out of the Spinal Tap movie) were present at this screening, because it was the premier.

At 63 years of age, Lemmy is clearly the last man standing having a career that spans working as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, and being in the band, Hawkwind, in addition to Motorhead. When not touring, he basically hangs out in the Sunset Blvd area of LA, and is very accessible to his fans.

The movie also contains vignettes of other rockstars, like Slash, Anthrax, and Metallica expressing their admiration for the godfather of Heavy Metal Music, and recounting great stories about their interactions with him in the past.

In closing, I'll just say that I would recommend this movie to anyone, regardless of whether they are into his music or not.

Tony

My brother and I were unable to stay for the Q&A after the Lemmy screening in order to make this film at the Alamo Ritz. The film deals with the bleak and dark subject of a serial killer, in the heart of London. I won't give away any spoilers, but it seemed that in this movie the city itself was a supporting character to the killer, Tony.

Although the story was quite twisted, I also recommend this film.

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