No, Twitter didn’t announce their new ad platform. Yes, Foursquare and Gowalla had a breakout conference with more people checking in everywhere, annoying their friends and loved ones left behind. No, there was no new Twitter. And, yes, the future for digital technologies and Social Media is still very bright. But it’s time to shake up conferences like SXSW.
While some talks were insightful (Clay Shirky and Jaron Lanier come to mind), most panels didn’t rise above the mediocrity of typical Interactive conferences: Many unprepared panelists, content didn’t match advertised topics and, most importantly, too much talk about “joining the conversation”, “transparency”, “authenticity” and other tired buzzwords.
I went to SXSW and all I got was a Social Media 101 for beginners?
While the networking opportunities continue to be tremendous, all of us need to up the content game. We need to talk more about ROI, adoption of new technologies and Knowledge Management. We need to talk frankly about failures and successes and share them through case studies. Isn’t it ironic that everybody praises failures but nobody wants to share their failures so all of us can learn from them? And, most importantly, we need to let people outside of the industry in. We need more input and insights from sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, small businesses, Fortune 10 corporations and (insert your idea here).
In short, we need to leave the technology and Social Media echo chamber and let some fresh air in. The air at SXSW 200 felt stale and sometimes almost pungent with Social Media celebrity self-importance fueled by breathless fanboys and the always present booze cloud above us all. This post is not directed at the organizers of SXSW 2010. They did a fantastic job by delivering a flawless conference. A small point of criticism: Maybe less crowdsourcing panels (fueling the echo chamber), more crowdsourcing topics, themes and objectives of participants.
No, this is a wake-up call to all of us: Let’s open the echo chamber and let’s learn from and with others. The sessions from wecanendthis.com were a good start: Getting people from all walks of life together to end hunger in America. That was a good start. But while we thought, discussed and collaborated about solving a serious problem, the majority of visitors were busy checking in at various parties. While they thought they were busy checking in, they were busy checking out.