SXSW 2016: Day 3

14 Mar

The Sunday Slump. It happens. It occurs when the clocks get set back after you’re already sleep deprived and you have hit it hard for 2 conference days and it’s a little bit harder to focus and you need all the coffee. But it was a pretty good Sunday, full of panels from 9:30 – 6. Let’s go.

The New Web Typography

This was fascinating. It was a panel about fonts and design, but the implications behind them were beyond anything I had considered before. The main point I got was that good typography online and in print empowers the reader to better understanding. Good typography should not necessarily encourage FASTER reading, because comprehension goes down. Subtle design elements like a lower color contrast between text and page can slow a reader down. Friction increases understanding. Whoa.


Olivia Pope…I Mean…Kerry Washington!
The New Rules of Social Media Stardom

Kerry Washington is turning out to be one of my favorite panelists of the whole (unfinished) conference. She was eloquent, smart, compassionate, knowledgeable, and um…she’s stunning in person just like on TV.

Kerry talked about her (very well done) social media presence and how she manages it as a celebrity. She keeps her personal life private, but doesn’t shy away from posting about political issues and things she cares about. She live tweets Scandal (and claims social media kept the show afloat after the first season…now it’s in season 5). Everything on her social accounts comes from her or her social media manager, who will sign posts…so people know when Kerry isn’t posting. This seems to be a very atypical hands on approach in Hollywood in these times of publicists tweeting for celebrities. She did mention, “I decide whether to read the comments or not based on how close I am to a therapy appointment.” And she did acknowledge the hate she receives is more about the person commenting than her. She’s got a really healthy, engaged attitude about social media which was good to see from someone who could let it affect her self-image or her work or her family.

Also one more photo of Olivia Pope, I mean…Kerry, because I didn’t take many photos yesterday and also OLIVIA POOOOOOOOOPE.


Cracking The Human Code

We have printed the human genome IN A BOOK. It is 176 volumes and here is an article about it. Knowing the genome and the abberations that lie within will help us create customized courses of treatment with drugs specific to the patient and identify markers for potential diseases way before they manifest. This panel tried to avoid the moral implications of all this science but it’s hard not to ponder it. Will we self-select poor genetic traits out of our population? Hm.

Niche to Movement to Mainstream

This panel used food trucks and hip hop as examples of things that started niche, became movements, and are now really mainstream. I can speak to the food truck evolution – they are everywhere. I’m ok with that. Some things move from their tight niche subculture into the mainstream “norm,” and some never do. Marketers of course want to crack to code to perform this leap. This panel had no answers (I guess that makes sense) and moreso described the process of things that have made the leap. So really, your guess is as good as any.


Skip the Sale – Driving Subscribers with Content

This was a panel share between Facebook and The New York Times. Straight up, I really wanted it to be more interesting. It was probably the Sunday Slump setting it. I did glean a few things…Gen Z checks their phone on average 157 times a day. A DAY. So your content had better be mobile ready and engaging. Companies like the times are moving to create a very personal and personalized (different things) experience for users. Things will continue to be more tailored to your interests based on data collection from your app use. I guess that’s cool. I fear sometimes maybe our personal news funnels will get so narrow we’ll get dumber but what do I know.

Stay True To Your Craft and Online Brand

We all have online brands. If you are absent from the internet that also tells us something about your brand. Of course this is coming from tech panelists but the advice here is that you should have SOME sort or curated online brand because we’re all watching. Interesting stat: 40% of the workforce will be freelancers by 2020. This doesn’t surprise me, though many online brands have been built on this rogue freelancer lifestyle. Since that will be the norm in 5 years, we have to differentiate…differently. A good equation:

Brand = your voice + your vision + your visuals
Your network is your net worth, they kept repeating. Make content. Make it authentic. Just make it. Or move to a commune in Oregon, you can always do that.

Then Chad and I jetted to dinner in quiet, peaceful Wimberley with Susan where we have her Virtual Reality in a Box and the world will never be the same. The end of Day 3.

The vlog form of the blog post below. Whoa.

SXSW 2016: Day 2

13 Mar

There’s always a lesson. I took a bit of a risk today and it paid off, but it was REALLY down to the wire and the line was split between “risk that pays off big” and “complete waste of time.” But first…

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer from Broad City

YES. These girls are top of the heap great comedy these days. It was a treat to see them speak about their creative process, production life, and other projects. Did you know Abbi makes coloring books? Fact. I laughed a lot in this panel.


Ellen Page and Ian Daniel: Film Keynote

Ellen Page…you know, Juno. Granted, she’s done a bunch of other amazing projects since but…Juno. They talked about their new project “Gaycation” – a travel show – and the risks involved in producing the project. Another panel I didn’t take many notes in, but enjoyable.


Making Epic Sh*t

This panel was a talk by Regina Dugan, the former Director of DARPA…like…Department of Defense crazy science level stuff. It was packed. She was a good speaker. I was 15 minutes in and realized my Vlogging Inspiration and Hero (TM) Casey Neistat (watch a vlog of his Austin adventure here) was going to speak at the Samsung House down the street in 1.5 hours and I probably had to get there early. So I bailed. I’ll get notes from the archived talk later.

Samsung…and CASEY NEISTAT!


I got there really early. This talk wasn’t promoted much until the day of, and I was loitering in the Samsung House Lounge where the talk would be. I struck up a good conversation with a couple of folks from Belgium who are also big Casey fans, so we were enjoying the hang. Then Samsung decided to clear the lounge and we had to go stand in line. We needed wristbands. We did not have them. They were not sure if they were letting anyone else in. The panel had started. At this point I had already skipped a panel and was missing the Brene Brown keynote (which would have been cool). I was on the sidewalk WILLING them to discover some more wristbands and…it happened. I got to go in. Casey was talking about VR and 360 cameras (WANT) and it was awesome to see the guy I watch every day online in the flesh. He’s just like he is in his vlog, which makes sense, because it’s hard to be fake on film every day for a year.


THEN HE TOOK SELFIES. He took about 7 of them on my phone, which is smart, because…what if the first 6 were bad? Lots to pick from. Glorious.


By this point I was so jazzed on life and trying out 360 degree cameras and almost convinced enough by the shiny glow of Samsung that I would have dropped $2000 on a new phone and VR camera if

a) I had $2000 and
b) If the 360 camera was even on the market yet. We were playing with prototypes.

I decided to wrap up on a responsible note and head to one last panel from 5 – 6 PM:

The Linguistic Secrets Found in Billions of Emoji

This panel was interesting, namely because the presenter, Gretchen McCulloch, is very passionate about her topic. Emoji use has grown exponentially in the last decade, obviously…switching from the first widely used emoticons : ) ; ) :/ to the more graphics based emoji. Here are the most used emoji across the globe:


The main question was “Is Emoji A Language?” The answer came down to the thought that no…it’s not. It is a language supplement. Emoji use has its own rules and norms which is a lot LIKE a language, but it generally still just supplements text.

And then we ate dinner and I tried to edit my vlog and then I slept and then I woke up and then I kept editing my vlog and then we drove into Austin again and now it’s Day 3. Bring it.

Here we go! The schedule here is crazy…it’s wake up, go all day, eat dinner, drive home, try to stay awake for an hour to get your stuff charged, emails checked, and footage imported. It’s all good. It’s great, actually! But…these vlogs will roll out on their own time. Here’s number one…a lot of the conference aesthetic that I love so much (really, I do!). Walking, escalating, hotel conference room carpet, all the good stuff.

SXSW 2016: Day 1

12 Mar


MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR, KIDS! SXSW is in full swing. Many Austin locals hate it because streets shut down and drunk techies take over, but I find it all inspirational and super fun. Day 1 was a good settle in period…lots of walking to panels in different hotels around downtown proper. Very full panels but I didn’t get turned away from any of them (there’s an art to the quick leave/early arrival). Let’s discuss.

Fluidity and Honesty: Generation Z in 2025

Right now Gen Z (to be followed by Gen Alpha in case you were wondering like I was) is aged 5 – 20. They’re starting to make economic impact and they’re about to make more. They make up 25% of the U.S. population, and they’re the most ethnically diverse, multiracial generation we’ve ever had. They ascribe more to gender fluidity than any other generation. They’re expected to have 3 different jobs by the age of 30. They come from non-traditional households. They represent the largest identity departure from the previous generation in decades. Lots of the discussion circled around things I can identify with as a Millenial, though the lines will get clearer as Z ages. For brands, it means Z doesn’t care about the branding and the logo. They want simplicity, style, and things that fit into their identity. In 20 years we’ll likely find “branding under the hood” – less focus on who made it and more on how functional it is and how good it looks. Gen Z is the chameleon generation, for sure.

Gary Vanyerchuk

Gary Vanyerchuk – #AskGaryVee

Gary runs VanyerMedia, a multi-million dollar social media brand consulting company. He’s the scrappy kind of entrepreneur, and he cusses a lot. I loved it. He called out the BS guru cults of the online self-help pantheon…which are most of them. So many people telling you how to live a best life when they can’t back it up. He says 90% of people online don’t believe in what they sell, which is a problem. He said to look for more product placement advertisement as crowds get increasingly deaf to obvious promoted content. Snapchat will be around in 7 years, so get used to it. My favorite quote was, “Bullshit entrepreneurs cry because of the way they want it to be verus the way it is. And you should never cry about the way it is. Just work harder.” This guy gets in the trenches.

Learning Like a Noob – Erik Natzke from Adobe Systems

This was a very visual presentation from the artist in residence at Adobe Design, and it was neat to see how a high level designer keeps himself on his creative toes. Basically, get curious, get into the creator state of mind (“it’s not a talent, it’s a mood”), and do things. MY takeaway term was “aesthetic communication,” which is a good term for me to think about since I spend so much time thinking in words.

I caught some of the POTUS Keynote from a live stream at The Westin Hotel.


Go Native Or Go Home: Ads and Addictive Content

Camille Styles headed up this panel and apparently she runs a lifestyle blog, but I don’t think she caters to the folksinger aesthetic crowd. Other panelists were from West Elm and Domino Magazine. They talked about the trend of sponsored content (publications being paid to talk about a brand), and how that type of advertising works way better than banner ad content at this point (we’re all ad blind) and when the partnership is right, it is a genuine piece of content that is useful to readers and useful to the company pushing the ad. It works best when the brands align naturally. I would like to announce that I will be considering any offers of sponsored vlog content from Taylor Swift, Starbucks, GoPro, Timberland, and Google. Come on brands, pitch me.

Publishing A Book on Instagram – Jason Sperling

Jason published an animated book on advertising on Instagram…one post per day for 176 days. You can read/see it here. He made an interesting point about releasing things on the internet – they don’t ever actually have to be totally “done.” It made me think in terms of how many versions of an album I could make in various incarnations and how to share that process with people. Why ascribe to the old school model of publish and move on?

Also, I got a free donut. It was a good day. Onward to Day 2!


In which I experiment with nootropics and play a lot of Lilith Fair tunes. Pre-gaming for SXSW…I should probably be napping right now.

SIX! SEIS! SIXTH! A really fun and packed week of gigging with Katie in Lockhart (special thanks to Joanna for filming us because I had my hands full of guitar!), raising money for The Bugle Boy, and tacos with Dan. That’ll be my new vlog series: Tacos With Dan.

I really really really really really really like pop music and coffee. Lots of one, not so much of the other. Check out The Belle Sounds while you’re at it, they’re the aces here.

As you can see if you scroll down, the last 4 posts have been video blogs. I am fairly happy about this, though am succumbing to the nagging thought of “YOU NEED TO WRITE A BLOG FOR GOODNESS SAKE” that’s been floating around in my brain. BUT! The good news is…the last 4 posts have been VIDEO BLOGS!

I don’t know what happened, really. I have had a love/hate relationship with video for a while now. I enjoy it. As a hobby. I have always felt like I didn’t have the experience or skills go beyond that…I haven’t been to film school after all. Then lately, people have been calling me because they needed something filmed. Over the years what I have developed is the ability to make someone feel at ease when they are being filmed, and I have a couple of cameras and know generally how to use them. So I’ve done quite a few crowd-funding videos for people this year and enjoy the heck out of it. I also LOVE the editing part. That’s where the story comes alive and humor can shine. Editing makes a funny person really funny, and it can even take a mundane or boring situation/take and make it funny if you cut it right. Power!

I was exploring Casey Neistat’s videos…he’s the preeminent vlogger right now because he posts every single day. Amazing. He’s also a filmmaker by trade so his stuff looks awesome. I was in awe of his dedication. As I started poking around for a portable, easy to use camera (a Go Pro looked to be the one), a friend stepped in with a Go Pro she wasn’t using and it seemed like the clouds parted and voice from above said “USE THINE GO PRO WELL.”


So a month ago I made a vlog. I didn’t know if it would be watched or if I would feel weird or if it would be hard or what. It went well. People commented. I felt that stereotypical social media rush of interaction=encouragement, so the following Monday, I made another. And another.

I’ve really enjoyed being aware of moments in my week to capture (and I’m not great at that yet but getting there). It’s also fun to go into a week and examine its theme as you’re living it, because it’ll be a 4 minute video on Monday.

It’s also just good practice. I want to shoot and edit better, so this will make me better.

I still can’t explain the motivation here, because usually I plan way ahead of time and say “starting next month I’m gonna write more/blog more/walk more/be better.” With this, I just did it. I think I’ll stick with it for a while…and maybe there’s something else on the horizon I’ll “just start doing” too.

Here’s a day in the life when you go to Fort Worth for a gig and back! Super fun. Pretty long. I napped on Monday before watching Taylor Swift win her 3 Grammys. That was fun.