There were a surprising number of panels more or less concerning entrepreneurship. I only attended one of these, Sink or Swim: The Five Most Important Startup Decisions. It was very mildly amusing but as far as I could tell the only important decision discussed was whether to look for outside funding or not, a well-trod topic if there ever was one. There was even one panel on Selling (Big Ideas to Big Clients).
I understand that Creative Commons was mentioned in passing on many panels. Attendees coming to our booth were much better informed than in years past, part of a greater trend.
The Digital Preservation and Blogs panel I was on was interesting for the self-selection of the audience — I imagine every librarian and historian attending SXSW were present. A writeup, photo, and my narrow take.
Both accepted panels I helped conceive went very well, especially Open Science. Though an outlier for SXSW the audience Q&A as high quality. Moderator John Wilbanks did a great job of keeping a diverse panel (open access journal editor, synthetic biologist, IT standards person, and VC) on point.
Commons-Based Business Models included Ian Clarke of Revver, which encourages sharing of short videos with an unobtrusive advertisement at the end under a CC license that does not permit derivative works. This licensing choice was made so that stripping out the advertisement is not permitted. Jimmy Wales challenged Clarke to think about opening up some content on an experimental basis. Sounds like a good idea to me. I suggested from the audience that attribution can require a link back to Revver, so even modified videos are valuable. Clarke responded that advertising at a link away is far less valuable. True, but the question is whether derivative works that could not otherwise exist become popular enough to outweigh those that merely remove advertising. I suspect many derivatives would be uploaded directly to Revver, allowing the company and original creators to take full advantage of additional revenue and to become the leading site for explicit remixing of video, a la ccMixter for audio. Seems worth an experiment — Revver is in no danger of becoming the leading video site at the current rate.
I also asked Clarke about interest in his FairShare patronage system. He said Revver is aimed at the same problem (funding creators) but was easier to implement. In the same vein I met John Pratt of Fundable, which is based in Austin. I got the impression he didn’t think the service could be viral (I disagree). I’ve written about FairShare, Fundable and related ideas several times in the past, mostly linked to in my Public Goods Group Shopping post and its comments. The field is ripe for a really good service.
The EFF/CC party was very well attended, even not considering its obscure location (an Elks club). In the middle of the facility was a room of Elks members, playing cards and other games, oblivious to the SXSW crowd that outnumbered Elks even in that room. I gave a very brief thank-you speech for CC, which I closed with a prayer (because we were in Texas) to J.R. “Bob” Dobbs (because we were in Austin).
At the end of the trade show Rob Kaye alerted me to the giveaway of every book at a well-respected computer publisher’s booth to “cool geeks” or similar. 5-10 years ago this would’ve really excited me, but this time I was mostly concerned about bulk and weight. I took a few. I suspect they’ll be among the last computer books I obtain, free or otherwise.
James Surowiecki gave a presentation which I did not attend but I hear focused on prediction markets. I should’ve made the time to attend simply to see the crowd reaction. Several of the latest sites cropping up in that field certainly look like they were designed by potential SXSW attendees — circa 2004/5 generically attractive web applications. I should have some posts on that topic soon, starting with Chris F. Masse’s 2005 Awards.