Recap of SXSW Interactive 2009

As I sit here in a daze induced by 4 crazy days of interacting with geeks the world over, sleeping little and attending party after party after party, I find myself nostalgically looking back at SXSW 2009.

It wasn’t as good as previous years, in my opinion. Maybe it was the huge number of noobs. There are always newbies, but this year it seemed to be more than ever. And that’s not a bad thing. I am happy when new groups and segments of the internet community are introduced to the wiles of SXSW, however this year seemed to be extravagantly more than normal. And it did affect the way the festival went off.

Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan

Interestingly, over 7000 people registered for the Interactive festival, up some 25% from last year if I recall. However, the actual attendance seemed to be down. In the context of conversations, I think I realized what was really at play. Despite no one mentioning it out right, it was clear that the economy had people in funky moods. Last year at this time, we were discussing venture capital, web startups and Facebook’s expansion, as an example. This year, however, the tone and look on peoples faces was a little more stark. It was a very interesting dynamic.

Of course, that didn’t mean people were in sour moods. They weren’t. The parties flowed. The long lunches happened. People laughed and talked. In some cases, we sang.

Alex Hillman at Cogaoke
Alex Hillman, IndyHall

Sorry, if you missed me perform Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” at Cogaoke. I did not win the karaoke competition but at least I had fun trying.

SXSW always is a must attend for me because it represents, much like Facebook does for my real life, a confluence of all of the circles of my geek life.

For instance, my Boulder peeps were there:
Jeremy Tanner
Jeremy Tanner

My Silicon Valley peeps were there:
Rick Klau
Rick Klau, Google/Blogger

And, of course, a very large (largest in SXSW history, maybe?) DC representation:
DC Peeps at SXSW

I am hardly impressed by celebrity and most of the “celebrities” that were there are not people that are anything more than friends for me. For instance, Chris Pirillo and Loic Lemeur were there. Friends doing great things, like Gnomedex and Seesmic

Chris Pirillo and Loic Lemeur

My only really true geek boy moment was meeting Drew Curtis of Fark, a guy who built his company the old fashioned way (without VC money) and is not prone to jump on technology bandwagons just because everyone says they are cool.

Finally, as a bonus, I give you Julia Allison, the woman that so many love to hate but geek guys fawn over anyway, Brittany Bohnet and Randi Zuckerberg, the Facebook Director of Market Development, and the sister to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Julia Allison, Brittany Bohnet and Randi Zuckerberg

Web 2.0 Representation in the Obama Administration

We are not 4 full days into the Obama transition period and already three web executives have made theoir way into the mix in some kind of advisory role. Yesterday, we covered the naming of Julius Genachowski of Launchbox Digital and Sonal Shah of Google.org to the transition team. Today, the New York Times points out that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been named to his economic advisory board.

This got me thinking about what a Web 2.0 Administration would look like. In considering roles within the new administration, I’m suggesting possibilities based on their personal reputation within the web space with a favoring for people that own or run their own companies.

Chris Brogan is the ultimate diplomat and community guy, so he should be considered for Secretary of State. Louis Gray is my candidate for Ambassador to the United Nations. Oh and Tom from MySpace needs to be an Ambassador or something because he’s everyones friend.

Jason Calacanis is a master businessman, having been the CEO or an executive in companies such as Weblogs Inc., AOL and now Mahalo. As such, I am naming him as Secretary of Commerce.

Mike Arrington is not a practicing attorney, but it is his background. He is a no-bullshit kind of guy not hesitating to name companies to the dead pool if he thinks they have no chance and propping up companies who he believes does have a chance. Because of the nature of the FBI, and the Department of Justice, Mike seems like a good fit as the Attorney General.

Gary Vaynerchuk, as the ultimate communicator, is qualified and should be President Obama’s Press Secretary.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs seems to be the only CEO of a publicly traded company (AAPL) who seems to be doing okay in the economic downturn. Sure, he might want to redistribute iPods, and ensure the Star Spangled Banner is the top pick in the iTunes Music Store for 4 years, but he should be the Secretary of the Treasury.

Lightning rod video and puppet blogger, Loren Feldman, has no issue going after “enemies of America” (or anyone else) and as such, he gets my designation for Secretary of Defense.

Knowledge blogger, Dave Taylor, has built up a wealth of intelligence regarding a variety of topics. I nominate him as the Director of Central Intelligence.

Graham Hill of Treehugger is the notable nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as Administrator of NASA.

Julia Allison should definitely be a White House intern.

What do you think? Who else should be in the cabinet?

Added: Melanie Notkin has been nominated, and I concur, in comments below as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Her site is using Web 2.0 to enlighten and inform aunts, families and the general population.

What's Your Legacy?

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Back in December, the blogging world was struck dumb when Marc Orchant passed away suddenly due to a heart attack. I don’t want to rehash all the details as you can find them elsewhere. Sufficed to say, many tears were shed over his passing.

Time heals all wounds, right? No, not quite.

Today, GigaOm announced the “acquisition” of mobile gadget site jkOnTheRun. To me, an interesting subplot was the post that James Kendrick from jkOnTheRun wrote mourning the fact that Marc was not present to enjoy the excitement of the acquisition. This in turn spurred this FriendFeed conversation.

  • Steve Rubel shared an item on Google Reader – I miss Marc Orchant
  • Aaron Brazell, Andrew Baron, Jason Calacanis, James Hull, paul mooney, Peter Dawson, David Risley, Dave Martin, matt hollingsworth and Dan Liebke liked this
  • I miss Marc too and his writings – Steve Rubel
  • me three. – Robert Scoble
  • Same here. – James Hull
  • Today is dedicated to Marc. He helped get me my first paid blogging gig and now our blog is part of Om’s network. Thanks Marc. – Kevin C. Tofel
  • me 2 – Peter Dawson
  • He would have been proud – James Tenniswood
  • @Kevin he is smiling today. – Steve Rubel
  • Steve, I think you’re right. I hope he knows the profound influence he had on so many people. I’m humbled to call him a friend. – Kevin C. Tofel
  • I miss him too! I was talking about him at dinner tonight. Gnomedex is coming up and I was thinking how great it was to see him last year at the event. I was so lucky to spend time with him. – Betsy Weber
  • Now you know why Marc has a big thumbs-up wherever he might be. :) – James Kendrick
  • yeah…. me too. i think about him when Gnomedex, CES and DEMO conferences roll around. He was a true gentleman and a scholar. still have him on my skype….. every now and then i think of sending him a note. – Jason Calacanis
  • Me too. :( Gnomedex was the last time I ever saw Marc. – Aaron Brazell
  • Aaron: you were the last person he tweeted as well… as I’m sure you know. – Jason Calacanis
  • I remember, Jason… :( – Aaron Brazell
  • I had the good fortune to work with Marc’s daughter Rebecca at PR Newswire. Rebecca and I set at adjacent desks and she was very helpful to me. I never had the good fortune to meet Marc but truly enjoyed working with Rebecca. It’s nice to know that this man who resided in the place I now live is so well remembered. – James
  • Me too. Marc was always a ray of light, always uplifting. Made you feel good about the human race. – Cameron Reilly

Of course, I was the last person Marc ever tweeted when I was in the midst of trying to quit smoking.
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To this day, I think about Marc and this conversation brought everything flooding back. I more than occasionally wonder how Sue, his wife, is doing and have often thought about looking her up and giving her a call. But, then I think it still might be too soon. I don’t know.

What struck me about this friendfeed conversation is the word “legacy”. Marc had a legacy and it has carried over past his death. Legacy is the effect you have on people when you are gone. Legacy is the weight of your presence when you are not present.

Marc’s legacy lives on as he has positively changed so many lives and those lives remember.

Right now, the conversation in the technology blogging sphere is about relevance. It is hitting a moment where survival of the fittest is kicking into gear. Currently, everyone is fighting over the Techmeme scraps dropped from the plates of a few. Who can get the most pageviews? Who can track into top positions? It’s all very short sighted.

Value is created when you are able to positively affect the lives of those around you. Maybe talking about Seagate drives is not quite as sexy as adopting children in Africa, but it changes the way that a technology manager invests money.

Discussing African American history with a historian, as we will do on Saturday evening has the potential to affect real lives. Talking about how to be like Julia Allison does not.

Legacy is the mark you leave on a society when you are blessed to no longer be a part of it. Marc left his legacy. I hope to leave mine. What are you doing to leave a mark?