(See here for Part 1)
Here's one summary of the experience that's making the rounds:
I wasn't able to be there all that long, but my impression was different. Men of all colors (especially if you count tattoos), and lots more women (many tattooed also, and extensively). I had a chance to talk with Doc Searls (I'm a huge Cluetrain fan) briefly at the Digital Harvard reception at The Parish; he suggested (my words) the increased ratio of women is a good barometer for the evolution of the festival from narcissistic nerdiness toward more sensible substance. Nonetheless, on the surface, it does remain a sweaty mosh pit of digital love and frenzied networking. Picture Dumbo on spring break on 6th and San Jacinto. With light sabers:
Sight that will haunt my dreams for a while: VC-looking guy, blazer and dress shirt, in a pedicab piloted by skinny grungy student (?) Dude, learn Linux, and your next tip from The Man at SXSW might just be a term sheet.
So whom did I meet, and what did I learn:
I had a great time listening to PRX.org's John Barth. The Public Radio Exchange aggregates independent content suitable for radio (think The Moth), adds valuable services like consistent content metadata and rights management, and then acts as a distribution hub for stations that want to use it. We talked about how they're planning to analyze listenership patterns with that metadata and other stuff (maybe gleaning audience demographics via Quantcast) for shaping content and targeting listeners. He related for example that stations seem to prefer either 1 hour programs they can use to fill standard-sized holes, or two- to seven- minute segments they can weave into pre-existing programs. Documentary-style shows that weave music and informed commentary together are especially popular. We explored whether production templates ("structured collaboration": think "Mad Libs" for digital media) might make sense. Maybe later.
Paul Payack explained his Global Language Monitor service to me, and we explored its potential application as a complement if not a replacement for episodic brand trackers. Think of it as a more sophisticated and source-ecumenical version of Google Insights for Search.
Kara Oehler's presentation on her Mapping Main Street project was great, and it made me want to try her Zeega.org service (a Harvard metaLAB project) as soon as it's available, to see how close I can get to replicating The Yellow Submarine for my son, with other family members spliced in for The Beatles. Add it to my list of other cool projects I like, such as mrpicassohead.
Finally, congrats to Perry Hewitt (here with Anne Cushing) and all her Harvard colleagues on a great evening!