I had a conversation today with a colleague to discuss our SXSW Interactive strategy. My coworker figured, rightfully, that SXSW would be a shitshow and that maybe we should use one of the much talked about group texting apps to stay in touch. I only “use” one group texting app, one that I covered for TechCrunch, and thus suggested GroupMe. My colleague said that he liked Beluga better and that we should use Beluga. And then he hesitated, “Hmm … Well maybe we shouldn’t use Beluga because what if Facebook ‘does something to them’ ?…”
!!! This is the hyper-techy microcosm that we live in, where you’re scared to use a budding app to communicate with co-workers during a conference lest a company “do something” to it. And what? You end up looking uncool?
While there’s no way I’m going to ever be the ideal use case for Group Texting (the new “Location Based …”), because it necessitates having more than one friend, I can’t really see the big problem it solves. Or rather, I have no idea why there are tens of tens of apps in the space.
Also, I have no idea why a SXSW breakfast with Guy Kawasaki is presented as a prize, but the email promoting it has miraculously found its way to my inbox, along with a bunch of nonsense “VIP” events sponsored by non-tech companies and a ton of pitches from a bunch of startups that just confuse me by their reluctance to say what it is they actually do, lest someone out there clones their killer app before their plane hits Austin-Bergstrom.
A follow through on one of these pitches leads you down an inbox rabbit hole where seven emails later you figure out it’s a Group Texting app but the founders don’t want to reveal that just yet because they don’t want anyone to copy them.
“Then why pitch to the press so early?” “To build “buzz” before SXSW.” Geez. Geez.
While I wouldn’t miss it for the world (Rachel Sklar and I are moderating an incredibly worthy and industry relevant core conversation here), SXSW creeps me out, if simply because it makes otherwise sane people act so silly.
But this SXSW 2011 Influencers Guide, a mashup of Plancast and some shady thing called Socmetrics, is the epitome of why I’m already sick of SXSW four days before it’s even started. Mainly because it reminds me that we’re now viewing each other as “influencers” and have somehow stopped looking at each other as “people” — I didn’t study so hard to get out of high school just to be faced with a whole ‘nother high school as an adult.
And I just RSVP’d in a panic to some super-duper VIP thing while writing this, so trust me, I understand the allure of hobnobbing with the tech snobs and am not immune. But at the drunken end of the SXSW day proceed with caution: You almost never want to be a part of the cool kids, because they’re not the ones actually getting anything done. I promise.
Video: Alex Blagg