SXSW by SJ: day 2

Chrissy Chris at Soundlab

Arts + Entertainment

SXSW by SJ: day 3

Photo of a foursquare game at the Foursquare court.

blog by S.J. Velasquez  • 

If there’s one thing the SXSW veterans will tell newbies, it’s that this whole interactive festival isn’t about the formal sponsored sessions, it’s about meeting people.

Having spent the majority of my time in Austin inside conference centers and hotel ballrooms, on Sunday I ventured out to the streets of downtown Austin. It paid off. Not only did I interact with inspiring, innovative people from around the world, but I actually got a ton of free stuff. Here are highlights from day three at SXSW Interactive:

Swag, once an acronym for “stuff we all get,” is in its true form at this festival. Everyone is giving out t-shirts, trinkets and more—and we’re not just talking cheap-o stuff. Startups and established companies are handing out high-quality products that you won’t just toss in the hotel trash. Aside from scoring shirts, hats, bagels, tacos, mini-pies and martinis, I won a brand new set of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. No joke. I’d entered a drawing earlier in the day by simply downloading the USA Today mobile app, and by 6 p.m., I was the proud owner of really baller audio equipment.

Schmooze hound:
On Saturday, I sat in a sea of people to listen to Dennis Crowley’s keynote talk. Crowley, co-founder and CEO of Foursquare, happens to be a Syracuse University graduate like me (Go, Orange). He’s extremely devoted to his alma mater, and I’m pretty sure he’d go to great lengths to interact with other SU alumni. I ended up having the chance to meet with him Sunday at Foursquare’s foursquare (yes, the kid’s sidewalk game) courts. Crowley even agreed to shoot a short video for Buffalo.com. What a nice guy. No wonder he’s the darling of the social media world these days. I’ll post that video later in the week. In the meantime, be sure to follow Buffalo.com on Foursquare.

Laughs make money:
I’ve found my favorite sessions have been related to comedy in some way. My focus when I planned this trip wasn’t necessarily going to be about the evolution of cat videos on YouTube, but I find myself becoming more and more intrigued by video viewer behavior, and the audience’s fascination with all things funny.

In one session, “Funny People Can Make You Buy Dumb Things,” a panel of humor writers and advertising braniacs broke down the most successful pieces online advertising multimedia content—the videos, audio clips and photos that are intended to be commercials but end up being viral videos and memes. A few of my favorites from the presentation were the following:

More to come in the days ahead! Keep an eye out for a video featuring Foursquare’s Crowley, Frank Warren of PostSecret and a full interview with Buzzfeed managing editor Scott Lamb.


TAGGED: comedy, dennis crowley, foursquare, frank warren, postsecret, swag, sxsw, sxsw2012

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