Creative Capital in Austin (SXSW)


The SXSW Music and Media Conference showcases hundreds of musical acts from around the globe on over eighty stages in downtown Austin.  By day, conference registrants do business in the SXSW Trade Show in the Austin Convention Center and partake of a full agenda of informative, provocative panel discussions featuring hundreds of speakers of international stature.

We at TIP find this combination of music, indi films, and Geekdom to be extremely interesting.  According to the work of Richard Florida; Engineers and scientists think and act more like artists and musicians than like production workers.  This calls into question much of what we assume to be true in corporate America (specifically 9-5 work weeks, wages vs. royalties, and who manages whom).

The mashup of music, film, and social media/technology is the basis of the most under-recognized factor of production for an innovation economy; Creative Capital. All the academics and corporate outsourcers thought talk about Intellectual Capital.  All of the marketers and PR experts talk about Social Capital.  But the SWSX is reflecting something very different.

As such, there are some interesting Filters in play. The following observation by Janet Fouts points out the curious absence of known superstars on the panel list.  It’s not the all-star game that traditional media loves so much. I would also encourage the reader to look at some of the Hot List Ideas that Janet Links to below.  My mini-rant: For the parents among us, the addition or elimination of Arts from any curriculum should not be under estimated.  Thanks Janet:

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With all the talk about Twitter grades and the social media elite it’s sobering to look through the “hot” list form SXSW and see the proposals currently in the top of the voting. Sure, I looked for my proposals first and no, they weren’t on the hot list, but more importantly neither were many of the social media superstars I expected to be at the top of the list. After all, it is the interactive division of SXSW and that’s not all about social media folks.

There’s some pretty cool stuff in here for the web developer part of my brain too. A few people I recognize like Jason Wishnow from TED, Adam Pash from Lifehacker , Peter Shankman from HARO, and Skylar Woodward from Kiva, but there are a a lot of people I don’t know, and that’s pretty darn interesting. I spent an hour or two this morning finding some new information resources, and isn’t that really the point? Why not take a few minutes to browse the hot list to see what people are voting for and find next year’s superstars?

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It is crucial to watch how events evolve and to recognize how people organize themselves.  Austin is not NYC, Silicon Valley, LA or Chicago – they are largely disassociated with traditional media, financial, and political power centers.  The purity of this disassociation cannot be underestimated.

Janet is right – events such as SXSW may be the best way to predict the future –  and with surprising and uncluttered clarity.

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