I am writing this on the flight back from SXSW. For those of you who do not know, SXSW is anannual event in Austin, TX that consists of three different festivals rolledtogether: Film, Interactive, andMusic. Although I have movie star looksand a golden voice, we were participating in the Interactive portion.
This was my first time at SXSW—and probably one of the bestevents I have ever attended (next to our own Developer Summit of course—early,shameless plug). If I were to describeit in one sentence it would be “content for geeks wrapped in a free beer,t-shirt, and grilled cheese sandwich.” Ido not think I ate grilled cheese in the past two years—and I gobbled four ofthem at the event (and some of the best pulled pork I ever ate at Uncle Billy’sBrewery).
We arrived on Saturday night and checked out the openingnight party (we could not get in because we did not have badges—but I had yummypizza at this Sweet Onion Late Night pizza place). The downtown is really cool because they havepedicabs and Clydesdale-pulled carriages roaming around—and block off streetsto have more of a party atmosphere.
On Sunday, I rented bikes with Andrea (the Senior MarketingManager for our program—who seems to know EVERYBODY). It was really nice biking around Austin. We attended a few sessions. One was an interview with Paul Reubens(PeeWee Herman). He was funny andinteresting—and he seemed grateful for comeback—make sure you watch his HBOspecial (we had a drink and ice cream as part of HBO promotion, so I feelobligated to mention it). Another goodone was on the Politics of HTML5—a panel with some W3C working group members(they claim they are making progress on finalizing spec). We unfortunately could not get into a coupleof sessions—it is a crowded event, so you have to arrive really early forsome.
That night, we visited the IFC House (independent FilmChannel), which AT&T co-sponsored. IFC programs a lot of eclectic, interesting content and it was a coolvenue—I was really pleased AT&T was a sponsor of that. Another good sponAlso that night, when we went out I was wearing this Angry Birds t-shirt I hadpicked up that day—and we met one of the developers (the Mighty Eagle).
On Monday morning, we did press conference for our content announcementwith One Economy. I am a bad dresser and I almost always feel under-dressed atevents like this—but I fit right in here (several startups had announcementswith us—where presenters often wore company t-shirts). One Economy is a global nonprofit at theforefront of bringing broadband opportunity to underserved communities. This is a unique contest for developers,where we are asking for public purpose mobile applications to help underservedresidents improve their lives. We are offering $50,000 in prizes to softwaredevelopers who design applications that help families find jobs, get healthy,improve education and build financial security. The contest will run from March15 through May 16, 2011. Participants can enter the contest and view detailsabout the rules at www.applicationsforgood.org. I really hope we get some greatsubmissions—then the site and application matchmaking activities will still continueafter contest is complete. We also spenttime in booth on Monday—traffic was steady and we had several good discussionswith developers.
On Tuesday, we hadour workshop. The topic was “MobilityEverywhere: Beyond the Smartphone” andwe did this with our Emerging Devices Organization (EDO). Since we were far from Convention Center atSheraton, the crowd was not as big as we would have liked, but the workshopwent well. EDO kicked it off with acouple of presentations on hardware development (from AT&T AVP StephanieEllenberg and Peter Semmelhack, CEO ofBug Labs) and then I gave one of my rambling speeches on “Media Creation withEmerging Technologies.” A big focus ofmy talk was on HTML5 and how developers—particularly those focused on mediadelivery—should plan to take advantage of HTML5 cross-platform standardization (alongwith 4G and Cloud technologies). I wasfollowed by Darren Tsui (CEO of mSpot—the content provider that powers ourAT&T Radio application). He gavegreat perspective on some of the issues around HTML5, like DRM support and codefragmentation.
The panel for theworkshop was excellent! The format forour workshop was presentations followed by a panel. The panel was moderated by Avi Greengart ofCurrent Analysis and included our Developer Program VP Carlton Hill, Darrenfrom mSpot, Peter from Bug Labs, AT&T AVP Cameron Coursey, Sean Rosenberg,Managing Director of Grapple,and Atomic Tom. For those of you who donot know Atomic Tom, they are a Universal Motown Recording Group who broke ground withtheir viral music video where they used their mobile devices as theirinstruments. They are technically-savvyband, not only with their music creation, but how they use social media—andvery cool (it has been a good year for me, between meeting the guys of the BareNaked Ladies and Atomic Tom—maybe some of their cool will rub off). The panel answered a range of questions andthe audience was very engaged.
One nicething that AT&T did is that we opened up one of our COWs (Cell on Wheels)to the public. Not only could they seeinside, but someone had the clever idea to offer free milkshakes and a cowbellwith a label “more cowbell” (for those who have not seen the SNL sketch it is aclassic—I could not find good version on Youtube to add link).
It was withheavy hearts we left Tuesday night to head home to Seattle. We plan to do even more at SXSW nextyear. Next week is the Evans DataDeveloper Conference and CTIA Orlando and our Open Call contest. We received a lot of great entriesagain. I apologize to any of you thatdid not get selected—it is a tough process where we have to go throughselections quickly and I always feel bad that we may miss out on a goodapplication, but I hope any that did not get selected will apply again in thefuture.