Four Voices from SXSW

Speaking and Twitter dominance

The experience of South by South West (SXSW) in Austin is like the
Wild West – it’s the frontier of Social Media converging with traditional conference,
dominated by Twitter. After experiencing it, I’ve modified my opinions since my last Twitter post here, and more will be coming on that (for a very good post on this subject today see Mark Ivey’s blog.)

First, four important (read ‘Rock Star’) voices from SXSW on the question “Is Twitter distracting, additive or what?” I recorded our conversations spontaneously on my iPhone – here are highlights:

@Armano – (Listen to iPhone recording here)

  • Good thing, not a bad thing
  • Speaker can broadcast his/her message
  • When I tweet in conference, use it as notes
  • Tweeting causes disconnect but you store up info and come back to it

@GuyKawasaki – (iPhone recording here)

  • Very good for speakers, can reach thousands through tweets
  • I like big numbers!
  • Tweeters disconnect – It’s like taking notes
  • Not too distracting for me as a speaker. But embarrassing when I’m speaking and someones sees a live tweet from one of my surrogates…

(iPhone recording here)

  • Tweeters can take over a conference – last SXSW
  • Great as back channel, speakers can see what audience wants
  • Opens up ways to broadcast our content world wide in seconds
  • Tradeoffs – can distract speaker, be rude, discount audience
  • Can connect with individuals in room and conference
  • One more things for corporations to assimilate, change “laptops down” policy

@ChrisBrogan – (iPhone recording here)

  • Important to be able to free flow and multi-task well
  • Many conversations can take place at the same time, all can express themselves
  • Note taking useful for in house audience
  • Real audience is the thousands outside the conference room
  • Twitter is like hamburger helper for the conversation – makes a little go a long way
  • We’ll learn to speak in ‘twitter bites’ (as Chris Brogan does!)

There’s a unanimity of opinion by those who are in the Twitter elite of course, and I share their enthusiasm for the possibilities. But there’s another side to the story in the traditional and more bureaucratic business world – which is perhaps 80% (or more) of the business population. They still think Twitter is the answer to the now irrelevant question, “What are you doing?” (The other day I asked the CEO of a billion dollar investment banking firm how he used Twitter and he said “What’s Twitter?”)

More to come on this important communication experience, and Twitter tips for the mainstream business population…