The Heart of the Realtime Revolution

You could feel it in the air. The world had changed.
It wasn’t that the web had gotten less important, in fact, very much
the opposite. The web was, until the day before yesterday, a series of
pages that could be viewed on your computer. Now it had somehow broken
free of its bonds and sprung to life.
At SXSW – content has surpassed the technology.
The talk was about access and devices. API’s were the new kings of
content. The already brilliantly successful TED Talks were no longer
restricted to a website – as TED’s Media Director announced that TED
would open-source its API. All around the world, you could hear laptops
snap open with eager excitement to start building TED applications.
in a sly move that blurred the line between marketing and happenstance,
released the iPad2 on the first day of SXSW, and magically opened a
‘pop up’ store just blocks from the convention center. But Apple didn’t
have the mobile browsing experience to itself. Samsung’s Galaxy Tablet
was all over the convention, with its Android powered shininess,
causing Apple fanboys to have more than a few stolen glances.
Mobile. Realtime. Social. Open. Buzzwords to be sure, but punky new
words that made Google’s once stunning search results seem somewhat like
last season’s Prada pumps.

Google brought its best and its brightest – its new location
recommendation service Google HotPot. A bit of 4square, a dash of Yelp,
and some Facebook stirred in. But even as they tried to jump start
social, Google executives still call the human ‘signal’ just one of the
many they’ll use to recommend a place to each.
It’s as if Google is saying – if we know everything you do, every
email you send, every place you check in, everything you buy, everything
you put on your calendar, every photo you take and tag, and every
product you scan – we can give you highly relevant recommendations.
But at the same time, Google is first and foremost, an ad network, so
how do they balance the ‘best’ algorithmic answer with sponsor willing
to pay the most, to talk to you once you’ve bared your privatest data
parts to the world?
At SXSW, the wind was blowing toward privacy, user control, and apps
that talk to each other as you allow them to. Permission based data
integration – rather than services that fondle your data without your
knowledge or approval.
The other stunning shift, in just twelve months, was the growing
movement of human craftsmen now fully engaged in finding,
contextualizing, and publishing aggregated content.
One year ago – I presented a panel, “Curationism vs. Creationism.
Who comes out on top” it was a fiesty and sometimes combative session
with creators fearful curation would steal their work, and their living.
This year, I presented Curation Nation – and expected another
screamfest. But twelve months is a lifetime at SXSW. And curation is
more than a buzzword, it’s an emerging ideology.

I met people who curate kids events in Canada, a curator of car
parts, a curator of community banking, CTO Tom Conrad told me they have a
head of Music Curation at Pandora. Samsung was curating tweets and
photos on a large screen on the convention floor. A year ago, creators
feared that robots would steal their soul. But today – abundence has
created a new opportunity for creators to become both makers and
curators – and business models are emerging that will begin to filter
the data flood, and create contextual meaning out of the content cloud.
It’s not that search is dead, in fact, search is central to solving
certain kinds of problems. Looking at Blekko, Wolfram Alpha, Bing, and
others – it’s clear that different search solutions are right for
different queries. If you’re looking to find out what’s happening in
Japan, real time search in Twitter may be the solution. If you’re
looking find your friends- then FourSquare maybe the best way to
connect. But the emergence of the right tool for the right information
is a cool new trend. If you want to see into the future, take a look at
ToothTag – an app currently available for Android only, but soon on the
iPhone. Can’t remember where you parked? Tooth-tag can tell you.
Looking for your laptop? Tooth-tag can help you. Not only that, it can
tell you if your friends are at the same party as you…without either
of you ever having to check-in. The best part? Tooth-tag does all this
without any kind of GPS.
It utilizes Bluetooth capabilities alongside Near-Field
Communications and wifi to offer you a variety of information. You’re
not limited to check-in to a venue; instead Tooth-Tag recognises your
relationship to wi-fi signals and allows you to set up behaviors based
on various locations. Ok, it’s geeky – but it’s damn cool.
What’s the biggest lesson coming out of SXSW? A year is a VERY long time in the fast moving world of connected content.
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