Best Crawfish I've Had All Season
Monday, March 31, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
After a great 5 days in Austin, I'm back in Houston. I took a bit of time today to type up some of my written notes and expand on different themes I took away from SXSW. At a high level, the trends are pretty clear, and echo much of the premise of Robert Scoble's (pictured above) new book, "Age of Context": we're entering an era where mobile/wearable technologies are combined with big data, social layers, ubiquitous sensors, location-based services, and increasingly automated forms of movement (like drones & driverless cars). And all of this is happening extraordinarily fast to change what our expectations of privacy, leisure and self-actualization should truly be. Sound a little heady? Yes, perhaps, but that's kind of the idea when you're at a conference focused on figuring out the future.
Below I've assembled my disparate notes from each event I attended, broken down by day. There's a lot of content here, and not everything will make 100% sense without the context of what was also spoken during the sessions. However, if there's any bullet you find particularly intriguing but non-obvious, don't hesitate to ask a question in the comments, and I'll try to elaborate in more detail.
"The New Digital Age” with Eric Schmidt
- Securing data & communications is increasingly important in volatile regions of the world
- Activists & Hacktivists are good about using security; ordinary folks are not.
- The limits of our technology increasingly end at the barrel of a gun
- Google has an entrenched interest in making the internet available everywhere…just like Facebook
- Google treats US governments just like foreign governments when it comes to defending against cyber attacks
Pennzoil Presents Mario Karting Reimagined
- Combination of RFID, video capture/streaming, & contextual audio cues
- Interesting use case for first-person POV video streaming & gamification
- Video from Juston’s Google Glass perspective: https://twitter.com/JustonWestern/status/442119206612389888
- Video from GoPro cameras operated around the track: https://twitter.com/JustonWestern/status/442308702075228160
A Virtual Conversation with Julian Assange
- Assange likes to pontificate
- No citizen is beyond the reach of surveillance, even the President of the United States or other world leaders
- Assange believes it is increasingly important for individual citizens to hold their governments accountable by leaking
- More journalists & leakers are moving to places like Berlin or Ecuador
So You Want Our Seed Money? Here's How to Get It!
- Warm introductions are by far the best way to get the attention of a VC
- Transitive Property of Hate: if I hate the person making the introduction of you to me, I now hate you
- Only ask your network for one or two solid introductions; quality over quantity
- Getting an introduction from a founder of portfolio is the best introduction of all
- Have a prototype built before you ask for a meeting
- Don’t push for an investor’s time; let the investor ask for your time once they’re interested
- A demo is infinitely better than merely a deck
- Make sure your deck is well designed…especially if you purport your product to incorporate solid design principles
- Be able to truly sell your story; you can back off some claims once the story has people interested
- 5 points of evaluation: Team, Market, Product, Idea, Product/Team Fit
- “Why is THIS team the BEST team in the world to build THIS product?”
- You want to be “socially proven” by virtue of navigating the social landscape to land an introduction; buys significant credibility
- Need a true depth of understanding of consumer behavior in that space if you don’t have the pedigree to back it up
- 1 out of 100 ideas actually get invested in
- Areas where a VC will provide support: Business Development, Customer Intros, Tech press PR, M&As, Raising next round
- It is critical that you have a true connection with your investor on the core vision of your product
- Setup a “Shadow Board” early on to understand the motions once your board is actually needed
- “We don’t fund you for what you’ve done. We fund you for where you going.”
- Be mentally prepared to stick with your idea/company for 8 - 10 years.
A Conversation with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
- Embrace the process of learning
- Encourage your kids to break eggs; they’ll learn many scientific concepts in the process
- Tooth Fairy example of maintaining childhood innocence while still keeping scientific integrity
- Power of metaphor/analogy and visualizations as concept grasping tools
- The facts aren’t important; it’s how you arrive at those facts. That’s the scientific approach.
- Don’t get attached to the number. The enumerated output is never the most important thing.
- Embrace the communities of entertainment & sports to advance a learning agenda.
- "There's so much amazing in the universe, I don't want you to be distracted by things that are not.”
- "The first trillionaire on earth will be the one who mines an asteroid."
Innovation in Big-Time College Football
- Primary recruiting tool for team is social media; almost exclusively Twitter DMs & Facebook messaging. 24/7 affair
- College football uniforms are increasingly a recruiting differentiator. Arms race between Under Armour/Nike translates into recruiting wins.
- Team communication handled exclusively through mass text messaging.
- Faker Twitter accounts of attractive girls are setup by team coaches to get players to friend them so their activity can then be monitored.
- Using media coverage to your advantage is so important when the university locale isn’t in a major market.
- Must have something to draw young players to smaller towns. The promise of something greater.
- Chip Kelly is heavily leveraging wearable technology to monitor his players in Philadelphia.
Connected Home Developers Garage Happy Hour at Silicon Laboratories
- User Experience of most smart home devices is still dreadful
- No agreed upon protocol yet for next generation smart home devices. Still a mishmash of Zigbee, Z-Wave, X10, etc.
- Increasing interest in Pebble as a controller
- Life360 partnership with BMW for iDrive system, attempting to make that service the platform
- Interesting advancements in low-powered devices, like thermostats, smoke detectors, doorbells
Sunday Brunch with Robert Scoble & Expedia at Gypsy Lounge
- Recap of guiding theories from “Age of Context” book
- Twitter’s “Fail Whale” designer was also on stage
- Power of If This Then That for creating these new contextual experiences
Equipping & Inspiring the Next Generation with Dean Kamen
- High-tech Coke machines at restaurants are commercial by-product of a water filtration system
- FIRST program embraces celebrities like Will.i.am to champion the coolness of science & technology
- Creating a maker culture in your home is so important, especially for women/minorities to make it part of the lifestyle
- NRG has an engine to create electricity from compost & other trash to power water filtration; interesting possible applications
- Teach your children how to learn, not how to memorize. The learning part is the absolute key.
Sundar Pichai Conversation with John Battelle
- Google is launching an official SDK in 2 weeks: Android for Wearables.
- Q: "Why do we need Chrome AND Android?" A: "Chrome is best for web, Android best for mobile. Having both lets us keep each simple.”
- Asked audience who owned Chromecasts. Probably half the attendees raised hands. Not bad for a product less than a year old.
- "Does Google have a master plan? I mean, is there an architecture to all this shit you're doing?" Hilarity. A: Not a plan but maybe a thesis.
- Discussion around evolution of the master identifier away from mobile #’s to something else
- Cross-platform messaging characterized as “very difficult” as they’ve learned from Hangouts/Google Chat/Google Voice
The Future of Genetics in Our Everyday Lives with Anne Wojcicki
- Use data to change long-held opinions
- The more statistical insight you have about yourself, the more you can make healthier decisions
- Take an active role in your own healthcare conversations with physicians by providing supporting documentation
- To make systemic changes, there has to be an economic incentive to PREVENT vs TREAT; sick people are profitable
Glassholes: The Cultural Dissonance of Technology
- People are afraid because currently an online persona is self-curated; Glass has potential to take that away
- Society struggling with whose rights are more important: the right to not be recorded vs the right to don Glass
- Transparency & “being a good human” are key for something like this to work
- Parallels to existing body of law around public photography
- Businesses/Brands are eager to incorporate Glass into their offerings
- What is the impact on children? Relationship to 13+ Terms of Service vs actual psychological impacts
- Is Glass just a result of engineers wanting to create cool technology for themselves?
- Does technology always need a reason to exist? Can it be created “just because” & then let society identify applications?
- Glass is designed with the user/wearer in mind, to keep them in context & undistracted
- Audience very split on whether Glass is a force for good or a risk for society; impassioned opinions during Q&A session
Context is King: iBeacons & the Internet of Places
- Notifications should be different based on location, but also temporally relevant (dinner ad vs breakfast ad)
- Art Museum is a natural place for iBeacon deployments
- Personalization is critical.
- Make sure your alerts are highly valuable to the recipient
- Leverage the passive nature of these sensor/app combos
- Example of disarming the home alarm based upon entrance to driveway
- Don’t abuse the technology’s functionality so users aren’t bombarded. Mall example.
- Quality of Content vs Frequency of Content
- Utility must be clear
- Tickler effect: reminder to use the right app on your device at the right time.
Snowden 2.0: A Field Report from the NSA Archives
- Snowden characterized as immensely intelligent by Washington Post journalist
- Snowden has refused to disclose portions of the documents that would endanger government personnel
- The security/encryption technology community is “pissed off” and working to see this never happens again
- Discussion around whether RSA was complicit & gave backdoor access to key generation algorithm
A Virtual Conversation with Edward Snowden
- Snowden appearing through 7 proxies from Russia, so significant video latency, although audio clear
- Glenn Greenwald Test is failed with most tech: it’s too hard for the average user to figure out
- Using technology like TOR or PGP creates too high a barrier of entry for even people semi-tech literate
- Making the communication secured by default is the only way there will be mass adoption
- Encryption works. Much more likely to use social engineering to get the key than to break the encryption via brute force
- Effect of PRISM leaks led to significant changes at Google and Yahoo around secured email options
- Machiavellian perspective, but positive, public-benefitting changes have occurred since the leaks
- “I took an oath to support & defend the Constitution of the United States. That’s what I’m doing."
Top Tech Innovation Trends for 2014 with Robert Scoble & Gary Shapiro
- $4,000 waterproof LED t-shirt with programmable display via smartphone app; http://switchembassy.com/ & http://www.tshirtos.com/
- Wearables for kids are gaining significant traction
- MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) are driving most of the innovation
- Sensors placed upon football players to beam real-time data on heat, perspiration & intensity of hits to TV broadcasts
- Google Glass probably 3 - 5 years away as a truly mass scale product
- Glass characterized as the “most controversial product in my lifetime” by Robert Scoble
- Muse biofeedback brainwave headband: http://www.interaxon.ca/muse/
- Movement towards shorter, clearer, most standardized disclaimers on software agreements, following trend in credit card industry
- Debate of Privacy vs Value for much of the wearable tech
- BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) & iBeacons seeing much attention from tech community
- Pairing the sensors with a social layer creates compelling new applications
- 3-D printing really starting to take off because the initial patents have now expired
- Very quickly moving to printing meals and household items
- Fulfillment of online purchases will increasingly come from printing at home, drone delivery, or automated delivery trucks
- Cube sensors for monitoring your indoor environment: http://cubesensors.com/
- Ninja Innovation Book: http://www.amazon.com/Ninja-Innovation-Strategies-Successful-Businesses/dp/0062242326
- Wall-sized TVs for truly immersive rooms
- The most prized rooms in offices in the near future won’t be the corner suite, but the one completely covered in displays from floor to ceiling, all touch-enabled
- The 5 Sense experience (like getting together in person at SXSW) still very relevant to augment our daily, primarily virtual experiences
- Licensed vs unlicensed spectrum; investigating taking some spectrum back from local broadcasters
- Huge win for small companies with passage of JOBS Act that officially backed crowd funding
- Eureka Park at CES enables smaller companies to get mass exposure
- Google Glass technology was acquired by Google via an acquisition of a startup
- JBL headphone speaker designs are leveraging novel new shapes prototyped via 3-D printers
- What are the far reaching impacts of driverless cars on society? Huge impact on reduced insurance claims, truck drivers, billboards
- Notion of Car as API
- Car companies are being reshaped as technology companies
A Global Economy Driven by Platforms & APIs with Werner Vogels
- “Everybody loves to sell. Everybody hates to ship.”
- Cloud resources must be instant on, remote access guaranteed
- Sharing your core competencies with your competitors can actually become your competitive advantage.
- Embrace the notion of “not invented here”.
- You can get more out of your own platform by scaling it with your competitor’s data & usage
- Not doing it alone allows you be more successful
- Let others benefit from your scale
- The platform must be a level playing field
- Reward your sales people for how much money they save your customer
- Only 10 - 15% of IT infrastructure is typically utilized within companies. Amazon targets 100%.
- Lingering concerns about a winner take all / single point of failure when one company controls so much infrastructure
Relieving Frustration: Porn & User Experience
- Richness of content directly proportional to the number of engaged senses
- Realism is greatly determined the sensor fidelity
- How is participation defined? Self or Shared.
- Use Content AS the navigation
- Categorize content by making it highly tagged & crowd-sourced
- The more interconnected the content, the more organic the discovery
- Multi-site, predictive search allows discovery across properties
- Allow for minimal inputs to produce results
- Create multiple paths to content discovery, while limiting required input
- The closer you get to a first-person POV, the more immersive…a situational illusion
- Embrace greater fidelity and unique POVs
- Condense functionality across devices: computer, mobile, wearable
- Real-time language translation in chat to facilitate global content creators in non-native tongues
- Adding a new layer of sensory data to previously created content changes the experience of it
- Expand the Experience & cause “change at a distance"
Biz Stone in Conversation with Steven Johnson
- "If you want to succeed spectacularly, you must be willing to fail spectacularly. That's how you build a business of enduring value."
- "The promise of a highly-connected society is helping others.”
- Society will use technology in ways that you previously did not conceive
- Example of the proliferation of railroads exposing the shortcoming of no centralized time-keeping
- Example of flash photography in Germany leading to improvements in slum living conditions in NYC
- At Twitter, Ev was the business guy with money, Biz was the designer with product experience, & Jack was the technical mind
- Upcoming show from Steven: How We Got To Now - http://www.pbs.org/about/news/archive/2013/how-we-got-to-now/
- Upcoming book from Ev: Things A Little Bird Told Me - http://www.amazon.com/Things-Little-Bird-Told-Me-ebook/dp/B00ECEA35C/
Walked the SXSW Trade Show Exhibition Floor
- Bitcoin is becoming more mainstream
- 3-D Printing technology is evolving very quickly
- Ring founder on site with prototype of motion-control ring - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1761670738/ring-shortcut-everything?ref=live
- Interesting table/wall displays from Digital Touch: http://digitaltouchsystems.com/
- Well-designed MacBook/iPhone docks from http://hengedocks.com/
- Remarkable human exoskeletons from Skeletonics: http://en.skeletonics.com/