If you ask the veterans of SXSW, the event is as much about the people you meet accidentally as it is about the workshops and presentations you attend, and today has really underlined this. Right from the waiting line for the bus into the show, the serendipitous conversations have been brilliant. At 9am, we were pitched a new social collaboration tool called Collaborizm. No idea what it’s like, but there’s definitely room in the market for a service like this, as no social networking or digital project management tool really does artistic collaboration very well, if at all.
Lunch involved conversations with a creative director at the North American wing of Ogilvy One, a PHP developer, a digital journalist, and then one of the co-founders of Luminoso, which looks like a great tool for tapping into the social media data analysis boom that is currently building. It’s pretty amazing when you can have an in-depth discussion about the finer points of Natural Language Processing (aka NLP) and artificial intelligence philosophy with someone you’ve just met over ribs and brisket.
Later on, at a Hackney House meetup we chatted to the founder of rawtrax, a service that will help live performers monetize their performances by allowing concert attendees to purchase the music they are listening to right as they are hearing it in the venue. Now that streaming services can pay less then a cent per play to recording artists, and live performance is becoming again the primary way for a musician to make a living, a hybrid service like rawtrax is a great concept, although it’s not launched yet.
The sprawling craziness of SXSW can feel like bad organisation, and compared to the more hall-based events like CES and CeBIT it’s a nightmare to get from one thing to another. But if you didn’t find yourself waiting in queues or wandering around to events on a whim, these kinds of serendipitous discoveries would not happen. And the unexpected is such a major source of innovation in the digital creative industries, it’s clear that disorganisation has an important role to play and is part of what makes SXSW such a great place to be.