South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual festival in Austin, TX, that brings together music, film, art and technology in a cutting-edge and stimulating combination that makes it one of the year's biggest cultural events. This year is no exception. The festival is already spitting out plenty of outlandish, wacky, and inspiring ideas. Some are probably destined to fade, some perhaps will stick around. Here are five of the most interesting so far.
- Video Games Will Save The World Discover's Eliza Strickland writes, "new games are delivering all kinds of social benefits, from video-game therapy for treating PTSD, to sims for train surgeons, to alternate-reality games that actually bring people together in real life. Will video games be a positive force for people and society in the future?" A panel discussing the matter is scheduled for Friday and should bring "insights on whether gaming can save the world!"
- The Future of News: NYTimes Meets Wikipedia Media critic Jay Rosen previews his forthcoming SXSW presentation. "Why are Wikipedia (which specializes in background knowledge) and nytimes.com (which specializes in newsy updates) separate services? Why aren't they the same service, so that the movie still makes sense, even if you come in during the middle of it, as most of us do?" he asks. Rosen says topic pages are the beginning of this merge, but we're not quite there.
- The Startup Bus Running from San Francisco, where ideas abound, to Austin, where SXSW brings in the venture capital, the Startup Bus carries 25 tech geeks who want their own startup. Writes the Wall Street Journal's Tomio Geron, "Part gimmick, part contest, the Startup Bus tasks these entrepreneurs with conceiving five start-ups by the time the trip ends on Thursday." Geron adds, "The winner will get mentoring and advice from Naval Ravikant, a Silicon Valley angel investor and a potential to get funded from angels in Ravikant's network."
- Foursquare--But For Everything Fourquare is a social networking cell phone application that premiered at least year's SXSW. As Steve Rosenbaum explains, "It's a location-based game that allows mobile phone users to 'check in' at locations like restaurants, bars, workplaces, and other public spaces. You earn points and badges as you alert friends to your current location. [...] The result of this change is a shift that puts power back in the hands of the customer, and no longer allows products or brands to ignore unhappy customers because they've got so many more." Now a new app called Miso, set to unveil in a big new version at SXSW, is being billed as Foursquare that's not just specific for locations such as storefronts. ReadWriteWeb's Sarah Perez muses, "Thanks to Miso, even homebodies like this can participate in the check-in craze. Although you can still share what you see at the theater, if desired, the beauty of this app is that you don't need a social life to socialize via your mobile. Instead, you can just chat it up with other fans of home entertainment, where you discuss the latest episode of "Lost" or the newest HBO original movie, for example."
- Movie Titles As Art Form The New York Times's Michael Cieply reports on a SXSW initiative to get people thinking about the title sequences at the beginnings of movies as an art form unto themselves. This is accomplished by an awards show that highlights and rewards the most creative and interesting title sequences of the year. "It is a minor art that appears to be gaining stature as even the smallest films use increasingly accessible computer graphics techniques, or just pure imagination, to get a movie moving." He adds, "The modern approach to film titles crystallized, more or less, in 1955 with 'The Man With the Golden Arm.' It opened with a kind of jazz ballet in which dancing white lines, over music by Elmer Bernstein, eventually tightened into the contorted arm of a drug addict." Here are the titles: