SXSW 2011 Highlights

In an eleventh-hour decision, I cashed in some American AAdvantage miles and caught a flight to Austin for spring break — or more specifically, the 25th annual South by Southwest Conference. With all of the networking opportunities, free food, drink, music and friends – some of whom i only see once a year or so – i’m glad i took advantage and visited the great city of Austin. It was a whirlwind four days but the photos and video below provide some flavor.


See my photos from past years at SXSW

The trip began with an amazing takeoff directly into the fading sun over the Pacific. This would be the last time the sun set before Daylight Savings time kicked in. Got in to Austin and met up with Jory, provider of a fine crash pad for the duration of my stay. Then began a serious of meetups, events, and parties: All Hat III, which was a priceless opportunity to visit with many of the folks I most admire in the interactive space who happen to share a passion and commitment to do-gooding.

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Will Radioactive Fear-Fomenting Continue This Week on CNN?

It’s pouring in Los Angeles right now and if you kept an eye on the news last week you’d be excused for worrying that exposure to said rain might give you cancer. “Miniscule” amounts of radiation hit the West Coast this weekend as a result of the multiple nuclear reactor mishaps in Fukushima Prefecture triggered by the 9.0 earthquake in Japan. More accurately, as radioactive vapor from the busted nuclear energy plants collided with the jet stream, it travelled across the pacific as it dissipated amid other clouds. But there is always a “miniscule” amount of radioactive element in the air we breathe here in Southern California and pretty much every other major city. It’s not just FOXNews and CNN, it’s the local TV and radio news too. Anchors and reporters are consistently talking over the analysts they are interviewing so that “nothing to worry about” cannot be heard so much as the key fear-triggering phrases “nuclear,” “radioactive,” “headed this way” are repeated before and after every break. Will the fear-fomenting carry on for another week?

I originally filed the following post at LAist. Click here to see all my recent posts at LAist.com.

cnnmap.jpg
CNN proves once again that the only imminent radioactive threat stems from staring at Wolf Blitzer in the Radiation Situation Room all afternoon.

After spending much of the week threatening the West Coast with radioactive thunderstorms should anyone dare turn the dial, CNN decided to recreate the geography of Caifornia, placing San Francisco a hundred miles or so from the Mexican border and throwing Los Angeles to the sharks, at the tip of a peninsula in Northern California that appears to be all but detached from the rest of the continent.

OK. So it was early in the morning and someone decided it would be fun to flip SF and L.A. on the map. And to misspell San Onofre.

We’re convinced this is a direct side effect of redundant fear fomenting under the guise of expert analysis. Turn on any 24-hour news network, or even local AM radio, and you’ll hear lots of mumbling broken up by words like “radiation,” “nuclear disaster,” and “headed to California.” These catchphrases subliminally enslave listeners to the nearest breaking news device, be it a transistor radio or the plasma section at Best Buy.

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Video: Artist Cole Sternberg on His ‘The Content is Bleeding Through’ Installation

I interviewed Cole Sternberg (no relation) last weekend at the unveiling of his new installation. I love the theme and concept of the work, however, i can’t possibly imagine taking the time to rewrite such asinine content all over someone’s walls, ceilings and floors. Cole did it over the course of seven months at a back house on the residence of Normandie Keith in the Hollywood Hills. The 24-hour newscycle, gossip media, and technology such as Twitter has brought the future into our laps and shirt-pockets. Cole calls this a “vision for this apocalyptic moment when media and technology have pushed us so far that all the content blurs together.”

Video and interview below as well as photos from the event.

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The Human Toll of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Explosion

deepwater horizon fire photo by U.S. Coast Guard

CNN.com has an excellent photoessay documenting the experiences of the survivors and of some of the 11 killed in the April 20th explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which spawned the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Sixty days later, oil continues gushing from the ultra-deep well up to 6 miles beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

But what about the human toll? It’s not just the eleven lives lost in the tragedy and the many suffering as a result.

A huge portion of the Gulf Coast population is in some way connected to the oil industry as a way of life beyond the 20 percent working in the energy industry and those in the oyster and fishing industry affected by the spill. President Obama has called for an end to offshore oil exploration. But what are the alternatives? Many more jobs will be lost as a result of this disaster and the policies that result from it. It’s important that those distressed as a result receive adequate compensation. But it’s equally important that new jobs are created and that a culture that is very much rooted in the offshore oil industry is given the appropriate tools to transition into new ways of life. Where is the funding for clean energy plants and new, green construction in the Gulf? Where is the incentive for companies to establish themselves in the Gulf and commit to new projects that will lead to such employment?

As my dear friend Sloane reminded me yesterday: If you really want to know how the population is affected by the disaster, watch the local news.

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Why Call it ‘Breaking’ or ‘Developing’ When it’s Not?

Call me easily perturbed by 24-hour news media shock lingo, but CNN and CNN.com can’t seem to post a story without having an alarming red bar over or under it, indicating either developing or breaking story.

Case in point, when Tiger Woods misses the cut at the British Open it is NOT a developing story. It IS a story and it may warrant being highlighted but there’s no reason to tease readers with the “developing” tag. It happened.

See CNN.com‘s current feature at left (as of 1:55pm PT, 7/17/09), along with my recommendation at right.

 

tiger woods misses cut at british open

 

Posted via web from Andy Sternberg’s posterous