Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SXSW Recognizes Multimedia Convergence


There once was a time when a few big media companies ruled over the news and entertainment industry. All was calm, as long as everyone in a position of power agreed to play by the same dysfunctional rules.

Access to the legacy content distribution ecosystem was tightly controlled and longstanding restraint of trade barriers were successful in ensuring that most attempts at innovation never saw the light of day.

Tactics like pay-for-play payola schemes were able to perpetuate the content scarcity model that fueled the industry's efforts to limit and manipulate what was considered popular (pop), and how it was going to be marketed to the awaiting mass-media audience.

The macroeconomic theory of supply and demand can not reach its full potential in a closed marketplace model that restricts access to the chosen few participants. However, the oligopoly regime of legacy big media companies loathed any notion of creating an open market.

Re-Booting the Media Business Model
Make no mistake, the current trend of uncontrolled online social networking activity is a direct affront to the traditional news and entertainment industry. The social media production, distribution and hyper-linked syndication phenomenon has been disruptive to the industry's otherwise insular status quo.

The emergence of the Digital Freedom campaign was feared by all big media moguls, and also those who choose to align with their legacy business practices. That fear is valid, when you consider the ongoing financial viability of these companies -- as they're forced to compete on a truly level playing field, where the barriers to entry are lowered.

So, perhaps you're wondering, what does all this insight have to do with the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival that begins in Austin, Texas this week? Let me explain.

Collaboration: Multimedia Convergence
The introduction of an online collaboration platform could enable a flurry of non-sanctioned SXSW unconference activity during the coming weeks, as registered participants self-organize into cross-industry communities of interest. However, people not registered for the event can't participate.

The launch of the my.SXSW social networking and scheduling tool marks a significant evolutionary step for the territorial organizers of the three traditionally siloed -- and intentionally isolated -- clusters of people and activities within the film, music and interactive groups.

SXSW teamed up with The Social Collective to provide anywhere/anytime access to all the official films, music showcases, parties, interactive panels and other events via my.SXSW.

I recently asked Chris Bucchere, company founder and CEO, in a blog comment exchange if the use of their platform would help to finally unite those SXSW participants who have wanted to explore personal connection opportunities by interacting with their cross-industry peers.

I will not be attending SXSW this year, and therefore I'm not able to access the platform and report on the actual results. So, I will have to rely on the feedback from friends and associates.

Regardless, I'm hopeful that the SXSW organizers have embraced the idea that free and open multimedia convergence has moved into the mainstream of the industry, and that they can finally recognize the natural inclination and apparent need for the three now related clusters to engage each other in a dialogue.

Updates:
  1. CK Thurber says "David, so far, it seems my.SXSW is a great idea… just 2 years too late."
  2. While SXSW prints and distributes official event directories, Shed.org produced the list of "Unofficial Music Events".
  3. Instead of my.SXSW, most people are using Twitter #sxsx to connect, and some used other open sites like Britekite.
  4. However, apparently Twitter saturation ruins the experience.