Connecting the Stream with Action: People as Conversation Agents

Fastcompany-287x300When I asked on Twitter about personal take aways from SxSW 2011, Andy Hayes responded along the same lines as I would have:  

#SXSW Lesson: that deepening connections with existing ppl is just as important as meeting new ppl.

Twitter has been an integral part of the conference — and of many lives in the last 5 years.

Edward Boches also strikes a chord with the format of his happy birthday, Twitter post.

Because it is about making connections — with ideas, meaning, and people.

What Bill Taylor and Alan Webber
declared more than 15 years ago was alive at the conference. In a
three-post series, I explained why and how we're connecting the stream
with action:

  • technology and humanism meet
    — where I explain the importance of filters, publishing, the value of
    open source, and that of frameworks to balance logic and emotion
  • media embraces real time — with embedded recording, ambient journalism, and public experimenting
  • business becomes social — the opportunities here are in situational awareness, as ambient concierge, and with adaptive DNA

Those are my observations from the context, the conversations, and
the themes or trends at SxSWi 2011.

There is a more personal kind of
reconnecting or connecting with people, like Andy said. Borrowing from
Boches' format, here are my thoughts on how the conference continues to

It creates a gigantic context for connecting with content

Although this year it felt overwhelming at times, I appreciated the
efforts put forth byt the SxSWi committee to make the experience
valuable by segmenting content tracks — for example, social graph,
emerging, design & development — and indicating the type of content
— core conversation, meet up, panel, etc.

The space allocated to sponsoring brands — the Chevy Lounge and the
Samsung Bloggers Lounge being the two locations where I spent the most
time — and to exhibiting brands.

It lends its voice to inspired initiatives and causes

Because for those 5-6 days the conference becomes the place where
everyone spends their lives — literally — it is the perfect stage
from which to launch impromptu aid initiatives like #sxswcares on
behalf of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Thanks to the work of a small group of people, in a week or a little over it, the initiative raised more than $100k.
The answer to how long does it take to plan a campaign is mobilize and
do it. If you want better results than expected, then make it about
something meaningful.

It helps you get out of your comfort zone

I had many impromptu meetings with super smart people doing great
work I need to learn more about, as well as planned conversations
throughout the event. There are many reasons why connections happen in real life — there's no hiding in person.

I was delighted to speak with Anna Gonzales as we were making our way into the CNN Grill
to honor some extraordinary women who are making things happen in their
spheres of influence. It was a humbling experience to hear about their


Due to circumstances outside my control, and my proposed talk on connecting the stream with action thanks to technology and uploaded humanism not hitting the mark, I missed the conference this past two years.

As you are no doubt looking to choose among the hundreds of panels and conversations proposed for 2014, consider how much of the discussion we started three years ago at this site is still relevant.

In fact, my colleague Leigh Durst has been working tirelessly on behalf of IEEE to engage the SxSW community with topics that extend the concept of uploading humanism. In addition to three of their proposed speakers being accepted as Featured speakers, here are a couple of panels I'd like you to vote for:

*Dr. Leslie Saxon:  Body Computing  (SOLO)
Dr. Leslie Saxon– USC Center for Body Computing
(Note, this was initially submitted as a duo interview but will be a solo presentation)

Cloud Robotics:  Instant Scalability & Capability (PANEL)
Ken Goldberg – UC Berkley
Ayorkor Korsah- Ashesi University College
James Kuffner – Google
Anthony Levandowski – Google

Headset Evolution: The Wearable Future (DUO)
Steven Feiner – Columbia University
Paul Travers – Vuzix

Tips & Tools for Protected Connection  (PANEL)
Joni Brennan — IEEE/ISTO & Kantara Initiative
Lucy Lynch — ISOC
Eve Maler — Forrester Research
Karen Reilly — The TOR Project

When AR Meets the OR:  Robotics & AR in Surgery  (PANEL)
Catherine Mohr – Intuitive Surgical
Katherine Kuchenbecker – University of Pennsylvania
Alison Okumara – Stanford


Voting deadline is September 6. Why wait? Take your pick now.

I already have.


[updated from archives]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover
the value of promises and its effect on relationships and
. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her to speak click here.