SXSW 2011 – Day One in review

Can’t even remember the last time I posted……. but this seemed like the easiest way to share my thoughts on SXSW this year.

I decided not to lug my laptop around the conference this year and just bring my iPad. I have penultimate for taking notes and can check email, my SXSW schedule and twitter as needed. Only issue with penultimate is I wish I could have a finer point on the stylus – and better handwriting!

Things got started at 2:00 and I attended the interview with Tim O’Reilly. Although he is an icon in the industry I didn’t really know much about him. He started by writing computer books when he couldn’t get a job out of college with a degree in Greek and Latin! I liked this quote that his success has been, “happy accidents that came from ignorance”. He also discussed how great brands have a core – they mean something.

When asked about getting into politics, Tim made it clear that he is working on government and not politics. He said a concept that got him interested in government was in a book that referred to government as a vending machine. Tim’s take on that (which differed from the author’s intent) was the government is a vending machine where you put $ in and get services out. And, it really isn’t working and he believes that government should really work more like a platform. When asked about his political views, Tim believes he is a fiscal republican and social democrat (I know a few people like that ;). He mentioned codeforamerica.org and how govt. needs help from savvy tech folks.

Tim said much more – he never seems to be at a loss for words! That’s what I took away.

I also attended Thin is In The Future of Digital Wallets. This talk reviewed what a “digital wallet” is and who are the players. The presenter, Christina Nguyen White of SapientNitro, indicated that the talk was not technical but more about dealing with the digital wallet from the eyes of the consumer. The four pieces of a digital wallet are

  • payment method
  • financial method
  • coupons
  • tickets/passes
  • comparison shopping

Examples of players who are “close” in the digital wallet market in the US are PayPal and Starbucks. The big question to ask with digital wallets is security. A poll of who users believe is responsible for security reveals 55% individual, 15% phone manufacturer, 30% carrier responsibility. Who are the players? Consumer, retailer, financial institution, and carrier. Who owns the digital wallet? – financial institution, retailer, carrier. I’m not sure I really want the carrier that involved in my digital wallet but it seems fairly inevitable. Christina spent time discussing the different responsibilities of each of the players. Most of it was all common sense, the retailer needs to build brand loyalty using special offers, coupons, push notifications, etc. without annoying the customer. I was hoping for a more technical talk on how digital wallets will be implemented. My take away is that there is still an opportunity to shape the market with a payment solution using smartphones. ISIS, the mobile payment service organized by the carriers, was offered up as the driving factor going forward in the US but no details were provided.

My last session of the day, How Farmers Get Serious Business Done with Mobile, was a panel of 5 people all involved in the Farming industry in the US midwest. Folks were from Loud Out Technologies, John Deere, Lava Row, agriculture.com. Farmers use of smart phones is 33% Blackberry, 18% Android, 10% iOS. Why is iOS so low for farmers? One reason is lack of AT&T coverage another is emotional – farmers don’t seem to like Apple. It was also suggested that the iPhone isn’t “tough enough” for farm use.

What are the things farmers want in a smartphone? Calilng, advertisement related info, pictures, and 69% use SMS. They definitely use it for data on commodity markets as well as weather. Use for controlling equipment such as sprinklers. During the talk animal management came up as an area with little software – there are no good applications for animal management on the desktop nor for mobile. Looks like a possible market given more stringent livestock controls and tracking requirements.

Talked about needing apps to help with information management. John Deere representative showed a video on Farm Insight. The John Deere service rep appears at a farmers work shed with a new air filter. The tractor was being used out in the field and it communicated to John Deere that it needed a new filter. The farmer contacted the operator and sure enough, the tractor was displaying a signal code for a filter change.

Other resources that came up: farmers4thefuture.com. Farmersfreshmarket.com – there was an article written about this at myfarmlife.com recently.

And got to see my accessibility family at the AIR Awards party! That was fun – it was a fully accessible party with close captioning as well as signing of all the events and music!


About Becka11y

Web Accessibility Consultant with 30+ years in the software industry and 12+ years of direct accessibility innovation.

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