Welcome to the 42nd episode of the Mediatwits podcast, this time with Mark Glaser and the Rachel Sklar as co-hosts. Sklar is a writer and social entrepreneur, and is filling in for Rafat Ali. This week is a special episode dedicated to all things South by Southwest (SXSW), the media confab covering technology, music and film down in Austin, Texas. We have a great lineup of guests, who all attended SXSW, including Reuters’ Felix Salmon, Collaboration Central’s Amanda Hirsch, Salon’s Irin Carmon and The Verge’s Laura June. Carmon wrote a piece about the increase in participation by women and people of color at the show, but how much further it still has to go to reach better diversity of voices.

Has SXSW peaked? Jumped the shark? One stunt that got a lot of attention was the “Homeless Hotspots,” homeless people who carried hotspots with them and asked for donations in order to give people Internet access. Laura June wrote that this was the “best, worst, smartest, dumbest part of SXSW.” Plus, there was a lot of hype around “ambient apps” such as Highlight and Sonar which tell you which of your friends are near you. And the big rumor of the show was that CNN might buy social media blog Mashable for $200 million, a story broken by Felix Salmon. It hasn’t happened… yet.

Check it out!


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Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio’s Music Alley.

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Rachel Sklar

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:


0:45: Co-host Rachel Sklar reporting from Austin

1:30: SXSW was packed, lots of lines, but still worthwhile?

4:00: Rachel: convergence of film, music, interactive, money

4:30: Rundown of topics on the show

Diversity at SXSW

Felix Salmon

5:55: Special roundtable, with guests Irin Carmon, Laura June, Amanda Hirsch and Felix Salmon

7:30: Carmon: SXSW has democratic process for choosing panels, but not always inclusive

10:30: Rachel put on a comedy show with female comedians to “change the ratio”

13:00: Hirsch: Not everyone speaks in startup/tech lingo

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Irin Carmon

CNN buying Mashable?

14:00: Could the cable network buy tech site for $200 million?

15:50: Salmon: Mashable is kind of bland, middle-of-the-road

17:50: June: Not surprising that CNN would want to buy Mashable

Homeless Hotspots

18:45: BBH Labs takes heat for publicity stunt, but was it justified?

20:10: June: There’s a case to be made for it serving its purpose

22:40: Rachel: BBH could have done something to help homeless long-term

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Laura June

Ambient apps the next big thing?

25:10: Apps such as Highlight, Sonar were a hit, but could cause privacy concerns

26:10: June: Most people using it were male; I disdain apps that broadcast my location

27:00: Rachel saw more traction with Sonar than Highlight

29:20: Hirsch: I didn’t hear about the ambient apps at all

More Reading

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Amanda Hirsch

Special Series: SXSW 2012 at MediaShift

White male nerd culture’s last stand at Salon

South by Southwest: Is CNN buying Mashable? at Reuters

Speculation Split on CNN Buying Mashable at Computerworld

CNN reportedly in talks to buy Mashable at MSNBC

Homeless Hotspots: the best, worst, smartest, dumbest part of SXSW at The Verge

Controversy Comes To Boil Over Homeless Hotspots at NPR

SXSW In A Nutshell: Homeless People As Hotspots at ReadWriteWeb

Ambient apps are the ‘Highlight’ of SXSW Interactive at MSNBC

Ambient location apps took over SXSW 2012, but are they catching on? at CW 33

SXSW Interactive: The Comedown at NY Times

Weekly Poll

Don’t forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about SXSW:

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+