Mediatwits #42: SXSW Special: Homeless Hotspots; Ambient Apps, CNN/Mashable?

    by Mark Glaser
    March 16, 2012
    BBH Labs hired homeless people to become "human hotspots" offering WiFi Internet access for a donation to them

    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.

    What BBH did... they did nothing to help the people beyond the short-term use of them. They put a price on them for $20 a day. That's disgusting." -Rachel Sklar

    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.

    i-fd5d389bfcad429bfb44b4cf64998000-rachel-sklar small.jpg

    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

    i-cbfa2d3825121254f9f7d90ad9d2e63c-irin carmon.jpg

    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

    i-5f3586c5f8c72c05b3f67f87962098fe-amanda-hirsch small.jpg

    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

    i-5c9839a5c2c5e986afd5b8bba174daa0-SXSW logo small.jpg

    Click to read all SXSW coverage

    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+

    Tagged: ambient apps austin cnn highlight homeless homeless hotspots mashable sonar sxsw 2012

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