TelevisionWeek contributing writer Daisy Whitney is blogging about the pinnacles and pitfalls facing viewers who want to consume television in new ways. Check in frequently as Daisy kicks the tires on the new media juggernaut and dishes on which services do -- and don’t -- make the cut.


Trial and Error

The Tough Get Going at SXSW

March 17, 2009 1:28 PM

This year at SXSW, the Lego Lounge attracted actual kids, not just adults playing with kids' toys. The economy is forcing the real adults to conduct real business at the festival this time around.

Lego Lounge

Where the SXSW Action Is: Blogger Lounge

March 17, 2009 1:19 PM

Forget the press room. The real epicenter of information and the dispersal of it occurs in the packed Blogger Lounge at South by Southwest. Plus, the food's better there! Delicious pizza for lunch....

Blogger Lounge

SRO for Anderson at SXSW

March 17, 2009 1:19 PM

SXSW Lobby Outside Chris Anderson Panel

Is the long tail still relevant? Evidently it is at SXSW, where author Chris Anderson can still fill a room, and an overflow simulcast one too. Here's the shut door I didn't make it through.

How to Lure Speakers to a 10 a.m. SXSW Panel

March 17, 2009 11:49 AM

Girl Scout Cookies

South by Southwest is known for its parties, more than for its panels. So
hats off to Sarah Szalavitz, CEO of social design firm 7-Robot, for
bringing Girl Scout cookies for the audience at our 10 a.m. panel this
morning at South by Southwest Interactive.

SXSW: Assessing Attendance in Austin

March 16, 2009 3:08 PM

Before the South by Southwest festival kicked off late last week, conference organizers had predicted a 20% increase in attendance at the interactive portion of the festival. That’s the part of South by Southwest that attracts businesses, television networks, Web studios, Internet stars, agents and venture capitalists.

While the final attendance figures have not been released, and while I’m not convinced the show feels as big as it felt last year, I will say this: Everyone is here. Companies like Blip.tv, Boxee, Google, Microsoft, Next New Networks, Revision3, Digitas, PBS, CAA, ICM and all the successful (translation: money-making) Web stars are here.

Given all the slashed budgets, cutbacks and reports of lower attendance at industry events so far this year, my early report on SXSW is you can still find the people you need to talk to, interview and do business with here in Austin.

I’m betting that whether the show has a 0% or 20% increase in attendance, most attendees will walk away from this city with potential new deals in hand.

SXSW 2009: Brian Brushwood’s Trick

March 16, 2009 1:47 PM

Want to know how to get out of a speeding ticket? Carry a “get out of jail free” card in your wallet. That’s the advice of Brian Brushwood, Web star and host of the popular Internet show “Scam School.”

Monopoly Get Out Of Jail Free Card

I had the chance to interview him on behalf of PBS for the public broadcaster’s live streaming coverage of the South by Southwest Festival here in Austin. We discussed his panel, held earlier in the conference, on “how to scam your way out of anything.”

His advice to getting out of a speeding ticket is to somehow bring humor into the situation with the police officer. That can work because it can break the monotony of their day. That’s why Brian carries the orange “get out of jail free” card from the Monopoly game in his wallet.

At Google, ‘Failure’ Equals Learning

March 16, 2009 10:24 AM

You’ve probably heard about Google’s 80/20 rule. That’s the rule that says Google employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their time each day creating and innovating. That mentality at the search giant has led to new product launches, Google has said. It’s also critical to the maintaining a spirit of innovation, something that’s kind of essential at any Internet company.

It’s also led to amusing decoration at Google campus, noted Irene Au, the company’s director of user experience during a panel session at South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin.

“You end up seeing crazy things on campus, whether it’s plastic flamingos wearing sombreros on Cinco de Mayo or wacky ideas for products,” she said. “Google is inherently chaotic by design and that is how we innovate. Ask for forgiveness instead of permission.”

At the end of the day though, do any of these new ideas become real and viable products? Not many. In fact, earlier this year Google shut down its businesses that sold radio space and print ad space. And its famous Google Video service never quite took off on its own, though some of that technology has been folded into YouTube.

But failures are good, Ms. Au emphasized on her panel.

“Everything is an act of learning for us. We don’t see failures as failures. We see them as learning experiences. If you are a toddler learning to walk and you stumble and fall, that’s not a failure–it’s a learning experience.”

Jimmy Fallon = 4,000 New Twitter Followers

March 16, 2009 10:22 AM

When Jimmy Fallon premiered his late night talk show earlier this month, some of his first guests included Web superstars Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht of “Diggnation” fame. Here at TVWeek, we always like to explore the crossover potential between Web and TV, so when I caught up with Mr. Albrecht at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, I asked him if his appearance with the late-night comedian had opened up any new opportunities for him.

Not yet, he said. “It’s not like ABC is calling and saying we need to get you on right now!” However, he did see a bump in Twitter followers–about 4,000 new ones. That brings him to about 57,000 now. Jimmy Fallon recently joined Twitter and he’s already amassed 330,000 followers.

I also asked Mr. Albrecht if TV still remains the big brass ring for him. Like most Web stars, he doesn’t plan to abandon the Web especially because of the fan interaction that’s possible online, but he continues to audition weekly for TV pilots on broadcast networks.

‘Dorm Life’ Builds Viewership via Social Media

March 12, 2009 7:00 AM

The second season of hit Web series “Dorm Life” is picking up a good head of steam so far. It has earned more than 600,000 views in just the first week, suggesting the second season could well outpace the first. The new season launched March 2.

Last year’s debut season amassed more than 5 million views last year for its mockumentary about life on a fictional college campus.

Carl’s Jr. is on board as the sponsor for the second season, which is carried on Hulu, Facebook and MySpace.

The creators are hoping to drive views in part by harnessing social media. The Twitter accounts for the characters have been extremely effective in generating an audience: When the characters Tweeted the new season to Twitter followers, 94% of followers linked to watch the show, said a spokesman for the show.

‘Co-Op’ Finds New Home on Revision3

March 11, 2009 3:02 PM

Online television studio Revision3 brought a new show into the fold, this time through the acquisition of video game and gaming culture show “Co-Op.” The show premiered on the Revision3 network this week and features hosts Ryan O’Donnell and Matt Chandronait, who had previously produced the show on their own from their living room.

This is good news for “Co-Op,” but I do wonder if there is room on the Internet for all these gaming shows? There are a lot of them, for sure.

But then again, one of the more popular gaming shows was on ManiaTV and that company shut down last week, so maybe there is room!

The creators seem to be, well, creative. To raise money for the show at one point, they set up a fan donation page, garnering about $1,7000 and three computers in one month, Revision3 said. The show attracts about 60,000 viewers each week.