SXSW Day-Two Notebook: Hangovers, Happy Mistakes and More Trump-tagonism

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Following a first day of political undercurrents, noticeably fewer big brand blow-outs and unnecessary lines for parties, we headed out for day two of the SXSW Conference on Saturday. It got off to a screeching start.


"I hope none of you guys are suffering from hangovers," joked Laura Newton, a product manager at Kik, after the crowd for a 9:30 a.m. presentation on "Bot Best Practices" was subjected to repeated loud squeals of feedback from the audio system. -- Nat Ives


I learned a lot on my first full day at SXSW. First, check the location of your panel before you head out in the rain and arrive at the Convention Center, only to realize your panel is at the Four Seasons. Second, bring water with you. I spent $4 on a bottle of water and then $7.25 on my latte at the Convention Center. -- Jeanine Poggi

A sign outside the WeDC House, an installation at SXSW for the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership.
A sign outside the WeDC House, an installation at SXSW for the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership. Credit: Nat Ives


Even Washington D.C. is giving President Trump a hard time at SXSW. "We're not big on barriers," read banners outside the WeDC House, an installation here for the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, a public-private group that works to promote local development. "But we enjoy irony." Another sign proclaimed D.C. "the capital of inclusive innovation." A third message announced "Everyone is welcome." -- Nat


Hulu and Facebook execs convened to discuss the future of streaming video and how to market content in a digital world. There were the usual talking points -- entertainment is emotional, attention-spans are short, video is thriving. But there was a refreshing jab at someone other than President Donald Trump. Facebook's Gwen Throckmorton, head of industry-entertainment, flashed a stat from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm behind the biggest Oscars flub in history. "Let's just assume it is accurate," Ms. Throckmorton said about the data. -- Jeanine


There's some rock 'n' roll to be had during the tech portion of SXSW, before the official music program begins a few days from now. Of course, a musician should have something digital to promote to get here this early, which is why James Mercer of The Shins performed at a private show: He was in Austin getting the word out about his new app Pasted. The app is sort of a mix between Photoshop and Snapchat, letting people edit their photos by doing sloppy cutouts and collages, which might bring '90s kids some nostalgia. He played a party off the main downtown area over the weekend, hosted by digital PR firm Astrsk.

Spotify and Pandora, meanwhile, were perhaps the two music apps most visible in Austin. Pandora hosted a semi-secret show with Gucci Mane on Saturday night. Spotify had brands and agencies over all weekend to show off new ad products. -- Garett Sloane


Of course I'd be the one to get sick during a virtual reality experience. I was so nauseous during "The Mummy Zero Gravity VR Experience" that I had to take off the glasses. But it's hard to tell if it was the technology or watching Tom Cruise float around that was making me sick. Without having tried too many VR experiences so far, it's still not obvious why anyone would want to wear a heavy headset and headphones. I could barely hold my head up. But maybe it's not just me: A code of conduct for the "Mummy" promotion suggested closing your eyes if you experience discomfort. It also forbade eating, drinking, smoking and vaping. -- Jeanine


Wait...Why Are All These Dudes in My Closet?


The pros tell you to be read for serendipity at SXSW. I stumbled into an interesting panel on how Vimeo selects its Staff Picks. Though it took a while for me to get in due to a medical emergency in the room, it was worth the wait. While most of the audience seemed to know of the videos Vimeo's curation team showed, I sat there feeling like I was left out of some super secret club. It made me want to come back to my hotel room and binge-watch Vimeo, which is the goal of the company. "We want people to go into the office and say 'I was watching Vimeo last night,'" said Sam Morrill, director of curation. The panel also dove into its views on advertising. "Sometimes you feel tricked if you are watching something great that brings you to tears and you are smacked with a brand at the end," said Ian Durkin, senior curator. They gave a shout-out to Austin-based Yeti for its branded content. -- Jeanine

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