SXSW Interactive 2014 Day 2: Getting Upstaged by Grumpy Cat and A Soulless Award ShowA column article by: Shaun Spalding, Andrew Tan
Andrew: Yesterday, Shaun and I were able to visit the Mashable House, a party at the EFF, and two panels: Remember When the Internet Was Free? and Fearlessly Funny: The Women Changing Digital Humor. So Shaun, what was your lowlight?
Shaun: The low-light was the 1st SXSW Video Game Awards. The introduction Twitch-plays-Pokemon style game where the audience got to control a clone of Pacman through waving their arms was great. The half-time Cirque du Soliel performance was great. The actual awards show, hosted by iJustine and Smosh and voted on by fans, was actually really bad. The whole event was soulless: not many creators were there to accept awards (the same 7 games were nominated inexplicably for every category). The only real moments of honesty in the entire thing were the memorials for Matthew Crump, the organizer of the event, who recently died. While normally, this would sound like a buzzkill, those were the only moments during the actual ceremony that felt real, and felt like being a member of the audience (as opposed to just watching it on Youtube) even mattered.
Andrew: Mine, while not quite a low light, but at least a-send-me-into-an-existential-crisis-light was at the Mashable House where we had lined up to take photos on a Wrecking Ball all Miley Cyrus style. The line was significantly shorter than the line to take a picture with the real life Grumpy Cat for pretty understandable reasons. However, when I went up to take a photo on the Wrecking Ball I was promptly stopped so a gaggle of photographers appeared and Grumpy Cat had been summoned on top of the giant ball. Flash bulbs went off and seemingly as fast as the cat paparazzi appeared, the scene had returned to its normal state as I sadly got on the wrecking ball.
So that we can end on a happier note, what was your highlight?
Shaun: My highlight was the Remember When the Internet Was Free panel. I'm an attorney on the board of a non-profit, New Media Rights, who opposed the AT&T / Comcast merger and supports net neutrality and those types of issues. Tim Wu and everyone else on the panel spoke out about why everyday people should fight against gatekeepers, like cable companies, who try to stifle innovation. I felt great because the audience was full of tech company owners; a lot of the tech community doesn't really understand how anti-innovation monopolies like cable companies are and how net neutrality is one of those issues that both liberals and conservatives should agree on.
Andrew: Mine was the Fearlessly Funny panel. I particularly enjoyed hearing from the wonderful Issa Rae and Kristina Wong. The “shameless” stories they were asked to improvise were filled with heart and a kind of wonderful humbleness that is always needed to make stories from our youth more interesting and funny.