Blog Power, Cultural Relevancy, and What I Really Thought of SXSW

Arts & Culture
  • 28 march 2008

The main story of this year’s SXSW was the changing dynamic of power and cultural relevancy. It used to be that big companies or record labels were revered, but this year all bowed down to the online pundits. Niche bloggers, such as Perez Hilton, Scoble, Stereogum, and the like, whom appeal to a fragmented section of society now determine the fate of what’s next and have taken control of SXSW.

While these bloggers are relevant in their perceived world, even LA mega blogger Perez Hilton was not even known by the locals of Austin coordinating his very own party.

Most of these bloggers never did anything before their blog… a few mid level jobs perhaps but no major accomplishments. This is a pattern that seems to follow every major blogger. While no past accounts for major accomplishments, suddenly they stand up and make their voice heard saying controversial statements most of their peers are scared to say.

During the SXSW Interactive conference, I was discussing the rise of blog fame over a few beers with a fellow tech entrepreneur. He accounted their fame to one thing… “Everyone these days is looking for a leader.” While the next guy checks his blackberry to see what someone else is saying, these guy start writing about what they feel. They stand up and make their voice heard.

Today’s information ingestion versus expression was first brought to my attention by SXSW panelist Henry Jenkins, Co-Dir of CMS at MIT. Henry talked about how he always tells his children to monitor the amount of information they take in versus the amount they put out. This concept flipped my mind but instantly made perfect sense. We’re a culture of information overload and if we don’t turn around and put out information then we can quickly lose our ability to process information.

Bloggers such as Perez, Scoble, Lefsetz, Pitchfork, etc. have the ability to quickly process information. Sharing these thoughts has made them wealth, influence, and notoriety. Whether people agree with those opinions is one thing. Whether other people will equally stand up to make their own voices heard is another. Either way SXSW has shown that corporate/major label power has been supplanted by the new media.


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