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My SXSW Preview (on Firedoglake)

Posted in Austin, Firedoglake, Media, Published, and SXSW

Aaron Swartz
An open Aaron Swartz Town Hall on Friday night may be one of the highlights of SXSW Interactive 2013.

I’ll be covering SXSW Interactive for Firedoglake over the next 5 days. My coverage will focus on the intersection of technology and politics. Here’s my preview with selected highlights from the conference:

SXSW Interactive is world-renowned as a place where startup companies strike the deals that make them successful, where cutting edge mobile apps are launched, and where corporations come to master the use of new technologies.

None of that really interests me, to be honest — there are countless websites where you can learn the latest corporate news about where the venture capital is flying.

Instead, I want to look at what these technologies mean for our future at the intersection of tech and politics. It’s almost trite to point out how fast our world is changing but it’s true nonetheless. Innovative, disruptive technologies are altering how we communicate, socialize, organize, how we keep and share secrets. During chaotic times, there are always some who celebrate how new ideas will save our world and others who decry how they’ll bring about our doom. The truth is almost always somewhere in between — new technologies change us. Humanity is still evolving, sometimes quite quickly, and to pretend we’re still (or should be) the same as our plains-dwelling ancestors strikes me as misguided and naive.

Of course, we must go into the future with our eyes open. New technologies bring new dangers, and sometimes those dangers only become apparent when we ask who is in control. The answers are rarely simple — modern mobile and camera technologies increase the ease of government surveillance, but also create the possibility of citizen sousveillance. I want to know what’s coming, not so we can try to stuff the genies back in their bottles, but so we can liberate their wishes for the people, not just the powerful.

Read more on Bytegeist.

I also wrote about some bad news for Tweetdeck that Twitter announced early this week, perhaps hoping to fly under the radar behind the SXSW buzz:

This news, while disappointing, is probably not shocking to many that follow social media. All companies including Adobe itself are moving away from the AIR platform for application development, and though that version of the software was once the most feature rich it had gone without an update in a long time.

But more so, many who worked in social media dreaded the acquisition of Tweetdeck by Twitter. Predictably,  the mobile versions have languished. For a long time, a fork of the project called Tweakdeck was a better choice on Android, but it also is out of date. All current versions are lacking in key features of the original Tweetdeck. Bugs linger in the Mac & PC versions long after being fixed on the Web. It’s hard not to agree with TechCrunch that “Given the clear focus on the web apps, it may just be a matter of time before the native apps will also get the ax.”

Read more on Bytegeist.

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