SXSW: Life Is But a Stream

It's getting kind of emotional at SXSW.

One of the most interesting panels today was Chris Messina, of Google, talking about Activity Streams, Social Objects and a little glimpse into how the data that is our lifestream will grow. And soon.

I don't need to recap the panel. Not because I couldn't -- I have copious notes -- but you could get a much better recounting of it by searching #gettingstreamy on Twitter. The issue isn't about getting his words out, but about how we'll be applying them.

This conference, after all, is about developers. All you need to know this would be to find yourself in the ZeFrank panel when he joked that the future of Web design was going to be tables and heard the eruption of laughter. It's a large audience, but it's a specific audience.

ZeFrank is an interesting character. He has all the quick wit and delivery of a stand-up comic, but he's a Web designer. He's also an artist worthy of note and coming into his own. Some of the things he's created verge on absolute poetry. But his medium is social networking online, so it's easy to miss. Or dismiss. There's still a divide.

But SXSW, of course, isn't about the techies, it's about musicians and filmmakers, right? Not so different, as it turns out. They're all developers. All techies. Not just because of the digitization of the music and film industries, but because these are all people who make something from nothing. Inventors. Artists. Creatives. What less people saw coming, I think, was how creative the tech crowd is. How well they fit in and belong with the musicians and movie-makers.

Where does good music come from? Where does great movie writing come from? Some kind of emotional center. So, it was interesting to hear ZeFrank, a guy most people probably refer to as a "viral video maker" talking so much about emotional content. And the guy delivers on it, too. Much of what he has on his site not only will make you think, it reaches you at that emotional center. And it all relies on social experiments.

Messina painted the same picture, actually, but from the inside of a computer out. Social Objects, Mediated Artifacts and Life Streams are simply techie ways of saying that a system is being engineered that will better capture how you live. That's all. Right now, computers put things into folders, but that's going to change real fast. How? That's not how this works.

If you've written a song, you can relate to this. It's a play between your feeling and the notes available to you. Back and forth. What's happening right now online is that new notes are being added to the scale. What is the future? Listen to the artists. They're all here at SXSW.