Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2011 of type Solo about Media

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Monday 14th March 2011

  • Geppetto's Army: Creating International Incidents with Twitter Bots

    by Greg Marra

    Twitter has proven to be an invaluable tool for communication during intense periods of political unrest and social suppression. When thousands of people tweet about oppressive regimes and violence against protesters, the outside world gets a chance to understand events on the ground.

    But what if none of those thousands of people were real, and the events never happened?

    Previous research has shown that Twitter bots can build up a following, garnering hundreds of emotionally invested followers who are fooled into believing the bots are real. A single puppetmaster could create hundreds of Twitter bots, letting them live perfectly normal and believable lives for months while they build up followers. Then one day, a careful crafted false story unfolds on the stage of social media, played out by a single director with hundreds of actors. Incidents like Balloon Boy demonstrate that powerful stories can become widespread before there is time for fact checking. Before anyone realizes all the TwitPics of the massacre are faked, the fake event will have made international headlines.

    This presentation will discuss the technical feasibility of such an attack on the global media infrastructure and discuss the implications of a news system that trusts "recent" over "reputable".

    LEVEL: Beginner

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Monday 14th March

    In Creekside, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

  • Rebooting the Media Industry: A How to Guide

    by Bram Cohen

    BitTorrent didn’t invent the Internet. It just changed the game. In 2001 the BitTorrent protocol was launched into the world. It turned rich media distribution economics on its head by making efficient use of consumer bandwidth and enabling transfers to get faster the more popular a file is.

    Fast-forward to today and the whole media industry has been turned upside down. From newspapers to music to film, the way content is distributed and how users want to consume it has completely changed. The growth of the Internet created a disruptive model that caused a shift from physical to digital media, and many in the media industry unprepared for the change have been left scrambling.

    Resistance doesn’t stop change from happening, but it can make it more painful. If anything, the dramatic consolidation in the newspaper industry should be a lesson for other media industries that evolution is not a choice, but a best practice for creating a sustainable business model.

    Paid download, subscription, ad-supported or freemium. Which business model will be most effective in generating value? There is not a clear winner, but different online communities as well as types of content will lend themselves to each in varying ways. Continued product development will provide choice to the consumer and they will vote by their actions. The different consumption models and tastes of users will create number of opportunities for monetization by creators as well as more options for consumers.

    LEVEL: Intermediate

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Monday 14th March

    In Creekside, Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol

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