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SXSW: Day 4 – Sheriffs, Senators, and Spartans – Oh My!

Day four of SXSW 2014 had me all over the map in terms of topics and locations. It sure kept things interesting!

Session 1 – If Content Is King, Then Who Is The Sheriff?

This session was immensely helpful! The panel discussed the rights and responsibilities of readers and journalists to fact-check in an era of citizen journalism. There were many, many tips and tools shared. My favorites were using Photoshop to check photo metadata for accuracy and/or the tool Tin Eye to determine if a photo has been tampered with and who may own the original copyright. We’ve all seen the photos on Facebook that purport to show some newsworthy event that are later proven to be a lie. These practices can help us eliminate these deceptions.

Ironically, as I was writing this blog post an “article” was brought to my attention via Facebook. The article showed a photo of a college student wearing a Michigan State University t-shirt while partying hard. The article made some outrageous claims about MSU students on spring break in Mexico. I was able to use the Tin Eye app that I learned about this morning to prove that the photographic evidence appeared on the internet as early as 2008, diminishing validity to the claim.

Score one for the Spartans!

To read a recap of this session on Storify, please see: If Content Is King, Then Who Is The Sheriff?

Session 2 – How Elizabeth Warren Built Her Grassroots Army

An insider’s view of the email, social and boots-on-the-ground campaign tactics from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s wildly successful campaign was very interesting. In particular I liked the tips they gave on what content they found to be most beneficial for their campaign. They based their social media analytics on the number of shares, which I thought was a unique (and logical) way to look at things. I was inspired to see the strong use of data-driven tactics and content that went into this campaign.

To read a recap of this session on Storify, please see: How Elizabeth Warren Built Her Grassroots Army

Session 3 – 100 Years of Oversharing: Tools for Time Travel

This presentation excited me on a personal level. The first speaker started with a story of a family journal and box of photos dating to World War I, and how he was able to digitize these and pin them to a web-based map. There were similar examples from many different projects from around the world where libraries and archives are crowdsourcing content and digitizing it with geographical data.

I was excited about this because of some personal projects I’d like to work on. One of these is a photo archive. I have dozens and dozens of old family photos that I digitized last summer. I learned about some digital asset management techniques at SXSW last year that I intend to put to good use in organizing these. After seeing this presentation today, I’d love to take them a step further – but I can’t get ahead of myself yet. I also have a journal dating to World War II that we found when cleaning my grandmother’s home after she passed away. The journal, which we assume belonged to a family member – though we aren’t sure who, appears to be a journal of a ship’s captain who worked on a freighter delivering steel through the Great Lakes as part of the war effort. He seems to have allowed soldiers and their war brides to use his freighter as a honeymoon as soldiers traveled to New York for deployment. I would love to digitize this and try to identify the individuals who wrote messages in it!

Sessions 4 and 5 – Student Startup Madness

The final two sessions of the day were the back-to-back sessions of the Student Startup Madness. This is a pitch competition from student-run digital companies hoping to get investment support to grow their business. Michigan State University has a very strong student entrepreneurial program. MSU had several teams compete in the national competition this year, and one team (Carbon Cash) made it to the final round, bringing them to Austin. MSU is the only school to have sent a team to the final round in consecutive years. (The 2013 Grand Champion, TempoRun, was an MSU team.) While our team didn’t win this year, they competed well. I was particularly happy to see that a group of fellow Spartan student entrepreneurs traveled to Texas to support the competing team and represent the university well. To see the company ideas that these MSU students, and the students from the other schools, are working on is inspiring!

MSU Spartans at SXSW

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