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SXSW 2009 and RiP: a Remix Manifesto

“Keep Austin Weird” is the motto in Austin, Texas and the weird folks of Austin put on a good show during SXSW. Since 1994 when the festival added the music and interactive components, SXSW has been a meeting point for rockstars, geeks and all sorts of creative types. This year was the fifth year in a row for us. From what I understand about previous SXSW festivals, this year was par for the course with a lot of good people, great conversations and fun parties.

First of all, it should be mentioned that there are two very different sides to SXSW. During the day, the conference is much like a mild-mannered marketing executive. Panels are attended; ideas are shared; insights are gained; hands are shaken; relationships are formed. While the sun is still up, SXSW appears to be much like any other conference. And the lineup of presenters were great this year. I was particularly interested in all of the presentations on the topic of mobile applications and location based social networks. More than just iPhone users having fun playing around with Foursquare, there was a real sense that mobile devices – the computers in our pockets – had the capacity to help people “do good” in the world and start to level out some of the inequalities of our digital divide. And it’s also exciting to see the internet moving away from our computer monitors as the ubiquitous web begins to enhance the way we live our daily lives and enrich our social interactions.

There were just too many good presentations to mention here. Our own Robert Scales and Kris Krug participated in a great panel “doing business in china for fun and profit” that was very well recieved. There’s some great coverage you can check out here. And of course, each of the keynote speakers were great, but if I learned anything from SXSW, it’s that the real action takes place in the hallways between sessions. When you pack so many bright, creative and ambitious people into one building, the results are bound to be inspiring.

But as I said, there are two sides to SXSW. When the sun goes down, the mild-mannered marketing execs transform into raging rockstars. Each night there were plenty of sponsored parties and the streets were full of conference attendees stumbling from one venue to the next. We were proud to be sponsoring the SXNW party for the fourth year in a row. After the success of previous SXNW parties, it was clear that people were excited for this year’s throw down. And they weren’t disappointed. The Iron Cactus was packed with good people and the free drinks flowed late into the evening. A big thank you is due to our co-sponsors, Acquia, Blue Flavor andRackspace, and of course thank you to everyone who attended. Perhaps I’m biased, but it was my favorite event of the week and I heard the same from many other folks.

We also watch the successful launch of RiP: A remix manifesto. We just completed the interactive web project associated with this great film. (see bellow for more details)

SXSW was an amazing experience and it’s not to be missed if you have the chance to go.



(photo credit: laughingsquid, elliotng cell911,lensey automatic)



RiP: a Remix Manifesto

SXSW film festival was rocked by the US premiere of Brett Gaylor’s RiP: a Remix Manifesto.  Advance tickets were sold out in no time and everyone in attendance was treated to great show.  Gaylor has produced an excellent documentary that everyone – even if you don’t agree – should watch and really consider what happening in the world of copyright law.

More than any film that’s come before it, RiP explains in clear terms what’s at stake in the fight over copyright. The documentary personalizes the issue by following one of Gaylor’s favorite musicians, the mash-up artist Girl Talk, and examines the costs musicians like him to face to distribute his music. Featuring interviews from outspoken critics of the american copyright systemLawrence Lessig and Cory Doctorow, Gaylor vividly illustrates the constraints existing legislation puts on creativity and issues a call-to-arms in the fight over copyright.

And beyond simply talking about traditional copyright, RiP is experimenting with the way films are produced and distributed. Throughout the production process, Gaylor uploaded his raw footage to and invited anyone who was interested to download, remix, add their own material and upload their work back to the site. Over six years in the making, Gaylor has produced a crowd-sourced documentary featuring many voices from the copyfight.

But the remixing isn’t done yet! Gaylor has made the entire film freely available for download in chapter format on and everyone is invited to dig in make their own remix of the documentary. Raincity Studios has been really proud to be working with Brett to redesign the website and enable users to remix his film directly in their browsers using video platform Kaltura. So, just like culture, RiP is a perpetual work in progress, with future incarnations of the film set to incorporate remixed material

As a coproduction between the National Film Board of Canada and Montreal-basedEyeSteelFilm, Canadian pride swelling among the canucks in the crowd. And it was great to see the enthusiastic response from everyone in attendance (in spite of a few loud people who still don’t seem to understand). Lessig was in attendance and took questions with Gaylor after the screening, both passionately speaking about the need to protect the public commons and ensure the future of our collective creative capacity.

We’re really proud of Brett and impressed by all the hard work he’s put into the film. If you weren’t in Austin and missed the screening, don’t worry. Check out the upcoming screenings or you can get involved in the RiP’s open-source film tour. To learn more, and