SXSW: March 12 2019

I started this day with cheese, and it only got better after that. I attended some interesting Interactive sessions, saw one documentary, and spent the evening listening to a smorgasbord of musicians. 


Wisconsin cheese was a perfect way to start a SXSW day. Wisconsin sponsored this popular event called Cheeselandia. Our local media had inaccurately said there would be a five-foot Ferris wheel made of cheese (it was wood with cheese on it), but Bill and I were not disappointed with the selection of delicious cheese, plus fondue, crackers, veggies, and charcuterie.

Easy to Fool? Journalism in the Age of Deepfakes 

Panel members included Paul Cheung (Knight Foundation), Matthew Stamm (Drexel University), Kelly McBride (Poynter Institute), and Jeremy Gilbert (The Washington Post). Gilbert began by describing the history of deepfakes, (a type of synthetic media) including a faked portrait of Abraham Lincoln and Josef? Stalin. It’s not hard to create fakes these days using AI techniques to create text, audio, and synthetic photos and video. Video now is not necessarily proof that something happened. Stamm’s department is working on projects to authenticate videos. He said this becomes more difficult with Facebook and YouTube videos due to compression techniques. Cheung noted that there is a proliferation of distribution channels now. Big newsrooms do some analysis, but the erosion of local media could create a big problem for local communities. Gilbert said that journalists will probably continue to be duped by deepfakes since the technology keeps evolving. Stamm explained that synthetic audio can be analyzed using ENF / power grid frequencies. 

Alexis Jones

Alexis Jones is a motivational speaker and the founder of a non-profit, I Am That Girl, which focuses on empowering women and men. She has no immediate plans to enter politics, although she may consider it for the future.

The Second Golden Age of Podcasting

Dawn Ostroff (Spotify), Matt Lieber (Gimlet), and Michael Mignamo (Anchor) were interviewed by Alex Heath (Cheddar). Ostroff said that podcasts are becoming more and more popular (the US market increased 25% last year), which is one reason why Spotify recently purchased Gimlet and Anchor. Gimlet produces podcast shows; Anchor provides tools for podcasts. Regarding ads: large companies usually have visual style guides for their brand, but don’t usually have an audio style. Podcasts to check out: Now Try This, Chompers (encouraging children to brush their teeth)

Always in Motion: 1 Woman, 12 Months, 52 Places

Jada Yuan was selected as the first 52 Places Traveler for The New York Times. She found out that she had the job on December 28 2017 and left on January 22 2018. She did not pack appropriately at first, sent most of her clothing back home, and her duffle bag only lasted for four stops. Yuan mostly depended on a compact camera (Sony RX100), a laptop, and her iPhone. She tried to focus her NYT articles on people and experiences, not popular tourist attractions. She learned a lot about travel and food writing, which was not her background. In general, she was not lonely except for a honeymoon destination like Fiji. Surprisingly, one of her favorite places was Montgomery, Alabama. 

Carmine Street Guitars

Carmine Street Guitars is a documentary about a guitar shop of the same name in Greenwich Village. Their handmade electric guitars are created from wood salvaged from old New York City buildings. I loved director Ron Mann’s focus on watching musicians actually play these guitars. 

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

NPR’s host of All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen, curated this evening of performances by Tiny Desk alumni. Genres included folk, blues, rock, hip hop, and even puppetry. Here’s who performed: Gaelynn Lea, Cautious Clay, John Paul White (Civil Wars), Mountain Men, Gina Chavez, Fragile Rock, Amanda Palmer, Wyclef Jean, and Leckeli47.

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