Ben Silbermann, co-founder of Pinterest, was always a collector of things. As a child he collected stamps and insects. After much thought and research, the former Google employee left the Internet giant to start Pinterest, a social networking site that allows users to "pin" their favorite photos to digital boards.
Although the site has been around since late 2009, Silbermann discussed on Tuesday at the Austin Convention Center how building it took a lot of time, designers and faith. He said building the online pinning boards was something he believed could help people figure out what they want in life.
He was candid in his Q-and-A, often saying how excited he was that people were using his site.
"It's a really weird and humbling feeling that all these people are using this thing you helped make," he said.
Pinterest is still growing, and Silbermann said he is always looking for way to make it better but is not focused on the monetization of the site.
— Isadora Vail
Anthony Bourdain, a few reservations
Anthony Bourdain and his Zero Point Zero Production staff created two of the most creative and ambitious food travel shows that have ever existed ("No Reservations" and "The Layover"), and they are using that same approach with social media.
It all started in December 2010, relatively late in social media years, when the team "hijacked the Facebook and Twitter pages as a defensive measure," Bourdain told a packed ballroom in the Austin Convention Center on Tuesday. Why? "We didn't want them to suck."
Helen Cho, social media manager for Zero Point Zero, admits that they really didn't have much experience when they started, and they are still figuring it out as they go.
Everyone, from production assistants to the director of photography, uses Twitter and Facebook to give behind-the-scenes updates, but they have a strict policy against tweeting or Facebooking where they are going to be shooting. But everyone on the crew knows that once an episode airs, the place that is being featured will never be the same. "We destroy what we love," Bourdain said.
— Addie Broyles
Ziggy Marley at premiere of ‘Marley'
Ziggy Marley attended the U.S. premiere of Kevin Macdonald's poignant documentary "Marley" Sunday at the Paramount Theatre. Macdonald's documentary utilized rare concert footage and interviews with those closest to Bob Marley to provide a well-rounded examination of the reggae legend's life. Ziggy, Marley's oldest son, said even he learned something about his father, who died of cancer at age 36.
"There have been a lot of things already made about him, but we wanted this to be definitive," Ziggy Marley said Monday. "And one way of doing that was by actually having the family involved and having people who knew Bob personally — the closest people to Bob — being in the film and trying to show Bob beyond the legend of what he is and have some sort of emotional value to the film. We wanted it to be something people could feel."
("Marley" screens at 4:30 p.m. today at Alamo Village and 10 p.m. Friday at the Paramount Theatre.)
— Matthew Odam
Austin band on the keys at Mohawk
Free backpacks! Beer! People crowded in at Mohawk for the Jansport bonfire party, which was advertised as having an actual bonfire, though that wasn't happening in 80-degree, super-muggy weather. The weather was a bit easier to take, however, with Mohawk's new two-tiered deck, which added a lot more shade.
White Denim, the Strange Boys, Bear Hands and Fly Golden Eagle were scheduled to play the party. The Austin-based Strange Boys, who released their third full-length album, "Live Music," in 2010, went on around 4 p.m. after a delay during which lead singer Ryan Sambol killed time on the piano.
The keys provided the foundation for much of the band's set, with Sambol singing and playing at the same time, which might not sound like much but isn't something that a whole lot of other rock 'n' roll bands in Austin are doing. It's something that Sambol, whose songs lean pretty heavily on R&B and country rock, pulls off fairly well.
— Peter Mongillo
Code for America Brigade starts here
Jennifer Pahlka, who spoke to the American-Statesman recently about her organization Code for America, gave an inspiring presentation to a packed Ballroom D at the convention center as South by Southwest Interactive began to wind down on its final day.
Pahlka, who has a background in tech conference organization, talked about the need to get more involved with government and to help create change, but not necessarily through traditional means or by driving voting efforts. Instead, she hopes to create an army (or "brigade") of programmers or just citizens who want to help to create apps and other tools using city data.
"Technology is making it possible for us to fundamentally reframe the functions of government," she said.
At the festival, Code for America is launching a program to get more people involved. A launch party for Code for America Brigade took place Tuesday night at Austin City Hall.
Curse and blessing of aggregators
Bill Falk, editor-in-chief of The Week; Felix Salmon, finance blogger for Reuters; Julia Turner, deputy editor for Slate; and Simon Dumenco, editor-at-large at Advertising Age, discussed "Is Aggregation Theft?" on Tuesday morning.
People are very busy, they said. Aggregation is useful because someone is reading everything for you and telling you which pieces are starting conversations, but the problem is that we live in a Web traffic-based economy, and we want to value ideas and content creators. Aggregators have challenged original content creators to step up their game.
"(Matt) Drudge (of the Drudge Report) has been doing it right forever," Dumenco said. "When Advertising Age gets linked to by Drudge, it's a positive thing (because it drives a lot of traffic), but it's also terrifying because you have all these deranged commenters."