Trending at SXSW: Sex; Anonymity; Free Sunglasses. (Also, Google Glass is definitely creepy.)

Chuka Chase, rocking the wood-grains.

Chuka Chase, rocking the wood-grains.

Southby! It’s that time of the year again, when gobsmacking masses of techies converge in the Texas capital for five days of drinking, trend-chasing, drinking, drinking, socializing, scavenging free barbeque, drinking, standing in lines, sporting the occasional pushup, and chasing the next big thing. Also, drinking.

The widely buzzed-about (or over-hyped, depending on your perspective) festival famously serves as a launchpad for emerging technology trends. The atmosphere offers a palpable taste of the zeitgeist — live at the time of this writing, at the Samsung Blogger Lounge, panelists dive into a live YouTube show, What’s Trending.

SX revolutionized the sharing economy when then-ramen-unprofitable AirBNB revolutionized short-term home sharing. It shifted social media when Twitter blew up, most famously with Scott Beale’s impromptu AltaVista party. It helped launch the musical career of impossible-to-spell-his-name-without-Googling-it Macaulay Culkin’s Pizza Band. And this year includes, among other highlights — not to be confused with Highlight — real-life Mario Kart racing.

Often referred to as “spring break for nerds,” attendees oft scour for the same thing as people at every other spring break: sex. And this year, in particular, there’s an app for that. Many apps. On the top of everyone’s mind is Tinder, whose popularity seems impossible to quell. Then there’s the gay ol’ standby Grindr, whose Saturday night party promises to be… interesting.

Then there’s social dating app Down, rebranded from the infamous Bang With Friends. Offering double-opt-in matchmaking with a twist, users swipe “down” on a person’s face if they want to “get down,” or swipe up if they covet a date. Finally, a solution to humanity’s greatest challenge: separating those who want to date from those who want to fuck. (Venture capital at work!)

Since everyone is getting tired of Facebook’s insistence on real names, anonymity is enjoying a moment in the sun. Most popular, of course, is Secret, among a slew of emerging apps offering freedom from the glaring eye of everyone you know in real life. From another angle, internet privacy matters more than ever, with anonymous web-surfing trending along with the launch of The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.

Something you’d expect to see a lot of is Google Glass — but tellingly, there’s a lot more Regular Glass (it’s still a nerd conference, after all), not to mention sunglasses. Free shades dance about ubiquitously, elevated to the status of semi-official schwag. (Sidenote: bright neon frames are in, slatted Wayfarers and their assorted knock-offs are out.) When I met someone yesterday wearing Google Glasses, my first question was, “are you recording this?” and he replied, exasperatedly, “why does everyone keep asking me that?”

Bonus trend: “gif” is now definitely pronounced “jif.”

Apparently, Telegrams are Still a Thing

MAKE ME

MAKE ME

In 2006, Western Union announced the end of its telegram services, leading many to proclaim an end to the messaging service whose popularity once approximated that of WhatsApp.

Apparently, however, you can still send a telegram — just not through Western Union. Instead, International Telegram, or iTelegram, picks up the slack. According to Wikipedia:

iTelegram provides telegram, mailgram and telex service. In the United States, iTelegram still operates the telegram service which, until 2006, was marketed under the Western Union brand.

Niftily, in the UK at least, “for telegrams to hotels, inns or B&B’s, a street address is not necessary. For example, ‘Hilton Heathrow, London’ is sufficient.”

The Eight Official Emotions of Google Tech Support

Angry, annoyed... and possibly excited.

Angry, annoyed… and possibly excited?

How do you feel? LiveJournal wants to know. Facebook wants to know. And so, apparently, does Google Tech Support.

I recently filled out a support request with Google for a bug I’ve been experiencing with Hangouts. In addition to asking the usual questions — a description of the issue, steps to reproduce it, and level of priority — the Support form ends with an unusual inquest: How does this issue make you feel?

One might expect an open-ended field in which to input any number of emotions. Presciently, however, and a bit prescriptively, Google narrows tech-support-emotions to a drop-down menu of eight pre-defined options:

  • Confused
  • Frustrated
  • Worried
  • Panicked
  • Angry
  • Curious
  • Annoyed
  • Excited

So much for feeling lucky.

All of the above.

All of the above.

 

Twitter CEO Wins Crunchies, Crappies

The power of Twitter lies within his chin.

In what might be a Silicon Valley first, Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, won two startup awards on the same night, highlighting both the achievements of his role at the company’s helm, and the controversies created in the process.

Inside the Davies Symphony Hall, Costolo won “Best CEO,” the Best Actor equivalent of The Crunchies, Silicon Valley’s lavish annual award ceremony co-organized by TechCrunch, GigaOM, and VentureBeat. Costolo’s newest accolade emerged from fierce competition, in which he edged out Tesla’s Elon Musk, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Yahoo!’s Marissa Mayer, and runner-up-winning Travis Kalanick of Uber.

“This is really a team award,” said Costolo, in a gracious and brief acceptance speech. “It’s just such a delight to be able to get up in the morning and come to work with such enthusiastic, and creative, and courageous people. It makes it fun, it makes it exciting, and it never gets old, so thanks very much — I really appreciate it.”

Today marked the seventh year of The Crunchies, and the first of another event: The Crappies, organized in protest by the San Francisco chapter of Jobs With Justice. Playfully adorned with hand-written, paperboard signage, The Crappies organizers “awarded” individuals and companies for actions deemed problematic and harmful to the city and its myriad communities.

Dick Costolo was among the dubious cast of Crappies prizewinners, receiving the award for Best Tax Evader. The award references the company’s decision to relocate to the city’s Mid-Market neighborhood in the now-termed “Twitter building.”

In agreeing to the move, Twitter accepted a payroll tax credit pioneered by Mayor Ed Lee. The credit, misleadingly called the “Twitter tax break,” in fact extends to any company that relocates to the Mid-Market neighborhood, a trending district that incorporates areas of Civic Center and the Tenderloin, along with stretches of SoMa from 6th to 10th Street.

In guise of the real Costolo, local nonprofit worker and activist James Chionsini, playing a rather convincing Fake Dick Costolo, accepted the award. Chionsini’s last tweet, dated from almost a year ago, rings today with newfound prescience:

The Crappies have followed a wave anti-gentrification protests across the Bay Area, where private buses transport Google workers to and from the company’s Mountain View headquarters. The protests, widely covered in both tech and mainstream press, highlight the tensions rippled by the wave of a tech economy that fails to lift all boats.

“San Francisco is in a crisis,” decries Jobs With Justice. Median rental prices recently topped $3,000 for the first time in history, situating the City by the Bay as the country’s single most expensive place to live.

Announcing #sfbeta :: NYC SocialWeek Edition

Held in San Francisco since 2006, #sfbeta arrives in New York City on Monday, October 14, in partnership with SocialWeek.

Join hundreds of founders, investors, and hackers at The Alley for an evening of awesome people, groundbreaking startups, and illuminating conversation, celebrating the future of social media and the innovators behind it.

Co-produced with longtime friend and collaborator Michael Gold, Founder & Executive Producer of #techdrinkup, you’re invited to join us at the first and only NYC #sfbeta of the year.

#sfbeta provides a curated group of startups with the opportunity to demo throughout the evening. Startups with a social media focus: apply to demo today.

Register now for #sfbeta :: NYC SocialWeek Edition