THE BLOG

Beyond the Valley: The Beast That Ate Austin

21/03/2014 11:12 GMT | Updated 20/05/2014 10:59 BST

The Slow Loris is the most dynamic role model for Social media marketers.

The Loris uses an intelligence based on seeing, feeling and eating only what is important while ignoring all noise, knowing that it's supper cannot hope to have the same discipline. The Loris' prey lives in a world too fast to notice the magic bearing down on it. Every time insects, lizards and birds look at the Loris they can't see it has moved closer. Until it's too late. 2014-03-20-44.png

Like the neophiles that infest every aspect of Social media and marketing, they casually note their nearby Lorises and move on, ignoring the big hairy reality about to turn their dreams into punchlines. Too many other things to see and think about - that rustle over there, a flash of light here, raindrops falling everywhere.

The important evolutions in and around Social - such as the fact the iOS platform is about to make both location based services and mobile payments relevant for real consumers - are not interesting to those with too fast an attention span in a noisy world.

SXSW presents such a perilous environment.

A series of informal get togethers on the fringe of tech and the arts has evolved into a blingtard infected, brand and agency over-invested noisemaker. Like the perceived environment of those jungle bugs and other tasty Loris lunches, it is too fast, too big, and too loud to reveal anything impactful.

The Slow Loris menacing Austin is the long list of tectonic truths which really are revolutionary. Truths like the fact my Mum had an iPhone and bought something through it long before I did. SXSW has mutated from geeking about in what used to be slacker central, to a hucksterish hybrid of a shop window, a startup speed dating centre and a predatory place to be fleeced by self identified gurus. It's a barometer of what big media wants to push to Social influencers and what the current fascinations of groupthinking blogerati are.

Trade shows and conferences started an evolution into self-sustaining money mincers in 1948.

Dr. Edwin Land, the founder of Polaroid, inventor of instant photography and a man who did more to bring back Social media in the 20th Century than most, realised that his product introduction cycle and storytelling needs were best served in his own time, at his own place and pace, and via his own people.

Not as part of some global knees up where brilliance would be lost amongst bluster and fuss. That's why Steve Jobs vetoed an Apple presence at CES. Any innovator takes a similar view.

Otto von Bismarck realised that the 'great questions of the day' would not be settled in conferences and crowdsourcing but in "iron and blood".

In our less ambitious, more gentle world the big evolutions are defined, and the biggest questions are answered via the slowly changing spending and behaviour of ordinary consumers. Money and action, not the prognostications of a self-perpetuating bubbly Möbius strip of conferences and guru emissions, are what matter.

Money talks and bullshit walks, even if the smelly stroll is taken in Foursquare integrated Cowboy Boots.

The Slow Lorises to be aware of centre around the fact that the broken promises of the Web economy bubble from a decade and half ago - around mobile, commerce, 'Big Data', video and radical changes in consumer behaviour are finally being kept. Some of these promises are now old enough to drink in America, but are Lorises that have long bored the soon to be munched up neophiles.

Dreams of an iWatch, a crowdsourced way to sell homegrown produce and Twitter powered magical vending machines are just the irrelevant flutterings of prey species. A multi-course Loris menu, in fact.