South by Southwest, the Austin-based tech and entertainment expo, is known for hosting some experimental TV promos. This year, American Gods has a giant buffalo, The Man in the High Castle is opening a Resistance Radio station, Better Call Saul and Twin Peaks opened restaurants for Los Pollos Hermanos and Double R Diner. But none of those compare to the uncanny valley insanity that is whatever's going on for The Handmaid's Tale.
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"We don't like our car bumping into things," said Chris Urmson, head of Google's self-driving project, addressing the February 14 incident where Google's car stuck a bus. "This was a tough day for us."
South-by-South-West, the back-patting tech conference masquerading as a music festival, is currently wrapping up in Austin, Texas. In among the press conferences, there's been time for some actual bands to play — and for those of us unable to be there in person, the festival has released 8.42 gigabytes of DRM-free MP3s for your listening pleasure.
When stuff comes out in the US, we sort of just assume that we'll get it eventually. We got all excited last week, though, when Google's head of Android said that Chromecast — Google's HDMI streaming dongle — would drop in loads more markets this week. Turns that Australia isn't one of those markets.
Starbucks baristas will write your name on the side of your coffee cup, but that's nowhere near the level of personalisation the Barista Bot is capable of. After snapping your portrait with a webcam, it uses a robotic arm to then draw your face in the milk foam atop your latte. That's overkill in the best way possible.
There's a lot of tech stuff going down at SXSW between talking shoes and the projection-effect pool tables and whathaveyou, but at the end of the day, music is still a huge part. A 7.39 GB part. And you can go grab it all for free right now.
The other day we covered the brouhaha over a New York ad firm converting the homeless into human wireless hotspots. Now it's time for The Daily Show's always delightful take! And no, John Stewart does not approve.
There's a famous photo from SXSW taken 10 years ago, with just about every significant blogger at the time all gathered around one table. Many of them went on to form incredibly influential companies, like Flickr, Twitter and Gawker. Today, a lot of those same people are skipping the conference. And if you believe the backlash, South by Southwest has lost its cool. It's just a marketing hypefest, where the most common achievement is barbecue bloat.
SXSW, the annual vanity carnival of schmoozing, marketing superficiality and barbecues, has something new to offer Austin's visitors: unalloyed human degradation. A New York ad firm has converted homeless people into 4G hotspots.
The breakout app from SXSW this year may be Highlight, or it may be Pinwheel. But the most exciting news? It's about Instagram, which is finally sort-of showing off a beta of its Android app.