Jim Carroll

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SXSW 2016: early noshers, Douglas Rushkoff, Transpecos

The first OTR despatches from SXSW 2016

Transpecos

Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 13:23

   

It’s March madness which means SXSW takes over the streets of Austin, Texas and we’re hanging out trying our best to take it all in and then finding other stuff to go “wow” about that we didn’t know about. Like Questlove DJ-ing at a random block party last night at the WeDC gaff put on by the folks from Washington DC. It’s that kind of town right now and that’s before we start talking about the usual plethora of brands, TV shows doing advance PR for new seasons (the Mr Robot show team have turned a parking lot into the Fun Society amusement arcade) and politicians jaw-jawing (there was a panel featuring six US mayors yesterday and they were all dressed in the exact same “US mayor casual” attire of tie-less suits). Here’s some other stuff which caught our eye and ear.

Early noshers

If I was ringing a bell every time I heard a ridiculous buzz-term, I’d be ringing that bell from morning to night. Early noshers, though, caused a chuckle when it came up at the food trends panel the other morning. It refers to those folks who’re ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting new food trends and trying things out. Speaking of which, Brussels sprouts, wooden boards and bulletproof coffee are out, while algae and edible insects are in. Personally, I think we need to look at doughnuts embedded with edible insects.

Douglas Rushkoff

There’s nothing better than someone delivering great polemic and Douglas Rushkoff did that in spades at his session. Plugging his new book Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity, Rushkoff went off on one again and again about the problem with companies going for scale over sustainability. He used Google (“Google was supposed to be the good guys as opposed to Yahoo”) and Twitter (“Twitter was great but it had to become a mega thing rather than being really good at one thing”) as examples of how keeping investors happy meant companies become addicted to growth and that’s not always a good thing. Pursuit of this end game means that what we’ve got from new economy is really “old corporate capitalism on new digital steroids”. It’s also totally changed how companies operate because “how to get to acquisition or IPO is very different to running a company – you just get big”. As for jobs, don’t him started: “jobs are an artefact of that moment in time – it’s what slavery was about – you’re not valued for what you produce but the time you put in.” Yep, I’ll buy the book

Transpecos

A tale of three border guards on a day when things take an unexpected turn from the usual humdrum of a day in the desert, Transpecos is a hugely accomplished debut by Austin-based director Greg Kwedar. Starring Clifton Collins Jr., Gabriel Luna and Johnny Simmons as the guards in question, there are some fantastic twists and turns to the story after one of the guards decides to take a closer look at one of the cars which rolls up to their checkpoint in the middle of the desert. Aside from the three main actors (Simmons is particularly eye-catching as the youngest of the guards), the other star turn comes from cinematographer Jeffrey Waldron, who captures the vast expanse of desert with great skill. A strong, memorable debut.