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The most cringeworthy quotes from SXSW Interactive so far

Things you never thought a human being would have to say.


Miles Klee


Posted on Mar 7, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 4:06 pm CDT

While plenty of people are at Austin’s South by Southwest festival right now just to see films and live music, some 30,000 arrived with an eye toward what’s called SXSW Interactive. For the uninitiated, those are the panels and speeches in which horrible developments in technology and Web culture are discussed using maximum jargon.

Would we expect any less from a “unique mix of uber-creative professionals”? I think not. But much of what we’re hearing out of this conference is sad, scary, and a bit insane out of context. The Social Business Shake-Up and opening keynote address from writer/artist Austin Kleon accounted for some of the wackiest quotes, though there was no shortage of fawning hyperbole, tortured analogies, vast generalizations, or rash predictions. The future is here! 

“Social doesn’t change your culture. It reveals it.” – @sandy_carter #socbizshakeup #sxswi

— IBM Social Business (@IBMSocialBiz) March 7, 2014

“Your social influencer score is going to become the new SAT score ” –@sandy_carter #socbizshakeup

— Courtney Pannell (@CocoPannell) March 7, 2014

I just heard the phrase the “Google of Where” and now I want to disappear into the ocean

— Sam Bailey (@entropymedia) March 7, 2014

Today is about what’s the 10 minutes ago from @IBMSocialBiz #SocBizShakeUp

— Peter Sandberg (@CaliPete) March 7, 2014

You are 100% in charge of your life. Stop “complaining.” @garyvee #SXSW #SXSWi

— Staci Salazar (@7onashoestring) March 7, 2014

“Social media is an organization’s data-selfie” #socbizshakeup #sxswi

— Lizz Restat (@lizzrest) March 7, 2014

The biggest social shakeup at #SXSWi is Predictive Analytics because we must better optimize content. #socbizshakeup

— janryan (@janryan) March 7, 2014

@jowyang and @alexandrasamuel discussing the Collaborative Economy !! Totally breakthrough #sxswi #SocBizShakeUp

— sandy carter (@sandy_carter) March 7, 2014

“Those who embraced #social early were the change agents within their organizations.” –@robincarey at #SocBizShakeUp. (Can you relate?)

— Emily Shannon (@PrettyandPoor) March 7, 2014

Parents are now finding they need to have the data permanence talk before the birds and the bees talk, @JaredCohen says. #NewDigAge #SXSWi

— Cara Maresca (@CaraMaresca) March 7, 2014

You don’t want to be in the print business. It’s not trackable and it’s shrinking. #digicronut #sxswi

— Raimy Rosenduft (@raimyrosenduft) March 7, 2014

“I spend my time studying people to see how I can provide them value”-@garyvee #sxswi

— colin ashby (@colinashby) March 7, 2014

Forget about being a genius. Just become part of the scenius. Don’t become a human spam! Open your ears! Listen! Close your mouth! #sxswi

— Valentina Sulbaran (@valensulbaran) March 7, 2014

So meta! Opening keynote with @austinkleon starts with question “Is #SXSWi over?” #ShowURWork

— anitasvv (@anitasvv) March 7, 2014

do brands fit in with wearable counting? #DoBrands #SXSWi

— chrix (@chrixurbina) March 7, 2014

“Marriage is two people in love standing in the same bathroom” #austinkleon #SXSWi #SXSW14

— Lacey Jae (@lacerbacer) March 7, 2014

Fellow students are better teachers than experts because they are much closer to the learning experience Austin kleon #SXSWi @GovLab

— Carmen A. Medina (@milouness) March 7, 2014

Vampire test: if u leave someone feeling drained,they’re a vamp. If you leave feeling energized = not. Vamps can’t B cured. Rid them! #sxswi

— Sue Holland (@suesthegrl) March 7, 2014

Food tech at its best! @oreo‘s 3D vending machine prints cookies based on Twitter trends. #eatthetweet #sxsw

— Angela Haupt (@angelahaupt) March 7, 2014

If you work for a large corporation, neo sharers are disrupting your market #smdata #sxswi

— Lizz Restat (@lizzrest) March 7, 2014

How do you beat search engine conflict–use a ghost chair!! #SXSWi (have to be there)

— Nicole Lightbourne (@nLight11) March 7, 2014

We have to start thinking about car manufacturers as software companies #sxswi

— Jacob Voncannon (@JRVoncannon) March 7, 2014

¨Every brand did not need their own harlem shake. This is not how we create a brand/marketing strategy.” #viralsucks #SXSWi

— SEJournal (@sejournal) March 7, 2014

#googleglass …the hipster eyewear of #SXSW2014 #SXSWi

— Erin Tilley (@erintilley) March 7, 2014

#sxswi is more than parties: a panel made solid points on how to engage minorities on social w/o sounding condescending #gloverparkgroup

— Max Burns (@themaxburns) March 7, 2014

We need a 3d printer like #DeloitteSXSW so we start printing gnomes. #SXSWi

— theGKWco (@theGKWco) March 7, 2014

True life tales: your biz won’t survive if you don’t aggressively adjust your culture as needed. For instance, Nokia. #SXSWi #StartUpChats

— Autumn Yeo (@autumnyeo) March 7, 2014

The future of digital will either happen to you, or because of you. @briansolis #bisummit #sxswi

— Russell Radefeld (@RussellRadefeld) March 7, 2014

With all this cultlike enthusiasm and the general lack of self-awareness, we’re glad to see not everyone was in high spirits:

We’ve got a boat on Lake Austin we will take you on a real ride & video it! @RealGrumpyCat I HAVE A BOAT #SXSWi #SXSW

— Chris Yates (@chrisyates11) March 7, 2014

If Grumpy Cat didn’t have a reason to be ticked off before, she certainly does now.

Photo by Peter Tsai/Flickr

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*First Published: Mar 7, 2014, 7:15 pm CST