A writer’s look at Dig South:
As a writer who’s still trying to get a grasp on my two-year-old smartphone, there was a lot about Dig South that didn’t appeal to my personal interests. Like any of the sessions whose descriptions used the terms “venture capital” or “AdWords.” I skipped those panels to hang out with the frisbee-flinging robots at the expo instead.
But there was still a lot a journalist could get out of the tech conference. The City Paper is not in the same league as CNN or Garden & Gun, so it was a real treat to even be in the same room as these guys during their panels. I bow before thee. I should have brought some business cards. Meredith Artley, the managing editor of CNN Digital and a VP with the organization, gave us nine key points about the future of online journalism at “Reports from the Future: What’s Next for News and Other Media Matters.” It needs to be more visual. It needs to focus more on the conversation. Digital natives, kids born today who have never known life without the iPad, will play a big role in what happens next, and there’s more, which you can read on our website.
Meanwhile, at Garden & Gun‘s session on Sunday, Editor-in-Chief David DiBenedetto said he was confident that print is never going to die — because of digital. In fact, digital helps publications continue the conversation in ways they never could before, and now there are all these new revenue streams that they can get into. Hallelujah. Preach it. These were reassuring words to hear from a thriving national magazine.
In other sessions, it was up to me to pick and choose the tips of the trade that would apply to my industry. Like when tech journalist Shane Snow says there needs to be an infrastructure to support freelancers if that’s going to be who makes up 40 percent of the workforce by 2020.
The most important thing a journalist could take away from Dig South: Some things about the future will never change. Especially telling a good story. Even if writers are dictating features telepathically to be read or watched on Google Glass in the early Mars colonies, all that matters is if it’s a good story. —Susan Cohen
A web editor’s look at Dig South:
I had no idea what to expect when I walked into TD Arena for the first day of the inaugural Dig South Interactive Festival. The speakers list read as a who’s who of regional tech-creative-business types and the music line-up left you having to choose between two shows going on at once. But you gotta hand it to the fest’s masochistic mastermind Stanfield Gray, he pulled it off.
What impressed me in nearly everysession was just how damn smart and talented these folks are. It’s one thing to have illuminating veteran presenters ready to pwn the n00bs in attendance — and Dig South had plenty — but some of the best tidbits from the multi-track conference came in the later stages of sessions during informal discussions with the panels.
It was fitting, then, when looking back at the weekend that keynote speaker Robert Tercek’s mantra was a reference to new tech “vaporizing” culture, entertainment, and business as we know it. “Vaporizing” is sensationalizing things a little, but it’s hard to ignore the common thread of democratization that we’re seeing everywhere as a result of technological innovation. Whether it’s game studios using the same $1,500 gaming engine as a hobbyist developer or major media conglomerates relying on the same open-source web platform as a small-market alt-weekly (ahem…), the barrier to entry to creating the next bigger and better product is lower than ever. While it could (and should) scare the pants off the timid or complacent, those who will come out on top know we’re not in a race to the bottom, but that the bottom is just a little higher than it used to be.
So, if what we saw this weekend at the inaugural Dig South is a sign of things to come in Charleston, then the rising tide bodes well for ships docked in Silicon Harbor. —Sam Spence