Thoughts on South By Southwest & TED

Last week I went to the South by Southwest conference (SXSW) in Austin. I hope I managed to encourage some of the code and game developers there to get involved with setiQuest. There were some familiar faces from TED at SXSW. So I’ve been thinking about what TED and SXSW have in common and how they differ. Both have enormous energy. SXSW is bigger and the attendees are younger. At SXSW it’s about sharing the people who represent new ideas, at TED the ideas get shared directly. At TED, it’s about changing the world, at SXSW it’s about changing the bottom line, so that it might then be possible to change the world.  
In the past year since my 2009 TED wish, we’ve made some real progress garnering the resources we need to implement setiQuest. That web site has now captured the contact information from more than a thousand individuals who want to help us develop code, and algorithms, and serve as human pattern detectors. There are tens of thousands of ‘waterfall’ plots now residing in the cloud for the data visualization specialists to experiment on. We’re on schedule to start publishing our massive signal processing code in June, and we’ve hooked up with Jane McGonigal to start thinking about the parameters of a SETI game based on real data. I wish I could stay home more to work on making the searches better, instead of hitting the road to raise the needed funds. Avinash Agrawal is holding all the bits and pieces together, and helping our small team figure out what needs to get done, by when. There is no denying that it’s been a privilege to participate in both TED and SXSW in 2010, and Davos as well!  I now have a new job, trying to find effective ways that the SETI searches on the Allen Telescope Array can grow better and faster with the help of the world, and maybe some of the clever work we've developed for SETI signal detection can find uses elsewhere. Onwards to the next plane.