Well, here it is, post SXSW and I've been nowhere near Austin.
Not that, as a native Austinite, I really get hyped up about SXSW. All these people invade the city and make me wait Really Long Times to go to my favorite restaurants, and all the bars charge exorbitant amounts of cover for live music, which'd be different if they didn't normally have live music year-round.
But the panels are sometimes good, and (the occasional times I'm in Austin for SXSW of recent), I like to at least know what's going on, and use my connections to get into the right parties. The trick to SXSW parties is if you know you're supposed to be there, and can toss out the right names, you don't need to flash your badge. Which is good, because I never buy a badge anyhow.
Bruce's keynote at SXSW this year rehashed his SIGGRAPH speech on informational objects/blogjects/spimes (Wikipedia attempts to define spime) First of, I think spime is a better term for IM spam than an information object, but that's beside the point.
Now, Information-Objects are not a terribly new thing, the ubiquitous computing movement's been (every few years) popping up with fun devices that give you info, like the grandaddy of them all, the XEROX fountain which altered its flow depending on the trading rates of XEROX's stock. More recently is the Ambient Orb line of stuff, which you can set to change colors depending on various variables.
The new thing here is of course that the information is going the other way -- these (items-which-need-a-new-name) send out info, not just report it. Depending on their network requirements (Can they use Sat-phones for a reasonable cost?), they could be very useful in various development causes -- human rights protection/observation, environment reporting, and potentially interesting possiblities to better enable Participatory Video type "new media" projects.
Of course, we do get to ponder the security implications of furbys and spimes...