South By Southwest is only just getting under way in Austin, Texas, but already the golden Lion's Head that was at the heart of the 18th century version of social media is getting people talking – and posting contributions through his mouth. Our replica of Joseph Addison’s 18th century lion was unveiled at Great Britain House and the entrepreneurs and innovators attending the interactive festival are beginning to feed it with stories of their experiences.
“In the midst of the loud music and tech SXSW scene, I was intrigued by an old mould of the Lion’s Head made famous in London that was a courier of people’s stories and daily news,” wrote @stefkeinz. "The Lion’s Head finds relevance in today’s age at SXSW as a symbol of knowledge, truth and community. Thank you, IMP Media, for helping us roar.”
Jenboydsd posted: "Never been to Austin before today. Random chance I met “the Lion” of Britain. Pleasure to meet your story lion. Thanks for roaring to Austin #UKatSXSW”.
Popular topics in 18th century London included fashion, food and the new experiences encountered by correspondents – themes picked up in the stories shared via the lion’s mouth in Austin this week.
In 18th century London much of the fashion talk centred on plunging necklines and shortening petticoats – and dress sense remains a talking point today, with Eddie Felts writing: "Austin fashion seems very dark this year. Why is everyone wearing black?” and @FabbakewellBoys posting: "There’s two lads walking around in masks and spandex. Not sure what they are doing, but they seem friendly.”
Lauren shared her personal fashion story: "I suckered my mom into believing that a fake tattoo, put on at a brand activation @SXSW, was REAL! She asked what possessed me to do this and I replied, “I wanted to get over my fear of needles.” She sent me articles about care and maintenance. I kept it going for a whole day before revealing the secret the next day. She screams,ed a sigh of relief and laughed … and vowed to never trust me again."
Addison’s Lion’s Head was mounted on the walls of Button’s Coffee House in London in 1713 for readers of The Guardian to submit correspondence for the paper – paving the way for letters to the editor, opinions and the comments we take for granted today.
The first item fed into the lion’s mouth was posted by Greg Hands, Minster of State for International Trade, who called in to support the innovative British companies who are at South By Southwest.
Addison designed his lion to be a mouthpiece for the public, not those in authority, and the entrepreneurs and innovators attending the interactive festival are now starting to share details of the eclectic mix of events they’ve seen in Austin.
Marilyn Murray offered this networking tip:
Fela – @msFELAsalinas – posted this account of their day:
Slow Susie wrote: "There are so many joggers in Austin! Joggers with dogs, joggers with buggies, joggers with no shirts, slow joggers and fast joggers. So much jogging… #SXSW"
The great British tradition of talking about the weather also proved popular in a rain-hit Austin, with @jbenno posting: "Soaked but provided with good tea – a very British SXSW experience” and @TweetPaola adding: "Once upon a time, I should have brought an umbrella.”
As South By Southwest gets into full swing we’re looking forward to seeing more people making our lion roar … either through his mouth in Great Britain House or by posting stories, ideas and opinions through the Lion's mouth online.