Hashtag Kebab aka ‘the art of conference jacking’

Legendary kebab panel at SXSWi
Legendary kebab panel at SXSWi

Undoubtedly the best twitter hashtag of SXSWi, #kebab quickly became the WTF session of the whole interactive festival.

Set up by School of Everything, Tuttle, Fix My Street and others, it was a word-of-twitter-mouth, rogue, wind-up unpanel that took over room 12 and brought a bit of classic UK punk to South By. Inflammatory statements – ‘the UK does social media way better than the Yanks’ – brought delegates swarming from other panels to ‘Not Another Social Media Panel’.

The roomful of British social media types broke down in giggles and sniggered as socmed consultants swaggered up to the mic like rock stars. Meanwhile the array of panel members resembling a motley University Challenge line-up were voted on and off the podium at a whim as they cut questioners dead like Paxman on Newsnight.

The people fought back by creating giant titles on their laptop screens and placing them in front of panel members. Names like Twat and Twat2.0 appeared as others came up and edited the screens.

Within minutes seats filled up as the room hashtagged the kebab stoopidity all over twitter. By the end of play, the audience had doubled in size – attracting a sudden rash of Americans into the 99% British audience who came to defend their country resulting in lines from @paulcarr such as ‘The Brits are the caddies to the US’s golf club of terror’.

Within an hour the ‘Pythonesque’ session, as one audience member described it, had become one of the hits of SXSWi – at least for all those who were fed up of endless panels discussing monetisation and marketing buzzwords (see Whuffie below) and polite but blatant plugs masquerading as mic questions.

Questions ranged from ‘anything good happened at SXSW that doesn’t involve monetisation?’ (answer: ‘Well, I pulled a girl’) to tweets such as:

Bandrew: Topic: What does Birmingham do better than Silicon Valley? #sxsw #kebab
LouiseCampbell: UKv's US #kebab the UK are always playing ketchup.
oodleday: "how do we monetize waterboarding" OMG I love this panel #kebab
katiemoffat: "not a twitter user"?! Stone him #sxsw #kebab
dougald: #kebab panel: "If Twitter had been around on 9/11, it wouldn't have happened." #sxsw
ChrisUnitt: Has the BBC and C4 raised the bra for public service media in the UK? #kebab
stewarttownsend: Girls Arse Feck #kebab the panelof experts…….live now..

Suddenly, hashtag kebab was a trending topic on Twitter.

Part two ran again the next day, with questions such as ‘can Twitter stop Hitlers?’ but the crowd were not as wound up and ready for blood as the day before. Still, look out for a spontaneous Brit unpanel next year as the Brit geeks let off steam.

Here’s a flavour of the live event, courtesy of @chrisunitt.

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