In Christopher Hedges' seminal book "The Empire of Illusion," he rails against how esoteric academia has become. No longer do scholarly papers and scholar talk about central issues of thought, writing and philosophy. They deal instead with the "role of broccoli in Melville's 'Typee.'" In other words in order to find something "new" to say about a well-traveled route, academics dive deeper and deeper into the obscure.
I think about this as I see tweets and Facebook burps out of SXSW. It's not just that navel-gazing seems more inappropriate than usual coming on the heels of the Japanese Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Disaster. It's that it seems that half the industry is talking to itself at a conference about things that matter only to attendees of said conference. Most of what they're blathering on about will be of no consequence six months from now and little of it has anything to do with persuading people to love and use a brand.