Archive for the ‘SXSW’ Category

Social Media Marketing

Still coughing for England, my first session of the day was Dave Evans from Digital Voodoo Inc, author of: Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day, running through the main points in his book. The book is aimed at traditional marketers with the premise of there’s nothing wrong with marketers participating in the social web but if they go about it in the wrong way they’ll alienate their potential audience.

Low Hanging Fruit
•    Look for the little things that matter to your customers
•    These are the things they’ll talk about

e.g. He gave an example of a book shop that was following their customers on Twitter, on lady had been stood up on a date and they sent her flowers!

The new organisation means that operations and marketing overlap and have to work to support each other.

Social media is the perfect tool to get to know your audience. Ignore this at your peril.

The are plenty of tools out there for measuring success -he mentioned a load. Couldn’t keep up.

He mentioned the Skittles campaign where they’ve taken unfiltered chatter on the social web about Skittles and published it.

“Perhaps I should explain where I’m coming from. I had (and still have) a dream that the web could be less of a television channel and more of an interactive sea of shared knowledge. I imagine it immersing us as a warm, friendly environment made of the things we and our friends have seen, heard, believe or have figured out. I would like it to bring our friends and colleagues closer, in that by working on this knowledge together we can come to better understandings.” – Tim Berners Lee, 1995

He recommended we read an article from The Atlantic from 1945, ‘As we may think’

A quick fire presentation, hard to keep up if you’re taken notes. I’m going to buy the book.


To spec or not to spec, that is the question

Sounds like a fight is breaking out in ACC Ballroom A in the session: “Is Spec Work Evil? The Online Creative Community Speaks”

Shame I missed it

Social Media Nonprofit ROI Poetry Slam

Priya’s raving about this. Apparently the whole thing was done in poetry. A topic that could have been quite dull was made enjoyable. Thankfully on Slideshare:

I like your style

Was sitting behind a blogger in my first session who was updating the following:

The illustrations are beautiful.

Building a Brand that matters

Lots of people raving about the presentation by Zappos CEO Tony Hseih. Thankfully available on slideshare:

The future of social Networks

After a walking out of a truly dreadful presentation, I headed over to ballroom A to see the tail end of Charlene Li, author of Groundswell.

What I saw was great and thankfully she’s posted the whole thing on

Design and Develop Workflows with CS4

The session had a great premise: how designers and developers could better work better together. I’ve first experience of seeing how designers come up with a Photoshop designs for a Flash app, which means the Flash developer has to build vector graphics from scratch. Also it’s so common to see beautiful Photoshop files that when built in HTML look a bit rough around the edges. There must be a better way. There were circa 200 people in the audience. The panellists did a show of hands to how many people were designers – approx 50%. They asked who used Photoshop approx 90%. They asked who used Cold Fusion and only one person put up their hand. They spent the next 20 minutes talking about “cool” new features in Cold Fusion, while the rest of the audience got bored and angry. Tonnes of people walked out. They then spent the next 20 minutes talking about Dreamweaver and some new cool Ajax features. Not a single mention of how this helps designers. Microsoft have built some great tools around Silverlight development meaning developers and designers use the same tools and don’t have to throw stuff away. I was hoping Adobe were going to share the same. I’ve heard Fireworks has some good capabilities for speeding up web developers. If only they’d covered that. The whole session was a complete waste of time. I walked out with a whole host of others.

The 7 rules of great web application design

After some delicious breakfast tacos in the company of Priya and Alexander at the Taco Shack, Priya and I headed over to the Hilton for panel by Robert Hoekman author of:

Designing the Obvious: A Commonsense Approach to Web Application Design

Designing the Moment: Web Interface Design Concepts in Action

It was focused on human psychology and how to apply to our designs.

1 Understand users, then ignore them
Watch them and see what they do in real situations.
Ignore what they say. If they tell you what they think they’re probably wrong

2 Build only what’s necessary
What is the core of what’s important in your design.

e.g. – simple to upload a file and share with friends temporarily. Could have added loads of features but they decided to keep it simple.

3 Support the users mental model
Come up with things people can people can relate to.
Like delete a file by dragging to a trash can rather than using “del xxx.dat” in Dos

4 Turn beginners into immediates immediately
Designs need to help people move from beginners into intermediates

e.g. had a very busy home page and users were confused where to sign-up, so they redesigned it adding a huge sign-up now button. Sign-ups went up 12 to 14% within a week.

5 Prevent errors (and handle the rest gracefully)
e.g. on it’s simple and you can’t make mistakes.
Make people feel good
Illuminate the possibility of errors.
Don’t accuse people of being wrong just tell people you need a certain piece of information.

6 Design for uniformity, consistency and meaning
e.g. Squido each page used to have different navigation, too much information. It was not obvious the site was about.
Improve the explainablity of sites

7. Reduce, Reduce, Reduce (and refine.)
e.g. On Squido – reduce clutter

SXSW 2008 Round-Up

I was blown away by SXSW 2008, the conference was incredibly useful, I met some great people and I loved Austin. I’ve written up extensive notes on all the sessions I went to. At the moment my rather basic WordPress template makes navigating it quite difficult, so here’s an index page. I’ve ordered myself WordPress for Dummies, so will be upgrading my blog when I have moment.

Respect! – How to work with clients, editorial teams and users to get the best work produced?

Design is in the details – some basic principles for interaction design

Opening Remarks from Henry Jenkins and Steven Johnson– a discussion around the nature of knowlege and learning through social networking

Over 50 and not dead yet – how best to reach older audiences.

Mark Zuckerberg Train-Wreck – Sarah Lacey’s controversial interview

Analytics kills design? –  a debate on the question of whether analytics kills or cultivates great design

Social Design Strategies – Creating experiences that encourage social behavior and public expression in social networking sites.

Jared Spool – Magic and Mental Models – The importance of illusion in user experience design

Kathy Sierra – 20 ways to woo web users.

The Importance of Branding – How brand values are vital to your website.

Master of 500 Sites – Doug McClure’s 5-step model to make better decisions for your start-up in product and marketing.

Community & Loyalty: Gamers to Flamers – Fostering community in social networking sites

True Stories from Social Media Sites – Stories from SlideShare, Style Diary, The Budget Fashionista, Pistachio, Boxes and Arrows, OpMom & Electric Pulp

Casual MMOs – Why massively multiplayer online gaming

Portable Social Networks – How social networking sites can inter-operate

Corporate Blogging – Dell, LinkedIn and My PR Pro discuss the benefits and pitfulls of corporate Blogging

Jane McGonagal – on alternate Reality Gaming

Soulja Jane

Jane McGonogal gave a memorable keynote but more positive reasons than the Zuckerberg/Lacey debacle. She is an alternate reality games (ARG) designer, professor at the Institute of the Future in Palo Alto; an űber-geek with infectious sense of fun and an engaging speaker. She produced A World without Oil, which won this year’s SXSW award for Activism. Her latest creation is The Lost Ring, an ARG for the Beijing Olympics. In sixty minutes she offered a game designers perspective on the future of happiness.


She has a positive view on gaming, quoting GS Elrick (1978), asserting that: “an alternate reality is another way of experiencing existence” not an alternative to life.

Positive Psychology is now big business (link to There’s numerous books on the subject:

Out of it psychologists have created ways of measuring happiness, such as:

  • The quality of life index
  • The happy planet index

A future forecast for 2013:

  • Quality of life becomes the primary metric for measuring success.
  • Communities form different visions of life worth living.
  • Value will be defined as a measurable increase, in real happiness.
  • Happiness is the new capital.

What do we mean by happiness?

  • Having satisfying work to do
  • The experience of being good at something
  • Time spent doing something you like
  • Being part of something bigger

Jane proffers that massively multiplayer online games are part of the happiness engine as they have:

  • Better instructions
  • Better feedback
  • Better community

We are witnessing a global mass exodus towards virtual worlds and game worlds. For many gamers it boils down to quality of life: virtuality is beating reality.

MMOs circa 2008 are like we’ve invented the written world but decided to produce only books. Her vision is to make the natural world more like the virtual world. Some MMOs already do offer that:

  • ChoreWars – parents motivate the children to accomplish real-world tasks which give them points in the virtual world.
  • Zyked – has a similar idea around motivating its users to exercise.
  • Seriosity – Has virtual currency to increase productivity in the office.
  • Citizen Logistics – People can see where you are, treating everyday reality like a game.
  • Trackstick – a personal GPS stick which records where you are in the world
  • SNIF – social network for dogs. Dogs are fitted with a GPS collar which records their location.

Games kill boredom, alienation, anxiety, depression.

Important factors in ARG/MMO game design are:

  1. Mobbability – the ability to collaborate at really large scales.
  2. Ping Quotient – the level of engagement
  3. Influency – the ability to adapt to different individuals
  4. Multi-capitalism – everyone wants a different return. Some want money, other want social capital.
  5. Cooperation Radar – the ability to sense almost intitively would make the best collobarators on a particular task. 
  6. Protovation – rabid motivation. Fail quickly and fail often to learn.
  7. Open authorship – comfort with giving content away.
  8. Signal-noise management – gamers handle so much noise deciding which out of the many available data-points they decide to act on.
  9. Long broading – think big picture
  10. Emergensight – ability to prepare for and handle suprising results and complexity


Important stuff

  1. Soon enough most of us will be in the happiness business.
  2. Games designers have a good head start
  3. Alternate realities signal the desire need & opportunity for us all to redesign reality for real quality of life.

A earlier version of the presentation is available on SlideShare.

Jane Dancing

During her presentation she mentioned she’d learnt the Soulja Boy dance, the audience shouted “Do it! Do it!”. “Ok” she said, “If you wait until the end, I will.”. She didn’t let us down. She popped and jived in time to Souja Boy to rapturous applause. If you want to learn the Soulja Boy dance yourself, check the instructional video below: