These are my rough notes from various sessions. I will eventually write coherent blog posting, probably in
, but for now you may find them interesting. See all my photos here
Day 1 (and some session from registration day). Attended Panels, Sessions, and Book Readings.
: SXSW book readings are 20 minute talks by authors of books ranging from programming to influencing using media. Book readings of interest were:
(see Friday, #3 in details) Online reputation management
, founder of trackur.com. Staggering statistics on how influential your online presence is to potential employers (and customers, and stakeholders, etc).
(see Sat, #2 in details) High performance web sites. Simple ways you can save load time on websites.
(see Sat, #4 in details) Mobilizing generation 2.0. While the majority was focused on political usage, made the point that the mobile platform is enabling people to accomplish more.
: Panels are hour long conversations between panelists and audience members. Best one for me was (see Sat, #3 in details) about Managing Communities. 4 sites present the challenges they faced growing their communities. One was internally focused, the other 3 external. The problems they faced resonated so well with what we hear from customers and even ourselves. They offer tips on getting sites to be more sticky, methods they use to keep the conversations going, and their purpose and business.
: Most enlightening session was listening to Henry Jenkins
and Steven Johnson
(Sat, #5). Children growing up in a different world. Spending all their time on the internet is not necessarily 'unproductive'. Cited examples of the culture shift, and how our schools are not keeping up with the education needs and desires of students. Pink collar workers - people who are highly educated but underutilized. Another enlightening session was Jason Fried of 37Signals.
He covered 10 lessons learned at 37 Signals. Too many features kills the product. Don't plan too far in advance, leave room for change. A lot of his advice was in line with the agile movement.
Friday, March 7th
2. How to rawk sxsw
Sites to check out:
3. Online Reputation Management Book Reading
Andy Beal, Radically Transparent
Be open and honest about your mistakes
51% job candidates are not hired because of their online reputation
77% recruiters google candidates
95% ceo's relate their corporate reputation to their company's success
Some examples of reputation nightmares:
- JetBlue videos from unhappy customers
- Dell closing their online forums because of too many customer complaints
- Apple's iPhone price change issue
Created trackur.com; see where your product / company / name is getting discussed inside soci networking sites, twitter, others in addition to google
Saturday, March 8th
1. Slideshare: Mistakes in AJAX and flash
- slideshare had a confusing user experience with login; users couldn't really tell if they were logged in or not
-- the personalized "my news" portion of the screen loaded after the front page loaded, and changed the user experience abruptly, confusing users
- ajax might lead to performance problems
-- performance vs scalability
-- performance: how fast to respond to 1 request
-- scalability: slidehsare tripled # http requests coming in their system, doubled # requests to running code on server
-- ajax is not a good solution for performance problems; you have to make your html generation efficient
- naive ajax can kill your servers
-- slideshare allows comments on each slide; on each slide request they would go to fetch the comments on the server, however most of time there are no comments
-- "more by user" & "related slideshow"; these went back to server on each request but could have baked this into the page automatically
--- in determining whether to preload or not they consider: % of time panel is opened; cost of retrieving panel data; current page response time
-- the were using google analytics which doesn't take ajax into consideration
-- their metrics were way off; bounce rate was 400% higher than on google anayltics
-- for every ajax call they baked in calls to google analytics
-- analytics is worth doing even though its a pain
-- google analystics lets you set goals
- uploading processes are great place to use flash and ajax; especially fish hook design pattern
-- give continual feedback; tell people where they are in the upload process (if they are uploading a large presentation, let them know how much time they have left)
- don't rewrite what's already available; using external widgets to get up and running and embed them in your own site
-- 3 he picked
-- google custom search widget; 1 hr work with huge benefit
-- gigya wildfire keeps up with the apis and relationships with lots of social networking sites
-- AddThis widget: free widget
- other random tips
-- dojo.storage: client side data storage
-- leaving offline people behind; "it's a frigging web application"; google gears can solve this problem
2. High Performance Web Sites by Steve Souders of Google (Book Reading)
- when he was at yahoo, he noticed 95% load time is from stuff after page html load
- he wondered if this problem was just yahoo; of the top 10 sites with most traffic less that 10 - 20% is time spent getting html
- 80 - 90% users wait time is attributed to the from end
- he wrote a book with 14 rules for front end development, focusing on user as #1
3. Managing communities that work (Panel)
-- Patricia Dugan, Community Manager Beliefnet (Fox Interactive)
-- Oscar Martinez, Managing Editor Neighborsgo (Dallas Morning News)
-- Dan Benner, Founder Gindie (Independent Film Network)
-- Jake McKee, Community Evangelist AntsEyeView
- Panel hosted by smallworldlabs.com
GINDIE is a social networking site for independent film makers. Their goal in starting Gindie is to raise visibility and accessibility of talent and resources that are located worldwide. Getting started: (1) They recruited into their community people who were already known as connectors, and leveraged these connectors to seed the community. (2) They attended lots of networking events to meet people and get the word out about the community site. (3) They introduced content that was relevant to their community. For example, they had a portion of their community dedicated to questions and answers, giving experts a way to share their knowledge with newbies.
Beliefnet is the largest spiritual web site. They are independent and not affiliated with any spiritual organization or movement. Beliefnet has a wide variety of resources--articles, quizzes, devotionals, sacred text searches, message boards, prayer circles, photo galleries and more. They have several social services that they attribute to getting participation. (1) Newletters; they have 12 million subscribers. (2) Forums; cross varios religious and communtiy interests, even religion and politics. (3) Blogs; panelist manages political area. They have several popular political blogs. Panelist also is community manager. Their forums are moderated by volunteers. She will step in if there are issues with the moderator, and she also oversees the blogs. Discussions are common, arguments as well - for example liberal atheists vs conservative Christians.
Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating real and lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. It is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, comprising 28 national Save the Children organizations working in more than 110 countries to ensure the well-being of children. The panelist manages and builds internal, employee only community. They are located in many countries, some which are just getting electricity. Panelist creates communities for small groups to collaborate and creates communities of practice. Her challenges have been (1) getting people in the community (2) building trust and (3) getting people to come back to the community and participate. She creates jobs for people to feed the community.
Neighborsgo.com helps residents of more than 55 communities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area share their experiences
instantly and connect with each other easily, by geography or interest. In print, neighborsgo is a free newspaper
that covers 39 communities in 17 weekly editions. Subscribers to The Dallas Morning News in those communities
receive it every Saturday. Copies are also available at freestanding racks and in participating Starbucks. Print editors
visit the site daily to find the timeliest, most relevant stories and photos to publish every week. People in the community are essentially the journalists, post their stories, and the print editors pick the stories they are going to put in the print copy.
Ant’s Eye View is a customer collaboration strategy practice founded in 2007 by Jake McKee, an evangelist for online and offline community building, social media, and customer-company interaction.
Neighbors Go. Editors are community managers. Each editor has about 500 - 1000 contacts from within their respective neighborhoods. Neighborhood 'clusters' write about issues in their cluster, and each community covers their own cluster.
GINDIE. Google Analytics showed their return rate was not good. Added the Q&A column to get people's needs addressed and bring more visitors. How do you get people to ask questions? They leveraged external lists - press releases, etc - announcing their intent to provide answers to people's questions. Experts were older, highly experienced people who wanted to give back to the community.
Save the Children. They used an internal marketing campaign to recruit community managers. In this campaign, they helped identify who their stakeholders were, who were experts in different topics (for example, health, nutrition, etc), and got partner organizations involved. They wanted to solve the knowledge sharing problem - for example, colleagues on the other side of the world who trying to start a new program could leverage the expertise and best practices of others inside the company and not reinvent the wheel. As the community manager, she also provides training for the community who needs to learn how to use it properly, as there is a wide technology gap in terms of experience and understanding. Some countries she works with don't have internet access in their office, they must use internet cafes. To do her training, she will use web conferences and phone calls. Her site is relatively lite so even someone with an AOL dialup would be able to access the site. She faces global privacy issues; for example, they have an office in Germany where there are stringent privacy laws. Everyone using the system has a profile; there is no anonymity. They struggle to share best practices; this isn't purely a technology issue, it is also a cultural issue.
Keeping and Maintaing Support
Can employees voice their concerns? The culture needs to support honesty. Ant's Eye suggests that CEOs, rather than maintain a blog which they will inevitable be too busy to write in or will have a PR deptartment maintain the blog for them, participate by commenting on other people's blogs. Participating lets employees know that having the conversation is ok, even if conroversial, and that they aren't going to lose their jobs for talking about the real issues. Spend 10 minutes per week commenting on blogs.
Create trust and postive and beneficial relationships
People suffer from 'social network fatigue'. You have to keep showing the value of using and participating in the community. For example, in the Neighborsgo site, a journalist asked the editor for some story ideas and the journalist actually wrote one of them, showing that the interaction was purposeful. Others mention showing users how to get small things done so they are more educated in using and understanding the benefits. For example, a clip on how to upload something. Beliefnet is looser on registration; they don't require a login on blogs. They have a close knit community of users who are the ones who can spot a fake or a fraud using someone else's username. They also have a training program for people who are interested in being a moderator. Moderators are rarely asked to step down.
In the news site, they chose not to monitor and screen content before posting it to the site. There was huge concern over whether that would lead to abuse (i.e. porn). They have never had a problem however. They do have a "mark this as questionable" feature. Once, someone posted a story that had a joke in it, and someone marked it as questionable. When the site followed up on why this was questionable, the user said they didn't really think the joke was all that funny.
In Beliefnet, each community is different in terms of what they will tolerate. Some are really conservative and won't tolerate swearing.
Communities shouldn't fear the 'community killers' (i.e. legal). You should own your own, not legal. Legal is interested in reducing risk to zero. There is no such thing as zero risk in sharing. Come to terms with your legal team, don't let them dictate your goals. Be clear about what you want from the community and what you are not willing to let go. Don't take legal at face value, push back on things you think are important.
Manage expectations across multiple groups as community grows
In Save the Children, each community writes its own mission statement and vision, and they revisit that as necessary. On Beliefnet, they updated the site with an entirely new user experience and prepared for the fact that some people would have technical problems. They launched a series of forums just to answer questions people had about the new design.
4. Mobilizing Generation 2.0, Rigby (Book reading)
- Conversationl blogs vs. marketing blogs
- blogs and social networks reflect our real life groups
- savvy politicians recruit sponsors / supporters through sn. ex. - recruiting 200 volunteers through myspace.
- web photos & videos are tools for interaction
- Congressman George Miller uses 1 minute videos to respond to people's questions. when a topic is longer than 1 minute, he records a separate stream and points people to it for more information.
- 'mobilize' through mobile phones. example or sending people a text message to remind them to vote, increased participation > 4%
- watch for geographic advances i.e. google earth with personal presence
5. Opening remarks, Henry Jenkins and Steven Johnson
- backlash against 'the dumbest generation'
- MacArthur foundation now funding digital education
- parents are fearful of their children's exploration and usage online
- we are in a moral panic when we stop asking questions and assume we know the answers
- collective intelligence is about processing knowledge together, a different model than education in our schools, where the goal is mastery over a complex body of knowledge. this is setting ourselves up for failure.
- "there is more in the 30 kids sitting in the classroom than the teacher up front."
- standardized testing doesn't measure knowledge processing
- world of warcraft as a representation of social responsibility. staying up all night 'for the guild'
- steven presents onmyradar from outside in, which is a facebook style newsfeed that is location based, so you can get updates about your neighborhood and more
- information pothole - not everything is interesting or relevant to me
- souldja boy example for crank that
- collective intelligence is about synergistic learning, not the 'wisdom of crowd' model where individuals come to respective conclusions and share those (youtube like), more about coming to conclusion together (wikipedia like)
- Chinese control of digital information posing as preventing online addiction
- pink collar workers: lots of education but being underutilized and not challenged
6. 37Signals, Jason Fried
- focus on now, not what might happen
- don't overprepare or plan
- bad words: need, can't, easy, only, fast
- Spot chain reactions. Be the Catalyst.
- Get rid of things that aren't going to change behavior.
- Focus on what you are good at. Don't add because you feel you need to be "better" than last time.
- Invest in what doesn't change. Amazon invests in shipping.
- Build by sharing. (Celebrity Chefs)
- Co-location = interruption overload
- Passive communication reduced interruption
- read the books Mavericks and 7 Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler
- Celebrate little launches, as morale feeds off progress
- Make tiny decisions so you don't make big mistakes
7. Worst website ever
What makes a bad idea? Dotcom flameout had a lot of good ideas that failed because of execution. For example kozmo.com, but home delivery was a great idea. Went through $280 m. Pets.com burned through $130 m. Boo.com went through $188 m in 6 months. What are the worst ideas? (1) Inane. Digiscents and iSmell device. 3D mailbox is a visualization for your inbox that makes it looks like Miami beach with a spam filter bouncer. If they get in they lounge by the pool, if it's spam they get eaten by sharks. (2) Derivitive. Facebook for Senior Citizens - oldster. Pantless - Threadless for pants. Location aware twitter meets friendeed which meets dopplr on the iphone. (3) Evil. goto.com had people bid for top search results. Jigsaw - buy and trade business cards (sell your friends).
David Hornik, August Capital, Ventureblog.com. He's been pitched on a perpetual motion machine and a social network for dead people. Rest of session was comical. Merlin Mann "won".