SXSW '08

Music 2.0 = Music Discovery Chaos?

Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 5:00PM

Description:  The way we discover music has entirely changed in less than 10 years. Radio’s aging demo is presented with safe mainstream offerings. Music discovery is at the forefront of technology and social networks, yet no new standard has successfully been adopted. Websites abound attempt at both data and user generated rating/filter systems. Human VS algorithm: what method can save us?
How do we find music in today’s world?
I am not sure how much I can take notes in this. I will only type what is cool to me.
Machines really have the opportunity to mine the long tail. One guy is saying that human recommendation systems push out diversity because the more popular dominates. But I think that there are enough people that are looking for undiscovered stuff. Identify with one of those searchers and you can discover mucho.
Mentioned methods/sites that are new to me:
Methods I use:
SXSW '08

Designing Change in America

Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 3:30PM

Description:  The Designing Change in America panel will discuss the Obama “brand”, it’s birth, it’s evolution, and it’s rise to power. We will discuss the challenges of being in-house designers in a fast-paced political environment and how though challenges informed our process for designing and developing.

twitter:  #designingchange

The graphics were all very adhoc and the typeface was not set when the dudes on the panel came on board.

They represent the head of web and print respectively.

The blue (or grayer in this bad photo) was not included because there was no time.

The blue (or grayer in this bad photo) was not included because there was no time.

They were truly building an airplane in flight. They had to show via the web site that it was a primary sales tool for Obama.

Their mission:

  1. Deliver clear and concise messaging that focused upon the “we” rather than the “he”. They had a problem of people jumbling all their buzzwords into too long sentences and confusing the brand.
  2. Keep the message of hope while dismantling the notion of being aloof. They initially had a hard time trying to keep from being aloof because of the hero atmosphere surrounding Obama.


  3. Communicate the historic atmosphere by pulling from imagery of the past. This connected teh new with the old.
  4. Establish a consistency and balance to exemplify stability and balance. Make the color palette stable and consistent. One of the main problems against Obama was his lack of experience. The wordmark typeface did not match the logo. The logo was precise and round.

    The original logotype

    The original logotype

    They went to all caps to give the top a less bumpy:  Gotham, Requiem and Liberation.

    The altered version

    The altered version

    They had to modify Requium because they found the terminals to be too sharp. The “O” was made a more perfect circle to match the logo. They quickly opened up the logomark so that people could download them and print them and use them. The election cycle works as the Olympics of technology. Facebook was an instrumental.

Before, the web site suffered from an “above the fold” mentality. Everybody’s links were important and they turned that all into an assumption that scrolling is OK. It gave everything space. They made all this on the live, production servers. He shows the example of the little text artifacts that got in as a result of mixing up TextMate and iChat.
SimpleVote example
When did you realize the designs were getting great attention?
Scott Thomas replies that when they say them on TV is when they decided they sould pay for the typefaces. They did not see the placards and signs until it was on CNN. They had no time to test color for different printers. Proofing was done from the television screen. They are now firm believers of changing on the fly.
After the election, it changed to and, what were your roles?
Centralizing services was important, but not centralizing information. They succeeded in bringing about a visual message that permeated the entire campaign and now the presidency. Adhoc branding was to be avoided. (I am looking you, beloved ITS).
How much of a battle was it to fight for whitespace in the “above the fold mentality”?
They say it was a struggle to balance info density and whitespace. This was the first political campaign that had inhouse designers. One of the way they handled it was to shift the discussion away from teh attitude that designers are mere stylists and not more akin to an engineer. I imagine they know their stuff well enough that they had enough gravitas to sell this. Three words:  respect, empower and include.
How did the little things get made (e.g., little invitations little cards, etc.) in the build up to the election?
They had a very good person running interference - that guy is now the CTO of the Obama campaign. They found it hard to say “no” if things got to them and they viewed it as a challenge to see how soon they could get things done.
On a very local level some of the designed stuff was not good and, as a side effect, was that if people saw the Poorly design, but legitimate materials, they did not trust them. They think they should have provided better tools, materials and rubrics for the local people on the ground.

[look for slides online]

SXSW '08

Tuesday Keynote Interview

Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 2:00PM

  • Chris Anderson - Wired Magazine
  • Guy Kawasaki - Alltop
GK: What would you recommend to Twitter for their biz model?  CA:  The idea is to just make money now and not wait for someone to give you money. One model is to have a free and premium model. If a company wants a social voice. Twitter has chosen the correct route to have others create the clients and value-added interfaces. They should charge the companies?  Really? Look for a small percentage of persons to become premium users. How do you create that versoion of the product without crippling the product base.  The question is how much loyalty do you have? How much stickiness?
GK:  If you could reinvent Wired what would you do differently?
CA:  Paper still matter. Some paper adds value to the internet. long articles with brilliant photos falls aprt when put online. Thus Wired exists in multiple forms. The online medium has certain advantages.
GK:  IS that to say that free will not be free?
CA:  Here is a hypothetical scenario in which a book could be free. Books could be in differents forms:  sponsored forms, flash forms, ebooks. Teh digital forms should be free and the physical forms are sponsored and thus free to teh consumer. If you believe that the physical book is the most desireable form for the consumer then they will pay.. GK gives the example of asking his publisher if he could distribute a free veriosn of his book. CA had the advantage of reserving the audio rights to his work.
GK:  conceptually monetizing popularity is hard. Which is more difficult:  achieving it or then monetizing it?
CA: The latter. How do you convert the value you give people into money? Publishers have a logical problem with an author giving away their dollar even if the author make gobs on the lecture curcuit. Example:  the music industry is focused upon discs and their sale while bands can bypass them and make money. The artist is agnostic to how money is made. The POV of the publisher is totally different and focused on one model. Could a publisher do a 360 approach for books in managing it all. They have not proven themselves as good in this area. THAT is where publishing will evolve.
GK:  If you follow me then I will give you a gift. Then you will get gobs of followers. What of that? CA:  Agreed.
GK:  There is an unsung music hero in the audience. James Heega (sp?). He is the dude who negotiated with the six music powerhouses to get itunes music to be 0.99 per song.
GK:  Give me the types of things I can monetize. What are the alternate biz models?
CA:  Teh word “free” has become the semantic focus of these economic models. This i sa word that carries in it that is both scary and attractive. There is a 20th century free that is equivalent of razors and the blades or “buy one get one free”. 21st century free is a new kind of free were bits replace atoms. Take the quotes from around free because the costs of distribution approach nothing. The extension of the media biz model into the bits has produced the “freemium” model. You give away 95% to sell 5%. One can do this because the give away is truly free. MMRPGs are an example of this. Converting around 5% makes you profitable. Waiting to implement a freemium model until after you popular breaks the social contract you have with your users. Implement freemium from the start. Be clear from teh beginning and differentiatie the committed customers from teh free users..
GK:  OK so I was in China and I bought your book for $0.50 so what can we learn from China about free and IP.
CA:  China is going reteach us capitolism. Where is price? What determines it? The internet has created the first and most truly competitive market where the marginal cost is close to free. Now, if you go too high above free, piracy will smack you down. Piracy can be used to create celebrity. Publishers do not need to pay the distribution. Then they turn this created celebrity into money.
GK:  OK, let’s say Starbucks says regular coffee is free, but you have people buy the other stuff.
CA:  This basically Wall Drug where they would give away free water to bring people in and then they upsell. There is nothing new about free coffee becaise this is what your workplace does. Like Zappos gives away shipping. Free has this incredibly meaning. The word Free is a bug in teh English language. In our language it is the same word, but in others it is two words. Zappos take away the risk of experimentation.
GK: Why is free so much more powerful than a very small cost?
CA:  It is fascinating Josh Koppelman call this the penny gap. There is a flag in our heads that always asks “is it worth it” The cognitive cost of raising this flag often halts the purchase. In the case of free this flag never comes up. The act of giving a small value to something makes people value it disproportionalite. In the digital world the cost of wasting is so close to zero. In the atoms world, people distrust free. In the digital world we understand the difference. Bertrand competition.
GK:  So why do peopl pay for ringtones?
CA:  Convenience and utility.
GK:  In the digital world, is there an example of free means too cheap that cause negative connotation.
CA:  I cannot think of one. In the digital worl there is no excuse for sucking. If it sucks, they lose our attention. The metrics are different online.
GK:  So why is the CS of Adobe better?
CA:  We proritize utility. If a free option reaches the good enough for me category then payware will suffer.
GK:  Are people more afraid of losing something they have or not getting something they could?
CA: Hmmm. loss vs. never gained. Traditional marketing is all about creating that gap. Teh great thing about free just gives what is. You try it and become commited. Free does not offer loss or can’t have.
People “import” their expecations based upon the context of the marketspace. If you compete against something that is established and pay then people may be suspicious.
The freemium model is where things are being driven because of the economy. Throwing advertising at something is not working now.
CA:  I am not telling the apple to fall  - gravity tells the apple to fall.
SXSW '08

Delicious Tech for Localism: Sustainable Food 2.0

Tuesday, 17 March 2009 at 11:30AM

Description:  Nonprofits and social entrepreneurs are making access to sustainable food easier with shortcodes, social networks, advocacy tools, and location-based platforms. The founder ofFarmsreach will share her vision for this web platform for local, sustainable food. We’ll discuss the evolution of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch to mobile access, and the recent launch of their iPhone app. The advocacy work of the American Farmland Trust will be covered, including some surprises about SEM. We’ll share how the Sierra Club’s global warming social network Climate Crossroads is using food to engage users in a challenging issue.

FarmsReach (
They provide technical means for geographically matching businesses with local distributors so they can coordinated delivery and place orders online. They exploit the existing delivery routes the farmers already use or they connect the buyers to farmer’s markets for delivery. Basically, they want to align supply and demand to minimize the distance food moves. They are attempting to bring an offline community online. twitter:  @farmsreach

No Farms No Food
There is a lot of people who are keenly interested in healthy, environmental food, but they don’t quite make the full loop connection to the farmer. This project attempts to connect this loop - trying to create a sustainable relationship for the farmers’ food. Strange fact:  search traffic for farmer’s markets is more owned by Yahoo search than Google. There are demographic differences and perhaps a broadband difference in rural areas. His data shows that it is not affluent suburbia driving this, but rural and remote people.
This is project of the Sierra Club. 1.3 million members. This is a social network with an agenda to get people thinking and talking about climate change. Local food is the “gateway drug” to get people looking at the larger problem. Focused on the US, not international. The site is not heavily Sierra Club branded and it is in beta now. Two primary areas she focused upon:  Actions and Recipes.

Monterey Bay Aquarium - Sustainable seafood movement
What fish should one choose? Half of our seafood comes from wild sea stocks and we are just depleting them left and right. It is esitmate that 1 in 4 animals die as bycatch. Estimate 90% of fish stocks gone by 2050 at current rates. Is fish farming the answer? It depends. Many fish farms feed their fish with wild stock. Saturation of antibiotics is a problem.

Seafood Watch:  seafood guides in the form of pocket guides. AND an iPhone app. I downloaded it as he spoke. Very cool. They have used this app as a springboard toupdate their mobile apps. It is fully integrated into Google Maps.

Weird fact:  There is no comprehensive listing of farmer’s markets that is not proprietary. Wow.

Refernced stuff:

All this will be on slideshare.

SXSW '08

Developing Super Senses: Tools to Know Your Users

Monday, 16 March 2009 at 5:00PM

These were used to show agreement/disagreement during the session. Usability wonks will recognize <a href=Who has people doing user research? Most of the audience does.

What tools do you use?
Budd:  Talking directly to users to see how they go about doing what they do. Borsol:  1-on-1 interviews, heavy use of analytics and then surveys. Melton:

Budd:  Eye-tracking is not need most of the time to figure out what is getting used and not used. It is usually quite obvious to see in the design.

There is an anti-focus group feeling permeating the panel. Budd notes that determining attitudes is a benefit of focus groups.

Those that don’t do user research and just design for themselves, but what they have going for them is that they are designing for a very specific group or person. In the case of Apple - Jobs or 37Signals - themselves. If you think you understand your users without research you run the risk of over or underestimation of your users. You may never try anything new because you get stuck in the rut of what you have always done. Apple’s research is actually that they build lots of prototypes. You cannot look at Apple and say that research is not necessary. Genius design is rare - most people need user research feedback.

Design, good designs do not come via epiphany most often, iteration and user feedback creates good design.

Remote testing: viewing via screen sharing or watching the user remotely. Bolt is writing a book about this [link]. It allows users to be in their natural habitat while they are shopping/perform whatever task being tested. Remote testing can be handy if you are developing for a remote audience in a remote market. They may have context pressures that would not indicate using a different demographic for testing (i.e., local to the designer).

Getting the team involved: Show the team what is not working. Silverback is a great tool for watching a user struggle with an interface, for example. It motivates the team to help real people. Then show the team a success from the decisions that were made based upon testing. It makes it real for the next iteration. People like numbers. Your research is giving you that so give them soundbite. Budd is a bit annoyed at having to bribe your design team to care. Hire different people, he says. He is a bit Bluesky, methinks. Me:  There are many times that designers are not the only team members. Support people/staff that are part of the larger organization, for example.

Don’t ask permission to do your job. A good rule of thumb.

Quantitative vs. qualitative

How do we pay for it all?
There are a plethora of cheap and dirty tools out there:  card sorts, Silverback, SurveyMonkey, etc.

Microsoft’s method when writing Age of Empires II called Right Methodology?

SXSW '08

Wireframes for the Wicked

Monday, 16 March 2009 at 3:30PM

I mostly just listened to this as I was late and there was no place to setup. Very cool.

I will look for a copy of their presentation. Yes, they will be available on slidecast.

SXSW '08

Browser Wars III: The Platform Wins

Monday, 16 March 2009 at 11:30AM

Summary: We’re doing *so darn much* with the Web platform these days, from cross-domain access mechanisms to new drawing and graphics tools. But in the end, we still have to deal with different web browsers. This discussion brings the leads from Mozilla (Firefox), Microsoft (IE), Google (Chrome) and Opera (Opera) together for yet another incendiary discussion about the future of the web.

Apple is not represented on the panel because they refuse to be on it. C’mon, Apple.

Wow, this panel has lots of cred. This panel is also a podcast. I will find it and link it here.


Google Chrome guy
They did not want to support there own rendering engine. They chose Webkit because of its focused simplicity and it is not an entire platform like Gecko.


Microsoft guy:  What is going on with Silverlight?

Opera:  If we want a bigger market to play in then standards need to be adopted. That is why Opera participates in so many standards working groups.




Wilson:  The reason Microsoft pushed out their click-jacking  and XSS security is that they felt they could not wait for an entire product cycle.

Chrome guy:  security = privacy protection and computer protection. In Chrome, when a file uri is put in it launches an entirely new rendering engine to keep it walled off.

Isolating on domain boundaries is a sticky problem.

Hammering out standards has all teh elements of a Prisoner’s Dilemna.


SXSW '08

Beyond Aggregation — Finding the Web’s Best Content

Monday, 16 March 2009 at 10:00AM

Panel discussing methods for finding the best content on the web.

Gray uses Google Reader sharing as the source and syndicates from there initially.

PostRank looks pretty cool.

Whether you are trying to be found or find you start from the same place - a trusted source.

Cool article:

I think friendfeed’s subscriptions just experienced a huge boost.

I am mostly listening to this one. I will clean this up a bit later because I have coffee and yogurt that needs my attention.

Research Twine. What is it?

Check out son of a tweet

Twitter has quite an impact on thenumber of people who blog.

Marshall has a kickbutt, tricked out browser. He has greasemonkey place the top twitter results on top of his google results. To silo search, one can use CSE to search

Drag and drop zones Firefox add-on

SXSW '08

How Not To Be Evil (Even By Accident)

Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 5:00PM

imagesEFF is a legal firm with a technological arm and activism arm. Their goal is to create precedence to guide what we feel the law should be. They often view their job as updating what the law applies to in the digital age.

There is an ecology of groups like this now (consumer groups, network neutrality, ACLU, etc.).

The first place they see things going toward the evil end is where the start uppers have complete control and then they lose control over areas that they knew could be potential security/privacy issues. But after a buyout, for example, they no longer have control over that information. They have a terms of service diff generator that archives the evolution of a company’s terms of service. They were surprised at the frequency of the ToS changes. People lose interest in the changes becuase they change so much. This last change to Facebook’s ToS is an example of this. Geeks tend to be packrats and there is very little control over the archiving of all this information collection. They call this a honeypot. So when a buy occurs the use of that huge list of teenage phone numbers may become an issue. What is needed is a plan of how and why you are going to use that data. Weblogs becoming the tools of marketers if a lighter case of this. In Europe thre is a data retention requirement so governments can look back through it in the case of an incident. Many times these problems are caused by a mismatch in IP law and commonly accepeted online experience. There is all too often an undo deference to lawyers by developers. For example, Beacon was not meant to be evil and it had all the correct legal permissions, but it flopped horribly. Often there is a tension between the developers promise not to spam users and doing things “without notice”. Technically, there is nothing evil about changing your ToS so that you can perpetually change your ToS “without notice”, but users will notice and then it explodes. Lawyers just reading the privacy policies are not enough. It needs to be a conversation about what the engineers are doing with data and what the future holds.

Why are there not the equivalents of a track changes or diff displayed when a ToS is changes? Is there at least a bill of rights that can guide the creation of a ToS to replace copying and pasting from someone else?

Flickr sues the ToS to encompass the small possible legalese and then the rest is more human readable in their community guidelines. (”Don’t be creepy”)

An escape plan for your user’s data needs to be created early on. Everyone who wants to make money off this data will be against this idea. Flickr does a decent job of this. Privacy policies are descriptions of use and what data is collected. A problem arises when the extraction and deletion of a users data leaves a hole in the social web of a community that is ugly. By definition, social networks are not cleanly silo’d for easy extraction of one’s data. This is often discussed in terms of “ownership” of the data, but data does not work that way. We do not have the vocabulary to discuss this, yet. Many times the problem is people’s folk ideas of what IP rights they have or even that IP rules/law apply at all. They usually do not.

Bluehost and Zimbabwe activists:  research this, bluehost boy.

FIPPS on the FTC website.

SXSW '08

The Web In Higher Education: What’s Different?

Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 3:30PM

#sxswed is the hash tag for higher ed topics.

eduStyle just put out a book. It looks good.

I really need to get on creating a brand style guide i even if it very short and sweet.

An interesting facet that was touched upon that I think could be its own forum is the location and structure of a school’s front-facing web teams. Are they located within marketing or within the IT group or both? Those two groups often have widely differing competencies and goals. What dependencies do these groups have and who are the gatekeepers to experimentation and change?

So many schools focusing on Facebook. I wonder if this will pan out as it seems the biggest growth area are middle-aged people like me. :) Perhaps, this will be good for non-traditional students.

Facebook Connect

The downturn in the economy may be the largest boon for software as a service because it will force the hand of those who have blocked hosted solutions.

Exploit the sponsored links in the GSA to advertise ITS services. (Best friggin idea of the session)

This session was streamed?