Information and Insights from Sessions at SXSW in Austin, TX

Mobile 2.0 – Why the Third Screen is Taking Center Stage

Posted: March 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Sunday, SXSW '08 | Comments Off on Mobile 2.0 – Why the Third Screen is Taking Center Stage

Sunday, March 9th 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

John SanGiovanni – ZenZui Inc.

This session was a Core Conversation sessions which means you and a bunch of people sit around a table and discuss a topic with a moderator. This setup can be good and bad based on who is sitting around the table and how much they try to talk. For the most part, this session was good.

Our moderator from ZenZui was good. He threw out a few questions… and we discussed.

What are some things you hate about your phone?
Battery life – all other area of this technology have progressed, but battery life is the thing holding things back.
Where to recycle phone – recycling your phone should be easier – you can now get an envelope to send in your phone to be recycled.
Flash on a phone – is Flash a really a viable mobile platform? Will it get larger or will standard web standards take over SVG etc.?
A big problem is getting people making content for mobile platforms to think about Information Architecture for the small screen or mobile platform.

How do we market to Mobile?
Create ringtones or mobile content that is useful for the brand universe (use of to distribute – provide API)

Location-based is the new thing (google maps). The way this works is by fingerprinting wifi signals in an area with GPS information associated. So, based on wifi strength – google maps knows generally where you are.
Cool App: Location-based tasked. So, when you were near the supermarket a task would let you know to buy milk.

Some good sites:
Pinger – will send voicemail to people
Jot – txt to speech – those crazy barcode things that you read with your phone to associate real to virtual (more info)

Tools for Enchantment: 20 Ways to Woo Users

Posted: March 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Sunday, SXSW '08 | Comments Off on Tools for Enchantment: 20 Ways to Woo Users

Sunday, March 9th 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Kathy Sierra CreatingPassionateUsers

What did (do) you want to be really, really good at?

How do we help our users be really really good at something – give that feeling to our users.

To make better apps, we must compensate for the missing “humanness”

Which is better: the product or the company?
Make the user experience more “high-res” richer – the more you know about something the better the experience. Being better is better… nobody is passionate about something they suck at.

What is the difference between fantastic and average? It is much less about natural talent and more about a talent for practicing… works for anything. It is actually your fault for not practicing. You just have to put in the time. “We need a rage to master”

What do you help your users do well?

Book: The 4-hour workweek
You figure out how to devote more of your time to other things you really and there is usually some (if you’re lucky) overlap to this and your worklife.

1. Use telepathy
there are mirror neurons – inference – faces meanings
you have to see people’s faces when doing usability
resolution of the simulation depends on your experiences – need to have felt your user’s pain

2. Serendipity
brains look for and match patterns – “ipod shuffle is psychic”
add randomness (psuedo) to create serendipity

3. The dog ears design principle
real physics in the iphone scroll (bounce) – subtle little real things help – things feel more alive

4. Joy
make products that produce joy – joyful experience – playing – learning – enjoying
not necessarily fun or funny – joy

5. Inspire first person language
shouldn’t be about you – your testimonials should be about the users not about the company

6. Tshirt first development
what does it say about someone that they are one of your users?
it should say something that a user wants to announce they are one of your users

7. Easter Eggs and other treats
little extras for users to find
“a smile in the mind” book

8. Tools for evangelism
give your users away to woo other users – that helps them be better when they are getting better or becoming passionate about your product
help users defend your product to other people

9. You area a…
stage fright – picture everyone as prey animals (bunny) – the fear goes away
help your users manage stress

10. Exercise the brain and improve their body
brain age video game is a best seller – exercise that best helps brain is plan old exercise

11. Give them superpowers quickly
swift.3d – user must do something cool in a short period of time
do experts know more? yes – are there shortcuts?
patterns patterns patterns

12. Make your product reflect feeling
give folks a way to reflect how they are doing (WTF button)
let them off the hook – NOT an idiot
how do they feel about the confusion?

15. Help with reinvestment of mental resource into new problems
expert never shrinks the size of their list – just add new interesting things
allow people to focus and devote all of their attention to certain things

16. Create a culture of support
user as a hero and becoming experts – helps them become mentors at the end
want to get them mentoring early and encourage to help users
no dumb questions and comfort in asking questions and no dumb ANSWERS
encourage people to start answering questions and get the community asking and answering

Do NOT insist on inclusivity
don’t wait for the experts – jargon: passionate users “talk different”
don’t throw everyone together make sure there are places for expert and beginners

18. Practice seductive opacity
mystery anticipation curiosity – loved by the brain
suspense followed by an important reward relaxes body etc.
digital world has raised the value of real tangible things
unboxing photos – the experience of opening your new geek physical thing
think about physical objects – they matter

19. Atoms are NOT old school
senses are very important – think about it with a product
petted rabbits had lower cholesterol – touch important

19.5. Do what this guy does
Gary Vaynerchuk –  Wine Library TV
getting people talking about wine and themselves – taking the difficulty out of wine
Gary is making his users entertaining and helpful/useful at a party

Keynote Interview with Mark Zuckerberg

Posted: March 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Sunday, SXSW '08 | Comments Off on Keynote Interview with Mark Zuckerberg

Sunday, March 9th 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Sarah Lacy Author/Journalist, BusinessWeek/Yahoo!
Mark Zuckerberg CEO, Facebook Inc

If you’ve read anything about SXSW in the last day or so, you’ve probably seen what a disaster this interview was. I think most of this can be attributed to the interviewer, Sarah Lacy. Things went from awkward to ugly in this keynote throughout the duration of this session.

Things started out ok, but quickly turned downhill when Sarah started to talk about her relationship with Mark and the other times that she interviewed him… we don’t really want to hear about this. We’re here to hear Mark Zuckerberg talk about what is going on at Facebook. This became the pattern for this interview. Sarah kept interjecting herself into the interview and making odd statements (not asking questions) and bringing things around to what she is doing or her relationship with Mark.

Mark was pretty much like I expected in this session. From what I’ve read about him, he’s a quiet guy and isn’t really into the interviews or getting up and talking in front of a large number of people. So the fact that many of his answers were very canned to the point of repeating the same talking points over and over didn’t really surprise me. At some points it was almost comical. They guys sitting next to me were tracking the amount of times Mark repeated certain points.

“Communicate Efficiently” – 20 times

“Empathy” – 8 times

I guess I would have liked a little more information, but wasn’t surprised to get what we did get from Mark.

If you want to see the full write-up of the conversation, CrunchGear has a good write up. You can count up the broken record talking points on your own. The bigger news on this keynote is how the audience turned on Sarah’s interviewing skills. She constantly interrupted Mark and turned the conversation on herself – at one point trying to sell her book (about facebook). Near the end of the interview Mark got in a zing or two by mentioning that there wasn’t a question in her “question” and the audience started to cheer for quite some time, hitting home that Sarah wasn’t doing her job. At one point she came back with “my job is hard” which riled up the audience even more to the point where she just switched to questions from the audience (finally).

The interview was kid of an awkward session on both sides. Sarah obviously didn’t know what she was getting into. She must have been matched up with Mark for their familiarity (she’s interviewed him before), but there is an obvious difference between sitting down for coffee and interviewing for a book or an article and sitting on a stage doing a public interview. I kind of felt sorry for her at first, right up until she told us her job was hard and it was obvious she was oblivious to what she was doing. I can forgive a somewhat canned interview, but her performance just pulled things down much lower.

A video of the keynote is available at SXSW Videos.

Social Design Strategies

Posted: March 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Sunday, SXSW '08 | Comments Off on Social Design Strategies

Sunday, March 9th 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Daniel Burka Creative Dir, Digg/Pownce
Emily Chang Co-founder, Ideacodes
Max Kiesler Co-founder, Ideacodes
Joshua Porter Founder, Bokardo Design
Chris Massina Citzen Agency
Todd Seiling Ma.gnolia

In the 3rd phase:
1. user one reader
2. database could save your information (early web apps – banking sites)
3. social web apps – enable communication between the people using the site/software (facebook, flickr, youtube). Over time there will be more and more of these types of interactions on a website.

How do you encourage good behavior?
Tie behavior to identity:

If people can do things w/anonymity they aren’t held responsible to what they do there. is a good example of this since they force their real name. Ebay is another example giving users the ability to make an assessment of a certain seller based on that seller’s history. A user’s behavior is known is tied to their ID.

Give recognition for he things done within those groups: – Top Diggers in Digg gives recognition to the users who submit the most stories to the homepage. On Digg it became a negative thing since users were trying to game the system and get on the list. This works better when the recognition comes from the group vs. the site. It was tough for others to get onto the list. – Tshirt design voting. Best voted shirts win and then taper off and others get a chance

Show Causation: – constantly telling you how it works. Encourage you to rate movies since it is good for you and good for Netflix. Pandora is another example of this – they tell you why a rating shows up or why something shows up based on your ratings

Leverage Reciprocity:

When someone provides value to you, you feel somewhat obligated to provide value back to them. – professional recommendations: if someone recommends you the changes that you’ll recommend them back are very high. This ties very closely to causation.

Privacy and Community

There is a spectrum of private and public sites Basecame <–> MetaFilter

At either end of the poles you need to determine what is private/public. It is easy on the far ends, but it gets more grey in the middle and you need to be aware of the privacy issues.

Hot points:

What do users really care about (or should they) – their online identity. How much of your name is there? Is your image up? Can you be identified from the profile?

Communication – is it public or private? Is my message going out to one person or the entire community?

Trcking site activity – show was is being tracked, and make sure users are aware of what is being tracked. Beacon from facebook is an example of this poorly done. Going to become a more hot topic in the future – what exactly is being tracked and what is being done with it?

Control is tough in all of this – how to turn these things on and off. A preferences area can easily get unruly. Once you’ve added too many options people don’t understand and you have no control.

How do balance simplicity to complexity and continuing developing the project or site? WordPress is a simple tool, but where does it go as compared with Drupal (everything and the kitchen sink)?

Transparency – This is extremely important. make sure your users know what is going on. Make sure you are clear with your users what you are doing.

Weeding out Worms (ma.gnolia + spam)

  • spam is a drag
  • spammers heart social software
  • out tools for good also are spammers tools for bad
  • ugly numbers: 75-80% of new accounts are spam



  • Once site, many accounts
  • Too legit to quit: few legit-looking links
  • Joe SEO: getting rich quick
  • You can’t fool me: profile aware
  • Had enough yet? Importing volume links

It is touch to get around all of this because you don’t want to cut off legit users. It probably won’t disappear for good, but we still need to keep fighting.

What didn’t work:

  • No-follow – “ignore the destination of this bookmark”
  • Akismet (wordpress) – didn’t work at account level and would send things back and fourth
  • Weed-on-sight –
  • Recaptcha

What does work:

  • Accept that there’s no 100% win
  • Gardeners (humans look at accounts before stuff goes public)
  • White-list, with a shade of gray

About Gardeners:

  • Enabled trusted members to move accounts on and off of
  • Not a job, contest of vendetta
  • (Eventually) Gardeners will make new Gardeners, using network for good