Archive for the ‘South by Southwest 2009’ Category

Visual thinkingThis was the title of an interesting panel I attended to at SXSW and it’s directly related to Ernie’s post below called Presentations.

Here are a couple of the very impactful quotes that Sunni Brown from Bright Spot & Vizthink said (http://vizthink.com/) during her presentation:
“Visual thinking is transforming verbal information into visual-graphic representation”
“Words divide, pictures unite” (this is my favorite one!)
“Visuals-drawings are international, everybody understand them while words change based on the different languages…”
“Visual thinking helps to simplify”

Some great graphic representations: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=vizthink&s=rec&m=tags

A couple of great links if you are into the subject are:




If you are interested in reading about some general very good usability practices have a look at the Journey to the center of design notes that Jared Spool gave away after his inspiring presentation at SXSW09. The three core User Experience Attributes he talked about are: Vision, feedback and culture.

Jared Spool is a founder at founder of User Interface Engineering, the largest usability research organization of its kind in the world. If you’ve ever seen Jared speak about usability, you know that he’s probably the most effective and knowledgeable communicator on the subject today. He’s been working in the field of usability and design since 1978, before the term “usability” was ever associated with computers(http://www.uie.com/)

He started his great speech breaking all the typical user center design conceptions we knew until now giving the example of when 37 Signals said “ We are not designing for others… we are designing for ourselves”. To read more about it go to the following link: (37 Signals Vs. Don Norman).

Jared finished his presentation in the same engaging way as he started it, have a look at the following link to find out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uycrNZEWRsk

I uncovered this on Chris Brogan’s blog. It’s a great hallway panel that was pulled together last-minute at the Pepsico Podcast Playground at SXSW 2009. Really good stuff here on the corporate activity in the social media space, with an empahsis on corporate blogs. Take a look, or a listen.

SXSW Flash Panel: Corporations & Social Media from Kipp Bodnar on Vimeo.


If the podcasts, vidcasts, slideshows and tweet-a-thons aren’t doing it for you then you perhaps you can capture the essence of SXSW 2009 via Moleskine Sketchbook … via Flickr! I guess it’s hard to resist staying purely analog.


While they are still fresh in my brain I thought I’d post some podcasts and videocasts of a few of my favorite talks of SXSW.

You can find a bunch of the SXSW Podcasts here: http://sxsw.com/interactive/

My personal favorites from this list are:
–Opening Remarks: Tony Hsieh; CEO of Zappos.com
Tips For Making Ideas Happen

And you can find a bunch of SXSW Videos here: http://www.youtube.com/sxsw

My personal favorites from this list are:
–SXSW 2009 - Opening Remarks: Tony Hsieh pt.1
–SXSW 2009 - Opening Remarks: Tony Hsieh pt.2  (This  is the same as the podcast but maybe you like video better!)
–SXSW 2009 - Design for the Wisdom of Crowds

This is the website for Derek Powazek who gave the ‘Design for the Wisdom of Crowds’ talk.  Besides having neat-o things to say he’s just an awesome presenter so its definitely worth watching.

AND If you have an insane amount of time you can follow every single thought of everyone attending in 140 characters or less: The SXSW Tweet-a-thon

As I find more I’ll post them!

One constant theme at SXSW this year was the idea that companies need to go to where the people are. This isn’t a new idea. Traditional media planning has always done it: find out where your audience is – what publications they read, what programs they watch, where they walk and drive – and place your advertising messaging accordingly. But it feels like, when it comes to marketing on the web, for many marketers the trend has shifted to just building a site or developing an app, putting it online and waiting for people to show up.

That’s just not going to work. The online space is incredibly vast, and the people there are working, playing, learning and interacting. Your brand most likely isn’t top-of-mind for them as they navigate their digital lives, so chances are that they won’t simply show up to hear what you have to say.

That’s why you need to go to them, to become a part of their world online, to not only tell them the story of your brand but to allow your brand to become a part of their personal stories as well. Whether it’s by offering them something extra through geo-targeted mobile advertising, contributing valuable content to the social networks where they go for information and interaction, or listening to their conversations on Twitter and then reaching out with a helping hand, the brands that go to where the people are – and add some value when they get there – will be the ones with which people will find themselves connecting. So get out there, find the people who could benefit from your brand and begin to form a relationship with them. You’ll be glad you did, and if you do it right, so will they.

The disclaimer at the bottom of every panel description offered at this years SXSW Interactive Conference. But for me it perfectly sums up the last 4 days. Social Media changing how the world interacts now to where it may be evolving (Social Media is Air -Charlene Li) and the unknown ramifications. Realizing that technologically we could be considered a third world country when comparing broadband capacity with Japan (US 2.3Mb/s -Japan 63Mb/s) or our mobile phone tech to Europe. Eric Feng from HULU defining complete transparency and willingness to share all content, ‘aggressive distribution’, as the best way to promote their brand mantra to ‘Deliver a service that customers love unabashedly’. Interactive gaming changing the way learning and problem solving are approached by an entire generation. That each of our personal desires and small decisions online not only creates aggregated wisdom but can create and define brands. And the most important change for me? A better understanding and respect for the talents of the team who attended and the potential they each have to help mold the future of our organization and their own personal brands.


Not Beer Attack

Not Beer Attack

We just came from a cool SXSW09 after party (Megan and Raquel). Live photoshop-ery, amazing live illustration from the top video gamers and film artists, with a nice back drop of music and fashion (plus a couple of cocktails and some cranberry juice and a bear). And we lost Justin on the way back. Anyway come back tomorrow and check some of the pics that we’ll post, they are worth it.


Photoshoppers in action

Photoshoppers in action

On a few different occasions this week I’ve started writing posts for Smarter Faster they’ve all ended up getting side tracked for a long list of reasons. Lost internet connections, hurrying off to the the next panel, or just the generally overwhelming pace of the week. So, on the final day I’m attempting to take a more low key approach to all the rushing around and actually finish a post. 

StubbsAs I said earlier in the week, in addition to giving my thoughts on the interesting panel discussions, I also wanted to keep everyone informed on the lighter side of being in Austin. There are a number of great restaurants and bars in the downtown area that have been overflowing with fellow nerds at all hours of the day. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many iphones and macs in one place, it’s kinda nice. I’ve enjoyed a lively mix of tex-mex and BBQ throughout the week, trying to alternate between the two to really get the most out of the local cuisine. After a few days of rainy, chilly weather, Monday finally brought some sunshine and warm weather. From what i’ve heard, the weather in Pittsburgh this week hasn’t been to bad though, go figure.

The nightlife during SXSW has been pretty lively throughout the week. On 6th street you can find a mix of bars and clubs that resembles a blend of Carson Street and The Strip District. Apparently it can get pretty wild, but i found myself gravitating to some of the more casual spots with better beer selections. Early in the week I asked one of the many ubiquitous pedicab riders where locals go to relax and have a beer. One spot in particular that I felt at home was LoveJoys. On a side street near the chaos of 6th Street sits this Taphouse and brewery that embodies the grungy, rock & roll attitude in everything from the bartenders to the bathroom decor. They feature a wide variety of microbrew beers as well as a few of their own craft beers brewed on premise. LoveJoys most definitely feels like one of the hidden gems of Austin.


LoveJoys Tap Room & Brewery

LoveJoys Tap Room & Brewery

Of course, my time hasn’t been completely spent checking out what the local scene has to offer. I’ve also had the pleasure of listening to some of the smartest, most talented people in our industry discuss (and some times argue) about the technology we use, the emerging methods that we employ to reach consumers and the challenges that we face as marketers in a rapidly evolving market place. 

As you’ve all been witnessing, the gang has been Twittering, or tweeting—like we’re in a Hitchcock movie—throughout the duration of this trip. While I started using Twitter a few weeks ago, I’ve never seen it utilized on such a massive scale. Using applications like TweetDeck you can easily aggregate a massive amount of content from customized criteria that allows you to follow an unbelievable amount of content. Not only does it give us the ability to follow the speakers and insights of the entire group, but it opens an entirely different perspective in to social communication with thousands of people doing the same thing. For those of you saying to yourselves: “I don’t need to let people know ‘what I’m doing’ all the time”, I emplore you to discover how much more Twitter has to offer even the casual user.


This brings me to the point of this post. One of the most interesting panel discussions that I’ve seen this week addressed  the user interface design tools in games and how they can (and should) be utilized in certain applications, both online and in independent applications. One of the opening remarks stated that in games you’re presented with a limited number of tools, however, each tool has a broad number of uses. For example, in Super Mario Bros. the gamer has the ‘jump’ command. The ‘jump’ command has a wide variety of uses such as killing enemies, breaking blocks, collecting coins, and combination moves like run+jump in order to achieve certain functions. By comparison, in an application like Word, you are overwhelmed by a multitude of tools and functions, most of which you will never use, yet they are still presented to you from the moment you open the application. This is obviously the fundamental difference between games and productivity applications. In games the act of discovering the function of the tools you have available to you is what makes the game fun. In a productivity application or website, the act of discovery is seen as a problem, and thus results in less fun. 

What the panel set out to prove is that, when done correctly you can create a user interface and experience that blends the act of intelligent discovery with out hindering access to necessary features. This approach acts to reward and encourage the user to want to learn more functions within the application. A minimalist, reward driven approach to something as simple as filling out form fields will encourage users to want to discover more features in an application or website and will result in additional visits, hits, and information upload. 




I think Twitter is a great example of this approach in action, and it’s producing massive results. Twitter presents you with a blank form field and suggests that you write what you are doing at that time. At first the user only knows that you can enter information into that field and everyone on the web can see it. However, the more you use the one simple tool you have access to, you realize that there are a number of different commands that allow you to utilize the site in many different ways. The @twitteruser command allows you to respond to another persons post, #twittertopic allows you to apply a metatag to your post that is then searchable, and Dtwitteruser allows you to send a direct message to someone who is following your tweets. By providing these functions to the simple tool the user gains a feeling of empowerment when they discover the additional features. I think a few of the folks in this group (myself included) have gone from Twitter noobs to full on power users by being immersed in this tree of tweets and learning how to play the game. 

Now its time for margaritas and the SXSW closing party. Maybe i’ll run into the rest of the gang? Have you seen them?

BTW sorry about the long post, but its only my second one of the week!

According to a just-released Forrester Research report entitled “Social Media Playtime is Over,” (reported at AdAge.com) companies are not integrating social media into their overall marketing strategy. Instead, they are still “experimenting” with isolated social media tactics and hoping that they will take the place of long-term strategy. Social media is often added to the mix as an after-thought and funded by dollars that are scrapped together from other sources.

According to the Forrester analyst Jeremiah K. Owyang, author of the report:

  • “Our data shows that marketers intend to invest more in social media but have yet to justify substantial budgets. If you continue to fund social applications only as experiments, you’re unlikely to be able to do enough to make an impact or to have a secure source of funding for the future. One way to put these efforts on a firmer footing is to concentrate on objectives and measure progress toward those objectives, rather than just experimenting to see what happens. … Without concentrating on measurable objectives, it will be difficult to justify further investment in the future.”
  • “…As one of the few marketing budget items increasing during a recession, social media marketing needs to be taken seriously and treated as a corporate asset. To be successful, social media marketing must be managed as long-term programs, not short-term experiments. To succeed, make sure you have dedicated resources in place, including both social media strategists and community managers,” writes Owyang.

This is a great point and something that marketers are going to realize and correct. And they are going to need to do it quickly. Read the full article, published on AdAge.com.