Friday, March 25, 2011

social media maps, 2007 vs 2010

Just came across this artifact from 2007, buried in the depths of my computer. Brilliant cartography of ancient world, created by XKCD.

Online search took me to 2010 update created by Ethan Bloch of Flowtown. Fascinating to compare shifts in topographies. But is LinkedIn really still Timbuktu?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

takeaways from sxsw--more learning, less swag

I was momentarily disappointed this year at check-in to discover that SXSW "big bags" bulged with far fewer giveaways. (I arrived in the evening, hungry, having spent the day in sustenance-free air.) Was this year's dearth of swag due to a green effort, as organizers contend, or to the fact that recession-hit companies didn't want to pony up for thousands more note pads, snacks, energy drinks, pens and CDs? But who could blame them? There were 6000 more digital attendees this year than last, a total of 17,000 swarming the Convention Center for what felt like just as many panels. The bound roster was 330 pages and almost 3 lbs. (Callout to massage therapists attending return of digital warriors.)

Sheer volume of offerings makes it impossible to do a proper summation, but to my mind, Oliver Burkeman gets it right in The Guardian by observing that what the conference was ultimately about was the fading delineation between “real life” and “online life.” Almost all of our life (for better or worse) is now being lived in connection with crowds of others in various timezones. New ways to blur the line between the physical and virtual worlds excited a lot of SXSW chatter.

A hit at parties was Instaprint, the new location-based photo booth. (Pictured, at Club DeVille) It’s a lunch-box sized printer you can hang on the wall to turn online Instagram photos to tiny actual prints. Toting two to Austin made the Breakfast agency A-listers. Another much-talked about evernet topic was mobile tagging which makes anything clickable, according to Microsoft Tag’s director of marketing. TAGs are a color, updatable version of QR codes which, happily, were not part of badges this year, eliminating the need to awkwardly point your cellphone at someone’s chest.

What else did I learn at SXSW aside from the fact that the W is Austin's new "it" hotel? Here are notes from a couple of panels. Unfortunately, I missed the one that promoted itself with a hilarious video I just saw this morning.

This session was about UI designing for boomers. Not unemployment insurance. User interface. Which means how user-friendly a digital experience is. The goal of UI designers is to make interacting with a machine as simple and easy as possible. Obviously we need more of them on the planet.

Boomers comprise a third of the population online, reported the gratifyingly age-agnostic 30-something presenter, John McCree, pleasantly surprising me and, no doubt, the handful of other boomers in the audience of hundreds. The trick to UI designing for boomers, he said, includes added emphasis on ease of use: embedding terminology that’s consistent (don’t use “exit” on one screen and “quit” on another.) Don’t dumb down the experience, just make it simpler to navigate. And (to this boomer, most relevant) don’t keep adding features to make a device better. Adding unwanted features, just because you can, increases only confusion and irritation in those who grew up with 2-knob televisions and non-programmable rotaries.

Seeing Barry Diller on the schedule made me feel better. I knew I wouldn’t be the oldest one in the room. Conveniently, his talk was located in a Ballroom next to the Ogilvynotes table, where I was able to snag illustrated notes on panels I’d missed the day before.

At first, I wondered why I was sitting there instead of at one of the 15 sessions on simultaneous offer. “The internet is a miracle,” Diller began, waxing on about its impact on culture, as if it was 1999. But when CNN anchor Poppy Harlow nudged him into meatier territory, he was off to the races. (You don't get to be one of the world's biggest Media Magillas without learning to pivot.) He quickly reacquired attention of the audience by confiding that his wife, Diane von Furstenburg, plays Angry Birds. Here's a few of his most tweeted bon mots:

on owning a business
If you don’t have a business, you’re just out there on the town square, crying out to the crowd.

on pay per use
Premium content costs money to produce. If the person creating content receives no benefit from it beyond knowing it’s being shared, the model has no commercial prospect.

on policitians
Instead of going out and making speeches, politicians should stay home and make better laws.

is content king?
Well, if you do content, you want it to be king.

advice to startups
Get enough money to get it started. Give away as little as possible. Keep your head down. Don’t listen/talk to anybody except your audience. If it works, great. If not, you get to do it all over again.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

postcards from sxsw

Greetings from Austin where SXSWi campers have descended in unprecedented numbers. Hugh Forrest, director of the festival, maestro of orchestration, estimates via email there are 16,000 digital attendees this year--a increase of about 25% since 2010.

themed campuses
To accommodate surge in attendance, conference sessions are, for the first time, divided into "campuses." My session was (curiously) assigned to the Future of Journalism campus which I was dismayed to realize is 11 blocks away from Convention Center hub. I was afraid not many would make the hike but was gratified to arrive to the SRO crowd pictured. SXSWers are intrepid. Thanks to Austin Chronicle reporter Belinda Acosta for writing it up.

walking shoes
are necessary. Campus locations can be a mile apart.
Some of the best food can't be had in a restaurant, but ordered from the windows of parked lorries or airstreams with names as memorable as menu items, like Man Bites Dog and Electric Cock.

Where ever there's food, it seems, there is bacon. Even in waffles.

Taxis are scarce. Hotel line-ups long. People-powered transport is the fasted, most refreshing alternative to walking. No meters, though. Pedal-pushers work for tips. Going rate is $5 a, derriere. Now you can even call one with your smartphone.

'pile of legos' is a foursquare location. of course

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

fictional TV character lands gig at real magazine

Frontlines, brand fiction: Not only are TV characters writing books sold on Amazon, now they’re penning columns in national magazines. In an unprecedented media alliance, TV Land (formerly known as Nick at Nite) is partnering with Woman’s Day to introduce a column written by a fictional character in the upcoming series “Hot in Cleveland.” The character, played by Valerie Bertinelli, lands a gig as columnist for Woman’s Day. Her columns will appear in the actual magazine this summer, making the character “jump out of the show and land in the magazine” said Kim Rosenblum, executive VP at Woman’s Day. Great concept for increasing engagement with both platforms. Interesting (and heartening) that this breakout initiative is launched by entities creating content for older consumers.

Thanks to Corporate Rock for the tip