Archive for the 'sxsw' Category

Want to see me talk about RSS Hacking at SXSW?

If you want to see me speak at SXSW, you can comment and vote on my session before 11:59 CDT on Friday, August 27. Here’s how SXSW panel selection is weighted: 30% popular vote (you!), 30% program staff and 40% advisory board, so I’ll need some votes before they will accept my session! Here are the details about my proposed session so you can decide on whether to vote for it.

Hacking RSS: Filtering & Processing Obscene Amounts of Information

Information overload is less about having too much information and more about not having the right tools and techniques to filter and process information to find the pieces that are most relevant for you. This presentation will focus on showing you a variety of tips and techniques to get you started down the path of looking at RSS feeds in a completely different light. The default RSS feeds generated by your favorite blog or website are just a starting point waiting to be hacked and manipulated to serve your needs. Most people read RSS feeds, but few people take the time to go one step further to hack on those RSS feeds to find only the most interesting posts. I combine tools like Yahoo Pipes, BackTweets, PostRank and more with some simple API calls to be able to find what I need while automatically discarding the rest. You start with one or more RSS feeds and then feed those results into other services to gather more information that can be used to further filter or process the results. This process is easier than it sounds once you learn a few simple tools and techniques, and no “real” programming experience is required to get started. This session will show you some tips and tricks to get you started down the path of hacking your RSS feeds.

Social Search Session from SXSW

Here are my raw notes from the Social Search: A Little Help From My Friends session at SXSW. Like I said, these are raw notes, so there are bound to be some typos / mistakes. Also keep in mind these are their ideas and content, not mine.

Brynn Evans (digital anthropologist, design researcher, and user experience consultant):

No longer thinking about search as a question inside of a box. What happens when you have a question, we don’t rely just on Google. How can our friends help provide advice or from our social circle. You need to think of search as a process over time – it’s not a single search, it’s usually a series of searches combining friends and Google at various stages.

3 types of social search:

  • collective: gathering trends from a crowd – many activities from many people.
  • friend-filtered: Looking at results from your friends (like Google social search)
  • collaborative: working with someone to answer a question or ask a friend a question (like Aardvark)

2 main social strategies:

  • Ask the network – some people want to start with friends and get help / guidance before doing a Google search
  • Embark alone – see what they can gather from Google and then turn to friends for help if you can’t figure it out alone.

Max Ventilla (Aardvark – now at Google):

Web search is great for objective questions, but not for subjective questions. When there is no “right” answer, your social circle can help you find an answer that is appropriate for you (book recommendations, etc.)

Friends can answer subjective questions, but ..
* unreliable
* hard to keep up
* social cost

Intimacy facilitates trust.
Speakers want to know who they are addressing.

Ash Rust (OneRiot):

Realtime search to help people find out what is happening right now.

Scott Prindle (Crispen Porter – advertising company):

Social search in the digital marketing space (like OneRiot model). Give customers something good to talk about, they will talk. And that conversation becomes content for social search, helping to drive additional traffic and conversation.

Enable customers to find the experts within your organization (like Aardvark model).

If there is one factual answer to a question, this isn’t where social search excels. 20-30% of questions can be dealt with via social search. Will it ever overtake Google? No. Social search is useful for certain types of questions, but not all. For 40% of queries, we get good information from Google, but it leaves you wanting a little bit more. Social search can provide this additional context. We need better ways to personalize your searches based on information from your social circle and include it in your Google / Yahoo results.

Who is an authority? What is relevant? How do you index all of it? These are tough questions that still need to be solved for social search.

SXSW Interactive Party at Beer and Blog

Are you going to Austin for SXSW Interactive in March? Not going, but wish you were going and want to hang out with other geeks? Want to learn more about SXSW so that you can go next year? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you should join us at a special pre-SXSW party at Beer and Blog on Friday, February 26th from 4pm – ??.

Since this is a community organized event, you’ll be buying your own drinks, but it will be just as fun! We’ll be pairing up with Portland Beer and Blog for this event, and it will be a great opportunity to chat with others about sxsw. We can find out who else is going and talk about ways to stay in touch at the event. If you are new to sxsw, you can get some tips from the experienced attendees. SXSWi is my favorite large tech event held every March in Austin, TX. SXSW is also referred to as spring break for geeks, not that I expect the parties to sway your decision to attend (*cough*).

The Details:
Friday, Feb 26, 2009 from 4:00pm – ??
Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub
928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97214
RSVP on Upcoming

Want to See Me Speak at SXSW?

panelpicker-formulaIf so, you need to vote!

SXSWi is my favorite large tech event held every March in Austin, TX. If you don’t already plan to attend SXSW, you should consider it, especially since the conference fee is only $395 for a five-day event. SXSW is also referred to as spring break for geeks, not that I expect the parties to sway your decision to attend (*cough*).

Here’s how it works. People who want to speak at SXSW submit proposals and other people vote on them. The popular vote makes up 30% of the decision for whether or not your session is selected.

I currently have 2 presentations that are in the running.

  • Techniques for Monitoring Online Conversations with Free Tools: Learn about the latest free tools and advanced techniques for monitoring online conversations across the social web. People are talking about the topics that interest you, and people are talking about you, your company and your competitors. How quickly and efficiently can you find this information now?
  • Companies and Communities: Participating without being sleazy: Some companies participate in online communities and the social web with finesse, while others engage in sleazy practices that send potential customers running away. Learn some best practices and tips for engaging with communities of people online, and learn how to avoid some of the most common sleazy mistakes.

While you are there, vote for some other cool presentations. I think Rick is putting together a list of other Portland proposals for the Silicon Florist blog if you want to hear some other local people speak at SXSW.

Change Your World: Making Breakthroughs Happen with Kathy Sierra

Here are my raw notes from Kathy Sierra’s session. Let me preface this with a note about how amazing and energetic she is, which also means that it was exceedingly difficult to take notes, so I expect you’ll find a few mistakes. For example, my numbers don’t quite match up :)

Change Your World in 50 Minutes: Making Breakthroughs Happen – Kathy Sierra

Start with where you are now and then the goal of where you want to be. There is usually a big f-ing brick wall in between. You can’t break the wall down with step by step incremental progress.

Incremental vs. breakthrough. Incremental step by step is awesome, but this presentation is for when you need to do something drastic to break down the wall.

Incremental = arms race with users and competitors. marketing, viral, whuffie arms race can be exhausting.

Breakthrough ideas or breakthrough performance (being way better at something).

Your USERS need breakthroughs.

Being an expert is a function of ability and time – you have to have both if you want to kick butt.

Being better is just better. Word of mouth (WOM) vs. Word of obvious (WOO). If you are better, you can take advantage of it. Being better is better than saying you are better.

Are your users stuck in in “P” mode (like cameras) – people won’t become passionate about something that they don’t take advantage of and they resist upgrading because of the loss in productivity.

Anyone can compete. If you can help people kick butt better than your competitors.

How to know someone:
1) iPod playlist and …
2) Flight vs. invisibility (superpower)

What superpower do we give to our users? What could we provide and how would it change what we do? What would we put on the suit? (Pivot table guy / Photoshop channels guy). Auto-correct spelling man is not a superpower. Would it work as an action figure? Twitter man doesn’t look like a super power, but it is. Increasing productivity is not a superpower – they want something cool that comes as a result of increasing productivity. Productivity is the broccoli; the result is a rich dark chocolate.

14 ways to make breakthroughs:

2) Superset game – Think about something bigger and figure out what it is and go after the bigger superset. What cooler thing is my thing a part of? If you blog about your company, this isn’t cool to your readers.

3) shortcuts – 10,000 hours to be amazingly world class good at something. 2 ways to shrink it: Learn the patterns & shorten the duration (accelerate those hours).

4) deliberate practice – kicking butt in less than 1,000 hours if they do deliberate practice. How can you do it and how can you help your users do it? After 1-2 years, experience is a poor indicator of performance. Offer exercises, games, contests, tutorials that support deliberate practice of the right things. Work on improving your strengths more than your weaknesses. Much of what we do needs a sell by date: 1st hits on google for a solution are old, outdated, and not updated.

5) Make the right things easy and the wrong things hard. What would it take to do this? make it easier for the users to have a breakthrough than to stay stagnant.

6) Get better gear (and offer better gear). Expensive equipment is usually more expensive because it is much better and can help people make breakthroughs. Help them justify it. Find, make and offer higher end gear that bumps them to the next level, If you don’t do it, partner with someone who does.

7) Ignore standard limitations. How would it work if you didn’t know the limitations.

8.) Total immersion Jams. 16 hours over 2 days is better than 16 hours over 2 months. Goal is not to be good, but to just get something done and profound things can happen. “the surest way to guarantee nothing interesting happens is to assume that you already know how to do it” Less *Camp, More *Jam.

9) CHange your perspective. Look at something differently. Don’t make a better [X], make a better [user of X] (don’t make a better book, make a better software developer who reads the book).

10) What movie are your users in? Look at your user’s journey with your product / service. Who are your users allies and mentors? What role to you play? Your tech support? “Your company is to your user as ____ is to Frodo. Exercise: What movie are your users in? What movie might they want to be in? Don’t forget the soundtrack.

11) Don’t ask your users. They will give you incremental improvements, but not breakthroughs. You need to ignore everybody to make the real breakthroughs. What users says is usually different than what they want. Individuals vs. consensus. You can end up adding too many features that alienate the happy users. Breakthrough: ask other people’s users and get inspiration from elsewhere.

12) Be brave. Concepts often get filtered down by fear and you end up implementing something mediocre out of fear.

13) Easy to use isn’t always better. Difficult and challenging can be OK.

14) Rethink deadness: reexamine things that you sent to the dead pool. Sometimes things that seem to be dead aren’t always. Look at how popular Etsy & Make are.

14) Change the EQ. EQ sliders: Price, number of features, quality, services, performance. these are incremental changes. Incremental changes the position of the slider. Breakthroughs add new sliders that weren’t being used before. Modify and change what’s on the slider. How @garyvee changed wine businesses

15) Don’t mistake narrow for shallow. lolcats translation – ridiculously narrow, but not shallow. People become experts in narrow areas. Passive aggressive notes blog. The “Blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks.

16) Be amazed. Think about how much things have changed and how amazing things are now. It’s all about perspective.

My Strategy for Keeping Up with People & Info at SXSW

This afternoon, Katherine Gray (aka @thiskat) asked me about my strategy for keeping up with everything at sxsw, and I realized that I didn’t really have one. Here’s a start of one, but I would love to hear what tools other people are using.

Finding People

Last year, I mostly used Twitter to find the best parties, find friends for lunch, and get suggestions for sessions. The problem with using Twitter to find people is that Tweets about someone being at the Iron Cactus for lunch get lost among the stream of people sharing information, especially at an event like sxsw where information sharing frequently reaches firehose status.

This year, I will be using Shizzow to find the my friends for parties, lunches, sessions, drinks, and did I mention parties? Since Shizzow is location-based, it will be easy to find places where groups of my friends are congregating. The iPhone and android apps are still under development, but m.shizzow.com works pretty well on most devices, including the iPhone. I’ll also be using Shizzeeps to find groups of people using Shizzow who are all at the same location.

We opened Shizzow up to the public last week, so anyone can join without an invite. I recommend getting an account and playing around with it before you leave for Austin.

Finding Information

Last year, I put together a Twitter filter for sxsw pipe that took my with friends rss feed and filtered for mentions of sxsw. I’m still bummed that Twitter took away the with friends RSS feed. Well technically you can get it, but it requires authentication, which makes it relatively useless for many uses.

This year, I’m going to rely more heavily on FriendFeed, which does allow me to get an RSS feed of my friends filtered for sxsw.

Step 1: Make sure your Twitter friends are also your FriendFeed friends. Friendfeed has a Twitter tool that looks for anyone you are currently following on Twitter who is also on FriendFeed and isn’t already listed as a friend.

Step 2: Get your RSS feed. You can go to the advanced search and set up your query. I recommend adding ‘&num=100′ to the end of your RSS feed output from the query to get a few more results in the RSS feed, since many readers aren’t set up to poll very often. You could also just take my RSS feed and replace my username (geekygirldawn) with yours: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=sxsw&required=q&friends=geekygirldawn&format=rss&num=100

Step 3: Put the results in a mobile web browser that you can access from your phone, and change your settings to poll the feed more often if you have that option. I’ll be using NetNewsWire.

You may be thinking … “What, no Yahoo Pipe?” This seemed like the easiest way so far, and Yahoo Pipes has some additional delays before the feed is updated, so this will probably give me the information more quickly. I may still end up with a Yahoo Pipe to do some complex filtering if I’m getting too much noise from things that I just don’t care about in my feed.

I’m a big fan of reducing signal to noise. There are other ways to get all of the information about sxsw without filtering it for just my friends (Twitter search for sxsw, etc.), but I was afraid of turning on that firehose and drowning in data.

What tools are you planning to use to keep up at SXSW? I’d love to hear other suggestions in the comments.

Win a SXSW Badge Upgrade at the PDX Pre-SXSW Party

Good news for those of you coming to the PDX Pre-SXSW Party Part Two: The Unofficial Version!

I talked to Hugh Forrest at sxsw, and he has offered a free upgrade from an Interactive badge to a Gold badge for one lucky winner! Basically, this means that you get to attend the film tracks and screenings in addition to the interactive program.

Here’s how you can win:

  • You must have already purchased a sxsw interactive badge.
  • You must attend the PDX Pre-SXSW Party Part Two: The Unofficial Version this Friday (details below).
  • You must put your business card or piece of paper into the hat (or bucket or whatever container I can find).
  • You must be there when we draw the random name at 6pm.
  • There can be only one (winner).
  • I’ll put the winner in touch with Hugh Forrest to receive the upgrade.

If you missed my earlier post about the party, here’s what you need to know:

Since this is a community organized event, you’ll be buying your own drinks, but it will be just as fun! We’ll be pairing up with Portland Beer and Blog for this event, and it will be a great opportunity to chat with others about sxsw. We can find out who else is going and talk about ways to stay in touch at the event. If you are new to sxsw, you can get some tips from the experienced attendees.

Quite a few of us are planning to use Shizzow to keep in touch at the event to find the best sessions and the best parties. We even have a few things specific to sxsw that we plan to roll out prior to the event. If you want an invite to Shizzow, you can ping the community evangelist for Shizzow (me) by emailing me at the email address right there in the sidebar of this blog.

The Details:
Friday March 6, 2009 from 4:00pm – 7:00pm
Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub
928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97214
RSVP on Upcoming

PDX Pre-SXSW Party Part Two: The Unofficial Version

We had a great pre-sxsw party here in Portland on January 19 organized by the official staff of the sxsw interactive event. We had such a great time, that we decided to do a community organized, unofficial party exactly one week before the big event in Austin. Since this is a community organized event, you’ll be buying your own drinks, but it will be just as fun! We’ll be pairing up with Portland Beer and Blog for this event, and it will be a great opportunity to chat with others about sxsw. We can find out who else is going and talk about ways to stay in touch at the event. If you are new to sxsw, you can get some tips from the experienced attendees.

Quite a few of us are planning to use Shizzow to keep in touch at the event to find the best sessions and the best parties. We even have a few things specific to sxsw that we plan to roll out prior to the event. If you want an invite to Shizzow, you can ping the community evangelist for Shizzow (me) by emailing me at the email address right there in the sidebar of this blog.

The Details:
Friday March 6, 2009 from 4:00pm – 7:00pm
Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub
928 SE 9th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97214
RSVP on Upcoming

SXSW Interactive Portland Meetup on January 19th

Are you planning to attend SXSW Interactive or considering attending?

I was just talking to Hugh Forrest, SXSW Interactive Event Director, and he told me that they are organizing a meetup here in Portland on January 19th. I can say without hesitation that SXSW is my favorite event (outside of Portland). It is also affectionately known as spring break for geeks due to the large number of parties every evening, and the sessions never start before 10am to accommodate our late night partying.  The Austin BarCamp also runs in parallel to SXSW at a nearby location, so many of us hit BarCamp along with the main event. In other words, it’s a great event. You should join us at the meetup if you want to learn more:

January 19
6–8 p.m.
Fez Ballroom: 316 SW 11th

Here’s the catch: If you want to attend, you must RSVP to interpress@sxsw.com. Please be sure to put Portland in the subject line of the email (they are doing a few of these in various cities).

This will give you an opportunity to learn more about SXSW from the people who organize it.  If you’ve never attended or were on the fence about attending, it’s a great opportunity to learn more. For those of us who already love SXSW, it gives us an opportunity to get to know some other Portland people who plan to attend.

On another note, a few of us plan to use Shizzow to keep up with each other at the event and find the best sessions, parties, lunches, etc. If you don’t already have an invite and would like one, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll hook you up with one.

Tons of Portland people attend SXSW, and I strongly encourage you to think about going. It’s in Austin (the cool part of Texas), really smart people attend, there are great parties, and the sessions are amazing.