Tag Archive for 'shizzow'

2010 in Review: Change is Good!

Every year, I like to write some kind of year in review blog post. I started writing these in 2007 as  a way for people that I don’t talk to very often to keep up with what I’ve been doing, but I’ve found that it helps me see what I’ve accomplished (or not accomplished) that I can use to reflect on what I want to do in the next year. You can find the 2007, 2008 and 2009 editions if you want to see how this year compares with previous years.

2010 in review

First, the big changes:

While all three of these were really hard decisions to make, I’m happy about each of them. I was really burned out in the first few months of 2010, and I’m just now starting to feel re-energized. The goal of each of these big changes was to free up more time for myself and more time to work on fun little projects that I’m passionate about doing.

Progress Toward my Goals for 2010:

If you go back to my 2009 post and look at my goals for 2010, I feel pretty happy about what I’ve accomplished. Here are those goals and my progress on each one.

  • Continue to do interesting work on fun projects where I can collaborate with cool people: My work on MeeGo fits this goal pretty well.
  • Start a few more websites: Well, maybe not a few, but I did start one: Rednecks in the Wild.
  • Stay healthy by continuing to work out and eat healthy food: I’ve been doing a lot of running this year, and even did my first 5K. I’ve also been making a real effort to eat more real food and less crap.
  • Spend more time reading a combination of fiction and business / technology books: I have read at least 45 books that I’ve counted, mostly science fiction / fantasy, which is about a book a week.
  • Take more beach vacations! Todd and I had a lovely Thanksgiving vacation in Hawaii this year.

Other Interesting Things I Did in 2010:

What I Want to Accomplish in 2011

  • Finish that cookbook that I’ve been threatening to write for the past 15 years. I started working on it over the holiday and am making pretty good progress.
  • Get back into doing some light programming for fun projects. I’ve been dabbling a bit over the last year, but mostly with things like shell scripts and awk that aren’t really programming, so I’d like to do more with PHP and APIs.
  • Work on a couple of side projects or random websites with the goal of helping to build more programming skills.
  • Be even healthier in 2011 to build endurance and strength with longer runs and more regularly hitting the gym to lift weights.
  • Continue to read regularly and take another beach vacation.

Reflecting on Shizzow

shizzow_colorAs many of you know, I was the community evangelist and one of the co-founders of Shizzow, a location-based service designed to help you find and hang out with your friends. Last week we made the difficult decision to shut down the company behind Shizzow and let it live on as a side project for Mark Wallaert while Ryan Snyder and I officially moved off of the project. The sad reality is that the number of users were dwindling, and we had little time to devote to Shizzow, so we thought this was the best option for everyone involved. I wanted to spend a few minutes reflecting on Shizzow and what I learned from it.

First, I want to make it clear that I do not regret a minute of the time that I put into Shizzow. It was an incredibly fun project, and Mark and Ryan were amazing people to work with. We had an amazing community of users here in Portland, and I met so many new friends as a result of my work on Shizzow. I also learned quite a bit throughout this process, and the time that I spent on Shizzow was worth the education I received as a result.

There are a few things I would do differently if I had to start over, even if some of these things go against traditional business advice:

  • Spend less time and effort focused on the business during the early days. Having a business model, financial projections and a VC pitch isn’t worth much without users. Focus on the users first, and then spend time on the business after you’ve fully validated that you are going to have enough users to turn it into a business. Spending too much time on the business in the very early days leaves less energy for the product. I know this goes against much of the traditional startup advice, but this is critical for people with limited time who are starting something in addition to their regular day jobs.
  • Start small and move up. Shizzow was set up with heavy corporate processes from the start. For example, we were a C corp, which involved a lot more paperwork, effort and legal expenses when we could have started as an LLC and moved to a C corp later only if we needed it. Starting with the minimum effort needed to get going and growing as needed would have been a better choice for us.
  • Fast is better than perfect. Shizzow was built to scale to hundreds of thousands or millions of users, which made for a rock solid product, but it also took too much time. As a result, we entered a little too late in the game. In the future, I’d focus on getting something out early and worry about scalability later as needed. Don’t get me wrong, the product should be built on an architecture that is capable of scaling to large numbers of users, but you don’t need to start optimizing for them until they start to materialize.
  • Have better plans for growing the user base. We definitely underestimated the difficulty in growing our user base outside of Portland. We should have spent more time on outreach to people outside of Portland and making it easier for new users to get started with Shizzow.

There are also a few things that I wouldn’t change:

  • Start with great people. I love working with people who are smart and fun to be around, and I had a great time working with Mark and Ryan. I learned new things and have new friends as a result of Shizzow.
  • Focus on community. We had a great community of users in Shizzow, and we spent a lot of time fixing bugs and making changes based on the community feedback. We also had a great community of developers who spent countless hours hammering on the API and attending our regular developer meetups over drinks at the Green Dragon.

I thought it was important to spend a few minutes reflecting publicly about my experiences with Shizzow in the hopes that other people can learn from it as well. While it’s always a little difficult to let go, I think it was the right time.

A heartfelt thank you everyone who used Shizzow and supported us over the past year. Finally, a shout out to the person who created this video. I love it!

Companies and Communities, Shizzow and More

At WebVisions, the Strange Love Live crew was on the scene doing interviews with various speakers, organizers, and attendees. I spent a few minutes with Cami talking about my book (Companies and Communities: Participating without being sleazy), Shizzow, and other topics.

Here’s the 6 minute video if you want to watch me talk.

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.

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is this week’s summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs:

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily

Shizzow

Social Computing Magazine
These are republished articles originally appearing here on Fast Wonder (with my permission).

If you want a feed of all of my blog posts across multiple sites, you can also subscribe to my über feed.

Recent Links

Here are a few interesting things from this week that I wanted to share …

Troublemakers, trolls and a very trying week « Online Community Strategist

FeverBee: A Stranger In A Big City

Shizzow’s Social Location Service Marries ‘Where’ with ‘What’ | Epicenter from Wired.com

Fly away! Be free! Shizzow launches from Portland nest in preparation for SXSW Interactive » Silicon Florist

It’s Time To Start Thinking Of Twitter As A Search Engine

You can find my links on Delicious.

Shizzow Public Launch

As the community evangelist for Shizzow, I am really excited to announce the public launch of Shizzow! Ryan, Mark and I have been working our butts off on this application in addition to all of our “real” work (jobs that pay the bills – consulting, in my case). We planned this launch right before SXSW to give people a week or so to play around with it, but I think that people will really be able to see it’s usefulness when a few thousand geeks descend on Austin next week.

In addition to the public launch, we are also opening our API up for public beta testing. We’ve had some developers working on it for the past couple of months, so we even have some alpha applications starting to hit the streets for testing.

I’ve covered the details of the launch over on the Shizzow blog, so please feel free to visit Shizzow to read the rest of the launch details.

Don’t forget that we will be talking about Shizzow and SXSW on Friday at Beer and Blog and again on Strange Love Live!

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Strange Love Live and Shizzow

The entire Shizzow team, including yours truly, will be lounging on the Strange Love Live couch for the podcast this Friday evening (March 6th) around 10pm. We will be talking about some new happenings on Shizzow with a focus on our plans for attending SXSW and how you can use Shizzow to find the best parties and sessions as well as getting together for meals with friends. We’ll also be giving some general tips for attending SXSW for any newbies in the audience.

I encourage you to tune into the live video stream and chat room at 10pm on Friday, but don’t worry, you can download the audio podcast later if you miss the live version.

We’ll also be at Beer and Blog prior to the Strange Love Live appearance for more talk about SXSW.

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

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is this week’s summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs:

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily

Shizzow

Business Leader NW

If you want a feed of all of my blog posts across multiple sites, you can also subscribe to my über feed.