Tag Archive for 'sxsw'

Hacking RSS: Filtering & Processing Obscene Amounts of Information at SXSW

My SXSW session this year, Hacking RSS: Filtering & Processing Obscene Amounts of Information, is at the coveted 9:30 am session time on the final day of SXSW, so I thought that it might be a good idea to outline the presentation here in the hopes that I can entice a few people  to drag themselves out of bed early to attend.

Presentation

You can listen to the audio of my presentation.

Description

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.

A few specific topics

Logistics

  • Tuesday March 15 at 9:30AM
  • Venue: Austin Convention Center Ballroom C
  • Tag: #hackingRSS

UPDATED to add embedded slides on 3/15/2011 and add audio link on 3/23/2011.

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.

Building Strong Online Communities Panel at SXSW

Here are my notes for this session. These are the words of the panelists (not mine) as best I could capture them (please forgive the typos).

Building Strong Online Communities

Erin Kotecki Vest  BlogHer Inc
Drew Curtis   The Member,   Fark.com
Alexis Ohanian   Prod Mgr of Awesome,   reddit.com
Ken Fisher   Editor-in-Chief,   Ars Technica

Erin: BlogHer is the largest online women’s blogging network. It started as a conference after a flame war about where were the women bloggers. As a community, they decided where to go after the first conference.

Drew: Added comments to Fark in 2000. Prior to that, they didn’t realize that they had an online community. It was mostly organic.

Alexis: Started as a place for people to get news as a community.

Ken: Community started by wanting to replace email with comments to outsource tech support and have others answer questions. Wanted a high signal to noise ratio – Usenet started to become overun with trolls, so they wanted a smaller community to share knowledge, get answers, and retreat from some of the other places online to be a little different.

How do you balance your own vision for the community vs. where the community wants to take it?

Drew: there are so many voices and you have to make sure you are representing what most of the people want vs. what a few vocal complainers want. You have to balance those complaints vs the other comments or traffic. Tyranny of well organized minorities.

Alexis: When it came time to grow, they started to grow the subcommunities, but they were putting a lot of time into creating them, but they found that they could turn it over to users and let them create new ones.

Erin: They bring the community in to vote on conferences, etc. You have to listen to your users.

Alexis: It doesn’t scale when you have one person trying to answer all of the feedback emails, but most of the feedback comes in via email.

Ken: Twitter is a great way to get feedback about the community. Very few people are daily participants. Only 4% of readers visit the forums. Getting feedback is hard. They created a forum where you can post feedback. The benefit is that other members can respond to the feedback, so the company doesn’t have to respond to everyone. You need to care about what your community thinks and be transparent about the feedback. It’s important to give people a place to criticize you outside of specific topics.

How does the community influence or police itself and how did you get there?

Erin: BlogHer is unique because they have strict community guidelines. A safe environment with civil discourse without name calling. Community guidelines are stringent and the members help police each other.

Drew: Don’t be an asshole. They have a nark function where people can nark on each other, but sometimes people self-organize to try to get someone in trouble. The nark throws the comment into a queue where someone takes a look at it. They also lock people out for a specific amount of time for bad behavior – and they log bad behavior to give people a first notice before taking other action.

Alexis: they have a wiki etiquette page for the community. The up and down errors tend to take care of most of the issues, but they have turned most of the control over to the users who have created the specific subsite (moderation, etc.)

Erin: They pull down inappropriate comments and email the member to let them know what they did wrong.

Drew: They pull stuff down & can always reverse it if they made a mistake.

Ken: They don’t moderate any content unless it’s spam. They don’t want anything that might be perceived as censorship and don’t want to abuse the trust of the community by silencing people instead of letting them have a say and a voice.

Erin: Rarely have backlash, since they rarely need to pull anything.

Drew: They permanently ban a bunch of people who have behaved badly. They have a system that prevents people from just signing up again.

Ken: They have a list of rules and if they do  moderate, they specify exactly why their comment was pulled. This removes the impression of having a bias or censoring, since they have specific rules about what people can / can’t do. This makes it transparent. They also try to rehabilitate users. Start with a one week ban, then a month, then perma-ban (not quite permanent for those who want to come back). Most won’t come back as a different user, since they don’t want to abandon the identity that they built on the site. They rarely ban (1 a month or so).

Erin: Community guidelines help community managers maintain sanity even during hot times like the election season. It got heated, but it was civil discussion in a respectful manner.

What are some of the big mistakes that community managers make?

Erin: They tell rather than ask. They make changes without getting any input from the community and don’t involve the community in decisions

Drew: Alternate identities to troll users. You don’t want to listen to the community too much during times of change. Give people time to get used to the changes and “get over it”. You have to discount some of the complaints to factor out the external stuff and focus on the things that really should be changed.

Alexis: The vast majority of users are a silent majority. The people who view and consume, but never tell you how they fell. You can reach out to them and at some point you have to trust your gut and make the tough calls.

Drew: If people are still complaining after 2 weeks, they start to make changes.

Ken: Always share the results of surveys and other feedback. It shows what people really think and helps people understand where you are coming from. They started with 3 forums and now have 26 forums. They add them as they were needed. A huge mistake is to create a bunch of subtopics and forums, which makes your community look like a ghost town and reduces participation. It’s really important to start small. When you are managing a community, it can be hard not to let your ego get away from you. They learned not to let the egos get in the way by punishing people and getting vindictive. Can’t get sucked in.

Erin: BlogHer has a great community manager. You need to be patient, levelheaded, calm and neutral to handle people yelling at each other with grace. Need to be able to multi-task and look at many things at once.

Erin: The conferences are community driven, which makes it easier to organize the conference, since the community picks the content.

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.

Making Whuffie: Raising Social Capital in Online Communities – Tara Hunt

Here are my unedited notes from Tara Hunt’s session (please forgive the typos). These are her words, not mine (assuming my notes are accurate).

Making Whuffie: Raising Social Capital in Online Communities by Tara Hunt

It was a packed house for Tara’s presentation

Whuffie comes from Cory Doctorow’s book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. In his future word, instead of money, they had whuffie, which is basically social capital. You ping someone’s whuffie and get a reputation score.

Many people produce content and have audiences online. If you join these networks to pitch, people will respond negatively. Credibility matters and you lose the ability influence people when you spam people.

It takes time and attention to build this.

5 key components to raising your whuffie:

  1. Turn the bullhorn inwards – shouting at people is impersonal. You need to listen to people and get feedback by focusing on individuals to better understand your audience. 8 tips: 1) get advice & input from experts, but design for the broader community. 2) respond to all feedback, even when you respond by saying, “no thanks” 3) Don’t take negative feedback personally 4) give credit to the people whose ideas you implement. 5) when you implement a new idea, highlight it and ask for feedback. 6) make small continuous changes rather than implementing everything at once. 7) don’t wait for feedback to come to you, go out and find where people are already talking about you. 8) no matter how much people like you, there will always have someone who doesn’t – mind the haters.
  2. Become part of the community that you serve. Get out of the boardroom and into the community. Who do you serve & how do you find them. What problem are you solving and who has that problem? When you figure this out, join them in an authentic way as an ordinary participant. Figure out why people would give a darn.
  3. Create an amazing customer experience. You need to be remarkable so that people care & create amazing customer experience that lead to joy and admiration, and then you will have connection with people 1) dazzle is in the details (moleskin) 2) go above & beyond (Zappos) 3) appeal to emotion (Vosges chocolate) 4) Inject fun into the experience (Virgin America / Flickr – with a screenshot from Josh Bancroft’s Flickr images!) 5) make something mundane fashionable (Method soap). 6) Let people personalize (moo cards). 7) be experimental (threadless). 8) simplify (37 signals / basecamp) 9) make happiness your business model: increase autonomy, competence & relatedness (Zappos) 10) Be a social catalyst (Intuit – connecting customers with customers).
  4. Embrace the chaos - don’t try to control the message. People will fight back and say what they want. Instead of trying to control it, you can collaborate with people on messages and lay the foundation to discover the opportunities that can be created. 7 ways to embrace the chaos: 1) stop moving and look around you until you can see everything clearly. 2) transfer the knowledge 3) every time you feel anxiety, acknowledge it. 4) define your own measure of success. 5) Get outside of your personal circle 6) everything is out of your control anyway 7) have patience
  5. Find your higher purpose. You have to give back to the community. The more whuffie you give away the more you gain. What can you give away without going broke. 5 gifts you can give back without going broke 1) doing well by doing good (sustainability / Stonyfield Farms) 2) This customer centrically (not what you need, what your customers need). 3) Help others go further 4) Spread love (akoha.com) – pay it forward 5) value something bigger than yourself = whuffie.

These five = whuffie rich.

Slides will be uploaded today on Slideshare.

Update 3/16/09: Added the embed from Slideshare below

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.