Category Archives: sxsw

Want to Vote on my SXSW Panel Proposals?

I’ve proposed two panels for SXSW this year. If you are interested in these topics, want to see me speak, or want to get me into the conference for free, you should vote for one or both of these sessions 🙂

Quiz Show: Brilliant to Stupid Social Media Moments

Watch our social media contenders compete with each other in a no holds barred battle of the brains to answer questions about a variety of social media moments in history from the brilliant to the ridiculous to the stupid. See which of our “experts” comes out on top. (Vote)

Reputation Systems Smackdown: Community Benefit or Detriment

People are devious. If they can game your reputation system to achieve a higher status, members will try to rack up points. People are motivated by awards, but can reputation systems really encourage people to be productive community members. Maybe, maybe not. Come argue your position with our panel members. (Vote)

Also remember that hotels in Austin fill up ridiculously fast during SXSW, so if you plan to attend and have not secured a room, I encourage you to register now.

UPDATE 8/15/08:

I should have explained more about how SXSW picks panels. The process for most conferences is that you submit a proposal and some committee selects the ones that they think are most appropriate for the conference. SXSW is different. They ask people who plan to attend SXSW to use their panel picker process to rate the panels on a 5 star scale. They use this as input to select the panels.

So, this means that you don’t tell me that you want to see my panels, you need to go to the SXSW site and vote!

Twitter and sxsw

Yes, I was at sxsw last week as you know from the obnoxious and constant tweets about how awesome it was. I also heard a few people talking about how tired they were of hearing about sxsw.

On an unrelated topic, I was playing werewolf with the from the guys at Toonlet last night, and I thought it would be cool to play around with it over lunch today. I came up with this quick sxsw / Twitter comic:

Twitter at sxsw by geekygirldawn

Girl - normal: HOW WAS YOUR WEEK? Bow - normal: I WAS AT SXSW. YOU KNOW,

Portable Social Networks session at sxsw

Here are my relatively raw notes from the session with David Recordon, Chris Messina, and others.

People are tired of re-creating our data and friend lists on every new sites. We need to make it easier to move content from one site to another. Every website starts from scratch instead of building on things you have already created. This is why Facebook apps have been so successful – you can use the apps with your existing friends and existing information.

You don’t necessarily want all of the same friends on every service, and you don’t want to impose your new apps / sites on all of your friends by flooding them with friend requests. You may also want to message people on other services and integrate with various services so that you can use the sites you like, your friends use the ones they like, and both can still communicate and share information between them.

Who owns your friends email addresses? Do you have a right to port your friends email addresses from Facebook to Plaxo? You want to be able to contact your friends and easily find their email addresses without violating the privacy of your friends.

Terminology is getting confusing for people. Social networking, social graph, etc. The web is way more than terminology, it is really about the people and the experiences. Should we be using the terminology “friends”? Are these people your “friends”, are they contacts, etc.? There are many more interesting ways to frame it around actions (Dopplr with fellow travelers).

Contacts can be imported by giving them your email address and *password*. Do you really want to do this? Does it set users up to be phished?

Google released an address book api that can be used to get your contacts without giving away your email address and password.

Building blocks exist today to build portable social networks:

  • hCard can be used to import contact information from other public services into another service. The point is to make it like magic: let them know what it does, what information would be shared, and how it will be used without necessarily confusing normal users with the terminology (leave it as a link or on an about page). Focus on explaining what you are doing for the user and not necessarily how you are going to do it. Also need to give people the option to only pull in certain contacts – just the ones that you want on a particular service.
  • Need better ways to validate which accounts belong to a friend by following a trail of links. Is the David Recordon on Twitter the same one as the one on Facebook. Once you can specify your accounts and your friends accounts, you can also focus on using the same methods to bring in additional content and information. You are already creating the information, but adding some additional annotation around it makes it easier to find and make the data portable. Google social graph api is one way to do this – all based on public data.
  • Enabling trust on the web with OpenID – you already have these accounts on the web, and OpenID is a good method of verifying your identity. You can use it to log in now and say who you are. If you have other profile information in your hCard, then the other site can discover it. But maybe you only want to share certain information.
  • OAuth is more about authorization than authentication. Authorizing access to your resources using tokens to sign messages, like what you do with Flickr uploader by going to the Flickr site to log in and give the uploader authorization to access your photos. OAuth is really important for giving control to certain websites without giving them access to your username and password, which on Google would give them access Google Checkout in addition to mail / contacts. You can also revoke the tokens and not have to change your password to revoke access. A lot of the big players are moving in this direction.

These ideas are a big part of the evolution of the web. It will be difficult, but it’s a bit of tough love in the meantime.

Social Strategies for Revolutionaries Session at sxsw

Social Strategies for Revolutionaries was Charlene Li’s presentation to a full audience in one of the big rooms at sxsw. She will also be posting the slides on SlideShare after the presentation, so this post just covers a few of her key highlights.

There have been a few social revolutionaries driving campaigns like reviving Jericho with peanut shipments. This is a groundswell, a social trend where people get information from each other (also the name of her upcoming book).

Four-step approach to groundswell:

  • People – assess customers social activities.
  • Objectives – what are you trying to accomplish
  • Strategy – Plan for how you will get there
  • Technology – decide which technologies to use after you figure out the above 3 points

Age is a major driver of participation. Participation in social networks tends to drop off as you look at older populations, since much of the content isn’t geared to older people on social networks, but this is gradually changing.

Blendtec has increased sales dramatically from the viral nature of the “will it blend” videos on YouTube. Ernst & Young is successfully using Facebook to recruit college students, not by using it as a marketing tool, but by having conversations with students and answering questions at the executive level. She also used Josh Bancroft as an example of someone who made something happen inside a big company using social software (wiki) to create Intelpedia under the radar of the executives (bonus points for a little Portland geek cred) 🙂

Find and support your revolutionaries within your organization, and let those people use their passion to make the company better, but this involves education for executives to help them understand what is happening and why. You also need to make it safer to fail for the people who are driving these initiatives. It also helps to start small, but think big and iterate to make corrections and adjustments as you figure out what works and what doesn’t. The social strategy also needs to be the responsibility of every employee and not just one person or group. These transitions and cultural changes take time. It can’t happen overnight and requires a great deal of patience.

sxsw & BarCampAustin Bound

For the next few days, I’ll be heading to sxsw and BarCampAustin. I’m trying very hard not to overplan before I get there, but I do have a few things on the agenda:

  • BarCampAustin: On Saturday, I’ll be splitting my time between sxsw and BarCampAustin. I also plan to lead some kind of session about Community Management during BarCamp. After we build the agenda, I’ll tweet the time for anyone interested in joining me in the discussion.
  • PDX Web Innovators Breakfast: Sunday morning
  • Geeks Love Bowling: On Sunday night, I’ll be sharing the lanes with a few amazing women like Erica O’Grady, Tara Hunt, and others on the “Hot Babes of Open Source” team 🙂
  • Austin Werewolf: The Portland Werewolf group (we meet monthly to play here in awesome pdx) will be hosting a Monday night werewolf game. I am NOT a werewolf!

That’s it! No more plans!

If you want to get in touch at sxsw, the best way is by sending me a direct message on Twitter. While I’m not planning things, I’m definitely open to the idea of spontaneous lunches, dinners, etc.

Want to see me speak at SXSW?

SXSW has released their annual panel picker application. I submitted 2 sessions:

If either of these sessions sound interesting to you, please cast your vote for them.

If you plan on attending sxsw, I encourage you to vote for the sessions that you find interesting. I love conferences that give us, as participants, the ability to participate in the selection process.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I will also be part of the “Hottest Babes in Open Source” panel with Silona Bonewald, Tara Hunt & Erica O’Grady (if it makes it through the panel picking process!)

Catch Me on a sxsw Podcast about Open Source

Our sxsw podcast from March: Non-Developers to Open Source Acolytes: Tell Me Why I Care was just released as a podcast.

Open source and standards are like religion to some in tech, but many non-developer technology consumers wonder: why should we care? Check out this debate between open source advocates and devil’s advocate, figure out if you care.

Elisa Camahort Pres of Events & Mktg, BlogHer
Dawn Foster Dir of Community & Partner Programs, Compiere
Annalee Newitz Freelance Writer,
Erica Rios Internet Project Mgr, Anita Borg Institute For Women and Technology

Mobile Twitter

I’ve been using Twitter both on my computer on my and phone for a while, but the user experience of the phone has been a bit rough.  One option is to turn on text messages and be interrupted by your phone every time a friend Twitters.  Another option was the use the standard web interface, which required lots of scrolling and painfully slow load times.

Now Twitter has just released  It’s very simple, clean, and easy to read on the phone.  I think I’ll like using Twitter on my phone even more with this release.

Twitter is one of those services that people either love, hate, or can’t see the point.  I’m in the “love it” camp.  It’s a great way to keep up with friends.  I like knowing what new app or gadget Josh Bancroft or Chris Messina are testing. I also get great lunch suggestions from people like Raven Zachary.  The best use of Twitter is at big events where you can learn which session, party, speaker, etc. really stinks and which ones are a must see.  At sxsw, Chris Messina organized an OpenID meetup primarily over Twitter. News also spreads quickly via Twitter, and I frequently see breaking news on Twitter before other mainstream media sources. The best part is that you get this information quickly and easily from your community of friends, acquaintances, and coworkers.

She’s Such a Geek

I highly recommend reading “She’s Such a Geek” edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders. Annalee and I were on a panel at sxsw, and I picked up a copy of the book during her book signing at the event. The book contains a series of essays written by various woman geeks of all types (science geeks, computer geeks, gaming geeks, and more). Even though I was already reading another book, I decided to read one of the essays while I was waiting for my plane home from Austin. I kept reading until I finished the ENTIRE book (granted, I had several delays making the trip from Austin to Portland a little longer than normal, but I could not put the damn book down!)

I do not typically read books “for women” or “about women”. Why? I am not entirely sure. Maybe it is my way of rebelling against stereotypical gender expectations. As a child, I was a tomboy more comfortable playing with snakes, salamanders, and frogs than with Barbie Dolls. Today I work in technology, blog for fun, and watch BSG religiously. Maybe I try so hard to resist gender stereotypes that I go too far in the other direction avoiding anything that looks feminine. This may just inspire me to write my own geeky girl essay.

I agree with Katie Hafner, Technology Writer for The New York Times, quoted on the back of the book: “These personal essays are exhilirating, hilarious, inspiring, and infuriating. Anyone with a daughter should read this book. Then make sure she applies to M.I.T.”

Open vs. Controlled Knowledge at sxsw

I attended the Open Knowledge vs. Controlled Knowledge panel this morning, and Gil Penchina, CEO of Wikia, made a really good point. Robert Capps from Wired had just been talking about how vandalism has been a big issue for Wired whenever they open something up for community contribution. Gil’s point is that if things have been tightly controlled and are suddenly opened up as a free-for-all, you can end up with what he called “principal for a day” mentality where the community wants to change everything and really mess with the people who have been in control for so long. At Wikia, since it has been completely open from the beginning, they have seen less vandalism. The Wikia community feels ownership for the content: they watch the content, monitor changes, and make immediate corrections when things go wrong because they have a vested interest and feel ownership for the content.

Gil also pointed out that not everything should be transparent. At Wikia, the content is open, but the bathrooms still have doors and walls – there are some things that people want to see and other things they do not need or want to see.

From my perspective, this balance is important. Too far in either direction (open or closed) can create problems within the community, and a drastic shift in the balance between open / closed can also result in issues. Achieving and maintaining this balance within a community can be a difficult and tricky process, but it seems to be better to err on the side of open rather than closed.