Sunday, March 21, 2010

Yes We Did!

I've used this blog to document what I like to call President Obama's "super duper" use of social media. Tonight is no different. As Congress passed health care reform, the Obama administration was quick to use Facebook to connect to Americans who are already excited about this historic event.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Facebook Eclipses Google as Top Site in U.S.

Every morning I read through more headlines than seems reasonable, and I pick out the few tidbits of information that really seem relevant. I post them on Twitter and move on. But today was a little bit different. Today, the news came out by way of Hitwise, that Facebook is now the most popular site in the U.S.—more popular than Google.

This is not just another headline. It's a watershed moment.

It's an indicator that social connections via online channels have become so prominent in our lives that we rely on them before we rely on (search) engines. It feels oh, so, very post modern, post aural, post industrial. You get the idea.

Facebook eclipsing Google indicates that people are looking to each other for recommendations and finding information through human connection. That's not odd, in fact it is simply human. It's just that we didn't have the means for such mass collective connections prior to the Internet. Until technology enabled us to connect so easily and so quickly (where the technology itself became invisible) we were reliant on institutions, organization, and "authorities" for connections. It harkens Marshall McLuhan's theory that electronic media (as he called it in the 1960's) is an extension of our nervous system.

It's not utopia. Facebook still owns Facebook, and Facebook is after all a corporate entity. And there are many other issues with social networks regarding privacy and equality (read my notes on danah boyd's talk at SXSW).

But what is important here is the behavior—and even more so the ability. Remember this day. And think about what it means to you, and to us.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

SXSW10: Valerie Casey Keynote: Designing a Movement, Integrating Sustainability through System Thinking

Casey, founder and Executive Director of the Designers Accord, works with organizations all over the world to create positive social and environmental impact. She has been named a "Guru you should know" by Fortune magazine, a "Hero of the Environment" by Time magazine, and a "Master of Design" by Fast Company.This Keynote will be simulcast in ACC Level 1, Ballroom A / ACC Level 3, Room 9ABC / ACC Level 4, Ballroom D / ACC Level 4, Room 18ABCD


Valerie Casey – Designers Accord

Today we're going to talk about hoe despite the fact that ht interactive community has been absent from the sustainability conversation, it's the interactive community that is going to take the led in this.

We're going to start with narrative. Kurt Vonnegut graduate thesis ... there are existing narratives that you can apply around this axis,,,good and ill fortune (vertical) and time (horizontal). In top one someone is leading an ok life, they lose something important, they again it and then are happier. At bottom,, it;s abut a person who become happier about finding something they like a lot, they lose it and then get it back and are happier.

Another one: cockus metamorphasis. An already unhappier man become a cockroach.

The Kaftka narrative is the one we tell about sustainability and it's why sustainability feels so overwhelming.

Stories are about toxic villages in China and Big Macs being cheaper than salads, burn pits in Iraq.

Started the Designer's Accord to challenge this idea, with an underlying philosophy that by bringing the creative community together we can look at these issue in a new way ... to make change we have to depend on collective. It's a Kyoto Treaty of design. Guidelines include personal to collective accountability, Idea about sharing not only successes.

Advance the notion that sustainability sits outside of what we do.

Constant total length: if you can imagine a world as having two fixed points and a string sits between. Anytime you pull on that string it reverberates through the system.

7 ways to think about systems

. A system is more than the sum of its parts

SXSW10:Monkeys with Internet Access: Sharing, Human Nature, and Digital Data

Clay Shirky

Part I: Sharing

Anyone who is looked at a modern city has seen the same thing, People trying together into and out of a town, total inefficiency. One solution is to make bigger roads. Second solution is about better public transport. Third solution is PickUp Pal, it's about moving information. Then people can share cars. There's no longer an infrastructure issue. It's better for everybody except buses. So bus company hires a private detective and suggested that they were breaking the law because car pools can only be no-to efficient. It goes to court and there is such an uproar that the law gets rewritten. What PickUpPal realized is that they can not operate in the current environment.

The fight between the bus company and PickUpPal was about sharing. How well can people share? We have this idea of "rainbow unicorn sharing." PUP was doing jackhammer sharing. It has historically happened around media revolutions.

Which brings us to Guttenburg. He is associated with the Bible almost exclusively. But he actually created the press to create indulgences that buys you time off off purgatory. There was a high demand for indulgences. The imbalance was handwritten. You couldn't write them fast enough! But they got so good that it it created indulgence inflation. Indulgence inflation, ability to read bible, etc. actually doesn't support Catholic church but weakens it.

Abundance breaks more things than scarcity does. It is a bigger threat to society.

Scribes: With the spread of printing press the scries started writing slowly. Book written, In Praise of Scribes. He has it printed--and the media destroys the message. That is the kind of change abundance brings about.

Second, literacy. If you could read and write you are set for life. Now it is so critical that we make sure everyone knows it and you can no longer make a living at it.

Part II: Monkeys and Balloons

Napster was the first big time app that was general social change, to geeky. One of the explanations of this behavior was that young people today had become criminally minded, had no morals.

Two things wrong are with this thesis:
1) It's obviously false (you would expect to see this behavior elsewhere if this was true, and oddly coincided with largest fall in criminal behavior, except theft of digital property)
2) It relies on junk sociology. It's a huge generalization, it's like an element of your being. But human motivation doesn't change that quickly.

Napster simply increased opportunity to share and changes motivations around sharing--not by creating a new one but by unearthing a new one.

Study of sharing on primates (book" Why We Cooperate). Primates don't have a behavior called "sharing," there are actually three modes. There are three feelings around sharing: one mode for good, one for services, one for information.

What freaked the music industry out was that we didn't voluntary withhold things that would make someone else's life better. We weren't spiteful And the music industry didn't get this. The fight from the industry is to reintroduce spiteful behavior. If we allowed to indulge in the positive emotion of sharing, then it will completely transform the way that media works in the 21st century.

DARPA. last year launched red balloon challenge. Launched 10 balloons and asked for lat and long. Thought it would take 30 days, first people solved in in under 10 hours. If you have two lat and long coordinates you can't tell how far apart they are. You need a calculation. DARPA does not want to talk about this calculation so they point to wikipedia. Why did they not point to Britannica? Because they couldn't. The required signing up to get full info. And links are 404 ... for weeks ... because no one cares. It's a reference work you can't refer to. Wikipedia has made Britannica less accessible. Wikipedia is not just a new competitor, it has changed the environment.

Part III: Lingerie

The funniness of the reviews of the 3 wolf t-shirts is mainly communal. Enjoyable by participants. You see it everywhere,. But that's not the potent stuff.

The potent stuff is when people try to create civic value not just communal value. One of the best examples of this right now is a site called It's trying to get people who share the same symptoms to come together and document those symptoms n obsessive detail.

This flies in the face of the U.S. health care industry. Site has openness philosophy. They tell users that we believe if we share our symptoms doctors will be able to find cures faster. If we hold info private we lose potential for public good. It will fail if they don't change U.S. health care culture. The argument is for the co-creation of public good.

Last January, Hindu fundamentalist group went out and attacked women drinking in bars. Attacks were photographed and videotaped and the group said they will enforce how we think women should ask. if you're a woman you can go out and defy or you can stay home ... or you can start a Facebook group called the association of outgoing forward and loose women. Thousands joined. They mailed pink panties to the head of this group. The effect on the politics was remarkable because one there was clear there were women acting as a group then the state acted and arrested the members of this group.

We would like the state to do the right thing on behalf of citizens. What the FB group did was demonstrate there was enough of a constituency that the state should care.

2007 Kenya elections. Blogger needing help documenting act of violence. Two developers created It places acts of violence on a map. It was better at getting information and predicting information. The site has gone global. Takes what the whole group knows and taking it into a shared doc.

Pakistan kids, tied of Pakastani government, we're going to show up in market streets and clean up every Sunday. Started FB page. They kept coming back and others started going in. It's positive deviance. Deviating from social norms in a positive way.

Today we have tools that promote sharing. Previously it was all about sharing in small groups. Intrinsic motivation seemed to go hand in hand with small projects: little things for love. And now the link between intrinsic motivation and public action were accidental.

Today the number of people who can put something into the social sphere is abundant (where as before it was excluded to a class of jobs such as publishers). Today you can do big things for love. We are creating opportunities for each other that bring motivations into the public sphere that increase

This is the big opportunity: How much value can we get of public sharing?

SXSW10: Day Three

Today is a short day. I am presenting at an off-SXSW event in the morning and then leaving early since my son has been sick. Here are the two panels I will be attending today:

11: Monkeys with Internet Access: Sharing Human Nature and Digital Data, Clay Shirky

2: Systems Design and Inspiration, Sunday Keynote with Valerie Casey

Btw, I would love to attend this, I think it will be good:
Web of Things, Connecting People and Objects on the Web (9:30)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SXSW2010: Joi Ito Presentation

Our world is fundamentally messed up. The Internet and technology is going to be the only way we can change some of the problems that we have. We've spent our lives focusing on technology that makes us more efficient but that doesn't necessarily make things better. It just makes things brittle. It makes things complex.

The only way to deal with complexity is with a decentralized system like the Internet. "Non-linear complexity."

Book, The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Ramo: fixing requires non-linear change.

There's a lot of ingenuity in the people who have the ideas, these are the things that give me hope. People are willing to make sacrifices and lifestyle changes that people don;t expect. We need to own the problems.

There is an interesting field called positive deviance which is to find those few people who for some reason aren't disfunctional. You focus on those people and try to amplify that. It's like hacking. Rather than top down centrally planned approach.

IN order for us to create bottom up solutions is to empower people financially. It means not giving aid and making people dependent. Second, you have to give people voice. These two things are the nuts and bolts of social change.

The Internet is my religion. Free and open source software has really lowered the cost of doing things which lowers the cost of failure which increases innovation.

The stack: Creative Commons, W3C, the Internet. It allows people to participate without asking permission. Keeps everything low cost and available. They create interoperability. Not until TCIP until you can connect stuff for free.

Right now we use governments and such to come up with standards. But really it's "small pieces loosely joined."

We also have meta-data to be aware of copyright license.

The White House uses Creative Commons. Wikipedia converted last year to CC. Aljazeera uses it, NIN.

Success of West Coast is because they are far away from government and they were left to do what they wanted on their own.

Almost all open source projects are failure but because it is so low you can try all of these things. But if you're IBM the cost is high.

There isn't an idea you shouldn't be able to prototype on a week. It takes the power away from the investor. You can get lift off before you take anybody's money.


-Global Voices: network of bloggers, provides voice of people in those regions
-Ushahidi: allow sms on web, can report incidents and aggregate
-Architecture of Humanity: in any field if you figure out a way to share it and open up
-The Girl Effect (Nike)
-Lulan: for-profit social venture, fighting human trafficking, used weaving and dying and then sells stuff; woman is making more money than the man and is not sold off for money
-Mozilla drumbeat: How do you teach open source?

SXSW10: Media Armageddon: What Happens When The New York Times Dies?

We've entered The Last Days of Media. Traditional publishers' economics can't stand up against the overwhelming volume of new content and ad inventory being manufactured by the likes of blogs, Facebook, Myspace, Craigslist et al. What will New York City and the nation look like without the New York Times?

Search for comments on twitter at #mediaarmaggedon

Greg Beato – Reason Magazine
Markos Moulitsas – Daily Kos
Amy Langfield – NewYorkology LLC
David Carr – NY Times
Henry Copeland –

If the Times ceased to exist how would you feel about it?

Markos: There is a lot of criticism that is misconstrued that they go away. People want the Times to do their jobs. We want traditional media outlets to do their jobs but the decline is because we have lost faith.

If the Times were to disappear would the bloggers be able to step in?

Amy: No. It's not as thought there are only bloggers. NY has a lot of other newspapers and newsmakers. Can't just crowdsource. Who is out there with all of the resources?

Do you see Gawker filling your role?
Dave: I see Gawker moving toward us. But parts of the ecosystem are growing new muscles and competing with us. But we need deeper information and across interests. Also online is not necessarily as accountable.

Mark: In the Palin story crowdsourcing worked, people debunked the story. It goes beyond politics, people live and breath the topic.

Dave: Problem is we can't wave and balance agendas. When you assemble bits from everywhere you don't know what it's attached to.

Mark: We have to build a case because we have to prove ourselves.

Amy:Dirt bomb at Grand Central on Twitter example; no attribution.

Greg: The condition is not that we are running out of news but that we need to make sense of it. The NYT is making sense of it.

Mark: Most impeccable sources can be wrong, people have to become more savvy consumers.

Dave: I don't believe that journalism should be kept away from people or that they can't do what I do. If you wipe out the Times there's going to be a long gap between certain types of reporting are going to grow up. I think it's good that everybody has something to shoot at.

SXSW10: Opening Remarks: Privacy and Publicity

The SXSW Interactive Festival is very excited that danah boyd will serve as the Opening Speaker for the 2010 event. One of the world's foremost authorities on social networks, boyd works at Microsoft Research New England and also serves as a Fellow at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. boyd recently completed her PhD in the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley.

danah boyd – Microsoft Research

Before I begin let me just say that I love danah boyd. She is brilliant and inspiring. You can follow her blog here or on twitter @zephoria.

How does social media transform society and make visible about humanity? There are not necessarily extremes, there is much more nuance and detail.

There are a set of puzzles that are critical to social media and a lot of that has to do about privacy and publicity.

No matter how many times a privileged straight white male tells you that privacy is dead, this is not true. People care about it online and offline, But what it means is about having control about how info flows, understand a social setting, understand what the architecture ill allow you to do and negotiate within that.

When they feel that they don't have control they scream privacy foul.

Privacy Fail #1: Google Buzz

Google made a series on non technical mistakes. Here's what they did wrong:
1. They got themselves into trouble by integrating a public facing system into tone of the most private systems available (email). You are juxtaposing private and public. Users believed their email was being exposed. It created an unnecessary panic.

2. Google assumed they would opt out of Buzz. More and more tech companies are doing this and then back peddling. Many users clicked through to see what it was about. When they don;t know the value prop they just accepted defaults. It's easier for users to flip out than undo things. There was confusion. If you want things to go viral you need to help users understand the value and invite them to contribute their content and networks But don;t throw them into the water and hope they can swim.

3. Google told users what they thought they wanted them to hear. But they ruined a social ritual. For example "asl" in a chat room. There's something radically different to responding to asl and looking at a profile and creating a conversation about it. Norms are to ask users to share their friends. It's the social ritual of letting them know how this info is going to be acquired.

Uncanny valley--when something is close enough real but not real and it is creepy. Google did this. There is a difference between what sociologists consider social behavioral networks and what we have in tech which is articulated networks via an address book or facebook. They collapsed articulated networks and assumed they were behavioral networks.

Contextual integrity is essential for people to understand a space. Things aren't always meant to be connected.

What happens when people talk about privacy:

1. Think abut a conversation with a close friend. You may think of it as private but they may tell something else. You learn trust over time. We don't always know how to manage privacy.

2. We hold people and architecture as being accountable for privacy, giving us input as to where privacy exists. There's always the possibility of eavesdroppers. People try to make sense of what is going on, they make mental models. They need to know this because they need to know how to best behave.

It's hard to figure out what the norms are in online networks. There are fundamental differences: replicability scalability...(?)

Security through obscurity is not as ridiculous as it may seam.

Digital architecyre doens;t just have ears it has a mouth. System may change when it becomes mainstream. People don't always know how to handle whaen technology changes.

Privacy Fail #2: Facebook asks users to consider changes to privacy settings (default was everyone)

Have yet to find a person who knew what their privacy settings were. Facebook was built on a foundation of privacy. 35% opted out of privacy but this is not necessarily accurate.

By arguing that privacy is dead technologists justify making data public. I worry about the public-azation process and who will get caught in the crossfire.

Here are the differences:

1. Personally Identifiable Information and Personally Embarassing Information
2. We're seeing a switch between private by default public by effort and public by default, private by effort
3. People account for what they have to lose but also what they have to gain (influences by age and life stage and life goals). People make these calculations
4. People make material publicly available but they don't necessarily want everyone to see it. t's harder to be private online. Youth doesn't want to be seen by those with power over the
5. Just because people want something to be publicly accessible doesn't mean they want it to be publicized. When we make something public more public it's like having paparazzi on them.

Publicity and Celebrity

People are not engaging Twitter and Facebook in same ways. FB is about communicating with people you know, Twitter is about wanting to obtain audiences or following those with audiences. Twitter trending topics: exogenous (external factors) and indogenous (internal factors).

Not just tweens and teens. Black community. Racism in twitter on night of BET awards, enforced idea that not everyone is welcome in public space. Who has the right to be in public spaces? With privilege it's easy to take advantage of things, for example:

1. I believe I have the right to challenge authority, have the right to be seen and heard
2. I can embrace public default setting without too many consequences
3. I can seek publicity on my own accord without fear

How public is your kids teacher allowed to be online? Offline we know how to switch into teacher mode but online there is no way to make that switch. We don't live in a world where everything is equal. Pubic by default environment we are creating is not the great democratizer and just because we have technology does not guarantee voice or publicity.

It's bringing back to age old days of the web, this is about randomness and strangers. Speaks to the old days of the web but interesting to see what happens when it hits mainstream. May be a fad but the idea of publicity and privacy is not.

What you can do with this information:
1. For technologists: There's no magical formula for understanding they are living things, the crux of humanity. You're creating living code. You have to understand your user and its an evolving process.
2. For parents:figure out how to evolve what the core essence of privacy is. The key to guiding teenagers and adults is asking questions: what are you trying to achieve, do you want people to hear, what if it is misinterpreted.
3. For marketing and analysts: Just because you can see someone doesn't mean you can and you can't always know what is going on.

Pew: 85% of adults want control over their information. Wanting privacy is not about hiding but about creating space to open up it's about control. There are good reasons to be in pubic and in private. Sometimes the more you put out afford you privacy.

Need to think through the implications of what you are doing.

SXSW10: Can the Real-Time Web Be Realized?

The emergence of the real-time web enables an unprecedented level of user engagement and dynamic content online. However, the rapidly growing audience puts new, complex demands on the architecture of the web as we know it. This panel will discuss what is needed to make the real-time web achievable.

Scott Raymond – Alamofire Inc/Gowalla
Brett Slatkin – Google
Dare Obasanjo – Microsoft
Marshall Kirkpatrick – ReadWriteWeb
Jack Moffitt – Collecta

The real-time web is a big, complex and many-headed beast. What are favorite use cases for real-time web technology?

Jack: It's a lot about making publishing time close to zero, time between publish and experience. The kind of things you can do with zero latency are things like IM

Brett: Google Alerts and ramp up frequency. Someone mentions your name and you;re like, "yes?" For future what is interesting is getting into inventory. Example, Amazon can be painful becuase you're not supporting local stores ... but you could turn economies of scale on its head because you could link Amazon to a local store and thereby improve local stores ability to compete in market. Turn competition upside down because smaller guys can be more competitive. You don't have to buy online with hyperlocality.

Scott: Trending spots. Geodata combined with realtime data. Relevancy has a lot to do with time.

Dare: Hashtag is a good example, see continuous stream of what people are thinking. To have more pages do this in the right way would be interesting. Also interesting is the lag between creating and reading content has significantly decreased. Twitter just takes seconds. This creates new social scenarios. Finally, beinf able to analyze real-time flow such as Bing and Google doing deals with twitter etc.

Marshall: Important to architect systems to anticipate unexpected use cases. One area of work happening right now is in data integration. What does it look like integrating real-time sources of information?

Jack: Convincing publishers to give us the data is the first problem and that has pretty much been solved. Formats though don't help you get it faster so you need push notification system to tell people to go get it. We've wrestled with this issue. using XMPP, real-time cloud, etc. Finally need to figure out privacy issues. We're finding the boundaries now but we will be figuring this out for a long time.

Brett: Issues is decentralized data bases. Right now you can't send a message from Google to Facebook (just like you couldn't send email from Compuserve to AOL in past). There are solutions, idea is to have nodes connected and can verify identities kind of like mail servers. What is it about corporate data policy that is preventing data integration from happening and is it best for the user? There's still a long way to go.

Dare: Common pain today is that it's not everywhere where I can get updates everywhere in real-time. Need for standards as an industry.

Marshall: What about the social contract with users and need to feel safe and protect privacy?

Scott: It benefits us if people are open but from user's perspective it's better to stay selfish with own data. How do we reach common ground? Also allow users to be in control of what they're sharing. In Gowalla we try to invade incentives for people to be more open.

Jack: If I post a flickr photo and then delete it, there's nothing in the flickr stream now that allows deletion across the stream. Technology is getting better but it's still a problem.

Brett: Trying to define semantics around what it means to share, etc. Deletion is the first issue but that's easy compared to real access control.

Marshall: Do people want data to be private?

Jack: It's hard to conclude that people want their data to be private.

Dare: Most corporations have little incentive to protect user privacy. Facebook pushes it and then dials it down a bit when people get mad. Buzz is doing the same and FCC is looking into it.

Marshall: Current examples of use cases, what are you working on now?

Brett: What we are doing on Google Buzz right now. Encourage competition within the community. You can pull in feeds from other sites and we're working on making streams richer. Difference between us and FB is we encourage linking back to original source. Comments on a post in buzz should go back to source (aaahhh now I get buzz!) Single source of convergence.


SXSW10: Is The Brain The Ultimate Computer Interface?

Will we be able to jack into the brain and upload helicopter instructions, like in The Matrix? We already have the technology to control a prosthetic arm or Twitter with thoughts alone. Dishes of neurons can control a robot. And scientists have created a working artificial memory chip in rats.

Christie Nicholson – Scientific American

We can go brain to machine but it's scarier to go machine to brain. There is a computer chip that can replace an organ. Did this with a rat. They created a fake hippocampus (Ted Berger at USC)

They are working on implanting information into brain to fly an M16. Create telepathic soldiers. Soldiers will get EEG where they can decode words via helmut and download into brain. Will this really work? Is it crazy?

Government has huge interest in getting to the bottom of the brain. Focusing on soldiers with missing limbs. But also getting deep, they really want to understand memory and neural networks in our brain. Idea of super soldiers.

Currently giving soldiers EEG's to understand how overwhelmed they are. Keen on monitoring solder brains and figuring out best efficiency.

Miguel Nicolelis (via video program): the brain is the final frontier. The brain is what makes us unique. It's about understanding ourselves.

Machine controlling the brain. Stanford (Karl Deisseroth), found out that bacteria from pond scum can be put into virus and then implanted into brain and then influenced by blue and yellow light. Blue says "go" yellow inhibits. Hopefull it might help depression or narcolsepsy. It can target specific neurons.

Blue Brain
Henry Markham, Lausanne, Switzerland
To crack the neural code ( like human genome project) reverse engineering map of the brain. Will we ever be able to crack the neural code? 100 billion neuron.

It's hard to imagine. Moore's Law is in full effect. Far outpaces humans in space but we cream computers in terms of complexity. Our connections are so personals and so completely different that it seems impossible to map it. Some say it doesn't matter, we don't need to match.

Other thoughts and comments fro audience...
-Kurtzwelian Future? He believes machines will surpass human intelligence. If machines become intelligent the presumption is that we will become part of that machine and be able to control it. But computers still cannot understand context. Blue Brain may shed light on that but is it possible? With Moore's Law it's impossible to predict though what will happen.
-How are we going to map different data architectures we are using in research?
-There's lots of commercialization for this things, for example Mind Ball and there's also a game you can buy; it's great training for meditation, ADHD, DARPA uses this to train sharp shooters to be calm
-Is this technology being applied to other things outside of military, such as education; NIH does fund things such as disabled and ADHD, etc,; DARPA funds $300m for 2011 for mind science
-When can I throw away my mouse and control the computer with my mind? There are some product now, all based on EEG caps and such; can do silent telephone conversations
-What about free will? On one hand it promotes free will, we can manage damaged areas of our brain through thought alone, but when you mix it with optogenetics you can see free will being fooled with. What does it mean to be human? Metacognition is about being human and unique we believe to being human, although dolphins may be there too
-Should neural feedback and plasticity be incorporated into school curriculum? Blue Brain may actually be helpful to this...may have consciousness.
-What about implications on sociopathic behaviors?
-What about religious community and their reaction?
-Open EEG movement

Please not that this blog is being written in real time. I do not catch everything correctly, but you can go to to listen to this panel yourself.

Friday, March 12, 2010

SXSW10: Day Two

Here are panels I am thinking about for Saturday.

9:30: Is the Brain the Ultimate Computer Interface?

11:00: Can the Real-Time Web be Realized?

12:00: Ironworks!

2:00: Opening Remarks: Privacy and Publicity with danah boyd

3:30: Media Armageddon: What Happens when The New York Times Dies

5:00: Engines of Sociality: 2010 and Beyond

SXSW10: Time + Social + Location What's Next in Mobile Experience?

As more devices become location aware, social uses will continue to evolve beyond just who and what, to WHEN. Adding the temporal dimension creates new opportunities for social interaction. Learn about ways to leverage and use technology to add features at the intersection of temporal, social, and location.

Naveen Selvadurai – foursquare
Josh Babetski – MapQuest Inc
Greg Cypes – AIM

Services Cockblock: you're in a location and the service won't let you

Why is the loop closing faster and how do you close it?

Naveen: Two reasons: Devices are ubiquitous, anyone with any smart phone can get location without having to go through carrier, etc. Anyone can develop an app that takes advantage of this. Second, we are in a culture that is more about sharing than ever. It doesn't matter how small it is, you just want to tell your friend, immediately.

Greg: Location awareness has transformed over past few years. We used to think of it as tracking which is scary. Location, being tied to a quick message or type of media, is meaningful. It's become a must-have as part of a social service.

How do you keep things interesting?

Josh: A bit of a wild west, people trying to see where opportunities are. We'll see similar apps come and go while the space develops.

Greg: Part of this is about game play. Key is making sure game play is done right. Gowalla guys were artists. They had to maneuver on fly to make sure the game stays intersting.

Naveen: Now we are experimenting with ways to keep the conversation alive and as real time as possible. You can bring focus and relevancy, it makes conversation more valuable. using game-like elements to encourage that kind of behavior. We wanted to do things in life that we missed.

From crowd: Location it hot because it is grounding but what about privacy?
Greg: There are sites that take advantage of people setting their locations publicly like What's interesting is that we have status updates on AOL but there is enough contextual info that tells people where you are without telling physical location. People do set location as home but it's not really relevant to the group.

Naveen: Everything I share I share with some knowledge of who is going to see it. I think most of us is like that. is calling attention to these social networks but we've had these systems in the past. Will be iterstig to see what this data looks like when we grow up. We're slowly learning how people use these systems.

Josh: Huge gap between generations.

Naveen: Dunbar number is relevant. 150 is the number of friends you can really have.

Greg: Privacy is a moving target.

Naveen: Quoting Danah Boyd, parents not letting kids wander as freely these days.

Augmented reality?

Greg: It's an interesting place where we are headed from a product standpoint. What's interesting is not just where my friends are now but where have they been.

Josh: When will I be able to get my contact lens?

Naveen: Interface have a long way to go before we can be comfortable enough to use them. Not a good way to browse. For the most part people like lists.

Josh: Another interesting feature is this idea of constant check in and trying to combine together. There are not a lot of unique identification system. What are some of the problems and solutions? End of year place check in will be a ubiquitous feature. What are some of the things that will stitch things together across systems?

Greg: Not as simple as latitude and longitude.

Josh: Our flight was in foursquare. What happens when it moves? Or a taco truck that drives around town? It creates additional challenges.

Naveen: I think what's going to win is an open approach. Place data shouldn't be owned by anyone. The best thing is it have to be a combination between lat/long matching and a single identifier. That can't be owned.

What about serendipity?

Naveen: There needs to be a combination of algorithms and people-entered data. There is a human element we can't ignore.

Greg: At the end of the day you vote with your feet and your phone.

SXSW10: Understanding Content: The Stuff We Design For

We design websites for users, but if we don't also have a deep and thorough grasp of the content that will be served up to those users, we're not going to be able to create optimal experiences for them. Learn how to do Content Research to augment your User Research.

-Rachel Lovinger, Razorfish
-Karen McGrane, Bond Art + Science

McGrane: We spend all of our effort into the framework for a great user experience but when it comes to the content itself there is a huge gap, and it means that the infrastructure is for naught because there is nothing that delivers actual value. Second, we treat content as an afterthought. We need to stop ignoring content!

Lovinger: Text is not the only thing that is content. Images or audio or video might better tell a story. Also comments and UGC may tell the story. Plus error messages and information content and data/meta-data. This is all content.

How do you understand your content better?
McGrane: You can't just move content from one site to the next? You must inventory it and audit it. You start with 1) product strategy, 2) then design strategy (how will users interact, what will it look like, tech platform) then 3) content strategy (what do we want to say and how, etc?)

Lovinger: Content analysis should be done during discovery to get a handle on what you are dealing with. There are two main parts: facts about content (what is it, how is it organized, what types, how much) and then quality of content (is it appropriate for audience, is it meeting business needs, is it communicating well?). Content analysis is not a one stop deal, it's iterative. Not so much linear, rather insights refining throughout design process.

McGrane: Content Inventory. What this means is what content do you have. Go through the site and document it. What content should you evaluate? Make strategic decisions about what content to looks at, consider the user paths. Decide what types of categories you want to create. It is useful to understand the story the site is trying to tell, get a sense of the range of pages that need to be designed, determine range of content types the site will support, decide what content to eliminate or migrate

Lovinger: Next look at Content Organization. To evaluate whether people can find stuff they're looking for, make decisions about a new navigation structure and content model, decide if content needs to be migrated to a new section, find gaps in content.

Next look at Content Model. Formats, structure/purpose, content assets, and how will this impact the page design and the CMS?

Other things to consider: SEO, Accessability, Functional Requirements

McGrane: Assess the Quality Framework could include: do we have all of the content that we need to have, is content current, is it clear and relevant, is the tone and style correct, does it meet business needs?

SXSW10: UX of Digital

The term 'user experience' used to be an afterthought in mobile application design. The iPhone changed all that and has set a new benchmark for user experience on mobile devices. This panel will serve as a primer for anyone interested in learning how to apply UX principles to the creation of applications for iPhone, Android, and mobile websites.

-Kyle Outlaw, Razorfish
-Barbara Ballard
-Scott Jenson, Google
-Tom Limongello, Crisp Wireless

Panel Comments:

What is UX?
Barbara: We like to think of UX as the entire process, discovery, sharing, the whole system, that helps us remember that things like SMS exists and works on your moms phone

Is it easier to iterate on mobile web or an app?
Tom: In short term everyone is focusing on apps because that's what we can do, but long-term the web is going to be where we are going ... it's about the user. To a certain extent we are focusing on technologies and that's not what's important. The user is important. If you were to do anything right now go straight to mobile web because it's easy. It's about when the web catches up. When and for what? If you're just doing a blogger site use the mobile web.

What tools would you recommend...
Barbara: There are a lot of tools out there for testing. After you're done developing your thing hand it to someone who doesn't like you much and is not a tech expert and get feedback. Make sure you give it to them to test on their phone. I'm excited when clients spend money on the usability tests me recommend because we always find something.

Scott: We use a quasi agile approach and we test as early and often as possible. With mobile you really do want to add testing in context, seeing the user in the real world. Also, testing with social networks. Very few clients want to build for all mobile platforms, they'll pick one or two and then the web. Harder to develop on paper anymore. Waterfall is difficult, agile works better.

Barbara: We've had success with paper prototyping. Additional features...light sensors, gestures, cameras, screen working together (ESPN has been doing work in this space, what should your phone doing while you're watching Sports Center?)

Scott: The mobile web is not a tiny web screen. These phones are going to become much more interesting, much bigger much more ubiquitous. We have a paradigm shift coming and change is hard so people look at standard. People don't think outside of what they see. It's changing so quickly that its understandable to use standards but we need to take more risks.

Kyle: It was hard to get clients interested in mobile prior to iPhone. Clients when straight to "iPhone app."

What are the top devices for mobile in the next few years?
Android, Nexus One but UX needs work
Nokia 900, Memo
Sony Playstation phone...?
Integration of the browser
Bluetooth watches, cheaper devices

Barbara: Design for interuptibility

Please note: This blog entry is being written in real time. I have tried to be an accurate as possible. For an audio version of the panel please visit

SXSW10: Day One

I'm here in Austin at SXSW Interactive, one of the best tech conferences out there, IMHO.

I flew down yesterday from Seattle. I met five people in the terminal, a few faces who I knew but people I never officially met.About 90 percent of the people on the flight were SXSW attendees. Everyone either knew each other, was a FOAF, or had worked at the same company at some point. It was honestly an amazing trip filled with great conversations and buzz. In fact, the flight attendant asked me if we all worked for the same company (can the Internet be considered a company? ;)

Last night I had dinner with a bunch of my former Razorfish colleagues and it was great to see everyone. I met some new folks from Filter and Cole + Weber as well. Hope to run into some old friends today and meet some more new people as well.

Here's my schedule today. I'll be live blogging these sessions.

2:00: The UX of Mobile

3:30: Understanding Content, The Stuff We Design For

5:00: Time + Social + Location, What's Next in Mobile Experiences

Oh and schwag bag pictures follow...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Predictions for content strategy from scatter/gather

Razorfish's scatter/gather blog put together a great list of predictions for content strategy. See my piece below, but more importantly, read others' predictions here.

Laura Porto Stockwell, Senior Director, Digital Strategy at WONGDOODY
Paid Content

What is top of mind for me the past few months is the resurgence of talk about gated/paid content communities. We saw so much of this 10+ years ago, and due to the economy and the financial challenges of media we are seeing it again. While this is a business decision in many ways, there is a strong content strategy component. A content strategist can help an organization understand user needs from a content perspective and therefore help craft a plan for what types of content would be most successful in a pay-per-view situation. In addition, a content strategist can help an organization better package and deliver existing content in ways that users want to interact with it (whether paid or not).