Well, I didn’t think it would be a proper SXSW without Bruce Sterling, but the Futurists’ Sandbox “panel” may have made up for it. What a huge WTF. I can’t really describe what I just sat through.
Well, I didn’t think it would be a proper SXSW without Bruce Sterling, but the Futurists’ Sandbox “panel” may have made up for it. What a huge WTF. I can’t really describe what I just sat through.
Bonewald (MuniWireless) / Ante / MacKinnon / Vos
(This turned out to be a difficult presentation to track. Maybe I’m tired.)
Ante: U.S. is largest market for broadband access, but we’re lagging behind in many ways.
Vos: Cost of municipal wifi underestimated in most cases.
MacKinnon: Created a model in Austin where every node had to find a way to cover its own cost. (Resistant to disaster or political crisis.) As a result if one goes bankrupt, the rest will be OK.
Bonewald: It’s not a technology problem, it’s a business model problem.
Q: Can you describe a model in another country, and can what can we steal from them?
Vos: Proposal in EU government to open up broadband to other companies… Structural separation. Different companies providing service and infrastructure.
MacKinnon: Montreal, Berlin (mesh networking), Barcelona. Spain has a nationalized phone system that hasn’t trenched the rural areas. Responded by basically building a giant wireless LAN.
Bonewald: Getting people addicted to using wifi is a key component to getting a network going.
Q from Audience: What about partnering with YellowPages business?
MacKinnon: Great idea. Good to go after local weekly, ad-supported ads as well. Compelling value proposition to say “we’ll also run your ad on hotspots all over the city.”
Q: Structural separation sounds like the way to go. Is there any serious supporters for that in the United States.
Vos: The moment a politician breathes the word “structural separation,” they stop getting money from the telcoms.
Q: What didn’t work in Philly? In Mountain View, Google provides wifi, so can you speak to that.
Vos: Earthlink decided to get out of muni wifi. Philly also had a lot cost overruns.
MacKinnon: If any wifi network has the chance to use ads to support itself, one run by Google is it. Austin’s ad rate is $200 per month (that’s $1 per hot spot)… And Austin has the largest network like it in the nation.
Maestracci (Groove Mobile) / Jenson (Mobile UI Manager, Google) / Kaushansky (Tellme, Microsoft) / Ryan / Outlaw (Avenue A | Razorfish)lifeafteriphone.ning.com
Kaushansky: Saying “mobile” doesn’t cut it anymore. Is the person walking? Driving? Is it noisy?
Outlaw: Sees iPhone as the beginning of an age of disruptive mobility. Traditional user experience deliverables are rapidly becoming extinct. Lack of standards in mobile will require hands-on experimentation.
Q: What do you love and not love about iPhone?
Maestracci: Multitouch was a breakthough in usability. But simple tasks like making calls, SMS, are somewhat challenging.
Jenson: Audacity of design… No menus or scroll-bars. But you can’t do the web in your pocket… But Apple keeps pushing that. You don’t want to read the NYT on these things.
Kaushansky: Impressed by visual voicemail. But coming from the voice world, why does it take five clicks to make a phone call? Why can’t I just say “call mom?”
Outlaw: A historic benchmark in mobile user experience. Myth was cell phones needed to be complicated to use. Apple broke that. Wonder if having hardware and software inseparable is going to be along term problem… Looking back, Windows won the desktop because you could extend it.
Jenson: Enabling much of the desktop. But what’s best on mobile? iPhone may reinvent itself as a new Blackberry. But because its so popular you may be able to fund stupid stuff…
Q: Who else is taking design seriously in mobile?
Maestracci: Sony Erricson is trying to push the envelope in a traditional way. Things you have to look at… Minimum clicks. SE is paying attention to that, opposite of the iPhone.
Kaushansky: In the past voice didn’t take advantage of screens, and screens didn’t take advantage of voice. But we’re starting to see that.
Q: How would you define a good user experience on screen?
Outlaw: What iPhone did well is strip phone down to core, essential features. Many phones have way more features than actually needed. Users will willing to pay more money and have fewer features to have those features work well. Interesting contenders include the Sidekick, which may be too big, but has a great keyboard and a great messaging machine. PSP slim with Skype could be interesting, as well as Skype phone in dev in UK.
Jenson: iPhone has gone too far in some ways. Worst SMS app ever, especially if you come from somewhere like Europe where its used all the time. Those feature limits have impacts. Makes him wonder if we need to have pain points to achieve minimalism.
Kaushansky: iPhone is great for entertainment, but its not a great device for communication. Sidekick is better for that. You have to ask, what’s the main goal of the device? Who’s going to be using it? It’s not one device for all, its what kind of person is going to be using it… And then build and design accordingly.
Q: Open access.
Maestracci: Android and iPhone SDK will open things up. Very positive development. Main problem is that today carriers control distribution channel.
Kaushansky: UI developers have to think about context when testing — How do you test voice sync when driving your Ford down the road.
Jenson: Right now the phone is a consumer of information… But it will become more of a producer of information.
Q: What would be your killer app?
Outlaw: Help me find my luggage — luggage search when in airport.
Kaushansky: Move my data wherever I am so I can access it. In my phone, steering wheel, etc.
Jenson: Infinite battery, infinite bandwidth. (Laughter from audience.)
Maestracci: Likes Kaushansky’s idea.
Q from Audience: People love their iPhones… And no one wants to criticize them. Will that make us take a step back?
(Not much of a response to this.)
Kaushansky: It’s moving up design as a discussion at the executive level. That’s probably a good thing.
Q from Audience: What kind of negative impact will iPhone have on SMS? Will it reduce usage of SMS overall.
Jenson: Hard to say. Apple’s trying hard to fix it. Uncomfortable saying it’ll impact the entire industry.
Q from Audience: Curious what you think about stylus inputs? iPhone is pretty good, but some time a stylus would be nice. What about things like drawing and sketching?
Jenson: As an option, sure. It gives you a much richer, granular experience, but it makes you feel extra geeky. And what happens when you lose the damn thing? That said, not a fan of the iPhone keyboard.
Outlaw: iPhone killers will have an opportunity to look at how people interact with devices, and what’s best. Keyboards, etc.
Q from Audience: Are we going to start seeing sites optimized for iPhones at the expense of other mobile sites. (Which could make the iPhone more ubiquitous.)
Jenson: iPhone is raising standard, but it would be an interesting logic to lock other users out.
Bryan Mason & Sarah B. Nelson (both of Adaptive Path)
(Based tips upon conversations with organizations ranging from Neo Futurists to restaurant kitchen work to Avenue Q.)
~ ~ ~
Audience comment: People to be cross-trained, but its important to only have one role when the project is rolling. People should know their roles, and not have to do everything.
Q: How can people who are not in management roles bring some of these ideas to their organization. A: Start like minds where you work and start converting. Also, if you’re in a creative environment that doesn’t let you throw up ideas, a good idea would be to quit.
Q: We don’t provide time to do throw-away work without thinking. A: May be better to build that play time into the regular work and development. Allow repeated throws at a real problem, rather than on working on something that will only be thrown away.
Wright (New York Times)
Why should anyone care? It’s interesting, not just historically, but its relevant to what’s going on on the Web today. The best technology doesn’t always win.
Charles Cutter — Notably librarian in 19th century. Had first reference to something that sounded like the Internet… In 1883.
HG Wells talked about methods of making all of human knowledge available to everyone…
Teilhard de Chardin — [Look up.]
Paul Otlet — Core insight was that librarians were fixated in books. Needed to get beyond physical artifact of the book, and get to the info inside. Remix and sort information in books if you can somehow get the ideas out and into an open framework. Wanted a classification system with index cards that have information extracted from books. Got funding from Belgium to actually try to build such a system. Took tens of thousands of books, had an army of people go through books and extract information onto index cards. Nazis took over and destroyed it. Olet died penniless and forgotten.
[See if we can find video excerpt of Olet’s ideas of 1934.]
Olet used Universal Decimal Classification for top-down categorization. Tried to include social links in books and between documents. Contructing the social space of a document. Links don’t just link, they say “this document disagrees with this other document,” or “this document agrees with this document.”
Web is pretty much bottom-up right now, but Olet’s Web would’ve had top-down classification as well. Look up FacTag–Modern, web-enabled attempt to do this.
Vannevar Bush — Science advisor to FDR, president of Carnegie Institution. Author of “As We May Think,” which he is mainly remembered for. Idea was that you could pull up multiple documents in microfilm, and make links and make comments about those links. Make links between two documents, and have them added to permanent record. Over time those links would become browsable. However, didn’t try to build it because he didn’t think the technology was there. More of a concept car approach.
Bush’s web would’ve had links that in both directions, and users’ experience could become part of a larger record. Trackbacks are kind of a weak attempt at capturing this principle (seeing value in inbound links). Del.icio.us is kind of an example as well.
Eugene Garfield — Inspired by Bush’s essay, though about how to rearrange scientific information and journals. Felt most indexes for that kind of info was very limited. Also thought about who’s cited, and who’s citing articles. First look at web of influence, citation ranking (some citations have more value than others) and kind of a forefather of PageRank.
What would Garfield’s web look like? Google! In pagerank paper, Garfield was among the first people Page and Brin mentioned.
Doug Engelbart — Inventor of the mouse, but spent most of his time working on what he called the oNLine System (NLS), a system for organizing networked information. Wrote paper “Augmenting Human Intellect.” Check out presentation… (On YouTube as well.)
Current Web is built for individual user. Engelbart’s would’ve been more of a two-way street. Lots of attempts at workarounds today, but not the extent Engelbart would’ve liked to have seen. Current browsers don’t support identity management, etc. Check out HyperScope.
Ted Nelson — Cited by Tim Berners Lee as the person who’s ideas Berners-Lee worked off of. Nelson did a lot of research on the edges of respectability. Coined term “hypertext” in 1965. Promoted a very humanist vision of computing… Let people connect without institutional filters. Wrote book “Literary Machines.” Basically his idea of what would become the Web. Though of idea of putting live documents in other documents. If one was updated, from a practical standpoint both would be updated.
Nelson’s web would’ve had two way links, transclusion (documents updating each other), and intellectual property controls. (Currently some folks at Google working on browser that includes transclusion.) Nelson currently thinks the current web is pretty weak overall.
Andries Van Dam — Early collaborator of Nelson. Came up with Hypertext Editing System (HES).
Short on time… Running through IRIS, PARC, etc.
What might a next generation look like? Facebook has some examples… Links work in two ways, identity control, and acts as a framework for apps and other solutions. Just one example, others heading in this direction.
Wright has a book that has a chapter on some of this: Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages.
Quano (Elastic Entertainment) / Thiele (ExPAN) / Atallah / Bocska / Krug
(The panelist/attendee ratio at this one is… Let me see… 1:5. Kind of like the good old days.)
Krug (during intro): Flickr started in Canada… With government funding.
Ok, the South Park into wasn’t necessary.
Bockska: They pay a lot of taxes in Canada… But you can fill out a form and get a lot of it back. That money actually goes somewhere and does something. It requires citizens to endure some bureaucracy, but you can get funding for projects that VCs wouldn’t be willing to put money towards Greater liklihood private business will drive innovation in Canada, rather than academia like in the U.S.
Thiele: Funding from all levels of government. Historically from education, but now also seeing more from smaller enterprise. SR&ED financing reimburses portions of money used for R&D in private companies.
Atallah: Programs like that help mitigate risk.
~ ~ ~
Thiele: Service exports are actually going up even though US and Canada dollars are pretty much equal.
Bockska: Tired of hearing about exchange rate. If you’re relying on the exchange rate or government funding you don’t actually have a business.
Krug: Isn’t that an anti-Canadian sentiment?
Bockska: “I fully admit that.” Better goal of funding is to help out friends in need, those companies on the cusp, and hope they make it.
Atallah: But quality of resulting products can benefit, especially where price differentials can make a big difference.
~ ~ ~
Quanao: Canada has traditionally been a natural resources supplier… And kind of the same in new media. In the order to get things to the next level, they need to go south.
Atallah: You don’t have to physically go south, but your business has to. They do smaller scale projects in NY, Japan, etc.
Bockska: For some reason has always felt more comfortable working with people in the Valley rather than someone in, say, Calgary. Canada may benefit from trying to look more
Thiele: There has been a tradition of migrating innovation south, but its slowing down, and you’re starting to see people go north as well.
Krug: In Vancouver, but most clients are American. Do you think your business would be more successful outside Canada?
Thiele: In Calgary, but 65% of business is in the U.S. Being located in U.S. hasn’t been necessary.
Krug: Are Canadian companies truly more innovative?
Quano: Maybe not, but they have the opportunity to try things and see if they can grow. Canadians swept recent Interactive Emmys.
Bocska: As Canadians, we have to be more innovative. Canada is not at the top, its a challenger that has to shake things up. “Canada is the Adidas to the United States Nike.”
Atallah: There is definitely a lack of the proper training and infrastructure for interactive media in Canada, but that’s true in U.S. as well. Finding the right people is the main constraint on growth right now. [emphasis mine]
Thiele: Look across North America for talent, but I find a lot in Vancouver.
Q from Audience: How many home runs do we have? How many RIMs do we have? One. The innovation is an act. There’s no market in Canada.
Bocska: It’s hard to feel like you’ve accomplished much in Canada. Only 30 million people in Canada… But they seem to have 1/10th of the industry… That’s pretty good.
Comment from Audience: Good at building, not selling.
Quano: The Catch 22 of these funding models is that since there’s not real expectation of revenue, things stay as experiments… That said, 1.7b generated in Vancouver for this kind of stuff… Not including EA.
Show of hands: About half of audience is Canadian.
Q from Audience: For each success story, there are 10 that fail. There’s a lot of crap and waste coming out of free money. Maybe an American model where you have to convince someone in advance would be better.
Atallah: I agree and don’t agree. But look at Dot Com in the U.S… Private financing funded a lot of crap. There is crap everywhere.
Response from Audience: But there’s a difference between funding crap with private money, and funding crap with my money.
Q from Audience: As a creative who is tired of NYC and isn’t interested in the Valley, how viable is it for Americans to move north to work in this kind of stuff?
Krug: Very easy… Bring your friends.
Comment from Audience: You know, this kind of funding does exist in U.S… SBIR grants, for example. Our company was partially started with it.
Comment from Audience: R&D research reimbursement helps encourage setup in Canada… Like Microsoft has done. American companies can nearshore and have part of their salaries paid for by Canadian government.
~ ~ ~
Didn’t go the way I expected, but very interesting panel nonetheless.
Nakagawa / Huh
Great panel, but clearly is going to be a panel better represented by the podcast than any attempt at a transcript.
Holy crap: Icanhascheezeburger gets 1.5 million page views per day.
Huh: “If you can create a train wreck every day, that’s entertainment.”
I missed this: http://ihasahotdog.com/
Huh: They get 8000 pictures a day… They post six.
Henry Jenkins MIT / Steven Johnson
Jenkins: Standardized methods of testing–usually based around encyclopedic knowledge of what’s in a text or book–doesn’t represent the way kids learn or work today. What’s more important is the ability to process information and share that with students and coworkers. 30 kids in a classroom have more knowledge than the teacher in front of the room–they need to be taught how to share their information.
Jenkins: Seeing new models where what people learn in online games, etc., usually take what they learn and apply it to more advanced subjects a short time later.
Jenkins: Obama campaign is a political representation of this: Instead of politicians saying “what can I do for you,” it’s “what can we do together.”
Jenkins: We’re not investing less in our social connections–we’re taking them with us wherever we go.
Jenkins and Johnson: Instead of parents watching and limiting screen time, parents should be interested in how much time kids spend either creating online or consuming online. And instead of constantly looking over their shoulders, parents should be watching their kids’ backs. Kids may not be ready for what situations they encounter, and parents should be ready and available to help out.
Q: What about Internet addiction: Jenkins: Addiction is a negative label — instead ask why are kids dropping their homework to play a video game all night. Ask what they’re learning? How are they engaged? China uses language of addiction to discourage young people’s access of the Internet and therefore trying to control information.
Q: Don’t smaller interactions result in more superficial relationships? Jenkins: That’s a social impact of the increased mobility since the 1950s, but the Internet is helping repair that damage, not exacerbate it.
FYI: I’ll go through and edit all of them later. Lots of link fixing, spelling crap and other issues to resolve.
Bianchini (Ning) / Hornik () / Hellweg (Harvard Business Review) / Rocherolle () / Sippey (VP product Six Apart) / Becker
Q: When is it going to fall apart and why?
Bianchini: I don’t think it’s all going to fall apart. We have 1.2 billion online. Lots of opportunity to make money and make a living. Much better than when building a company only for the future. Like anything, some will make it, some won’t. Fundamentally different than seven or eight years ago.
Hellweg: Kind of agree, but kind of disagree. Costs are much smaller than they used to be. Still headed towards a shakup, not a catastrophic one. Private equity rather than IPOs.
Sippey: If your’e building a real business with real customers with private equity, that’s a different dynamic than 2000.
Bianchini: If you can start up something for a couple hunder a month rather than 500 million, you don’t need to make that much to make money.
Sippey: There is a risk with the number of people spending money on advertising. If that doesn’t grow, people who’s business is based on advertising may not work.
People now understand that you have to run a metrics-driven busienss and know where the money comes from. And now hardware is cheaper , software is free, etc. It’s a different time.
Becker: One of the best ways to do something today is to go back to 98 or 99, find someting that didn’t work, and do it again.
Bianchini: People are building companies to be good to their customers not to look good to VCs.
Q: Are big companies going to have a bust when smaller companies steal resources and talent? How do you see big companies reacting, or overreaching?
Q: But isn’t the market going to mature and then something else will come along to shake others out of the market?
Bianchini: There will always be survival of the fittest.
Becker: Also in the Internet market failure isn’t rewarded, but it’s not necessarily looked down upon either. People understand it’s a dynamic environment. Flickr, dogster, and others happened during the bust in 2002 and 03.
Q: Human resources are getting expensive again. Are there ways to avoid this cycle better this time around? Offshore options?
Rocherolle: Whenever salaries go up, think about value of investing in that salary? Hold off on hiring, look at offshoring, etc.
Hornik: Talks to a lot of boards about oursourcing. But when building and figuring out a company, the worst thing you could do is create a huge distance between you and those doing the work. Focus has to be on building the best service you can.
Sippey: look up the “ask the wizard” blog and look for posts on hiring decisions. Really good series of posts.
Q: How is the advertisign shift going to go over the next five years around consumer-driven media.
Rocherolle: Very difficult to monetize. Google makes money because of search, not content. (CNET is one of the few that have gotten good at that.)
Side note: AJAX screwing up page view metrics.
Q: How long are people willing to wait during online experiences (can’t watch lost on abc.com if the ads don’t load.)
Hornik: Media needs to answer markets where people have more money than time, and those with more time and money, and figure out how to respond to both.
Becker: If you look at DVDs, Tivo and online, with ABC you have the least control online…. Where you usually have the most control. ABC is fighting the medium.
usatoday doing some web 2.0 stuff. panel wondering if it’s going to work. very interesting to see how it plays out.
Q: People talk about outsourcing in a very abstract manner. But if you spend any time in India or China or Russia, you find creative and talented people. Is all this outsourcing going to come around and kick us?
Hornik: Didn’t mean to question skill of those overseas… Really a communication question. The realy question is the US going to cease to be the creative engine (as it is now). I think over time there will be increased pressure from groups overseas.
[look at srishti school of art, design and technology]
Sippey on Tuesdays has an 8am videoconference in europe and a 6pm one with japan.
Hellwig: You’re already starting to see value-based pricing from overseas… In 10 years, who’s going to be left to do things cheap?
Q: Any specific induststry or company you think will go bust?
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