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Journal for 9 Mar 2007: Tired Morning


Well, I had a great first day at SXSW–more on that later–but my attempt at sleep last night failed miserably.  So, I’m working on just over four hours of sleep today.  Great.  Maybe I’ll have to try to catch a cat nap in the car later this afternoon…  Otherwise I could find myself wiped out before day three begins.

Posted in Journal,SXSW,Travelog at 8:53 am

SXSW Notes: Opening Remarks w/ Johson & Jenkins


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.

Posted in SXSW,SXSW Panels at 3:01 pm

Journal for 8 Mar 2008: In Texas, Kinda Cranky


Well, today has been a trainwreck. I’m not going to rant about fucking over my second accounting midterm this morning, but let’s just leave it at that I’m extremely disappointed in myself.

Extremely disappointed.

But, I’m in Austin, so it can’t be that bad, right? Well, let’s start with that “I’m,” which should really be a “we.” Thanks to Northwest Airlines, though, my coworkers are stuck in Minneapolis, and are set to pretty much miss the entire first day of the conference. (Note to Northwest: IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE SEATS, DON’T SELL THE FUCKING TICKETS.) This mishap will be affecting my schedule as well, probably preventing me from seeing the Worst Website Ever panel (where I expect we’ll see this thing get pitched), as well as the Flickr party.

I’m also kind of disappointed that my coworkers’ introductions to SXSW will be the Frog opening party. Not that there’s anything wrong with the party, of course, but it strikes me as kind of a harsh way to start the conference.

~ ~ ~

The row in front of me on the flight down today had two parents with their nine-month-old. It made me wonder how my baby was doing.

~ ~ ~

Well, on top of everything else, it looks like my site is down. (Fucking Dreamhost.) I guess I’ll be posting this tomorrow, then.

Posted in Journal,SXSW,Travelog at 11:43 pm

Journal for 6 Mar 2008: Tight Schedule


I have a tight schedule tomorrow. My second Accounting midterm is at 11:00, and it’s estimated to take about two hours.

My flight for Austin? 2:15. I’ll be cutting it a bit tight.

~ ~ ~

And with that, back to studying.

Posted in Journal,SXSW,Travelog at 11:54 pm

Items Noted Elsewhere: SXSW Prep Edition

Posted in Items Noted Elsewhere,SXSW at 1:24 am

SXSW: Almost Here


With everything going on the past few days, it wasn’t until a coworker reminded me this morning that I realized that SXSW starts next week. Holy crap. So much for going in prepared.

~ ~ ~

I am never taking two full-credit courses at the same time again. Never.

Posted in Education,Journal,SXSW at 10:36 am

SXSWi Wrap-Up, Part 1 of 200


45 minutes to boarding. I’m sitting here in the airport after a lazy day in Austin, mid-way through a brief respite before throwing myself back into reality early tomorrow morning. Bruce Sterling made a comment during his conference-closing rant that information has finally become free, but when I have to pay $10 to get on the airport WiFi, I’m not sure I’d completely agree with that.

Bruce’s rant wasn’t as much of a rant this year as it was a cautious meditation on the state of technology and information, but it was still good as always. I’ve found his speeches to be a good starting point to tying all that’s SXSW together, a process for me that usually takes a couple weeks if not a full month or so. There’s a lot of great things to take from the conversations, panels and demos, but where things really get interesting is where those ideas start cross-referencing each other, kind of like an absurdly cross-linked mental Wikipedia.

Overall, I thought the conference was pretty good this year, although I ran into many who were disappointed in it. I hit a lot of mobile device panels, all of which were useful. In all, there were only three or four panels I didn’t really find that interesting, and in the end only skipped out of one. (Last year, I skipped out of 1-2 panels each day.) The vibe was less corporate than last year too, while not being stupidly anti-business as some earlier years.

If I had to pick one main problem this year, it was the physical organization of the panels. The Interactive conference was split in half, and you basically had to pack a suitcase to go from one end to the other. Not only did this make it impractical to go to some panel combinations, it made it much more difficult to run into people in the halls. Even with the huge crowd that arrived for last year’s conference, it was still relatively easy to run into people in the halls. This year I had to literally search people out. I was pretty worn out last night, but went to the closing party anyway in hopes of connecting with some of those I missed. (Many of them were there doing the same thing, so at least that worked out.)

Could I have planned ahead? Yes, but in the past it wasn’t necessary. Running into people was just something that happened. Besides, planning too much removes a lot of the wonderous serendipity that makes SXSW so great. This poor organization was basically an all-out assault on the heart and soul of the conference.

It can recover next year, of course. Just make sure all the damn rooms are together.

Well, I’m getting a bit hungry, so I’m going to grab a bite before we have to get onboard. Goodbye Austin, I’ll see you next year.

Posted in SXSW at 5:15 pm

Quality of SXSWi Panel Notes


FYI: I’ll go through and edit all of them later. Lots of link fixing, spelling crap and other issues to resolve.

Posted in SXSW,SXSW Panels,Uncategorized at 2:06 pm

SXSWi Panel: After Bust 2.0


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 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?

Posted in SXSW,SXSW Panels at 1:01 pm

SXSWi Panel: Mobile Application Design Challenges



  • Cheng
  • James
  • Poisson (radar)
  • Wilhelm
  • King

(They changed rooms without telling anyone. I was 10 minutes late, but at least I had company.)

Jones: Does some prototyping by putting post-it notes on blocks of wood.

King: User testing for mobile (while person is texting while driving or whatever) is more difficult than watching someone us a PC.

Wilhelm: Have people walk around with a block and ask them what they’d like to do with that block.

Q: What kind of metrics do you use when designing for mobile?

Poisson: Clicks are gold. Saving an extra click, multiplied millions of customers, is a lot of effort saved. Used instead of .com because .net is easier to type on a mobile device.

King: Does a lot with click tracking as well.

Wilhelm: Assume a lot of upload failure and interruption when dealing with files. Make sure that kind of issue handling is built in from the start.

Poisson: You need to think about about time limits and attention span limits much more than you would on a desktop application.

Jones: Need to think of a three-second attention span. No clicking off rules and conditions screens.

Q: You have all these inputs and outputs… Text, voice, photos, etc… What makes you try to write a custom app rather than shove everything over SMS?

King: Depends on what you need to do? Sending photos over SMS would suck.

Q; At Nokia, how much time do you spend designing beyond the phone?

Jones: It’s more about about the interraction between the cloud and the little thing you’re communicating with. More focus on connections to web services. Mobile makers kind of make the equivalent of a wiki stub asking themselves or others to fill it in later. By doing that pattern of stub-making gets you to open really interesting ideas.

Q: Flash lite is not supported by majority of phones. How does one go about testing one’s app on all these phones when emulators are not that great?

King: Flash Lite is an excellent prototyping tool, but not ready for actual design yet.

Poisson: For applications, you can’t build once and use everywhere. You need to know going in you need to prep for a range of devices. Know the platforms your users use and try to build for them.

Wilhelm: deviceanywhere, etc. You can check out and test other phones online. Not 100% accurate, but better than buying every different model.

Jones: Look at the presentation by Brian Fling yesterday. (My notes from Fling’s presentation.) Get five or so varried phones, and test against them.

Wilhelm: Try to group devices and find similarities and then test against examples in those categories.

Poisson: Join developer networks from mobile manufacturers. Lots of good information from them.

Q: What are your practical strategies on getting people to use your applications? Off-deck or on-deck?

Wilhelm: Off-deck: Distribution not managed by carrier. On-deck: Distribution by carrier. Off deck allows full-control of experience for user. Lots of pain to get on-deck. Some carriers have a lot of rules and regulations about what you can do in your application.

Poisson: Carriers still have some control when you’re off-deck. Just get your app out there, see what people want to do and go from there. If it works, carriers may come to you about tying your tool to their device.

Wilhelm: Maybe build teirs into your service.

Q: What do you think of development of browsers for phones?

King: Opera browser for mobile is great.

Jones: Look at what Fling said. Pare site down to attention-friendly components.

Q: Do you have any favorite resource for mobile design patterns?

Jones: W3C Mobile Web Initiative… Plus developer networks. We’re still learning this stuff as we go. Look up small services blog.

Posted in SXSW,SXSW Panels,Uncategorized at 1:45 pm
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