Category Archives: SXSW Interactive 2007

Interesting bits round-up for 19 May 2007

First Moblog from Mount Everest!

The Call Of The Mountain (via Alfie). Forget lazy usage of the word and of the moblogging medium – this is literally awesome. Or at least it will be if mountaineer Rod Baber can get a signal further up there – there hasn’t been any posts since he left base camp. Hope it goes safely.

[BTW, have you seen the total makeover of MoblogUK?]

Capturing & sharing fragments in time…

At Minibar in East London on 20th April the standout demo was Rememble. It’s a Flash-based social timeline that can save content – from images and emails to text messages and audio – as ‘membles’, taking them from mobile phones, PCs, digital cameras and web services.

Coming soon from the workshop of Gavin O’Carroll –  a talented guy and fellow Northern Ireland exile who I got to meet at Chinwag Live Media Widgetised on Wednesday – it’s still behind a beta-testing wall (but you can get a beta account). Conceptually, Rememble is an original twist on life-caching propositions and poised to break new ground. Convergence in action!

Ego run amok is so 2.0 

Nice little riposte from Twatter.org – clearly built by a Britisher ;-)

What’s up with web culture? 

Bruce Sterling’s rant podcast from SXSW 2007 – egad, just do yourself a massive favour and listen to it [warning - the contents of this podcast may flatten your pretentions but that's why it's so refreshing]

Last but not least…

Happy Widget Week :-) It rounds-off at Beers & Innovation: Widget Nation on Tuesday 22nd May. Hope to see a few of you there.

SXSW notes: Using RSS For Marketing

I dipped into this session on Sunday 11th March 2007 a little after it began, and the panel was already in full-flow. The session overall was an interesting elision of technology and marketing, and drew a 200-strong audience – pretty good going for a 10am slot!

While I left knowing feed adoption was certainly on the up, a strong sense prevailed that the technological and design issues around it were also hampering its growth.

Anyway, onto the report. Discussing the uses of and issues around RSS for marketing were a very insightful and affable panel…

PANEL
Emily Chang – IdeaCodes / EmilyChang.com
Bill Flitter – CEO, Pheedo (blog)
John Jantsch – Duct Tape Marketing (blog)
Greg Reinacker – CTO & Co-founder, Newsgator (blog)
Chair: Tom Markewicz – EvolvePoint

Difficulties around tracking RSS user statistics and data were first on the agenda, and Greg Reinacker of Newsgator was stressing that they do have good data, but that what they don’t have is data on people using Firefox and Outlook for their feeds.

John Jantsch said their clients and prospects are getting information in lots of different ways. There’s a segment that want it in RSS and he wasn’t worried by the adoption rate. The trick is to easily enable all the ways people want to get information.

Emily Chang countered that we don’t get good data. However NBC are already using RSS internally to send out information; and many people may be using RSS without being aware of it.

Bill Flitter of Pheedo said that last year (2006) saw a huge spike from clients and brands in the automotive industry; there was a 500% increase so it is going towards the mainstream via these hobbyist channels. Last year when Google Reader and some Microsoft products launched, he added, there was another big spike.

It’s the plumbing stupid…

The moderator asked if RSS will remain a specialist term like POP Server, etc, or will it go mainstream like “email”? And if there’s a difference between RSS and Atom, can we use RSS as a generic term?

As browsers and other products integrate RSS into the toolset we will need the term less, reckoned Chang. It’s about receiving information by subscribing to content, Reinacker added, “RSS is just plumbing.” Just like no-one knows what SMTP is, he observed, RSS is under the hood and will stay there.

If you look at things like Pageflakes, there are widgets pulling information in. What excites him is the example of a publishing site that is putting all the content reconfigured for RSS through XML mark-up [not sure that I noted this correctly - will check podcast and amend if required].

RSS moves to enhance your marketing

What marketing is being done, Markiewicz asked the panel. Jantsch noted that on Pageflakes you can set up RSS feeds on different topics and areas around news stories. Reinacker observed that you don’t need to build your own RSS reader; rather, there’s a big cloud of content out there and you can access everyone’s content the same way using a desktop aggregator to tap into the cloud and pick stuff out of it.

Or if you’re in an industry sector for example, Reinacker continued, look at all the content specific to your area and pull bits of it into your site [eg. via a widget]; this way you can become a thought leader by leveraging others content.

Ford are doing blogs for auto shows (eg Detroit, NY), Flitter explained. They’re sending a person there to cover the show, not just to write about Ford but to write about what’s happening in the industry. They’re creating content on their blog and then looking to get that content syndicated elsewhere, leveraging the written word to build affinity with customers. Understand the power of content, Flitter stressed.

Markiewicz reflected that as with any aspect of marketing, you need to measure it. With marketing as a discipline there are no pre-defined answers, but with RSS you can know instantly if people are paying attention.

Search, SEO and indexing content

Jantsch added that you can use RSS to get better search results. It’s very easy now for a company to build upon their content to get better search results by having themed pages that are re-published as feeds – a really powerful way to get some nice rankings and hopefully some traffic!

Chang concurred – if you have your pages optimized, Google is rapidly indexing all feeds already. Flitter agreed – better indexed content begets better found content than all the merely beautifully designed sites out there.

You can repurpose content from your own site, Jantsch interjected. You don’t have to go out to the world. Markewicz took it a step further positing that you can use RSS as a content management system.

The truth about full versus partial feeds

So what mistakes are being made? What are publishers doing wrong, Markiewicz wondered. They’re being too stingy with their information, Flitter reckoned, by putting just the headline out, or a partial feed.

But are their audience ready for full feed content? The difference in response on full feeds and partial feeds is marginal, Flitter argued. There’s something inherent in the way we interact with feeds in that people want to poke around and see what else is there. So for response rates and marketing / branding impact, think about being more generous.

If you want to secure your feeds, Reinacker said, http authentication works across the board; secret URLs don’t work, because Google, Newsgator, etc will index it anyway! Jantsch added that as marketers we have to make it easier to subscribe. He’s been using AddThis which means he can avoid using all the little chicklets [the little branded buttons for Feedster, Bloglines, Netvibes etc].

Covering all the bases

Markiewicz said we should be consistent if we want subscribers because an RSS subscriber is going to be a lot more valuable over the long term than an email subscriber – so make it so that you can auto-subscribe.

Chang commented that the problem is where people think that your RSS strategy is something different from your overall content strategy.

Flitter raised the instance of where the reader is just looking at lines of text; they may open all their feeds in one long river of news, but then it all looks the same. How then does your information stand out? For every article, start it with your company name at the start of the headline so when it’s syndicated your brand will be visible there too and you’ll also benefit in the search realm too [this idea did not appeal at all to me, but that's the dormant journalist thinking, I guess ;-) ].

Tracking, content and objectives

The question was raised as to regularity of feed posting by an audience member. Markiewicz stressed consistency. Chang said if your company is doing product updates, then at least make it once a month, like an email newsletter.

Jantsch argued that it all comes down to goals. Reinacker said put quality before quantity; you can’t put garbage out there with the occasional nugget. Jantsch disagreed – get a PDA and note down everything interesting you hear, it’s not that hard!

Are there tracking tools other than standard web tracking, someone asked. This can get done in-house, responded Markiewicz but there are services like Feedburner that can package that data for you.

Approaching it from a marketing perspective, remarked Flitter, it’s all about how to leverage feeds and what to do with them. Do you have campaign-specific objectives and data needs, or overall objectives? Feedburner is good for general and publisher feeds; Simplefeed is good for the enterprise; and Pheedo is suited to marketers. Is it impressions, views or clicks that you seek? These tracking packages are just a guideline for measuring feeds.

From chicklets to auto-discovery

If you have a built-in fanbase, an audience member asked, and they’re mostly not technically skilled, how do you make RSS easy to use if it’s positioned as plumbing?

If you have a large target group you know how to speak to them, Markiewicz replied, and you need to make that effort. Customise your language to your audience, said Chang. So if it’s a cookery site, say “get a daily recipe”. People should also be able to subscribe to your feeds by email, Jantsch suggested.

Reinacker differed regarding the orange RSS button. If you don’t need it that assumes that your site supports auto-discovery. But major aggregators like Google, Newsgator and others don’t support auto-discovery, so leave the chicklets and the orange button there, and also support auto-discovery.

You should probably do your first reach-out via email, added Chang. The orange button was created to remove the need for multiple chicklets. It was created for the early adopters – to get them to use RSS and spread the early adoption take-up. From a marketing perspective, Flitter said, keep testing to figure out what is the best way to get uptake.

Video descriptors in feeds & breaking the US stranglehold

Dealing with video was the next question raised from the audience. If your content has a lot of video, and you have a one minute or thirty second spot, would you recommend a short description of it that’s not actually visible on the site but is to aggregators and search engines?

While you don’t have to transcribe every word, Flitter reckoned, you should have a summary of the content, both from a marketing standpoint and from an indexing standpoint.

Use Flash or an embedded YouTube / other trusted player, recommended Reinacker. Make sure you see how your feeds render in all the top news readers; so be careful of putting shiny little objects in the feed.

A French man in the audience got the last word in. He remarked that all this stuff about plumbing is just a big turn-off; we should be talking about stories, not the technology. He said that he used Feedburner and that all the stats are very US-centric, but in the morning you get more RSS readers from abroad. With services like[Vancouver-based] NowPublic, he observed, you actually get a different audience.

—————- 

This is the first of my reports from SXSW Interactive 2007. No doubt, like last year, it’ll take me another 10 months to get all these babies written up! In the meantime, here’s some other good coverage and commentary on this session:
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/sxsw_using_rss_for_marketing.php
http://www.darowski.com/tracesofinspiration/2007/03/11/sxswi-using-rss-for-marketing/
http://christopherschmitt.com/2007/04/03/sxsw07-rss-for-marketing/

UNSUBTLE HINT…
If you found this report of interest, then can I (Amazon-stylee) suggest that you might also like these upcoming events…

Chinwag Live Media Widgetised – 16 May 2007, London
http://live.chinwag.com/mediawidgetised
“How will the growth of widgets, aggregators and web-feeds effect the online media landscape?” Speakers from eBay, BT Retail, nooked and Eircom / Sleevenotez [disclosure: I've organised this event]

Widget Week! – 14-22 May 2007, London
Chinwag Live: Media Widgetised on 16th May is part of the inaugural Widget Week – the world’s first co-ordinated cluster of events to focus on the widget phenomenon and explore its business, marketing and cross-platform potential. Move over Silicon Valley – the UK and Ireland is where the best of media and technology intersect! Brought to you by Chinwag, NMK (Beers & Innovation) and MoMo London

Upcoming listings:
If you like to watch, share or just aren’t sure yet, your needs are catered for on these Upcoming pages:
Chinwag Live: Media Widgetised – 16th May 2007
Widget Week 2007 – 14th – 22nd May 2207

Roll on SXSW Interactive in Austin!

I’m off to SXSW Interactive in the morning! And it’s in Austin, a bohemian oasis isn the middle of redneck Texas.

Went last year, had a tremenduous time, and have been planning my return pretty much ever since I arrived back last year.

I think it’s the only large-scale digital / tech conference (in the English-speaking world) that’s also a festival.

Daytime sessions that have caught my eye so far include:

Online Publishers & Ad Networks
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060200

How to Bluff Your Way in Web 2.0
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060169

Turning Projects Into Revenue Generating Businesses
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060246

Under 18: Blogs, Wikis and Online Social Networks for Youth
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060248

Kathy Sierra Opening Remarks
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060180

Tag. You’re It
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060222

Everything’s Gone Douglas Coupland
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060283

Games + Entertainment Brands: Five Top Trends In 2007
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060284

Mapping: Where the F#*% Are We Now?
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060187

Web Hacks: Good or Evil (or: Welcome to Web 2.666)
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060263

Every Breath You Take: Identity, Attention, Presence and Reputation
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060150

Using RSS For Marketing
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060252

Web 2.0 and Semantic Web: The Impact on Scientific Publishing
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/conference/panels_schedule/?action=show&id=IAP0602

Why We Should Ignore Users
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060271

Non-Developers to Open Source Acolytes: Tell Me Why I Care
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060196

How to Convince Your Company to Embrace Mashup Culture
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060170

User Generated Content and Original Editorial: Friend or Foe
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060251

Why Marketers Need To Work With People Media
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060270

Open Knowledge vs. Controlled Knowledge
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060202

MobileActive: Mobilizing The Masses With Mobile Technology
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060190

There’s no Such Thing as the Mobile Web (Or Is There?)
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060244

The Global Microbrand: Are Blogs, Suits and Wine the New Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll?
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/?action=show&id=IAP060165

And that’s just the ones I *really* want to go to!!

All the panels:
http://2007.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/

I’ve also put myself down for more than a few parties over the 10th – 14th March duration:
http://upcoming.org/user/45382/

Stamina will be required ;)

SXSW notes: Bruce Sterling Presentation – The State Of The World

Never one to limit his horizons, this talk saw the cyberpunk author, tech visionary and all-round web guru range across global and local politics (especially those of the former Yugoslavia, where he has recently been living), the environment, technology, design and society.

Segueing between topics with remarkable lucidity and an implicit logical bent, allusions were littered elegantly among the sometimes incantation-like ebbs and flows of his sentences.

This was Sterling at full throttle, and the over 1,000 strong audience were largely frozen with what can only be summed up as astonishment, as if petrified for 60 minutes solid at the sight of an oncoming tidal wave.

But the talk was the opposite of a preacher’s bombastic sermon that manipulates, mesmerises and undermines independent thinking. Rather, it was questioning, often provisional and truly exploratory of events and ideas in the world today.

Afterwards the throng shuffled out silently, reliance on small-talk fully undermined, the waves of aftershock pulsating through the hall.

A laser beam of Texan foresight…

That he achieved this while also speaking so passionately that he wept on stage was visibly discomforting for some (mostly young, mostly male) in the audience. The irony of course being that Sterling could out-ironise any wisecracking kidult in a nano-second, but sometimes, as he understands, you have to fly by those nets.

I took only partial notes on this talk, relating to his perspectives on his new concept of SPIME.

However other things crept in and overlaid these segments, so the effect is a little kaleidoscopic and sometimes obtuse, removed as it is from the fuller context of everything he said. It’ll take some unpacking, which is partly what made it so tantalising and resonant…

The comic artist is becoming the public intellectual Sterling asserted, citing warrenellis.com. Shortly afterwards, he noted that “the unimaginable does not mean catastrophic”, citing how the economic growth of China is often construed. We should remember, he stressed, that it’s *people* who are doing this in China.

A tag and a theory object…

Then he turned to SPIME. Tracing its evolution he recounted that it emerged in 2004 in a speech he gave at Siggraph and in his 2005 book on award-winning graphic design Shaping Things.

SPIME is not a word but a tag, he continued, a theory object! As such, it depends on the popular consensus on what it means. Likewise, William Gibson’s “cyberspace” is a consensual hallucination, a brain experience, and already it has a period feel to it.

This is the SPIME elevator pitch, but it’s not the shape the tag SPIME will eventually take as it’s thrown out into the blogosphere churn of information.

SPIME has an RFID chip in it and a tag, it has a local precise positioning system, it’s Google Maps and a powerful search engine, it’s involved in cradle-to-cradle recycling because you can break it down and re-use the junk. It was virtually designed, a product of CADCamp; it’s rapidly prototyped; it’s a fabject.

Alex Stephen at WorldChanging.com has a new book coming out, an index of the ways out of the smoke-filled cinema, he noted by way of analogy. People will interact with this object in ways we can’t imagine or describe. SPIME because it’s trackable in space and time.

Building an internet of things…

Open and participatory, SPIMEs begin and end as data because they’re virtual objects first and physical objects second. We want to build an internet of *things*.

The real reason we’ll do it, if we ever do it, is because of the way it *feels* – automatic magical inventory voodoo. A lot of people are at work on the internet of things. What it needs is distributed intelligence; it will only work if people find it useful and get value from it.

It’s a new world and a new tag, the semantic web is turning into the wetlands of language. A theory object is a word for a platform of development… it’s just a different type of social activism.

Become the change we want to happen…

People who read the papers and watch TV and don’t engage with all the other stuff, linkages and trackbacks, these are *legacy* people. Words that turn on their creator like Frankenstein – but the creator *is* Frankenstein…

Later, at the end of his talk he emphasised that if we’re going to get anywhere, we need to become the change we want to be. Make no decision out of fear. What is required is a great regional novel about the planet earth, he concluded. And the cure for the panic stampede is to be found in historical perspective.

—————-

Sterling grew up in Austin and is a regular fixture at the festival. In 2007, in addition to another talk (yipee!), he is taking part in the EFF/EFF-Austin SXSW Futures of the Past Steampunk Extravaganza after-dark event. Verily the SXSWi massive are spoiling us and we like it  ;-) 

London podcast

[For more Sterling brainfood – this time on the environment, alpha geeks, media, technology and Web 2.0 – check out the podcast of his New Statesman-hosted talk in London, April 2006. Sterling was *so* on form that night and this is pure quality]

My other SXSW Interactive 2006 session reports:

What’s In A Title?
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/03/15/whats-in-a-title-sxswi-notes/

Beyond Folksonomies – Knitting Tag Clouds For Grandma
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/03/22/sxsw-notes-beyond-folksonomies-knitting-tag-clouds-for-grandma/

Book Digitisation & The Revenge Of The Librarians
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/03/23/sxsw-notes-book-digitisation-and-the-revenge-of-the-librarians/

James Surowiecki on The Wisdom Of Crowds
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/04/07/sxsw-surowiecki-on-the-wisdom-of-crowds/

Running Your New Media Business
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/11/07/sxsw-notes-running-your-new-media-business/

SXSW notes: The Perfect Pitch
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/11/09/sxsw-notes-the-perfect-pitch/

What People Are Really Doing On The Web
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2006/12/18/sxsw-notes-what-people-are-really-doing-on-the-web/

Commons Based Business Models
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2007/01/08/sxsw-notes-commons-based-business-models/

Danah Boyd – Current TV interview
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2007/01/12/sxsw-notes-danah-boyd-current-tv-interview/

DIY Media – Consumer Is The Producer
http://innovationeye.wordpress.com/2007/01/19/sxsw-notes-consumer-is-the-producer-–-diy-media/ 

See all SXSW Interactive 2006 daytime panels here:
http://2006.sxsw.com/interactive/programming/panels/

See the SXSW Interactive 2007 website

SXSW Interactive back on the radar

After a chat at work about this and next year’s SXSW Interactive, I’m feeling inspired. But guilt at not blogging all my notes from the conference/festival has also resurfaced.

Not like it’s not out there already, but every report has its peculiar skew, paraphrasing quirks, deliberate omissions and oversights (to confirm if I’ve missed anything, check out the SXSW official podcasts).

So I’ve resolved (in my spare time) to write up all the sessions I never got round to doing back in the spring-summer period when I was completely overwhelmed with planning Content 2.0, the Beers & Innovation series and NMK’s broader programme of events, in addition to my editorial and web development duties.

If you missed them, the three sessions I did write up back then were:

Beyond Folksonomies: Knitting Tag Clouds For Grandma

Book Digitisation: Revenge Of The Librarians (more exciting than it sounds, but then some librarians are very cool these days)

James Surowiecki on The Wisdom Of Crowds

The forthcoming ones are equally juicy, but they also have a more business-like slant (with garnish of social media and visionary ranting for good measure). Which is a perfect fit for the evolving logic of the Beers & Innovation series.

They also relate equally to the ‘creative industries’ start-up enterprises and SMEs (I *so* hate that acronym, but hey) that dominate the UK web industry. And the creative industries being another area B&I will soon be tackling – in fact it was going to be announced last week (sorry for the delay on that).

So, session write-ups coming soon on:

Running Your New Media Business

The Perfect Pitch – How To Attract Money To Your Digitally Convergent Business

What People Are Really Doing On the Web

Commons-Based Business Models

Danah Boyd’s Current TV SXSW Interview

Consumer Is The Producer: DIY Media

Bruce Sterling Presentation: The State Of the World

Two other great sessions I went to – the Craig Numark keynote and Jason Kottke & Heather Armstrong in interview – I didn’t take notes on, which was nice as I could just relax and take it in. No need to worry though, as 60% of delegates were blogging the conference, so you can look them up on Technorati.

Are you saving-up for your airfare to Austin in March 2007? No chance of affording it or getting the boss to shell out? Get your mates or family to group together and buy you a ticket for Crimbo (£225 for 4 days of round-the-clock goodness – bargainous). Then take a loan out to cover your hotel and airfare, or sell something / anything. That’s my thought for today  ;-)