Megan, Theater and the Special Needs Boy

halloween-2008-007My 7th grader Megan has been practicing all week on her monologue for a UIL theater competition here in Katy. She’s really into it, and frankly she may have the personality for it. Today was the competition and she was nervous (remember your first public speaking event in middle school – yeeeesh). Up at 6 am, school by 7:15 am, first competition at 8:30am.

That’s when it happened.

Megan was the last of 7 girls that were giving monologues in front of a “17 year old big boy” from theater class. The first girls speech ended, that’s when “big boy” says, “you know, all you did was just talk. Better luck next year.” I was a little annoyed, but I don’t really know how these things go. The girl looked terrified.

Girl number two goes next and her performance is received from “big boy” with praise and admiration. I’m still not sure what to think.

Girl number three goes and at the end of her monologue “big boy” says, “well I didn’t really like it. You said ‘like’ too many times (part of the act BTW) and it would have been better if the girl who just went before you had done the performance. Better luck next year.” Now this girl cries sort of silently. But cries. I’m not happy. Courtney, my wife, is giving me looks that say – can this be right?

Oh no, girl number four goes. And after “big boy” tells her that her performance was “boring” and “he’s not into it, that it was choppy” she cries. Wow… So 4 girls, two crying. Big boy continues on. At this point I can see veins in Courtney’s neck pulsing.

Pan to Megan, my 7th grader, and she slumps more in her seat with each monologue. Terror has turned her white.

Another girl goes and and “big boy” tells her, “I didn’t think you were going to make it work. It started out really bad, the beginning and middle weren’t interesting, but got better.” Now all of the girls are emotional wrecks.

Megan’s turn. She is nervous. She does her performance, which usually is better, but makes it through pretty good. I’m on the edge of my seat. BIG BOY SAYS: “I’m just not feeling it. Your story isn’t interesting. I didn’t like it. Maybe you’ll do better next year.”

Megan runs out in tears. Explosive tears. Dreams smashed.

Courtney follows her. Her whole body, face, arms, etc. are RED.

Other moms follow. People meet the crowd of emotions in the hallway. Teachers say, “The judges aren’t even supposed to talk. Reviews are forbidden. Only on paper given later, etc.”

My main goal is to save “big boy’s life” and not end up on the ten o’clock news. Court is ready to “get him”. Have you ever seen a mother wolf protecting her cubs? We are in “cub mode” here. Luckily we get the crowd of emotional parents to the “teachers” and report the abuse. The teachers are really upset. What a debacle.

The school is actually swift in taking care of the problem. They pass all girls to the next round, reprimand “big boy” and make in-person apologize to all girls.

Time for the good stuff.

Turns out the school was short on judges this morning. Two of the three for this category didn’t show. So, they grabbed kids from the “theater department” to judge. “Big boy” was a special needs kid in theater that had volunteered to carry concessions in and setup the concession stand. He was “coraled” into judging the room by someone that had no idea he was “special needs”.

So a “special needs” big boy was in charge of judging a room of emotional 7th grade girls. Wow. You can’t invent shit like this.

I feel bad for everyone. Poor Megan. Poor Big Boy. Poor school.

November 8, 2008 at 10:08 pm 10 comments

Tribute to the Long House at Singing Sand’s West, Crystal Beach Texas

When I was a kid my parents had always wanted a beach house… it only took them around 30 or so years to make that dream possible. I remember being a kid and having my folks take us to Galveston to stay in various hotels… It was part of the best things I remember about growing up.

They choose putting their kids through college as a priority… and for that I am thankful. But their dream would have to wait until we were grown.

About 4 years ago they bought the view you see below. It was a great little house in Singing Sands West on Bolivar Peninsula. True it is a community fitting of a Jimmy Buffet song… but I like Jimmy buffet.

Here is the house itself. It wasn’t front row, but it was only about 900 feet to a very private Texas beach. Unlike many spots in Crystal Beach it was not easy to get to by car, so it was left alone by much of the drive on traffic. (Only holidays would bring enough traffic to have cars on the Singing Sands West section of beach)

Just like my childhood, the kids you see below got to make the beach part of their lives. My dad lived at the beach house part time, so unlike many of the homes that got very minimal use, ours was always pretty busy. We had just learned where to get a dozen live blue crabs for $7 at Joe’s in bolivar… things were pretty swell.

Unlike many people that own “vacation homes”, my parents were not lawyers, dentists, retired oil field workers, etc. They were hard working Americans (Fed Ex courier and Flight Attendant) that made sacrifices (When Dad was alone he would only air condition one room of the house to be able to afford the electric bill accumulated by the me and my kids when we came to visit). They organized their life so they could benefit from the sort of “heaven” only those of us that worship the Texas Gulf Coast know.

Stop and hang your feet in the waves… pop a top… see if you can relate.

I am sure it will be back one day, but we don’t know when. Below you can see a photo of the neighborhood as it is today. My parents house would be in the vicinity of the houses with the “red roofs” but it is gone. Wiped clean.

If you would like to explore the devastation yourself here are a couple of links that will let you see neghborhoods and photos in crystal beach:

http://ngs.woc.noaa.gov/ike/IKE0000.HTM

http://jakeabby.com/cb/(thank you Jake and Abby)

It’s hard to believe that the picture below is the same neighborhood I know…. An atom bomb may have been nicer. I pasted in two more photos at the bottom so you can see and match up a few of the houses. To me it is unreal.

Now compare that picture (you can enlarge it) with the photos from below…. Wow.

I guess what I wanted to communicate mostly is that property was lost, but it is more than that.

Dreams were lost (or postponed).

Be gentle and caring to those that may have lost their dream for a little while. Know that they may have also lost neighbors… That they may also have lost belongings that are worth more than money… Know that they worked hard to have this opportunity (and are thankful that they got it)… And, that in no way would they have ever thought they could be “wiped completely off the map”.

This is what a dream looks like:

September 16, 2008 at 8:19 pm 32 comments

Step by Step Inking from Nick Edwards

I really liked this post on Drawn that linked to a step by step inking example from illustrator Nick Edwards. It shows the process form the initial pencil sketch to the photoshop coloring stage.

Nick Edwards

Nick Edwards

I have enormous respect for inkers as I spent my early days as an animator at Heart of Texas Productions in Austin, inking drawings for Space Jam. I wanted to give up. I am not a really neat person, and the process is tedious… not to mention the fact that animators personalties’ are incredibly distracting.

I had always wanted to reach the talent level of John K., but never felt that my drawings had as much energy. here is an example of K’s most recent work (apparently he is pitching a distorted version of famous warner borthers characters – I would love to see that):

August 8, 2008 at 8:15 pm 2 comments

Hook Up to Houston Children’s Museum

Houston Children’s Museum

I love the new Houston Children’s Museum Web Site!!!! Full disclosure, our team at Schipul made the site – but that doesn’t change the fact that I love it!

It is spring break next week and I would have never known that the museum had such an amazingly fun lineup for kids, if it weren’t for the new site. The spring break events are listed on the home page, and I would personally love to go see “The Beetles“. I am hoping I can talk my folks into taking the kids to that event, as they will be in town.

Also, I would like to invite all of you to stay plugged into the Children’s Museum in two ways:

  1. Through RSS updates that will let you know when they announce new things
  2. The Facebook fan page that will also keep you in the loop with their marketing team

Plug in if you have kids, and get in touch with events that go beyond the normal tour of exhibits.

March 14, 2008 at 4:15 pm 2 comments

Oh Mandy, The Spinto Band

One of the best bands I saw in Austin this last week was “The Spinto Band“. I downloaded their last CD, and immediately fell in love with the song “Oh Mandy”, and appararently I am not the only one, as views of the video for “Oh Mandy” on YouTube are huge:

It really makes me wonder how the internet is treating new bands. Basically, here is someone I have never heard of that has 448,473 views on their video and lots of link love (do a Google search for “spinto”). I wonder how hard it is to monetize their music, and how “deals with labels” are different than the old days.

Spinto’s label is Bar None, and bar none includes youtube videos, myspace links, etc. of artist’s content. Hmmmm? I wonder if labels are doing search and social media placement as part of marketing for artists?
Also, who produced the video for “Oh Mandy”? It is pretty fun. Nice stats on viewership too.

March 13, 2008 at 5:52 pm 3 comments

Collective Intelligence and Meetings

My SXSW experience left me feeling that meetings and the communication between the speakers and the audience is radically different than it was 2 years ago. Both for good and bad.

It wasn’t so much the Zuckerberg incident that was the big news at SXSW to me – it was the audience. The audience was the big development. In a comment left on allfacebook about the Zuckerberg interview Michael Lambie says, “this interview almost took down twitter today.”

At SXSW the meeting rooms were setup with a Meebo chat, and also the vast majority of the audience live twittered the speech. Two years ago, this speech would have just been bad and boring. Today it is news. Everyone that could get through on the internet connection was able to discuss in realtime behind the scenes their thoughts and feelings.

The crowd was able to organize during the interview and make real time discoveries. They found:

  1. They are not alone
  2. They can take action
  3. They could voice themselves

The result was organized and realtime feedback.

This feedback takes a great deal of control from the speakers – who have enjoyed isolation from the audience. Speakers are now at the mercy of the crowd. If a speaker is not serving, the audience can organize around them. What will happen in politics, movies, church, business, as this type of behind the scenes communication reaches a more critical mass?

The next morning I went to a panel where the audience was organizing questions for the speaker while she spoke. It showed that some others in the audience wanted to know the same answers and provided much deeper questions. In this case it was a good thing.

But what will happen when people can revolt in realtime against things they feel are unpopular. I can imagine scenarios in high school that will leave teachers exasperated. Power to the audience.

Only time will tell. I will twitter it in real time.

March 12, 2008 at 10:43 pm 1 comment

How to Keep SXSW Going for the Rest of the Year

I just tried to get into the Mark Cuban panel… and the room was overbooked. I couldn’t get in. Personally I am blaming Eloy. How many strikes is that?

So I hopped into a room and am listening how to “Rock” SXSW for the rest of the year. The panel started out with a super energetic dude, Kevin Smokeler that threw candy at the crowd, sang to final countdown, and a troop of panelists that ran through the room like a basketball team….Real funny.

Thomas says about his first SXSW experience, “The year was 2003, we were going to be out of Iraq in two weeks.” They

What will you do when you get home?

  1. Organize your business cards, email people you want to keep in touch with, if you don’t do that soon it won’t get done.
  2. Reflect on what the themes are. The unspoken lessons. Making heads or tails of themes.
  3. Upload photos, blog, and do the things you didn’t have time for.
  4. Start an email to everyone you wanted to touch base with, on the way home

What is the first real day back at work like?

  1. Just get back to focused on business, don’t do anything related to SXSW.
  2. Reach out to other people in the company and pass knowledge and make connections for other business needs

How do you see your life being altered from SXSW?

  1. Integrate items you have learned into current practice. Many folks come to SXSW with an agenda that they have some solution for
  2. Make connections with folks that need the information from SXSW
  3. Have a party and make friendships real
  4. Next year be more engaged with the experience. Discusses the “Fray” cafe where folks have “Open Mike Night” where someone gets up and tells a story. Any story.
  5. No idea is too crazy. Smokler says, “I want us to have music. I want us to come in like professional wrestlers.”

What dilemmas do you have from attending SXSW? How can we take advantage of collective brain power and sove problems presented at SXSW?

  1. I live in a small town, and I feel like I am the only geek in the world. Lady wants great ideas on how to feel connected to the brains at SXSW when back in a remote area?  A) Join online communities. Skype folks into meetings. Use IRC for getting people that can’t make a meeting involved. Skype is the big take away.
  2. Day job is with MSN, but can’t shake up the big organization. How can you take this wild environment into a big company? Look for champions in your organization to interject change.
  3. How do you tell others what the conference was like? What happens here stays here. (There is enough content online that you can show people what it was like) It won’t replace the people experience.

March 11, 2008 at 5:17 pm 1 comment

Pimp my Non Profit with Ed Schipul and the Gang

Pimps for Ed Schipul
Photo from Ed Schipul, taken by Eloy Zuniga

Ed is already starting to Pimp Non Profits strong with Rachel Weidinger, Erin Denny, Michaela Hackner, and Beth Kanter. Ed starts with a quiz revealing that probably 75% of the room is with a non profit and there are probably only a few SXSW panels focus on “non profits”.

Here are the players on the panel:

  1. Erin Denny at Tech Soup and Net Squared
  2. Rachel Weidinger of Common Knowledge
  3. Michaela Hackner of World Learning
  4. Beth Kanter of http://beth.typepad.com/

The discussion starts with Erin and Rachel discussing “How do you use Web 2.o tools for your nonprofit and for promoting your mission?”

According to Rachel the new definition of pimping for nonprofits (or how you fully pimp your nonprofit) is:

  1. A User Oriented Experience
  2. A Cause/Mission Based Design
  3. Tools for Change / Action and Advocacy Tools

Below is a list from Rachel and Erin that lists a few nonprofits that are “fully pimped nonprofits”?

  1. http://www.ilovemountains.org/ – This site lets you see where your power comes from and also your impact for raising donations or how you spread the campaign. It is very visual, and as a suggestion other non profits – the site has a visual connection to the problem and your impact.
  2. http://www.stopthesealhunt.com – This site allows you to see different community members voices and also asks to help from the community. It promotes: Advocacy, fund raising and participation.
  3. http://www.shareyourstory.org/ – Allows folks to have an online community of parents with babies that have problems. This allows folks an area to ask hard questions and give support. The site is delivering services by holding space.
  4. http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/– The museum is using blogs, social networks and are re purposing content to be more open. An example is a facebook app that lets you show what artwork you identify with. This increases access and ads tools for evangelism.
  5. NetSquared Mashup Challenge: NetSquared’s mission is to spur responsible adoption of social web tools by social benefit organizations. NetSquared is having a mashup challenge that hooks you up with Business Analysts, Product Managers, Business Mentors. The campaign gives the winners $100,000

Preparing to pimp is the next section by Michaela Hackner. Here are some tips that might help you get better:

  1. Make sure you have Buy In from folks like the IT department, and CEO and those that don’t use the new tools yet. Transperancy is important
  2. Technical resources need to be available for help with support, updates, tweaks, etc.
  3. You will need Human Resources and Interest in order to carry out your project.
  4. You will need Time to execute the plan. Content develop, review, adding pages, building profiles, etc.
  5. You need Access to the tools. Make sure they have access to the tools and the scheduling to make your project successful.
  6. Proximity to content creators. Make sure their is community and that everyone knows the goals and mission.
  7. Is this project Replicable? Could someone else fill in and keep championing your project.
  8. Empowerment needs to allow owners to be successful with the new technology.
  9. Capacity should be realistics based on the factors of your organization.

Beth Kanter is presenting on “Giving Good Poke” related to fundraising in Social Campaigns.

Here is a wild case study that shows you how Beth used tools to cover ground and effect people: http://www.sharingfoundation.org/– This campaign raised over $90,000.

It all started when the New York Times ran a campaign to see what social network could raise the largest amount of donors. Beth opened the kimono and told her community that she wanted their help and donations to get the $50,000 prize.

Beth starts with by stating the community will give to you based on the fact that

  1. you like me,
  2. we shared an experience,
  3. or that you care about the cause.

The message regarding the campaign from Beth was personalized. It was personal and important to them and they share that with their friends and followers. Here are some of the elements.

  1. There is a strategy of stories
  2. How can they help
  3. There is an embedded story in the normal shared information on other venues (like on your blog)

Beth also uses the Three R’s of getting people involved.

  1. Relationship building
  2. Rewards
  3. Reciprocity – Do unto you as you do unto them

Here is how Beth used her birthday to get 51 people to donate 10 dollars each to help raise money.

  1. Facebook – People were tagged on photos (strategically picked folks)
  2. Youtube – kids asked folks to donate
  3. NetSquared webiste
  4. Screencast – Announced the contast there
  5. Twitter – tried to get folks to click through (naked pictures)
  6. Results: $125 people donated, 140 people wished happy birthday, etc.
  7. Beth showed up at the organization and made connections through t-shirts, and the word spread through her connections and other folks started spreading the word too.
  8. She even made Ed run around a pub with a laptop to ask for $10 donations.
  9. They went from 1st place to 5th place while Beth was on the plane… then they asked for help. All of the relationship work Beth had done before allowed folks to get engaged and help raise donations. (Beth just cursed – alot – very funny)
  10. Beth twittered the last hour almost like sports scores. Everyone was involved…. people fought for Beth.

They won. Beth is amazing.

March 10, 2008 at 11:00 pm 5 comments

10 Tips for Managing a Creative Environment

Adaptive Path Folks
Thanks Jason for the Photo

Listening to folks from “Adaptive Path” talk about interactive design.

Here are a few references to companies that are putting out creative content that were studied to come up with 10 tips to managing a creative environment:

  1. Neo-Futurists do a play in Chicago called “Too Much Light Will Make the Baby Go Blind”.
  2. The Kitchen
  3. Orchestras – Very creative and have a long standing method for staying together
  4. The Job Factory -Produces movies and has no hierarchical structure
  5. Steppenwolf – Gary Sinise has a theater troop that work together in the theater
  6. Avenue Q – Creative puppet show
  7. Webtechniques – Magazine written by professionals

Here are the management tips:

  1. Cross-training the entire team: Neo-Futurists look for people that can do multiple tasks and they screen for that level of talent.
  2. Rotate Creative Leadership: The Job Factory shares rolls based on who the originator of the content is.
  3. Actively Turning the Corner: Making the shift from divergence to convergence. Divergence is the creative building phase where you brainstorm and move forward. Then you turn the corner to convergence, where you move into production and development and start illuminating things that are not going to be part of the project. It is dangerous to have folks in the wrong state of mind in the wrong stage of divergence or convergence. Make it a clear shift from one stage to another.
  4. Know Your Roles: Really successful teams have folks that know what to do when they begin to shift into convergence. “Know when to shutup”. In orchestras, someone orchestrates the movement of the bows for violinists. It is there job to organize it… and others to follow.
  5. Practice, Practice, Practice: In crunch time you need to know what needs to happen will happen. Repeat a process over and over again. Teams need to practice to make sure they work together.
  6. Make Sure Everyone Knows the Mission: In avenue Q the development of the story was measured against the main character’s struggle to find his meaning in life. Google wants to organize the world’s information. Designers need to really know the mission. You need an explicit set of understood values. Most successful artists will have constraints that make you discover things new.
  7. Killing Your Darlings: Avenue Q had a way of respectfully way of killing darlings that would not cause people to have a “huge problem”. They would say we will put that on the TV show because it doesn’t fit in the program. In the kitchen the lead chef will say, you can put that on your menu when you open your own restaurant. In other words, you have good work and good ideas that don’t fit. Those have to be removed respectfully.
  8. Leadership is Service: Hell Yeah… I totally agree. This reminds me of “Good to Great”. Directors listen to every person on the project from day 1. This makes a huge difference down the line when you have to make tough decisions. Everyone needs a voice and respect. Be a facilitator and not a dictator.
  9. Generate Projects Around: Everyone is bottom up and works together and find someone that is very passionate about your project. Find out what people are actually interested in so that your team will be more engaged. If Adaptive Path takes work that team members are not interested in… the projects go badly.
  10. Remember your Audience: Be near the audience to find out what they want. Be immersed in your audience and get their feedback. The Kitchen segments the audience to two audiences, regulars and new diners. Regular diners want the same quality each time, so you have to cover that. New diners want something exciting and the chefs are fed by working toward new innovations.

Bonus tip

  1. Celebrate Failures: Talk about what went wrong and what you can do better. Have these celebrations at the end of a project and find ways to share.

Overall this was one of the best panels… the speakers seemed genuinely intelligent and not “technocrats”. The last tow panels were refreshing.

March 10, 2008 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment

Frank Warren of PostSecret Keynote

Frank Warren of PostSecret is here to share some secrets and the stories behind them.

The secrets are amazing… kids, other boyfriends, etc. He recieved a Rubik’s cube that had six secrets on them. He had a starbucks cup with a secret that states, “I give decaf to rude customers”. A sonogram card that says, “I know she’s not mine, but I love her anyways”.

Many of the secrets have a lesson.

  1. Treat people with courtesy and respect (much like Jack Welch’s voice and dignity)

Here are some SXSW secrets:

  1. All these web celebs have never dealt with clients
  2. Someone has a SXSW crush
  3. Someone is pretending to be a freelancer to steal secrets for my company

Some folks never share their secrets.

Frank’s favorite secret is: “I would never be the person that would carry that secret in my life”. If you keep a secret it keeps you. You need to face the part of you that is hiding.

PostSecret started in Washington DC with an invitation to secretly share your story. Postcards were passed at Washington D.C. at night. Cards came in to the mailbox. The secrets were posted in “Artomatic”. The postcards were posted physically on the wall. The exhibit did well.

Secrets kept coming even though there were no more postcards. Regular people made their own postcards and the blog was born. Jerry Seinfeld says that “Blog is the ugliest word in the human language”.

PostSecret is self defined and self growing. (I love the offline aspect of PostSecret). It recieved many of the hits.

American Rejects did a video using post secret cards for a $2000 donation to a suicide hotline. Video below:

Harper Collins then put the secrets in book form. (very cool offline addition)

More Secret Secrets:

  1. Someone didn’t wear panties when working with very religious coworkers
  2. Today someone is strong because what happened to them at 16. (some folks like to reframe a victim scenario
  3. A teacher confesses that she is interested in one of her students.
  4. Someone likes to watch Dr. Phil
  5. Someone said, “All my life I wanted to look like Liz Taylor, now she looks like me.”
  6. Someone is still thinking of you (picture of meat and penis on the grill)
  7. Someone hates their coworkers
  8. Someone thanks someone else for kindness that saved them from committing suicide.
  9. Someone wishes all secrets could be fun secrets (couple nude on the card)
  10. Someone couldn’t love you anymore
  11. Someone rides by the mental ward they were in and smiles that they are out. (hope for us all)
  12. Someone tells themselves that they will reunite with their love after their spouses die (barcodes are left on the postcards for authenticity)
  13. Someone knows how to fix their life… they just choose not to. (everyone has a secret that would break your heart and they choose not to share)

A Lifetime of Secrets is a book that analyzes and reviews how some secrets change and some do not.

The two most important things are “There is an artist born in all of us” and ”

Frank has an amazing relationship with the audience. SXSW is bought in… this is a total contrast to Zuckerburg.

Seriously, someone just asked someone to marry them at SXSW!!!! Very freaky. And Cool. A little twist on the stadium question. Now they are kissing. Rawk on. This is a good feeling keynote.

Some dude admitted that he thought his parents thought he was mentally retarded. Good thing the dude is making some real great comments. He asked about secrets from the virtual world.

A guy asked about what to do when you get a secret about crimes that were committed. Frank said he doesn’t get many of those. He said what he posts helps to get submissions that were related. Also he does admit that someone said he committed a crime that someone else has been in jail for for 10 years.

Panel ends with someone very sad about her sister being subject to a disease that has no cure. It feels weird even blogging this one.

March 10, 2008 at 7:45 pm 1 comment

True Stories from Social Media Panel with Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki
Image from Deneyterrio

Guy starts off very entertaining… and indicated he wanted to over represent women on his panel, as they are underrepresented as speakers. Already he has a connection wiht the audience. He understands that entertainment is a great part of communication. (Also, I think Guy knows the power of a smile)

Here are the “True Stories of the Social Media World”:

  • Guy…Told Sinha to make love to the microphone
  • Sinha is telling a story about a creepy occurrence about someone calling and emailing Sinha that is irate that someone is making a profile under his name… but it is only a photo and a profile that students that made as a joke in Mexico… The guy threatened to sue Slideshare, and Sinha got an email on every email address she has ever had and they guy went nuts. Result the Mexican students took down the information.
  • Oprah, Sarah Jessica Parker and a Dress – Katherine blog photos got posted of Sarah Jessica Parker’s clothes line at Steve and Barry’s. Steve and Barry’s threatened to sue after negative comments were posted about the clothesline, and they said that the photos should be removed. Sarah Jessica Parker went on Oprah… and because they “scooped Oprah” they were ranked highly in search and traffic went through the roof. Visitors went through the roof.
  • (note from Aaron – the first stories related to folks finding content in search)
  • Guy says “buy save your domain” now, and get ready for it… Ha ha.
  • Funny story about Guy slamming twitter, and that is how Laura hooked up with Guy. She loves twitter… and suggests that you should be yourself.
  • Christine had a site that wrote stories about design, and by accident got into developing content management systems. Says CMS systems is a miserable way to make a living. Folks keep wanting you to change your product. Very funny. She found out that their site that they left alone (the design community) – not related to the CMS business, but instead related to a site they had setup and left alone – made lots of money without input.
  • Erica O’Grady talks about OpMoms. Talks about OpMom’s launch story and how on launch day the site went down. Gives advice that you shouldn’t launch before you are ready.
  • Aaron built a site for Tracy McGrady and with a message board. Tracy called and wanted the site taken down because of a post. Traffic went up huge… Moral is moderate posts, and controversy causes traffic.
  • Guy calls out Patricia for being boring. And then asks for what the panelists would do differently:
    • Realize sooner that a site is about the community and not about yourself.
    • Laura says, “Twitter allows you to talk to thought leaders and hook up to people you wouldn’t have exposure to any other way”
    • Christine says she would hire someone to do Math.
    • Erica says they messed up by allowing folks to sign up during beta… and they needed to work with gurus more.
    • Aaron says that clients should not tell developers about the user interface
    • Sinha talks about users posting funny stuff… slides that shouldn’t be there, porn, etc. to slideshare and how they have contacted those people
  • Guy asks what makes you successful?
    • Katherine says taking things offline
    • Laura says play with tools and incorporate them
    • Christine says to keep your eye open for new talent and stay three steps ahead of the people you are leaning on. And suggests that you shouldn’t be proud. It’s not all sex and glamor and hanging out with Guy.
    • Aaron says something, but I can’t hear him.

Sorry for the bad notes on this one. The stories were actually pretty difficult to follow from a notes perspective.

Also I have a little bit of a weird feeling regarding some of the panelists and how they are “paid PR”

Questions and Answers:

  • Suggestion monetize your blog and social activities offline
  • Ed didn’t get to ask his question. 😦

March 10, 2008 at 5:22 pm 1 comment

The Art of Self Branding

Had a little breakfast and decided to go to the “big room” in hopes of a great speaker. Here are the results, Alcantara (LeaLea Design) presented the following content:

  1. Self branding is not like branding a company. Branding a company is not a person, so you can be emotionally uninvolved.
  2. Self branding has little to no restrictions… and is subjective and personal.
  3. “I Understand” is the two words you want your target to say
  4. Brands are built on what people are saying about you… not what you are saying about yourself.
  5. Advice – Become an amnesiac (have a feeling about who you are… but look around you for the people to tell you who you are already)
  6. Create a brand promise – A summary of what you are going to deliver.
  7. The top five aspects of a successful brand:
    1. Relevance
    2. Creative Banding
    3. Message Communciation
    4. Know your Audience
    5. Consistency
  8. Nice guy vs the Guys guy – talent is not enough, perception is everything.
  9. Relevance: Nice Guy is Blissfully Unaware, while the Guy’s Guy is constantly evolving.
  10. Creativity: Nice Guy Doesn’t Match his Personality, while the Guy’s Guy Strives to Match. (Folks attach value to look) Designe helps build trust.
  11. Messaging: Nice Guy is Saying What People Want Him to Say, while the Guy’s Guy Says What he Wants to Say. Use the word “you”
  12. Understanding Your Target: Nice Guy Targets Everyone, The Guy’s Guy has a Niche.
  13. Consistency: (is it WYSISYG?) Nice Guy is all over the place, while the Guy’s Guy is consistent.

March 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm 1 comment

Tools for Enchantment. 20 Ways to Woo Users Panel

How do you get the brain a little more interested?

Kathy Sierra
Photo from Deneyterrio

Kathy Sierra asked us what did you really want to be good at and didn’t make it… For me it is jewelry making / metal smithing. I used to go to Texas Tech, and had exposure to amzaing metal smith teaching… and I loved it, but was never good at it.

Our theme for the panel is “How do we help our users kick ass?”. Here are the notes:

  • Second Question: Would you rather have users talk about your product or your company? I would rather have our users talk about our products… because it is more profitable. They don’t care about us as much.
  • Kathy wants our users to have a better and more high resolution experience… what can we do to help that.
  • Neurogenesis occurs when you are in an environment that promotes it
  • The difference between fantastic and average is
    1. not about natural talent
    2. and is instead about practicing… and putting in the time
    3. It is your fault if you don’t practice
  • Read the 4 hour work week -figure out what you want to be good at and find a way to devote time to that. Optimize your time

Here are the 20 Points:

  1. Use Telepathy -You have to see someone’s face – Mirror neurons fire off and help us read other folks. Motor neurons react when you see movement – you run a simulation of what you see. You have to see people to do it.
  2. Serendipity – make sure you build in randomness for your users. It leaves a sense of chance that people like
  3. The Dog Ear Principle – the bounce at the end.. and the subtle movements make movement more attractive. Another word for secondary action
  4. Joy – give your users a joyful experience
  5. Inspire First Person Language – What would you do to inspire first person language. How can you get your users to talk about themselves
  6. T-Shirt First Development – Say what you want your users to say on a T-shirt. What does being your user say about people. “And for God’s sake, make a woman’s fitted T-shirt”
  7. Easter Egg – Give folks a good surprise find
  8. Tools for Evangelizing: This helps them kick ass – Example is “Twitter in Plain English”
  9. You are a….: Predator or a fluffy bunny. Manage Stress, manage the fight or flight response.
  10. Exercise the Brain/Body: Exercising your body helps develop your brain too
  11. Give them Superpowers Quickly: How can you get people really engaged quickly. What can you do the keep people pushing forward. (your users need to reflect their experience to you)
  12. Help with reinvestment of mental resources into new challenges: Experts don’t shrink the list of things they do, they just add new challenges when an old one is done.
  13. Focus: You have to devote all of your attention to certain things
  14. Create a Culture of Support: If you want to build a community… you want people to be mentors early, they are an expert in the pain and can share the information – No dumb answers
  15. Do not insist on “inclusivity”: Jargon is awesome. Passionate users talk different, so maybe you should try to seperate the experts from the newbies.
  16. Practice Seductive Opacity: Brains love mystery.
  17. Real is good… How can you deliver your message through real objects. There is a ressurgence in real tangible items – not virtual. It’s all about the package. Unboxing is the experience of opening your new digital things.
  18. I missed two numbers?????

Gary Bainbridge came in to speak…. Talks about how wine can experience a deeper resolution, and how he is using his show makes his viewers entertaining.

Now we are touching the shoulder of the person next to us… good and interesting end to a panel.

March 9, 2008 at 9:38 pm Leave a comment

10 Ways to Piss Off a Blogger Session

We are putting ourselves in three groups:

  1. Blogger
  2. People that are reaching out to bloggers
  3. Or Both

Most folks are in the “both category”. How do you find folks that are interested in what you say and promote it.

What are the good ways to relate to bloggers? Everyone that is involved is going to get their blog published on a this facebook event page.

Our format is we are going to “we are going to walk out with 10 ways to piss off a blogger” that we are going come up with a as a group

  1. The first way to piss off a blogger is to invite them to something and not give them a chance to talk about themselves.
  2. People that say they have been reading for years… but have not been
  3. Someone taking your identity and using it for evil
  4. Getting on spam lists (vocus takes bloggers email addresses and spam you)
  5. What about treating bloggers in the same way you treat journalist
  6. Don’t send bloggers things that aren’t relevant – Does bad pitching / irrelevant pitching relate to laziness
  7. Don’t treat bloggers like direct mail – be specific and build relationships with bloggers
  8. Don’t ask bloggers for favors
  9. Actually read what they say and be familiar with the content
  10. Unreasonable timelines/ expectations
  11. Don’t assume some expectations from bloggers
  12. Format your content so that a blogger can use it conveniently
  13. Don’t make bloggers deal with bureaucratic layers and approvals
  14. Make sure you identify yourself
  15. What about managing expectations of treatment for bloggers vs press. Example would be invitation for an event would be just attending vs a full press pass. This can be a double edged sword… do you want to be treated like a journalist or a blogger? Do bloggers put themselves in the “kid’s sandbox”. A solution would be give examples of how you would like to be pitched to. (This is a big tangent) There are clear differences between bloggers and journalists.
  16. Bad attribution or non attribution of a bloggers story as the original source
  17. Insincerity relating to some hidden motivation
  18. Retaliation lead by corporation related to something that disagrees with their point of view
  19. Full disclosure

The number one way to piss off a blogger is: ???? Don’t be sincere, don’t share your identity, unrealistic expectations, unattribution… etc.

March 9, 2008 at 5:09 pm 3 comments

Social Design Strategies Panel at SXSW2008

Social Design Strategies
Thanks again Deneyterrio

After a quick breakfast with the Sk*rt folks, I battled the stairwells and found Level 4 at the SXSW conference. Now I am in the Social Design Strategies panel watching the dudes talk about design

  1. Link to a users true online profile for a sense of accountability
  2. Give Recognition: Recognition seems to work better when it comes from the group rather than from the company.
  3. Show Causation: Repeat what you are doing with the data. Like on NetFlix and how they recommend movies you might like – The interface says four times that they are going to use your ratings to give you good recommendations.
  4. Leverage Reciprocity. If someone shows you love it is very likely that you will show love in return. Folks feel obligated to return the favor.
  5. Funny one – dude on Facebook deleted writings on the wall and was anti social without knowing it.
  6. Privacy on social networks is a combination of public and private data. How do you decide what is and what isn’t?
  7. What do you think about “cross site data posting” like on Fandango and Facebook. What about a personal action that is turned into a public action. Be careful of what you make public.
  8. Be careful of making items a “preference setting”
  9. Be transparent in regards to who gets to see the data
  10. (Where are the funny people? I think it is odd that the panelist I have seen so far / yesterday and today are ignoring the connection to their audience. Very funny since they pretty much all of the panelist say that the world is about you)
  11. Spam Control. What is a fair balance of solutions?
  12. Wow. 75% to 80% of new accounts are spam!
  13. Don’t want to cut off features that are great for the community because of spammers. Must find a way to limit spammers while keeping a good experience
  14. Folks are paying people in sub-economies to post spam for pennies
  15. Magnolia puts folks on “whitelists” after they are approved by “gardners”. Gardners are completely altruistic. (Start a conversation on what motivates a gardner – thought of Ed Schipul and motivations of people)
  16. (Sub Plot on Altruism) Gardners are helping themselves… because they don’t want to be impeded by spam and don’t want others to be impeded. So as a gardner they are protecting their content.

March 9, 2008 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

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