SXSW 2011: Why Everything is Amazing But Nobody is Happy

Daniel Hope

Zachary Burt
Mr. Awesome
Awesomeness Reminders LLC

Daniel Hope has an interest in the effect of Social Media on relationships. Zachary Burt works at Awesomeness Reminders which calls people every day to tell them how awesome they are.

Entitlement is having something awesome, but hating it when it doesn’t work as expected. It’s in our nature to complain, which is fine. We can move forward into embracing our need to complain. The seven deadly sins are violated in almost every social media product.

Zachary created a website where people could go and vent to someone they don’t know about how bad their life is. This is win-win because the person venting is revealed, and the listener gets a fun story of how bad someone’s life is. Just because something is evil or bad (the seven deadly sins), doesn’t mean it needs to be negative.

Daniel recently was hit as a pedestrian when crossing the street by a vehicle. The driver was using their blue-tooth head set, and couldn’t drive and talk on the phone enough to hit them. This is an “evolution fail.”

Turning off your cell phone before you engage with someone is a good way to say, “Hey, I’m here now. I’m here for you.” It’s a great way to communicate and interact with someone, instead of spending the conversation not listening and just reading your texts or email.

Multitasking is also really difficult. With so much stuff going on, we cannot focus on one thing. So what are some ways we can start our day at being more intentional (asked to the audience)?

  • Don’t use Twitter before noon.
  • Someone in the audience has a program that disables their internet for a couple hours while they write, and then turns off his phone. He tells his mom if someone dies then they’ll still be dead once he turns his device back on.
  • A good technique is to work for 20 minutes, and then take a 5 minute break. It’s almost a form of multitasking, but being intentional with the way you’re doing it.
  • Someone makes a list and puts in the fun things first, and then the bad things. They’ll do the bad things first knowing that once they’re done then they’ll have the fun things to do.

One of the underlining things is to simply measure things to see your output. Because what can be measured, can be managed.

How can we add a dimension into our conversation to identify emotion into our verbal communication online? It’s kind of like an emoticon, but something more in depth. Because with an emoticon it gives you a concept in the mood of the message, but you almost need to know the person personally for it to make sense. Sarcasm, for example, is very hard to demonstrate through a text-message without actually knowing the person. However, if they’re your friend it’s not hard to convey that at all.

If you focus on just one thing, at the end of the day you’ll be more happy than if you multitask multiple at the end of the day.

We are getting better at emotionally connecting with people and things we cannot see with our own eyes. Good Morning America said that if you were wearing a $2000 suit you’d jump into a lake to save someone drowning even if it would ruin the suit without even thinking about it. However if someone asked you for $2000 to dig a well in a foreign country to save a village of people from dehydration you probably wouldn’t consider it. It’s all relative to what’s in front of you in the here and now. You almost have a sense of responsibility for those things in front of you. In an email, however, you may just not consider responding right away.

The Happiness Journal is a concept where you write down things that you’re thankful for. And then when you’re having a bad day you can look through this Journal to feel better about your life. Also just getting feedback about projects helps. For instance, doing an Open Source project lets you see that others want to help you, be grateful for your product, and care about your abilities.

SXSW 2011: How Not to Design Like a Developer

Chrissie Brodigan (@tenaciouscb)
Engagement Lead

She found it difficult to contribute design into an open source project. Most free software projects fail, usually around 90-95% of these. It’s not a lot different than what happens in our day-to-day job. For a project to be successful it needs to attract users and developers. Intricate systems usually are the number one cause for failed systems.

Open source software is free, flexible, customizable, full of great features, and they’re able to make you feel “warm fuzzies.” Open source gets really awesome once you get in there and become involved.

Double D: Developer/designer conundrum. Those awkward conversations between developers and designers. Designers and Developers are willful, independent, idealistic, prideful people… We love our work! Sure, we can argue that Developers and Designers are cosmetically different in style, dress, attitude, etc., however in the end of the day we all love Pandas (yeah, the cute little animal). Hehe.

Documentation matters rather it be developer, user, or design documentation. They’re all different types of documentation, as they’re not the same thing.

Confidence matters since your project’s presentation builds confidence.

The most important thing here is “dissolving demotivation.” One of the big things is how do we get Designers to contribute to the Open Source community? The reality is you cannot. You cannot ever give great designers what they want. The best thing if you do find a great designer is to hide them from everyone, and shelter them. Designers take a lot of pride and credit in what they do, but being told not to use your name is scary. Developers see logical problems, but they use those problems as excuses to bypass design. The excuses are usually pretty compelling and convincing. When you have developers who are putting themselves out there, admitting they’re chaotic, no one will want to work with them.

Bad Habits

  1. Workarounds: developers think and engineer in workarounds for speed. Designers design to avoid workarounds.
  2. Going Rogue: developers misinterpret design logic and make a decision work the way they think it should/might work. Designers don’t provide design documentation to any a developer’s “why” and instead makes it work the way they think it should work.
  3. Being Trendy: Designers design for trends vs. designing for maintenance and iteration. Developers write code for the future. Designers will never say, “man, I’d love to see where this design is going to go in the future in the next version.” This is bad.
  4. Source Code: developers practice version control and code review. Designers don’t treat their output assets as source code or practice team-friendly version control. As a designer if you make a pseudo-version control and keep versions of your design as you create it, then it’s easy to roll back, see what’s already been done, or learn what hasn’t worked before. This is what developers do to produce really good code, and this should be in design too. Work with your designers to teach them how they can treat their design source code in version-control.

Solutions for Designers

  • Open Source design can work, and work very well! The best place to start is to open an IRC channel for your project. use #project_namedesign.
  • Design graphic lite: don’t rely on graphics. Because of HTML and new browser web-fonts we have the ability to rely more on that, and less on the graphics.
  • Design practice design-specific version control. There are very few software solutions for this at the moment. Promote design-specific bug tracking.
  • Make micro opportunities by starting small, don’t use your own name, and you’ll still have small success somewhere.
  • Design and documentation for localization. Your project can be designed locally, but still be shared globally.
  • Refactor together: apply user leanings and amend hastily written code.
  • Include “forkability” as a part of the project’s design ethos. Designers think that what they make wont be used by others, and when they are they consider that intellectual theft.

There are a few projects that are helping Designers play nice in the Open Source World

A good way to get people involved and excited is to design design contests. Mozilla’s Firefox logo actually came from a community-drive design challenge.

Free software projects include software innovation for designers. For designers lettering.js does down to the letter control of your web fonts. Another good place is

Good design is a powerful (non-markety way to spread the word about your project without feeling like you’re selling your soul.

So, where are the Open Source designers? This is definitely a problem, because they’re not at free software-centric conferences and never on the IRC. They are definitely here at SXSW.

Thank you: @estellwyle, @lxt, @mozcreative, @paulirish, @nateabele of lithium, @scottmac of facebook (PHP developer).

“Go hacktivate designers!”

SXSW 2010: When Swine Flew: Embracing Innovation in H1N1 Response

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 11:00am
Ann Aikin, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
David Hale, National Library of Medicine
Andrew Wilson, Dept Health and Human Services
Andre Blackman, Pulse + Signal

Session Description

With social media and emerging technology, public health agencies can utilize more tools than ever in a public health emergency. In this panel, social media strategists and researchers, working in the front lines of the pandemic H1N1 response, will discuss strategy, innovations and the changing relationship between citizens and government.


“That particular genetic combination of swine influenza viruses has not been recognized before in the U.S. or elsewhere”

Situational Awareness: the ability of a group, organization, or individual to have access to everything they need to make active decisions to create results.

Monitoring Twitter with NLP

  • Processed 1200 Twitter posts (within the first hour)
  • Preprocessed to accommodate format

Schema: UMLS Semantic Types

  • Focus output
  • Schema for influenza epidemic

MetaMap and SemRep Output

  • Tweets: Texas confirms third case of swine flu

Results: Filtered through Schema

  • Disease or Syndrome: Influenza
  • Sign or Symptom: Coughing
  • Location: Mexico
  • etc.

…Basically they analyzed Tweets within the first hour of the outbreak in a calculated system (NLP) defined by some specific search terms to see when outbreaks were occurring, and how fast they were spreading.

More Information


SXSW 2010: Is Too Much Math Killing Marketing?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:30am
Rand Schulman, The Schulman Thorogood Group
Mike Teasdale, Harvest Digital
Joanna Burton, Crescent Communications

Session Description

Breakthrough marketing used to come from creative genius, from big ideas, from empathy with customers. But now all the attention goes to rigorous testing and algorithmic approaches to customer insight. So is the science driving out creativity – or are we focused on the wrong kind of maths?


Amazon‘s PHAME methodology:

  • Identify the Problem
  • Formulate a Hypothesis
  • Propose and Action
  • Identify key Metrics
  • Run the Experiment

Amazon noticed the best way to get someone to buy someone was to suggest to them something in their wish list.

At Google they questioned if they should use green or blue, so instead they decided to test over 40 shades in-between until they discovered which one resulted in the best user interaction.

Google has discovered the most articular formula of all time. Before google came around and made page ranking, and ad ranking. Ad ranking is: Ad ranking = bid price * click through rate. And thus, this causes the most clicked results to bubble to the top making more money for Google and more changes of views for the advertisers with good marketing.

The battle lines

  • Math vs English
  • Reason vs Instinct
  • Right brain vs Left brain

So when does data go wrong?

  • When we start with the data, and not with a problem. Many people look at data with no goal of what they’re finding. Data is really not that great.
  • When we only focus on the things that are easy to measure.
  • When it stops us from taking giant leaps.

You can optimize a better version of the present. But it takes imagination, not math, to take a leap into the future.

The Internet changes the equation. Why?

  • Empirical Data vs. Guess Work or Extrapolated data
  • Tools exist today for optimization
  • But, left brain process thinking!

What is a “Content Engineer?”

  • One part Creator Director
  • One part Data Analysis
  1. Monitor
  2. Measure
  3. Maximize… the do it again!

What’s a better call to action?

  • Buy today – get half off
  • Buy today – get one for free

My math: creativity without conversion = 0

  • Use the Scientific Method
  • Create a Thesis
  • Set up a Control
  • Test against the Control

Many types of conversion events

  • Macro Conversions (ROI)
  • Micro Conversions: conversion to the homepage, product page, forms, optimizations, etc.
  • Revenue Life Cycle Stages

Know your tools – become a Content Engineer

  • Web Analytic & Site Optimization
  • Marketing Optimization
  • CRM
  • Sales 2.0

But this is hard work… too bad! It can be fun. Check out SalesPop.

More Information

Slides (set 1, Teasdale)

SXSW 2010: Customer Support in a 140 Character World

Monday, March 15, 2010 5:00pm
Caroline McCarthy, CNET News/CBS Interactive
Frank Eliason, Comcast
Lois Townsend, HP
Toby Richards, Microsoft
Jeremiah Owyang, Altimeter Group

Session Description

Gone are the days of traditional customer support. In a world of Twitter, Facebook, and customer complaint sites like GetSatisfaction, customers are now jumping online to vent and publicize their customer support issues. But does it work for everyone and can complex customer service issues really be resolved within a 140 word limit? This panel of experienced customer support experts, analysts and vendors, will discuss the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to social media centric customer support. Recent snafus and success stories will be highlighted, along with a unique insider perspective of the internal business and operational requirements that companies must keep in mind when going online. This panel is sponsored by HP.


Social Media is a place the customer owns. And thus, it becomes a place feasible to gather customer feedback. The question becomes is what should businesses do with the feedback? Twitter seems, in most businesses, to be a way to connect with the customer but not converse with the customer.

  • HP has 11 people dedicated, and about 75 actively supporting customers in social media.
  • Comcast reviews over 2000 tweets per day.
  • Microsoft supports about 1200 customers per month online through 6 people.

Basically what you say online hurts their company image, and they’ll respond. But a phone call? Ha! (read the past blog post, and you’ll see why that’s bad).

More Information

#140customersupport OR #140cs
ClaraBridge (Microsoft uses this)
Blue Ocean (Microsoft uses this)