March 13, 2011

#SXSWi Session Notes: Better Crowdsourcing: Lessons Learned from the 3six5 Project

Filed under: SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 12:09 pm

These are my raw notes from this session.


Started late 2009, when the idea of life streaming was gaining momentum.

Crowd sourcing: inspiration, collaboration and co-creation.

Six Items or Less: asks women to wear six items for a month. Turns from a relationship with clothes to a relationship with themselves to a relationship with consumerism.

Tumble vs. Posterous. Partnership was with Posterous, they supported us because they were smaller than Tumblr, willing to do more. It helped to go where the people aren’t. We are featured 18% of the time on Posterous, whereas if they had been on Facebook, they might have been lost.

Start with a simple and easy to understand idea. Anyone can understand this and participate.

Collaborative production. People want to work on really interesting briefs. New ways to form a new community and try new new things in a safe place.

How do you structure the acceptance of the idea: setting standards for how ideas are submitted to make it easier for the curators to go through it.

It is a problem when your volunteers don’t read the guidelines, follow the rules or understand the stories. Ultimately they were asking for 365 favors. Asking people to do things a certain way. Wanting people to contribute in a way that they don’t on any other channel. When managing people, you have to push them; that is where the good work comes from.

In crowdsourcing, the work belongs to the community, so you have to relinquish some control. Giving away ownership is actually quite rewarding for the participants. In the Six Items project, there is a lot of self loathing that happens and the one thing Heidi won’t tolerate is bullying.

The doesn’t have to be a gaming component to get people to participate. Sometimes it is just a growth hierarchy.

In advertising, you have to earn your way up to better shops and bigger titles. Crowdsourcing lets people work around that. It holds up people that are really passionate, but haven’t had a voice before. Offers networking opportunities, too.

Managing as growth continues means bringing up people within the community. Empowering people with scaling.

Have seen copycats of 365 project and they are okay with that because it brings more attention to the original project.

Just launched a local version of 3six5 in Chicago.

January 9, 2011

Crowdsourcing At Its Best

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 1:21 pm

The NFL has cut a spot together that features captured video of the Saints winning last year’s Super Bowl and have been airing it during the playoffs this year.  The full story of how it came together can be read here.

Watch the video here (while the NFL did the video right, they didn’t embrace the full power of the social web to make it embeddable; a fail in my opinion).

Crowdsourcing is not a new conversation topic on this blog.  I am always impressed by well-done, crowdsourced videos.  And, today’s example actually gave me goosebumps.  Maybe it is because I am from Louisiana and I am proud of the Saints.  Maybe it is because I have become more engaged in football lately with my Fantasy Football obsession (although a losing proposition).  Maybe it is just because I love the fact that through social channels, everyday consumers can contribute to a major advertising campaign.  Maybe it is just really well done.

March 28, 2010

Crowdsourcing: Online Video

Filed under: Social Media,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 3:01 pm

With the Internet’s ability to reach worldwide for the brightest talent, we are starting to see an increased use of crowdsourcing to create the best products.  Check out a great example of crowdsourcing a choir:

March 14, 2011

#SXSWi 2011 Day 3 Experience

Filed under: SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 5:57 am

The hump day of the SXSW conference is now complete; three days down, two to go. As an added bonus to the exhaustive schedule of SXSW, today we lost an hour with daylight savings time.

A few general observations:

  • Today’s themes were community and online user experience.
  • SXSW is also known as “spring break for geeks.”  This means that there is a lot of drinking and a lot of parties.  Which also means that the 9:30 AM sessions are generally quiet and the lines at the coffee bars are generally short early in the morning.  Being a morning person, I like this.
  • I feel a little starstruck when I am in a session with a panel of people that I follow on Twitter but have never met in person.  They are like mini celebrities in geek world.
  • I am getting old.  Carrying around a heavy bag all day yesterday meant that I was so sore I could barely get out of bed this morning.  This is not the reason that other people could barely get out of bed this morning (see first bullet).
  • My iPad battery and iPhone battery lasted all day with power to spare.  Tomorrow my bag will be even lighter minus the power cord.  Hopefully each day my load will get lighter.
  • I need photography lessons.

Today, I covered the following sessions:

  • Decision Trees: YouTube’s New Breed of Interactive Storytellers
  • Designing iPad Interfaces
  • Better Crowdsourcing: Lessons Learned from the 3six5 Project
  • Christopher Poole of 4chan, Sunday Keynote
  • Haters Gonna Hate: Lessons for Advertisers from 4chan
  • Jeffery Zeldman’s Awesome Internet Design Panel

I posted my raw notes from each session to this blog, but here are my key takeaways and summaries from each.

Decision Trees: YouTube’s New Breed of Interactive Storytellers

Here is a link to the official session description and here is a link to my raw notes for this session.

Key takeaway: You can do some really cool things with video, using tools that YouTube provides like “annotations” and create an interactive experience from what used to be the passive experience of just watching a video.

Here are some examples produced by the panelists:

American Idol Interactive Experience

Green Eyed World (Sprite Sponsorship)

Gaming invaded a session that I had no idea was going to be about gaming. Gameification is part of everything this year.

Designing iPad Interfaces

Here is a link to the official session description and here is a link to my raw notes for this session.

Key takeaway: iPad navigation should give the users cues as to its use: (1) relatable –hint at real world physical experiences (website-like navigation, physical spaces), (2) discoverable — suggest the desired interaction (grids, carousels) or (3) learnable — providing instructions/guides for use.

Better Crowdsourcing: Lessons Learned from the 3six5 Project

Here is a link to the official session description and here is a link to my raw notes for this session.

Key takeaway: Crowdsourcing gives a voice to those who might not have had the opportunities to be heard before, which can be very rewarding for those that manage the project.  Crowdsourcing requires the management of large groups of people which can be time intensive and challenging for those that manage the project.

The 3six5 Project was a crowdsourced lifestreaming project with the idea that each day a journal entry was contributed by a different person.  The panelists talked about the challenges and rewards of an online crowdsourced project such as the 3six5, Six Items or Less and Victors & Spoils.

Christopher Poole of 4chan, Sunday Keynote

Here is a link to the official session description and here is a link to my raw notes for this session.

Key takeaway: People need community and can do creative, good, fun things when they come together, even anonymously.

4chan is a very simple image board where people can post images they create for others to pick up and use as they want.  There is no archive, there is no search and there is no registration.  If the community doesn’t like the image, the image falls off the stream.  If the community likes the image, it stays in the stream longer.  Most internet memes have originated on 4chan.

Haters Gonna Hate: Lesson for Advertisers from 4chan

Here is a link to the official session description and here is a link to my raw notes for this session.

Key takeaway: People are remixing, playing with and editing our brands on their own, whether we want or allow or not; using 4chan as a metaphor for community dynamics in general can teach us what happens when the community takes over.

We can learn community behaviors from the 4chan community to prepare for the things that happen when our brands become “owned” by the communities.  This includes shows of support, expressions of dislike, disruptions, establishment of rules and how much we can ask our communities to do.

Quote of the session: “If you are not getting the views that you want, then consumers are telling you that you are not culturally relevant.”

Jeffery Zeldman’s Awesome Internet Design Panel

Here is a link to the official session description and here is a link to my raw notes for this session.

Key takeaway: Design with the end user/use in mind.

Designers/developers are guilty of developing for themselves rather than the end user.

Day three is complete.  I am exhausted already.  More coverage to come tomorrow.

March 13, 2011

#SXSWi Session Notes: Sunday Keynote with Christopher Poole

Filed under: SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 1:59 pm

These are my raw notes from this session.

Speaker is founder of 4chan

Started in 2003 as an image sharing community of people who are interested in. Japanese animation.

15,000 people a day browse the random feed.

4chan is anonymous, no registration. Nothing prevents you from contributing. There is no archive, making the content a constant waterfall. So something can poop on the site and pop off quickly. When the community embraces something, it stays up there. Survival of the fittest.

A very creative culture on 4chan. It is an image board. To start a topic, you gave to start with an image. There are about 50 different topic on the site: photography, animation, adult.

Founded 2003. The message board hasn’t gone anywhere in the last 10 years. Looks just like it did years ago. Wanted to re-imagine what the message board can be. 4chan is not going to win any design awards. It is a gatehouse, basic website. What makes it special are people co,ing together and collaborating on comic creation. Riffing back and forth. The process of arriving at that product is really fascinating.

Loss of the innocence of youth with these social profiles that follow you across the web. You can’t start over with each new town, new job, etc. You can’t re-create yourself. If you fail, it stays with you.

Disagrees with Zuckerburg’s opinion that anonymity is cowardly. Instead, it allows you to experiment. At 4chan, people are all judged equally.

4chan has become a place where people come to hang out.

Refrigerator Magnet game, shared experience, community. (like crowdsourcing, sort of)

Recently launched Canvas. Using Facebook Connect for verification, bit still allow for posting anonymously.

People on Canvas are not using Photoshop, which evens the playing field.

Typical community is 90% lurked and 10% contributor. It is more balanced at Canvas because it is way to use.

My Little Pony is really popular on 4chan right now.

Chat doesn’t build durable conversation.

Build a community slowly. Build a community worth scaling.

March 19, 2010

SXSW: Day Five Recap

Filed under: Current Events,Social Media,SXSW,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 1:56 pm

This was the last day of the South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive festival in Austin. The conference lasted five days and was been jam-packed with educational sessions about emerging technology. It was long, fun, exhausting, engaging, informative, crowded and worth every minute.

According to reports, the interactive portion of the festival outsold both the film and music portions. There were 12,000 interactive badge holders this year. For those that have been attending SXSW for several years, this number was almost too much to handle: they complained about the mass and accompanying lack of intimacy among the group. This being my first year, I was in awe of event and appreciated everything it had to offer. Maybe they are right and SXSW interactive has jumped the shark, making it less valuable than before, but that was not my experience.

The last day offered approximately 140 sessions, of which I attended the following:

  • “LBS 101: Geolocation on the ‘Horizon’”
  • “Social Business”
  • Keynote presentation with Daniel Ek, CEO and founder of online music service Spotify
  • “Interactive Infographics”

“LBS 101: Geolocation on the ‘Horizon’” was a continuation of the location theme that was prevalent throughout the conference. This particular session focused more the technology aspect of the services rather than the user aspect. To emphasize the demand and opportunity for location-based services (LBS), the presenter started with the statistic that approximately 55% of all text/SMS messages sent are some variation of “where are you?”. That equates to almost 650 billion location-based service text messages in 2009. To further demonstrate the potential, the presenter revealed that of the 200 million mobile subscribers in the United States, 18.5% are smart phones with built-in technology for geo-location. However, for most of the market, downloading an app for updating location status is a barrier to entry. The benefit of using a location-based service will need to be pretty great to jump that hurdle with the mass-market user.

Today, location-based services are being used for navigation, family location (if on a shared mobile service plan) and friend finding through social media applications. The future of location-based services could include notification when friends are nearby, location aware advertising, location aware marketing/couponing, crowdsourcing traffic systems and fraud prevention. The technology already exists today for location-based advertising, but it is not being implemented. Just last week, Starbucks announced a partnership with FourSquare to award a barista badge to frequent visitors, but won’t be sending coupons or promotions through the service just yet. An example provided in the session for how location-based advertising/marketing could be used: the Starbucks on a corner in Austin is having a slow day so they push out a coupon for everyone within 25 meters for 50% off to bring in customers. Based on the amount of conversation at SXSW this year, it is safe to assume that we will see location-based services increasing in use over the next two years, both among business and consumers.

“Social Business” was a panel presentation from three communications people (marketing, PR, customer service) talking about how social media has impacted them. The panelists included David Meerman Scott and Captain Nathan Broshear of the Air Force. David Meerman Scott, a professional marketing and leadership speaker, as well as author, started the session. Scott presented many quotable one liners for this captive audience: speak to buyers in their language, not yours; create triggers that encourage people to share; the most overused terms in press releases include “innovate,” “unique,” “pleased to” and “leading provider”; lose control of your brand. Although his presentation style was engaging and entertaining, the content was pretty generic.

Captain Nathan Broshear is Director of Public Affairs for the Air Force. He talked about how the armed forces can use social media with every airman acting as a spokesperson using his iPhone and Flip cam as tools. The Air Force now allows members to post content to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, knowing that this assists in spreading the message about their work efforts and can help with recruiting. The embracing of social media has resulted in media calls to the Air Force to expand on intriguing stories, rather than the Air Force having to reach out to the media to “sell” their stories. As a result, the Air Force claims to have not issued a news release in eight years. The Air Force is using social media is used to humanize the organization.

Tuesday’s keynote presentation was an interview with Daniel Ek, CEO and founder of online music service Spotify. It was a nice transition from the interactive portion to the music portion of the SXSW festival. Spotify is a music sharing site that is not yet available in the United States. The site and service allows users to build playlists, access them from anywhere (mobile or online) and share them with friends. Because most in the audience was unfamiliar with the service, Ek did a demonstration and overview of how Spotify works both online and through a mobile app. Ek’s stated the Spotify goal as wanting “to make music like water” in its availability. He talked about the social nature of music and our human desire to share it with others.

“Interactive Infographics” was a session for designers to understand the impact of presenting data as interesting graphics. The panelists include designers from the New York Times and GOOD magazine, as well as a representative from and Stamen Design. The majority of the session was spent showcasing the work of the four panelists as examples of the possibilities.

There was a lot to take in over the five days of SXSW. As we digest the information and figure out how it applies to our businesses, it will be interesting to see if and/or how the predictions hold true.

March 14, 2010

SXSW: Day Two Recap

Filed under: Current Events,Social Media,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 4:31 pm

This post also appeared at Talk Business.

It was a long second day of the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, TX. There were almost 150 sessions offered today during the six scheduled time slots. In the five sessions attended, today’s themes were community and trust:

  • “The Era of Crowdsourcing: Guiding Principles”
  • “How to Create a Viral Video”
  • “I Don’t Trust You One Stinking Bit”
  • “Opening Remarks with danah boyd”
  • “Media Armageddon: What Happens when The New York Times Dies”

“The Era of Crowdsourcing” was a panel-led discussion with Scott Belsky and Jeffrey Kalmikoff. These two gentlemen have experience working at well-known social-based companies like Digg, Threadless and Behance, making it fitting for them to lead this presentation. The most common complaint about crowdsourcing is also the most common misperception: that is simply a means to access free labor. Crowdsourcing is a term that was coined in 2006 with the following definition: “the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agency (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people.”

We can understand why a business would want to crowdsource: it gets the benefit of the crowd’s wisdom. But the definition of crowdsourcing begs the question: what is in it for the crowd? The benefit to the crowd is the opportunity to engage with a community on a level playing field, where it doesn’t matter what your resume looks like, and the opportunity to contribute to something larger.

Crowdsourcing is the next iteration of the social web. Ultimately, crowdsourcing is about the community that is created to solve the problem, not the challenge of the problem itself. Companies and brands may help foster the community, but the community can survive even if the brand ceases to exist. The example provided by the panelists was Harley Davidson: if Harley went out of business tomorrow, it would be unreasonable to assume that all the communities around Harley would cease to exist. Businesses will need to keep this in mind as they reach out for the wisdom of the crowd, help foster that community and become part of it.

“How to Create a Viral Video” was a panel discussion that included Director of Film and Video at TED, User Experience Manager at YouTube and an OK Go band member. This was definitely a team of people who know a bit about the magic of online video. I admit I was a bit skeptical having recently read that the odds of a video going “viral” are about the same as winning a lottery jackpot. Nevertheless, the panel had some implementable ideas.

This “Viral Video” hour turned out to be the most entertaining session of the day. Jokingly, they started the session by telling us all that in order for a video to be successful virally it must include boobs and kittens. This garnered a laugh, but is not necessarily untrue; there are thousands of examples to prove this combination, or elements of it, equal success.

Turning to practical advice, the panel discussed the components of a virally successful video: content, production value, a sense of surprise and wonderment, a positive tone, and accurate title and tags. Content must be relevant and interesting. Production value can be high or low, its effect depending on the end audience’s state-of-mind. A sense of surprise and wonderment comes down to the reveal. A positive tone because people prefer to spread the love than cause the shedding of tears. Accurate title and tags will help with search and not mislead the potential audience. Surprisingly, the panel never warned that doing all these things right does not guarantee a video will go viral.

Additionally, when it comes to getting the video viewership numbers up, the panel talked about the importance of actively building a subscriber base to communicate with before you are ready to promote videos. Online video is not about creating entertaining content and hoping people will come. We should never forget that the Internet is about community; if we want users to spread our message, we need to interact with them and encourage their involvement. This directly relates to the last aspect of a virally successful video: it should encourage shoot-offs, parodies and satires. If a brand is scared about what users might do to the original integrity of the video, then it should not put the content online.

“I Don’t Trust You One Stinking Bit” featured Internet and social media celebrities Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, authors of the New York Times bestseller “Trust Agents.” These co-authors and obvious friends were great together as they responded to each other’s remarks like an old married couple. Their loose presentation was entertaining, funny and informative, although they strayed far from the topic at times.

The session was meant to educate on building trust with a cynical and skeptical online audience. Brogan said that trust is now currency in our favor-based economy. As an example, Nikkon gave Brogan a camera to use under the assumption that he would like it and write about its greatness. Being a trusted source of information for his audience, if Brogan likes the camera and he writes about it, Nikkon will sell more cameras. Eventually in situations like this, both parties will have to work even harder, as online audiences are skeptical when they realize this kind of favor-based activity is happening behind the scenes.

The conversation shifted to building a personal brand, as this is the most fascinating thing about both Brogan and Smith. They talked about making yourself more interesting, investing in your network of people by showing reciprocal interest in them and doing something different to stand out.

danah boyd (she prefers her name be written in all lowercase letters) was the keynote speaker for opening remarks. As a social media researcher and ethnographer, boyd works closely with teens to understand their interactions in the online space. The theme of boyd’s presentation was privacy versus publicity in social media. According to boyd, a recent example of a privacy “fail” was the launch of Google Buzz, which integrated a very private channel (email) with a very public channel (news feed of user actions). Gmail users had to opt-out of Buzz rather than opt-in, and suddenly users’ actions were being broadcast without them intending that to happen.

She talked in depth about the difference between publicly available information and publicity: just because information is publicly available does not mean that people want it publicized. People understand that making their information available is necessary for social bonding. They recognize that they make themselves vulnerable by putting information online, but need to reveal that vulnerability to ultimately build trust and relationships. However, people are now thinking through when to make something private versus when to make something public; information is public by default and private through effort.

“What Happens when The New York Times Dies” was a discussion about the quality of journalism from a well-established, time-honored publication versus that of community bloggers. Panelists included a New York Times columnist, a New York blogger, founder of the popular Daily Kos blog, editor of Reason magazine, and founder of Blogads.

The moderator started the session by polling the audience to get an understanding of New York Times advocates versus dissidents. The majority of attendees would be disappointed if the New York Times disappeared and responded that they would be willing to pay for access to its content. The discussion following was whether the blogger population of New York could effectively take over the reporting duties of the New York Times staff if the paper were to disappear. There was clear animosity between the Daily Kos and the New York Times, as the Daily Kos believes that Times staff writers are allowed to be sloppy in their reporting due to the paper’s built-in credibility. Because the Daily Kos does not have that institutional support, they work harder to prove the quality of their work and that makes their work better. The Daily Kos representative went so far as to say that the New York Times is a stenographer for power. While no definitive conclusions were drawn, there was agreement that people will always want news and will be source agnostic while seeking out quality coverage.

Day two of five is complete. If you ever attend SXSW, adopt and live the following motto: “It is a marathon, not a sprint.” To prepare for SXSW, I read several blog posts from those with festival experience offering survival advice. While I processed all that information and took some of the advice, I didn’t take it all. Today was the first full day of sessions, with the opportunity to attend six hour-long sessions (with 30 minutes between each session to relocate and refuel). I only made it through five before I was thirsty, hungry, just generally tired and my computer batteries were dead (actually, my computer batteries were dead after only three sessions and then someone tripped over my power chord, causing an injury to the charger that is going to require duct tape). They were right when they said it was a marathon, not sprint. And when they said stay hydrated. And when they said bring extra batteries for all your electronics. They were all right. Oh, so right. Despite a few bumps today, I survived and will be better prepared for tomorrow, even if only by a little bit.

March 22, 2009

Radio: “The Screen-Free Complement to Online Browsing” (Update)

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 8:09 pm

I will admit that I have never been an avid radio listener.  For the most part, the reason for this lack of interest has been the radio “personalities.”  I have never found one that “clicks” with me.  Unfortunately, I think that local radio has to cater to the lowest common denominator of public taste in order to make the money they need to make to stay on the air.  But, let’s be honest: all media outlets are trying to figure out how to stay in business right now with the free online media onslaught.

Enter NPR.  NPR is growing.  The April issue of Fast Company has an article on NPR:

“In one of the great under-told media success stories of the past decade, NPR has emerged not as the bespectacled schoolmarm of our imagination but as a massive news machine poised for what Dick Meyer, editorial director for digital media, half-jokingly calls ‘world domination.’ NPR’s listenership has nearly doubled since 1999, even as newspaper circulation dropped off a cliff. Its programming now reaches 26.4 million listeners weekly — far more than USA Today‘s 2.3 million daily circ or Fox News’ 2.8 million prime-time audience. When newspapers were closing bureaus, NPR was opening them, and now runs 38 around the world, better than CNN.  It has 860 member stations — ‘boots on the ground in every town’ that no newspaper or TV network can claim. It has moved boldly into new media as well: 14 million monthly podcast downloads, 8 million Web visitors, NPR Mobile, an open platform, a social network, even crowdsourcing. And although the nonprofit has been hit by the downturn like everyone else, its multiple revenue streams look far healthier long term than the ad-driven model of commercial media.”

NPR attributes this growth, and now sustainability, to its multiplatform distribution outlets: it has capitalized on the technology trends.  “It was the first mainstream-media organization to enter podcasting and often has several programs in the iTunes top 10….Traffic on grew 78% from 2007 to 2008.”

This weekend, during a conversation with Blake’s Think Tank, the discussion veered to the importance of offering content to consumers in a format in which they want to receive it: no longer can the media expect consumers to come to them for the content.  We had this conversation in the context of literature, news and the Amazon Kindle.  However as it turns out, this is very relevant when it comes to radio too, evident by NPR’s success.  Radio is a convenience media outlet: “‘People don’t have 15 minutes to sit at home and read the newspaper, but you can get accurate, in-depth reporting as you sit in traffic,’ or make dinner, or clean out the garage.  It’s a screen-free complement to online browsing.”  And, people will get access to this information live by tuning in to the radio, or by downloading and listening on their iPods, or by streaming it from their computers.  NPR has given them the freedom to decide how to consume the information.  And that is making them a winner in this new distribution competition.

While it helps that NPR does not depend on advertising dollars for sustainability, it is dealing with the down economy too: “All sources of funding, from corporate underwriting to foundation grants, dipped last year, causing a projected $23 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2009.”  This news delivery battle will come down to the survival of the fittest.  Will it be radio?

Little Rock’s NPR station can be found on 89.1 and at  Tune in now: according to Fast Company, “…someday soon we may be looking at a world where public radio emerges as the main local-news source in many communities coast to coast.”

UPDATE: Blake’s Think Tank reports on NPR audience increases:

“Washington-based NPR will release new figures to its stations today showing that the cumulative audience for its daily news programs hit 20.9 million a week, a 9 percent increase over the previous year,” reports The Washington Post.”