SXSW 2012: My Notes

Just made it to a few sessions this year at South by Southwest, but they were good ones. See my notes on Jared Spool, danah boyd and more.

Just made it to a few sessions this year at South by Southwest, but they were good ones. If you’d like to catch up, here are the notes I took:

Big Data and the Race for the White House

Jared Spool: The Secret Lives of Links

danah boyd: The Power of Fear in Networked Publics

SXSW: Big Data and the Race for the White House

Patrick Ruffini is moderating, suggests another name for the panel could be “Moneyball for Politics.” Excellent — I’m clearly in the right place.

Going to talk about all the uses for big data, how it’s used in politics for prediction, fundraising, more.

Patrick Ruffini — in Republican politics and tech for the past 3 presidential cycles. Now president of Engage, a DC political consulting firm.

Dan Siroker was product manager at Google and saw Obama speak, so became director of analytics for ’08 campaign. Now runs Optimizely.

Alex Lundry‘s first client was the Mitt Romney gubernatorial campaign. He is VP and director of research at Target Point Consulting.

Josh Hendler on Kerry campaign in 2004, then DNC, now Global CTO at H+K strategies.

Kristen Soltis, VP at Winston Group.

Ruffini – You can’t manage what you can’t measure. I’m a R myself but my hat goes off to the Obama team for doing such a good job with analytics. We are spectulating a lot today b/c campagin doesn’t release a lot of their strategy. One thing that’s assumed is that they’re doing a lot of mining on unstructured text — from tweets, comments from door to door campaigners, anything.

The culture of measurement started in 2008 — now passing baton to Siroker. He had an analytics team in Chicago. Siroker’s showing the splash page from in 2007. He’s going to do a live multivariate test with us. They’re testing variations of the media and the button. We see 4 variations of button, 3 images and 3 videos. Few people chose “right” answers — but the answers improved their signup rate by 40% and added 2.9 million to the email list and $57M to the bank.

Siroker showing a Facebook app they optimized in similar way for great results.

Lundry’s firm started work offline with a “terrestrial” voter file. They’re using data modeling to try to make informed judgments about whether you’ll vote, who you’ll vote for, etc. Asks room if we saw Prius drive down the street, how many of us think the driver voted Obama? All room thinks so. Talks about how we can start to quantify it. Puts together a few variables…trying to figure out how you’re likely to vote. Doesn’t take many variables to get very specific.

What’s new now? Data harmonization — eliminating walled-off data gardens. How do you make the systems interoperable? Push to standardize data across the organization. Lundry says this is primary objective of Obama campaign. We are slowly lowering the wall between online and offline data.

Lundry says the real question now is who owns the data? In 2004, GOP had big data advantage, and in 2008 the Ds leapfrogged them. Now Lundry thinks they’re more even, but the data is owned, managed and used differently.

Hendler says the big questions now are related to gatekeeping … earlier this century, campaign staff would get huge boxes of paper shipped to them in the field office, with walk lists on them for door to door campaigning. All data decision-making was centralized, info was printed and used in the field. Now, some people are giving more access to staff and volunteers on the campaign, on the ground.

In 2008, saw wider access – volunteer could pull voter lists at home and make calls to support candidate. Data pulled in real time. In 2012, seeing more of this. Hendler says there’s greater possibility for success when you share your data wider within the campaign.

Also, trend to have more accessibility for data for more people. NationBuilder gives anyone access to a voter file. Ohio’s put the voter file on its website, available for download. Lots of organizations collaborating to share voter data now.

Hendler says analysis is really changing — you’ll have terabytes of data, but in the past, you had to have a really expensive solution to do ad hoc queries on terabytes of data — in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, services like Hadoop or Hive let you do this much more inexpensively.

Another big change is move from periodic to real time. Before, you build a model, maybe refresh it once or twice over the campaign. Now, shift to real time. Online data is being leveraged, and that’s real time.

Another big change is the kind of models that can be made. Historic models were, are you D or R? How likely to vote? Now, also modeling likelihood to unsub, likelihood to volunteer, best channel for giving, etc. Helps you figure out how best to treat potential voters/donors/volunteers.

Soltis comes from a more traditional side of the industry. Talking about Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 that makes it very hard to poll by cell phone — but 27% of households in US are now cell phone only. Online surveying is improving but has drawbacks. Soltis says, if it is harder to ask, we have to get better at listening.

Challenge: volume of conversation may have no relation to votes. Measuring sentiment. But first result was “Who said it – Newt Gingrich or Buzz Lightyear?” Is that positive??

Shows another example of sentiment analysis not being effective.

Survey: Landline bias. Sentiment analysis: Online/activist bias. Soltis says, it’s not always wrong, but it’s different. It’s a variable universe and subject to interpretation. It’s evolving in real time and may be good to ID new trends. Surveys are a contained universe with concrete results — but it’s just a snapshot in time. It’s good for message testing.

Ruffini: If you had unlimited resources, what would you want to figure out? Lundry wants to figure out how to analyze candidate preferences in a multi-candidate primary. [He’s one of the Rs on the panel…I bet he’d like to figure that out. :) ]

Ruffini asks about how does Facebook change consumer/political data marketplace? Hendler says that Facebook is incredibly powerful. Have to figure out what data you can collect on Facebook you can actually use. FB is really sensitive about what data can be pulled from Connect.

Hendler thinks mobile apps will begin to supplant email … ability to communicate via notification with target audience. Soltis thinks that mobile holds some really interesting potential for pollsters.

Question fr audience on data security: Lundry jumps in to say data security is critical, privacy, etc. New question: Is there a different expectation of privacy of politically related data than with your consumer data?

Hendler thinks there is — political organizations are often talking to people who haven’t opted in. But they have to speak to voters.

SXSW: Jared Spool—The Secret Lives of Links

OK, the few hundred people in the room here with me are the ONLY people at SXSW not hearing Frank Abagnale talk right now.

Wow. The great benefit of coming to see Jared Spool talk is getting to see him dance to Beyoncé’s All the Single Ladies.

I gotta call him out…he says we’re going to talk about science and the work of a well-known “woman scientist.” It’s a reference to Lisa Simpson, but the gender ID is sticking in my craw. Is it ironic? Can’t say.

So, here we are to the main point — the secret lives of links.

We’re starting 4/8/2011–the day Congress tried tried to shut down the budget “one of the times.” Ha.

CNN writes a story about it, and they put up a bunch of links. They kept restructuring the links. Spool shows a bunch of versions of the CNN home page from that day, each time with new links/photos/stories. He starts wondering about the work behind that.

Spool — I’m not a designer, I’m a researcher. “It’s a life goal of mine never to have to design a website.”

But he decides to design a page where where CNN doesn’t have to redo the page with all the new links.

So there’s a blank page with huge CNN logo, and these links:

  • The Most Important Story
  • The Second Most Important Story
  • The Third Most Important Story
  • An Unimportant Yet Entertaining Story
  • Yet Another Snooki Story
  • Ad for Crap You Don’t Need

Spool — Of course that wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t make you click. But CNN has this on its page, in effect. We don’t have to add links for all those things.

Links secretly desire to get you to the content.

Shows CNN from 2007 — design is different, but those same things are there.

Shows NY Times and LA Times from 4/8/2011, and Huffington Post, same elements, same links…different words. The links are all communicating to get us to the story.

Body of science about how links do this.

Research on the scent of information, originally from Xerox PARC. The way people naivgate large information spaces, mathematically, is the same as a bee looking for nectar. We are ingrained “informavores.” We use the scent of information to get us what we want.

Note: Ah, he’s taking me back to my days 12 years ago.

Difference in MIT and Oberlin home pages — MIT doesn’t have a lot of links telling you how cool they are — Oberlin does — “because if you don’t know how cool MIT is, you shouldn’t be on their home page.”

Ohio State makes it easy for you to find useful info about the school.

Walgreens site: Very busy page. 20% of users are clicking on “photo,” 16% on search and 11% to refill prescriptions. Overall, the 5 most clicked-on links account for 59% of traffic, but they only account for 3.8% of area of the page.

Prime violation of Fitt’s Law: If it’s big and close, it’s easier to hit. On the Walgreens site, you see what’s important to the company — it’s not the same thing that the user cares about. It’s because there was a meeting at Walgreens and the marketing people won.

“We all know what happens: When marketing people win, puppies die!”

“Skip this ad” — The 3 most helpful words on the Internet!

Links secretly live to emit the right scent.

Trigger words: Words that matches the user’s goal and signals where to click.

Initial theory about web design and usage in 1995: We expected that people who’d never used the web wouldn’t be able to find things as easily as people who had a lot of experience at using the web. Instead, some sites were really good at getting people to what they wanted, and other sites were really bad. It was the first time we realized the design mattered — design trumped the user’s experience.

Signs of design failure:

  • Back button
  • Pogosticking
  • Using search box

Back button indicates design failure: Of all user research Spool has done, 42% of site designs help people reach needed content. If clickstream includes 1 back button, drops to 18% success. If 2 back clicks, only 2% success rate in finding needed content.

When a user loses the scent, they use the back button…but the page is no more helpful than it was before.

The back button is “the button of doom.” Once they do that, you’ve lost them.

However, do NOT code out the back button!! Ha, Spool says someone did that and blamed it on him. It’s a predictor — you don’t fix anything by removing the functionality.

Pogosticking: When the user bounces around the information hierarchy. Clickstreams without pogosticking: Success 55% of time, but with pogosticking only 11% success.

Only 3 ways to get from home to target page:

  • Search
  • Hierarchy
  • Featured content links

Users behave the same way on all sites Spool has tested except one. Normally, user comes to page, scans page for trigger words. If don’t find trigger word, they type keyword into search box. On Amazon page, they don’t scan for keywords. They go straight to search box. “After many years of business, Amazon has trained every user of the web that they never put anything useful on the home page.” Big laugh.

When users use search, they type in trigger words. We should call the search box “BYOL — bring your own link.” If you look in your search logs, you will find a list of trigger words. Code your search logs to find out what page the users are searching from — so you’ll know what page to put the trigger words on — and possibly on the page before.

If users don’t use search, they succeed 53% of time. If they do, they only succeed 30% of time.

Spool evaluated more than 10 apparel shopping sites. Huge correlation between how many pages users visited and what they bought — the faster you get them to what they want, the more they buy.

Do not design for pogosticking — give people the information they need up front — don’t make them click. You’ll sell more and your users will be more successful.

When users say “clutter” they mean, there’s way too much stuff I don’t care about on this page. They do not mean, it’s too typographically dense. You can add density as long as you’re adding information they want and need.

Now he’s shouting…love this. “Learn more” is the 2nd most useless pair of words in web design, right after “Click here.” At what point on a product page do you click and NOT want to learn more???

Good design is invisible. You don’t notice when it’s working well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics site has some great design…you might not guess by looking. Showing designs that work for expert and inexpert audiences: links that are trigger words and then short explanations for inexpert.

Links need to look really good, but they need to look like links. Links don’t have to be blue and underlined. And thank goodness — blue and underlined are two awful choices. Underlining changes the shape of the words, and blue is hard for people to discern. The only problem is when we don’t make it clear in a design what is a link. Links need to be distinct.

Spool pauses, then: I believe if you look up clusterfuck in the dictionary, you will see United. The man flies a lot, he would know.

Links don’t have to be blue and underlined, but you do have to establish a visual language for them.

We are making it hard for users to get to content. Now he’s calling out links in the middle of magazine articles, like on the Time magazine site.

All this computer generated crap is ruining the experience. Now he’s slamming those links to words in articles — article in Chicago Tribune about law firm from Alabama, and the word “Alabama” links to everything the paper has ever written about Alabama. Such a pet peeve of mine.

People decide what they’re going to click on before they move the mouse — rollover menus kill the experience. We throw other options in their face while they’re moving toward their intended target.

Other issue with rollovers: Users want to move their mouse in a straight line, but they leave the target area by accident and the rollover disappears.

Let’s check out here what links should:

  • Deliver user to desired experience
  • Emit the right scent
  • Look good, while still looking like a link
  • Do what the user expects

SXSW: danah boyd on The Power of Fear in Networked Publics

Always interesting to hear what danah boyd is thinking and writing about. Notes below are a mixture of quotes, paraphrases and near-quotes.

boyd starts off by recommending everyone attend Baratunde Thurston’s keynote at 2p.

Started with three points….I missed one.

  1. We live in culture of fear.
  2. Attention economy….SOMETHING.
  3. Social media is ramping up the culture of fear.

What are our responsibilities in the culture of fear?

Kranzberg’s First Law: Technology is neither good nor bad — nor is it neutral. boyd says: We shouldn’t pretend that it is.

Social media is now genuinely mainstream — it is no longer just a home of geek culture.

Culture of Fear
Fear is employed by marketers, politicians, media etc. to regulate the public. It’s used to control and surpress.

boyd doesn’t want to dismiss the value of fear as a real emotion. It’s a reasonable reaction to many situations.

How is fear used to control, particularly in an American context? Uses example of 9/11. Says it’s not new — look at Cuban Missile Crisis. As a country, we’ve been in “orange” alert for more than a decade now. Fear is operationalized in a public environment to keep us controlled. We don’t even reflect on it — we just do as we’re told.

Humans are terrible at actually assessing risk. — Freakonomics one book that writes on this. Also Barry Glassner’s The Culture of Fear.

Parents worried about Internet — but the MOST risky thing a parent can do is let the child ride in the car with them. Fear isn’t logical — it’s about the perception of risk. The things we don’t understand are the things we’re afraid of. Fear combined with insecurities is amplified. The intersection of young people and technology produces moral panic. Many historical cases remind us of the absurdities.

Fear cannot be combatted through data. If it doesn’t match their perceived experience, people reject the data.

The Attention Economy
We have built this through social media — provides a fertile ground for the culture of fear.

Quote from Herbert Simon: “In an information-rick world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes…the attention of its recipients.”

Social media gives us massive quantities of uncurated information. How do we cope with the onslaught?

Haha. Now shows a funny slide: Book in 1994 called The Internet Yellow Pages. This book looks very familiar…

Most of our tools are designed to make people feel guilty for all the things they haven’t read. No matter how we feel, one thing is clear: Amount of information is not going to decline. It is really hard to get people’s attention.

The more attention-seekers are fighting for attention, they seek to leverage emotion. Fear is so effective, so it is used more and more.

Fear is used in a more complex way on social media than it is on broadcast media. It’s personal and spread by each other in networks.

Radical Transparency
The notion that putting everything in the open will make people more honest. The logic rests on the notion that people hide things. The reality is much messier than that. People think about this in disrupting power structures, but it’s used against real people in more complex ways.

The practice of “outing” is not new. Tells story of Oliver Sipple.

What are real implications of Anonymous? Is radical transparency really effective?

In boyd’s work, most incidents of hate on teens happen with people they know.

With protestors/rioters, crowdsourcing who the rioters and looters are — method of control. Idea that people are controlled when they feel they are surveilled. Those are are oppressed and marginalized are usually those with the least amount of power.

The Ideal of Progress
The idea of outing etc. is that we’re moving toward an era of greater progress — that the incremental harm caused by outing will have a greater good. boyd says paths are often not linear…the ideal of progress may be an illusion.

Tolerance is often espoused as a neutral notion, but it’s not.

Exposure to new people doesn’t automatically produce tolerance, even though we might want it to.

There’s far more bullying, with more damage to youth, at school, than there ever is online. But the Internet has made bullying much more visible to adults, making adults leap to assumptions about where bullying happens.

Power in Networks
The people who make the networks control the system.

Talks about how the Kony 2012 film took advantage of powerful network building — across disparate networks. Invisible Children had been laying the groundwork with its network building for years. The problem is that nuance is lost.

In this country, there’s been a rise of hatred along with the rise of social media. With fearmongering. To say that we didn’t build this does a disservice — though we want technologies to be used for idealistic purposes. What happens is that these aren’t neutral technologies. How do we deal with this?

We don’t have good answers.

Through social media, we are ramping up the attention economy and creating new networks. We need to think about how that works long before it builds things we don’t like.

boyd doesn’t have good answers but challenges audience to figure this out.

Social media can be a great disruptor but it’s being used to enforce the status quo by many.

Planning Now for a #contentstrategy SXSW 2012

Well, it’s that time again — time that all the web-nerds penciled in our calendars months ago: The SXSW Panel Picker is open for voting!

If you’ve never been to the all-things-web-digital-music-and-film that is SXSW in Austin each March, I’m not sure where to begin. Last year I remember hearing that there were more than 25,000 attendees at just the Interactive part of the festival, making it the largest part of the event. SXSW pitches itself as uniquely focused on the creative side of the web, and I think there’s something to that. But there’s something for EVERYONE there, no matter your discipline.

In that vein, let me give you a little pitch for my discipline, content strategy.

Over the past few years, the SXSW sessions focusing on content have grown in number, and in my judgment, in quality as well. This year, there are a number of great-looking content sessions proposed in the Panel Picker, but we need your help. About 3600 sessions were proposed total this year, and they’ll take 500. The odds aren’t good for any one session, so content needs your votes and comments to shine strong at the conference.

Here are the ones I’ve specifically voted for. I’d value your thoughts and votes on my own proposal, but also on others that interest you. [You do have to create an account — free! — and sign in to vote. Speaking as someone who spent some time developing just my own proposal, I really appreciate your input!]

First, my proposed session:
Content Structure: Frame It Right, Make It Work
I’m planning to talk about content structure, metadata and information architecture — and how to use structure to make your processes more efficient and your copy easier to manage. I’d love your votes and comments!

Other sessions that got my thumbs-up today: 

Margot Bloomstein’s proposed session: Contextually Relevant Content Strategy
Margot is a smart, smart woman. I’ve heard her speak more than once and I’ve followed her thoughts online for some time. When she’s talking content strategy, it’s good stuff.

Panel moderated by Kristina Halvorson, with Joe Gollner, Erin Kissane, Mark McCormick and Karen McGrane: Rude Awakening: Content Strategy Is Super Hard
Amen. Some great names in the discipline gather to talk through the thorny questions.

Jeff Pfaller’s proposed session: Understanding Digital Content and Human Behavior
Optimizing your content for humans.

Amy Thibodeau’s panel: Copy Matters: Content Strategy for the Interface
Man, do we need this.

Once and Future King: Can Syndication Save Content?
I’ve spent large parts of the past couple of years trying to convince publishers that syndication is a revenue stream, to no avail. I’d been content to let the industry die, but sounds like this panel will try again to convince them. Bravo!

SXSW Wrapup: Reflections on the Chaos

Now you’re starting to see the South by Southwest wrapup posts appear, and I’ve already seen one post slamming the festival for becoming too big [It’s a real rant on the NY Observer if you want to Google it, but not worth the link in my opinion] and one defending the new SXSW status quo.

I’ll just say this: I’ve been to SXSW 5 of the last 7 years, and though it’s changed dramatically in that time, it remains one of the best places to catch up on everything related to the web. This year, with sessions spread all over downtown Austin, I walked nearly 10 miles in the two days I was in town. There was a shuttle service — too pricey when the weather was nice and cabs are cheap — but I found there was time to walk, so why not?

I blogged all the sessions I attended. Some are directly related to work I’m doing right now, and some are just topics I’m interested in. All my posts on SXSW are raw notes, so don’t expect polished journalism.

Will I go back? Most definitely. I always learn something new there and meet interesting people. I will be surprised if we don’t see big tweaks to the calendar and the session layout, but either way, I’m in. The excitement about the digital industry is palpable there, and it’s hard to find someone who’s not interested in learning more or hearing about new ideas. That kind of energy recharges me for a lot of hard work to come.

The sessions I blogged:
Todd Park from HHS on the Power of Open Health Data
Recommendation Engines: Going Beyond the Social Graph
Margot Bloomstein on Creation, Curation and the Ethics of Content Strategy
Tim Wu on Net Neutrality
Gary Vaynerchuk and The Thank You Economy
Dawn Foster on Hacking RSS

SXSW: Dawn Foster on Hacking RSS

So I’m at Hacking RSS by Dawn Foster. She’s got some more stats about how much data we have in the world. Seems to be a big topic this year here at SXSW. [Incidentally she’s got some stats on her slides if you’d like to look. I didn’t scribble down the numbers.]

We’re talking about how to manage your RSS feeds. We subscribe to feeds that we mostly like, but everything in them may not be interesting. And it’s hard to keep up. And there are lots of feeds out there that we don’t subscribe to.

Some tips:

  • Spend the time to categorize.
  • Stuff you really care about at the top.
  • Don’t try to read everything.

How do you find sources you wouldn’t run across?
The Tweeted Times. Takes links from people you follow, and people they follow, and displays in a newspaper format with most-tweeted stuff at the top. Great way to catch up on Twitter.
Techmeme. Good way to get a global sense of what’s popular.

Foster says the magic is in filtering. Sets up Yahoo! Pipes to filter feeds on keywords she cares about. She also uses PostRank to filter up the blog posts that have lots of comments or mentions.

Big fan of Yahoo! Pipes. You can filter on any kind of data that shows up in the feed. Downsides: Learning curve, sometimes flaky. And it could be killed by Yahoo!.

FeedRinse: Easy to use, not as flexible.
FeedDemon: Allows some filtering.
Many of the smaller services have gone out of business.

Foster has a lot of screencasts on her blog about how to use Yahoo! Pipes.

Simple filter: Gives Yahoo! Pipes two RSS feeds, a few keywords to filter on, and it will spit out one RSS feed that displays only the posts matching the criteria.

PostRank takes a feed and ranks the posts based on engagement. Then you can get the output as an RSS feed. Then, the PostRank info goes into the RSS feed, so you can use it again in Yahoo! Pipes.

RSS feeds should include title, author, dates, links, content, but many also include things like latitude, longitude, and lots more — but your RSS reader likely isn’t displaying that. Also, many APIs include even more data and can be turned into RSS.

So using Postrank, she runs 3 RSS feeds through PostRank and then takes those best-post feeds and runs it through Yahoo! Pipes and sorts by best posts overall on a topic she’s interested in.

She also uses Yahoo! Pipes to modify the format of RSS feeds. This is cool. You’ll have to pull her slides, but she has one that shows you exactly how she’s reformatting feeds to make them all look and feel the way she wants.

Now Foster’s talking about using APIs. She’s going to show us what she does with BackTweets. This service tells you who’s sharing links, regardless of the shortening service they use. They used to offer info in a feed, but don’t anymore. So now you can use their API to get it. She’s building a feed that will show her who’s talking about her posts on Twitter. It involves the BackTweets API, the Twitter API and Yahoo! Pipes. Get the slides to see all the details.

Also has a nice flow for doing a vanity search using Yahoo! Pipes. I’m going to check this slide out later.

Foster’s caveats:
Don’t ever use this in a production environment. Instead, write it in a real programming language with cached results and error-checking. You can’t build your business on Yahoo! Pipes.

Oh good audience questions: Can you manipulate audio and video files included in the RSS feeds via Yahoo! Pipes? Foster says, you can definitely pass that through into your output feed, but doesn’t know of any way to evaluate that info in Pipes.

Also, question from the audience prompts Foster to clarify that when you use RSS, you still have to abide by licensing and copyright restrictions that the original content creator has.

SXSW: Gary Vaynerchuk and The Thank You Economy

I will tell you straight out that I have a fan-girl crush on Gary Vaynerchuk. I find his enthusiasm infectious, and I agree with his perspective on a lot of things. Particularly on the value of hard work and on how you treat customers. I don’t know where you live, but everyone doesn’t value those things.

Quick backgrounder: Vaynerchuk was born in Belarus and moved to the United States with his family when he was a child. His father owned a liquor store, and Vaynerchuk had the entrepreneurial bug from a young age. He went into the family business but soon saw the potential to turn it into something much bigger than a local liquor store. He rebranded the store as the Wine Library and launched a retail website for the store in the late 1990s. Several years ago, he started producing a video blog about wine, Wine Library TV. He’s written two books about business and social media: Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion and The Thank You Economy.

Here we go. He’s appropriately starting out by thanking the audience for being here. And he’s going to try REALLY hard not to curse as much [big laugh from audience]. Lots of the session will be Q&A. This guy is really funny.

Calls himself “obnoxiously practical” — was alarmed when people read Crush It and emailed him to say they’d quit their jobs. Says he’s all about business…Zen and butterflies are nice, but he wants to make money.

He’s talking about his flight to Toronto that was canceled last week. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could have texted him to say, “We’re sorry”?

“If content is king, context is God.” Love that.

Cites’ Google’s Eric Schmidt who recently said, the same amount of content that was created from beginning of time til 2003, that same amount is now created in 48 hours. Vaynerchuk says, that’s why context matters.

Taking the room to task on customer care: Big companies are bad at this, but startups and tech companies are bad too. No one cares about the end user. Attributes his success to really caring about the customer.

I’m not sure he’s making good on his promise to curse less.

He’s got a big new customer in Chicago who’s a big Jay Cutler fan. They found him on Twitter and discovered he’s a huge Jay Cutler fan. They’re getting him a signed Jay Cutler jersey, not a nice bottle of wine or a free shipping code.

Brands and businesses that figure out how to impact the customer at the point of sale are the ones that will win. He believes we are on the verge of the “humanization of business.”

Talks about the change in the way pets have changed since 1950s. In 50s, dogs lived outside. Now lots of dogs live inside, sleep in your bed, eat better food than you do. Next we’re going to humanize brands. For the last 100 years, marketing has been push. Talks about how we’re ruined email. Remember how excited you were when you got your first couple of emails? Now everyone hates email, because marketers are drowning you. With email, marketers do all the talking. You’ve got to give first, not talk first. And stop trying to close so fast.

The world is a cocktail party. Your social street cred is critical. The context is critical. Vaynerchuk says, I can outcare anyone. I will win.

“There is no such thing as a social media campaign.” It’s the human equivalent of a one-night stand. You’ve got to build a relationship. Slams Old Spice for its heavily-lauded campaign last year: They don’t talk to anyone. They pushed media for 6 months but never talked to anyone. No one wants to follow someone on Facebook so they can push their commercials on us. Old Spice is the perfect example of what not to do.

Some rapid-fire thoughts:
Stop retweeting people who compliment you! You’re bragging! And stop trying to collect followers to donate money to charity! Content calendars suck. And can we please stop filtering people? Don’t pick who you’re going to respond to on Twitter by how many followers they have. And don’t throw a Twitter and Facebook logo on your TV commercial — that’s like throwing up a telephone logo. I need your number!

Your grandparents are far more prepared for what’s coming than you are. They understood the human connection, small-town rules. People who worry about metrics and ROI and not human connections are going to die.

He’s doing a great rant on traditional media metrics…they are no better than social/web metrics.

People are going to start battling on the care front.

Now he’s going into the audience to talk to a woman who thought the internet was a fad.

The internet is not a fad. Social media is not a fad because it’s @#&ing human. Caring is scalable now.

Only reason to spend more money on an equivalent product: Convenience and relationships.

In response to a question: Doesn’t think it’s in everyone’s DNA to be nice. In business, you are forced to care. Says it’s exhausting to care as much as he does, but that effort is grossly underestimated.

Update: Guy just came to the mike and gave a numerical report on the number of specific curse words Vaynerchuk has used. One of the biggest applause moments. His response: Getting better.

Update 2: At the tail end of his presentation [after I posted this], Vaynerchuk offered a deal on 5 sample bottles of wine from to everyone in the room, for 2¢. [Why not free? Liquor laws.] I took advantage of it…because how cool is that? So, just full disclosure on that point.

SXSW: Tim Wu on Net Neutrality

Tim Wu is talking net neutrality. First has been laying the groundwork….talking about the 2010 legislation that provides for net neutrality.

Now is going back to the 15th century England to make a point about how net neutrality should be considered public infrastructure and therefore should always be publicly available. [Chinese government built the wall, Roman government built the roads, etc.] The English had a different system, where private companies and individuals did things important for all. Roads, ports might be built and run by private parties. English judges noticed that the private parties who owned the infrastructure had enormous power. So they came up with the law of “public callings,” which became known as the common carrier principle. The first case Wu found was related to a blacksmith — judge decreed that a blacksmith could not refuse to serve you. So the principle of net neutrality goes that far back. The second principle related to that was that those owning infrastructure must charge fair prices.

1910—Congress passed a law saying that transmitting information was also common carriage. So, the telephone would be treating like a bridge or a road.

In the 1980s, the FCC decided that computer networks would be allowed to have access to telephone networks. That allowed the development of AOL, CompuServe, etc.

“Compared to classic telecom legislation, the net neutrality rules are very weak.” They do require carriers to let anyone on, but they have no price regulation, no duty of service — your Internet connection doesn’t have to be any good, and it doesn’t fully apply to wireless.

Wu is saying, one way we have to think about net neutrality is, SHOULD we consider it as a common carrier? Is it more like an amusement park — nice to have, but you don’t have to go — or more like the only bridge to an island — an essential service?

Wu is funny here talking about the internet in the 1980s — might have been more like an amusement park…there were weird people there, etc. But now, the internet is an essential service that is an integral part of the economy. It has almost become like electricity, which brings it into that medieval framework — it’s dangerous if you don’t have it. The internet is too important.

Good question from audience: How do you distinguish between the internet and Facebook — it’s easy to imagine that Facebook becomes a “common carrier” whose access is essential to everyone? Wu says, medieval judges might have said that Google or Facebook might become common carriers at some point. But Wu does think there’s a fundamental difference between Facebook/Google and the carriers. Companies carrying the information tend to face very limited competition. They have to invest large sums in physical infrastructure. And the carriers have a tight relationship with the federal government, which grants them some right of ways and licenses.

Another good question: What about common carriers that are also content providers, like AT&T differentiating between U-vers and Netflix content? Wu says that’s censorship. You have an inherent conflict of interest when you’re the carrier and content provider, and you have to have policing to prevent censorship. But we don’t always have that right now.

SXSW: Margot Bloomstein on Creation, Curation and the Ethics of Content Strategy

I’m starting this morning with a session from Margot Bloomstein on content strategy, curation and ethics. I’ve heard her speak before [on a different topic] and she was interesting, so we’ll see how this goes.

OK, right off the bat, this is a hard talk to blog. It’s a very good talk, but hard to synthesize quickly. Bloomstein has talked about creating new content through mashups, and about understanding the point of view of content creators and editors. She seems to argue it’s important for the audience to understand, but hasn’t yet made a judgment on whose job it is to find the info — is it the creator’s to share their perspective and history, or the audience’s to seek it out and then use it to inform their understanding?

Now we’re moving on to curation. Here, Bloomstein argues that point of view is also critical, which I’d agree. She’s talking about museum exhibit curation as a clear example of this.

Interesting point on the difference between curation of a museum exhibition and curating web content. In a museum exhibition, there are usually a very limited number of potential objects available. You make a list of everything you want, and you see what you can get. In web content, there’s often far more available than you could ever use. We often use automated filters with a few parameters and boom! There’s the current top news on X topic.

Pulls up a great example of Skittles pulling everything about Skittles from Twitter onto their site a couple of years ago. They had no human filter, and some of the tweets were NOT brand-appropriate. Human curation is critical to maintain your brand identity and speak appropriately to your audience.

Now talking about how to create, shape the user experience. Apparently there’s a debate in the UX community about how possible this is, since each user brings own baggage, and you can’t control that. Bloomstein says the museum perspective says, there are common human elements that a curator can play on and use to shape our experience.

Bloomstein says it’s important to get clients [your company, whoever you’re working with on content strategy] to focus on their objectives before you start content strategy work.

Current trend in museum curation has museums highlighting the curator and their perspective … very transparent. We don’t always do this in media, web content or other fields. Should we?

Quotes Mandy Brown [editor of A Book Apart, A List Apart] from yesterday: “We need more tools for human curation. We’re trying to replace humans with algorithms.”

My perspective [Pardon how obvious this is]: There are some things that humans do better and some things that algorithms do. We should let each do their best work. [Of course, this doesn’t always happen. I guess that’s Brown’s point.]

Bloomstein says that curation without perspective is aggregation. Where I would argue with this is that she seems to say it isn’t possible to present perspective through an algorithm. I think it absolutely is, if the human designs the algorithm appropriately.

Now talking about the Sarbanes-Oxley requirements on document management — relating to how public companies manage their digital assets, including all online communication. Serious consequences to a lack of a curation/archival strategy.

Really good questions on ethics now. Photo of a yeast bloom that was on the cover of Scientific American — original photo included the petri dish that held the yeast. They wanted to focus on the yeast, so they removed the petri dish from the photo. OK?

Quote from Martin Scorcese on the importance of directing, not just selecting, the right shots to make your movie. What are you setting out to say? Make that happen.