Twitter Backchannel, Sarah Lacy, Tony Hsieh

Sarah Lacy blows-up at SXSW 2008 I couldn’t resist posting this little piece of twitter meltdown irony. At SXSW 2008, Sarah Lacy, interviewed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a keynote speaker. The interview went so badly that the twitter backchannel took over the show and those in attendance were making scathing comments. Eventually, Sarah lost control of the interview and was relegated to moderator of questions from the crowd. When it was all over, Sarah had a tweet of her own.

Visual Thinking SXSW 2009 Fast forward one year, during SXSW 2009, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh gave a keynote (by himself) with this visual thinking aid. Four months later, July 2009, he sold Zappos for $850 Million. Guess who reported the sale on That’s right, Sarah Lacy. Her headline was “Amazon Buys Zappos; The Price is $928m., not $847m.” Now that’s ironic.

SXSW Day Five

Cloud Computing Defending the Undefinable

Speaker/Artist(s) Info: Kevin Gibbs (Tech Lead & Mgr Google App Engine, Google App Engine), Yousef Khalidi (Distinguished Engineer, Microsoft), Werner Vogels (CTO,

See: Green Grid

Keynote: Chris Anderson and Guy Kawasaki

The power of free vs. venture capital

Speaker/Artist(s) Info: Chris Anderson (Wired Magazine, Author of FREE, @chr1sa), Guy Kawasaki (CEO of Alltop, @guykawasaki)

Freemium (economics) vs. advertising

Chris coined the phrase long tail.

If you suck users will leave you and lower your reputation which is more costly than their lost revenue.
(follow Chris before July 26 to get a free PDF copy of his book “Free”)

SXSW Day Four

Shift Happens: Moving from Words to Pictures

See for t-shirts.

Sunni Brown, Dave Gray, Lee LeFever, Dan Roam, Tom Crawford
Book: Back of the Napkin

“Visual thinking is king”
Use cortex, ??, picture superior affect
“You can’t do system work without visual thinking”

Ultimate Showdown of Content Management System Destiny

Georege DeMet, Colleen Carrol, Steve Fisher, Matt Mullenweg
WordPress (was the crowd favorite)

Book: Mark Boulton, Five Simple Steps: Designing for the Web
See: tamka
See: bbpress
See: wpmu

They all have a “shopping cart” install of modules/plugins.

2009 WaSP Annual Meeting

Derek Featherstone, Aaron Gustafson (IE8), Glenda Sims, Stef Sullivan (Adobe), Henny Swan

The Dawn of the Education Era – WaSP Interact is a project for educating the next generation of proper web standards

Adobe is working on standards documents: Flash accessibility

IE8 has a compatibility list. They started from ground up with a copy of CSS 2.1 on their desks.
IE8 will report usage stats to the mothership. Then add to the List sites that don’t comply with CSS 2.1 (and other requirements). Then it will push the list out to clients with regular updates like Microsoft Security Updates.
code can contain meta tags to force use of IE8 mode and ignore the list:
meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=8″

SXSW Day Three

Web In Higher Education

Brad Ward & Dylan W

See reason cms
See uwebd
See IBM accessibility software, they took over watchfire? to continue the conversation

The talk was nice. Not a whole lot was accomplished though – unless getting grievences off your chest is an accomplishment.

After the conversation was pre-party for the web award show. Then the web award show. It was ok – free food and 1 drink – but still ok. Baratunde killed at the end – skittles r evil!

SXSW Day Two

The Seven Rules for Great Web Application Design

Robert Hoekman Jr

We want to make users feel great like a lion – king of the jungle
Good sites make users feel good, empowered, like the lion
“#1 goal of users is to get off your site”

#1 understand users, then ignore them
dont ask them what they think – they lie
watch them, test them – understand tem

apps do what users need them to do

#2 buid only what’s absolutely necessary
see – upload file, share with a url
simple is good, but clarity is better

#3 support the user’s mental model
Deleting a piece of paper is throwing it in trash not a series of commands like a dos widow use to do.

#4 turn beginners into intermediates immediately
e.g. the old page was not intuitive – someone called the builder to figure out how to sign up – the main purpose of the home page. people don’t like to feel dumb.

so the design needs to help them move up the learning curve quickly (painlessly)
try usability study to redesign – find out what they want to do and do it

#5 prevent errors. (and handle the rest gracefully.)
if we enable them to make mistakes – they will – you can’t really make an error on this site. you will feel smarter every time you use it.

#6 design for uniformity, consistency, and meaning – most people land there from a google search and they dont know why or what to do. add to that, the page design changes from one page to another

#7 reduce, reduce, reduce (and refine)
presentation zen
tells a story of a store that sold fish and they put a sign up that said
“We Sell Fresh Fish Sold Here”
The sign was reduce word by word until it disappeared.

The ultimate goal: communicate intentionally
every thing on a page communicates something, make sure it does something worth the space, customer time it uses
“if you make user feel like a lion, they will make us feel us feel like lions”

Opening Remarks

Tony Hsieh


<———– I lost network before this presentation started. There was 400+ people trying to connect.

Lunch at Moonshine Patio Grill was good enough. Had the tuna melt while sitting at the bar with a chap. When the food arrived all hell broke loose – about 100 people rushed the restaurant and it was standing room only from then on. I guess I got there just in time.

Opening Remarks
Tony Hsieh

Tony started by selling pizza in college with his roommate and alfred would buy several pizzas and sell them off by the slice.
Then he moved to start linkexchange and ended up sold it to microsoft in 1998.
He looks to Virgin alot
He spends marketing money on customer experience customer service instead of commercials.
He uses phone more than web because its a better branding device.
He chose to loose about 25% of revenue to focus on customer service.
they search competors sites and give up the sale if they find it
customer service isnt his number one focus, it is working culture. if you have happy workers, customer service will follow.
he trains everyone the same no matter what your final job is.
for this year: clothing , customer service, culture

culture: deliver wow through service, embrace and drive change, create fun and little weirdness, be adventurous, createive and open minded, …
it doesnt matter what your values are – can you commit to them

steps to success:
decide, figure out values and culture, commit to transparency, vision, build relationships, build your team, think long term

* transparency – now there is an extra 1000 pair of eyes helping maintain the brand
* vision – whatever you think, think bigger

happines: perceived control, perceived progress,
maslow hierachy

books: peak, tribal leadership, four house work week, happiness hypothesis

Future of Social Networks

Charlene Li
Altimeter Group

Think about ten years from now “we had to go to 10 sites to do what we want”
“Social networks will be like air”

Rethinking events – now who was attending, arrange seating
mobile apps are social
tv is getting social – they showed everyones tags with obama, but what if we wanted to know just our friends
networks mve into the enterprise – pulling profiles into apps

Three things needed to make social networks like air
1) identify – who you are
2) contacts – who you know
3) activities – what you do

Two sets of rules/standards exits
facebook connect – includes protocol for sharing identity contact and content
open stack – payers include google myspace plaxo yahoo are following standards

my identity, in context
one: professional
two: personal

friend management is tough today
filters on make friends and news feeds more management and valuable, but it still laborious

some social networks are getting rich – they know more about me – because we trust someone like Google
a social algorith will make privacy and permissions easier to manage
what is it going to take to get everyone to open – $$$
there is a mutually beneficial relationship between sites when they tap into their network
it also lays the ground work for activity data – passing profiles means there was a request
some identify your network neighboor – people closet to you (like students in chem 101)
how will things develop
biz models
1) evaluate where social makes sense – identify where socail data and content can be integrated; leverage existing
identity ad social grphs where the audience is facebook; get privacy in place; find trust agents
2) get your backend data in order – remove multi signons, registration ad profiles for people (SSO)
3) prepare to integratate social networks into your organization
where is the customer in the org chart – put customer at the top, ceo at the bottom
* social networks will be like air
* technologies are still being put int place
* open networks

SXSW Day One

See movie Slammin’ Salmon – saw the preview in the Adobe DayCafe
Check out – they were handing out bills at the first panel

Everything You Know About Web Design Is Wrong

Dan Willis

See – is a dead tree
See – another dead tree
“Print in disquise”
These two and so many are stuck in the print model of information sharing.
What we need is a web grammar.

D. W. Griffith – Birth of a Nation – did nothing different, but he invented a film grammar and made a load of money.
“1 + 1 = 3”

What is the (possible) web grammar:

  • Random voyeurism
  • Self aware (but uncontrollable) content
  • User-created context
  • Ambient awareness
  • Experiential content

Tips for Transcendent Web Design:

  • Organize cross teams
  • Embrase your ignorance
  • Don’t be distracted by business models that don’t start and end with users

(Tips are incomplete)

Oooh, That’s Clever! (Unnatural Experiments in Web Design)

Paul Annett

User’s enjoy discovering things (e.g. arrow in FedEx logo). This is kinda like random voyeurism (see above). Hiding things in plain sight. It plays with user-created context (see above).
Paralax with backgrounds (e.g.
Peripherial vision effects are fun too.

Interacting in the Southwest – SXSW09

We’re at South By Southwest – the sight and sound and interactive event of the year – this year to try and observe the SXSW Interactive conference. We got in around 8 PM the night before the big bang to avoid the really big crowd for registration. Of course mother nature wanted to mess with us and gave us a few inches of rain to think things over when we got here; no going out to 6th St.

You’ll find more about me and SXSW at You’ll also find us on (hashtag #sxsw09),

Stay tuned. We’re going to interact like never before.