Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SXSW Quick Hits: Day 4

Tried to hit five panels yesterday, but was locked out of the last one. I figured I would be, that being Sean Parker and Al Gore.

Maps of Time: Data As Narrative

  • I came into this one a little late, but did catch Bert Herman of Storify, talking about the genesis of his product. For them, they collect the metadata from all social tidbits used in Storify, so they can use that to find the most curated tweets or what have you. Their product creates a new kind of journalism, or a new medium of curated journalism. No longer do reporters have to live with the inverted pyramid, and their stories don't have to "stop." They can be curated over time.
  • I was talking later with Meghan Krane of Memolane about this ... we should study how a tool like Storify changes how a reporter covers his stories or beats. We imagined that the quantity of their sources is greater, but what about the quality? And does the extent of their beat or interests expand when they have access and encouragement to use a tools such as Storify?
  • Drew Harry is a PHD student at MIT studying reflection in real time. He wants to know how back channels can change an event, and how he can facilitate that. Most reflection happens at the end of an event, but if it can happen more during the event, then participants can influence the event into a future they want to see. Think of the hashtag conversations that happen during a SXSW panel, and the questions asked through that. He takes it step further by creating an iPad app for a small class where they can track topics, time spend, discuss it, etc. And on a larger scale, he created a video game with included back channel called ROAR.

Shut Up & Draw: A Non-Artist Way to Think Visually

  • Oh, this panel was brilliant! Sunni Brown, Jessica Hagy and Dan Roam were hilarious, on point (or draw) and influential. Best panel of the day, by far.
  • Brown says most businesses don't have a whiteboard culture because we have a nationwide lunacy about visual language. The main problem is we think of visual language as ART, and then we bring a bunch of misconceptions about art along with that, like that it is luxurious, superfluous, created by the elite, with god-given skill, is frivolous and silly. All of that isn't true, because visual language is not art. it is not emotive, is not an act of self expression, it is not ambiguious. It is communication. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, it is not necessary to communicate.
  • People stop drawing because they thinking they can't do it well. But it doesn't have to be flawless and there are plenty of examples to prove that.
  • Roam told the story of the Laffer Curve, communicated through a drawing on a napkin.
  • I need to look up the Doodle Revolution. And buy some of theses guys books.
  • I miss my white board wall :-(

Data Vis Is Dead, Long Live Data Vis!

  • Rosten Woo's project to find affordable housing was an excellent use of a tactile visualizations. He says the slower proces of physically interacting with it pushes participants to ask more questions about policy, and creates more change in the world.
  • Dylan Lathrop's work with Good magazine was quite good and I want to pick up the most recent edition for the Beg, Borrow and Steal issue about the economic crisis. It's a mix of narrative and visualizations and arrows leading readers through a complex story.
  • The panelist built a site for more info.

It's Not News, It's Business

This talk was intended to look at monetization for news beyond circulations and traditional advertising. Several interesting points made.

  • All but a few news organizations can't develop in a timely,anger. They tend to buy products that others have done, and by that point it is too late. Justin Ferrell suggests that developers need to be included in top managment in the newsroom. They need to be startup incubators and create a startup mentality. I couldn't agree more.
  • Ann Friedman talked about Good magazine and how they sell alignment to their brand instead of advertising in the brand. No CPM. Companies want to be a part of their magazine because they have a mission that the company agrees with and wants to be a part of. It works for them, and issue oriented magazine that is not tied to geography, but does that work or could it work for a traditional news org?
  • One question was about the walls between the newsroom and advertising, and of they exist anymore. Good, as a quartly product, I think, has the time to work with advertising on all their issues. It is built into their workflow. Other orgs are lowering the walls and making them more porous, and the digital products have certainly made that possible through the years, but there is still not enough collaboration.


The highlight of the evening, beyond taking my lovely wife out, was meeting Dave Olsen of Hootesuite at Gingerman. I was able to thank him for his excellent presentation about crowd sourcing like Tom Sawyer. It was also good to catch up with Jen Lee Reeves. What fun!



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