Saturday, March 09, 2013

SXSW Report, Saturday: Perfect Coffee

TV and Twitter

Started the day mistyping Jenn Deering Davis's name and Twitter handle about three different ways during her talk on "How Twitter has changed how we watch TV", but I did enjoy her talk to a packed house.

The takeaway: Could Twitter traffic be helping networks get more people to watch shows live to avoid spoilers?


Tim Ferriss talked about the 4-hour ethos: accelerated learning for an accelerated time, and his book The 4-hour Cook (a huge tome). Not being familiar with his past works (4-hour work week, etc.), this was all new to me, but in essence he threw out this: DiSSS. Break down your skill and focus and you can become an expert in 6 months.

  • DECONSTRUCTION: Break the skills into small, doable pieces. Swimming is complex, but break it down to kicking, arms, breathing.
  • SELECTION: Find the most valuable stuff to learn. 4 cords in almost all pop songs. 13 sentences can help you learn any language.
  • SEQUENCING: Change the sequence. To learn dancing, learn your partner's role first. Learn closing moves of chess, not the opening.
  • STAKES: You need incentives to do well. Make them mean something.

Other tidbits:

  • Focus on subtraction and not addition. "Perfection is achieved not when there is no more to add, but when there is not more to remove."
  • The perfect cup of coffee: Use 12 grams of fresh hand-ground coffee (from burr conical grinder) with 120grams of hot water not to exceed 180 degrees in an Aeropress.
  • Ferriss practiced his 2007 SXSW presentation in front of his friend's three Chihuahuas until he could sustain energy long enough for them not to walk away.

Elon Musk

This is rocket science. That's the first thing I though when I walked into the packed simulcast room (yes, event he simulcast was packed) for this leader of SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity.

My main takeaway is this man is smart and busy and probably neglects his five children. OK, not really, but he does live in a different world than me, and frankly he should.

SpaceX wants to build a spaceport in Texas. The Open Beaches law hinders that because they want to be on the coast but you can't keep people off the beach. He thinks it will happen, though.

Musk was pretty unrepentant about his reaction to the NYTimes review of the Tesla S model. He said the only think he would do different is now he should publish the rebuttal to the Times' rebuttal. He says he has no problem with critical reviews ... he has a problem with false reviews.

He offered to help Boeing with lithium batteries because Tesla knows them very well. He offered the help because his friend, Richard Branson (Virgin Airlines) was losing millions of dollars with the rounding of the 787.

Ten positions of basketball

This was a really interesting panel by Muthu Alagappan with help from Jeff Becham about Alagappan's work using topological data analysis with basketball statistics. Topological visualizations map connections between multiple dimensions (stats in this case) in a multidimensional model that shows connections. With this, Alagappan has found there are really 10 common positions in basketball, instead of the traditional five positions.

Traditional positions:
  • Point guard
  • Shooting guard
  • Small forward
  • Power forward
  • Center
Alagappan's positions
  • Inside-Outside Scorer
  • Mid-range big men
  • Two-way all star
  • Jump-shooting ball handler
  • Defensive ball handlers
  • 3-point specialists
  • Low-usage ball handlers
  • 3-point ball handlers
  • Paint Protectors
  • Scoring Rebounders
The example he used were "point guards" Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. They are all considered point guards, but they all have completely different styles of play. Paul is a mid-range shooter, while Nash is a consumate pick and roller. Kidd can post-up but also shoots the 3 like crazy.

Thinking of players in this way frees up teams to expand their thinking about players and rosters. Alagappan has worked with NBA teams and owners, and says the stats teams collect vary widely.

Another part of their research uses the newer SportView cameras that catch and track players at every angle of the court.

I closed out the day at the Awesomest.Journalism.Party.Ever were I caught up and spotted colleagues and friends, like Jen Lee Reeves, Amanda Zamora, Rosental Alves and more. I touched base with Tableau and checked out Atavist, a publishing platform for long-form non-fiction.

Still, the best conversation of the day was a quick, unexpected one in the Roku lounge with Reuben Stern, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Since he works on multimedia, I talked with him about my video explainer thoughts for my data visualization class. It was very worthwhile, and I hope to talk with him more in the future.


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