Sunday, March 10, 2013

SXSW Sunday: Love what you do; do what you love

Having gone without a real day off since Feb. 17th, I'm kind of burned out and it's hard to keep focused on the festival. It didn't help that arriving exactly at start time for my 9:30 a.m. panel, there was a line outside the venue much larger than the venue could hold. That was my 11 a.m. venue, too, so I bailed and went to see Amit Singhal talk about Google Search.

Amit Singhal and Google Search in Mobile World

Amit was clever enough and a good chat, but he didn't reveal much insight into Google Search. Clearly, he has a passion for search as a way to change the world, and for it to be perfect for every person.

The prefect engine should know exactly what you mean and give you exactly what you want. - Amit Singhal.
Singhal wouldn't reveal much about the search engine algorithm or any secrets in "gaming" it (of course.)

  • Inbound links are important
  • So are a good title and the content
  • There are over 200 search signals included in the code
  • The code base is very large. More than can be written in a day.
  • They don't manual change rankings for much. Porn. Legal reasons. They will change the algorithm instead.
  • Google+ allows Google to include personal information in search returns ... information that isn't available without those connections.
Clearly what drives Singhal is doing good in the world. He told a story about a farmer in Africa who had an ant problem with his potatoes. He was able to use an internet kiosk to discover that he could spread ashes on this crop to fend off the pests, and had a bumper crop.

Google cares about non-developed countries, translating web pages to offer the entire web to those countries instead of the sliver they would have available in their native language.

Google Now looks at answering questions before you know them. That your flight is delayed. That you should leave earlier for your next appointment because there is heavy traffic.

Singhal's career advice: Follow your heart and do what it says. Because if you do, you will sleep happy, and happiness is worth much more than any amount of money you can make. 

Tina Roth Eisenberg keynote

Eisenberg talked about the 11 rules she lives by, with examples of how they have related to her many passions: her design blog, her design studio, Creative Mornings lecture series and Tattly (and probably more.) 
  1. Invest your life in what you love
  2. Embrace enthusiasm
  3. Don't complain; make things better
  4. Trust and empower people
  5. Experience is greater than money
  6. Surround yourself with like-minded people
  7. Step away from ego and collaborate
  8. Ignore haters
  9. Make time to think and breathe
  10. If an opportunity scares you, you need to take it
  11. Be an eccentric aunt to someone else
Eisenberg was fun and I like her energy and passion. Again, Love what you do. Follow your heart.

Nate Silver

Basically Nate doesn't understand why everyone is so exited about what he did in predicting the Presidential election, because what he did is pretty easy:

The 538 method:
  • Average the polls
  • Count to 270
  • Account for the margin of error
It's that last point that mattered. Other folks got pretty close ... 49 out of 50 states. And even in Silver's case, Florida was a coin flip anyway.

A couple of other interesting points:
  • 90 percent of the data in the world was produced in the last 2 years.
  • This is not the first time we've had that. The same thing happened after the invention of the printing press in the 1400s.
  • The world is more polarized now, and that trend seems to coincide the mass media.
  • Again, that happened with the printing press, too. There was more conflict in the 100 years after the printing press than any other time in history.
  • Silver brought up the 80/20 rule like Tim Ferriss yesterday. That 20% of effort will get you 80% accuracy. But it is the profit margin that is in the other 20% of accuracy. Take that, Tim!
  • Silver got into stats so he would win his fantasy leagues.
OK, so Nate didn't tell anyone to follow their passion, but clearly he does.

Craig Newmark and Kelly McBride

OK, here's the deal. I'm here at this panel now, but I'm not listening. I'm instead installing LAMP on a new server I got for free from DigitalOcean, hoping to use it to set up DocuWiki. Wish me luck.

Trade show

Which leads me to the trade show. I spent time at Tableau and Digital Ocean. Ate AP's breakfast tacos. Tried the symbol-less dasKeyboard and scored 73 words a minute.

What I really wanted was to find Google Blogger to answer a question about one of their templates, but when I searched for them on the convention index, they did not have a booth. There were no Google booths.

I guess they don't need to market.


    Magwa 12:35 AM  

    Thanks for posting this, I am always curious about our world and like to hear different up-and-coming viewpoints . I wish I could be there listening and ingesting the information myself but you are the next best informant.

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