Posts tagged "sxsw"

#SXSW: Twitter Copies Facebook Connect with @Anywhere

Twitter announced a tool called @anywhere at this year’s SXSQ event. The new feature enables users to enjoy the Twitter experience (almost) anywhere and anytime, without signing into their actual account.

Are you reminded of Facebook Connect? Yeah. Us too.


Just like Facebook Connect, Twitter’s @anywhere enables users to plug their Twitter credentials into popular sites and share information across platforms. For example, if you see a video you like on YouTube (an @anywhere launch partner), you’d be able to tweet about it from within YouTube’s site, rather than redirecting to or your Twitter application of choice.

"When we're ready to launch, imagine being able to follow a New York Times journalist directly from her byline, tweet about a video without leaving YouTube, and discover new Twitter accounts while visiting the Yahoo home page — and that's just the beginning," explained Twitter’s co-founder Biz Stone on the company’s official blog.

We initially caught wind of the possibility of a Connect-like tool for Twitter back in January. Like we said then, considering the number of Facebook Connect fans (today more than 80,000 sites have integrated the tool), it makes a lot of sense to see Twitter following suit. After all, the microblogging superstar has made it quite clear that they’re aiming for a very successful 2010, and this new release proves that.

However, the tool isn’t exactly like Connect. "For example, while both permit easy sharing of content to one's networks, Twitter @anywhere seems poised to do more distribution of content across the Web,” said Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray. "The idea of allowing people to access relevant, real-time information from the Twitter network wherever they surf is a bit different than I've seen done with Facebook Connect, and it promises to open up the Twitter experience to people who as of yet may not have seen a reason to visit, register and participate."


We can’t help but wonder what this means for third-party developers. We talked a couple weeks back about a cryptic tweet sent out by Twitter engineer Alex Payne:

If you had some of the nifty site features that we Twitter employees have, you might not want to use a desktop client. (You will soon.)

Back then developers worried that Twitter would soon lose the need for them. Payne has since removed the Tweet and told developers not to worry, but now that @anywhere is upon us, it might be worth it to worry just a little.

#SXSW: Don't Worry, Privacy is Alive! (But Tech is Stupid)

We’ve certainly heard plenty from CEOs about privacy being dead and all, but considering the heat coming from related debates, perhaps it’s time to hear from the opposing team.

Danah Boyd, social media researcher for Microsoft, took the stage at this year’s SXSW conference, and with her 10+ years in the social realm, claimed privacy is alive (but not well), and schooled us on the intricacies of screw-ups from some of the biggest names out there: Google and Facebook.

Where Google Went Wrong

It was such huge news that even if you’re not big on Internet life, chances are you’re aware that the blogosphere virtually bitch-slapped Google Buzz back to the laboratory. The arguments mainly revolved around privacy flaws—even Google has admitted to releasing the tool much too early—but Boyd made an interesting point: Nothing the Buzz team did was technologically wrong—it was just stupid.

What does that mean? It means Google tripped up on a personal expectation level. After all, regardless of how difficult it was to find them, the options to opt out of all the things that sent users into conniption fits were available since day one.

Here’s a look at Google’s non-technical mistakes, according to Boyd:

Google launched a public-facing service within a very private one. That is, the outspoken Buzz set up shop within Gmail. For many tech geeks it was a logical move on Google’s part simply because Gmail is used regularly by a ton of people. But the integration of opposing natures confused a lot of non-tech users, and caused them to believe their e-mails were being made publicly accessible

Google assumed that people would opt-out of Buzz if they didn't want to participate. “I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one because a more insidious framing would be to say that they wanted to force people into opting-in because this makes the service more viral and more monetizable,” said Boyd. “While I'm trying not to let conspiracy theories cloud my analysis, I can't help but notice that more and more companies are opting people in and waiting until they flip out to adjust privacy settings.”

Where Facebook Went Wrong

Perhaps you remember Facebook's changes in December? The world's favorite social network asked users to reconsider their privacy settings via popup. Unfortunately, tons of users bypassed the popup as if it were an ad because they just wanted to get to Facebook itself. Problem is, if the popup wasn’t addressed, Facebook automatically changed all of the "negligent" user’s settings to public.

This from a platform  that built its reputation on being a closed network—something users have always valued in a big way. 

“By continuously arguing that Privacy is Dead, technologists justify their efforts to make publicly available data more public,” continued Boyd. “But there's a big difference between something being publicly available and being publicized. I worry about how others are going to publicize this publicly available Facebook data and, more importantly, who will get hurt in the cross-fire.”

Ass [Out of] U [and] Me

Do you see a pattern here? It looks like networks are assuming what users want rather than asking them. Unfortunately, that logic would only work if everyone thought like a technologist and loved the idea of optimizing absolutely everything.

"What's at stake here is often not about whether or not something is public or private, but how public or private it is,” explained Boyd. “People are not used to having the paparazzi trail after them every time they leave their house. Yet, when we argue that there's nothing wrong with making something that happens in public more public, we are basically arguing that we have the right to sick the paparazzi on everyone, to turn anyone into a public figure."

The point? We’re a fickle bunch. Just because we put material in public places doesn’t mean we want it aggregated. And just because something is publically accessible doesn’t mean we want it publicized. And using information in unexpected ways is a recipe for disastrous media coverage.

What Hath We Wrought?

And so, what to do? Boyd says there's no magical formula for understanding privacy and publicity (rats). But she left us with some valuable words to chew on:

Wanting privacy is not about needing something to hide. It’s about wanting to maintain control. Often, privacy isn't about hiding; it's about creating space to open up. If you remember that privacy is about maintaining a sense of control, you can understand why Privacy is Not Dead. There are good reasons to engage in public; there always have been. But wanting to be in public doesn’t mean wanting to lose control.

And finally, for all the techies out there:

You are shaping the future. How you handle these challenging issues will affect a generation. Make sure you're creating the future you want to live in.

R.I.P Content Management System

Going into the R.I.P Content Management System session — led by Drupal project founder Dries Buytaert — at SXSW (site), I was not too sure what to expect. I know of Drupal Web CMS and their very large developer community that contributes to the overall success of this open source content management system.

I also understand that Drupal is behind hundreds of thousands of websites, so I was interested in hearing what Buytaert was going to present.

All About Drupal

Unfortunately, the session was tailored around Drupal, highlighting sites that are powered by Drupal and their large developer community.

Buytaert pointed to their user community and how passionate they are, running through slide after slide of the different things that their community does with the logo — creating socks, wearing a costume, making cookies — which was interesting, but I was still curious what that had to do with the session.

Buytaert described how open source systems are light years ahead of traditional content management systems because of the ability to leverage their incredibly large developer community. He discussed specific examples of where he felt that Drupal was ahead of these traditional content management systems.

Main Takeaways

Buytaert did make a couple of interesting points during the initial part of his discussion though:

Problem #1

Your webmaster doesn’t scale. Open source (Drupal) redefines the role of the web developer and (pretty much) eliminates the role of the webmaster.

Problem #2

Closed source CMSs are slow to innovate. It is impossible to implement every new feature, so they wait to see what goes mainstream and then integrate them. They are slow to adopt new technologies. Open source solutions are quicker to adapt to changes in the landscape due to their community.

I understand problem #1, and I think that was an obvious point. While I also understand that open source allows for quicker and faster deployment of features and functionality, I think that he was downplaying the features and functionality that traditional content management systems currently have integrated within their products.

The title of this session misled a lot of individuals, as they were not expecting a Drupal overview session. I do like the fact that Buytaert actually listened to the back channel on Twitter (hashtag #RIPcontentmgmt) and did apologize for the session being to tailored around Drupal.

#SXSW: the Hype, the Networking Opps and the 256 page SXSW Booklet

This is the first time that I have attended SXSW and after yesterday, I can say that it definitely lives up to its billing and all of the stories that you have heard are true.

The networking opportunities are tremendous. Yesterday I ran in Pete Cashmore CEO and founder of Mashable in the Hotel lobby and Dharmesh Shah, founder of Hubspot, provider of Inbound Marketing Software at an event sponsored by Oneforty, which is a company that helps to people find, rate, collect and share twitter applications.

There are sessions here for everyone and the tracks are well organized. However it can be a little overwhelming if you do not prepare your tie in advance. I was told that I should try to pick out 3-4 sessions — 1 per day — that you really want to attend and make sure to get to those, but other than that, try to find out where others are going, or just play it by ear, because you never know who you will run into and what information that they have to share with you.

During registration they hand out a 256 page booklet that has everything that you need to know about SXSW — except for the “off of the grid” networking opportunities and parties that are pretty tough to find out about. The booklet helps to set the tone of each day, but thankfully they also provide you with a ‘Pocket guide” to all of the sessions and you don’t have to lug the 3 lb booklet around.

So what am I expecting out of the conference? I am hoping to validate my feelings and thoughts around Social applications for businesses, both for internal and external purposes. I am hoping to learn from thought leaders in the industry and see what their current and future thoughts are. I am also hoping that I can reconnect with people that I have met over the last 10 years.

I am happy to say that so far the conference is meeting and exceeding my expectations. I hope that you enjoy my perspective of the conference and please look for daily updates on this site.


About the Author

Mike has been part of the “Social Software” revolution for over 10 years, including 5+ years at eBay where he held numerous Community roles - Manager, Product Manager, and International Consultant. His current position as Social Strategist for allows him the ability to share his knowledge with businesses that are looking to integrate Social functionality within their website in order to provide a more pervasive web experience to their audience.

#SXSW: Getting Streamy With Chris Messina and

Unless you’re living off the grid, or a paranoid rendition of Tony Soprano operating on a cash basis and only taking in-person meetings — your life is full of streams of data that track what you are doing

If Tony Has a Data Stream…

Heck, come to think of it — Tony probably has a pile of phony receipts he uses for taxes both personal and for the waste management company he runs, so he also has a stream of data about his activities (albeit a fabricated one), and I’ll bet Meadow Soprano talks about him indirectly via her MySpace and Facebook status updates.

The feds probably have files and photos — and although they are not on Flickr. They are stored and tagged in a secure database somewhere. So, scratch that. Tony Soprano has a definite data stream circulating that will be measurable at some point in the future.

If Tony has a data stream out there you should assume most of us do. Especially those of us that are here at SXSWi.

Streaming Data by Choice

We’re all over the place and many of us have our data set out for public consumption by choice. And that’s where Chris Messina (@Chrismessina) comes into play. He’s taking this baseline reality that we all have data streams out there and building on some great foundational elements and theories all of which culminate into the notion of an activity stream.

In his talk today — (#gettingstreamy) — Chris explained the history of activity streams, and what they are. Hopefully I’ll be able to do him justice…

The Evolution of Activity Streams

For the folks that process information in equations, this is what I understood:

  • First (circa 1999) there was RSS defined as RSS = title + link + description.
  • Then, after six years (2005) of progress there was ATOM defined as ATOM=RSS + author + unique id + when updated. Six years of progress got us three new elements.
  • Today, we’re talking about activity streams defined as Activity Stream = ATOM + actor + verb + object. Three is the magic number (De La Soul anyone) of new elements apparently.

Historical equations representing how we got here aside, there is a reason that Chris is spending his time on this. Mostly it comes down to solving a problem for many (how thoughtful) by setting open standards.

The idea being that with a small incremental change in the variables tracked, we should be able to improve the story that can be told through the contributions people are making without asking anyone to significantly change how or what they are doing.

Endless Possibilities in the Future

Looking to future applications of the data being collected, there are endless possibilities. For example, taking all the data from Flickr, iLike, Twitter, Facebook and aggregating the data to create a story telling depiction of what you were experiencing, feeling, and projecting to the outside world during a specific life event like meeting your future wife, or when your child entered your life, or when you got that big promotion, or finished rebuilding a home for a Katrina victim’s family.

This story is told by the music you were listening to, the pictures you were taking, the comments you were posting the people you were befriending. That’s some pretty cool stuff right there and from what I can tell it sounds like we are headed in the right direction with activity streams. Interested in learning more? You can do so at


About the Author

Jason was a Product Manager at AOL for 10 years before joining Siteworx, an Interactive Agency with deep Web content management (WCM) roots as GM, Atlanta. Interactive marketers, Web strategists and technology leaders turn to Siteworx for our unique combination of design and technology expertise.

#SXSW: Search Patterns - Tangible Futures for Discovery

tairs Leading to Nowhere

For those of you that are not familiar with the house it is located in San Jose, CA. For 38 years the owner of the house added on and created room after room, staircase after staircase and doorway after doorway. Some of the stairs led to nowhere and there was never a design or plan for the house.

Now it looks like a very nice house from the outside, and you would never know that the inside was so messed up unless you were to get inside it, but once you are inside the house, it is unorganized and very confusing.

The metaphor really set the stage for the session, as every website needs to have a blueprint, so that when you are looking to organize and manage the content, you are able to do so easily and with the ability to allow your visitors to easily access and find the information that they are looking for.

Search Means Different Things to Different People

Morville then went on to discuss how search is a complex and adaptive system with real properties of emergence, and it is very important to understand that search means different things to different people, and when you are designing your website and search capabilities, you have to account for all of the following instances.

Individuals search in very different ways within a website and there are very unique patterns:

  • Narrow
  • Expansive
  • Thrashing
  • and Pearl Growing.

I found the “thrashing” one very interesting, as individuals search for a couple of words/phrases and modify their search time and time again, while always keeping the first term. Pearl Growing was also very interesting — this is when people find other keywords that help the search and modify their initial search entirely.

This led to his point that you need to think about search in 3 different ways, microscope (detail), telescope (big picture) and kaleidoscope (creativity).

Other key points that were made:

  • Speed is very important
  • The single biggest opportunity for businesses is through search
  • Think about the content and indexing it appropriately, adding metadata
  • Include the Content creators within the search model (metadata)
  • Filtering is an important aspect — especially within eCommerce
  • You need to have excessive attention to detail and get the interfaces right
  • Social plays an important part in search

Even though I am not a techie or search guy, I found this presentation very informative. To read the back channel on Twitter, search for the hashtag #searchpatterns.


About the Author

Mike has been part of the “Social Software” revolution for over 10 years, including 5+ years at eBay where he held numerous Community roles - Manager, Product Manager, and International Consultant. His current position as Social Strategist for allows him the ability to share his knowledge with businesses that are looking to integrate Social functionality within their website in order to provide a more pervasive web experience to their audience.