Mar 18

Ze Frank End of Show party

IMG_6124.JPG, originally uploaded by RachelC.

On Saturday, fans of Ze held a party to ‘celebrate’ the end of show. Most people there had never met each other but had the common lik of watching the show and connecting online via the forums and the ORG. I volunteered to take the group photo, to go with the rest of them I took during the night. And, as you will see, Ze turned up to meet everyone there.

Mar 16

Video Popularity – Views or Links

Update: I’ve updated this post with further comments from Bri at Holt Labs

For a while now, I’ve been using a couple of video tracking sites for work-related reasons, both to see what is popular and to track some of our own videos. The two systems use different tracking methods, one is on views and the other is on links. Both have their place when understanding the popularity of the videos from a marketing perspective. I’ve blogged about them before (and have been tested their services), but here’s a comparison, plus a look at why you should use both methods.

The first is is VidMeter, from San Diego based Holt Labs, a company that seems to consistently produce interesting systems.
Key elements from their general service are:

  • Top 100 videos, based on views across 13 networks
  • For each video provides total views, views per network, traffic history
  • RSS feeds for most viewed of all time and most viewed per day.
  • Widget to add to your blog/site to provide updating lists of the popular videos.

In addition, they also provide a tracker service for you to sign up and track your own videos. We’ve been using this in the office for a few weeks to track some brand videos we have out in the wild, and it makes a difference in making everything a lot easier when you’re reporting. The tracker service also tracks links to your video, so you can tell who is linking to your videos. Holt Labs are busy adding even more services to their offering, everything aimed at making it easier for agencies to understand what is happening with their content.

The second one is the Viral Video Charts, from London based Unruly Media. This system rates the videos on inbound links.

  • It details where the video was found and how many links are being made to the site
  • Embed code to add video to won site
  • popular videos by categories
  • RSS feeds for Top 10 daily
  • Widget for your blog for top 10 (now moved from sidebar of this blog, but added in post)

The Viral Chart also accepts advertising, providing sponsored video links and blurb.

But the 2 charts give completely different results; as it stands at the moment there are no videos in common between the two of them. So as a content producer which metric should you use. In my opinion, both. Both methods give you a different insight into how your content is spreading. I asked the 2 teams why they had chosen their methods.

Bri from HoltLabs

“Ranking videos by links is good method for determining what the “blogosphere likes” and it’s usually cited on as a method for finding “good” video. Those sites are also competing with the “social video links” sites which allow users to vote on what videos are “good… Vidmeter’s goal is different. [from either link or voting sites] We’re trying to provide the most objective analytics possible about a video’s traffic and in doing that we’re able to determine what the most viewed videos of the day are. We don’t claim that these videos are “good,” but we do know that they are hot.

Scott from Unruly Media

We measure linkage and embedding in preference to views because views can just be bought or, worse, easily faked. For instance, you only need 30-50,000 views in a day to make one of YouTube’s most viewed pages or to make Vidmeter’s top 50. And we know agencies routinely fake out that many views as part of their seeding strategy….there are lots of smaller specialist shops doing viral work and it’s pretty wild west. We want to track social acts of recommendation and to find out which pieces of content are inherently viral and therefore likely to achieve high numbers of views regardless of campaign budgets or black hat techniques. We think measuring linkage and embedding is a good way of doing this. It’s still subject to spam, gaming and other forms of abuse, of course, but we find that pretty easy to detect at the moment. I’m not wanting to big up our method. It’s simply a question of what you want to find out.

Ultimately, our interest is in helping agencies to identify strongly mimetic strains of content and to map out the the routes via which specific strains of content are typically diffused. Put commercially, to provide planning and evaluation tools and to offer bespoke research and consultancy.

We added three new video sites to our roster last month – Metacafe, Dailymotion and – in addition to YouTube, MySpace and Google. To be perfectly honest, the incentive to track other video sites is not particularly strong. For instance, in February we saw 700 blog posts embedding or linking to videos. And 500,000 blog posts embedding or linking to YouTube videos. Linkage is much more skewed towards YouTube than viewing data!

So, as a marketer, how do you read these numbers? The views is very easy to explain to a client – how many people have watched their content , usually to the end. It’s easy to explain, it’s directly analogous to metrics they are used to when it comes to print or TV (ignoring the accuracy of those systems), it’s a metric that can be used across all the video distributors. It’s also more the default mode of exploration on the web. That is what YouTube and the other sites have bought, easy entertainment along a broadband pipe. Point and click, no technology knowledge required at all beyond being able to type youtube in a search box*. (something that Joost and other distribution clients need to think about). It can be gamed, and gamed easily. As a client, I hope you would never find an agency that would do that. As Bri says, raw numbers give an indication of who has seen the content.

On the other hand, if you know your audience is relatively tech-savvy, likely to have their own web pages (and I’m not talking MySpace) then links is another measure that is useful. It’s a percentage of those who watch you can take the content – and not all sites allow you to do that anyway. Linkage and embedding is a strong indicator of whether people loved your video enough to do something about it and want to share it with their readers. The choice of linking reflects on their online brand, what is in it for them- I can go and watch all the trash I like with no consequence but when I embed or link then I express something about myself that reflects on how I like to be portrayed. So linking is a reflection of this as well as engagement with the content.

So using both measures, (along with comment numbers) gives you different levels of engagement. Use them all to express the success of distributed content. If looking at 2 videos on a site with a similar view count but different link numbers, i would tend to regard the higher linked one as a better success.

And the two services? Vidmeter allows a DIY approach, giving you the numbers but look to be building out a commercial offer with more information as well. Unruly Media provide the top numbers and a commercial and consultancy service to help improve your content. Use as required!

Update: Further comments from Bri from Holt labs:

We do take the issue of “faking” views seriously, but it hasn’t been a problem. In order to register a view on YouTube, a view must come from a unique IP address. Knowing that, there are 3 ways to quickly register views:

1. Placing the embedded player on a website. Since registering views in this way still requires that unique eyeballs are watching it, we think this is fair. From your perspective as a marketer, you WANT to know if the video you embedded on a site is getting played.

2. Buying traffic. Through various ways a person can send lots of people to a YouTube page, however this still requires that unique people see the video so we also treat this as fair game. From your perspective as a marketer, you WANT to see if the traffic you bought actually watched the video so you want to know this.

3. Putting a hidden iframe to a YouTube page on another website. This method would surreptitiously allow a website with a lot of traffic to add a large number of views to a YouTube video without having people actually watch it. We consider this cheating, however there are three obstructions that prevent this:
a. A cheater needs to fake at least 70,000 views to get on the Vidmeter home page.
b. We have TWO HUMAN DATA ANALYSTS who scan the list daily to look for this
c. As you stated in the post, this isn’t relevant when tracking your own videos because you aren’t going to fake your own traffic.

In the event that a person cheats 1,000 views and then gets listed on YouTube’s most-viewed to receive 60,000 additional real views (as the case with “Spiders on Drugs”) we actually consider the 60,000 legitimate views as 60,000 people did actually watch it.

The proof that faking is not an issue is on our site. Thus far, no one has been able to point to a video that faked it’s way to the top. All the top YouTube videos are either from major providers, featured, or blogged about.

Also, I think it would be fair to note that blog links can be faked as well. The same way that SEOers would create fake sites with links to their own in order to “Googlebomb” and increase their page rank, a person could easily create multiple fake blogs and embed their videos in.

Bri makes some good points about how video views can be skewed and what they do to prevent that on the charts. However, i still feel that there is the possibility for some unscrupulous agencies to skew the results to present them to their clients – they do not refer to the charts at all, just to the video site with the view counter. This is in the same way that there are SEO agencies, buzz agencies and all other kinds of advertising agencies may do things to promote positive results. Look at Henriette’s comment for some examples of what is being done.

*that’s my default assumption of how the average person finds sites these days, after watching relatives. No need to know what the address bar is, just where the search box is and you type the URL.

Mar 16

SXSW – Is Google Evil

Read this from Ewan, notes from a SXSW Music Panel on Is Google Evil? With no consumer representation on the panel and no questions from the floor without being written down and screened by the moderator

and I forced my question into the discussion flow. “Can we ask who represents the consumer on this panel?” The answer? “No you can’t ask.” (Eric Rice has a chain of thought blog posts starting at the above link as well). I’m sorry, I’m going to debate strongly that it should be asked. Turns out the audience was on my side and wanted the question answered as well. Result? End of Panel, thank you for coming.

Mar 16

Red Nose 2005

Red Nose 2005, originally uploaded by RachelC.

The Red Nose from 2 years ago. Don’t have one this year as not there.

Mar 16

Conferences, diversity and planning travels

Now back to the reality of work after SXSW, I’m looking at where to go next. And with prefect timing, an email from Reboot arrived in my inbox this morning. This is an event I’ve attended for the last 2 years and intend to go again; it seems to fot quite nicely with some other travel I need to do to Europe.

And for those who challenge the diversity of presenters and attendees at tech conferences (although this is not really a tech conference) here’s your chance to do something. Thomas is calling for contributions:

Like last year there isn’t a final speakers list or a black box creation model. reboot is a platform for bringing the European (and beyond) community together, a platform for conversations and relationships, a platform for sharing visions and meeting the people you never knew you’d meet.
So the platform is all yours, and this is an invitation to participate and help co-create reboot..:
– an invitation to submit topics you would like on the agenda for reboot,
– an invitation to submit pointers to interesting people you know in your country or industry that has something to contribute, and help us recruit them to come as speakers or participants,
– an invitation for your proposal to host or present if you’ve been doing some interesting thinking the last year or have created something that’s worth sharing,
– an invitation for you to help make sure that we have the people that have open minds and are ready to make a difference at reboot. To connect Europe, to widen the community, to add perspective.

Want to see someone speak – get them involved, suggest them, encourage them. It’s not just up to the organisers, it’s up to you too.

I’m also planning on going to Gnomedex, an event that currently has an attendance of 95% men. Although gender is not the only variable used when discussing diversity, it’s often the most visible. This is another conference that plans speakers based on attendees, so there is a further opportunity to influence what you see.

Mar 14

SXSW – Creating a Global Microbrand

Again my rough notes; this was one of fun ones here, i recommend you grab this podcast when it comes out.

Blogger Hugh MacLeod has espoused the notion of “The Global Microbrand” or a small, tiny brand that sells globally. The Global Microbrand is nothing new but with the advent of the Internet and blogging it’s much easier for merchents and even consultants to reach a global audience. For many, blogging is an avenue to creating a personal Global Microbrand and getting off of the corporate hamster wheel. This panel will focus on the two most well known stories — English Cut and Stormhoek — showing how blogging has changed the rules and allowed small players to break out and play to a global audience.

Hugh MacLeod Blogger,
David Parmet Owner, Marketing Begins At Home LLC
Gabe Rivera CEO, Techmeme
Kathy Sierra CreatingPassionateUsers

David: please give us some a definitions

Hugh: a small business, but instead of local community stuff, it has a global community of customers and users and people who care about them. as a blogger it is tempting to think you could not have that with out the web. but not true, look at holland and holland, shotguns, that cost about $120k; their reputation is world wide and everyone buys from there eventually, if a shotgun geek. make 200 guns a year. they do not want to grow further with guns, but are extending in other ways. been around about 200 years. now you do not have to wait that long to be there with the web. now I’m recession proof, income from all over the planet. can build community with a blog. I don’t have a boss anymore and no-one can tell me what to do. i have a constituency of several thousand people, some give me money and some don’t. it’s not about how easy it is to make money, the key is freedom and personal sovereignty. I don’t have to work in a cube in a glass building with a dickless boss.

David: so how does techmeme fit in?
Gabe: it’s fueled by people’s global microbrands (GM). it’s a news site, there’s a lot of news sites but a lot of other kind of people who are not really trying to report news but are also writing stuff ..with an identity that transcends their job, that translates into excellent future opportunities. a lot of these people have great first hand knowledge, or axe to grind (which can make news interesting). Robert Scoble is an excellent example of a GM, a following that moves with him. he has a personal brand. look at Jeremy Zawodny and Matt Cutts, they got into a war about who was copying whom [their respective companies]…an inside account about what it was like to complete in these companies. they come out as voice of companies even though not their day job. do this to promote own GM, but provide content that is for the good of the web. As a GM you are not going to advertise, so you have to create content that people will link to and value. create stuff that people want to repeat, that people want to augment, put stuff out there that people want to attack or bash.

David: Kathy, on tips on how to grow GM

Kathy: i was inspired by Hugh, 2 years ago, the big moment for me when I had a higher ranking that my publisher. (O”Reilly) on Technorati I would not have started if I had not lost my job at Sun.. now I would not go back. the rules I follow may not be agreed with, other people have had success with some of the things I say not to do. they come to me all the time, asking how to get readers. so here are the 7 virtues of the GM

Be grateful.. the single most important one. every moment people give us attention to read us…so with 55m blogs..for someone to spend 30 seconds on yours..i never stop being grateful, it is a gift and the day I forget this is the day it stops.

Be Humble: a lot of people find this difficult. don’t make it all about you. you have to give something back. our job is to make people feel better about themselves, not us. we want people to think that they rock. you want the reader to say that they are brilliant, not that the product or company is brilliant.

Be Patient: we did not think about monetising, we thought about giving what we could give. give them info that is helpful. see what happens. you have to wait. took about a year, year and half to have bigger ranking than hugh

Be Brave: you need to grow thick skin, the critics come out with popularity, they can be brutal. I got slammed and I started pulling back..I needed to take own advice, do stuff that is love or hate, not mediocre.

Show respect: recognise the value of time you give me is really worth a lot. enchant your users. give your readers superpowers. respect what people are coming there to see.

Be generous – giveaway your knowledge, what i get paid to do, is the stuff i do online as well. I help people with presentations, send them slides, will talk and advice. tell people how you do what you do. Do a learning blog..if you can teach people how to do it. we give away what we can, be inspirational and motivational. it;s the outside expert syndrome..f someone says says it it is more meaningful. remember talk to the brain not the mind, therefore don’t blog the cat..dont; name drop! It;s not about you. the people who have taken it, have been pretty successful.

David: the blog is a resume. you will piss people off who may be potential clients…but there is a flip side.

Audience Questions:

Q: how do you demonstrate that you are grateful.

Hugh: if they leave a really nice comment, then I will quote it. readers can tell whether you find them interesting. I’m bad a responding in comment section, I wish I was better. you try and be nice. I don’t put up with trolls, I will tell the to fuck themselves. I quote in follow up posts, I”ll link to URL, I’m comment. you get all these interesting people and you can learn so much from them. link to people who read rather than the a-list.

Q: you don’t have time to respond all…so how give back without an overload point?

Hugh: with great difficulty. I took Stormhoek to bloggers. i want people to think it is real. offered to all bloggers. you don’t have to be an influencer, we sponsored geek dinners. we wanted to start a conversation, believe good things would happen down the road. 2 years ago we were selling 40k cases a year..and now we sold 40k cases last week.

Kathy its been quite some time since I could keep up with comments. I’m trying to respect peoples time with posts I make. I do graphs so that people can get idea without reading post do it, get the idea, respect the time, I don’t post all the time; if I’m busy and can’t add value, I won’t clutter the feed with posts for posts put quality not just posts.

Q: (Tara Hunt) it s a problem of volume, of being important, you read too much, have followers…it was an important step when I stopped reading techmeme. the more readers I got, the less care I took. I had to let go of the drug. the relationships are more quality.

Hugh: before stormhoek, I was working with Thomas, tailor. I built him a blog. his business tripled inside 6 months. now he gets 3 more suits for every order..he has 6mnths waiting list to get on waiting list! he does not care about Technorati rankings, trackbacks. he does not care about the technorati mafia. he cares about making the best suits in the world and his customers. when I talk about a GM, I’m not talking about consultants with blogs, I’m talking about people who make products.

David: it’s not about reaching the most people, it’s about reaching the right people.

Hugh: at the beginning we were following the numbers with English Cut…then we focused more on the business. Tara’s transition from numbers to letting go is the same.

Gabe: forget metrics and then you find your own footings..then you do better.

Q: (Brian Overkirk) can you talk about the other things that come from it. stories about the tiny victories that mean a great deal

Kathy: i year ago I posted about my seizure disorder, i blogged it, and a reader wrote to me with advice and a new drug I would not be here without that advice

Hugh: David was a blog reader, left comments, he lost his job and blogged about it, so I blogged about it, asked people to hire him. with english cut, i started a traveling service where thomas would visit in NY hotels. we needed PR, I knew nothing about PR so I asked David. David was them working for us, we got in NYT which tipped the scale and we were taken seriously. he’s not this fantasy tailor blogger. next thing Scoble and Shel Israel were righting a book, talking about Thomas, David and I hooking up in the book. and now David has the reputation of being The Suit Guy.

Gabe: when I launched in 2005 I was reading a bunch of blogs I found useful, I had a lot of respect for people writing the, over time, every single one of those have said they have found my site useful and that is personal success for me.

David: its about meeting;s about being able to convince my kids they don’t have to works a the big glass building with dickless death…

Q: I get a kick out of being here…a kick because you come to know people, it may be a one way relationship; you can figure out that you have similarities,in cube land you forget there are people like you.. it;s not about how often you publish…snot sure how long you do it with quality. I appreciate what has come out of panel, i see so many people trying to be popular..2 quotes come to mind…Jerry Garcier – at first you worry about copying and then you get your own sound. and the other quote was stop worrying about the best you can do and start being the only one. so, you are all awesome

hugh: go back 2-3 years…we all started hitting critical mass, we’d spent a few years writing and then we had a business week article and the next thing you know this may be real. i get to write what want, i have the readers I want and I am grateful for that. it makes me happy when other people make a good go of it. and real jobs do suck the more people who find something remarkable and can express it to the world the happier this would well be.

Katthy: i always try and take it one step further…my job is to make someone be kick-ass at what they do. take focus off myself, i did not want it to be about me, it’s about helping others. I’m happy now, I reaching more people and that is what is rewarding to me.

Q: (Chris Messina) i find helping people kick-ass the better I feel. I wanted to share an anecdote….I started at LesBlogs in Paris…I thought i had to sound really smart, be really articulate, but then I went out (drinking heavily) with Tom Rafferty and he had told me to stop thinking about having an audience and think about 3 or 4 people you are writing to, as an email.. once is abandoned the idea of writing to a large audience…I was able to get a lot more out of it personally and were able to speak with a clear voice. I used to work for Flock…the work I was doing there represents me, the people i work for reflect what me is. once flock stopped representing me and my values. , I left

Hugh: questions for you.I think the best way to get approval is not to need it

Chrsi – I had to give myself permission.

Q: you say that blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly, look at twitter, social objects etc. what is your take is.

Hugh: a had this idea, i did this cartoon. ” if you talk to people the way advertising people talk, they would punch you in the face.” [one of the cartoons I rotate as my desktop at work] you start a conversation, you start rather random. i started putting cartoon out in hi res. they can be printed. is ell things, but you can still download. you’ve taken the time to read my stuff and I want you to enjoy it.

It’s all about love!!! and don’t forget to google social object.

Mar 14

Business PCs

After 5 days at SXSW, surrounded by a sea of Macs, the Continental lounge at Austin Airport is different beast…full of PCs, primarily IBMs This is obviously a business clientel, not conference goers.

Mar 14

SXSW – Will Wright Keynote

These are the live notes from Will Wright’s Keynote. no context or analysis yet.

Some insiders believe that SPORE may be the most ambitious most highly anticipated computer game in history. USA Today calls it “gaming’s giant leap.” The New Yorker says it explores the “limitless possibility of life itself.’ And the New York Times, suggests that SPORE ‘deserves to be seen as a work of art.’ Drawing on inspirations that range from the SETI project to the Eames movie, The Powers of Ten, SPORE takes gaming to an unprecedented scope and scale to the concept of life itself. You begin as a microscopic cell struggling to survive in the primordial soup. If you can evolve, growing and gaining intelligence, you can travel a vast galaxy deciding the fate of entire planets. Join us as Will Wright, the visionary game designer behind SPORE and arguably the most celebrated game designer of our time will discuss his plans to bring to life vast beauty and possibility offered by our universe, and create a game that encourages every player to consider his or her place in the galaxy. He will also address the challenges of developing a narrative in non-linear and linear mediums, and explore his inspirations for the game. This session should not be missed.

I was not intending to present Spore, I was preparing a presentation of story. But then read the speach notes…so I will mash them up.

I’ll tell you I hate the stories my computers try and tell me. Novels have been the model, I’ll tell you about the nature of story. I look at the world as a simulation, things cause changes in other things, a dense web events, but a story is a causal chain. stories are unchanging and linear. games are mesh, many interactions. movies are visual, games are interactive. when we take control away from player we take the most important thing away. moving interactive to passive. games are a branching tree. we try and find the compressed rule set to give all the possible options when we design and build games for computers.

There is topology difference btw games and story – dense to open. you can present a dramatic arc with movie when all viewers feel the same. the game arc is very different, it is not a dramatic arc, you can repeat things all the time. we think linear drama is more compelling than interactive.

Stores based on language, empathy, imagination.

actors are emotion-sims, emotional avatars

Film has a rich emotional palette as they have avatars – joy etc, games appeal more to the basic instincts. pride accomplishment, guilt, expression.

Appeal is empathy for film whereas games are agency, i can chose what happens in games. both build models on different ways empathy vs agency

you are stuck in a timestream but we want to move experiences outside either outside place or time. story allows learning

experiences – play or story – an abstraction – models – help predict further and change behaviour

the best way to prevent the future is to predict it

stories start out, with characters, the structure is fuzzy at this point. once it starts you see the sequence and all acts narrow the range of possibilities. In your head you imaging eh the possibilities whilst watching films,

at the end, you start amplifying, dramatic amplifications, at the end of start wars there are 2 major possibilities. – will the rebels be blown up or the Death Star.

the biggest obstacle in interactive is that in linear the director knows the end state; interactive you don’t they are chaotic systems, Stories show causal chain as it is relevant, with interactive you can’t. film makers are playing with this causal chain; much in literature, films such as magnolia or timecode show multi threads. I like films that take a massive left turn, change the expectations. Momento plays with causal chain. each point causes you to reevaluate what you know. deeper in the story you were having to reconstruct what happened.

Groundhog day is a brilliant film, it felt the most like a game. goes through he same things again. with restarts. the director knew future and past, you could skip over things you filled it in. we should do this in games. let players skip levels if they keep failing. The real world does not have a restart, but it makes games interesting

Game stories can be branches or gated; early adventure stories…pick your pages. branching models. they get expensive if you deepened the story

Gates – within level have freedom, then have to get to next level etc. have different topologies. you have subgoals etc. and you have hybrids btw gated and branches. all of these things just throw data at problem.To double experience you need 4x as much work

New approaches are generated stories, have story fragments, have a trigger and result conditions, you can put the bits together to put story together. got more potential than has been explored; not clear what level we want to do.

Player stories…they are unintentional, subversive, expressive. players have stories about how they were playing in a game, describing what they did. Players come across bugs etc and they make the back story for it. Subversive stories are where players are trying to push out the envelope. they get excited about finding exploits. Expressive…they are like the sims, they have an intentional message, I developed a character in GTA, I hung around, finding what I wanted. I did not like messages, just wanted to hang and tell stories

With Sims, players they would be verbalising the story as they played it. they were dealing with parallel simulation but turning into linear stories. players were good at creating stuff and showing off; we put a site to collect the stories. they were like small novels. Then there’s the whole machinima movement. They are entertainment and meaningful stories, allowing people to express what is happening in their life.

so we have storytelling and story listening. with interactive entertainment, it’s more interesting to me to think about listening to stories, teaching computers to listen. let computers get understanding, understand the theme. the computer learns the story that is in the players head. you can look at stories at different levels, have the computer understand, is it girl meets girl or teen slasher etc. if we know the goal states we can present obstacles, to amplify the drama. if we can parse, present, influence/assist and then replay as a movie. we can change the the environment, drive events to clarify he story. I suspect this is more likely to happen with a lot of parallel learning, watching millions of players. this is close to truman show. the computer is like the director of the truman show. It can control environment but not violate freewill. the truman show and groundhog day are both closest to games,

Looking into the future there is this concept called the magic circle; everyone respects the rules of the game, those outside the circle do not ness respect the rules. in the circle you agree to follow them.

stories are similar, they sit around together and have similar things. storytelling has evolved, as has story.

We went from small groups, to epic with films and then started circling back to home, ipods etc, back to being a small group. we can do fractal stories, 3 min things from YT. stories circles change in time space. diversifying across platforms. there are many game niches and story niches.

Linear entertainment is watched at a fairly similar percentage across ages; interactive participation has a strong peak in the younger groups. Games are not just about story and sports, are now evolving as hobbies, tools are increasing and we start to fulfill design aspirations. players love making content. They like making, sharing and collecting, people like organising the power of collective effort is amazing, there is a quality vs quantitative; most is crappy, some OK, some great. as tools be better we should be able to increase the quality of what they are doing.

Players are building mental models in their head and we now have chance for the computer to build models of people, how they play, what they do, how they move, what they buy, what networks do they do.

We can build fairly elaborate models predicting behaviour. give tools when they can build things and then get the computer to amplify…the asset they build has value.

So take what they have made, see what other things they may like and bring it back into he world. move player away from being Luke Skywalker and playing a role and to George Lucas and making a story.

With Spore, we wanted to make the universe a game. There has been a lot of friction for players to create, so in this case the process of creating is the process of playing the game. we want the game to share automatically. we can build an infinite sized worlds.

[there followed a demo of the world, building, creating, moving between the dimensions of gameplay]

i want the game to bring up issues for players, history and future of life. philosophical implications are huge. i think of the games as elaborate montessori tools. how can they learn. this is a phil tool so that you can think about life. so what happens when you have your planets – we have weather, geology. climate etc. you can terraform. and you can destroy. game play at certain levels based on my favourite science fictions, eg the monolith tool from 2001 to raise intelligence etc. As I travel I can build up an encyclopedia of everything I have seen. over time you can explore larger and larger areas, se the entire galaxy, things are built b the players.

technology is an extension of the human body, computers do a lot of things, but importantly they extend our imagination. we use for entertainment, education communications, etc. so how does this impact? we go through a major shift every now and again, social changes, etc technology is driving paradigm shits more often, the rate is more frequent, political changes, social issues, environment issues, warnings etc about what is happening,

games have a reputation as a time waster, but they can much more, they can change how we see the world, how we behave. we can navigate the future with a little more intelligence than we could before.

Mar 14

Flickr Collections

Flickr have finally (after what appears to be a couple of years of asking in the forums) released their sets of sets feature, calling it Collections. It enables you to pull together sets, nesting them up to 5 deeps, arranging as you may organise your photos into nested directories on you hard drive. So for those so inclined, there are going to be hours of fun ahead re-arranging the photos, moving them around until they are just how you want them. So far, after having created only one collection, it looks fun and useful. In summary, here’s how you organise:

  • a photo can be added to a set
  • a photos can be added to more than one set, say if you have a set for a specific holiday and then a set for images of flowers, one image can be in both
  • sets can now be grouped into collections. I’ve created a SXSW collection for photos from this and last year.
  • collections can be grouped into further collections. One shortcoming appears to be that a collection can contain sets or collections, but not both. Only the lowest levels of any branch can be sets. Now, you can get round this by creating a collection with only one set, but this is a hack.

I thought I’d try and do a diagram about how to arrange collections (pink) and sets (Purple) together, demonstrating that you need to a single set to a collection in order to group things together in. This is just one way I may end up organising my images.

Flickr Collections

What may be of more interest to some people is the way you can now change the layout on your home page, moving between two columns of small pictures to one column of medium pictures and being able to display either will sets or collections. A nice set of features being released a couple of days before Flickr/Yahoo account merge is mandatory.

Mar 13

Spectrum Emulator

Ewan has just shown me the Sinclair Spectrum emulator on his Nintendo DS and I’ve just been playing Jet Set Willy. My sisters and spent hours playing this as kids, so all the memories came flooding back when faced with the music and gameplay. Now I want one 🙂

Mar 13

SXSW – MMORPGs in Austin

Over the years, Central Texas has emerged as the mecca of massively multiplayer game development. Why did this happen and what does this mean? How will the massively multiplayer market change in the next five to ten years — and, assuming such changes occur, will Austin be able to retain it’s position as the geographical leader of this genre?

Moderator: Gordon Walton Co-Studio Dir, BioWare Austin
Gordon Walton Co-Studio Dir, BioWare Austin
John Blakely VP of Dev, Sony Online Entertainment
J Todd Coleman Dir, KingsIsle Entertainment Inc
Shannon Cusick Orbis Games LLC
Richard Garriott NCsoft Interactive

Q: what advantages does Austin have?

Cusick: networking, companies already here, relaxed attitude, environment, resources. College students; existing gaming industry
Blakely: about 30 or so known game companies in Austin. talent base is here; getting people with that experience is invaluable. lots of support from state government. talent pool is stressed and this is a great place to attract them.
Coleman: talent pool is the biggest attraction. and austin is pretty sticky, people want to stay even if move away from your company. Austin is also ripe for deals – known, resources, community leverage etc.
Garriott: agree with everything said. and there is another special aspect – thought technically competitors we are all very friendly, especially in MMO space. these games are big, take a long time, relative infrequent and so rarely head to head. also no signs yet at being at saturation, so successful games help each other. Churn rate is under a year, so all these games out for multiple years, every game that has had over 100k subscribers still has that, even after 10 years for some year. each new release does not cannibalise. it’s a rapid growth segment, and with good conscious we can root for each other.
Walton: talent is mobile, people get brought in. it is totally environment based; we have high tech meets creativity meets tolerance. you can be weird here, there is tolerance for it. a lot of places that were making games are making less than before, we used to be spread out and now we cluster

Q: what are the disadvantages?

Garriott: i see a problem, our demand for certain education levels, skill sets and experience has tapped out the market and cannot find a wide variety of people, such as 3d artists, 3d software engineers. in some specialties we have to compete, with outside town, state and country. have opened large office in china to get talent pool. definitely not cheaper and easier but truely cannot find staff I need.
Coleman: harder and harder to find people which I why I keep stealing them from you richard. need to educate people in general about how big the games industry is in Austin and how much an impact it will have. music and film get the press but games is a staggeringly large impact and does not get press.
Games are growing and this will continue to be a burden.
Walton: we need hits to attract talent, as we have not had a lot recently. Financing side, we only have small publishers in town. we are not where the money goes but we are where the work goes. the digital distribution gives us an advantage

Q: who are our competitors
Cusick: california, (SD/LA) and east coast. Baltimore etc.
Blakely: seattle, consoles etc. WoW growth, people will go there. I keep a close watch on Blizzard.
Coleman: I don;t spend a lot of my tome thinking about competition in this space. the job os to come up with a creative vision and see it through. who is doing things, similar, is not as important, the biggest thing is losing people and then they would have gone to austin not another city
Garriott: our biggest competitor is ourselves, we will live and die on game quality and how we educate how big the industry.
Walton: West coast, aligning with Asia which is a centre of gravity.

Q: Where do you see the MMO market going 5-10 years?

Garriott: that’s one product cycle?? it eveolves slowly; I hope my new game shakes it up a little; most MMOs are built in model of everquest, they are refined but in similar. that is the first thing that needs to change. we need to bring in elements of other kinds of gameplay.
Coleman: you’ll see different business model, ads, freeplay and pay for powerups etc. you will see some implosions, there us a lot of money coming in, attracting investment, you are starting to see deals going to teams that have not done it before. and what we do is not easy, you have all these problems. every hard problems is there to solve. as well as the tech issues it still needs to be fun. we will see a lot of large losses, with really dramatic wins, and interesting play out of places we do not expect.
Blakely: the console..what does MMO mean on console. there is a shared experiences etc so how d we tackle that. we need less traditional play and we need to deliver the new stuff.
Cusick: want it to be as big as hollywood and this the place to be.
Walton: they are still in their beginning as our iteration cycle is slow, so when we think about MMOs they are part of one big landscape. there is opportunity to branch out. The tools are getting better which means that smaller teams can do stuff; only huge hi cost teams have been able to do things for a while. those are the opportunities.

Audience Questions

Q: traffic and housing will impact life quality…would like to understand…content creation in SL, is this a way to bring in creative types? what is your comment on SL environment and is anything going on in Austin about this?

Garriott: when thinking UGC I think of pen/paper and D&D. the early adopters were all good story tellers, small audience. as it expanded you lost the storytellers and it was no longer fun. the majority of UGC is not exceptional and is abhorrent to wade few. but we only employ a small % of the talented people. so provide a tool set and let the creative excellence bubble up. the largest MMOs who have tried UGC have failed in the sorting process..we need to solve this. we need to filter and push the good stuff. there needs to be an economic feedback loop to drive to the good stuff.
Blakely: We announced our Home at GDC; we need to provide tools that allow people express themselves. still a puzzle we are trying to work out.
Walton: the concept of ownership is very sticky. if I won something in a game I am stuck in the game, so tapping into it is important.

Q: Perplex city – we are sending people on quests, we have developed a permanent large world. everyone seems to be ending up in the same areas but approaching form different areas.

Walton :not everyone is going after massive audiences, may 80% of us are. mass markets are not where most MMOs and ARGs are going forward, a lot of niche markets.
Cusick: most of our stuff is niche, but we would like to do mainstream stuff.
Blakely: gameplay has roots in a community of shared story. It;s a new thing about story telling, all mediums coming together. Look at the Heroes community. we will see more of this across all mediums.
Garriott: as attractive as find metaverse games, but it is never going to be a best game as a particular niche, ie games are cool in one part of offerings that are out there.

Q: it was difficult to build games and have a life outside how do you ensure the workers have a life?

garriott: I spent many years with 12+ work days 7 days a week. once i could afford it, but now I have many more interests. for the last game we have a policy against crunch mode, we keep demands low, no more that 8-10 hrs a day. I think we have a well managed overtime policy; we manage the crunches well, we think lifestyle is important
Cusick 0I’m a firm disbeliever in crunch time
Blakely: we try and be smarter about how we do games, looking at new techs, educate the investors, publishers etc. mange the efficiency. Keeping it measured and predictable etc. in an increasingly competitive environment you need the talent to stay around.
Coleman: if you kill people up to launch, then when it launches it is dead, you need people on top form then.
Walton: yet to see creative business that can run to a schedule; we have good intentions, the challenge will remain to do what we set out to do; there is never enough time or money. we are purely managed, have little foresight about times and crunches are always a possibility. have to be s,art enough to minimise it, years away from being able to build a plan
Coleman: not sure you ever can build to plan.

Q: you made a comment that austin is where the work goes not the money – can you elaborate why and what can the city do to help?

Gariott: we are one of the publishers, compared to west coast we have close to zero publishers. They go through investment and withdraw from outside publishers. we have to get them in town to keep them here. None of the things for other industries have been offered to hi tech industries etc have not been offered to the game industries, eg tax benefits.

Q: the film board has said the same the other day, the same thing that the game industry are looking for, can someone do the same thing?

Garriott: I’m a convergence sceptic, but while there are some concept artists that can do art, that is the beginning and end of convergence; the same people cannot do both industries.
Coleman: skillset is difficult to cross over but IP is not. there are some cross overs from distribution, PR etc. but a lot of key differences.
Blakely: we are part of Sony Pictures..we find it tough to cross over. look to invest here, but money will always go back to west coast.
Walton: he who has the money makes the rules. the money is not here, it is Dallas, Houston. you need to finance it here or you just be a job shop.

Q: Are Sony doing a good job of promoting the games division?

Blakely: yep. our chairman has done an amazing job of letting us run our business. They are hands off, but look for opportunities to leverage IP. we have shared resources on recent products. Still a challenge internally figuring out the corss overs.

Mar 13

SXSW – Pervasive Electronic Games

Pervasive Electronic Games

Julian Bleecker (USC/Near Future)
Dennis Crowley (Dodgeball/Google)
Aaron Myers (USC Interactive Media)
Kevin Slavin (Area/Code)

This panel presents and discusses unique aspects of the design issues and technologies involved in developing “pervasive electronic games.” Pervasive electronic games are experiences that move game play into the real world, outside of the usual venues in which electronic gaming occurs. Moving from sedentary venues (living room, video game parlors) into more quotidian spaces is made possible by the proliferation of mobile communications devices, ubiquitous network access, global position sensing and electronic location tagging.

Julian: motivaton for these come from play forms, from children’s games, before electronic games etc. Been looking at different kinds game gestures; noticed that gestures are similar to electronic games. the RL gestures can inform online games. also been looking at how game interfaces have evolved. looking at how RL activities can them become a game.

Aaron: representing MobZombies, a game with a simple premise. you are guy with an exposed brain being chased by a bunch of zombies. you move around in RL to move character in the game world. Use 2 sensors to co-ord motion – a digital compass and an accelerometer. there is a continuing growing hoard of zombies you need to avoid and bombs to stop them. we are working on a version that can work i=on a mobile form. it works on a Sony Vaio thing now but looking for a phone version and a streamlined version of the sensor rig. looking to release as a kit for people to build own games etc.

Kevin: (reprised his PSFK talk – but the audience seems to be more appreciative). underneath pervasive games is an instinct to lie radically about where we are or to develop instinct. Games meet a need; most places are real, most stories are not. But places are becoming fictional. the need for stories does not stop with tech. You see geocaching, superstar, Games with computers in them, not the other way round.

Dennis: Dodgeball is about knowing where your friends are, where they have checked in, encourages rendezvous behaviour. Developed as my thesis project, working on games with Kevin to pay the rent. tried to take some of the game elements and add them to Dodgeball. mainly stats. introducing some of these competitive elements drove usage. Grew up on games; competition with brother. So how do you make real life into a video game; made Pedometer wars; record the stats and see who ‘wins’ by walking the most. has potential to change the way you experience a public space. got to elevator or stairs…then you may win more..walk more. condition you to change behaviour. but the pedometer was dumb, not networked, got boring. At the same time or so Nike+ came out; tracking through shoe, you can see your runs etc, lots of stats so I’m in love with this. then started adding multiplayer stuff, can make challenges. Extra motivation to run! Then started to be able to plot runs – but not really location aware so have to plot on maps. One day I was running and saw a graffiti and thought about the ability to run at graffiti and get super special powers…but got lazy and did not work out. Now go skiing most weekends…now in competition for skiing, eating, runs etc. Bought GPS, on phone and garmin. Got data off..every 15sec takes a reading and gets a download. Collected all the points, mapped out the mountain. now I can map myself or others to the map and turn the skiing into a game. Thought about RC PowerAm…putting those powerups and putting on the mountain…play games about getting to the powerups etc. No real time feedback etc but looking for it next year. Waiting for NIke+ plus GPS plus connectivity to enable this game to go to next level.

Audience Questions

Q: when is Dodgeball coming to SaltLake City
Dennis: don;t know but looking to expand all the time!

Q: How much does it cost and what traffic. are they happy with ROI? (Sopranos)
Kevin: yes, rest take offline
Q: what were the measures?
A: a new way if talking about it etc..take offline

Q: there are blurring of lines between these and ARGs?
Aaron: our games have tighter link to digital games; response to your actions. ARGS typically don;t have this dynmic, physical to digital
Kevin: 2 things that are different – a lot of args focus on puzzle solving, collective intelligence, not ness the types of things that we focus on, we look at systems that people use to play instead of constructing distributed narrative.

Q: How do you solve the discovery, how do you let people know it is OK to play?
Kevin: one is event based and one is pervasive in on all the time. and there is something all the middle, ie an infrastructure for ad hoc events, always available for people to take part. so how do you discover you have tetris on phone? it;s business problems; another is to have a physical aspect.
Dennis – it;s difficult to do as pick up games at moment as equipment is niche, as they tech becomes more ubiquitous its gets easy
Aaron: not sure if mobZombies can be pickup. one of our motivations was to make people look silly and not sure where to go now.
Kevin: with Plunder, the resolution of real world is large and the likelihood of people being together is low; so proximity foes not have to synchronous, it can have what happened here at some time.

Q: where do you see this going?
Dennis: I see NYC as a whole bunch of magic squares, geographic triggers, when you go by something will happen. van get more people to interact with the world, with people in same areas. it;s all about location, all the work I’ve being doing is on this. We are still closer to this, but soon devices will be location enabled.
Kevin: the phone is location aware, but we cannot access. it is not tech problem but a business problem. I want to see the business problems solved.

Q: any general principles to bring people between real and virtual?
Dennis: nned to get dots on map and then you can start things happening.

Q: will location based devices stop you from exaggerating and lying about where you are. any thoughts about this?
Kevin: the goal is to misrepresent yourself, not to lie to others. the question is about how to harness for imagination, not flase information.

Q: In Perplex City we started looking at location etc, in the UK we can get access to data but in the US there is a major business problem that means we could not do it here. we started looking at making it ourselves.
Kevin: you have to understand how retarded we are in the US with all this stuff. there are very few reasons to be optimistic in the short term. the handsets have gps, but a problem in city. we like wifi positioning its free and you can get pretty accurate.

Q: a lot of these games are multiplayer, looking at engaging communities. what about multiplayer for mobZombies and how can running across a mushroom augment your running
Aaron: single player etc, tech reasons affect multiplayer.
Dennis: for a single player it can be power up…but still applicable as compete against yourself. Potentially looking at interactive, letting location elements give me a different experience.

Mar 13

SXSW – Convergence Culture an conversation with Henry Jenkins

Whole new cultures are emerging around convergent media, an example of which is The Matrix Trilogy, the narrativeis which is contained, not just in the films, but also in comics, animé, games, and web sites all serving acommunity of participants – they’re actually more than “fans.” Henry Jenkins’ latest book, Convergence Culture, isan in-depth review and critique of several evolving transmedia cultures, their quirks, and their impact on ourperceptions.

danah boyd USC Annenberg Center
Henry Jenkins Dir, Comparative Media Studies – MIT

what henry has being doing is looking at fan fiction, wwf, remix, media production, collapse of production and consumption, has produced 3 books, writes full posts everyday. my goal is to interview and provide insight into what he does and how it relates to you.

Q: your early work about fandom you approached as a fan

Q: can’t remember when I was not a fan. at college i was in the culture and active as a fanboy. My wife and I were both star trek fans. In Menagerie, spick got very emotional. I looked the behind the scenes, Cynthia looked a the psychology. we approached it in different things. when in grad school i was an active fan. but fans were not held in high esteem by academics, we were held as dupes. I’m tired of being to get a life and wanted to write a book about the passion that drives the fan world. 20 years ago fans were marginal to the cultural I call them rogue readers, describing how they see things.

Now the fans are central to the ways of culture. web2.0 is fandom without the stigma. it’s social community, that shares knowledge, that remixes, that appropriates culture. we were doing it in our basement 20 years ago and now businesses are making money. participatory culture that was so exotic then is central to what we do today

Ql so what role has the net played?

A: more people can find a way into the fandom; it was not highly visible before and now more people are finding their way in. expansion is step 1. now you can talk and watch in real time, a world of collective intelligence . within 2 mins of a show starting you can follow a conversation online. For Twin Peaks, the papers were saying it was too complex, the online fandom wanted more complex. sharing and collaborate means that we need more complexity. the biggest change is the collective viewing pattern leads to greater demand to complexity. convergence culture is trying to describe the moment of time when the audience becomes central, power from the collective power and they demand more, more opps to participate, more back story

Q: as remix etc, it becomes available to the creators themselves, but many are not happy. they get sued for copyright

A: start with the premise that the media producers have lost control. and my friends can do what we want and the likelihood of you stopping me is zero. have to get over this and moving to where you take advantage. let fans appreciate the properties, increase their value. look at the browncoats, the studio billed them for use of images on tshirts..the community then sent the studio a bill for their time for marketing. it was more value to empower them. we are seeing whole spectrum o attitudes, from C&D to enfranchisement, use them as vanguard for publicity. control over IP is a battleground that will determine if our culture will become participatpry and what the terms are. it;s been under corporate control, etc, we need to find rationale for it…in many of the free speach groups advocating for electronic freedom have not embraced fan fictions not tech. put as much effort into defining bittorrent as to fan fiction. no one is standing up for fiction writer etc. we need more participatory vulture and we need to get behind it

Q: this bullying is part of an larger issue about asserting power. you have written a lot about young people and how they are participating

A: fan culture is part of a larger culture of online production. people share product, we shift from spectators to producers. so what does it mean to turn these kids lose in a world with a large power and reach where they have little knowledge or guidance. the DOPA act would strip schools of ability to provide access. we fought to close digital divide, about access. now we are there, but is it unequal access. they can;t store, low bandwidth, filtering, restriction s on networks etc. the participation gap. you cannot acquire skills that you need in this culture. its been reintroduced as part of protecting children in 21st century. it will have an enormous impact if it passes. even if you believe that myspace is crawling with predators..but are kids more safe if parents and teachers can guide them or if we turn them lose outside of adult supervision and locks out the 43% that want to get into he space at schools. it is a bad piece of legislation. this is the example of gov going after youth participation. they are being hit by studios and by gov. when we think of social networking as engine driving wealth production t is also the thing under fire for fans and young americas. so ‘you’ and your right to participate is under siege

Q: DOPA is not the only legislation that is an issue. in CN all social tech will need to put in age verification..anyone under 18 will need to get parental permission for any tech that allows them to connect to people. so what role do parents have in this conversation…so you see a scenario that allows for protection that would be frustrating

A: fear sells, the politics of fear is the one issue that both parties agree on..that our kids would be muzzled. politics of fear has a gender dimension..we are afraid of our sons and for our daughters. as a society we need to say were tired of being led by fear. macather institute is looking systematically how young are using the tools, looking at the culture. 50m$ we need to get the info out and use it to challenge the fear-mongering and call attention to the mechanisms that fear is being propagated, we have to pull together across the partisan blogs, it is not a right left issue. this is preserving the instruments of democracy we all need to protect this.

Q: role tech can and should play in civic engagement. where do you see online democracy going?

A: we are seeing line between part culture and part democracy blurring. the language of politics is not eternal, it shifts over time. we are in a world where a particular culture gives people a new language and politic become remixed. democ is a special every 4 years. we need democ to be a lifestyle and something we love day in and day out. find how we integrate into every day life means we need to talk as different we feel more confident as producers rather than citizens. as American Idol caused us to think about musics, maybe we need democratic entertainment to see it through this world. so photoshop for democracy, people respond in real time in ps, the peoples editorial cartoon, they do not follow the norms…we see vicious use of imagery

knowledge as product or knowledge as profit? wikipedia is a monument to participatory culture. but you need to understand process of how knowledge is produced..can teach people about the the process. the power of collective intelligence is better than one. the ethics of being part of wiki, working through the issues and trying to create space for participation. we were talking to wales about history, globally history, and different perspectives. english lang history had to arrive a shared perspective, there was an multiple perspectives, there is more multiple viewpoints on wiki then many traditional national books. if we can figure out he ethic that allow it to work then we can begin to put together how to create shared info space to deliberate n national issues. put people to gether you get different options. need to tap how wiki doe sit to get at a cohernent national policy instead of name calling.

Q: critique to wiki is challenge to what is real and not, UGC etc, UNC break up on website. (see the stuff). was it real or not? awkward video. it was ahoax. it was atest to see how far things reached on web. a lot of people were used- they want this to be real.

A: my 25yo son does not use youtube, no idea why…look through lens of 19th c ..look at humbug…presented to public where there was dispute about status…he promoted things as being under dispute, come and see for yourself. put barnums mermaid in context to the platypus being discovered which was real? with YT it is a mixed media economy, amateur profession, legal , illegal etc we are trying to sort out the status, it comes to us without context. but it is produced a grassroots media literacy effort. something really exciting may come of it if we can stop being angry about being faked out. how do we decide what is fake, teach people how to think about evidence, construct arguments, interpret reality. what skills do we need to teach to people to do that that is a challenge.

Q: with rise of MMORPGs, emmersive environs etc so what is important to consider there.

A: fascinated by SL. my avatar takes about 20lbs off me..i;m working towards it through exercise. it is a new centre, plenty of opportunities. it;s like a medieval carnival where people stepped out of their normal life. think about SL as carnival we step into all year round, so what kinds of transformation can take place. we can do thought experiments. we can try out new ideas, economic, identity, we try them out, see what they feel like. e carry that energy back into the RL. we can create experiment, try social relationship. if simple escapism, its less interesting over a place for social experimentation.

Mar 13

SXSW – Web2.0 to Web3D

Wagner James Au Online world Journalist/Blogger, New World Notes/
Robin Hunicke Lead Designer, Electronic Arts
Robert Scoble Evangelist,
Susan Wu Charles River Ventures

Is Neal Stephenson’s “metaverse” here, and is it the Net’s next generation — or just a glorified game? Once gamer-only turf, 3D virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft are now attracting millions of players– and millions of dollars from corporations, academia/non-profits, and government agencies, interested in the marketing, research, and prototyping possibilities. Is this the future of the Internet, and if so, where do we go from here?

Wagner: some examples – Rupture=WoW plus MySpace. create a social world that sits on top of the MMO, could be an identity placeholder. CyWorld, 18m accounts, 90% of South Koreans under 30 have an account and log in daily. have an identity and an avatar. SL – lots of mashups with HUD and web data. eg a digg ratings tool for objects, can track what people like, there are others with places. Twitter is in SL as well, with twitter huds.

Robert: Twitter is like the doubling penny; twitter was doubling in size every month.there’s a lot of things that are doubling. SL does not have a large audience but it is the doubling effect that is interesting. There are some principles that I look for, that I am attracted too. The audience knows a lot, there;s more SL knowledge in audience than in the panel. when the audience is smarter, things get better. on the book, we sent it to the audience before the editors and we got it grammar checked and fact checked. and we got better product than if we had sent it straight to the editors. and it makes people own it and they start being an evangelists. that attracted me and my some to SL, he was building things very quickly getting adept. Families want to work together with their kids, they want t build together, my some took to it faster than I ever could so, one principle can your audience can get involved and extend the world. And encouraging that game companies getting into it, letting users build stuff, ie Sony Home world. Different to WOW where you cannot build. the other interesting thing was the physical architecture..each island was a linux blade user, which could hold around 50 or so. compared to the centralised worlds, the would can grow out. the early behaviour was interesting, people would try for a small , but it was boring. but the business model is dragging people back, I can sell things and monetise it. I can get people to come back in the system and there is a profit motive for me as a content producer to get people there. OUtback, an australian world, is coming out later this year. one problem is that people think it is just software and they can cone it. but it is not, what makes propel interesting is the people that are involved. Twitter was seen as lame as there was no one to talk to, once you have the the people it becomes interesting. it is a way to interact with friends. it is the audience with the technology..and thats what is interesting. I hang out and build stuff with Eric Rice, we can share together even if not in same place. So outback is attractive as they may be able to fit more people in, but need the people. Outback could 10000 people on one world.

Susan: on P2P you are not going to have an item based business model?

Wagner: Robins works on EA, SIMS.

Robin: in approaching MySIm i thought a lot about user interaction, and what people could bring into the game. it;s a user created experience, we have designers that will be in the world but you can customise. games are strongest when you can be the designer. Thinking about the panel, I wonder if web2 to 3d would be a good thing and I’m not sure. I wanted to think about my user experience. I like being able to find things differently, so not sure. If you had unlimited bandwidth what would you do? Combining all the worlds; as a content provider it would be awesome if they could deliver the focused experiences and open it up to creativity. it would be a lot of realities, 3d could be awesome to share everything. but the constraints are the aesthetics, constraints are not obvious, so what kinds of constraints should we be thinking. in WOW there is a lot of UI, In RL, we do not see everything, so would a 3d would be more real if you could not see anything. Look at the wii, it is simple people think things will work that the right thing will happen and that is about removing all the clutter. in this reality, every user is a designer. think about the time streams – can a user parse all of this. look at the costs…look at how many servers run to run the worlds – think about the energy costs. i like that we are always in augmented reality. 3d is possible but is it right. why would we go 3d, why are we not thinking about small lightweight techs that allow presence and not just want to create everything again in RL.

Robin – looking at gender difference, it could be culture whether girls go to consoles or creative stuff. do we want to solve the current problems, or do we think about the experience our kids will have. I have a lot of benefits from this world, but not a lot of other people do.

Susan; we as a tech society see tech as the solution.

Robert: eric talks about story creation, about an online story experience with the 3d tools.

Susan: yesterday we talked about avatars, it changes the experience to being an interactive narrative. it changes the perception, the skills about game design and relevant to product design

Susan: lets not male assumptions about 3d; in next 3-5 years every media is going to be building a 3d world. looking at SL and deciding that that is the model. it;s a misinformed model. studying how people are evolving online. 1st. information sharing to interaction (2.0) so to me 3.0 is immersion. the cognitive barriers between peoples online and offline lives are dissipating. everything we do onine is real. we need ot create products that create better online engagement. 10 years ago, a text MUD was really real to me, i had an immersive time there. what is hitting our brains is the content and the stuff we add on top help with engagement or detract from them..the text based MUD is when I had the most immersive environment. Nw. MySpace is an MMO, same kind of interactions. Gaia is web2.1 – interaction with avatars, text that evolved into a rich community then with a graphical layer on top. Telp, Flixter, we make transition from web page to web place. we will demand more emotional engaging, more immersive, more emotional experiences. so is 3d the;s just a tool, not appropriate for all situations, there are different ways t think about presence, such as social or collaborative presence. my BlogLog is 3d social presence. Twitter is 3d social presence, you can feel you are part of some greater environment. do all virtual worlds look fully 3d. things can be simpler,. webkinnz etc. A recent study looks at factors in immersion – 1 was role engagement, its about storyline and engagement. last on the list was physical presence. average player is 22 hrs a week in environment. But now, kids are far more comfortable living online than we are different understanding of time, identify and place. brain plasticity makes it impossible to predict the future.

Wagner: about environ friendly…having virtual worlds may reduce travel. IBM use the world for meetings. Avatars help with the meeting dynamics.

Robin – getting avatars to emote is extremely difficult

Robert – there is an architect teaching in SL, can build models.

Robin – when you can build a structure, you have an analogy, Matt brown, a designer, says be aware of the obvious example, so architecture in 3d is easy, IBM meetings may not be right. I hear a lot of ‘that will never work’ so what works for our kids what makes them more whole?

Susan: twitter demonstrates that texting allows connections.

Audience Questions:

Q: can transportation be reduced from virtual worlds.

Robert: hearing it for 20 years that computers will reduce travel.
Robin: I have to do some travels..I travel way more because of games etc.

Q: immersion in the narrative; I fascinated about how you understand what people do with sport; it connects people on one level. what is you advice on building a NFL community online.

Robin: you need to understand the relationships; what role does team play in your daily lives. need to understand that relationship before can give advice
Robert: i like hanging in tailgate parties, so help with that?
Robin: let people share their expressions.

Q: meetings conferences etc has drawn me to virtual worlds. where do you see SL going, eg with voice. companies etc.

Wagner: numbers of SL predicted around 3m next year (assume can scale). companies are having to struggle for relevance, most people are ignoring this. Electric sheep L Word island, where people can watch it is doing well, one of the few. we will see more small communities emerge.

Q: interesting in conversion between desktop and console based worlds. open vs closed worlds. can’t take characters worlds.

Robert: xbox team did not see a market, console is not a precision experience, consoles are distant.
Robin: console is about relaxing, hanging out, far more social less precise and tweaky than pc experience. control is different between the 2. we are going to have problems as designers and users. we need to look at what aesthetics are and do as much as possible without all the clutter.

Mar 11

SXSW – Building a Community Ecology

Moderator: Jake McKee Lead Samurai, Big in Japan
Virginia Miracle Dir Word of Mouth Mktg, Brains on Fire
Rebecca Newton Global Safety & Moderation Mgr,
Terrence Ryan Moderator,
Betsy Whalen Dir Mktg, Discovery Education

Jake: why did i use the term ecology? working with communities, they are mini ecosystems, they require a certain amount of balance to survive. btw what community needs and what company needs.

Rebecca Newton: Habbo Hotel. Have 24 habbo sites and 15 million teenagers. social/virtual world for 13-17yo.
Virginia Mircel. works for brians on fire. a naming, identity and WOM marketing firm. create identities and personalities for community movements. Works with the fisketeers, a scrapbooking community. wanted to find a way to emotionally connect with customers. 60% of posts coming from GenY, although full range is 20-70
Betsy Whalen, works with Discovery. works on educator network, helps educators to integrate Discovery products into the classroom.
Terrence Ryan – moderate suicide girls community. started as a punk site and morphed into a alt-porn site 😉 Public userbase is 50/50 male/female, although the anon demo is mainly male.

Q: What would you do if a marketing team said they want fans to come to an offline event and help out….as they have no budget for ‘offical’ help.

Virginia: so whats in it for them. they want to feel like they are included. The PR team wante some public acts of crafting..they were good ideas but not generated by community. we spoke to some of the leaders int he community and told then waht the goals were and posed it to them; the project was changed and they still achieved the saem goal. at the end they thoguht it was a co-creation but it was a difficult balance. we included out advacate int he brand as she understood the brand.

Betsy: we have this issue coming up alot. we are the education devision…we wrre giving them products. we foudn that the teachers were turning up at the stores and talkign about it, they were telling people to watch the shows. once the network picked up onthis, we started workign witht he teachers who did want to do this. we ask them to particiapte and it makes them more connected,

Terrence – we have a very rabid community. when we got the first anniersay, it was supposed to be small. but peopel were coming from allover the countr. w e adtated and set iup local groups, meet weekly. we have to conintually adpat to user demands.

rebecca – we don;t advocate meeting offline (even f marketing group has occasionally thought about it). you have to be careful of the liabilities etc. meeting offlien could also break the magic.

Jake the recurring theme is the constant adjustment.

Q: if you canlt create own hub, how do you coinect it all together.

Jake: I worked with lego, adult community. we did nothing on the official site as there was enough happening. you don;t keep the standard voice, you share what is haoppening with you compnay. get them to indersntad the reality. constant mantra is everyione goes home happy. and that invludes the compnay.

Virginia: ex Dell. fokes who are trinaiend on how to reach out, answer questions. reach out and share. but if you are delaing with fear about having own community, byt fear not having a voice, then you have to create a community space.

Rebecca – what is happening, is that communities are driving a product and corps cannot control it. if they are afraid they are going to be in trouble as it is the buyer that is in control and have a big say. they need to be paying attention to the feedback

Terrence: we give people myspace templates, we keep an eye out.

Jake: you build a relationship…and its something you do anyway. so think about how you would approach a normal relationship. share your ideas and thinking and they get to know you. you have to make clear that you are willing to listen.

Q: microcommunities…how do you leverage them.

Betsy – we started with 5 members. we did a lot of stuff the that they would not ness be able to do that know. they focus on tech, not actions. we stay focus on customers with common interests.
Virginia – size does not matter – its whether you have a niche to feel, we created it to fill the need. only have about 1200 members, incredible active and a thriving part of the business
Terrence – we have timebound groups, associated with festivals. we combined them. and help during dead points.
Virginia – some are only timebound and that is OK
Jake – you have to define your success. you get caught up in discussion about numbers and cool techs, not the community

Q: how do you get them in and make them stay. (targeting 8-12, games.

Rebecca. we run a disney space, 8-10 yo. you wont get too many under 8. they’ll come there, they will need to do some drive to web, but they are online. you may have safety issues, not just getting people.
Jake: I’m always surprised about how much I don;t understand. they have multiple accounts. parental involvement is key, to connect together. make it easy to share. al prices of content can be passed around. an easy tag line to let people share.
Rebecca – let them create their own games look at club penguin, keep it simple. allow them to create own stuff.

Q: education component of community. for fundraising and advocacy. any experience of online fundraising and setting experience. what happens when things go wrong. (off-limits or things you did not envision)

Betsy: we did a couple. one that is complete disaster and one if ok. be very clear on what you site is and what is done. the community will start to develop their own vision and decide for you and usually its 10x better than you imagined. we tried to raise money for an effort and we basically did a call out to donate. [people did not invest. the second one we did making change for katrina. we went to community, told them their goal, tell us the best way to do it. it was about teachers and kids thinking about ways to get community involved, it became a classroom project. lesson learned – give clear vision, basic rues and let community discuss to, they will come p with stuff.
Virginia: develop leaders in community, design community. people join by making a relationship with leaders and then get sent a joining link. they work to keep personal connection.
Betsy – don;t be scared to have your members make a commitment to do things. we give people training materials and our teachers go out and do face to face training with other communities. don’t be scared to ask
Jake: give some context, then it makes it easy for people to work with. everyone likes some boundaries,.

Q: how do you deal with offensiveness

Terrence – we have flags, with have rules, we can warn and ban. you are in someone elses place of business and there are limits to what you can say. people do get upset and thing it is being restricted or it is not air. sometimes you have to put your foot down
Betsy – you have to set what abuse mans. some companies do not want people saying bad things about the company on their website. we had situation where people were removed, the community rose up and began saying things back but we rode it advised and it slowly came round
Jake – you can get n flags on some things and flags on things you would not even think about. helps you set policies

Q: Member conflicts – can you share some occasions about a feud?
Terrence – a lot of time like dealing with children. you have to separate and put them in corners. i have to go and talk to the people and get them to leave them alone. we have real world interaction.
Rebecca – worked with israel interactive…it was the worst year of my life. had to deal with lots. habbo has an ignore button. nationality, there as gangs etc. the kids all wanted ban tools, so changed name from ignore to ban chat.
Jake: one of my examples at lego, we did not do a lot of communities on the site, i published contact details etc. had open door policy. I was the trusted third party and got all the middle bit. I had to get out of the process, like standing between your wife and sister,,not a good idea
Terrence i had public breakup with model and people now come to me about relationships

Q: so how about people inside the company, how do I build micro-band within a company and you compete with paid work.

BEtsy – we’ve just started this. start small in manageable chunks. we wrote the first post and showed propel how easy to was to get responses. get the key influencers involved.
Rebeccas – if they know the bosses are looking, then that can work.
Virginia. try and pin down how participating can help in their other work. once people saw hoe much feedback they got not everyone wants to help
Jake: never seen one that started big go well.. have to start small.

Mar 11

SXSW – Digital Distribution of games

Alexander Fernandez CEO, Streamline Studios
David Burks Mktg Mgr, Seagate Technology
Dan Connors CEO, Telltale Productions
Craig Allen CEO, Spark Unlimited

Q: Does p2p count as distribution? what is it?

Craig: yes. in it’s purest sense its about creating commerce. To get the big companies you have to go to the publishers. there are a lot of people in the chain who may not care about your product. if you want to innovate there is not a lot to point to, you can;t get people to take risks. they want to do things that are proven. It;s not that you can’t do it, its a tough sell. so digital distribution removes some of these middle men, it;s a chance for rebalance; you can diversify the content.

Dan: more a logistical plan – stored on web and delivered direct to consumers. what the hosts and to what devices are going to establish what digital distribution is going. it’s all in play at moment. a sysmbiotic relationship now.

David: we see the clearest defintion is moving away form a physical form. that the direction the game consoles are going with otehr content etc, it’s a matter of time before the game content goes inthe saem irectiona nd it is a matter of figuring out the business models.

Q: what are you doing:

Dan: we have launches recent latest episode. first it is broadcast as part of subscription model, then sold on the website and then at the send of the season we will package it up into a single product. w e are spending and making money at the saem time. we have top of mind presence from releasing things on the web.

Q: you will sell at stores?

Dan: yes, we have a relationship with a publisher.

Craig: we are not doing anything yet but it is in future. we are excited about it, but we are doing big games for next gen consoles and we throw it over the wall and hope they like it. a lot like movie making, but may go like magazine etc and we get multiple channels for distribution, to be able to build relationship and have a strong dialogue with the digital consumer. they are vocal. you can taylor it, you can change and down the line you have a strong product. you can find out early if it will not work and better manage investments. have to wait til console base matures to the point where this is a strategy – 2-3 years.

Q: we have open and closed distribution platforms. what are your pros and cons. start off with closed ones.

Dan: on open platform, conversion costs are low. but it competes a lot. On the closed sites, then you have a high conversion user. On a PC, average everything on, including casual, then 1-2% and xbox live is about 20%. On causal, its found more randomly. on xbox they are looking for something particular so higher conversion. but you can;t set up how you get presented etc. there’s not a lot of products on closed system yet and it will change – so how do you get noticed in the future. there’s not as much freedom to advertise yourself.

David: people need to store things; we get asked for larger and larger drives for consoles. there are convenience opportunities. you can try before you buy with downloads etc. the online is good news for consumer. so how can we get there sooner. MS and Sony are not ness motivated to make it happen sooner.

Craig: you need to know your audience, who the core are. look what happened with mix tapes. now we have 50$ games…less than 10% of people who buy finish games. you have to give people value. where I think it will evolve o is like the seasonal TV market; people will talk about the good levels on a game. you spend money on what you want. you can’t subsidise crap. you have to build good stuff to get people to buy in this model. It’s an exciting place as we are on the cusp of having an open market.

Q: dan talked about customer ownership and value creation. you have more touchpoints with your consumer. how important is it for developers and content creators to be with the customer.

Dan: you can be topical, we are in a tight feedback loop, we encourage them to feedback, give them content for UGC to mic, building a community is what it is about. the shared interest is our target. we use a lot of the techniques to keep them coming back and interested, plus giving them something they can buy every month.

Q: are you using tips from other communities. can we learn stuff from music industry?

Dan: itunes is doing interesting things. but people are using this now to sell retail product. we are focused on doing things…digital distribution and episodic. itunes and single songs is good. they bought singles back works in the web… user reviews works. they have linked experiences together. the other key thing is the hard ware piece as well and has been adopted at a huge rate and is not there on the games side fully yet.

Q: who will win – MS or Sony ? or is it someone else

Dan: Nintendo has a shot. xbox is all over it now. Nintendo has momentum at the moment. Sony are doing stuff. so we will see!

Q: Dave, is there an opportunity to get involved in a different way beyond storage.

Dave: like a gaming harddrive at a vendor, loaded up with games. we launched DAVE that stores and communicates. can be used for viral and p2p distribution, demos etc. Everything that was analogue is going digital. pipes and tanks are all over.

Craig: piracy is another issue for us as an industry. physical copying has been one challenge. and digital makes it worse, how can producers protect their model. the gaming social community can create a protection to the revenue model. if you can disconnect and go I can steal. but if have to be connected and participate there is an opportunity to protect and have a revenue model. you can use media virally to create interest and convert to revenue model when they want to participate. you’ll see more of this cross pollination. the games industry and social connection groups will become new drivers of media as will be able to own consumer. PS Home becomes an expression of you digital lifestyle. you can reward people for participation this will be the big shift with media companies becoming tech companies.

Q: in Asia there is a tendency to give game away for free and then the add-ons are paid for.

Dan: xbox does, I think micropayments are coming. a cheap initial purchase, create relationship, it’s a smart way to go. a lot of software products were given away for free at the start. You have a base…and your marketing spend can reduce.

Q: can you launch a multimillion game via digital distribution now?

Craig: it;s possible but not advisable. you need the hardwear install base is maximised and the right number of connected users who would download. we are heading into the age of access, but need to wait. once there, a subset for game is them viable. At the moment the inventory is a risk, we have to pay for hardwear.disks etc. that is a huge burden on the capital. digital distribution i need the money to make the game not the disks. I have a predictor for growth. I can get loans on game success.

Audience Questions

Q: there’s a lot of PC digital distribution there. and they are locking in, there’s incompatibility. everyone wants to own. and there;s conflict and multiple accounts etc

Alex: remember they are fighting for you
Craig- they put up barriers to keep you. but if it gets too confusing then people go away. look at’s too confusing. i it becomes like that then we have done somethings wrong. we need a simple turnkey approach for media.. barriers to commerce gets in the way of revenue.
Dave: the open architecture lends itself to the clutter, the closed systems make it more streamlined but little choice.

Q: Piracy…can you explain what you meant.

Craig – they pirate cos there is a lack of understanding or their is a significant barrier or inequity. a lot of piracy came form not being able to serve consumer needs. the commerce system did not meet needs. we have a blockbuster model cos that is vs walmart wants to hear. try something experimental, you need to be a big publisher.

Q: is there a lower resistance if in a episodic structure.

Dan: it’s a low price point, very web friendly. as they come back regularly, you can tell if they are pirating as well.
Craig: you have a personal relationship and easier to want to pay. on the big stuff, it;s difficult to get people to try, the barrier to sampling is 50$. Game sampling allows you try things and see if you like it.

Alex: you buy something and it sucks you cannot do anything about it.

Q: at GDC last week, the developers were excited about digital distribution, enables new innovation, new developers.

Craig: you can balance financing, creative etc. the layers of publishing puts difficulties in getting games up. there are different models growing up, people wanting to fund development.

Alex: dan, you jumped right in. why did you do this

Dan: it does look like we thought it would people were investing; we needed to build company from ground up and we built for it. the most exciting things have happened online and started with the independents online.

Q: Dan Dig dist has been around for a while. a lot of stuff has been worked through. biggest question is about user experience, how do they manage the full stuff. most are user side, the hardware stuff has been answered a lot.

Craig: the safety, monitoring etc will become an issue. for connected worlds. UGC and co-creation is going to create a lot of policy issues for a lot of people. minors, etc. people will create inappropriate content. so how do you govern, what are the risk and liabilities. the legislation will not catch up.

Q: What are your thoughts of selling the other stuff?

Dan: we give them added bonuses for the other stuff, tshirts etc

Q: how viable is the shareware model?

Craig – it depends on what your goals are. keep resource and cost down and it works well.

Q: PC games and older games. there is a lot of push back with invasive things on computers (steam) is the industry listening to their pushback.

Dan: understanding what users wants is key. the older audience is our core target. People also need to understand what steam is trying to do, with hardware fingerprinting etc, to balance security needs with user comfort.

Craig: we see a huge amount of people not being served. need to get beyond core gamers.

Mar 11

SXSW – LonelyGirl15 discussion

David Hudson Editor, GreenCine
Miles Beckett Producer, Lonelygirl15
Mesh Flinders Producer, Lonelygirl15
Greg Goodfried Producer, Lonelygirl15

Miles: a short format, about 5 videos a week. a popular serial drama.

Greg: there’s the top level show; then there is the interactive element, teaching the characters as real people. you can send private messages and we answer you back (my wife does that); you can text comments. they can make their own videos and interact with characters. we know the big plot points but there is a lot a smaller things that we use feedback on. eg bree giving a piece offering to Daniel after 1000s of emails back. (video: piece offering Aug 21 2006) got 650k views on YT. over course of week 1.5m-2m collective views per video.

Miles: that video was representative of what LG was. cheap video cam and bad mike.

David – can we back up and give a talk about the idea..

Miles: I was a plastic surgeon internship; saw rise of video on web. started own company to make content; on YT all the time, saw there was an audience there. wanted to create videoblogger, did story with mystery element. had idea in feb or so. met Mesh at party, shared idea and went from there.

Mesh – wanted to be a filmmaker; did internships etc. won panavision new filmmakers award, but still living hand to mouth, making ends make. about a year ago got hired to write first paid screenplay. when i heard the idea the first thing I thought about was Wells and War of the World, using new tech to tell a story. a cool way to make movies. we’ll do it for a few months, generate buzz and we will make a film about it. and that was kind of naive.

Greg – I’m a lawyer. met Miles in feb 06 when he was starting his company. Miles told me his idea; after hashing out the idea they asked me if they could be sued. he advised probably not, but yes shot. advice was don;t try and sell nor ask for money. he came onboard. we got together and did the show.

Miles: we thought it was good idea, if we could get a good story and actors then people would want to watch. we did not know the audience at the time as it was still techy and we did not know if the the reveal would drive away audience. we have a rabid fanbase, 30-50k people to day of people obsessed. when it revealed it was fictional, we gained a huge audience. some went away. we have 70% female, 14-40, cluster in mid 20s. I saw it as an opportunity for entertainment and tech. we have continued this and made it more elaborate. video 2 is Feb 10, 07. shows change in how it was a girl in bedroom and is now a more deeper, richer show, outside the bedroom. far more mystery. bree had to leave due to parents being part of The Order. we massively ramped up the plot. we realised we had to tell a far more compelling story. instead of the movie, we do it on the web. we shoot everything as if it is real, everything is shot as a character.

Greg: a character we had in London, we had to do everything in Uk time, we were loading video at 3am in morning to fit into character.

Miles: we see the video as being the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the experience. they are 2 minutes..but people spend a lot of time.

Greg – we do ARG elements, we do puzzles, the community join in to answer the puzzles, ie opening a flash file, with a riddle. feed across the video, and site. We weave in UGC. we show fan videos on site. people create themselves as characters. we invite them to tell stories. (showed UGC, which is driving an ARG etc)

Q: what kind of interaction are yu seeing around UGC?

Miles: there is not a lot of functionality around the UGC on site. You load stuff as a response and it is not that easy to follow a persons content. we are doing a rebuild which makes it easier to admin your own storylines, vote etc. we have discussion in forum and chatroom, wiki.

Q: how do you pay for it?

Miles: i was working 3-5 days a week on clinics, but slowly reducing hours. got money from parents to pay actors so did not have to work (and be recognised). we were running out of money through fall, we got some fan donations, we have some investment now which helps and we are goign to an advertising model, and there is going to be product placement. there are post roll videos etc

Greg: it makes sense for them to use real products as they are set up as real people. it is a natural fit to have product placement. we can have access to brands for arg elements, partnerships etc to build real world elements.

Q: where are you distributing. where are you trying to go?

Greg – still YT and website. we are trying to build out a syndication model, which are open to monetisation. we want to drive people back to site as where all the functionality is.

Miles: the video only will be on the other site; the rest of the show and the deeper stuff is on our site. we are using tech features as part of the narrative. we had 35k people hit our chartroom the first time..we had about 20 rooms open the first time and people were relaying etc. people talked to the characters. We introduced Jonas as a fan and people debated if it was a show part etc.

Q: production values?

MIles: you can do a lot with time. we started with a desk lamp and a window; people debated whether or not we were real at the beginning cos of the lighting but it was just a lot of time. we shot from the character pov..depends on what kind of camera they would have.

Q: did you become famous?

Miles: we are represented by CAA (?)
Mesh – I’m using LG to write my own feature this year. we are developing film. still at early stages. we’ve only just got time to start thinking outside of LG. the first 6 months were a blur and 24/7.

Q: are you where you wanted to be?

Miles: this is exactly it. this is my dream. tech and film.. this is perfect we are in a good position right now, we have access to the traditional channels. after the announcement we did a tour of the Hollywood stuff. we got some offers, but turned them down. we really want to do internet and interactive and most people we talked to did not get it. we did not want things being an issues. we found people who wanted to share vision and invest.

Mesh: the technology is a door opener for people who did not have the money or knowledge to make these before. people can do it with a web cam and your little brother. we are only just realising what the possibilities are.

Q: did you guys participate in Lost ARG…any ideas from this?

Greg: i did not know what an ARG was 4 months. Now, they are really cool. we attracted the ARG community who thought we were making an ARG, and they started investigating us. a month after the first video, people started selling stuff. we trademarked it. people found it, under his dads address. they started to dig in. they ‘stalked’ the family. we wanted to control press for reveal. the community was passionate but we had to point them away from us. we are going to do more arg stuff. live appearances are in the future, it;s a resource issue. we write, shoot, edit, so the more elaborate stuff we are waiting so we can do it right.

Q: can you express your creativity more now the cat is out the bag?

MIles: the initial thought was to create fictional video blogger I did not know how much they would think about it; I did not realise how much people would dig. as the press got more and more intense it was incredible stressful.. we did not know what the reaction would be, we anted to be cool not fool people. once out of the bag it was liberating,

Greg: we now have more freedom and they are not analysing everything. they got a botanist to look at plants, they analysed where we bought things from. we want to wrap our arms round these people as they will stay, they invested in in

Q: what was the backlash?

MIles there was a little backlash for far less than expected. people seemed to know it was fake all along. it got far more in depth. the vast majority knoew it was not real but were suspending disbelief.

Greg: the numbers are larger now, so people are still in it. we made a decision to answer all the questions to Bree, but answered none of the ones to the producers/actors. People are talking about it as a tv show now, not a web hoax.

Q: how are you handling the ‘fame’ between the 3 of you, the actors etc

Greg: we are closer now then before. Miles add I want to stay in the space, Mesh looking for other stuff. we can do a lot in a short time and then let people do other stuff. Jessica is under contract and is getting work, jessica just shot a film in Feb so we shot everything in Dec.

Miles: it was an emotional rollercoaster. a t times we loved at times we hated.

Mesh: we could not talk about this to any one except with each other. we could only share with each other. i could not talk to my girlfriend (and we broke up) this was a big risk and it paid off in spades. we are best friends now.

Miles: we are uploading a video live. we are running on wordpress…and here’s us loading live.

10 seconds later..there were 2 responses. all going First! it goes from firsts, to discussion, then just general chat, then it goes for chants for new videos.

MIles: we post randomly. they live on our website. we have email, we have an rss feed. none of us are programmers,

Q: how did yo get publicity to start?

Miles: we used YT social network. we had created character on site and talked and commented in character for a few weeks. then we did a few responses to popular people. when we put the first one up, we already had a few 100 people. subscribed. we were active on commenting, adding friends. this was part of the story telling. after that, were these videos good.

Greg: we are getting hired to do this now for other people.

Q: you are turning down deals etc, you are monetising..are you running into problems with cpm etc.

Greg: we are feeling out the model as we go. it;s work in progress

Miles: the web model is different to tv…cpm on tv depends on quality. that model is startign to apply to us, advertisers prefer to be on lg15 and will pay it.

And that was that…

Mar 11

SXSW – Day 2

Day 2 of the joy that is SXSW. Being sensible with the parties last night means I feel pretty good this morning, even with the loss of an hour through daylight saving. I learnt yesterday that one should not wear a Google shirt – I kept being asked if I worked in the new building, being chatted to by people who interned with them etc. It was bit weird. More later.