Mar 13

2011 SXSW experiences part 1

Due to a few things, (mainly my lack of organisation), my SXSW experience did not start well. In fact, it started with a 5 hour delay to the flight, stuck on the tarmac at Heathrow as the American Airlines plane got a valve fixed. The staff did their best, we got snacks, drinks, but we were stuck on a plane not going anywhere. At 4 hours in, there was an announcement that we were now allowed to leave, as soon as they found some immigration and customs staff to do all the admin. 30 mins later, the problem was fixed and we were ready to go. But now, due to shift limits, we were not going to Dallas, but to New York. New York acheived, out through immigration and customs and back through security to get on the same plane down to Dallas, with a new crew. So instead of an good night’s sleep, I got less than 2 hours in my hotel before leaving again for the trip to Austin.

Once there, plans became fluid. Taking a look at the cinema where the documentary Senna was playing, I got recognised by a Twitter contact, Statesmanf1. A local journalist, he was perfectly placed to find me a good place to eat breakfast and then hang around with atfter the film. He had a spare pass to the post-film reception, being run by the Austin Formula 1 group to help promote next years event. Some chat, food, drink, a few speeches and an F1 car in the sun made for a lovely afternoon.

So it was only in the late afternoon that I made my way to the coonvention centre to collect pass and start meeting up with people. Although the evening did not last long, as completely exhausted with travel, I had a quick dinner and an early night.

Day 2 started with an early breakfast with Rebecca, a friend from London who had moved to New Zealand. Then panels, about TED and about ethics in transmedia, lunch with a great bunch of transmedia people (Adrian, Andrea, Dee, Brad and …why can’t I remember the otehr 2 names!) before back to keynote with Chris Poole. Now to recharge before starting the next part of the day

SXSW 2100

Mar 13

SXSW – Christopher Poole

  • founder of 4chan. founded in 2003 as an image sharing community, for Japanese comics.cartoons/anime. A chatroom with 20. Now 12m visitors monthly.
  • no registration. no archive. ideas – it’s about survival of the fittest. what resonates, stays on the board. Community flows over a day; the culture changes. to start a topic you need to provide an image still to start a topic. But it is more than the random board, about 50 topics – photography, origame, adult stuff. Media think the audience is just young, white, males..but not completely accurate
  • Last year, started to think about what could be done better…what a message board could be. Leanrt things from 4chan to share, that define it
  • Fluid identity. Site is anonymous; people can chat as anyone; moving towards persistant identity, you lose some of the innocence of youth – you can’t make mistakes, you can’t learn, you can’t start again. Cost of failing is high, if only one identity, as yourself. Anonymity is authenticity in this environment
  • believe in content over community. it’s not just your history; people can assume by history not by contribution. so site just judges you on most recent contribution. Content gets riffed on, changed, moved.
  • Added recaptcha last year (spam problem) and got a lot of backlash immediately. But people started to create art around them, adding images. Community takes a situation and turns it into something creative
  • A lot of 4chan is copy/paste, has been there before. a lot of the content is the same. It is not all ephemeral, the content is often there – but the experience is ephemeral, it cannot be repeated. It’s a community experience, a different way to share things. The refrigerator magnet game becomes a shared experience for 4chan people. It’s a place where people go to hang out
  • All of these things combine into a new thing called Canvas, building a site for people to share, play, collaborate and hangout
  • you can post anonymously, but using facebook connect during the beta period to register, to weed out more casual trolls
    built fun tools to people to use, to allow it to be easy to modify on the site. don;t need to use photoshop. has levelled the playing field. Finish the drawing are fun, get very popular. Making it easy, reducing fear of failure, has worked well
  • Wanted to focus also on contributors. On 4chan, because it is anon, you get a few more users, but lurker is still high. so on canvas, looks to encourage contributions. created stickers, you could tag content. to sort and categorise, help popular things to bubble up; had 100k in a few weeks.
  • Found that chat does not build durable conversations. Interesting to be in conversation, but not if you want to re-read. It’s like improv – funny to be there live, but not to rewatch/taped. First product was built to be chatty, but have gone back to comments, as people are putting stuff on that is worth going back and reading.
  • We are also looking at growing slowly. 4chan was not overnight, it was a slow growth. you have to allow for a culture and an identity to grow on the site. wnat to integrate users as they come into the site. Scaling is not just architecture, but building a community that is worth scaling.

You can sign up

Mar 13

Opening up TED, June Cohen, SXSW

  • Started releasing talks in 2006. as talks grown online, the audience has gone fromn 1000 people in a room to 100m around the world it changed the organisation, from conference for an elite audience to thinking about how to serve the global community. So everything rallied around the notion of ideas worth spreading. A complete turnaround
  • Will now be opening up API, to allow developers to build Ted apps, to continue with the philosophy of radical openess.
    The idea of having people running TED events makes lots of people nervous for us; most organisations would find the levels of openess challenging and frightening. They found the steps frightening as they took them. For all of the scenario planning, but have learnt that the unintended consequences have been overwhelming positive.
  • It started with the content, in 2006, podcasts, then websites in 2007. Was a controversial decision at the time; TED was know as an elite conference, expensive and that was part of the appeal, that it was private. But the impact was limited; deciding to put talks online was against widom – would there be any audience, this is against standard business – keep commodity scare and price high to keep the value.
  • In the first year, when we put talks online, we increased our fee by 50% and sold out in a week with a 1000 person waiting list. They’d sold out before, but not as quickly. Putting the talks online was not about selling seats – it had sold out always – but the goal was to spread ideas. Every decision has been around this question. Will it spread ideas.
  • We were looking to reach people everywhere, both in geography and in media habits. It needed to live on any platform and adapt as things change.It also needed to adapt the open model, eg releasing under creative commons. We wanted it to spread…out of our control, as long as it was non-commercial. We used embedable players, was very important to get it out there.
    Focused on for a small screen – the mobile. Focused on tight focus, engagement through tight shots etc, they designed the shoot for that model.
  • Ted talks start strong, they do not include the introductions as that is boring online. you need the speaker to get right to it. It has to grab them in 5 secs.. The talks look to evoke contagious emotions, evoke human connections.
  • They needed to find visionary sponsors, as it is expensive and time consuming. IF you have great content, you can find these sponsors who share the vision. You need plenty of support and a great team
  • Open translation project – people were asking for it. Took a few years of development, launched under 2 years ago Subtitles in 80 different languages, dynamically changing during the talk . 16000 translations, 600 translators. All volunteers. One question often asked, is about quality, how to maintain it. We thought about it for 6 months. We needed a systemthat worked in languages we did not understand. We did a lot of talking with others doing it. This was not wikistyle, we assigned places. There are 2 translators for each talk, a translator and a reviewer. You give them credit; and holds them responsible. There is also a feedback loop, to give responses. Finally they have guidelines, about principles, what to think
  • IN 2009, we were really only reaching English speaking. IN 2010, huge areas of the world opened up. Hitting around 65% of the worlds population. Theoretically. THere are bandwidth issues etc, so looking at other ways. TedTV is one pilot project to get the content out there. Broadcasters can take talks and build own programmes.
  • Next thoughts were about connecting people. Two weeks ago they launched a conversation tool; to propose an idea, stage a debate or ask a question. They have time limits, constraints are good. Significance completes what they were thinking about when starting putting content online – allows the conference experience of people/debate/conversations to move online. The stage is only half of the experience, the conversations are the other half.
    Opening up the whole programme – TedX. They could not produce the conferences themselves; they made a programme, with guidelines, etc. They do not charge event holders, TedX can’t make a profit. ALl about spreading ideas further. They launched with excitement but a lot of nerves. They put a lot of thought into guidelines. What has been fascinting has been the level of professionalism, experience and enthusiasm and they have learnt a lot. They thought there would be a couple of dozen events; there have been 1500 events, in many languages.
  • Open Sourcing the code – opening up the API. To spread ideas, need to reach people on different platforms. TED has a small team and can’t do it on own, and don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. There are so many platforms to reach. They want to be surprised by the apps. All talks and the metadata will be accessible. Looking at launching on mid year…but will work with developers to ensure what they do meets needs.
  • Openness works when there is a clear goal that inspires; where there is a passionate userbase; where there are clear guidelines – with rewards and consequences; allow community ways to police itself; Finally, make your contributors rock stars. THey thought about making the speakers rockstars, now it has expanded. THey make them feel honoured in the community.
    Openness is not easy; it goes against human instincts to protect what you have. it is challenging to fight against that but have to push through that fear. The rewards have been extraordinary.
Mar 13

SXSW: Andrea Phillips ARGS and the hot Brunette

LIVEBLOGGED: taken during talk, so any mistakes are mine.

Andrea Phillips
ARGS and Women

A freelance game designer and writer, involved since they started. Also Chair if IGDA SIG ARG One of community moderators of Cloudmakers, one of the key moments in ARGS, when we recognised that something had happened. One of the ingredients of the community experience was the Hot Brunette, Laia Salla, the one who had a problem. Her friend, she thought was murdered. She needed your help! In context, 2001, Buffy was on air, last season of Xena, then Alias and dark Angel, with Tomb Raider. Our cultural experience led to the hot brunette. She was influenced by culture, and bin turn influenced on. Also, this year, internet use by gender was equal. In 2001, the internet did not feel completely safe, it was common to hide your agenda. In Cloudmakers, however, it was not long before we saw there were a lot of women. We wondered why there were the women, was it the format, the role, the community. Only statistic I had was 28% of the voters for a final vote were women in this fame. As the AI game was widely known and successful, it came the model for future projects; who tried to unravel that review and repeat the experience. And in marched the hot brunettes. They were young, attractive, smart, funny. The kind of girl a geek may fall a little in love in.

A difference btw the video game and a ARG, you are not the star of the show, you are not the main character. The star is usually an attractive brunette. She is not the one doing stuff, you still are, she is something between a role to achieve and someone to help. In the 2012 experience, the 2 white guys were very unusual in this genre. There is a trend, we have made a new archetype, so we need to understand who she is and what she means. So let’s tale a look at the history?

Do girls play games? Yes, of course they do, why are we even discussion. 40% of all gamers are female, 52% of PSP owners are female. Women over 25 play more games than any other group. (Neilson figures)

So why are games ‘for boys’.. why do we still have this idea that games are a boy thing. Was there something about Pong that was hypermasculine? was it the marketing. (see 1976 ad for Pong) But there are girl and boy games – lots of the over 25 games, are casual games, or social games. They are not really the big AAA titles, which are what ‘press’ call games, When we think of video games those err the games that comes to mind. Farmville with its 100m users is not what you think of when you come to a gam, not what a gamer plays.

Games are marketed towards men…straight men. The Sin to Win campaign…for Dante’s Inferno. So if you committed an act of lust at (E3) you could win an evening with 2 hot girls in a limo. There was a protest over this campaign, and the winner rejected the prize. Look at Evony -marketed with boobs. There are no girls (or characters) in the game. (Video of E3 09, lots of girls). You could say it was bad this year – and that was toned down. As a women, what E3 is telling me is that the game people don’t like me, that they don’t want my money, that I am not a real human being.

Games are Made by Men. Another cog in the machine that keeps games a boy things. there are 3 % in programming. Women in game make less money. On (Andrea) ARG teams, there have been more women on them than men. Recent results from an IGDA survey, a third of ARG builders are female.

Female Characters in games suck: classic role for female is the damsel in distress. You are supposed to rescue girlfriend wife, sister, princess etc. Often for some unknown reason. In Zelda, she knows everything, she disguises herself as a ninja – why does she need rescuing. Why isn’t Zleda a playable character. Even when playable, it does not go well. SO Super Princess Peach. Her superpower – MOOD SWINGS!!! When she is happy she flies, she drowns enemies with her tears. Bayonetta is in a category all by itself for its depiction of girls. The art director has talked at length at getting her arse correct. The ‘wins’ are ‘climaxes’. Her costume is made from her hair, that needs concentration..which falls when she is doing something. So her superpower is getting naked. One on 5 characters on a game box is female. In an industry fixated on realism, in light on water, in the action of dust. If they are after realism, they are not really getting there.

So What?? Why does this matter, why is it that girls play games, boys play games, It is not an academic question, it is a real problem. I could give you pages on sexual harassment stats. instead I’d give you info on my first brush of sexism. At 13, I moved schools; in my old schools I was studying literature, in my new one, I was in a class that had to underlined verbs. I approached the teacher to ask for more advanced work…the teacher replied that I had the most beautiful blue eyes. I learnt that being pretty would not help me. So i learnt to remove the markers of being feminine, I considered myself not a real girl…they like shopping and gossiping etc. At some point, you have to ask yourself where i got the idea about. So I had to ask what was wrong was me? My daughter likes girly things, and pink etc. I had internalised the message that girl things suck, so challenged my daughters choices. She was better than that. We have stigmatised femininity. We are cool with a women surgeon, but don’t like a man that collects unicorns. Girl stuff, means soft, pretty, in a culture…Girl Stuff sucks! the message in ads often convey this. If you repeat it, it becomes the norm.

A study has said if you consume a message, even if you disagree with it) you will end up adopting it. this is about the THE SLEEPER EFFECT. once info is in your brain, even if from a distrusted source, it becomes part of your world view.

PRIMING – behaviour and performance can be affected by situation and environmental cues. If you remind a girl that she is female before she takes a maths test, her scores are worse (as girls are ‘worse’ at maths). So who are responsible. the media. But WE ARE THE MEDIA. We are the media just as much as they are. As the media, we make culture, we put ideas into peoples heads. We have to think about what we are adding to the collective consciousness. So with our collection of brunettes in the ARG, we are saying women, even smart, competent women, need help to solve their problems. But why do we use them? What makes them useful. A lot of them come from the point of wanting to put in strong characters? So why young, brown hair. Writers are very lazy, building complex characters are hard. A mass market game want smart, funny, and vulnerable, Female means vulnerable, brown hair means smart (it’s a short hand)

When you start a character, you have a neutral human. But even so, there are defaults for a human – male, white, young etc. Look at a stick character, then most people will assume male, I’d be surprised if you look at a stick figure and not think of a gender at all. We think in genders..parents can get really angry if you misjudge the gender of a 2 month infant, even though it does not really matter until puberty.

We look at stock characters. they are easy. when you want to make a mad scientists, you take an actor and put him in a white coat and mess his hair. It’s easy, but simple, predictable and very boring, ad you can get offensive very quickly. so what is a writer to do? You can’t leave it at a stock character. You end up offensive and boring and which one is worse depends who you are talking to. So to make interesting, you pick an archetype and give them atypical traits. Mix and match. You need to avoid obvious, easy and predictable.

So, there’s nothing wrong with casting cute brunette as lead. But if it just for people to look at and there is no control, that is slipping into bad territory. So here’s a list of things to think about.

1. pass the Bechdale test. 2 or more women who talk to each other about something other than men. There are few that pass this test.
2. Give her agency. Give her the power to change the world. Lack of agency is one of the places ARGS fall down; although if there is two much, the players are short changed. If you give her free will, you can drive the story. make her unreliable, keep info to herself.
3. Diversify. add other dimensions. however, if you are not careful, then you get a cast of white people with different colours of skin.

The brunette is often a guide to the game world. You could skip this, let the players decide and explore.

There are a lot of bad characters, but lets look at what works. Faith from Mirrors Edge. She is conceived a human being first, who happens to be female. The female hero in Fable 2 – although he story is the same regardless which character you play. I though they used the same body model, so the female was strong and muscular. And in Fable, when you die, you scar. and there is no way to get rid of it. I liked that remaining pretty was not one of the rules. Then you have Shel in Portal you can argue that she is not really a character, as there is little about here. But it was cool that she was a girl and it was no big deal.

STORIES ARE TRUTHS: the truths we tell ourselves as a society, crime does not pay, love conquers all. Also girls like shopping…etc. the deep truth about ARGs is not hot brunettes need help but that there is someone on the web who will help you when you need it. This culture of helping people is the one that I want to build. you need to build the culture you want to be living in.

Mar 13

SXSW: Chris Messina and Actvity Streams

LIVEBLOGGED – so pretty much as said

Google Data Liberation – most excited to be part of this team

Ingeneral, interested in generative systems and structures, rhizomatic structures, built into the fabric of how they work. Start spill with constructs that grow into the systems. Thats how it all started, hashtags etc.

As in The Future of the Internet, (Zitrain) those sort of systems, paints a picture of things we need to think about as internists. So all that I have been doing based on these generative systems, those with transparent DNA.

An activity stream – facebook newsfeed, we are going somewhere with this, a lot more interesting. In 1999, Fight Club presented us something that gives us something to think about. YOu get a picture of someone through material objects. so imagine going shopping you get an activity stream as a receipt of what you have purchased. YOu get this on paper now, so how do you get it to something that is usable. When you purchase things with cards, the bank does all the collection and analysis. Card becomes a digital identity and you have no idea what the digital life is like. We end up with a stack of receipts that you can’t get anything from. Ther is an unbalance, where those that provide the cards can get the info and make use of it and they do not give us anything back. The bank provides data (he asked for bank info) but they provided it as pdf data. The pdf is a digital version of the paper they used to send you.

Today, the newsfeed is the best activity stream there is, one of the only ones we can have. (History of Feeds) IN 1999, they took RSS and piped data form one place to another. RSS was title + link + description. this was when people were afraid of giving data away, so this was the most you could do. So go forward 5-6 years, then there was a series of battles, so in 2005, there was a new format, called Atom. Still similar, till about syndication, innovation was author, unique id and update date. So very slow to get there. now we know who wrote it and when it was published. Moving forward but not about powering social web, still based on media consumption, the syndication. So now, we take the articles, will still have the same idea. We have a news feeds, which is still a portal types thing. So even with the most advanced browser/feed you still get the news feed. We are trying to pump all these rich info throughout he formats that were designed to publish news articles. So everything looks the same, it is all RSS (etc). There are all these rich activities but the formats we have are all stuck in 1999. The social web needs to have better, richer formats to allow us to express, why, when, how.

This is the friendfeed problem. There idea was to bring them all together, to make sense of it all. It was a metalled, representative of your actual identity online. Then friendfeed got acquired by facebook, now the service has languished. it still supports services that do not exist, it does not list all the services. (So no work). Int he world of social web and startups, there are a lot of casualties. Friendfeed put a lot of effort into stuff that goes away (as would anyone). So the solution could be a universal format (to minimise effort).

So this is where activity streams format comes from.

So to start, let’s go back to the Soviets. They proposed a theory called Activity theory…a structure about making workers more productive, a system to create divisions of labour. You wool have a subject with Tools with an object to produce and outcome. Then the theory got expanded, so broaden it out to the individual operating in a community structure, with rules and roles and mediating artefacts. This allows us to think about activity streams beyond point a to be syndication. It allows us to create meaning. (Engestrom 1967)

one of things you can think of is Social Objects. Jyri took his Dad’s research and started working on social objects. You can’tt just do a social network that allows friending, you have to create these shared objects that people can gather around and have some interesting interactions. Those social objects are the pivot points for connections, which allows them to derive meaning and make sense of the connection.

You Tube – the social object is the video. Instead of a list, you can modify it, with comments, favourites etc, all this social residue provides meaning, adds value to the object, that was created once and then gets built up over time. Look at Flickr, go back to our activity theory, they have understood how the different things they have used these rules to generate interesting interaction models. Focus on the pieces, you create a vibrant community, different roles, create, comment, curation,. Flickr does a good job of expanding the roles of non-producers, the actions adds richness and dynamism to Flickr than found on other sites. Also, on rules, they have made it possible for an individual to finely tune the system, the rules. So if I were private, I can control public searches. When I get a comment from someone I don’t know, then there would be a connection as that is the only way to find. If I was public , then another set of reason for people to find them. So the way I set up attracts the activities that are meaningful.

Useful when talking abut lifestreams. Lifestreams and activity streams are not completely interchangeable. The lifestream concept came from David Gelernter. Wrote Mirror Worlds. A decade later 2000, wrote The Second COming, A Manifesto. He talked about lifestreams. He said a lifestream organises info as a mind, not a file system. He talked about the idea of hashtags, connecting elements. (HTtp:// This is all like Donnie Darko – we have these threads that play out to past and future and we can modify, but we do not have great tools for doing so. As we start to move towards experiencing the now, the next and the next next.

As we start to produce all these digital objects, we start to snack on it. Today may feel like overload, we don’t have the tools to consume it. We are constantly compressing, microcontent goodness. You would write a book, long, you were paid on words. Then we went to articles in publication, now we do tweets. So what are we giving up? We go from a slow consume and digest, lingering on content to one where info is disposable as there is so much of it. What is interesting is the data trail that can come from these experiences.
The info can lead to a mapping of behaviour. We are scratching the surface of this, with systems about where and what we are doing in the world. Still not good systems. Being able to build a profile over time, this social data, social residue and be able to make sense of it is fascinating. We can make little of it now.

Social signifiers can be useful in training computers to serve us better; it is very valuable, and bite size chunks make it more accessible to computers. One example is a pedometer I use, that hooks to a website, so I can track the trend. You need to accrue data over time. So I can track have a slowed down, am I more lazy than my peers. Look at the Feltron annual reports. He collects all of the data over a year. and publishes. He tracks where he goes, so why can’t google maps provide this? Food consumption, how does he track it? There’s an app called Last History…looks over the scrobbling. This is your data, so you can do something with it. It takes your habits, combines ical, iphoto, imovie etc and shows you the soundtrack of your life.

Now Tufte has been horrid by Obama, to track and visualise where our tax dollars are going. So why don’t they make it compulsory for the data to be released so we can build stuff….we’ll end up with pdfs from most of them.

The solution to data overload is more data – actually more metadata, data about data. So we need to start generating this and this is what we are doing with activity streams. We presume there is an actor, that did something and modified an object, with some output/target. Actor Verb Object Target. this model allows me to do this.

So what does the code look like? So add verb, object-type and target to the atom definition. so you have an activity stream data model. The new bits are added. You can start to substitute verbs and object types, mix and match and build more interesting experiences. Now we have a list of verbs and object types, from review of friendfeed and others. So all of this is in v0.8, moving towards 1. the idea is not to have a million verbs on day 2, but to start with something that can be added to.

We are not really inventing this, we are being inspired by the microformats process, for the expansion of the model. So ask why, do your homework, then propose the new verb/targets etc. Then iterate. Then interoperate. We want to grow this slowly so we know what we are getting into

Mar 24

SXSW – Behind the scenes with Mad Men on Twitter

How did characters from a show based in the analog 1960s fast forward to become a sensation on Twitter? Tweeters behind the profiles of Peggy Olson, Betty Draper and Roger Sterling discuss how it happened, why it happened and–most importantly– what does it mean for the future of entertainment branding?

Helen Klein Ross Partner, Supporting Characters
Michael Bissell Pres, Conquent
Carri Bugbee Pres, Big Deal Productions

  • CB:Madmen on Twitter came out serendipitously. I saw a tweet about don Draper on twitter.I loved it never thought it was official, but wanted to join in. So I registered Peggy Olsen, thought it was fun, thought I would do it over the next few weeks. Over the next few hours got about 160 followers, people were getting into it. I thought it would be interesting, a case study, so I treated it as a job, to the extent that it was possible, I deleted the snarky tweets and went to get inside the character. On the same day there were more people involved, over the next few days most Mad Men were on Twitter and it garnered a huge following and lots of pieces about it.  A lot about whether it was by AMC or not. At that point I kept quiet about it was me – I got a kick out of the speculation and writing.   Later, there were issues with getting into Twitter – they had suspended the account.  I had really got into Peggy and was loving it, but the minute they took the character away I was wringing my hands. Got an indecipherable email from Twitter about copyright (so I then emailed my lawyer, just in case). Watched the stream and lots were annoyed about it, it got reported, eg Silicon Valley Insider, who reported from Twitter there was a DMCA takedown notice.  All I could think about that night was oh crap a network was going to sue me. The following morning, lots were writing about how AMC had failed, how it was wrong to do a take down.  A day later, the journalists were contacting other characters.  We did not tell anyone, we kept it quiet. Later they let us go back up…reportedly on the advice of the digital agency.  Lessons:  Brands/Shows reserve your screen names.  Lessons: you may not be able to achieve it.  Lesson: if in middle of PR problem, don’t bury your head.  Give them something, speculation is not good.  Lesson: use your fans to your advantage.  this has not really been absorbed by people who create content.    Once we were back in action it was the long slog of building followers.  It was just word of mouth.  You should use Twitter to follow your brand, to see what people are saying.  You can get real-time feedback about the show and characters.
  • HR: I’m Betty Draper.  I started by being followed by Betty and Don. I thought this was another brilliant promotion by AMC. I had already seen them seed subway cars with business cards and they had wrapped a car in promotion.  I blogged about it about how brilliant AMC was and I was shocked when they were taken down. When they came back up, I went to see what was avalable…no idea why. Just thought it was a brilliant idea, a new kind of marketing. I picked up Francine (betty’s friend) and a few others. I saw it as a form of fiction.  To generate spontaneous fiction.   I could create mini-dramas across my characters to entertain followers.  We made characters live between episodes and seasons.  We enabled Mad Men fans to interact with the characters.   All of us have strived to remain parallel to Matt Weiner’s universe.  I have a whole 1960’s library know, had to do a lot research.  We’re only half of this..the other half are tweets from fans.  Our Mad Men on twitter would not be exciting if it was just us.   I come from advertising … have tried to think about what does this mean for entertainment marketing.  How we think about and consume entertainment has changed. We can expect to have some active participation in it. The old contracts were a very passive model…media heads put a lot of focus on impressions when deciding on which show to advertise on. They are looking now at expressions now, how many are willing to engage with show.  To get 80% reach you used to be able to buy a spot on 3 networks, now it’s 100 networks.  Advertisers have to stop siloing it.  Consumers are changing. Neilson has a convergence channel..combining internet and TV. We think that Mad Men on Twitter is something different. We’re not just fans, we’re professionals. We are transforming fan fiction into a new form of marketing – it’s not fan fiction, its brand fiction
  • MB: I’m Roger Sterling. When first contacted, i thought it was silly, but I went to look for Don Draper, but ended up with Sterling.  It was perfect for me..the tweets about the hangovers etc were not just fiction!  The research, definitely needed.  The Long Island Iced Tea was not invented until the 70s..I did not know this but the fans did. I changed it. Twitter is very transitory, it’s gone. Twitter is very Buddhist, it’s in the now.   But for tracking, it’s very have to regular on a schedule grab all the data.  There’s the peekaboo followers, who follow and unfollow. You don’t catch these in regular stats.  So the people who say they have this figured out are assuming that world will not change again. We started in Aug, when the most followed had 40k followers. There’s an article today about Twitter has peaked. You have to watch and track and know the universe is changing.   The outside stuff was interesting, how people perceived the characters.  The WSJ which came out a few months ago gave very little in traffic or views…
  • Q: does it make sense for an agency/professionals to do this?
  • CB: if I was the agency or client, i would absolutely want to own it.  There is so much more you could do..but we can’t do as we are not sanctioned.
  • MB: Look at Star Trek…Paramount has had pseudo fanfiction that they have managed, to let fan world grow but push it in the direction the want to go
  • Q: Are you getting work out of this?
  • MB: can;t confirm or deny.
  • HR: but we could do it for you or teach you to do it.  We hope to teach others to do this
  • Q: Did it feel like work?
  • MB: we saw that. there were characters that showed up, but no longer there. It is so time consuming.
Mar 16

SXSW – Bringing TV to the Web

This is an advanced session from Six to Start and Roo Reynolds and Jo Twist from the BBC – learn how broadcasters and new media companies work in bringing about the intersection of broadcast television and online both now and in the future.

Claire Bateman Jr Games Designer, Six to Start
Adrian Hon Chief Creative, Six to Start
Daniel Hon Ceo, Six to Start
Roo Reynolds Portfolio Exec Social Media, BBC
Jo Twist Multiplatform Channel Editor, BBC

  • RR: TV and the web…so ask audience, how they watch the TV and do they use the web. Is it linear – when it’s on. or in catch up, with an online surface.  Most of the panel play catch up TV with live news/sport. Most of the room are Cs. For me, Most of the stuff about TV on the web is really quite boring – the video bit on the web. i think there is more
  • DH:TV on the web is done. we can do something more interesting now. Linear video on the web is just a matter of streaming.
  • JT: it is important not to underestimate who important web stuff is. But as a commisioner, I challenge production companies to fill in the creative gap
  • AH: video on the web is done.  It’s the things that surround it that make it interesting. Eg the MTV back channel. You can gossip about the show
  • DH: we have got distracted by the wrong thing. It’s not about delivering video; yes shorter episodes are different. It;s just slightly cheaper as it’s not broadcast quality. We can do far more than that – it’s still just broadcast.
  • JT: what I like about the backchannel it;s about how bitchy can you be…people do like to be cleverer than what they are watching and that is a mechanic useful to multi-platform
  •  DH: a lot of people talk about the mobile web and web as different, that is stupid short term thinking, You should be able to develop for the same whatever.  Mink says that when you are out and about, you carry a story in your head. With always on you are surrounded by this fictional field. I like to e able to access content where ever you are. So shows could exist anywhere and be always evolving
  • JT: we want mainstream numbers…the majority of audiences want to be entertained. they are online to be with friends, so how can we play to that, that does not require much effort and still be involved.
  • RR: when you are in a gamespace,
  • CB: the golden want barriers to having a game being everywhere, you want borders, that what you are doing is within a world that exists.  If the story/game can be anywhere, you still need structure and the boundaries to choose to be in a space and behave appropriately.  On public transport, you ignore people, if you are in the game and you see somewhere you recognise, you can talk to them in the game. The fictional field has some kind of shape around it.  A lot of tools in trad Tv, the construction set, are good for this
  • AH: something like Lost does not scale easily on web for all tv.
  • JT: when we talk to our audience, it depends on genre, eg with a drama, the 16-24 don’t what to engage – or they say that. But when you get really compelling drama (eg Being Human), we did a lot of behind the scenes things, getting fans closer to the mindset of the world.  We are thinking of making that stuff into a TV show.  Another example was Briony Makes a Zombie Movie, which was a documentary about making a crowd sourced Zombie show.  It was TV reflecting the web/ We’re not challenging enough
  • DH: you are taking a dominate media form and supporting it online, but you are not creating a new form. So what is TV good at and what can online learn to create qualitative new experience.
  • AH: there is now a real spectrum of interactivity; the spaces inbetween are interesting
  • JT: to think of TV is a red herring…it is a device and a platform (DH..but where the money is). I’m interested in much more connected entertaining experiences. Again, what can you do in crafting different experiences?  TV is a product that has a beginning and end and then you leave it/
  • DH: when we started working with TV companies, we introduced agile processes…which to us TV did not really do. It’s a gamble to out something out there and improve it over time.
  • AH: look at what we have done –, Net Native fiction.   different forms.  this is making entertainment for the web, that can only be done on the web.
  • DH:to pre-empt..we don’t know how it is going to be monetised,. It is so early in the game, but there is so much potential, we have to try things,
  • AH: wetellstories got 300k uniques, not that many compared to a tv show.  there are few online stuff that attracts numbers.
  • Q: will you release your measurements..the engagement metrics as well as audience
  • JT: we have a lot of data like that and I think it is really important. How is the impact, how is it changing how people are thinking. We have no understanding how the culture of thought is changing as the result of a show etc. Those measurements we have are TV, but we are getting better.
  • AH: Ch$ did Sexperience. it was about Sex education, they got 50k+ to do STD tests.
  • DH: we look at time spent, it is at least 10mins a session
  • Q: you know something that will be useful to us, so how can you release
  • Q: How did you feel about TV etc…working with them
  • DH: some of them are great to work with. We get involved with some at the concept stage, before they have even pitched. So it’s integrated. Then there are the TV production companies…they ‘get’ the web..which means they put video on it!
  • AH: while some broadcasters are funding stuff like ARGs, they underestimate the effort and budget required.  TV is where the money is…
  • Q: how do you achieve the culture shift
  • DH: you do stuff like this and wait
  • JT: you work together (in her role) with the TV commissioners.  you have online people in the teams.  the best example are around kids..Briony makes a Zombie..
  • DH: Jeremy Ettinghausen had access to an innovation fund with the express interest to try things. We worked with the creative talent and got them interested in what can be done.  They get excited about other ways of telling stories.
  • Q: Not seen many things online that are Lost like..they are doing shiny things, we shoul be past that
  • JT: i see people putting things online that won;t fit into the Tv  /it’s not good can we put it online’
  • DH: we can do some seriously good stuff!   We tell stories is like a multimedia CD rom…tech speaking we are way past this point…
  • AH as the guy who made it….the stuff we do could have been done a long time ago. But it’;s the accessibility…that is an is diff for anyone to get into an ARG..
  • Q: What about local access, community etc.
  • CB: local community is not the same on the internet, it’s just community.
  • JT: it’s reflecting your cultural does not have to be local, it can be. I’ve seen local project fail so many times.
  • Q: The strength of TV is it can make us eyewitness to events. The weakness is it’s linear.  Why aren’t we seeing less linearity?
  • DH: it is difficult. We’ve tried doing non-linear and it works in some cases.  Linear is easier to follow, people don’t ness want to work at it
  • AH: Linearity is not ness a weakness, it is just a property.
  • Q: TV can be repackaged..the web stuff can have a shorter life – it’s PR/marketing etc? is that how you do things?
  • AH we’re not maintaining them (no budget) but it’s not how we ness think
  • JT: you want to create an ecosystem that allows people to create. It’s a cultural shift, just because the TV show is over does not mean the story is over.
  • DH: an current traditional ARG is not repeatable, they run live.  It limits audiences, it is liked massive primetime tv that you can’t record nor can you buy box set.  We don’t have replayability. 
  • Q: How is UGC video impacting?..web creation impact
  • JT: it;s difficult…it’s interesting when they have a following. It has to be really known talent or really good content. Or we document the process of cultural process.
  • Q: how can ceative people use the web more?
  • CB: just find some geeks!
Mar 16

SXSW – What can we learn from games

Experts from three different (bit connected) industries talk about game design, learning theories, collective intelligence, transmedia entertainment, and the value of play in a participatory culture.
Henry Jenkins Co-Dir CMS, MIT
James Gee Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Arizona State University
Warren Spector GM Creative Dir, Junction Point – Disney Interactive Studios

  • JG: my 6yo got me into games. I realised that I had never learnt anything that new for 30ys. I realised that games use learning as a gateway drug.   I write books about it and why I play games.
  • HJ: at MIT, going to USC in Sept. Blog etc. I’ve been part of Education Arcade, how they put into practice educational value of games.  Alos workign with Macarthur foundation, looking at learning.
  • WS: believe I’m the oldest still making games. Started in 70s, did Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Worked at Origin.
  • HJ: worked with son, on the Sims, who had to manage his budget.   His son bought all the big ticket items, not about doing plumbing and eating. It applied to his life and he ‘got it’
  • JG: the Sims is often looked down on. but it brings a lot. The Sims players often give simulate what it is to grow up poor.  The game itself is not too good at this, it lead to thinking about how the game was put together.  It is digital, thinking about the world, thinking about how the simulation works
  • WS: games are good at problem solving, how to think about things, how to solve issues
  • JG: you discover think about yourself as a learner. When I started I tried the same thing 300 times until 6yo suggested I try something else.
  • WS: I’ve been making games that are about problems not just puzzles. We had to train players…to be able to make choices and solve problems  In video game sit is infrequent that we ask people to think There is this movement now of getting players to think.
  • HJ; we are learning to depend on others for advice and gaming, though the networks etc.  Schools only recognise only autonomous problem solvers, any kind of collaboration is seen as cheating, there is a different style of learning through the games
  • JG: the Sims example show emotional intelligence and a social intelligence.
  • HJ: the Lure of the Labyrinth is a game we are developing.  We set it up so that kids have to communicate to others about solving the problems, It is abut strategies of solving problems not the answers they have to share.
  • JG: so many games are saying you have to be designing part of it,
  • WS: I’m a little of a luddite, a little more into a traditional narrative and how it combines with gameplay. I’m willing to give up control of gameplay but not the narrative.  There is a thriving community of Spore players, making stories etc.  The most wonderful experiences for me, about the last games I did, if you look at forums, the conversation is different about hwo they talk about my games. It is not about saving puzzles, it is about the narrative, how could you have killed this guy, how could you have done this thing.  A community came to me, at a conference, we went to the bar….and some of the guys started an argument about the a was about politics and ideology, that is the power of interactive narrative it is is about letting you behave one way and seeing how it plays out.
  • JG: narrative acts in many different ways in games.  Doesn’t the narrative in the game have to fit in the gameplay, it can’t just be an addon.  Look at Braid, it has a weird story and a weird gameplay, making people think about how thay match. It’s just a 2d gameplay….there’s a lot of theories about the story.
  • WS: it’s a very lets deconstruct the medium approach, it is very off-putting.   Games are about what you do, so it has to be about the mechanics.
  • HJ: the games come out of a school of theory, people who had gone to game school. You had the same with film, a group of people who had the same language, You are going to get the same in games, designers who are schooled in the theory and can talk the same ideas and the audience who understands this and is seeking content out and can educate themselves.
  • JG:you can have a good story, but the player is in the middle of it. These themes can float around, you see pieces of it, you see bits at ta time. The player can take the themes and make something of it (Deus Ex)
  • WS: with Deus Ex i tried to make the most accessible mainstream game (it failed though). It gave you the chance to try different ways to solve problems. Pick the way you want to play it. I also let you ignore the story if you wanted it.  Games are work and I wanted to disguise this fact, masking the work is something that games to really well. There is a world  work out there that happens online, or just doing your taxes; a more gamelike account could help ease past the work
  • HJ: teachers don’t always recognise the work in a games.  The key word is engagement when it comes to games. A good game makes us engage in a task that may be frustrating and long and boring but will keep involved.
  • JG: when the initial work on Flow, it was about work, the flow state, to make it more engaging.
  • WS: we take things that in other times would be boring and hard and we make them fun.  Some games have control schemes that are more complex than Turbotax -we should be able to make these fun. Find a way to apply game paradigms to real world of work
  • HJ: games to a spectacular job of introducing complexity, spreadsheets etc.   Teachers have not yet caught up this.
  • JG: you play some of these games, pore over the graphs of the results and plan the next strategy. This is valuable skill.
  • WS: this is what the tabletop games do well, give you a framework to build things and learn about stuff. I learnt about medieval Japan, how to run a castle, WWII espionage.
  • JG: you see something as a system and how the systems interact, it teaches you about science and thinking about systems
  • WS: I agree, and I look at most games..they show the world as a system but often a simple system that could mislead you. So thanks that Will Wright exists that show you simple solutions can be a bad thing,
  • HJ: research shows that kids learn a lot of things from games, but don’t look at the game structure.  We have to couple gamespace learning and media literacy. Learnign this, thinking critically, gets people to be able to design themselves etc
  • WS: most of peers believe their work is ideological pure, that they are not defining a world view but this is wrong.
  • HJ: as an artist you have to have a world view…we may not be preparing kids adequately for the Apocalyse but we should be making them thinking about stuff!
  • JG: there’s a whole space their to connect at an emotional level.
  • WS: we have an indi game industry, with skills and distribution etc all that helps. This is great..
  • JG: serious games have not taken off with a speed that was hoped.  Niche games, such as Flower etc, have taken off, I don’t think serious games have been good enough.
  • WS: one thing that games can do well is teach process.  That is not what games do fundamentally. But serious games have tried too much for process and not fun
  • JG: what is good about the games is the engagement, the ability to make choices et. Game designers are trying to model the system, and that is what scientists are doing. We have wrong education theories and that is why we make bad games.
  • Q: What thoughts about how games can be used to get people to think different about their world context?
  • WS: that is what games do, you can walk in someone else’s shoes. It is an experience of being in another place. It is what we do everyday
  • HJ: games are the only media that lets you feel guilt – if you do something bad you have a stake in the consequences (quoting Wright again).
  • WS: my wife has never finished Deus EX as she killed a dog in the beta.she felt such guilt she never went back
  • Q: Do you see development of narrative of games to problem solving? and is there real support to keep them out of classroom to reinforce accidental learning
  • JG: game sin classroom are often to support text books, We have to change theory of learning before we can do this…put different games in classrooms
  • HJ: Labyrinth is not about beng in the classroom, it is to be played outside but then discussed.. Games in schools does not work – the timeframe does not fit in the lesson.  It is not the efficient way of using time. Students look to knowing what they need to know to ge the test. School is not seen a place to play and we have to change this. Until we expect responsibility, then games will not be properly used in classrooms.  But how do we give kids without computers at home access to the skills that game players will have.
  • Q: is there a distinction for difference in narrative between a novel and game? I call it contextual narrative.
  • WS:we don’t have consistent terminology, I call it shared authorship
  • HJ: it is a form of narrative based on world building. Scifi and fantasy os often this.  Worldbuilding narratives invite creativity in a different way to plot driven narrative
  • Q: so how can brand use game theory and gameplay to engage audience in social media.
  • WS: hire a game designer for a few weeks.
  • HJ: it is huge growth area, that appears to a different type of players. I would be wary of learning too much from current theory. Hire female designers etc, bring diff types of social expertise to the table, who understand the networking.
  • WS: Read Rules of Play, has a lot foundational work.  Tracy Ford Game Design Workshop, It will give a vocab to discuss.
Mar 15

SXSW – Dead Space a Deep Media Case Study

This in-depth case-study reveals the method and the madness behind Electronic Arts use of cross platform marketing to communicate separate, self-contained elements of the much anticipated release of their first survival horror game, Dead Space. For this release, EA packaged a comic book, a prequel DVD, and an online experience in order to build, create, and cultivate an audience around the Dead Space brand prior to the official ‘street date’ launch.

Ian Schafer CEO, Deep Focus
Chuck Beaver Sr Producer, Electronic Arts
Andrew Green Online Mktg Mgr, Electronic Arts
Frank Rose Contributing Editor, Wired Magazine
Ben Templesmith Dir, Singularity7

Some live blogging from the panel

  • FR: it’s a successful video game but more than that – Deep Media, (deepmedia blog). we’ve had linear story telling and now the web is encouraging a new story telling. To watch and participate.  these are entertaining and immersive. eg BSG, Dark Knight. EA entered this wih Dead Space – allowing stories to be told elsewhere.  It’s not about doing spin-offs. It’s the same story told across a panoply of different media.
  • CB: it’s a 3rd person scifi survival horror. In the future, a lone protagonist. Similar to Alien, isolated, alone. Isaac has been sent out to correct a communication blackout on a ship.   It’s not a blackout.  It’s not licensed, we did it ourselves.   When we started, we were steeped in licenced games. We were interesting in doing new IP, to own the properties.   It took about 18month to get greenlit.   The dismemberment was from Glen Schofield, our exec producer, we had to rein it back a little. It fits with zombie law.  Some games don’t consider story as essential, we thought it was. We wanted to have a natural story, took it very seriously. We watned to dev a frnachsie so did a whole canon. 
  • AG: it was not just a marketing tool ,We got involved early on, about 16months before. It was the first timeas a marketing team when we got involved with passionate devs. We got 500yrs of back story, a comic book etc. We had to figure out what to do with the great assets, create a strategy around it to build an audience that would be with us to game launch.  It’s a new ‘paradigm’. We wanted to make sure all the products lived on their own. The customer decides what they want to do, you have to give them a reason to come through the door.
  • BT: I got a strange email, I replied that this sounded interesting.   I said that I’d do a comic to do with the game.   I expected it to be like previous ones, a sideline, or just the game story. But as I got further in, they wanted to tell the story from the beginning, this really appealed to me. Usually I get told what to do, it’s restricted. But here, I had tremendous free rein within our part. It can stand on its own or you can follow to other parts.  The visual style was ‘me’ I’m known as the horror guy in comics.  That they got me, with my reputation, meant they were taking the comic side seriously.  Feedback is great, that they did a complete story.
  • CB: we had enough story to allocate bits to different media, the comic, the animation and hte game. Then on the web we had other stories we needed to propagate.  This was driven from Glen; I was in charge of the production.  These were rolled out over a period of months.  We worked with the structure of each media; eg comic books can have a 6 month run, 1 per month, others driven from timing.   How did we keep the story straight? We had a big master timeline, we segmented the story so they would not overlap too much.  A lot of co-ordination.  We had to make the universe.
  • FR: how do you know the property will support all of this stuff?  Did you seed it with takeoff points?
  • CB: yes. We tried to focus on not having a one time event story. We established the canon document, with a centralised universe story.
  • AG: the document had lots of stuff that was nothing to do with the story, but lots of details about the world. We could create new stories and characters from the details.
  • FR: How did you draw the line between defining the canon and overdefining?
  • CB: we did not want the team to feel they were just filling in blanks. We gave the story and feeling. they did all the story development.  We had little to show BT, just concepts.
  • BT: there was a lot of art, I had to extrapolate from that, had to make it work in the civilian setting.  Got to create own assets. Got a little disappointed that I could not draw all the cool stuff?
  • AG: accessibility was a big thing for us on the web, so you would not have to buy a book. We created new assets, which could spin off new stories. We took print assets and created comic book videos, pulled the images together and added VO.  We got lots of views in these.
  • FR: So how do you build something like this in the web.
  • IS: the previous story were linear, on the web we launched, it was far more fractured. you had a different experience depending on the decisions.  Based on original scripts and then extended. We had to keep aesthetic similarity, we had to ensure it went well in the flash environment.  We had to go to studio and get all the assets, 3d renderings etc.  It was not just tech, the tech served the story.   It was to facilitate a connection between the brand and the people who wanted to play. To share the experience, to take the content onto their own spaces.   It was a  week experience, each week another chapter. We had to roll it out slowly., About 500k, site visit 10min on average.  A fair few said it was a key driving factor in the game.
  • CB: the animated feature, it was sort of between comic and game in the story. 
  • FR: how did Deep media benefit the game?
  • AG: you got a lot of people engaging with the world, they came and asked questions, it generated excitement. It gives people a reason to want to interact with brand.
  • IS: it’s how people want to interact; we did some research about a tv show – the brand of the tc show is more than the show on TV –  it’s about what you share with others.   I did film marketing before, you can’t market too early as by the film comes along they think they have seen it. With this, you got people into the storyline, deeper an deeper.
  • AG: I think the comic book/videos were the most successful.  The web was deep and rewarding but the comics took advantage of dissemination, easier to port videos everywhere.  the liner narrative is only one type of content, you will only get so much punch. But it was only one part of a stockpile of ammunition.  Each played for a different audience.
  • FR: what was the biggest surprise?
  • CB: we were surprised at how difficult – we’re a game maker, not a comic publisher.  It was new, we were making up the rules and trying to hit the quality bar.
  • AG: an observation but could have been why it was successful. It was team of people wanting do something well. Everyone interacting, pushing through the late nights, like it was the own pet project.
  • IS: it was visible to end user that it was telling not selling, people respected the credibility of a good story.
  • CB: with EA, for them to treat these not just as marketing one-offs, not just as selling channels, they understood that they were valid in of themselves. We established quality throughout
  • AG: that is the test of deep media, that it’s not just marketing.   It has to be about the passion, give the story tellers the freedom.
  • IS: in context of advertising. When money spent on impression, it could not compare to the hours spent interacting with the content. It’s not impressions you can buy, it’s about creating lasting impressions.  Allow you to spend less on paid media, more on earning respect.
  • FR: what next?
  • CB: it would be great to be able to produce a live action movie, nothing is in the works yet.  We have a new story line for ‘Extraction’ out this fall.  New story, in the world.
  • Q: do you need a lot of budget? Do you need all these pieces to do it well?  What resources are required?
  • AG: You need a passionate creative centre and give it to the community, you can create a deep media experience that could grow. It is all about starting. You have to create.
  • IS: it’s about the expectations of the sale. if you are launching  product, budget accordingly.
  • Q: Would you do the website again?
  • AG: yes. from an ROI the engagement was huge.  You also got analytics (which you can’t necessarily get from other networks. The data set is taken away on ning etc.  I could change content on the microsite based on analytics.
  • IS: from a world of mouth it helped to have something people could be worked through.  it build buzz etc.
  • AG: Deep Focus drive a lot of editorial hits etc.  Got people viewing it.
  • Q: for web site what were the biggest traffic sources?  What was traffic after 6 weeks?
  • IS: Many by editorial mentions, from blog mentions. 
  • AG: getting hits from right blogs, eg Kotaku, Wikipedia was the biggest one.  We have a link on official site, tht gets 100k/200k. upwards of 10k new a week.  they can jump in many places.
  • IS: a fifth is after the game release
  • Q: Dead Space came to me via PS3, all the downloads. I slowly got into it, even though can’t stand horror. We played the game…we got to the end and thought ‘what did that mean’. So was there any plan around the ending
  • CB: that’s a fairly delicate thing for me to talk about. The ending does have a structure, has meaning, and I hope to be able to explain in the future.
  • Q: how important is premium downloadable content after the game?
  • CB: it’s a consumer expectation, so you have to do it or it’s a negative. we have to figure out how to make it happen as it is a drain on dev team
  • AG: the economy and expectation of it is driving a new way of selling games.  Expansions are good. Stprytelling is about blocks of content I guess game makers are going to be planning and budgeting for this.
  • Q: you talked about dolling stories in bite sized..did you give away too much? how did you recover?
  • CB: the final trailer…the marketing wanted to show the final boss.  The devs did not want to this. The PR team wanted this…the rest of the story was fine
  • Q: what did theis process show you about new IP?
  • CB: it is so risky, that is why EA did licensed IP, it’s a safer model. We have been critically rewarded from this, I think you will see more from this.
  • AG: Ben you create new IP all the time
  • BT: putting on paper is easy.  But in this, it was good as they did not drive changes, I’ve had more control on others, eg Marvel and DC. there is more that you cannot mess with. So Dead Space was part of a larger thing, but free rein.
  • IS: it was pretty ballsy, about placing control in other hands about telling the story.  It was amazing, eg bringing in Ben.
  • AG: budget levels, for games etc, it is a sequel business. When you are up against sequels, it is a difficult game. The deep media elements all helped, bridged the value over to us.
  • Q: Where is this going, what is the potential
  • BT: for me, it’s animation. Comic books should stay static, but will turn online as well.
  • AG: you’re going to see every kind of media feeding the other media, based on resources, ability around it.  It is easy to get seduced by idea of your creativity becoming something else. Trying to create something for a commercial reason is the best to make it fail.
Mar 15

SXSW – report of the first day

Arriving in the US, I’d ticked ‘pleasure’ on the Customs’ form, the TSA immigration officer decided that was not the correct designation and insisted that I was here on business. Given I work in digital marketing and the SXSWi is about interactive stuff I can see how he can get idea, but for me, this conference is not about business it’s about fun, connecting with old and new friends and just really enjoying myself.

Yesterday, I went to 3 panels, mostly OK, some new stuff learnt. The Privacy Panel was interesting but very theoretical; the keynote from Tony Hsieh, taking about Zappos was great and then the Core Conversation with Zoe Margulis went in unexpected ways (feminism, US media and US legal system) but was good anyway.

Lunch was with Jeremy, Ted and Ashley, great mexican at the Rio Grande. We bumped into Lucretia, GeekMommy and a whole bunch of the Eleven Moms at Walmart, some of whom took up Ted’s challenge to lick him to get a free T-Shirt.

In the evening, a great series of parties. First up was the dorkbot party, where I bumped into zeroinfluencer (David) where I caught up about his latest project (it’s going to be fun!). Then we wandered along to the Razorfish Opening party, just missing people. A busy place, we only stayed for one before catching up with friends at Six, where Crispin Porter Bogusky and a company whose name just completely escapes me now! A little more space here, far better to cartch up with Faris, Katy, Adam andDamiano.

After a few margaritas there i left them to it as jetlag was hitting, heading home but calling in at the Maker’s Mark party, which had a cracking band playing. Didn’t stay long as bed was calling; sleep and then up bright and early for today.

Mar 14

SXSW – Zoe Margolis – Blogging How not to get Fucked

While bloggers have a lot more power than ever before, there are still plenty of risk involved with personal publishing. Talk about the best ways to survive this tangled maze.

Zoe Margolis Blogger/Author, Girl With a One-Track Mind (this was a conversation, so names not used. each line is a different person commenting in the thread)

  • ZM: blog was about sex life; got a book deal, 3 days after publication was outed by paper. Lost anonymity and had life changed.
  • ZM: In 2009, is it still worth it, is a good place to speak your mind?
  • In the US over the last 8 years, it has been scary of putting out their opinion. People putting out political opinions have been getting fired because their opinions are out there.
  • It is a privilege that those who are professional media person to live life publicly. It is not a right.
  • In academia, you can’t blog! it is supposed to be an open field
  • I had to fire a person who would not use picture or real name on blog
  • There are some places you have to be careful about your religion, if you are unconventional and express your opinion you are likely not to be trusted..not one of ‘us’.  I teach, you can’t discuss students, you always have to be careful what you put?
  • If you are going to be careful, so why do it?  If there is a risk. So you want to express your opionion, but you have to be careful
  • So talking about your sex life is one thing – but using a blog to talk about students is a different things.
  • You choose to blog and have to make a decision,. Making a decision to blog, means you have to take responsible
  • True, if you want to live in a fascist state. Your boss did not own you outside of work in the past. 
  • ZM: are we taking enough care – the stuff is there all the time
  • I’m a retired journalists and a new blogger, I’m doing investigative blogging. I have evidence for what I’m looking at, but still careful about what I am going to stay.
  • (Me) libel laws are the same…
  • you just have to defend your self.  if you write for a company, you have their lawyers!
  • (discussion about legal laws, libel etc)
  • There’s bloggers liability insurance now.  Very careful about how say things. Insure express opinion. I was worried about political stuff , to prevent having career being ruined.
  • Don’t make anyone mad!
  • Investigative journalism is one of the last bastions of local journalism, one of the things that keep gov and authorities held to account. This is disappearing and blogs may not cover it.
  • can you do this. A food blogger, how can you do this?  It is all opinion
  • So what about a public figure…blogged about Tila Tequila. Got a cease and desist to take down all mentions of her, her name was trade marked. 
  • Food bloggers have been sued…for giving a bad review.
  • There’s no regulation?
  • You can always be can pick someone to sue. You need the wherewithall to defend it.
  • this has coming down to reviews on sites like Yelp. Putting anything up there is open to be sued.
  • Is it about a bad experience, or about accusing them of something the business had done?
  • There are companies that will manage the web reputation…send out cease and desist and manage online mentions
  • So how anon is anon? 
  • There are anonymising services on the web.  Your IP address is traceable
  • ZM; but all it takes is 1 error and you can be found.  I don’t believed you can be 100% anon.
  • For sex bloggers, what are the morals about talking about someone else?  about talking about these things.
  • ZM: i amalgamated people, I pulled out situations. When I was outed, the ex-lovers could recognise themselves, but no-one complained.  Now, everything i write (about others) is with permission.  It does make it difficult, people are concerned about being blogged about.
  • Discussing about people, other people, it depends on the relationship. How far away they are from you. So how do you maintain relationships?   I won’t date anyone in the industry
  • Celebrities etc make a choice to be out there, to be written about.
  • ZM: I object…for 10 or so days I was dragged through the press, all my friends, family etc got hassled by the press.  The newspaper that outed me had sent me a mail before hand with lots of details about my life, saying they would publish this unless I went to a photoshoot.  They went after my parents.   My experience was only a small amount of what a celebrity goes through…they’re game..but so are there families. i don’t think that’s fair
  • Is anyone going to argue that the press needs to be regulated.  I was talking about the personal stuff…are you suggesting specific steps to take?
  • ZM: There’s no anonymity. You have to be aware that.  But I do feel that people have the right to privacy.
  • I’m troubled that there’s a right to privacy in a public forum.  You put all this stuff out there but you want to be private.  Is there any other media that allows this?
  • Look at Donny the 80s he was considered a ‘joke’ he sent out a song anonymously, it was a good song and his career increased again.
  • In the US, we are so scared about sex that you have to be able to do anonymous
  • ZM: I chose to write anon as I was afraid to be judged. I lost my job because of the writing.  I have had so many public attacks about my looks etc.
  • if you want to further an’re an activist for that agenda.  It goes back to the public figure idea, you get judged whenever you do this.
  • As a woman, you have another issue, you are far more easily attacked.
  • Why would you think that the web would change things..humans are human and the tech will not change.
  • People do say things on the web that they would not say face to face. 
  • Do people have to give up every piece of information on the web if they say one thing?   Why can;t they choose what they want to make public?  Is it automatic that everything is open?
  • There’s a degree of that based on what you are blogging about it.   Depending on what you are doing, you may want more transparency (eg politics, gov stuff).
  • Where is the line?
  • It’s individual. It has to be what you are comfortable with it. No faces, face no name etc. It is everyone’s right to be what they want to be,
  • I’m in the tech industry (there are no many female software developers). I created a space for similar to get out there, to have a presence. We’re too afraid as a community to put ourselves out there.  So created a space for women to publish together.  For my community, you’re fucked if you don’t blog.
  • It’s interesting what you say there, something that gives you umbrella legitimacy.
  • Attacks aren’t against one individual person, it’s a group.   There is less situations of this
  • Unless its a feminist group blog..then they’ll take the site down
  • this media can bring out very weird sides of people, the tools we have may over allow for this behaviour to occur. It’s not to excuse it..weird paradigm of interacting with computer screen
  • Everyone here seems to be thinking about the repercussions of blogging…does not always happen. I’ve been asked to pull things (or remove names) as sometimes what you say now – you’re not sure how it can impact you inthe future.
Mar 14

SXSW – Tony Hsieh and Zappos

At, Tony Hsieh has fostered a culture where extraordinary customer service is the norm.

On Saturday, March 14, hear him talk about how good deeds can help you leverage the power of your audience to massively extend your brand. As a preview, you can read this story for a glimpse of a company that blazes its own trails, including paying its employees to quit.

Survey…lots of hands up who have bought from Zappos. it’s normally 2-1 female to male.

They do tours of the someone from a major Music label….took him to the Customer Loyalty team. He got a team member to pull up his wife’s account – who had spent 62k (err, pretty sure they weren’t allowed to do that!)

They started off with a pizza delivery in college. His current CFO used to buy pizzas, 2 a night. He found out that he was taking the pizza and selling it off by the slice.  We did a .com, LinkExchange, sold off to Microsoft. One of the reasons for the sale was the culture – did not like it. they did not look for culture fit when employing. He hated going into the office.

We sold it, and created an investment company, one of the investments was Zappos. It was the most interesting for me, ended up joining. We sell a lot more than shoes – clothing housewear etc.  The focus is the best customer service, in 10 years time we hope our customers don’t realise we were shoes.  It is about the best customer service, what ever we do. Don’t rule out an airline or other things.   We re proud of what we do, loved we were in the Forbes list of best places to work.  

The focus on service is great. On any day, 75% of orders are repeat orders.  We take the marketing money and spend on service. 1999 was 0, in 2008, was over $1billion. Most is from repeat sales and word of mouth

What is customer service. First, it’s our 1800 number. It’s at the top of every page, we encourage people to call, even if they are not making a sale; most of our calls are not for sales.  The telephone is one of our best branding devices – you have attention for the call. Get it right and they love you. We get >5k calls a day, each call is a marketing opp. It is one of the best branding devices.

We offer free shipping. People buy, try them and send back the non-fits or the non-suits. We offer a year return policy. Some customers do take a year.

these are all policies and any company can copy, and they do. But what happens after you place an order.  This is where we focus. We only show items on site that are in warehouse.  There is value with putting things on site that aren;’t there – you can backorder them, we got 25% of sales. But this was not about customer service though, we gave up this revenue and focused on what we could actually sell…to be true to brand and what we wanted to do

With repeat customers, we often do surprise upgrades to overnight shipping. A lot of customers order late eastern, then it’s on their door the next morning. It is expensive..but we regard this as marketing dollars, not shipping. it gives the WOW factor. We run our services different; if someone wants something that we don’t have, we look on competitors sites and direct them there.  We about a lifelong relationship, not an individual sale. the telephone is not a costs, is is an investment, for branding.

We don’t have strips, average handle times, we don’t upsell. It is not about how quickly you can get them off the phone. We tell our reps to spend as much time as needed to wow the customer.  Our longest call was 4hrs.

We run warehouse 24/7, which is not the most efficient as there is not high picking density. It’s not about the most efficient warehouse, it’s about the service.

customer service is however not the no1 priority, Company culture is the focus. If we get that right, then much of the rest follows.  It starts with the hiring. the Hiring manager looks for relevance and experience, and then the HR team looks for culture fit. You have to pass both. the same things goes with firing. Even if doing the job brilliantly, they still have to fit the culture.  The other thing is training. Everyone goes through the same training. 5 weeks, first 4 weeks in the head office, includes 2 weeks on the phones. You also go for a week to the warehouse, to do all this stuff. Whatever is your role.  At the end of the time, we pay you for your time and offer an extra 2k. We wanted people who were there who believed int he vision, in the company.  Starting pay for call centre is $11/hr, so $2k is a lot. In 2007, 3% took offer, in 2008 2% took it. We think that not enough are not taking the offer, so looking at next level.

The biggest benefit came from people not taking the offer – people had to decide to commit to the company if they do not take the offer, they had to have thought about it.  We also have the Culture Book, we put it out every year. Everyone writes about the company culture and what it means to them. We give it to prospective employees for them to look at.  The other thing that has made a difference is Twitter. Started 2 yrs ago to find parties at SXSW, then personal, to keep things in touch, find out about friends.    We rolled it out to entire company; we have twitter class as part of orientation.  About 400 of the 700 in the Las Vegas office is on twitter. this connects everyone,t ehy meet up and they see people as people

Culture does drive your brand.  The brand may lag your culture, but it will catch up.  Look at the airline industry..most people think airlines has bad customer service. That is the brand, it’s not what they set out to be that.  A few years ago, someone ordered a wallet, tried it out, decided that it was not for her. She had put $150 in the wallet and forgot about it.  She had spent 2 days trying to find out which kid had taken it!  She then got a letter from the warehouse worked who wrote to her and sent her the money back.  He could have kept the money and no-one would have known, but the culture was there as well.  Customer service is the whole brand and company.  it’s not a department. 

In 2009, we want to own the 3Cs Clothing, Customer service and Culture. We want to get the message out about our clothing.   

So what is the Zappos Culture. We have 10 core values – committable core values.  That means we are willing to hire and fire on these values.   We have questions for each of these values.  One that trips us up is Be Humble..many people are brilliant at what they do, but have egos, so fail.  One hire like this won’t be a bad thing, but if you keep doing this it all goes downhill.

We have create a little fun and weirdness.  We ask how weird you are.  It’s about the reaction to the question, we celebrate individuality. They decorate cubes etc; you call the service centre different times, you’ll get different connections. we don’t have a fixed way of relating.

4 is be adventurous, and open minded.  We ask how lucky they are in life.  We try not to hire unlucky people.  It was inspired by a research study, which asked the question.  Then asked people to count photos in a fake newspaper…there was a headline telling the answer. the lucky people noticed it and got extra money. It is about how you see things, ot how lucky you are.

It;s primarily about alignment, getting people to think the same way. Which helps the company move forward.

So steps to success.

  • Step one is to DECIDE. you have to decide to do this.  Requires patience to build a long term sustainable brand, you have to make trade-offs to get there.  you may have to walk away from revenue and profit opps.
  • 2nd is to figure out VALUES and CULTURE. It’s for all companies, not just the big ones.   I wish we had done it from day 1.  We asked our employees. It was a year long process. the initial list was 37 items, we combined them BRAND POSITIONING. all our people know this. We hire for culture and fit, so all people can talk about the brand positioning, culture is brand,
  • Commit to TRANSPARENCY.  for all, we ask people to use your best judgement.  People can ask anything as well and they’ll get answers
  • VISION.  whatever you are thinking, think bigger.  It has to have meaning. We focused on customer service when deciding where to move after shoes.  Our employees got excited about our vision, it got them engaged. Chase the vision, not the money. Ask what people are happy doing, what they would be happy doing in 10yrs.  It’s about MOTIVATION vs INSPIRATION
  • BUILD YOUR TEAM. Hire slowly, fire quickly. make sure your team is right
  • THINK LONG TERM. it’s not the short term stuff, it’s the long term. Zappos have been at is for 10 yrs, plus his previous business.
  • So WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?  Do you know where you are going.  Of you ask people what they want, and keep asking why it boils down to HAPPINESS. that’s what people want.
Mar 14

SXSW – Is Privacy Dead

While many assert that "privacy is dead," the complex ways in which people try to control access and visibility suggest that it’s just very confused. Rather than throwing the baby out with the bath water, let’s discuss people’s understanding and experiences of privacy and find ways to 2.0-ify it.

danah boyd Researcher, Microsoft Research
Judith Donath MIT Media Laboratory
Alice Marwick PhD Candidate, New York University
Siva Vaidhyanathan Assoc Professor, University of Virginia

  • db: out panel together to discuss privacy, a group of academics to discuss..we have different definitions of privacy.   There are different cultural views. People don’t ness view in many ‘official’ terms, but look at it as a term of control, what they control. Technology has changed a lot of definitions and behaviours and expectations.
  • SV: writing book – googleisation of everything. focus on nature of transaction between us and Google.  Most only have a usage of tools – searches and email etc. You may be aware that there are some levels of control, but not obvious.  There are 2 annoying assumptions I want to explode – 1 that privacy is the notion of publicity.  Just because you put up 100 pieces on sites it does not mean we don’t care about the 101st. Just because we put up some stuff, does not mean we don’t care about privacy. The 2nd notion is that privacy is a substance that can be traded.    The idea of trading a little bit of privacy for better relevance…that assumes we can break it up into bits. Privacy is not a substance, it is not traded in little bits. It means different things in different contexts. Privacy is a bad word for what we mean.
  • AM: writing on effect of social media on social status. about the sharing of a lot of information. There is a real value in being public…eg Twitter. I’ve interviewed CEOS who would not hire if people don’t have profiles etc.  There is a social value. you have to participate to get value. there is also social support in the network. Have to recognise value, but you have to recognise that the more info you put out, there more useful it is for brands, google etc.  All this info can be aggregated, to create profiles that are valuable.  If you put info out there, you consent to have it used for any reason – I think No.  But how do you reap advantages of public publications without it being used.
  • JD: I look at data visualisation. Public space..spaces where there is some kind of common control what the expected behaviours etc. What is something private to some and public to others.  Online world can collapse the different spaces, mix them up.
  • db: We have a set of properties that we take for granted offline and having to look at them online.  Scale is one thing…eg a scale of publicity we have not seen before.  Tech has changed aggregation, changed the way we can see each other.  So what are the most important
  • SV: no change is purely tech, it has impact from world economy. eg the targeting of goods and services and getting the attention.  That’s why amazon and google grab the data, for both the inperson target and the aggregate.  It goes along with an erosion of the comfort with privacy.  73-76, there was a movement in the US to protect personal info from abuse from the state, with string support from Congress. We got some strong laws – updated the credit control system.   It’s bad, but it works better than most.  Also Watergate…laws passed to prevent one bit of the gov passing info to another. Many of the laws are there today. But most of the strongest have been undermined. Now we take it for granted…we ‘ignore’ it, and are not focusing on the new and firms.  Not separate from our concern about the gov, as firms sell databases.
  • JD: we are not always aware of the data trail we leave behind, what the firms are building. If we were aware, we may choose to do things different, you need to have awareness to have the choice.  It is hard to have a historical perspective of what is considered normal.  Historically we have come from a unusual level of privacy although before that there was far less – communities were far smaller, people knew everything in the small groups.  Most things in the past have not been recorded – where you are over time, what you are doing. So we have to work out how to manage this
  • db: it gets worked out differently in different populations.  Interviewing young people about their homes, it was not private as they had no control, the internet was more private to them as they had more control, It depends where you are in the power structures
  • AM: Context is one of the key things. Every place has a social context; eg telling doctor something which goes on medical record, that’s fine in that context, but doctor should not tell her best friend. There are specific ways of dealing with information in context.   For firms, should the burden be on the individual on controlling their data or on the firms..NYT had an editorial about opt-out to opt-in (diff US to EU data view)
  • SV: personal info is a form of currency, both in aggregate and individual. If it has value, should I have some form of stake in the data?  I expect to be aware of the extent my information is being used. We have not done this.  Most people here may have been able to manage their privacy, but many won’t be able to – they’re not even aware that there are controls there.
  • JD: when Am talks about context…it highlights the lack of ephemerality of the data. something now could be there in 20yrs and will likely be seen in a different context.  For most people in the US, we are not faced witht he fact that is we say something we are in danger…in many places there is this – but there’s no guarantee that the US won’t ever be the same. There are big serious institutional privacy issues. there is also about how do you want to be seen by people in different contexts.  
  • db: information is currency not just in an economic sense but in a social sense. many here have gained status and even jobs by putting stuff out there.  We are faced with the fact the tech is converging all these contexts. So how do we deal with these contexts as a design and a norm thing
  • SV: I teach about privacy and surveillance, in different classes. Get different reactions.   Get them to read Jane Jacobs. There is a level of surveillance we invite into our lives (eg look out for the neighbour)  we engage in those transactions with each other; ie if there is no power difference, when there is a reciprocity. There’s trade.  When I trade with Amazon, Google, state, there little reciprocity, no feedback. Building in the two way can be useful. 
  • AM: there is bleeding between networks, eg LinkedIn or Facebook. Some have single contexts, others have multiple contexts, how can you manage?
  • db: Celebrities have a different level of reciprocity
  • AM: it is also the same for microcelebrity, with tech
  • JD: how do you have a society figure out what the norms are, about para-social relationships. You have millions of people trying to determine the norms, you can’t have a relationship with millions, but there are nodes the network can focus on and have a conversation around it. We are interested in people paying attention to us.  What is the cost that you are willing to pay to get the benefit of the attention.
  • SV: there’s no zero sum between privacy and publicity. We give up control when we resign that battle. We assume that someone who has a lot of FB friends, a movie star give sup the right to privacy and dignity. We should not assume that someone who engages in public should not deserve some privacy. We don’t always view people who live a public life as real people who deserve dignity and respect.  eg the Star Wars kid.
Mar 15

Jane McGonigal Keynote at SXSW

Jane McGonigal Keynote.

  • The Lost Ring Video played. A call for help. Being going a week – are you in?
  • going to talk yo you about alternate realities. instead of trying to make games more realistic, trying to make the real world more like games.  we need more alt. realities and the real world needs to be changed to function more like a game. it will start on a game designers perspective on the future of happiness. I work at the Institute for the Future. we look at interesting things that are happening today and imagine what the future will be like.
  • Happiness – the last year has seen a lot of growth and attention to happiness. there has been the launch of a new field – positive psychology, to look at brains working well, the good stuff. what makes us happy, what is the best case scenario.  good books, one thing that really interests me, is the parallel between what makes us happy and the core tenants of game design.
  • Last month, book Against Happiness came out. this is not about warm fuzzy feelings, it is about the trying to capture the best experience possible and using research to define it, how to make lives more worth living
  • there are many metrics for measuring, to implement and insert happiness making things in your life. 
  • what i wanted to ask if you think you re in the happiness business.?  I don’t think we are quite yet imaging product as happiness, but you will be in the business very soon.
  • It’s coming faster than we think.
  • Predictions – quality of life becomes a primary metric,. Positive psychology will be used to design tools; communities will form around different visions of a real life worth living.  Value will be defined as a measurable increase in real happiness or well being – the new capital.
  • Happiness is the new capital. you need to be explicitly generating some positive well being for them. happiness does not mean what it used to..the internets has changed. Happiness is not a warm puppy. 
  • researching for a will distill the 4 key principles

    • satisfying work to do
    • the experience of being good at something
    • time spent with people we like
    • the chance to be a part of something bigger.
  • nothing in the world gives you these things better than games,
  • Multi-player games are the ultimate happiness engine.  as the rest of the community starts to catch up, then more of us will be in the business of this happiness venture/
  • Signals for things changing? Some graffiti in my town…’I’m not good at life’. for a lot of gamers their experience of life is that it is not sufficiently designed for them to be good at. we can be really good at them, at games. In real life there is not the collaboration as there is in the games. you get visualisation in WOW of all the data, help that you use ingame.  you don’t gain speaking points for presentations in life. you gain points in game.

    •  So you have better instructions in games.
    •  Games are giving us better feedback all the time. we know how we are doing.
    • games have better community. shared rules and story give you better time.
  • there is a global mass exodus..started in asia…towards virtual worlds and game worlds. I’m not critical of the mass exodus as I understand it. it is a rational decision to spend time and money in virtual worlds as those environments are set up better for them to succeed. there is a better chance for them to learn.  An MMO players spends 16 hours a week and that is average.
  • we could make better and better online and console games to take what we have learnt from  there and do something in the real world.  for many people, quality of life, virtuality is beating reality.
  • us here are lucky compared to many who play the games we do, real life is not as exciting as virtuality, it does not make them as happy. if I was as good at life as I was in my games, what would it be like.
  • I think games are is like we invented the writen word and we only write books. why are the games not in the real world, to use the games to navigate, meet people…
  • ChoreWars  -experience points for housework.  you get to claim XP for chores.
  • zyked – in alpha. exercise is the  target, give points and skills for working out
  • Seriosity – for games at work. an overlay of virtual currency for work. you have to pay people to do things at work.  you can set priorities. it creates flows of virtual currency, you can watch it. you can see who is important, connections.
  • Citizen Logistics – missions to help other people. knows where you are because of GPS etc, people can tell you what to do. mobile co-ordinations.,
  • Good news as some people are trying to make the world into a game.
  • What do they mean? to imagine the future it is important to look backwards at least twice as far as you are looking forward.  the best analogy is soap, in 1931. ‘Soap kills germs’ was a headline. games are like soap..we should install them in every building, in our pockets we are killing boredome….games Kill boredom, alienation, anxiety, depression,
  • AR designers are trying to embed these happiness engines in everyday life.
  • So, AR comes from Science fiction.  the community names it. it is not an alternative, it is an alternate way of experiences this reality, these are immersice experiences in this reality. one of the earliest OED entries for AR is 1978 – another way of experiencing existence.  they sit and exist in your real world, the game is there at the street corner.
  • World Without Oil – won an award at SXSW. we told the players that we had run out of oil and they players had to run real life as this was true. we would give you updates in your area about the gas and process and impact on food etc. levels of chaos, misery etc.  you would know what the fictional parameters and you would document what it was like.  we had a soldier in iraq on LJ about what it would be like it would be like without oil.  people changed trucks, people were interviewing non players. it’s all archived. it lasted 32 weeks, it got really dark at times,  then the players got it together and kind of fixed things.  there;s a lot of info all still there. still have people doing it.
  • so how do args amplify happiness., they deliver 10 superhero capabilities to people who play.  10 kinds of happiness that match up with research.

    • mobbability. the ability to collaborate and co-ord really large scales. 
    • cooperation radar – the ability to detect who would make the best collaborator for any given mission.
    • Ping quotient measures ability to reach out and respond to other people in your networks
    • influency – the ability to adapt your persuasive strategies to individuals and media and environments….understand communities require a different motivation.
    • multi-capitalism – understand that people are trading in different capital systems.  so how do you get the different capitals trading?
    • Protovation – big companies get scared of this. rapid innovation, that failing is fun and that is when you are learning the most. fail rapidly and often…
    • Open Authorship – naturally to blogger age. comfort with giving content away and knowing it will be changed. it’s a design skill about creating something that won’t be broke by others changes
    • signal/noise management. he ability to handle noise and know which clue is relevant.
    • longbrading – the ability to think in much bigger systems – the zoom out.
    • emergensight – this is the trickiest. the idea that you can spot patterns as they come up, comfortable with messy complexity.
    • lost ring game is in 8 languages…a lot of content, players will create more. it gets really big, so how do you spot opportunitiy etc.
  • they amplify our tendency towards the optimal human experience doing lots of research.
  • so how can interactive systems amplify happiness?
  • so where to next?

    • twitter is a good place to start, a natural interface.
    • the nike ipod. I love it. want to make a game.
    • planes – comms sytems. would love to play a game on a plane.
    • dogs..need a game to fix it….i feel guilty for playing. how about an MMO when you avatar is your dog. you have to get them all working together.
    • a friedd said – ‘my car is a video game’..a Prius using games
    • trackstick – records GPS every 5 secs and follows you. 
    • neuro detector, hook up to games. an idea for a game about people I don’t like and using my brain to destroy them
  • the Lost Ring is for the Olympics. we are going to give people the opp to have an AR at the Olympics. a game that no one has played for 2000 years. learn a lost sport and be an olympic champions.
  • The important stuff  –

    • I believe that most of us will be in the happiness business, study it and be ready for when the public demand it
    • game designers have a huge head start. we have been trying to optimise human experience. 
    • AR signal the desire, need and opp for all of us who design interactive systems to redesign reality for real quality of life.
    • jane    at avantgame   com
  • Questions. DOD/war…using gaming language. do games help prevent wars

    •    i would want to differentiate the types. games make soldiers easier to fight. that’s not the best direction for blurring the line between reality and games. it is extremely powerful we design games to draw people to benevolent action.,  i think game devs should be trying to win noble prize by 2032. if we are playing games together than much harder to hate each other.
  • to what extent that gaming etc are substitutes to things that are missing..

    • for some things..blogs can work better than conversation for many people. games work better for some people. not everyone who plays games has a life that needs fixing. I do worry that some gamers do replace, and it is something we should talk about. we need a real conversation
  • interested in the idea we have more forms but a lot less social. ARGS narrative story and not necessarily with people.

    • a lot of the press for args are online…but they have a real history of real life stuff. ie SF0. all mission in real world. a lot of stuff going that way
  • args..successful ones are productions, narratively intense. they are temp and they go away how do you…when do have continues things

    • business model needs to get fixed. it was seen as marketing and budgets fixed. tried as pay to play, lots of people trying to figure out new models.  it has to happen, i want my nike+ to run for my life
  • I’m interested in the whole business model things….Macdonalds is one of the sponsor for lost do you reconcile that with the game considering the relationship with mcdonalds

    • we don’t actually have a sponsor, we had a group of people who wanted to get involved..IOC, McD, AKQA. it’s a different model, it’s like P&G when they invented soap. I’m thrilled to be working with orgs that are big enough to get the game in may places. it’s going to be tricky to walk the line…where do you get the money,.it is moving more to TV…it is the ecosystem…
  • i played the game to reclassify books.and when i go to bookshops I do the same things. is it changing how people look at the world (ministry of reshelving)

    • its one of the most powerful things…we had 40k people doing this.  I love Tombstone Holdem, we designed games that allowed people to play serious with tombstones…
  • SF0 does a geat job of balancing creativity and real do you script vs openness

    • it’s a combination. if you are trying to solve world problems, you need a bit of a harder top down approach at the beginning
    • The x2 project, with scientists, playing games about future of research and science. we use real world science scenarios. our players inhabit the AR. we guide it with a story, we are interested in a particular reality. do research first, get people to solve the problem, then let them figure out of you are right or wrong.
  • The Game – pick up artists…evolutionary pyschology…people are gaming each other in life…

    • it is important to define the game you are playing. any game is collaborative as you are playing the same rules. in real life is they do not know there is a game playing then a problem. AR announce them selves as a game, it is better. rules are explicit.

Jane’s post on the speech, also Slides on Slideshare

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Mar 10

Self-replicating Awesomeness at SXSW

Deborah Schultz, Chris Heuer, Jeremiah Owyang, Tara Hunt, Hugh MacLeod, David Parmet

  •  DP: Brian Oberkirch put this together – he asked 2 questions. How to market into community without being too marketer like. And how do you build a community around what you are doing?  What does ‘no marketing’ look like? How can we use social media?
  • DS: None of this is about tools or technology, but is about the customers.  Here to talk about some of the subtleties, not about the tactics. It’s about marketing, customer service, product development. the marketing silo needs to be changed, why are they afraid of the opps. This is not telling or selling, this is being in the trenches.
  • CH: what is really bugging me right now is the number of people who are saying to me ‘build me a community’ but this does make a community, it is the interpersonal connections that make it. Social media is not new media, it changes how we relate to each other. You have to shift the way you think about participation. have to change mindset from stop trying to sell me to help make me buy.
  • JO: I do a lot of research on this, such as online community best practices.  it was clear that the ones that let go and let their customers take charge have the thriving communities.
  • TH: "marketing is the price you pay for creating mediocre products". this was a big part of the reason for this panel. [history of her and move and Citizen agency] Looking at social capital – relationships and reputation.   It’s all about whuffie in these communities, what you can give away.
  • CH: you need a patronage model, where there is money, in corps, it needs room to do it in there. there has to be a genuine spirit of giving in there .
  • TH: we talk about doing things that are good for the world alongside the product that will sell.
  • HM: [wine, blogging stormhoek story.] Social objects help drive conversation. when we talk about community, when a corporation talks about it, it’s liek a lever they think they can pull, which is not there. you have a bunch of people who use and talk about the product. they are not the company community.
  • DP: the concept of giving it away for free is a powerful one, that scares the companies away.  Have used Stormhoek as an example, suggesting that companies do this.
  • DS: there are lots of companies for 100s of years…this is a new skillset that is an art rather than a science.  if you are at a small company, where you have a certain amount of control, then you have to get out of the ivory tower. get out to conferences, find the edges.  Larger companies have the problem that they only listen to the complainers, how about listening to the people who love you.   Why do small companies put up an FAQ? why not bring in people who can answer the questions? this is marketing and customer support. get out and flatten it.
  • JO: you can give away things for free, I give a lot of my knowledge for free, make people nervous.
  • HM: James Governer, gives away 90% of ideas, sells 10%. he can only execute on 10% and it works/
  • TH: you can tell people you have knowledge and they will see what they are talking about.  It’s a smart calling code.
  • CH: it’s the because effect. Will It blend gives away entertainment.
  • HM: there has been a paradigm shift from message to social gesture and that cannot be faked.
  • TH: a lot of traditional marketing aims to do a generic spread of message. you throw the net out wide and hope to catch as many. with stormhoek HM saw a great opportunity, of people who were doing a lot of events – its niche, opportunities,
  • CH: it’s not the message, it’s not the brand logo, it’s what it represents. We have to think about the human connections, about being of service to fellow human.

Audience Questions

  • Q: JO – when selecting brand evangelists, how?  And HM – what about Cooler?  A: JO: tools to find them, who is talking online, goign into communities, finding out who is talking the most, customer support forums. go to brand monitoring companies, who do good job of mining the whole place. the main point is that you can find the people, great people to start with.   HM: Kula is South Sea shells that had a story. Talking about the iphone with Tara, what matters is that tara is a friend, we talk about shared stuff. stories are key. tech is still about socialising around objects.  DS: this is about a cultural shift – getting out. Traditional not a relationship. in a relationship you can’t ignore until you have something to say. giving away things for free, the whuffie payback comes back way later. this impacts all lines of your business.
  • Q: I understand giving away the small things. what about the big stuff?

    • A: CH: audi are doing a great things. doing a lot of things around the experience, the educational classes, spa treatments.
    •  TH: some people give amazing support and service. 
    • DS: you have to break it down to smaller segments, go local. 
    •  HM: great brands have lots of little small brands, like starbucks. it’s not just about the big thing, it’s all the small things. 
  • Q: how do you actually get some money in the short term? (ref a movie, document)

    • A: HM: put half out there, and if people want to learn more they will buy it. 
    • TH: start telling the story, getting people to start telling his story.  
  • Q: giving away for free reduces perceived value?  what’s the rebuttal. 

    • A: DP..when selling things, I had a client for selling to teenage girls. they wanted to ‘go viral’. I had to remind them they can’t the product can only go viral.  I suggested we find people to talk about it.  My response is not to go to an intermediary. go to the customers.  put it to the people who would actually use it. 
    • TH: it’s not giving products away for free only. It can be the things around it, the experience.
    • DP: audi, free wifi, breakfast, things to do
    • DS: now everyone has a different perspective on audi. it’s nuanced. 
  • Q: can you distill this into a takeaway?

    • HM – social objects ate
    • TH: turn it around, be part of the community, listen, embrace the chaos, find your higher purpose
    • CH: passion for people and product
    • DS: technology changes, human behaviour doesn’t. nothing replaces listening, get out of tower.
  • Q: I work for PETA and what we give away for free is our message? is that annoying?

    • CH: saying the only thing you have is a message is wrong. you are connecting to a higher purpose, to a felling.
    • TH: I don’t remember the emails, shows that you have not connecting.
    • DS: are you giving them something they be interested in or just what you want to sell. Think about you are only talking to these people when you need them – cultivate the connections you have.
  • Q: I work for Kaboom. A lot of the things you have suggested we have done and it has not taken off as we hoped. now I have all these goals I need to reach. What can I take back to explain that this takes time.  The vision is to make a great place to play for every child in america.

    •    HM: they don’t get it…
    • CH : it’s not campaigns, it’s programmes, you have to change the mentality. get qualitative results, people who have heard online and show the stories.
  • Q: Why are you doing this – because you believe or is it a fad?

    • JO: marketing does not exist to hide shitty products, there is a reason.
    • CH: marketing has become associated with sales as opposed to matching product with user.
    • DP: it’s about stories and relationships, helping them work out what they are doing. it’s been a fun ride.
    • DS: it’s a personal mission, not a fad. I’m not a marketer, but a customer advocate. I love that everyone has a voice,
    • CH: it’s about what is your intention.

HM – a story without love is not worth telling

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Mar 09

Sexual Privacy Online – SXSW

discussing the aspects of Sexual Privacy online.   Violet Blue, Jonathan Moore, John d’Alderio, Zoe Margulis, Jason Schultz

  • VB: fetishes…online allows you to seek this even if you did not seek in real life, but could cause issues. online can be a healthy way to let people express their fetish. Sexuality and sexuality online calls into question our awareness of the outside world and privacy. if people knew how unprivate it was, they may think differently. It’s personal information in a public space, but they may not be aware of it.  Example – Craigslist Experiment, (Justin Fortuny) putting an ad for hard core dom. Response to ads were posted online.  There have been copycats…griefers gaming online sexual identity.  The language used in the ad was very extreme, it was clear to the educators that the original user was not aware of the terms of the scene, that they were playing with their gender identity.   Other examples are a police officer who was a swinger who got fired for having a site with his wife.
  • Moore – has built and worked with SN, thinks about privacy and security of sites. d’Alderio – editor of Fleshbot. Margolis – girlwithaonetrackmind, Schultz – at EFF. to talk about law and how it handles it.
  • JS: Privacy Rights. (in US)

    • Sexual Activity, 14th Amendment -due process, autonomy, liberty.  Griswold vs Connecticut 1965 (contraception), Roe vs Wade  1973 Abortion;Lawrence vs Texas 2003 (home sodomy)
    • to Speak/Associate, 1st amendment. The Chilling effect. Watchtower bible 2002 – registration requirements.  Doe vs Cahill 2005 Subpoenas and disclosure of person; NAACP vs Alabama 1958 membership lists.
    • Right to Search/Read. Sweezy vs New Hampshire, 1957. about being private about research and reading.
    • Right to info privacy, 4th and 5th amendment. Katz vs US 1967 wiretapping; Smith vs Maryland 1979 third-party phone records. when third party has the info then there is no need to protect you.
    • right to be left alone. Sipple V Chronicle 1984. lots of state laws,
    • law has been built up based on fear of government.
    • so who owns info, is it provate/public, when are you newsworthy, can you ever go back if your info is out there?
  • VB: John, what do you think is the most common mistake?

    • JD: my take is that there is no sexual privacy.  privacy is an illusion. we are at the beginning of exploring this medium, in the flush of expressing ourselves is the risk of being found out. Sooner or later it will come out. but we still deserve the right to be left alone. we find ourselves negotiate this daily. A few weeks ago, there was a sexual ‘celebretant’, had uploaded videos to X-tube, was building up a reputation, we got a tip that was posted on Fleshbot, he had made no effort to conceal his identity, he had 3-4 clips, but had the same account details on YouTube, same username. Some blogger had sent a tip. But then he got emails from ‘him’ asking for the post to be taken down as there were lots of people watching his videos and it was causing him problems. Someone had contacted his parents. So, does he have aright for us to take the material down? We decided he did not – he was not polite about it.  There are ways to cloak your id to make it more difficult for people to find out who you are but he did not take any of these steps. 
    • JS: what if it had not made the rounds and had minimum views?
    • JD: if you are making that step and making no attempt to hide who you should expect it.  The case of the Walmart masturbator, videos on X-Tube. It was on Fleshbot and Consumerist, then on Digg., then CNN and local news. it blew up. he wa wearing a university cap and said where he was doing it, he made it easy for people to find him. He started to receive death threats,
  • VB: now I want to bring in the personal perspective that Zoe brings. You simplywrote stories, you did not put photos up, so how did it leak out?

    • ZM: I don’t think I’ll ever know. I got a bunch of lowers, congratulating me on the book with my name.  I freaked out, as I was anonymous. They made me lean out as they had a photographer.   Then I started getting phonecalls on all my phones, I’m ex-directory, not on electoral role, no idea how they got the information. Then the tabloids descended, my neighbours and family were harrassed. My life feel apart, I lost my job, I was told I was not wanted. My IMDB entry has been defaced, my name was removed from the film, All I did was write about sex.
    • VB: what has changed for you, now people know who you are?
    • ZM: The blog is not what it used to be. I was 100% honest, but tried to hide identities of people I wrote about.  I felt violated, I had my finger over the delete button all the times. I could not continue to write the same way as before I had the freedom of anonymity. People ask me to not write about them. I don’t want their lives to be exposed. It is about what I’m up to. I miss blogging so much.
    • JS: would you do it again?
    • ZM: I would lie to all, not tell anyone I was a blogger, I would not trust publishers, I would hide.
  • JM: it is hard. there are technologies like Tor but they are really hard to use. There are 2 ways of screwing up. You can do something stupid (and you have to know what stupid is) or someone you know can do something stupid.  Security is hard – I know of many holes in social networks.  Social Engineering can get the information. You can’t trust other people. Services will hand over information. You can’t even trust yourself.  Everytime you send an email from hotmail (or other webmails) then the IP address gets sent.  It’s like a postal address. You are exposing inforamtion you don’t know you are exposing. As soon as you make one mistake, you tie yourself to that information. It is so difficult.
  • VB: so I want to know, what you think the greatest challenge is, or provides the greatest risk?

    • JA: if you take it as a given there is no such thing as privacy then you can plan your actions accordingly.  We don’t use adult performers real names. It’s down to establishing the boundaries of the right to be left alone.  The internet is mob rule, look at average YT comments.
  • VB: Zoe, what kind of advice?

    • ZM: expect to lose your anonymity, be cautious.
Mar 09

Charlene Li and Revolutionaries at SXSW

Charlene Li about the changing  of corporations and social media.

  • Examples of the change: the HD DVD key and Digg. Jericho and the peanuts.
  • Shaun Daly was a fan of Jericho drove the change – you had to have something physical that CBS could not ignore. They bought it back, and it’s doing OK. CBS had nothing to lose.
  • New book – the Groundswell. A social trend in which people use tech to get things from each other, rather than traditional institutions like corporations.
  • This has been going on for a while, we have been talking about the revolution for ages and finally corporations are getting it. It’s too easy for people to feel they need to get involved..but they do not know how.
  • we are at a new stage, so are you going to be a radical like Thomas Paine, a founding spark for the US revolution.  Or a revolutionary like Thomas Jefferson. Instead of railing against the problem, he went to solve it, pushing the problem to solve it. The first had hte vision but could not deliver, the second had the process and framework to pull it together.
  • To make revolution stick you need to have frameworks and process.  There are many corporations that want to be part of the revolution but don’t know how. It’s up to us, he have been living it.
  • So going to look at the processes, who are the revolutionaries and some case studies
  • Use POST
  • PEOPLE – who is it, and what are the activities
  • OBJECTIVES – what are you trying to accomplish
  • STRATEGY – plan for how relationships will go
  • TECHNOLOGY – what are you using. this is last.
  • People – we think about a ladder of participation. Inactives. Spectators. Joiners. Collectors. Critics. Creators.

    • Joiners – in the networks, with their friends etc
    • Collectors – collect the good stuff, collate
    • Critics – comment and assess
    • Creators – create the content
  • People – It’s a different mindset between the types. 48% are spectators, 18% are creators. These are categories, not a split. People can do different things in different place. With youth, 39% are creators, 43% are critics. 58% are joiners.
  • People – Age is a major driver of adoption.  (see the data on Slideshare). As people get older, they get less active – it takes them longer to adopt and the content is not necessarily geared for them. But that is changing.  39% of 51-61 adults are spectators though, and they will move to critics or creators. Not everyone participates in all areas and it changes. but you need to know the roles your audience have.
  • Objs – what do you want?  Research can be a lot of listening in the Groundswell. Marketing will change from shouting to talking.  Sales can change to energising, to getting people involved. Support needs to carry on supporting, to listen. Development may change from closed to open. Embrace the customers in the process.
  • Objs: the Talking Objective.  example is Blendtec. Videos on YT, viewers responded. Blendtec have increased sales by 25% to consumer market.  it was George Wright, VP of Marketing, spent $50 on first video.  He had started thinking about how to show people.  Dan Black, Director of Campus recruiting for Ernst and Young. Uses Facebook to recruit college students. Created the page, students were asking questions on the wall. He went to answer them back, in public. He is the head of Recruitment, not staff, not agency. He realised that this is one of the few channels he could have a direct conversation.  There are few people doing this – having a real conversation.  Next. Best Buy Gary Koelling and Steve Bendt. They started to connect with people on the front line.  They found it was not great for creating insights for their marketing, but great for understanding the people,, for helping staff.  It has enabled customers and employees to support themselves. Josh Bancroft, at Intel, a geek blogger. They were looking at doing their own wikipedia – corporate were delaying, think it would take a long time. He just went and did it. Got the server and started the process.   Steve Fisher, VP of platform at They wanted to get customers of salesforce to contribute in how to improve the system. In the system, they had banners that announced marketing stuff. They got 6000 people to say they hate it, which gave them the drive to remove the thing that was not liked.
  • So how to start the change?  Follow the process
  • Case Study – Lionel Menchaca. At Dell. Started off as a product technician, became part of product review PR team. connected with everyone at Dell. Then Dell Hell happened, he started the blog resolution team – to solve the problems, to connect the people. Dell then started the blog and lionel led the team.  Initially it did not go well, lots of issues. But Michael Dell supported him, and Lionel decided to change the way they were doing the blog.   He talked about the flaming laptops, in a real way, sorting it out. this is when it started transforming itself.  Slowly, change happened in the company, looking at what people were saying.  Lionel did not keep it isolated, spread the mindset through the organisation. IdeaStorm was another change – getting feedback into products and innovation. They also have a blog for their investor relationship teams.
  • So how do you find and support the revolutionaries?

    • Find the people who are the most passionate about developing the relationships
    • Educate the executives. What it is, what are the benefits
    • Put someone in charge. It has to have priority, has to someone to be accountable.
    • Define the box with process and policies.
    • make it safe to fail.
  • So you need a framework and policies; start small but think big; make social strategy the responsibility of all; be patient – cultural change takes time.

Audience Questions

  • Q: what are your recommendations about success and assessing impact?  A: we get asked this. you can use a blog to do any of the objectives. make the measures based on the objectives.   Is it supporting, is it energising, is it talking. what are you doing?
  • Q: any pointers for regulated industries?  A: some of the most active clients we work with are pharma and financial. the people who are writing it are the ones who know exactly what they can say
  • Q: how about smaller companies A: B2B is also there. it is more focused, that is an advantage.
  • Q: what about virtual worlds? should companies explore them?  A: it should be avoided, but large marketing spends. it’s a unique environment. there are some great uses inside corporates. 
  • Q: you said that change comes slowly. You showed stealth adoption and education as two methods. Any others?  A: I have a whole bunch of tips (in the books). Executive input, get all involved. you have to communicate and get people to live it every day.  It can be easier internally, marketing has a lot of culture to get through, they want to keep the message pristine, customers do messy stuff which causes issues with marketing.  you need to feel uncomfortable, if not then it won’t move forward.
  • Q: Internal to companies, how do you convince internal leaders. What are you seeing other people do?  A: they can all happen internally.  You have to focus on the benefits. What are you afraid of with information flowing. start small.
  • Q: How do you get people to contribute. A: the companies give feedback about what has been implemented. it shows that they are listening. You have to close the loop.
  • Q: you have mentioned benefits for SEO? Can you expand?  A: search engines weight inbound links. Simple tools are out there. Do it on the main domain
  • Q: all these platforms and tools, what are other things. Q: Buzzlogic, visible technologies to monitor. Forums and bulletins are best – really good and robust tool. It’s not about the technologies but it is how you use them.

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Mar 08

SXSW – ARGS and Games

Dan Hon, Tony Walsh and Dee Cook

  • DH: ARGS are a new way of telling stories, using all forms. People consume lots of different kinds of medium, there is a different kind of narrative and gameplay experience that you can give people. You don’t have to learn a different control scheme. Interactions are typically the same things you would do in everyday life. you use text and emails.
  • DC: There are no rules about what an ARG is, it’s like playing a murder mystery dinner theatre, for weeks and months, online, in person, on the telephone etc
  • TW: the players can be extremely voracious, hungry for content and always coming up with things that designers may not have expected, coming up with the new story lines.
  • Q: who are the players?
  • DH: the demo data (Perplex City) was 12-80 year old, 50/50 male/female. Live events were surprising, families, etc, the typical audience is not the hardcore gamer.
  • TW: there are different elements that appeal to different types.
  • DC: skillsets can be different for each game,
  • DH: they are a form of entertainment, so the broad questions can be answered in many ways – a broad classification
  • TW: videogame players are very different to ARGs…args can be research based
  • DH: there are differences between the types of gameplay.  ARGS can be more predominately storyline based, punctuated by game-like play.
  • TW: so what are they looking for in an ARG that they are not getting in a videogame.
  • DH: a lot of the successful ones have been toed in with deep brands, deep stories.  Halo 2 (with I Love Bees) can be looked at as a FPS or as part of a real deep story, really good world building. For those that buy into the world, they get passionate about finding out anything about it.
  • DC: In ARGs, people feel they can affect the game world, they can interact with a ‘real’ person. An ARG is often a one shot, have memories and history.
  • DH: WOW as a single player is a very boring game, but playing with friends is a completely different experience. ARGs is similar – large groups, social gameplaying mechanic.
  • TW: so can we talk about some early ARGS
  • DC: Majestic – EA, they started to advertise the game that played you, how it was going to become part of your real life, shut down
  • DH: the Beast – from Microsoft. tied into AI the spielberg movie. it set some principles which some people still think control what an ARG is. It did not say it was a marketing campaign.  The game created a universe online.  In terms of gameplay, there was not really any traditional gameplay mechanic in there. There’s puzzles and collaboration,.  the gameplay that tends to emerge is very social based, than conventional console games. 
  • DC: a big community builder.  
  • TW: the form is always evolving.
  • DH: ILovebees was more of a radioplay, that seemed to be the intention of the writers. it was an audiodrama.
  • TW: a promotion for Halo2. MS did try to do something with Halo3,
  • TW: there’s a huge grassroots community that produce their own games.  barrier to entry is a lot lower than computer and videogame development.
  • Q: what’s the reach and success of ARGS. What are the business models.
  • DH: a lot of the examples have been marketing for brands.  Majestic was a subscription model. Perplex City had a series of collectible cards, which would have clues etc.   I think that everyone is still trying to work it out, there is a lot of scope for brand sponsored content.  In terms of self-sustaining independent it is something that we are working on
  • DC: we still run into the internet should be free idea, so subscription based anything on the web is a dicey problem.
  • DH: it is possible to do so when people spend a lot of time.
  • TW: a lot of teens are looking at free to play games, that can be a model, say in Korean.
  • Q: is what teens expecting in terms of free to play, is paralleled by people wanting to find themselves in a game, eg Lonely girl
  • DH: it did not start out as an ARG, the whole suspense was ‘was to real’. the follow up is Kate Modern on Bebo. the back and forth of setting up tasks, and responding can add a lot of value to the entertainment.    Viral marketing will not get you your mass audience, you have to push people there [RC: it’s my understanding the ARG was started by a fan and then adopted by the creators]
  • Q: How are they useful
  • DH: with channel 4 we are doing an educational game, for 14-16 yos, around online identity and privacy. they can learn important skills.
  • Q: I research storytelling; I look at what is going on with ARGs, what concerns me, is the freakiness of ‘stalking’. blending reality with fiction you get into sueable area.  there is a huge community of susceptible people
  • TW: this question comes up everytime. there is are fine line.  It’s up to the game designers to think about how the game mechanics work. you can’t control, you also need lawyers.  It’s what insurance is for,
  • DC: you can’t anticipate everything, but you can be prepared to react.
  • TW: in videogames you can predict, but the more massive MMO become then less controllable. 

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Mar 08

Steven Johnson and Henry Jenkins

Keynote at SXSW Saturday. Notes, not a true live blog. Henry Jenkins and Steven Johnson

  • SJ: have you seen another wave of the backlash, the dumbing down?
  • HJ: these things do come in waves and we’re probably overdue. Never underestimate the desire of parents to see their children as dumb, it’s easy to imagine our children as failures as they do things that were unknown to us. Young people are adapters of new media, outside of eyes of their parents. There’s a sense of fear – I said to my some everything i said I wouldn’t. It does not take much, a decline in test scores, a Columbine and that gives a moral panic. There are new literacies that are so powerful but parents do not understand. People want me to tell them it is OK.
  • SJ: I’ve always wanted to see the development of ways of measuring these new technologies. have you seen anything?
  • HJ: the evidence has moved from the anecdotal to the local and we start to see some national stuff. the model is wrong, it started from the assumption of the individual learner, but as we move to the era of collective intelligence, it changes. It is a very different model of how we process information. It starts from the assumption that everyone has some expertise, but not that all know everything.  The challenge is to measure the skills we have to measure the ability to share knowledge.   I had respect for expertise until I got asked to write for Encyclopedia Britannica, then I relasied that wikipedia had got it right.  There’s more brainpower in the collective than the individual. How we work and play is polling knowledge, but that is not how we test young people. It’s about processing knowledge, not acquiring it.
  • SJ: if you spend lots of time in front of new tech, do you ever look at a new tech and say that is just stupid
  • HJ: it’s a momentary flash in my mind. my graining shows me that people don’t do things that are meaningless. the challenge is to find out why things are meaningful. what I think is interesting up to a point only.  You have to start from premise that things are meaningful.
  • SJ: since last time, TV has changed – Lost and the Wire. so which is better? What criteria do we used to evaluate?
  • HJ: the wire has created a layer of complexity over the years. with Lost, much of it takes place online, through the transmedia extensions, through the fans.  the complexity of engagement is part of what makes that compelling. Wire may be the last gasp of an old style TV, whereas Lost may be the first glimpse of new TV. pushes us in new directions in how to engage with TV.
  • SJ: when you look at those fan creations, it’s amazing how much time people have.  One person does this thing, then they upload it, put it in the discussion.  Clearly these people don’t have kids!
  • HJ: we should reverse this. What’s wring with America that these incredibly bright people don’t have opportunities to do this in the workplace. I study pink collared workers-  need quals but their job does not give opportunities and they get this outside. why are those skills so underutilised. how can we harness that creative energy. What we are seeing right now is that people are getting skills in their play that are being applied to the rest. As we learn to live in a knowledge culture, as we develop the apparatus to trust and share knowledge, how do we turn that back into something that can change society.
  • SJ: there’s a Harry Potter fan fic documentary you are in?
  • HJ: I get involved, I talk to lots about this. There is a feeling that people are learning how to read from HP, but there is also people who are learning how to write, via fanfic novels. Also social network learning – through wizard rock/ They are learning to become political through Harry Potter, about rights to write stories, on fair use. It’s a global network of people who connect through their love of the fiction. In a hunting society, kids play with bows and arrows and in an information society, kids play with information
  • SJ: when people talk about this generation, talk about they are under some kind of attack from their media, lets look at what are they like. this is the least violent generation since 50s, the most political engaged, the most entrepreneurial. so do we have a crisis or an opportunity.  People are more engaged in general, on different levels. The idea that there is some kind of reason for a moral panic is very strange.
  • HJ: I’m a total Obama boy (massive cheers). Yes We Can is one of the things that fascinates me. A friend tracks language use online – politicians use ‘I", young people use ‘we’. It is a language of social networks and collective intelligence.  It has a history, it reflects Obama history. It’s a different way of modeling society.  Looking at a recent speech of Hilary, it was all ‘I’, but Obama  – it’s about the process by which he collects information, about how we build this together.  Through the SNS, it’s about a circle around the candidate.
  • SJ: I’ve been involved with OutsideIn for a while, to look at the geographic internet. It was thought that the internet would drive people away from the cities, but the opposite is true. We saw how many local bloggers there were, that blogged about the neighbourhood and community. My one plug, we are about to launch OnMyRadar, a facebook feed, local information. tied into FireEagle. Show me things that are happening here and now. Trying to enable local experts, to pass the knowledge.
  • HJ: the challenge is how to harvest community to share information. We have underestimated high school kids, how many have Lj accounts, learning to write. Can we free young people up to write things up.  Can people contribute to the botton up news. How do we give them the tools to do so,

Audience Questions:

  • one thing i talk to my kids is about the ratio of production and consumption? do you think new media changes this?
  • HJ: Yes. it is increasing. % of young people producing is astronomical compared to others.  Look at Soulja Boy.  He tapped into social networks, got people to share the videos and music. The challenges are 2fold, if 57-60% are producing, what about the ones who do not have access, who do not feel empowered. those inequalities are things we need to talk about.  We have the media being circulated and things can go wrong, what happens when the adults don’t know what go wrong. We need parents to watch their back, to support.  We have to take responsibility to support them.
  • SJ: Create vs Consume is a good way. Parents were coming up to me saying about limiting screentime – the difference between watchign and creating, it is the kindof things that they are doing.
  • Q: how literally should I take the idea of collective intelligence. what individual skills are useful?
  • HJ: collective intelligence – 2 ideas. one is wisdom of crowds, an aggregate model, all independently add info and it is averaged out. the other is about consensus. the levi model depends on diversity, without diversity then the outcomes is flat.  In that model there is no tension between individual and collective, they have to have their own contribution and input.  The difference between wikipedia and youtube.  YT is majoritorian, Wiki, is collective and diversity. On YT different voices are there but are hidden from view.
  • Q:How about cyberaddiction, how people sit in front of a screen for hours and hours.
  • HJ: the minute we use addiction language we are getting the wrong start. stay up all night reading a book then I’m learning. so what do people find so compelling about these activities. Can we make school as compelling. Addiction experts say that what we see are symptoms of depression, the challenge is to separate out tech from real problems of mental health. In China, the government use the word addiction to control access.
  • Q: how are the online relationships change the social fabric.
  • HJ: the social fabric was damaged in 50s – mobility, etc, the internet is part of repairing that damage, it gives us ways to maintain the connections. we meet more people than we ever did before, that is a large social force. we use tolls like sns to manage those relationships. Facebook now sends the CV with it, so it helps.
  • Q: transformative abilities for creation – so how do we balance democratic and commercial.
  • HJ: I’m an optimist. I believe in participatory culture. but if we take it as given that we have it then we will lose it.     we have to challenge the terms we are given. we have to hold companies accountable for their terms they give us that prevents participation.  when communities are commodified, when gift culture becomes UGC with no value, no revenue for creators. I’m excited about the organisation of transformative work, pooling knowledge of lawyers.  We can;t assume the interest of company owners and consumers are the same.
  • SJ: because we come a the world as an optimist, we have used our writings to push for this, we are progressives, in thinking about the world, about where the progress is coming from.  There is reason for hope, looking at positive and empowering trends.
  • Q: pink collar workers – hi level education, not using capacity in the job. what could be done?
  • HJ: we need a workplace that harnesses the skills of these people.