Another one of my favorite sessions at SXSW Interactive 2006 was Zero-Advertising Brands, where we got to watch Maggie Mason talk to the guys from skinnyCorp, the makers of Threadless among other creative commerce/community hybrids.
One of my favorite things about talking to folks that really get the user-generated web, is that when they tell you their secret recipies, it all sounds so easy. Here's George from Flickr in the Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps talk: "We listen to what our users say, and then iterate the design." See? Easy.
So when the guys from skinnyCorp opened their komono in the Zero Advertising panel to share their four steps to success, I took notes and made my own translations. Here goes.
One of the most interesting panels at SXSW Interactive 2006 was The Future of Darknets, moderated by JD Lasica. And while the concept of Darknets - communities using private subnetworks to communicate and collaborate out of view of the larger internet - is indeed fascinating, the panel was not interesting because of the intended topic. In fact, we never actually got to hear much about DarkNets, much to my disappointment, because the panel was hijacked the moment one panelist said, "Hello, my name is Kori Bernards, and I'm from the Motion Picture Association of America."
What followed was an hour-long firing squad as one audience member after another directed angry questions her way. The feeling of pent-up frustrations with the movie biz was palpable, especially as her claims of flexibility and excitement within the MPAA to find "creative new solutions" to the problems raised by the audience rang more and more hollow, the more times she repeated them.
Last year at SXSW, Heather and I had a conversation we'd had a few times before, about race and gender and geeks and conferences and representation. Et cetera. Except this time, we did it with a camera present.
Chuck Olsen was there working on a documentary about weblogs and caught it on tape (we were aware of his taping, of course). Today he posted a clip.
In case you can't tell, I'm the shifty-eyed, sighing, vaguely inappropriate one. It's things like this that remind me that I'm much happier communicating from a keyboard. It also reminds me that this issue, like most, is too complicated for a quick hallway conversation.
Is there going to be a Fray Cafe at SXSW this year?
Answer: Yes, oh yes.
» I remember when SXSW was not all about weblogs. Of course, back then, it was all about plugging your company. But at least, back then, when you saw people typing into laptops in the audience, you didn't suspect they were chatting with each other.
» Everything that can be said about weblogs has already been said. Over and over and over. And still we don't know anything. One thing is clear: We need a larger set of descriptive terms to talk about what we're doing: Journalistic blogs, personal homepages, event calendars....
» WiFi really does change everything. Being able to select a node and instantly be online from the conference room, hallway, and bathroom is amazing. And, yes, I really did see someone walking out of the men's room with an open laptop.
» Know that old metaphor? "When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Well, when you're a blogger, everything looks like a blog. Unfortunately, not everything is.
» Good Lord am I tired of talking about weblogs.
» Historical note: I was the first person to ever hold a panel on weblogs at SXSW. Hell, I'm the one who told Hugh to cover this stuff. That was back in 2000, when Ben Brown delivered a passionate speech against them. So, basically, this is partially my fault. Sorry.
» What I love about SXSW: They sell beer in the corridors and cigarettes on the balconies. Texas understands vice.
I am at SXSW. In a panel about weblogs and journalism. With wireless internet acces. On my shiny new Powerbook. I am a nerd.
And, yet, I refuse to "live blog." Sorry.
Instead, come see me tell a story tonight at Fray Cafe. It's gonna be a doozy.
Pardon me while I toot my own horn and make you an offer you can't refuse.
Operators are standing by!
On March 24-27, I'll be speaking at User Interface 7 West in beautiful San Francisco. It's a fantastic conference – informative, deep, and packed with brainy speakers like Jared Spool and Molly Holzschlag. The spectrum of topics covered is just incredible. Of course, I'll be talking about community design, presenting an update of many of the topics covered in the book.
If all that sounds good you'd like to attend, I have a special treat for you! Just mention special promotion code DP01 to get $60 off each single-day registration, or a whopping $300 discount off the four-day registration. Such a deal!
So go register already! Hope to see you there.
Speaking of conferences...
I'll also be moderating a panel at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, TX, on March 10. If you're attending the conference, do stop by to witness, as the conference panel description says:
Surviving Your Own Collaborative Project: Independent site creators Heather Champ (The Mirror Project), Derek Powazek (Design for Community), and Michael Schmidt (K10k) discuss the hazards of running a collaborative project, as well as pass on their tips and tricks for surviving their creations. A must-see panel for anyone running a multi-author blog, intranet, or community site.
SXSW is also ground zero for Fray Cafe 3, so if you're in Austin on March 9, come tell a story! You'll be sharing the very same stage as Scott Andrew LePera (of the Walkingbirds), who will be playing an solo acoustic set. Rumor also has it that two all-time favorite Fray performers will be performing: Slam poet chanteuse Tarin Towers and local Austinite and crazy man Ben Brown. Are the rumors true? Come to Fray Cafe and find out!
This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts about SXSW, including:
Four Themes from skinnyCorp
15 March 2006
SXSW to MPAA: STFU
15 March 2006
Blah Blah Blog
26 March 2004
People keep asking me:
1 February 2004
Random SXSW Thoughts
9 March 2003
9 March 2003
2 March 2003
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Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »
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Four Themes from skinnyCorp 15 March 2006
SXSW to MPAA: STFU 15 March 2006
Blah Blah Blog 26 March 2004
People keep asking me: 1 February 2004
Random SXSW Thoughts 9 March 2003