my.SXSW Goes Mobile

South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film and Interactive Conferences and Festivals has launched the official mobile social networking and scheduling tool for their 23rd annual event, which begins Friday, March 13th. Powered by the industry-leading whitelabel conference software application, The Social Collective, the mobile site integrates seamlessly with my.SXSW’s networking, messaging and calendaring features. Open to registrants of the film, music or interactive events, the site can be accessed by loading http://my.SXSW.com in most mobile phone web browsers, including Blackberry, iPhone, Andriod, Treo and other handsets with modern web-browsing capabilities.

SXSW teamed up with The Social Collective to provide anywhere/anytime access to all the official films, music showcases, parties, interactive panels and other events via my.SXSW.

People who have phones with web-browsing capabilities can use my.SXSW’s lightweight and highly optomized mobile web experience. People who do not can still build their personal schedules using my.SXSW via a full-blown web browser and then use the provided iCal synchronization to push events to Apple’s iCal, the Google Calendar, or any other iCal-compliant software, which can then be synchronized with virtually any mobile device. my.SXSW also supports personal schedule export into Microsoft Outlook, which can be synchronized with many other types of phones including Blackberry and Treo devices. Finally, in leiu of (or in addition to) using a mobile phone calendar, registrants can use my.SXSW to sign up for SXSW Alerts, which provide realtime schedule updates via SMS.

“We didn’t want people to feel that they needed to lug their laptops around at SXSW,” said founder and CEO of The Social Collective, Chris Bucchere.

“Nearly everyone is already going to be carrying some sort of mobile device and we didn’t want to leave anyone in the dark.”

“So if you have an overacheiving ‘smartphone,’ you can use my.SXSW through your phone’s web browser. If your phone is more of a C-student, you can probably still synchronize your calendar using iCal, Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook. If your phone is more of the ‘beauty school dropout’ variety, at least you can still use SMS.”

The launch of my.SXSW’s mobile experience will make finding contacts, finding great events, and finding the locations of the different venues dead-simple, quick and portable. With The Social Collective’s modular design, enabling the mobile version of the hosted software was easy and painless. The resulting mobile web application carries the SXSW trademark and brand, just like the rest of the integrated social networking, messaging and scheduling features of my.SXSW.

“Our goals were simple: provide SXSW-branded social networking and scheduling capabilities to the greatest number and variety of mobile devices possible,” said Scott Wilcox, CTO of SXSW.

“Between The Social Collective and SXSW Alerts, we can easily reach nearly all of our registrants and provide a great user experience.”

SXSW opens Friday, March 13th with the concurrent film and interactive festivals. The music festival starts Wednesday, March 18th. Find out more about SXSW at http://my.sxsw.com

The Social Collective provides whitelabeled social networking, messaging and calendaring for events of all shapes and sizes. Visit http://thesocialcollective.com to find out how they can help you grow and serve the community around your next event.

You Are What You Eat

twittersheepI’ve never really understood the phrase, “You are what you eat.” If it were true, I’d probably be an In-N-Out burger (double double animal style) or something far worse for you and/or better tasting.

Recently, I overheard someone on Twitter saying something to the effect of:

“You are the sum of the five people you hang out with the most.”

My immediate reaction was to disagree vehemently. I’m totally not like that! I’m exactly who I want to be! I don’t subject myself to the influence of others like that! Etc.

Not only am I completely wrong about this, but it may be that — in some strange cosmic way — I’m actually the sum of ALL the people around me, good, bad and everything else under the sun.

Today I discovered TwitterSheep. (No, this has nothing to do with sheep, fraternity rituals or anything else of a sexual nature, I assure you.) TwitterSheep simply looks at your followers and constructs a tag cloud based on keywords in their bios. That’s not really remarkable, but what is remarkable is that when I ran my Twitter account through the application, the resulting tag cloud literally read like my own bio. Seriously. It’s a visual representation of terms that — when you sum them all together — equal me. The largest words are what I do and care about most.

Am I right about this? Are you the sum of your followers?

Try TwitterSheep and let me know how it worked for you!

Feedback Loop

We’ve been keeping a close watch on what people are saying about my.SXSW and trying to respond to as much of the feedback as possible, either directly from us or via the folks at SXSW.

It’s no surprise — in this “2.0” world of hypersharing and total transparency — that we’ve seen literally hundreds of blog posts and tweets about my.SXSW, but we’ve only received a handful of e-mails.

We don’t really like e-mail anyway, so this is cool.

The SXSW help desk has received a lot of support requests via e-mail, with issue #1 being that the welcome e-mails and password reset e-mails aren’t showing up, most likely due to downstream spam filters. Ah, the irony! Again, this is why e-mail sucks, but it’s sort of something that’s hard to live with and also hard to live without.

So, how are we tracking and responding to feedback?

We’re using a jury-rigged system of free tools: search.twitter.com (remember Summize?), Google Alerts and Google Reader.

This “system” only takes a few minutes to set up and it can be used to track virtually anything being said about anything in a public space on the interwebs.

Basically, you can set up “comprehensive” Google Alerts and have them “delivered” via feed (or e-mail, but you already know how we feel about that). You can do the same with search.twitter.com.

Simply plug the feeds into Google Reader, organize them into folders/tags and voila, your feedback tracking system is ready to roll.

We’re searching for terms like “SXSW,” so obviously we get a lot of false positives. However, it’s easy to manually “star” or “share” items in Google reader and then publish the resulting list of shared or starred items back out as a feed to share with your team via a web page or, if you like, put it back in Google Reader. (Yikes! We know that sounds like it might be infinitely or mutually recursive, but actually, it works — trust us, we’ve tried it.)

So, here it is: a pretty comprehensive list of all the good, the bad and the ugly things people are saying about my.SXSW. Hey, it’s all public information on the interwebs anyway, so why not republish it all in one place?

I Don’t Even Like Radiohead, But. . . .

800px-RadioheadI wouldn’t consider myself a Radiohead fan. But what they just did is about to turn the music industry on its head . . . again. Check out this snippet from an e-mail they just sent me:

To coincide with asking radio stations to think about playing Reckoner we are breaking up the tune into pieces for you to remix. After the insane response we got from the Nude remix stems and the site that was dedicated to your remixes…

Unique visitors: 6,193,776, Page Views: 29,090,134, Hits: 58,340,512, Bandwidth: 10.666 Terabytes, Number of mixes: 2,252, Number of votes: 461,090, Number of track listens: 1,745,304

…we thought it only fair to do the same with a tune that at least is in 4/4. You can get the stems (the different instruments/elements) from here.

Sample, cut, take the sounds, whatever. Play it in a club. Or your room. Then if you want you can upload your finished mixes to http://www.radioheadremix.com and be judged by everyone else. You can create a widget allowing votes from your own site, Facebook or MySpace to be sent through too. [Emphasis mine.] To start things off we asked James Holden and Diplo to do their versions.

Whatever you want to call this (user-generated production?), it’s downright brilliant. The idea that I — a mere mortal — get to mix and produce the next Radiohead song and that my version (if the general public likes it) could be the next big Radiohead hit is simply a mind-blowing and totally game-changing idea. Starting with Napster, then Kazaa and other P2P networks, then the idea that a major-label artist like Radiohead would put up an album (In Rainbows) and ask people to name a price for it — including $0 — the music industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years. And Radiohead is, as usual, leading the charge.

How the New Facebook Utterly Destroyed my Favorite Application (and Why That Makes Me Sad)

I used to love Feedheads. It’s a simple, elegant and beautiful application that does one thing really well: help you share your Google reader shared items.

Unfortunately, the “new” Facebook has rendered the application utterly useless and I can’t think of a good way, as an end-user, to fix it. In fact, as someone who’s built two facebook apps, I can’t even think of a way that the Feedheads developers can fix it. What a calamity.

So here’s the problem: the News Feed (and the Mini Feed) introduced an option that allows end-users to set the story “size.” When a Google shared item story comes through Feedheads now, it defaults to the “one line” size and as a result, it doesn’t say anything other than “Chris posted an item to Feedheads.”

Thank you very much, Facebook. That piece of information is completely useless. People who are reading your feed need to click through into the Feedheads application in order to see what story you posted — and the whole point of Feedheads is to help you share your shared items, not make them harder to find.

(As a result of all this, Facebook also broke one of my applications, called WhyI. It has < 200 users, so very few people care, but . . . the point of the app was to help people ask themselves and their friends questions that have to be answered in five words or fewer. And of course, the questions and answers would show up in the Mini Feed and News Feed. But not anymore! Now it just says: “Chris posted a new mini-update using WhyI.” Again, a totally useless piece of information. Drats.)

As an end-user, I can set the “size” of each feed item. So that means, after I hit Shift-S in Google Reader — which doesn’t take much effort — I have to wait for the story to be published in Facebook and then, if I remember (which at this point is unlikely), I have to go into that little drop down on the right and set the size to “small” instead of the default, which is “one line.” And here’s the best part: I can’t tell Facebook to remember this, so I have to do it every time.

All this just to share a shared item on Google Reader through Feedheads . . . ick.

Here’s the best part. I just noticed that Facebook added their own feature to the new and “improved” news feed. You can import your shared items from Google Reader! And, not surprisingly, the news feed actually shows the stories’ titles. In other words, Facebook took a great application — Feedheads — and replaced the functionality with their own feature; in the process, they rendered Feedheads useless.

This makes me sad. I only have one thing to say:

Wow, Facebook, how very Microsoft of you.

Nobody’s Gonna Read This (and Why That Makes Me Happy)

Boy do I love the fact that no one reads this blog. And to the few people who are exceptions to that general rule — thank you for being so supportive!

I just hit two or three web pages in a row (TechCrunch, Digg and the Meebo blog) wherein each post I read had 80+ comments that reminded me why I rarely ever actually read comments.

Haters, trolls, flamers, spammers — whatever you want to call them, the internet is ridden with people who are filled with spite and rage. The funny thing is that in no other forum (except for perhaps while driving) are people this cruel to one another. It’s just not socially acceptable.

I realize that e-hate isn’t a new problem: in fact, it dates back to the early days of UseNet, Netiquette and the ol’ “do we allow AOLer’s on the internet” debate. While doing some fact-checking on wikipedia, I was really amused to read about Godwin’s Law, which sums up what I’m talking about better than I ever could: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

We all know the Kathy Sierra story. I’m glad she had a thick enough skin to re-emerge in the blogging world and on Twitter because the world is a better place with her contributions than it is without them.

We all remember The Great Sarah Lacy Twitter Massacre of SXSW 2008. I recently met Sarah at a tech event in DC and, believe it or not, she doesn’t have horns, literally or figuratively.

Jason Calacanis recently “retired” from blogging. When I read his post, I immediately thought that it was just a PR stunt, but I’m beginning to realize that I can sympathize with his viewpoint. I really don’t want to ever be an A-list blogger or “internet famous” because it’s just like painting a big target on your own ass.

I love my family and close friends, I love the physical neighborhood in which I live and I love the virtual networks that have developed around my career and my passions for the past 15 years or so that I’ve been using the internet.

But honestly, a big part of me doesn’t want anyone else to read this. Not because I don’t take criticism well. (I don’t, but then again nobody does.) I just wish some of the same general rules that apply to social interactions — at say, a cocktail party, a baseball game or at the supermarket — would apply to the internet.

Comments welcome. Just be nice, ok?