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4 Takeaways from SXSW 2010

March 16th, 2010 No comments

This year’s SXSWi was a cacophony of parties, cowboy hatted street teams and networking with a few panels and prepared speakers tucked in between. My extreme desire to sift logic from chaos and the peace of a few hours of distance has left me mulling the following 4 takeaways:

Content Creators Must Get Paid – If you braved the distraction of a fire alarm and came back into the building, you were privy to an educated man’s verbal smackdown the likes of which I had not previously seen in public – Marc Cuban vs. Boxee’s Avner Ronen. Cuban artfully beat the drum that pay tv is going to continue to dominate (and that cash is king –  jabbing at Boxee’s “revenue free” model again and again). Avner had a bit of a “home audience” advantage being surrounded by self-admitted geeks who don’t like paying for anything. But if stolen internet content wins – who will pay for great content to still be created? TV shows do not have the same tour-for-cash out that music artists have used to weather the a la carte iTunes model. Later speaker Ze Frank also mused this same dilemma – being unable to monetize his awesome web content, but unable to break into the Hollywood revenue model in a meaningful way. I have no idea what the future holds, but someone needs to get paid or the only shows being made will be for the least common denominator.

Publicizing Public Information is a Violation of Privacy – If you followed the tweetstream from Austin this weekend, you probably saw that the most substantive traffic from any session seemed to come from the very meaty presentation from MSFT-based social network researcher danah boyd (@zephoria). This is a talk that will be worth watching in its entirety (read the transcript here), but if I was struck by one takeaway it is the difference between “public” information – information that can be obtained in some way – and information that we want publicized. danah boyd strongly believes that taking something that someone has written on a public site – say a forum about travel – and using it an ad or republishing it on an aggregator – is a violation of the author’s privacy because it violates the social norms and reasonable assumptions under which the author originally shared. It was a great reminder to begin all digital strategies with the purpose of adding value to all audiences – readers and content creators alike.

QR Codes are Coming – Previously categorized as “big in Asia”, SXSW badges boasted QR codes that, with the addition of an “app for that”, allowed users to share their information with the capture of an encoded 2D barcode. The advent of this technology is just another reason to think about danahboyd’s talk and what you decide to keep private, public, or publicize in social media.

Geolocation is a Foregone Conclusion – While pre-SXSW discussion seemed to be dominated by “geolocation is the new Twitter” discussion, by the time we got to the event, it was simply accepted as a given and everyone was on to the next topic. The only discussion I did hear was a bit of debate between hometown fave Gowalla and Foursquare.

Sunsetting a Web Project

January 16th, 2008 2 comments

No one ever wants to think about the end of a project before it begins, but many web projects do and should end.  It is a good practice to put some thought into how that will be handled before you launch, but little consensus on what the best practice for are for “the end”.  Take a gander at the following treatments and let me know which you think is best in class:

Sub ChickenOption 1: Time warpSubservient Chicken – This Burger King’s site originally launched as a way to promote their new chicken sandwich.  It has not changed noticeably since the day it launched (copyright 2004).  There is no dated material, just a quick, fun customer experience that could be considered “evergreen”.  This is the Helen of Troy of viral marketing – the project that caused 1000 others to get greenlighted.  Because of it’s significance, it is nice to be able to refer newcomers to online WOM to this site.  

 

Clark and MichaelOption 2: Keep it live, but let it ageClark and michael – This 10 episode series featuring man of the moment Michael Cera and friend Clark Duke ran from spring into summer of ’07, but received a surge of viewership months later when it made Time’s list of Top 10 Best Web Videos in December.  While the episodes can still be viewed, Clark and Michael’s personal diary ended in July.  For folks like me who only discovered the site in the last month, it feels like a broken window. (hat tip: Catchup Blog)

Option 3: Let the audience hijack your siteIn the Motherhood – ITM was a Suave and Sprint “co-conception” that I discussed here was done around Mother’s Day 2007.  While it doesn’t look like the brands involved have not done much updating since the end of the script contest, the users have hijacked that community and kept the forums alive.   Option 4: Leave no footprints – Too many promotions to mention – Another option is to simply take your site down after its useful period is over.  The downside is that you may break a lot of links to your brand all over the web. 

ZeOption 5: Set boundaries, honor what you accomplished - The Show with Ze Frank – ZeFrank grew a huge following of “Sportsracers” with his lightning-fast daily video podcast “show”.  From the beginning, Ze set expectations that it was a 1 year gig and would end 1 year from its start date and so it did.  Now, Ze has pulled together highlights of the show for those discovering it late, but refers to it in the appropriate (past) tense.

 

The one thing that I think can be taken away from these treatments is that how you sunset a web project makes a big difference in your future digital footprint.  You can always change plans based on audience reaction, but it is important to plan not just for the next 6 months, but the artifacts that will exist in 18 or 24 months as well.