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136 posts categorized "Web 2.0"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Marketing Ideas from Web 2.0 Expo

It took me a bit longer than expected to gather these thoughts together, but there was plenty of smart stuff happening at the Web 2.0 Expo this week in San Francisco.  I considered doing a wrap up of sites from the event, but taking a quick look at other posts out there, it seems that's been done quite a bit more extensively than I could hope to achieve.  So, instead, here are a few marketing ideas that I will be taking with me from the Expo ...

  • The Long Tail Exhibition - Alongside the traditional booths from exhibitors was an inventive area with about twenty tall, laptop-sized cylindrical tables for smaller exhibitors to give demos of their products.  Termed the "long tail" area, it was a great way to include more ideas at the show from less established sites or services and give them a chance to be part of the show.  Two noteworthy sites I learned about there were Maplight.org (a nonprofit site dedicated to exposing the many links between money and politics) and Women2.org (a community for female entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley).
  • The Bag Award - At every event that has an Expo with brochures and free schwag, there should be a "bag award."  This is always given to the company that has the brains to focus on providing carry bags for people to put all the crap they get from everyone else into.  You would think just about every sponsor would do this, but at every show there is only a few that think of it, and one bag that dominates.  At Web 2.0, the Bag Award goes to ... the folks at Reply
  • Promoting other exhibitors - Providing the bag is not the only way to rise above the competition at the show.  You could also try a technique Yugma (a new online video conferencing solution) used to build buzz about their service and booth.  They offered an ongoing venue for other exhibitors to share their presentations using Yugma's service and even published agendas of who would be speaking and when.  Think about the brilliance of this strategy ... by featuring other exhibitors and helping them spread the word, they become a mini media channel at the event, foster word of mouth, ensure that a wide range of influencers beta test your product. 
  • Desktop RSS - One of the more interesting ideas I came across was from RSSBus and involved a product download that could offer RSS feeds of all types of content, including folders on networks, spreadsheets or databases.  Though strikingly simple as an idea, it got me thinking about the vast untapped potential of RSS feeds to help organize all kinds of information and offer instant updates on just about any kind of content.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

How 7 Basic Human Needs are Driving the New Social Web2.0

I recently read a insightful piece from Ben Hunt about the future of the web2.0 social experience.  It was particularly relevant as I am heading to the Web2.0 Expo here in San Francisco today and will have a chance to see many new technologies later this evening at the "Booth Crawl" event at the opening of the Expo.  Thinking about the future of the social web can be overwhelming - particularly if you look at the quantity of new sites and technologies that are being launched each day.  While we may not suffer from the same overfunded hype of the early 2000s, hype is certainly alive and well and I will likely see quite a bit of it tonight at the Expo.

Yet for most, Web2.0 is about the next evolution of the Internet and how it is becoming more useful for everyone.  Yes, there are lots of cool technologies, and the search for the "killer app" that Hunt brilliantly deconstructs in his paper is important.  The underlying theme, however, is how new services are helping each of us to solve some of our most basic needs from the Internet.  In my opinion, these include:

  1. Search - There is no doubt search engines are the dominant tool for finding information online.  More recently, the search for meaning is about more than using powerful algorithms to offer hundreds of thousands of search results.  The social search revolution is about how people are helping other people find information.  The most innovative Web2.0 tools for search are the ones that combine sophisticated algorithms with the ability and dedication of individuals to help highlight, describe and categorize information.
  2. Discover - If search is about actively seeking information on a specific topic, discovery is about uncovering information that is likely to be relevant for you presented to you based on your browsing history, habits, related content, or relationships and declared interests.  The popularity of StumbleUpon as well as the millions of people using social bookmarking tools such as Digg and del.icio.us point to the rising use of sites, tags and recommendations to discover new websites or web content.
  3. Connect - Managing relationships through contact managers such as LinkedIn is not a new activity online, but there are new tools that are helping each of us to get smarter about how these contacts are managed and make them more useful.  A core concept that Hunt talks about which is now starting to appear is the idea that not all relationships should be treated equal and there needs to be a way to rate the strength of a particular relationship.  When contacts are measured in terms of degrees, connecting to others through your network becomes a much more valid exercise, and one more likely to mimic offline behaviours that take the strength of particular relationships into account. 
  4. Protect - As technology enables more innovation, it can also have a dark side with hackers, phishers, and spammers.  Web2.0 has not just been about finding better tools for communication or information, it is also about new thinking for protecting each of us from the dangerous, or just plain annoying.  As more of our digital lives, transactions and communications move online - this area will continue to be vitally important for keeping the Internet a trusted and credible channel to conduct these activities.
  5. Publish - Central to the rise of social media is the ability for individuals to easily publish just about any type of content from blogs to podcasts to online video.  This includes publishing in the sense of contributing to dialogue online through reviews or comments.  New services are likely to help make it easier to publish as well as better tools to customize your efforts.  Also, there will continue to be more new sites and social networks on which to publish your content on just about any topic.    
  6. Organize - Whether it relates to organizing your personal life through "lifehacker" style tools such as personal calendars or to-do lists, or organizing your bookmarks and saved content, Web2.0 innovation continues to produce many tools for doing so.  On sites that offer access to content published by others or through sites that could be considered "aggregators" (for RSS feeds or other content), organization is a core principle that is seen as another key human benefit.
  7. Share - This is a broad concept that includes each of our desire to share our thoughts and expertise, as well as the cause related side of this which includes sharing wealth or supporting causes one believes in.  New tools for giving, and new sites for sharing expertise fit into this category.

There may likely be other core needs that could be included on this list, but thinking about Web2.0 in terms of these categories will help me to evaluate new sites from the show as well as new thinking and opportunities for marketing.  Check back tomorrow for a recap of some highlights from the Web2.0 Expo as well as a list of examples of sites and services that fit each of these categories ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Finding Social Search at SES NY 07

I2m_seslogo I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion yesterday at the Search Engine Strategies show in NY all about Social Media Optimization.  It was interesting to see how the idea has progressed and search pros are implementing tactics and techniques for social media marketing.  Though I didn't agree with all of the views shared by my fellow panelists about the best practices (or who you are likely to influence by using SMO), the thing that I found interesting was how SEO centric most of the views were.  I think Social Media Marketing is about much more than SEO or search engine results.  Done right, it can foster brand evangelists, engage customers in dialogue and support other marketing efforts.  A wider trend that I have noted from several other interactive shows such as CommunityNext and even some sessions at SxSW, however, was the evolving role of social search tools broader than Google or search engines and the rise of communities as tools to help people find information.  Social search is redefining the way people find, rate, share and consume information online.  Have a quick look at the recent headlines from one of any blogs that focus on new sites and technologies such as TechCrunch or Mashable (among others), and you will get a clear picture of how true this is. 

Thinking about this and walking through the Expo, the one thing that struck me most about the exhibitors was the lack of what I would consider Web2.0 companies or ideas.  For the most part, the Expo seemed identical to what it was in 2006.  Same venue, same three floor format, and mostly the same exhibitors.  In a nutshell, it was companies selling search campaign management software, new search engines with vertical focuses, or search marketing agencies.  In a world where new startups are springing up every day and the world of search has innovations from visual search to mobile and video search tools - the Expo seemed very Web 1.0 to me.  Perhaps I missed the real innovative tools, but aside from a few standouts like Hakia (which also has a great campaign inspired by Cisco's Human Network) or ZoomInfo, I left disappointed by the chance to see real innovation in search at the Expo. 

In terms of social search and social media optimization, the one thing that came out of our panel which I was a bit bothered by was that attendees could easily have left with the impression that many of the SMO tactics employed by the panelists were only suitable for small businesses or capable of reaching teenagers with time on their hands.  I read a good summary of our panel by Kate Zimmerman over at SearchViews which shared a similar conclusion.  Search and the rise of social search has big implications for large brands and requires a shift in thinking.  It's a viewpoint I bring to my clients every day as I talk to them about their search efforts and how consumers are hearing about (and talking about) their brands.  Adding a social search track to the third day of SES this year was a great step.  Looking forward to the future, I think we'll see a larger part of the event (and the exhibitors) dedicated to this area.  Based on where other interactive shows are, I thought I might have found more of it this year at SES NY.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Are You Marketing Your Product Backstory?

I2m_dole_farmcodebanana_3 Several weeks ago, I noted an interesting story about how Dole is offering "farm codes" printed onto stickers that are placed on organic bananas offering consumers the chance to get to know more about the farm that grew the banana by visiting www.doleorganic.com.  On Dole Organic, you can see such information as a description of the banana plantation, photos of workers, and Google Earth images.  Despite the site's average design and limited functionality (no ability for users to interact with the content or add their voice) - the effort represents a great example of new thinking that product marketers are using to capitalize on the global trend towards ethical consumerism.  As more and more attention is being paid to the manufacturing or acquisition process for products, as well as the carbon footprint behind these processes, offering insight into the backstory for how your product is made is becoming more and more necessary.  Certification programs like Dole's Farm Code effort, or the international movement to create a certification for conflict-free diamonds are just two examples.  Soon, the "Made in Tiawan" stickers so often seen and ridiculed through the 80s and 90s may be replaced by reports on the factory, images from the floors, and interviews with the workers.  Social responsibility and ethical consumerism is not just about buying green products, but also understanding the process that they are created with and choosing based on this information.

I2m_lost_smallimage Yet product backstories have more potential than just offering environmental or societal impact assessments for products.  Backstories are a cultural trend.  More and more films are taking a different approach to the traditional beginning to end timetable for telling a story.  Lost is perhaps the best example of the rise of the backstory, as the hit television show has used the engaging format of weaving a backstory of one of the show's characters into each episode to allow viewers to learn more about each character.  The backstories fill in the details and deepen the emotional connection of a viewer, or a consumer.  You might say it's a stretch to say we will care more about our bananas after having seen images from the farm ... but on some level, it has an impact.  Having worked with BuzzAgent (a word of mouth marketing company) on a number of campaigns, I know that when it comes to WOM, the backstory is particularly important.  Knowing more about a product or company's origins make you more likely to tell others about it.  In many cases, the backstory becomes the marketing story.  Most marketing today focuses on product attributes and uses or creating a need for consumers to purchase.  What if more of our efforts focused on a product's backstory?  At least one marketer is betting that's the way to sell a whole lot more bananas.

Update (06/06/07): Dole also has a blog about this effort at http://doleorganic.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 26, 2007

10 Ways to Improve Your Blog Karma

Whether you believe in karma or not, making your blog a success often has a lot to do with a series of seemingly disconnected events.  Every post you make, person you contact or comment you leave adds to the sum total of your efforts in the blogosphere.  Building relationships is important in any industry, but blog karma is the idea that what you do and how you behave will ultimately have an effect on you directly or indirectly.  Blog karma is not often written about, but very often spoken about by bloggers, especially successful ones.  So if you did believe that blog karma does exist, how should you go about increasing yours?  Here are 10 ways you can improve your blog karma:   

  1. Be real.  This is the first and foremost principle of furthering your blog karma that I could think of.  Being real involves not lying, being transparent about who you are and what you believe, and sharing an honest voice.  People trust others that have an authentic voice, and are more likely to refer them to others or help when asked. 
  2. Respond to emails. This is tough when you have a high volume of unsolicited emails, but the idea that someone took time to write directly to you should make it enough of a priority to respond.  Obviously, this applies to personally written messages, and not to email blasts of press releases.  Those are rarely worth a response.
  3. Offer exclusives.  Maybe you aren't breaking "news" on your blog, but the idea of exclusives is not limited to that.  If you are going to write about something interesting, offer a preview to other bloggers.  Share ideas as they happen and offer the chance for others to say it first.  Exclusives are gold in the blogosphere ... everyone wants them.
  4. Make connections. In social settings, the gold standard for making connections is introducing two people to one another who later get married.  Blogging is no different.  If you can be the person making these connections between individuals that may not have met otherwise, you will be remembered by both for your efforts.
  5. Join networks.  This is not just about publishing networks, but about social networks of people who are interested in the same things you are.  Joining groups like this, and actively participating adds value to the group.  As a member, it probably won't be long before you take something useful from the group.
  6. Avoid snark. Snarkiness is the enemy of good karma.  Being rude, uselessly opinionated or arrogant are all rising behaviours from bloggers that add to the sea of needless commentary online.  The price for this may not be apparent, as unfortunately, snarkiness does sometimes result in readership (who can't avoid watching a car crash?) -- but eventually the snark will catch up to you.
  7. Forgive mistakes. Most bloggers are not journalists and don't have the time or necessity for checking every fact or argument before making it.  This does result in mistakes, and people do screw up.  Correcting them without holding a grudge is a big deal.  Mistakes are made, people are sorry.  If they fixed the error, then get over it.
  8. Post to contact. Email is not the only way to get in touch with someone.  Posting about something they have written and linking to their blog offers an indirect route to contact, as most bloggers pay attention to who is linking to them.  Writing about one of my posts is still the best way to get onto my radar, and I suspect most bloggers are the same way.  Communicating in this way avoids the email filter and starts the dialogue.
  9. Comment and participate.  This may be part of earlier suggestions, however the idea that you need to be a participant online rather than just an observer is key to this belief.  If you expect others to communicate and add comments to your blog, you need to be online doing the same for others.  Without participation, it is difficult to belong to a community online or build relationships with others.
  10. Show gratitude. Often mentioned as an important factor in connecting with users, showing gratitude for someone participating on your blog, linking to you, or offering some other effort on your behalf is vital.  Appreciation makes someone more likely to believe that you think their efforts are significant and as a result, connect more strongly with you and your blog.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Marketing Ideas From Under the Radar 2007

I2m_undertheradar_logo_2 One of my main beliefs about blogging and marketing is that the title always matters.  It matters in selling a book, driving clickthroughs on blog posts or emails, on placing effective keyword marketing, and the list goes on and on.  For just about everything you can do with marketing, choosing the right title is a big deal.  So anything you see about the Under the Radar 2007  event going on today is likely to peak your interest if you are a compulsive seeker of new ideas online.  The title of this event promises to expose new ideas and sites in a way that Demo 2007 did (without the great title).  The scope of this event is far smaller than Demo, though, as it only covers innovations in relation to the office of the future.  In addition, many of the sites featured in the event seemed pretty ordinary - as others have also noted.  Regardless, here are a few sites I think are worth taking a look at as well as some ideas on their potential uses for marketing:

Teqlo
This is a site I have been tracking for some time, but offers a great tool for creating mashups of widgets.  The site features an example of mapping product search with ebay and Google maps to create localized search tools.  There are lots of other unexpected applications, like mapping weather forecasts to upcoming sporting or music events on a site like Upcoming.  Just as Yahoo's Pipes effort allows you to mash your own content feeds - Teqlo has tons of potential marketing applications for taking the widget trend to the next level.

Stikkit
Winner of the Technical Achievement Award at the SxSW web Awards last week, this site takes a concept that others have tried and uses some smart technology to make it useful and easy for developers to build on top of.  Using these online screen-based stikkits to appear as permanent IM windows of tasks and other notes has lots of potential, especially in the new 3D interface models of screens used in Vista.

Wufoo
Creating forms has always been a big part of site development, but there are surprisingly few widget-style tools that let you create these forms easily.  It's an obvious idea, after all tools exist to integrate polls, video, lists and lots of other pieces of content.  Yet Wufoo seems in a class by itself when it comes to simplifying the usually complex art of inserting forms into sites and collecting data, as well as receiving it in a format that allows you to actually do something with it.  In truth, it's really the reporting that makes this a marketing tool worth considering.

For other roundups from the event, check out the following links:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The ROI of Blogging: Share Your Top 5 Stories

I2m_marketingchina_cover Two months ago, Charlene Li of Forrester produced a report on the ROI of blogging by comparing the relative spend on blogs to the spend required for focus group based research.  While some people immediately pointed out flaws in this reasoning, it was a great first step towards trying to define a model for measuring the true return on investment for blogging at a corporate level.  For individuals dedicated to creating their own microbrands and blogging to network with others in the industry, better connect with customers or simply participate in the conversation ... the ROI is not likely to be tied to focus group research.  Rather, the ROI in these cases comes from the opportunities that become possible through having a blog that wouldn't have happened otherwise.  These are thought leadership and brand/microbrand benefits, but they are ROI nonetheless. 

Taking this idea further, it would be interesting to see blogger's responses to what I think may be the ultimate question in helping to understand ROI of blogging on an individual basis:

Since you have been blogging, what would you consider your top five most effective blog posts and why?

To get the conversation going, here is my list of top five:

#5 - The Human Side of Search
The human side of search (everything that happens outside the almighty algorithm to organize information online) is an idea that I had been thinking about for some time and finally explored in a small presentation I gave at the Search Insider Summit event last year.  Since then, the concept has really evolved in the search industry and beyond.  It remains a topic I am passionate about following and continuing to do more with.

#4 - Brands I am Passionate About
I shared five brands that I truly love, and was contacted by one of them after seeing my blog post.  Briggs & Riley's team saw my post and asked me to try out a range of bags from their new line and offer feedback.  It was the most significant of a few product related pitches I have received, and one that I was most excited about due to my professed passion for their brand.

#3 - Tips on Pitching Bloggers
Originally published as a thought piece on the Ogilvy PR website, this 2 page PDF has been one of the most linked on my blog and also downloaded frequently from the Ogilvy site.  It has also been a great tool for our internal teams as well as a useful piece to give to clients.

#2 - Top 7 Marketing Trends of 2007
When I first published this, I figured it would be one of many trend related posts coming into 2007.  There were several links, but the amazing thing is that the post continues to draw significant traffic and clicks.  The image above is from the cover of Marketing China magazine, which was my most significant media hit to date in the traditional media - where our office in China helped to translate the piece to be included in this cover feature story in Marketing China.

#1 - Social Media Optimization

This will probably come as no surprise that it makes #1 on my list of most effective blog posts.  Since the original article in August of last year, the SMO phenomenon has gone through a very interesting cycle of global awareness, adoption, refinement, and even a backlash within certain circles.  It's amazing to watch how far and how fast the idea has taken off.

From a thought leadership and visibility point of view, blogging clearly has huge potential for individuals and for corporations as well.  To keep the conversation thread going, I am going to tag Hugh, Paul, Anastacia, Steve, and my colleagues in the Social Media Collaborative (including Charlene) to blog about their thoughts on this topic and how the ROI of blogging for most blogs might be far more about the stories and experiences made possible by blogging than by the dollar value of the traditional marketing efforts it is beginning to replace.

Suggested tag for all posts on this topic:  BlogROIStories

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How to Create a Microbrand Like GapingVoid

It might sometimes seem like everything is going micro.  With microlending, loans are getting smaller.  With online video, entertainment is getting shorter.  Technology devices are, of course, getting smaller. Micro is hot.  So it should come as no surprise that the next big thing coming fast into the marketing world is actually a little thing: microbrands.  This idea of a microbrand was explored in a panel I attended yesterday where two of the participants - Hugh McLeod from GapingVoid and Kathy Sierra from Creating Passionate Users are bloggers that I have read often.  In the panel, several thoughts emerged about how best to create a microbrand and what up and coming bloggers should do to build microbrands (and more traffic, by the way) to their own sites.  Here are a few key thoughts they shared:

  1. Don't be afraid to get flamed. Mostly about avoiding self censorship, this is about the growth stage that most bloggers face when their writing is popular enough to attract passionate detractors.  These are the folks that come onto your previously peaceful little blog and start to blast holes in your arguments, add their own interpretations and expose any slightly weak or overstated argument.  As a reaction, the wrong thing to do is self censor and avoid writing about polarizing topics.  If some people really hate your stuff, you're probably doing something right.
  2. Let go of the Technorati obsession. With so much attention these days on "linkbaiting" and other dodgy methods that bloggers are using to amplify their ratings and rankings on Technorati, this piece of advice is particularly important.  Yes, getting linked on Slashdot or having a popular article on Digg or Techmeme is great.  But focusing on your content and not on winning the high school popularlity contest that can be the blogosphere is a much wiser decision.  As Gabe Rivera from Techmeme shared on the panel, you might actually find your rankings will improve once you stop obsessing about them.  (By the way, I finally learned that "meme" is pronounced "meem" - in case you were like me and had only read it 1 million times but sounded like an idiot saying it aloud).
  3. Avoid adding to the "echo chamber." This is another great soundbite from Hugh out of the conference, and offers a valuable piece of advice and an argument for being unique and offering more than just a celebration of the "wonder of me" as John Bell likes to call that type of writing.  Gaping Void is unique.  Putting out a blog that is an echo chamber doesn't stand out, and it isn't unique. 
  4. Be grateful and respect your readers.  The first part of this is about thanking your readers and giving them incentives to keep up the dialogue with you.  The second part is about knowing what your readers care about.  My readers care about ideas in marketing.  I had the chance to see a great an interesting independent film at SxSW today called "A Lawyer Walks into a bar ..." and thought about writing about it.  The only problem is, I didn't have a specific thought relating to the marketing and the movie, so instead of dedicating a post to the film, I'm just sneaking a plug in here and recommending that you check it out. 

In retrospect after looking at my notes - these points don't really offer guidance on creating a global microbrand, as I originally thought they did.  They do, however, offer valuable insight into how to grow your blog traffic and become more successful, which will lead to growing your microbrand.  To this list, I would add two more thoughts about actually building your successful blog into a microbrand:

  1. Create a brand, not a title.  This is obvious, right?  Well, think about it - your blog probably has a title, but this is not necessarily a brand.  Sometimes a brand can be your name - but sometimes it needs to be something topical to what you write about.  Seth Godin's brand is his name.  Heather Armstrong's brand is Dooce.  Figure out what works best for you and use that.
  2. Have an identity and be consistent.  So much of branding is consistency.  Using your brand in the same way everywhere and signing every piece of communications and dialogue with the same tag.  Microbrands are the same way, and consistency can help to build awareness and recognition.

One of my favourite examples of a microbrand (aside from GapingVoid) that is not only simple, but also sexy, is PSFK and their range of sites (iF!, Marktd, etc.).  Attending their conference a few weeks ago was a study in smart branding - from the look of the event overall to the little blogger cards that each of us got in our personalized welcome folders.  If great brands are iconic then microbrands need to at least have great icons.  PSFK has one of the best.  Any other lessons from microbrands you admire?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

SxSW, Nuclear Tacos, and Other Authentic Experiences

Nucleartacos_1 Last night I had nuclear tacos.  You've probably never heard of them until last night, but as part of Mozilla's BBQ event, the nuclear tacos were out in force.  Today there are lots of images of Flickr of people experiencing nuclear pain and several images of the actual tacos and event (including the one at left from the gallery of Arvind Grover).  Encouraging this sharing was the smart placement of a sign asking people to "interact" by tagging images "nucleartaco" on Flickr and other sites.  Nuclear tacos are a sign of the vibe here at SxSW.  Companies are giving away voodoo dolls in the conference bags (Ryko) and sticking balloons to index cards to promote the premiere of Twisted, the first ever "balloonamentary."  At any other event, these would probably stand out.  And here they do too - but the experiences people will be talking about are the ones that have the nuclear tacos.  The experiences that you just had to be here to experience.  That was also the feeling at the 20x2 event last night. 

Whatifthumb It is another example of the popularity of our snack culture with "bite sized entertainment" that Wired magazine recently explored in their cover story this month.  At 20x2, 20 speakers had 2 minutes each to answer the single question "What if?"  The answers went from optimistic and hopeful, to cheesy, to desperate ... but each was watchable because they were linked by a theme and short enough to keep things moving.  This was the type of experience that people will remember - and everyone at the event knew it.  But why does this stand out where others don't?  The main reason is that the experience is limited.  It's the same for nuclear tacos.  If you could get them at your corner store, or everyone had seen or known about it, they wouldn't be the same.  There may have been 20x2 events in the past, but the topics change and as result the event stays fresh.  People seek those authentic experiences, and at an event like SxSW they seek them more then ever.  If you can stand out here, you can stand out anywhere.  What's the secret?  Be unique and offer something limited and exclusive.  Ask people to share their experience and most importantly, give them the help or guidance to do it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

First Impressions at SxSW

This might be an odd title to a post about SxSW since the event has been going on for several days now and the "SxSW" tag is already at the top of the Technorati WTF buzz index.  But regardless, I just arrived today at the midpoint of the Interactive event at South by Southwest and it seems as though most everyone has been partying and networking for the past two days.  Coming in today feels a bit like jumping into a movie in the middle and trying to catch up.  Listening to the podcasts from the first day of the event on the plane ride over today was a good crash course on the vibe - particularly the How to Rawk at SxSW (right click to download) panel which features several folks who were veterans of the event offering tips for newbies on how to get the most out of the event.  And tips are sorely needed - as the conference guide for the Interactive event is 136 pages long and accompanied by the bag of magazines, CDs and newspapers - it offers a backbreaking experience for carting around.  No wonder the girls in the "Big Bag Room" were confused that I was ready to pick up the bag in the middle of the day.  Apparently that was my first amateur mistake as a newbie.

Sitting in Dan Rather's keynote session, I witnessed a similar phenomena to what I had seen at several interactive or new media events that I had seen Al Gore speak at.  It seems as though highly influential individuals that have been treated as outcasts by established press corps and institutions come to events like SxSW as heroes.  Yet here is the difference between the two men: Al Gore is trying to reinvent cable news with Current TV.  Dan Rather, on the other hand, offered the simple message that it's time for journalists to start doing their jobs again.  It's a great message that I personally agree with (as I've written about before), but it seemed like the wrong message for the audience at SxSW.  I would venture a guess that the majority of people sitting in the audience had already given up on hoping journalists would find their backbone or ever get that "spine transplant" that Rather mentioned - and instead have decided to take the reins themselves.

The other thing that's immediately clear when looking at the schedule is that the evening events are a lot more important than the day.  Tonight's evening party schedule is packed with too many fun sounding things from the 20x2 event where 20 speakers explore the question "What if?" in 2 minutes each ... to drinks with the folks from Lifehacker.  There's no single party for everyone like at many other large industry events - just multiple events and everyone talking to everyone else about where they are heading.  The combination of Film and Interactive events happening concurrently is creating an interesting vibe at the event.  Video blogging here, as in the real world, is very hot.  Other sites getting lots of buzz here at SxSW are Twitter, Upcoming and SxSWBaby.