Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SxSW Interactive Future

After 5 days of information overload from SxSW Interactive where technology topics are shared from different corners of the world (medical, sports, television, hiring, education, entertainment, etc.), what does the future look like?

Lots of Data points
Wearables are the technology of the present and future. More futuristic wearables will be gauging mood and the supplying that mood information to our environments to serve as triggers to enhance our moods. And with growth in Augmented Reality, the triggers from wearables will allow us to see the world differently and be embedded in stories in real time. The biggest field for innovative technology is in medical health in the realms of discovery (biometric) and repair (nanotech). 

It is a read-write world where augmented reality and immersion tech can allow you to create overlays on buildings and public areas. Immersion theaters are in development. 360-degree film-making is going on now and game designs are incorporating Occulus Rift and 360-degree views as part of the game experience. The idea is to start collapsing the distance between reality and fiction. 

Think of it this way, kids of the future will read Harry Potter then go to London to experience the books in an entirely immersive way. 

Check out Jaunt VR Cameras or the portable 360-degree HD cam for personal use. 

Imagine playing a game that is tracking your biometrics so that the game responds to how the player is feeling. Game creators are looking into ways to move the story from the game to the real world so that advances in levels can mesh with real life successes. 

Live Content:
With apps like Meerkat, Periscope (now owned by Twitter) and Stre.am, live streaming apps were the hit of the conference. The trend will continue forward especially with storified advertising and the need for marketing to connect the story of the product with the story of the user. Millennials and kids are craving content. They want to be interconnected into the stories of the people and products around them. 

Advertising will be more storified based on the experience of the brand user. The trusted spokesperson for the product will be you. People are not captivated by advertisements. They are captivated by plots and stories so advertising will be adapt to the stories of their users. Add on the Millennial effect - Millennials want action with their stories. They want to know how to get involved, to be part of the solution, and to be recognized as part of that solution. 

So with these ideas of where the world is going, I point back to education to figure out how we can tap into the potential audience for learning? We are not gaining audience. Our "ratings" are low. We are competing for the attention span of the world around us and we are losing. 

It feels like so much of our focus is on changing the inside of the school building itself instead of maybe taking education to places outside limits of school.

If the future of marketing is directed to content, live streaming stories, social connectivity of the past and present, immersive experience, and data collections based on the devices we wear and carry, what can we expect from education?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SxSW Interactive - Day 2 & Health Focused

Sessions on Day 2 of SxSW Interactive went further into data and privacy but a few I followed went into data and health.

With all the data being collected, how are we physically and psychologically prepared for what is coming?

Beyond hardware, sensors, and data collectors, big business dollars are generated from health care. This has been the buzz for two years now. And SxSW expanded a thread of the Interactive conference at the new JW Marriott specifically toward medical technology this year.

Session: Are You In a Social Media Experiment - Storified
This session focused on Social Media Intelligence which goes beyond looking at the images and text we post online but the behavioral science behind why we post or don't post information. Social research then predicts your personality and future. The idea is as we post more and more online, our social networks know us better than we know ourselves due to the data we share.

For an in-depth look at what this means, use https://juji.io on your own Twitter or Facebook account. It gives you a behavioral science look at your personality based on what you post. Very interesting.

Session: Digital Shift: Tomorrow's Relationships & Ideals - Storified
Along the same lines, this session focused on how technology has changed how we interact socially, personally and with nature. A common thread here was how we have separated ourselves from the physical world through digital access because in a digital world, we have more control. But in the previous session, the idea of data streaming to multiple channels means we lose control and our data falls into different analytical hands making predictive assumptions based on what we post.

Our digital self isn't the same as our physical self. It is a distortion. Most of what we post online is public relations material and narcissistic at that. We talk of innovation and future but we haven't made a plan for where we want that future to be. Where do we want the technology to go?

Also, as narcissistic as we have become, more of the Internet of Things devices are about more self-awareness. There are deep cultural questions we need to look into before delving into more narcissistic enhancements of self are introduced.

Session: Hacking the Brain - What's Next for Neuro-Health? - Storified
Dr. Geoffrey Ling from DARPA's Biological Technologies Office shared in this session. He is also recognized as the inventor of the first FDA approve prosthetic arm that connects to the brain for movement. The focus of his talk was to look at non-invasive mobile and web tools to improve mental health.

He pointed out that with most mental health issues (Alzheimer's, Parkinsons for example), there is an iceberg effect - you only see a tiny part of the disease externally. Most other body systems have a health number like blood pressure but the brain doesn't have a number for "normal". An cognitive testing is done in an office setting but not in a patient's setting.

He posted the idea of disrupting hospital testing to have people test themselves at home using web-based cognitive performance measures. With Internet of Things and cloud health, a patient could have a brain dashboard for deeper analytics. Looking at the two previous sessions and the amount of personality type data in the health cloud, there could be predictive tools to provide brain augmentation for patients who need it in a closed-loop response.

Lumos Labs has a Brain Performance Test (BPT) and has measured over 60 million people online to develop a brain health grade. And Luminosity has a BPT that can discriminate between individuals at risk for Alzheimers.

Session: Nudges for Good: Apps that Make People Better - Slideshare
David Caygill, Co Founder & Innovation Lead at The Iris Nursery shared about apps designed to help. He shared that the more data people have access to regarding their health, the more confusion and guilt they have about that data.

He relates to the book "Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness" by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein to apply their ideas to how these apps can work better. The first way is that the device has to fit directly into the user's life. It can't be an extra step they have to take to access it. The second way is that the data can't just be all about the person - it has to be comparative to others. People like competition. And third, the relationship has to be right - the app has to be humorous when the relationship with the user requires humor or pushy when the person needs to be pushed.

This ties into again the idea of Artificial Intelligence for applications to work well with users and applied social behavioral sciences.

Session: The Art and Science of Data - Storified
This session was about how data is providing more for everyone: designers, publishers, and advertisers but it isn't an engaging story when it is a data dump. This session focused on how to make the engaging story from the various forms of data. Storycrafting from data for journalists.

Recommended tools: Kimono and Google Refine

Saturday, March 14, 2015

SxSW Interactive Day 1 - Notes from the Frontier

A common thread through sessions in Day 1 of SxSW Interactive is customer interaction through design. Sessions and panels covering topics from Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and marketing all threaded the idea of connecting business to customer experience. The buzz at SXSW is the interaction element. 

I follow these sessions because I am a consumer. I want to know how the marketing world is planning to market to me. I also work as someone who is connecting my community (teachers, students, parents) to resources our district can provide. What can I learn from current marketing strategies to help connect my community to our district resources? As one of these sessions below shared, content provided by us all competes with everyone else's content. So I find value in what these sessions are about in helping me find ways to connect, share and engage people in the content I am providing. 

As an educator, getting my community to engage in content is what most of my job is about. 

Interesting notes on how one media covered baseball game quantifies to 30TB of data with 2GB per pitch. With this in mind, companies should not focus on data but on outcomes. Same with education. We tend to focus on the data too much but we really need to focus on what the data produces toward outcome. 

Artificial Intelligence isn't a future concept. It is being used currently to analyze and predict big data. It is a way to forewarn and predict failures in order to prevent them. Speakers referred to us not as homosapiens as much as homodigitas in the world of data and AI. 

The idea behind this session was to follow the data trail left behind with users engage with brands. These trails along with behavioral science can help marketing create more relevant experiences for the consumer. It isn't about branding anymore. It is all about consumer experience. 

Data that can be visualized and reflected on allows for more strategic use. Design with strategy and analytics are the top tools for user experience. Interesting note that the average user switches between devices 27x per hour. Predicting over 500 Internet connected devices in every home within the next 5 years. 

"The Dress" was a timely topic for this session. A BuzzFeed publisher shared how their company is connecting the audience to content. This idea proliferates through the other sessions below. 

BuzzFeed makes 50/videos per week with a team of 150 staff and gets 1 billion in monthly views. The content is the identity as the viewer shares things they identify with. What people share are the things that move them and these serve as their proxy for conversation. 

Key content has global reach as humans all over the world are inspired by kindness and generosity. 

BuzzFeed's site is a CMS they built themselves that allows them to influence the editorial behavior. Editors spent all day looking at laptops or large screens so they had to get them to think "mobile" when they publish. 

BuzzFeed's idea of their site is that you will click on a story that you will eventually share. The editorial staff studied epidemiology measures for transmission of diseases (viral) and applied it to content. This allows them to predict how often something is likely to be shared. 

Key thought: BuzzFeed doesn't promote popular content (it would be tool late). They promote content that WILL BE popular. 

Interesting data:
Videos that are personal play better on Facebook. Videos that are informational perform better on YouTube! Videos that invert gender stereotypes crush all social media statistics. - @MobileTrevor

"The Dress" post was seen by every country in the world in 12 hours. It was seen 38 million times. 

Ben Lerer from Thrillist shared on this topic while drinking a beer on stage. He started with a look at the past before the Internet when content creation and distribution were expensive and controlled by a few. Media has had to shift because now everyone can create content and it is cheap.

His most retweeted statement was that media companies will need to leave traditional models of advertising in order to directly monetize users. The media company's core asset is to access, build relationships, and influence its' audience. 

He predicts the future media publishers are companies like BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Box, Vice, Mashable, Funny or Die, etc. who are already building experiences with their audiences and helping visitors consume content. They aren't storytelling anymore but "StorySelling" - branded content that provokes a behavior or action

Two separate departments in business need to work together in one group: Media & Commerce. 

Content shouldn't just be clever, it needs to be useful. The consumer is in the driver's seat and as a brand you are competing against your customer's closest friends and family. For marketing success, user generated content performs best. It creates the message that you are a 1:1 marketer and you know your customers. 

Social media has forced HR, Sales, PR, Marketing, Product, and internal communications to all talk together. Test and track your content so you know what your audience wants. 

I felt this session tied closely with the previous one. Local news organizations are dying out because of the connected population it is trying to connect with. In order to survive, local news needs to engage with readers/viewers as a two-way median. 

Content isn't key to connecting to readers/viewers. They want information that matters to them. Millenials, for example, want more than news - they want to know how they can get involved! 
News also needs to focus on the mobile device as the primary platform for distribution of news. 

The most important metric is "time well spent", not on number of pageviews. 

Ideas by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick on how to achieve maximum results to use social media for marketing and branding. The art of social media needs to do three things: inform, assist or entertain. 
Tip 1: Be valuable: Not about what you want to say, but what the audience wants to see or hear. 
Tip 2: Be clever about how you generate and curate content. 
Tip 3: Be gracious when you use other's content or if they retweet yours. Say thank you!
Tip 4: Be organized in using tools that work for you.
Tip 5: Be dramatic by using visuals
Tip 6: Be optimal by perfecting your covers, your image ratios, your avatar. 
Tip 7: Be bold by taking a stand and showing your passions

Friday, March 6, 2015

A SxSW Experience from the Past

I recently discovered my old Flickr account which had pictures from 2009-2012 stashed away in there. I found a few from SxSW Interactive conferences I thought I would share as a retrospective view of this conference and why I enjoy it so much.

Seeing Mike Tyson promote a new game while in his own ring as part of the Palmer Events Center gaming expo.

The cement columns in and out of the Austin Convention Center are open for anyone to post any print flyer. Great creative ideas are shared. I try to photo as many as possible. 

Visual notetaking - I first saw this at SxSW 2012. Main stage sessions still get visual notes taken on large whiteboard sized canvas which are posted around the conference center for photos. 

Napster's Sean Parker interviewing Al Gore.  
Dean Kamen getting mic'd up.

Blogging Cafes are not the same at EDU conferences. These blogger cafes have full bars, snacks and live bands performing in them. 

Open writing spaces for creative types to graffiti or post random drawings/thoughts. The "maker" movement of 2011.

Creative signage for an event for UK participants to attend tea together. 

The hosts of Top Chef explaining how they were the first televised show to connect audience to show via blogging. 

Signs outside a Circus Mashup - run like a circus but inside were startups sharing their new ideas. 

The woman next to me was the VP of Evernote. We were trying to get a photo of the man behind us in the bright colored clothing. Found out soon after that he was one of the original developers of the early web.

The exhibit hall is literally the hallways. Packed around the outer edge of the convention center are the vendors. They setup sitting stations for everyone to visit in style. 

Lego tables under staircases allow people to just build and have some fun. 

I think anyone who knows me can see why I enjoy this so much. It is chaos. It is design. It is interactive. It is art. It is literally like my brain exploded in this place and I love it when I get to visit and see all these people sharing and connecting together each year. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

South by South What?!?

It is the most fantastic time of the year! For me, Spring Break is when I get to attend the South by Southwest (SxSW) conference in Austin. Now there is always confusion about this conference so let me break it out for you. SxSW is a multi-week conference of events based on theme.

SxSW EDU is a conference for more visionary education leaders and corporate education sales to get together. I volunteer at this conference. It isn't one I feel I am suited to attend but I use it to get the hours I need for a badge to....

SxSW Interactive is my ultimate ADHD/brain-melting/cutting-edge/design conference. From the SxSW website it is defined as the "incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity [with] five days of compelling presentations and panels from the brightest minds in emerging technology, scores of exciting networking events hosted by industry leaders and an unbeatable lineup of special programs showcasing the best new websites, video games, and startup ideas the community has to offer". (from SxSW Interactive Our Story)

SxSW Music follows Interactive and is aimed at educating and inspiring musicians. There are lots of music venues in the live music capital that is Austin, Texas but they increase exponentially as more music groups come to town for this conference.

And during both the Interactive and Music pieces of the SxSW experience, you have an overlap of the SxSW Film component. Film screenings and sessions with film designers are going on as well.

In other words, downtown Austin becomes an explosion of media design and creativity for about 2 weeks and I love it! This year I get to experience some of the movie screenings thanks to a friend in the biz.

Badges for these conferences are sold individually (usually starting near the $700 mark for each) or you can purchase a Platinum badge for access to everything (starts at nearly $1700). I choose to go the poor educator way by volunteering at SxSW Edu and part of SxSW Interactive.

Why I enjoy it?
The conference isn't called SxSW Technology. It isn't called SxSW Creativity. It is called SxSW Interactive because the focus is on cross-industry conversations. This isn't an educator's conference. It is a conference for connecting this educator to video game designers, non-profit communication directors, film producers, media editors, journalists, social media specialists, human resource staff, writers, artists, etc. and discussing similar issues in all our fields.

If you watch TED Talks, consider SxSW to be the after-party where the interaction is the theme of the entire conference.

I've had the pleasure of sitting in audience when Al Gore interviewed Biz Stone (founder of Twitter) about the future of social media. I enjoyed hearing Billy Corgan (of The Smashing Pumpkins) share the perils of the music industry and how fans had to use social media to sustain their interests in music. I loved watching Dean Kamen share how his company Deka R&D with Coca-Cola are distributing clean water systems to third-world countries.  I am still getting support and tips on video editing from a respected film director I met at a SXSW movie screening. I enjoyed sharing how teachers were using Evernote with the Vice President of the company while she and I were waiting for our session room to open up.

Why you will enjoy it?
Since 2012, I have been "attending" this conference but only physically in attendance in March of 2012. Each year since, I have trolled the web for the pre-defined hashtags for each session and curated notes from them. My notes are shared via my Storify page. I then take themes from the conference and write blog posts about the topics.

You can enjoy it by simply following me on Twitter @mradkins where I will be tweeting links, buzz themes, pictures, and storified session notes.

Here are some previous sessions I have curated:

Data Driven for the Win!
Top Chef: How Transmedia is Changing Television (with Top Chef judges and Andy Cohen)
Computation with Stephen Wolfram (of Wolfram-Alpha)
Ray Kurzweil - Expanding Our Intelligence without Limit
Biz Stone - Content as a Means for Social Change

Topics of Interest: 
So far, the topics I am most interested in are:

  • BIG data - cloud data, cloud intelligence, wearable tech & data, visualized data
  • Automation - how cloud data connects homes, cars, spaces, and our bodies
  • Entertainment: Omnichanneling - multi screen experiences
  • Video design - using video to connect by experience
  • HR issues - working with Millenials; workspace design; attitudes and improvements
  • Failure and failure as a catalyst
  • Future of MakerSpace/Making
  • Ideas for future meetings/conferences
As you can see, education isn't in my list. I want to know how these things apply to education.

Next week, I will be volunteering during my Spring Break at this conference. I get to see behind-the-scenes how all this works. I get to interact with other volunteers. But overall, I get to be part of the buzz and conversation of the SXSW Interactive experience. Best of all, I get to share it with you all. 

So be on the lookout and follow my tweets if you are interested. I guarantee it will be overload! 

Here is my pre-hashtag list of sessions by day and hour (use tabs at the bottom per day). But just stay tuned because it will be a blast!