SXSW 2012: Design for the new, the data, and the public good

Amy Todenhagen   March 19, 2012

In case you didn’t make it to SXSW in person (image via shelbysdrummond)

The Breakdown: It’s been a week, and we’ve just about recovered from SXSW. This year we asked Amy Todenhagen to share her thoughts on her first foray to Austin for the biggest interactive extravaganza of the year. Amy is an Associate User Experience Director at Razorfish in NYC. She and her colleague, Neal Gorevic, led a discussion on the role of digital technology in urban mobility at SXSW 2012 (“Connected Cars, Connected Cities and Urban Driving”).

Rachel told me that I would be overwhelmed. Still, I was stunned by the number of people, the amount of information, and the extent of activity that surrounds the SXSW conference. As a first-time conference attendee and a first-time presenter I threw myself into the experience. Here is a summary of themes from the presentations, panels and conversations that I attended.

Combine the expected and the new

With multiple channels and multiple voices, it is difficult for brands to maintain a consistent message and provide value. Several presentations addressed this issue and offered solutions. My favorite was one titled “Brands as Patterns.” The panelists in this session put forth the idea that a consistent brand today can only be achieved by creating patterns. These patterns should be:

  • distinctive (ownable, signature expressions)
  • relevant (personal, meaningful)
  • active (delivering, doing, moving)

The pattern language should also always follow a consistent story. While the channel and goal of the communication may change, a tightly defined story framework, and an ownable pattern language, can convey a focused brand.

The power of patterns as a branding element was best demonstrated by Walter Werzowa (@walterwerzowa), a composer on the panel. He illustrated, by breaking down Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, that repeating the same series of notes would be boring but varying the basic motive resulted in emotion and engagement. With brands, as in music, one needs the right combination of what is expected and what is new to convey an engaging message over time. See the slides from this panel for more information.

David Hogue (“The Complexity Curve: How to Design for Simplicity”) and David Womack (“Does Your Product Have a Plot?”) stressed the importance of combining the expected and the new in interface design. Simplicity (the expected) drives ease of use, while emotion (the new) creates meaningful complication that keeps the user engaged by providing a more interesting and valuable experience.

How does emotion translate into digital product design? David Womack’s recommendation was to give digital products a plot and to tell a story with the experience. He used the example of an e-commerce site to illustrate his point. An ecommerce site starts with an introduction of the characters (shopping online), progresses to conflict (they don’t have what I want), builds to a climax (let’s try this out) and ends with resolution (your online purchase shows up in actual physical space). Check out the Unified sketch notes from Womack’s talk.

As a UI designer it isn’t totally clear to me how this story pattern can translate into many of the experiences that I am trying to build. What did resonate with me is that conflict and climax in interaction design can increase user engagement. As with music and brands, interface design needs the right combination of simplicity and meaningful complexity (what is expected and what is new) to maximize engagement.

Design for data

The importance and difficulty of data was also a reoccurring theme this year. Panelists in “Data is the New Oil: Wealth and Wars on the Web” encouraged businesses and entrepreneurs to disrupt the status quo through innovative use of data. However several barriers were discussed:

  • Data ownership: ambiguous rights to data
  • Privacy: the difficultly of making data truly anonymous
  • Unintended consequences: politicizing, and misinterpretation of data
  • Data exhaust: filtering out irrelevant data
  • Data acquisition: getting ahold of data from institutions that are reluctant to release it

As a user experience practitioner I walked away from these discussions with two things to think about:

  1. Data is an extremely valuable commodity. How can we incentivize users to provide the data necessary to build our products? What can we give back to the user that adds value, but also respects their privacy?
  2. Gathering data is difficult. When designing products, we should optimize the points of data capture to insure that the information gathered exactly meets the product goals. Our interfaces should be capturing the right data, not all data.

Be a good citizen

No theme was more interesting to me personally than the role of citizens in developing digital solutions for the public good. In panels like “Austin 2032: Shaping Future Cities with Mobile Data,” representatives of government at many levels came to the conference to inspire the SXSW community to solve problems in the public sector. Several roles for citizens were outlined:

  • Donating data
  • Collecting data on behalf of the city
  • Championing projects and persuading government agencies to release data
  • Taking jobs in public service
  • Donating time or money to develop digital solutions

In one of the SXSW keynotes, Jennifer Pahlka (@pahlkadot), founder of Code for America, rallied the community to get excited by government. “You guys have this exuberance, this willingness to experiment… [and] if you see something that’s broken, you want to fix it.”

She highlighted that as a nation, we spend $140 billion a year on government technology, many times more than what Apple pays out to developers of apps per year (about $2 billion). Pahlka acknowledged that the tech community isn’t interested in working with the government because of the difficulties and bureaucracy that comes with it. She stressed, however, that government is changing and highlighted cities and communities that are bringing more innovation to government and making more public data available through APIs.

Startups can focus more on civic software. Citizen programmers can contribute to building a better government by writing code. Pahlka reminded the audience that government is what we do together. We are not just consumers of government, we are citizens. You can hear the full recording of her keynote speech, “Coding the Next Chapter of American History,” online. Also keep an eye out for recordings from an impassioned conversation between Sean Parker (of Napster fame) and Al Gore.

That wraps up what I learned at the actual SXSW conference this year.  As you may have heard already, or know yourself from attending, the official presentations and panels are only part of the South by experience.   I was blown away by people, conversation and energy at the conference and reminded, once again, of how exciting it is to work in the field of digital technology today.

SXSW 2012 Q&A: William Burdette

Jake Keyes   March 9, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews


The Breakdown: In our final SXSW Q&A of 2012, we come full circle. We started the series with a Q&A on eBooks. Here we talk with William Burdette of the Digital Writing and Research Lab at UT-Austin, about his panel The Present of Print: Paper’s Persistence (with some extra commentary from panelist Fritz Blaw, owner of motorblade). We discuss the ways paper and print are still relevant in the digital age. This concludes this year’s SXSW series. Thanks for reading, and enjoy SXSW!

S/G: Can you introduce each of the panelists? What do you anticipate they’ll bring to the conversation?

Will: Nathan Kreuter is an assistant professor at Western Carolina University.

Travis Hartman is a photographer and photo editor who lives in Brooklyn. He still shoots film and makes prints. He also set up a photobooth called Please Shoot Yourself.

Frazier Fritz Blaw is an entrepreneur who started a business called motorblade in 1989 that manages a network of paper bulletin boards.

I’m a grad student and I work in the Digital Writing and Research Lab at UT-Austin. I like looking at how writing technologies overlap.

All of us will be talking about various ways that paper and print still thrive, and have value, despite digital technologies.

S/G: What is it that makes print special? Beyond, nostalgia, what makes us value printed works of art?

Fritz: A static paper image still holds appeal in the sensory-overload environment we have now. The poster imparts a flavor of the performance/event that is more grassroots in feel. And the cost of digital media is more than many artists can afford, so paper is still an inexpensive alternative.

Will: I’m not sure about art, but I think paper has value in just being, like everything else, part of our ecosystem. It starts out as part of our “natural” ecosystem as plants and trees, and it continues as part of our cultural ecosystem as posters, books, prints, and other artifacts. (I used quotes around natural to suggest that there isn’t really a clear line between natural and cultural.) Anyway, many of those artifacts continue to live and circulate online. Print, as a technology, is still pretty remarkable. As a technology, print allows for copies, but it is not quite as easy to create and circulate those copies. That makes things printed more expensive than things digital. It costs trees to make them and gas to move them around. (There is certainly a material costs to working in digital media, but it seems less heavy.)

With increased cost we’ll see printed things become both precious and obsolete. The things we decide to keep making and buying (like all the prints at the Flatstock poster show) will become precious because people are still willing to shell out for the materials and the finished product. Then there are things, like a printed confirmation of an order or a printed phone book, that I think we will just stop shelling out for because they can be better done online and they just aren’t that special.

S/G: You mention projects that “capitalize on the permeability of the boundaries separating manual, print, and digital realms.” What are some examples of works where digital and print are seamlessly integrated?

Will: For my part, I’m talking about cookbooks. There are a few ways that print and digital are integrated when it comes to cookbooks. For one thing, there are scores of people on Kickstarter trying to get funding online so they can make a printed cookbook. The version of this phenomenon writ large is Nathan Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine. [Editor’s note: for more on Myhrvold’s Modernist Cuisine, see our Q&A with Peter Meyers.] He didn’t go through Kickstarter, but he made a ton of money in the digital realm, then he decided to push the print envelope as far as he could by making a $450 set of cookbooks.

As illustrated by the images, the book is more a revolution in photography, printing, and publishing than it is food. If you watch Myhrvold on Jimmy Kimmel, the Rube Goldberg method he uses to cook a burger doesn’t seem to satisfy Kimmel, but the argument he makes for scientifically engineering a burger, and then documenting that process, is pretty interesting, if not compelling. But it is important to realize that there is not really that radical a break between digital and print culture when it comes to cookbooks. For example, Joy of Cooking, which might seem like a stable book, is actually a pretty fluid piece of media. Only 18 recipes from the original book are in the most recent edition. And portion sizes have grown alongside the so-called obesity epidemic. (If, for some reason, you want to hear more on this, you can listen to my most recent podcast.)

S/G: Photography seems to be caught right in the middle of the digital/physical question. So how about a little thought experiment: how would our relationship to photography have developed differently if photography and photographs had been exclusively digital, all along? What would we have gained or lost?

Will: I will tell an anecdote. Travis and I have known each other since high school. After 9-11, he came to visit me and my wife at our home in Fort Worth, TX. He snapped a picture of us hugging out front of our house and there is an American flag framing the right side of our bodies. That flag was put there by our roommate, and we objected to it, because we were not in the flag-waving camp after 9-11. But we also weren’t about to take it down, because we believed he had the right to express himself. So we lived with the flag. The pic Travis took captured that moment so well. He made a print for us and it has been on our mantel ever since. So we continue to live with that flag, long after we lost contact with that roommate and long after the 9-11 flag-waving died down. I’m not sure we would have lived with a digital version of that moment for so long.

On the flip side, my stupid cat jumped up there the other day and knocked the picture down, shattering the glass, breaking the handmade frame, and scratching the print. I’m not sure that could have happened with a digital photograph, although he could have walked on the keyboard and accidentally deleted a digital image by stepping on the command and delete keys while the image was selected. That seems way less likely, though. So there are gains and losses.

S/G: What are you looking forward to at SXSW?

Will: I hope I meet Austin Kleon this year. What he’s doing with newspaper blackout poems and the combinatory nature of creativity dovetails nicely with what we are talking about. Frank Warren’s PostSecret is another project that fuses manuscript (or hand-written) culture, print culture, and digital culture.

It’s great to see [Jeffrey] Zeldman become the first one in SXSW Interactive Hall of fame.

Personally, I’m interested in seeing what Jane McGonigal’s SuperBetter can do. My wife got hit by a car last year; McGonigal developed SuperBetter to help her recover from her own injury. Maybe bringing some game concepts into physical therapy can help with the healing process.

I’m super-excited about some of the comedy that’s happening. I hope to see Marc Maron and Mike Birbiglia.


Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger

SXSW 2012 Q&A: Justin Ellis

Jake Keyes   March 8, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews


The Breakdown: in this Q&A we talk with Justin Ellis, assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. Justin is the moderator of the panel It’s Not News, It’s Business. Panelists from GOOD Magazine, IDEO, and The Washington Post will discuss money, news, and the future of journalism.

S/G: Can you give us an idea of how the vocation of journalism has changed in the past 15 years?

Justin: The biggest changes in journalism have been in how stories are distributed and paid for, and the root cause of it has been the internet. The average reader no longer thinks of specific news organizations as the chief source of information, and that has changed people’s willingness to pay for news as well as advertisers’ desire to place ads. At the same time there have never been more news sources and readers have greater access to information. That’s obviously a good thing.

S/G: Journalism isn’t the only written content we consume online. Content farms, forums, social content, and other information sources compete for our attention (and for advertising dollars). What can a journalist offer that other content producers can’t?

Justin: What journalism traditionally offered was what we’re now fond of calling “curation,” which is to say reporters and editors selecting which news to share with readers in their community. The same is true today, only the competition is much more intense. What journalists can offer in addition to that is knowledge and skill in reporting news and providing context in a timely way. We also know The Elements of Style, which just sounds cool.

S/G: How do stories change when they become products?

Justin: News companies are now developing products beyond stories to inform readers, connect communities, and help their bottom line. That includes the use of raw data, holding events, acting as agencies, and obviously building apps around news. What we want to talk about is how these products are conceived, marketed, and whether news companies have the people and mindset necessary to experiment. We also want to see what journalism can learn from entrepreneurs, start-ups, and others about product development.

S/G: Can you introduce the other panelists? What does each of them bring to the conversation?

Justin: Justin Ferrell is the director of digital, mobile and new product design at The Washington Post, and he’s currently on leave studying journalism innovation as a Knight fellow at Stanford. Ann Friedman is the executive editor of GOOD Magazine, where they’ve enjoyed some success in nontraditional products around news. Colin Raney is a design director and location lead for IDEO Boston and works on designing new experiences and services in tech, retail, and finance companies.

S/G: What are you looking forward to at SXSW?

Justin: This is my second time at SXSW. I spent a lot of time running around chasing story ideas and interviews my first go round. I’m gonna try to be smarter in setting up interviews and stories this time, but make sure to leave time to enjoy Austin. I’m really looking forward to talking with people around the conference, whether on panels, in the halls, or over BBQ.

Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger

SXSW 2012 Q&A: Andrew Lewellen

Rachel Lovinger   March 6, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews

The Breakdown: Our one-time colleague Andrew Lewellen has moved on from Razorfish, but he’s still doing content strategy and he’s still pushing the boundaries of what it means to create literature in this new digital landscape. This year we spoke to him about his Next Stage panel “Tear It Up: How to Write a Digital Novel,” making him our first repeat Q&A subject!

S/G: Last year you organized a panel on transmedia, this year you’re speaking about how to write a digital novel. Clearly there’s a connection. Can you describe the progression for you?

Andrew: To be honest, last year I didn’t set out to organize a panel on transmedia.  The topic was Interactive Narratives, and I felt that was a large umbrella under which transmedia fell.  It wasn’t until I started working with the presenters on the panel—particularly Rob Pratten and Esther Lim—that I realized the influence of transmedia on the landscape of digital storytelling.  Because of Rob and Esther’s participation, the panel focused on transmedia.  There was actually some contention amongst the presenters: Rob and Esther saw themselves as transmedia practitioners. Josh Koppel, co-founder of ScrollMotion—a company that develops digital versions of books, magazines, greeting cards and annual reports for tablets and smart phones—saw himself as a publisher.

For that presentation, we created a new media version of the Three Little Pigs, with an iPad app, Facebook profiles, and audience participation via Twitter.  In the process of doing that work, I sketched out a prototype of an application for a digital novel—which I kept to myself because it was still just an idea.

One of the things I learned from the presentation was that my interest in digital storytelling is not specifically transmedia.  Transmedia, to me, has a large “gaming” element. I’m not a gamer. I’m a reader and a writer. What compels me about technology is how the tools—particularly tablets—can be used to fracture the confines placed on novels by the printed book and allow writers to create new forms of stories.  So after the presentation—like the day we presented—I decided I wanted to submit an idea for SXSW 2012 based on this prototype I’d developed.  So that’s what I did.

S/G: How hard is it to go from being a traditional novelist to being a digital novelist? What kinds of skills should people develop to make that transition?

Andrew: I think the most inherent challenge is surrendering authorial control. This is something we’re going to address in the presentation.  Traditionally, a writer interested in writing novels, screenplays, plays, and so forth is creating a story that will be consumed by a passive audience.  You have full authority over creating the story. With other forms of storytelling—particularly video games—the creator surrenders control to the user; the user creates their own experience via their interaction with the world of the game.  And they are able to do that because the creator developed a world with certain fixed elements and certain malleable ones.

Writing a digital novel requires you to give up traditional authorial control. Whereas with a printed novel, the reader will start at page 1 and end at page X—and you’ve created the story to move in that established physical format—even if the narrative does not—with a digital novel, you will allow the reader/user to explore the story in their own unique way. You might create multiple points of entry or allow readers to go down a rabbit hole by discovering something unique about the character.

At the same time, you still need to maintain a defined narrative structure, otherwise the story will make no sense, lose narrative drive, and people won’t read or experience it. So to create a successful interactive experience, you have to learn to balance when to control the story and when to allow people the freedom to explore it in the way they want.

S/G: Read any good interactive books lately?

Andrew: I’ve been inspired by the work of the people on the panel with me; that’s why I invited them to present.  Matt Kennedy is the President of 1|K Studios, and his company has done some unique work to adapt novels to the iPad, including Atlas Shrugged and On the Road.  The app they developed for Atlas Shrugged actually won Best Fiction App from the Publishing Innovation Awards.

I’m also really inspired by the application the other two panelists, Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro, are creating: Penumbra.  It’s an innovative blend of text and video, an example of people creating an entirely new and unique story experience by utilizing the features and functionality of the Tablet.

S/G: Which genres of literature best lend themselves to becoming interactive experiences and why?

Andrew: Rather than specific genres, I think there’s an opportunity to use different writing techniques to create a good interactive experience.  Point of view stands out to me as a key technique to utilize.  A novel written through multiple points of view—either first person or third person—can easily be adapted to a touch screen.  Think about a book that uses multiple points of view, like Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory.”  In printed form, you meet the characters in the story, you read their Point of View, as you read forward in the book.  What the tablet or eReader allows you to do is to present all of those points of view at once—say as primary navigation elements.  A reader can choose which person’s POV he wants to read at any time, and suddenly she can experience the story in a way that’s entirely different than reading a printed book.

Another key narrative element to utilize is plot.  “The Power and the Glory” also serves as a good example for this idea; the story unfolds through the characters’ interactions with a specific priest who is trying to avoid persecution by the government.  In a digital novel, the priest could be an object through which the story could be navigated.  This could be done by something as simple as hyperlinking text related to the priest, allowing people to navigate via that priest to another character’s point of view.

S/G: What are you looking forward to seeing at SXSW this year?

Andrew: Any person or presentation interested in exploring ways to adapt story content—particularly written content—to the new media landscape.  This is one of the greatest challenges and opportunities facing writers and storytellers; there’s a whole new frontier of storytelling, and people are figuring out how to create stories for it. I’m excited to experience all the ideas about the topic that will surely abound at SXSW.

Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger

SXSW 2012 Q&A: Max Linsky

Jake Keyes   March 1, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews


The Breakdown: In this week’s SXSW Q&A, we talk with Max Linsky, co-founder of, and moderator of the panel The Curators and the Curated. Panelists from The New York Times, Brain Pickings, Flipboard, and Percolate will discuss the relationships between content creators, content publishers, and those who curate content.

S/G: What is content curation?

Max: Curation has come to mean so many different things on the web, maybe it’s easier to define it by what it isn’t: aggregation. The idea of curating—whether it’s through a Twitter feed or in a museum—means making choices. It’s about sharing a limited amount of stuff culled from dispirate places that, when taken as a whole, becomes its own thing.

S/G: How has the rise and evolution of the paywall affected the business of content curation?

Max: The answer is not very much—the web is a pretty big place. On Longform, for example, we don’t link to anything paywalled and we’re certainly not hurting for stories to post. More importantly, though, paywalls and curation services appeal to opposite instincts—paywalls serve people who care most about a specific source, while curation serves people who care most about a specific kind of content, as opposed to where it came from. There just isn’t much crossover.

S/G: Sites like Techmeme and Mediagazer rely, in part, on automated aggregation to choose their content. What can a human curator do that an algorithm can’t?

Max: Make decent jokes? I guess the main difference is that automated aggregation struggles to find the unlikely and the unknown, and that’s exactly what human curators value most. It’s interesting that you bring up Techmeme and Mediagazer—they have this incredible algorithm that finds 98% of what they want, but both of those sites employ human editors whose job, in part, is to add a handpicked layer on top of what the algorithm pulls. Even an audience as plugged-in as Techmeme’s needs a little serendipity every now and again. That’s hard to automate.

S/GWho are your other panelists and what do each of them bring to the conversation?

Max: I’m out-of-my-gourd excited for these folks; my whole plan is to just get out of the way.

Maria Popova, aka @Brainpicker, is one of the heroes of the internet and probably the most voracious consumer of media I know. She’ll talk about she built a massive devoted following simply by following her own taste and sharing what she finds.

Mia Quagliarello, curator of Flipboard, will explain what she looks for—and what she avoids—as she shapes the app’s featured content. She’ll also talk about Flipboard’s relationship with original publishers, which is a big part of this conversation.

Noah Brier is the founder of Percolate, a new service that allows brands to curate. Percolate also delivers one of the best emails I get every day, pulling links from Twitter and RSS based on what my friends are reading.

David Carr is the media columnist for the New York Times. He’ll put us all in our place.

S/GWhat are you looking forward to seeing at SXSW?

Max: I haven’t thought about much aside from the panel, to be honest. But beyond our conversation, I’m excited to show people Longform for the iPad, which we just launched—SXSW is an ideal place to get in-person feedback. That and to eat some barbecue, of course.


Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger

SXSW 2012 Q&A: Keith Barraclough

Matt Geraghty   February 24, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews

The Breakdown: In this week’s SXSW Q&A, we talk with Keith Barraclough, Next Issue Media CTO and moderator of the panel Digital vs. Print: Storyboard to Digital Delivery Panelists from Condé Nast, Hearst, Time Inc. and Meredith will explore the current state of the digital magazine including the process behind creating customized digital content and configuring this content for delivery across multiple mobile devices.

S/G: How does a publisher’s approach to content need to be rethought to be multi-channel and cross platform?

Keith: As we help the magazine industry reinvent itself in the tablet and digital age there are four significant areas of opportunity we see:

  1. Personalization of the magazine experience by leveraging an understanding of the customer through data
  2. Reader engagement through interactive content and smart in-magazine search
  3. Workflow improvements to help create the best digital magazine experience cost effectively
  4. Incremental growth around e-commerce and new advertising models

The magazine and offer must become personalized.  The consumer will expect magazines, bundles and offers that intelligently understand their interests through reader/machine learning and smarter storefronts.

When it comes to reader engagement, the publishers are now dealing with measurable activities.  With these new abilities the publishers can drive their business and brands through a detailed understanding of end user engagement.

To achieve scale and profitability, publishers need to work with efficient industry standard tools, platforms and workflows.  Efficient uniform processes will help  creative content be delivered quickly allowing resources to focus on the editorial content as opposed to the creation and delivery mechanisms.

The creation of content that can be used across multiple screen formats is critical.  This includes all the variables of size, resolution and aspect ratio.  HTML5 and other dynamic content delivery mechanisms will need to be apart of this mix as we address all the different consumption devices.

S/G: What type of new opportunities have arisen for magazine publishers to bring advertisers into the digital space?

Keith: The same incentives exist for advertisers as they do for consumers to migrate from print to digital: convenience and instant gratification.  In digital, consumers can now instantly begin reading content from the latest issue of their favorite magazines. Along the same lines, advertisers can now develop tablet-specific ads that link directly to their e-commerce mobile sites.  New analytics tools can measure click-through rates and purchase statistics with the same immediacy consumers enjoy.

Reader demand for more streamlined e-commerce via digital magazines is another incentive.  GfK MRI’s iPanel, a special survey group composed of tablet and e-reader owners, reported that 70% of tablet owners who read digital magazines on their devices said they would like to be able to buy items simply by clicking on ads in the digital magazines. Almost as many — 67% — said they would like to see ads in digital magazines that are personalized to address their interests.

S/G: What are users saying about how they want to interact with and experience magazines in the digital realm?

Keith: Consumers continue to crave quality content from brands they trust. However, there are a number of user pain points with current digital offerings and aggregator apps that publishers will have to address as they continue the migration from print to digital platforms.  Currently, we hear consumers want consistency in title navigation, level of interactivity, quality, downloading and purchasing.  They also want a way to bundle their print subscriptions with digital formats, automatic downloads of the latest digital issue, and additional content exclusive to digital editions.

At Next Issue, we deliver the greatest titles while addressing all of these known pain points.  Expect to see a major upgrade to Next Issue in the Spring.

S/G: Tell us about your panelists, why they were picked and what they’ll be bringing to the discussion?

Keith: Panelists include Liz Schimel, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at Meredith, Joe Simon, Chief Technology Officer at Condé Nast, Perry Solomon, VP, Digital Business Development for Time Inc., and Chris Wilkes, VP, App Lab for Hearst Magazines.

In addition to being key members of the executive teams at each of Next Issue Media’s publishing partners, all the panelists are digital pioneers in their own right.

Each panelist will be revealing information about their individual company’s current digital initiatives as well as insights on the direction of the digital publishing industry as a whole.  Particularly, they will be discussing how advertisers are making the shift from print to digital, how technology is helping to enhance the magazine experience, how workflow tools have changed now that the month-long print lifecycle no longer applies and how publishers are collecting and using metadata to enhance the reader experience.

S/G: What are you looking forward to seeing at SXSW?

Keith: That’s a tough question to answer; SXSW is packed with quality sessions. The worst part is you know that no matter where you you choose to go, you will be missing out on a brilliant session on the other side of town. I’m of course interested in the whole Journalism and Online Content track at the Sheraton. A lot of our publisher partners will be presenting here, and I intend to catch as many of their sessions as I can.

To get some inspiration, I will also pay attention to the Emerging track at the Hilton Downtown and the Design & Development track at the Convention Center.


Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger

SXSW 2012 Q&A: Jesse Chan-Norris

Rachel Lovinger   February 14, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews
The Breakdown: In this week’s SXSW Q&A, we talk with Jesse Chan-Norris (@jcn). He’ll be conducting a core conversation – a format intended to be highly interactive – called “Shoebox Full of Photos: Beyond Digital Storage.” He wants to talk with you about preserving personal history, now that we’ve gone digital.

S/G: What can people expect from your core conversation, “Shoebox Full of Photos: Beyond Digital Storage”?

Jesse: First and foremost, I’m looking forward to an actual conversation. I love SXSW for all of the wonderful minds that show up, but so much of the conference is centered around one-way knowledge transfer. The most successful sessions I’ve been to have gotten back to the essence of the conference, which is seeing what happens when you take all of these brainy people and put them all in the same city for four days and see what comes out.

My session will be a conversation around the implications of the entirely digital lifecycle of content today, from creation through production and consumption, and what it means that we never actually generate any physical objects to leave behind. Traditionally, photographs are persistent and they are tangible. A photograph that was made a hundred years ago exists in much the same state today as it did back then. And assuming no disruption, it will continue to look the same for another hundred years. Digital photographs invert both of those properties. By their very nature, digital photographs are temporal, and encoded. They only exist as they are being decoded – without the  decoding machine, a digital photograph does not actually exist. Left on its own, a photograph taken with my phone today will not be viewable in a hundred years.

I’m a technologist, and a photographer, and a storyteller. I’ve been producing content for the web since 1995, and have been producing other digital content for even longer. I’ve been taking digital photos for over a decade, but it’s only really been in the past five years or so that the photographs that I’ve been making exist solely in their digital form. Before that, even digital photos would most likely have been printed to be shared, but the advent of high speed everything and social everything else has made that unnecessary. This, in itself, has been wonderful for the near instantaneous dissemination of information (if a bit overwhelming in terms of volume), but it also means that we are no longer leaving behind this physical trail. I would like to talk about what this means.

S/G: As the records of our personal histories are increasingly digital, our recorded memories seem to become less precious. Why is that, and is it a problem or is it just cultural evolution?

Jesse: I think that there are three factors at play here:

  1. Effort to capture. It is so cheap to create digital content that very little effort goes into determining what moments are worthy of being captured in the first place. Pre-digital, when the cost of capturing a moment meant losing the ability to capture another moment later, each photograph required more forethought which subsequently made the moment itself more meaningful.
  2. Effort to store. Similarly, digital content takes up very little room and costs virtually nothing to store, so the images we do capture simply get dumped into our digital storage devices with all of the other bits in our lives. Storing these memories takes no effort and we can therefore do so passively, with little consideration for the importance of those moments.
  3. Effort to discard. Finally, and possibly most significantly, the effort to actually discard and curate is compounded as more and more photos are captured and stored. Very quickly, the effort required to revisit those histories becomes a burden, and it becomes easier to just ignore them or start over again.

I do think that this is a problem, but not necessarily one that needs to be solved by going back to the way things “used to be.” The problem is that the technology is not serving our memories properly at this point. The reality is that digital memories are cheap, easy and abundant – we need to figure out how to best utilize these properties to better our lives.

S/G: What is it about the shoebox that makes it such a perfect container for photos?

Jesse: For me, it has to do with its size. I have a single shoebox that contains most of the 4×6 photos that I shot in one year of my life. The prints fit perfectly widthwise and there are about a thousand photos in this one box. It’s large enough that I can have a significant body of work – that the photos can inform each other and provide context for each other in a way that a single album may not be be able to, but not so many that it becomes overwhelming. It’s easily pulled out of a closet and put on a coffee table to be explored. Memories remain relevant as they remain accessible, and the shoebox form provides that.

S/G: What recommendations do you have for people who do want to preserve their personal history, digital or otherwise?

Jesse: By saving everything, you run the risk of saving nothing. One of the biggest challenges to preserving your history is to know what to save and what not to save. Save everything and you will ultimately have too much stuff, digital and physical, and you will no longer be able or willing to sift through it all.

So be conscious of what you want to keep. Ironically, I believe that one of the best ways to preserve those in-between items that you don’t really care about, but would like to remember, is to actually store a digital representation of them – simply taking the photo or scanning an item is often enough to allow yourself a moment of memory before discarding that thing you should be letting go of in the first place.

As for digital storage, practically speaking, a mixed strategy of local primary storage, local backups, and backups in the “cloud” is probably the best bet right now. Storing things on remote services is a mixed bag. It is great and can save you in many disasters but you must remember that it is, by its nature, out of your hands, which means that you do not control it and must be conscious of the fact that it could go away at any moment.

S/G: What are you looking forward to seeing at SXSW?

Jesse: I have a few rules for SXSW that have served me well ever since I first attended in 2000.

First, I always try to attend sessions on topics I know nothing about. And I don’t just mean a deeper dive into a topic I have a cursory understanding of, I mean topics about which I know literally nothing. I find that these give me the most bang for my buck and leave me with more questions than answers, which is a great jumping point for when I return to my real life. For example, last year I learned far more about shipping containers than I knew was possible.

Secondly, I am going to try to spend as much time meeting interesting people outside of the sessions as possible. I’ve forged relationships at SXSW that have lasted years and years and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy attending so much.

And finally, I’m very excited to be staying for the music portion of the conference again this year! My company Indaba Music is going to have a presence in Austin again during SXSW Music and I love to watch the turnover as the laptops and iPads get replaced with guitars and fixies. I recommend that any interactive attendee who enjoys live music stay at least a day or two into music – it’s truly a wonderful experience.

Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger

SXSW 2012 Q&A: Matthew Diffee

Robert Stribley   February 2, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews

The Breakdown: In anticipation of the SXSW panel (“How to be an Idea Factory“) by New Yorker cartoonist Matthew Diffee (@matthewdiffee), this week Robert Stribley spoke with him about his creative process and how he finds his best ideas.  What’s the secret of consistently creating great ideas? How do you maximize creative output under the tightest deadlines? What’s the trick to moving on when your best work has been rejected? For those who need a dose of creative inspiration and reality, read on.

Full Disclosure: Robert attended college with Matthew and they have previously collaborated on what might arguably be considered professional projects.

S/G: OK, first off, can you share all your secrets about being an Idea Factory, which you plan on presenting in your SXSW talk? OK, maybe a thought or two. How do you stay creative and still produce so much content?

Matthew: Of course I can share all my secrets. First of all: coffee. I don’t just drink it either. I soak my feet in it and I keep a pinch of grounds inside my lower lip. Second thing: underwear. I’m constantly switching out my skivvies. I’ll wear a chilled pair taken from the crisper drawer in the fridge and then abruptly switch to a pair straight from the dryer. I work at home. I should mention that. But seriouswee, my whole thing is quantity over quality. For me creativity is mostly a numbers game. If you want a handful of good ideas, you gotta crank out a bunch of mediocre ones. That’s the factory part. It’s really hard to sit down and come up with a brilliant idea, but it’s not that hard at all to sit down and come up with a hundred bad ones and in the end, it usually turns out that some of them aren’t actually that bad. At South By I’ll be talking about how to ramp up your creative output -How to get out of the “delicate genius” mind set and take a workaday factory approach to it. It’s more effective in the end and more emotionally pleasant along the way.

S/G: Is it really possible to be creative under pressure? To perform on command as it were? Doesn’t something suffer or is this where you thrive most?

Matthew: Well yes and no, for me. There are times when being cornered like that forces you to produce something and you get lucky and something brilliant comes out, but there are just as many times when it doesn’t come out so rosy and you end up shipping a box of crap. I think it’s a myth that pressure helps the creative act. It forces it, but it doesn’t improve it and working like that takes a toll on you. It’s much more reasonable to treat your creative life like a day job. Like the big boring brick building on the outskirts of town. Nothing remarkable or attractive about it, but it gets the job done.

S/G: One of your job titles is New Yorker cartoonist and one of your many projects has been editing The Rejection Collection, a series of books featuring cartoons rejected by the New Yorker, which rejects most of the cartoons it receives. How do you and your colleagues stay inspired amidst all this rejection?

Matthew: Well, the best way to deal with rejection is to work in bulk. Have so many ideas that the death of a few doesn’t bother you. Be like a mother sea turtle. And the other sad truth is that most of your ideas just aren’t that good. That goes for everyone. It’s easy to spot an amateur because they haven’t learned this yet and they get all worked up when one of their precious ideas gets rejected. It’s like they’re living in a house with only 60 watt bulbs. Until one burns out and they replace it with a 100 watt bulb, they are literally living in the dark. Some ideas are brighter than others and if you’re used to coming up with dim ones, you might not even know what a bright idea looks like. When you know this, it helps you keep a humble perspective on rejection and hopefully pushes you to work harder, get more ideas and, from them, cull higher quality ones. But you’ll still get rejected. You can either expect constant acceptance and be often disappointed or expect constant rejection and be occasionally pleasantly surprised. I choose the latter.

S/G: Suffering a creative block when you’re under a tight deadline has got to be frustrating. Do you have any hints on how to free up those blockages and let the best ideas flow?

Matthew: There’s nothing better than the moment when you have an idea, but there’s nothing worse than needing an idea and not having one. Actually, there’s a lot worse than that, but in terms of the creative life, that’s definitely the worst part. The best way to avoid that is to work early and consistently on things so that you don’t get to that tight deadline panic, but when you do, you have to move back to move forward. If the road you’re on hits a brick wall, you really have no other choice. You have to back up and choose another path, so go back to the last point where you weren’t lost and see if there is a parallel road you can take. In cartooning you can always go back and tweak the set up. Change something. Add something. Take something away. What if the pirate was talking instead of the psychiatrist? What if you added a penguin to your desert island scene, or replace the penguin with an ostrich. It’s different when you’re trying to solve real problems, but maybe not that different. Can you go back and reframe the problem or the question in a small way that will lead you down a different path that ends in a solution instead of a brick wall? When you’re out of ideas for the solution, go back and come up with more ideas for the problem. That or go take a nap. I’ve got more thoughts about this, but I’ll save them for the SXSW talk.

S/G: Writers sometimes use a somewhat unpleasant phrase that you have to know when to “kill your babies” (or more politely “murder your darlings”) to describe when to let an idea ago, which you may be partial to, but which just isn’t working. How do you identify and avoid bad ideas?

Matthew: There is definitely a time to be critical and judge the quality of an idea, but in a factory that’s a different person’s job. And there are a lot more people producing things than judging things. I try to keep that ratio in my own mind. I spend a lot more time coming up with the best ideas I can and still meet my daily quota, and I try to avoid hitting the big red button that stops the conveyor belt. It’s hard to get things started again. You’ll put the quality inspector hat on later when you have piles of babies and at that point all you’ll want to do is start killing a few of them. I sure hope someone doesn’t take that last sentence out of context.

S/G: What are you looking forward to seeing at SXSW?

Matthew: How many breakfast tacos I can eat.


More of Matthew Diffee can be found in these highly reputable corners of the Internet:

Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger


SXSW 2012 Q&A: Ted Rheingold

Rachel Lovinger   January 25, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews

The Breakdown: This week we spoke to Ted Rheingold (@tedr), Founding CEO Dogster, Inc. and GM at Say Media. He talked to us about his upcoming SXSW panel (“On the Internet, Everyone Knows You’re a Dog”), online identity, and what dogs like to do online.

S/G: Having a persistent identity online has shifted the way we interact with each other and with content. What do you think are the most significant changes, and where do  you think this is headed?

Ted: The first  shift I’ve seen is that most people now post real (if not idealized) public  versions of themselves on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+,  etc. Since all these platforms offer OAuth functionality that make it easy to log in to a multitude of other services, people now often default to using their actual public identity on those other new services because it saves clicks. People are becoming more comfortable with not hiding their identity online.

The second major shift I’ve seen is that it is now much harder to be truly anonymous online. In the past, persistent pseudonyms, multiple personas, private Twitter accounts and the like all allowed for a good bit of personally-unidentifiable posting. But today, if the Internet wants to find out the person behind an online identify it usually does.

Where we are heading will only be a temporary transition – as they all are with identity on the Internet – and will be a combination of the following:

  • Well-manicured  public personas. Subconsciously or not people are marketing themselves online via their Facebook, LinkedIn, public Twitter, Pinterest, TumblrFormspring profiles etc. It’s important to recognize that people are smart enough to refrain from posting things that would embarrass them. People’s online profiles will increasingly become strategically incomplete public personas that represent parts of the person, but definitely not their entire self.
  • Persistent pseudonymous  profiles. Many people are also developing alternate profiles not tied to their public personas, allowing them to speak more freely in certain arenas. This won’t be so they can talk about illegal things (which will undoubtedly still continue) – it’s simply so they don’t have to worry that someone doing a Google search will come across information they may not want shared with the masses. It can be as harmless as not wanting an employer to know you’re interviewing or the world to know your new puppy is having housetraining issues.
  • An increase in truly obfuscated profiles. In this case, the average web user will never be able to figure out the true identity of the poster. (Though caveat emptor, if the Internet wants to find out who it is, it will). These profiles can be created through services like 4chan, HonestlyQuora, Formspring, Tumblr, and Twitter. Like pseudonymity, this trend won’t be a result of people trying to hide dubious acts, it’s simply because people are getting much more adept at having the ability to share what they want with who they want in the voice they want.
  • Trusting of anonymity. Finally, with the rise of pseudonymity and anonymity people will begin to trust the other people using these services almost as much as they trust their family on Facebook. These services will optimize experiences for the most valuable return to each participant and many will find in some cases anonymous is something they can trust more than real names and faces.

S/G: Anonymity has its advantages. What are we at risk of losing with ubiquitous online identities? How can we preserve those benefits while also enabling a more socially connected web?

Ted: I foresee two types of Anonymity rising, each with its own benefits.

There will be the pure anonymity, as experienced today on sites like and 4chan, where zero information is requested to post, or demonstrated by the hacktivist communities that allow for anonymous group activities without central authority. This form of anonymity is the same as it’s ever been – it’s easier to facilitate via the web, but doesn’t offer new benefits aside from mass adoption. It’s important to remember that while these groups will never allow for 100% untraceable actions, many will never be exposed. But like I’ve said before, I believe that if people really want to find out who is behind something posted online, they usually do.

I also anticipate a ‘new’ form of anonymity will continue to gain popularity online. I term this “functional anonymity.” Functional anonymity in the real world is nothing new – it’s how most voting systems work. You can only vote if you’re registered with a name and address, but your vote cannot be traced back to you. Online services such as Quora, Honestly, and several blog comment systems are already showing the value of letting people post anonymously if they have already proven their identity. Functional anonymity will create a whole new communication ecosystem allowing for incredible frankness and openness. I anticipate this new form of anonymous expression will be very interesting and contentious as people come to experience it’s benefits and shortcomings.

S/G: What kind of things do dogs tend to do on the Internet?

Ted: The most popular sites for dogs on the Internet are:

S/G: Who are your other panelists and what do each of them bring to the conversation?

Ted: The goal of our panel is to facilitate a wide-ranging, boundary-pushing, open-ended (hyphen-rich ;) discussion led by the panelists but driven by the audience. All the panelists (Chris Poole, Heather Champ, Rick Webb, Michael Sippey and myself) bring years of first-hand experience in running identity-oriented social software. Flickr, 4Chan, Six Apart, Dogster/Catster, and Barbarian Group have all created community and participatory experiences based upon their own intuition and vision. My goal as moderator is to spring some of the most awkward identity issues from the biggest and small Internet destinations and communication services and see how far back we can unpeel the onion. If the attendees are really engaged and leading a good bit of the conversation I will have done my job properly.

S/G: What are you looking forward to at SXSW?

Ted: It’s become almost trite to say at this point, but SXSW is where the most passionate minds of our generation gather to talk, share, learn and scheme with each other. We all take 3-5 days off of working independently to rub minds for as many hours a day as we can stay awake. I love how at this point you can’t even try and catch every panel you want to see – there are just too many good ones. All you can do is spend as much time as possible in the slipstream of activity around the conference center, party venues and ever obliging bars and cafes, talking about as much as you can with everyone there. Also, SAY’s going to be throwing a really great party. [Editor’s note: Check out the line-up from SAY Media’s SXSW 2011 party and keep an eye out for announcements on their blog.]

Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger


SXSW 2012 Q&A: Peter Meyers

Rachel Lovinger   January 19, 2012

South by Southwest 2012 - The Scatter/Gather Interviews

The Breakdown: To kick off our third year of the SXSW Q&A series, we caught up with Peter Meyers (@petermeyers) about his talk, “Making eBooks Smarter: Responsive Page Design” and the future of eBooks.

S/G: Interest in eBooks has been growing like crazy since the eReader/tablet explosion, and a lot of people are talking about what to do and what not to do. What can people expect to hear at your talk that they won’t hear anywhere else?

Peter: “Making eBooks Smarter” is the session’s title, but what it’s really about is making ebooks that make people smarter. I’ll look at the two big tasks everyone engages in when they read—memory and interpretation—and ask: how can digital publications improve reading comprehension? I think of it as customer service meets instructional design meets publishing.

S/G: We love books, and we love digital, but for very different reasons. What makes you feel that ‘the book’ is still a useful metaphor for digital?

Peter: The question makes me think about the music industry and how terms like “album” and “record”, while still common, seem antiquated in a digital world where singles dominate. But the book, whether delivered digitally or in print, feels to me like a much more durable format. Namely, as a vehicle for the extended, considered thinking of an author.

That said, I do tend to think of the “app” as the book’s successor. In the same way that TV didn’t replace radio, I think apps, for certain kinds of content and certain kinds of subject matter, will prove to be a better form for an author to entertain and inform her audience. (Heck, I could probably write a whole ’nother answer on why we should probably start thinking about authors as collectives, rather than working-in-a-garret solo operators.)

S/G: Who’s doing eBooks right? What are some great examples you’ve seen?

Peter: My list of current faves goes like this:

  • Wreck This App. A creative sketchbook app loaded up with prompts to get your creative juices flowing (“Pretend you’re doodling on the back of an envelope while on the phone”) and a built-in palette of painting tools. The author’s spirit is encouraging and the digital canvas accommodates the kind of mistake-friendly experimentation that I don’t think you get with print.
  • Welcome to Pine Point. A web-based scrapbook which tells the history of a Canadian mining town that thrived for a few years and then was shut down and abandoned. Wonderful example of how to integrate, and not just add, lotsa media elements (audio, slideshows, animations, video). Immersive and linear too, even as all the various multimedia doodads play out onscreen.
  • The Magic of Reality. Lovely, innovative design ideas in this iPad app, including figures that remain on the canvas as readers scroll multiple panes of text past horizontally (enabling them to appreciate a visual that’s relevant to more than just one page of text). The book also has a very useful, three-tier bookwide-navigation system. Page layout and typography are efficient and unobtrusive. Interactive graphics like Newton’s Canon simulator are powerful examples of how onscreen teaching can be both illuminating and fun to play with.
  • Amazon. I have to include these guys on any “best of” list. They’re a bugaboo to many in the publishing world, but for my money their Kindle apps demonstrate an attention to the reading experience that many others neglect. Administrative chrome is hidden and little details like doing without the faux-book edges that until recently gunked up the iBooks app are signs that someone over there gets the importance of immersiveness.

S/G: We noticed that Modernist Cuisine (@ModernCuisine) is following you on Twitter. That’s a stunning set of 5 huge books with mind-blowing photography. How do you take a unique experience like flipping through those gorgeous pages and transform it into a digital experience?

Peter: I cashed in all of my last year’s gift-getting chits (birthday, Hanukah, anniversary) and corralled a consortium of gift-givers to band together and get me this thing. Stunning, indeed! I’ve erected a shrine for (to?) it in our dining room. At BookExpo America 2011 I spent some time talking to the MC folks about their thoughts on a digital edition. They were pretty adamantly against it. And while I don’t think anyone can argue with the breathtaking results of their print production, I do think they’re missing an opportunity by sticking with pulp only. The short version of my advice to them would be: don’t publish a digital edition of the whole multi-volume set. Instead, distill out an app that’s highly focused on handling some of the in-the-kitchen reference chores and computational wonkery that any modernist chef has to perform.

S/G: You’ve got a book on this topic coming out later this year – Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience. Who’s the target audience for this book and what do you hope they’ll get out of it?

Peter: Early on–2012, say–I think writers, editors, book designers, and publishers will be its core audience. Everyone, in other words, trying to grapple with books in a touchscreen era.  But beyond that timeframe I think the touchscreen publishing revolution is going mainstream. So, in addition to professional publishing types, anyone who needs to create documents bound for a tablet or smartphone is going to be interested in thinking about how to do things like integrate video alongside text or incorporate gestures like the pinch and tap as part of the reading experience. That includes a pretty long list of folks who currently still compose for print: students, teachers, financial analysts, menu designers, newsletter publishers….the list is endless. Breaking the Page is my attempt to catalog all the various content designs that are available and help people new to this stuff decide what to use and, just as important, what to avoid.

S/G: What are you looking forward to seeing at SXSW?

Peter: So many good sessions, it’s hard to pick! Here are four that are on my must-get-to list:

  • Creating The Code: A BBC Transmedia Documentary – A behind-the-scenes look at building a transmedia production, centered on the story of a professor’s search for a “mysterious code that governs our world through numbers, shapes and patterns.” How can that not be a fun session? BBC teamed up with “next generation” storytelling firm Six to Start on this project. I just know this one’s gonna be entertaining and informative.
  • The Present of Print: Paper’s Persistence – An ode to what oftentimes is still my favorite medium: print. This panel “celebrates the present of print, and focuses on emerging print-digital hybrids”. Reminds me of a neat-o example I saw the other day, GameChanger, an iPad app where the user situates the device on top of a cardboard game (think: Monopoly) and then bops back and forth between the app and the board game. Here’s a video demo.
  • Rise of Analytics: Impacting the Editorial Process? – A look at how to use behavioral analytics to “guide the editor on how to deliver digital and mobile content but also offer new insights on how to deliver traditional, offline content to improve the readers’ overall experience with the brand.” Sounds geeky, which sounds great to me.
  • Storytelling Beyond Words: New Forms of Journalism – This panel is about using digital tools like interactive graphics to help journalists tell better stories. The teaser that really caught my eye: “Instead of sending users to a separate link for a video, why not embed video into the story at strategic points?” Yes!

Explore the rest of the SXSW 2012 Q&A Series.

Image credits, from left to right:
Austin – by Brian Warren
Badge – by adactio
Microphone – by hiddedevries
Xtranormal – by nan palmero
Texas waffle – by rachel lovinger

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