WebVisions 2009 in review: Part two

Friday, May 22, 2009

WebVisions 2009 This is a continuation of WebVisions 2009 in review: Part one.

On Thursday and Friday, May 21-22, I attended the WebVisions 2009 conference at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Below is a quick overview of all five sessions I attended on Friday, with links. Many of the slides from these sessions and others are available at SlideShare. See Twitter updates using #wv09.

Makin’ Whuffie: Why You Should Raise Social Capital in Online Communities – Tara Hunt (The Wuffie Factor)
(9:00 am to 10:15 am | session details)

#wvc32: What is Dunbar’s number? It’s a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. Also: “You can’t shut the internets down.” The science fiction novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow introduced the idea of Whuffie as social capital or trust. It’s reputation-based currency. Social networks are all about providing mutual value and establishing credibility.

  1. Get advice from experts, but design for the needs of the novice
  2. Respond to ALL feedback, even when you have to say ‘no thanks’
  3. Don’t take negative feedback personally
  4. Give credit to those whose ideas you implement
  5. Point out and explain changes as you make them
  6. Make small, continuous improvements
  7. Go out and find your feedback
  8. Ignore the haters

Examples of automagicness: Lil’ Grams, Quicken for iPhone, Tripit.com for iPhone.

Throwing sheep: lightweight ways for people to connect (e.g., Facebook’s Poke, Dopplr’s Personal Velocity feature).

Whuffie is part of the gift economy, while money is part of the market economy. The more Whuffie you give away, the more you get back. It’s more about reciprocity than profit. You can make money despite yourself if you’re customer-centric.

For more information, visit horsepigcow.com.

WebVisions 2009 New Assumptions for Designers of the Social Web – Chris Messina
(10:30 am to 11:45 am | session details)

#wvc37: Is coming from a hybrid design-engineering background. Web 2.0 is a metaphor for the network as a platform with software as a service. Living in online society: the social web.

A few old assumptions: People are busy, people have limited attention, people want to know what’s in it for them, people want it to “just work,” people don’t care about technology, people shouldn’t need to care about technology.

10 new assumptions:

  1. Most people already signed up elsewhere (e.g., FriendFeed, Google, OpenID, Eminem’s website uses these other companies for authentication; remove all barriers to getting in to your service)
  2. Their friends are online (one method: use delegated authentication protocol . . . you never have to give your information to a third party . . . e.g. BrightKite . . . there are better ways than asking for passwords)
  3. Email is the new fax machine (social networks have now eclipsed email . . . rise in SMS messages sent . . . first means of communication is SMS for new generation . . . don’t rely on just email . . . mentions FriendFeed and BrightKite again)
  4. Discovery will save us all (the NASCAR problem: a million brand logos and buttons on your site . . . “Share This” buttons . . . shotgun approach . . . keep an eye out for new discovery protocols: XRD/LRDD)
  5. Cloud computing is upon us (you may or not have local storage . . . everything will be on the web on a third-party site . . . all out on the cloud . . . also, hybrid applications: Pandora, etc. . . . OpenID will become very useful for cloud computing applications for pushing data in/out without local storage)
  6. People want to share (software that doesn’t have sharing built-in is broken)
  7. Real identity online is becoming the norm (e.g., Facebook recommendations . . . being able to find your friends in real life . . . no more username pseudonyms . . . people benefit from revealing more of their identities . . . Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as related to self-actualization on the web . . . real identity can provide for more transparency and accountability; it can incentivize good behavior)
  8. Connectivity is increasing (people want real-time news and social updates . . . FriendFeed, Techmeme . . . the half-life of content keeps getting shorter . . . results in shorter and less insightful posts . . . the real-time web results in geoinsulation due to time zone differences . . . “hemisphere effect” . . . content has to be relevant, connected and timely)
  9. The stream is the new hallmark of a social app (blog format is in some ways a relic . . . social activity is what makes a site alive . . . follow people on nytimes.com . . . enjoysthin.gs and I Use This for OSX software . . . activity-centric model for social web apps . . . social discovery)
  10. Assume that your data will flow (connect your site . . . e.g., Facebook to Digg . . . design your content to move off-site . . . privacy controls)

What’s next:

  1. Location, location, location (the awesome Orwellian future that we all hope for)
  2. Expectations for customer service are rising (Alaska Airlines direct messages on Twitter)
  3. People will reward trustworthy relationships with service providers that improve over time
  4. Just because we have more technology doesn’t mean that people are becoming obsolete!
  5. Browsers are about to get a lot more powerful

The role of standards: Worth more in practice than in theory. Standards allow all to rise up and improve user experience by competing on an even playing field. See the DiSo Project for social web standards. Better standards allow us to build better and richer societies. How can we maintain artifacts if we use third-party social networks and services? Web regulation and backups . . . Internet as a public utility service . . . network neutrality . . . government privacy issues and Google antitrust? Possible for anonymity and access, but also have an identity experience when desired? Facet identity or performative identity should be afforded by new technology. Aspects of privacy should be baked into new web standards. Browsers will become more like game environments, since you essentially a need a password everywhere now.

For more information, visit factoryjoe.com.

WebVisions 2009 Open ID: The Panel Discussion – Marshall Kirkpatrick, Chris Messina, Scott Kveton, Rick Turoczy
(1:15 pm to 2:30 pm | session details)

#wvc41: The idea of OpenID is self-identification through a service. Scott says, “OpenID is inevitable.” Facebook has recently given in to the idea, even though they didn’t have to. It can be very Big Brother in the hands of “evil people.”

Talking about OpenID is still talking about a technology to do something, which is not very intelligible to the general population. Chris would like to see OpenID emphasized as a brand. Is OpenID analogous to the evolution of how RSS has become used and talked about? Maybe OpenID is like an “Intel Inside” or a “Wi-Fi” type of underlying structure, upon which other things can be built. SMTP is to email as OpenID is to web identity? But OpenID is a technology and a brand.

We are seeing great value with Facebook Connect . . . also, hybrid flow with Plaxo and Google . . . similarly, FriendFeed uses Facebook Connect, Twitter Connect AND Plaxo/Google hybrid OpenID/OAuth.

Scott suggests browser-level controls for signing into the Internet itself, instead of the nightmare of site-by-site authentication. Emails as usernames are that not secure. If your email is hacked, then a hacker can access most all of your accounts by having a new password sent to him/herself. Another idea is that people could end up having more than one OpenID account (so that everything in the world isn’t tied to one account). Chris explained a future idea of OpenID readers like credit card readers that are used for everything (RFID?). However, OpenID usability has been a great stumbling block.

Distributed nature of OpenID vs. centralization . . . pros and cons?

Twitter Marketing: Behavioral Insights and Best Practices from an Award-Winning Tweeter – Carri Bugbee
(2:45 pm to 4:00 pm | session details)

#wvc50: Twitter use quadruples March-April 2009 . . . fastest growing social network. Moments in history: Mad Men Twittergate, National election, Motrin Moms, Presidential address, #amazonfail, Ashton beats CNN. Media darling . . . history of celebrity and media uses of Twitter . . . the Oprah effect. Microblogging? Social networking? Lifestreaming? Research tool? Yes. Uses for Twitter are evolving.

Twitter uses: Customer service; Promotions (big brands and small businesses); Drive traffic to websites, blogs and surveys; Twittertainment (fan fiction, transmedia and original content); Breaking news; Travel/Tourism information (Twisitor Center); Community building; Recruitment; Political discourse; Live event feeds; Hashtag for search and feeds; Hashtags also help build buzz; Crowd sourcing; Personal panel of experts; It’s all about your interests.

If you’re a big brand, you’ve got to staff your social accounts like you’re a 7-Eleven. People want to engage . . . staffing for social media can be much more cost-effective than impersonal, “set it and forget it” media buys.

For more information, visit BigDealPR.com and SupportingCharacters.com.

WebVisions 2009 Carpe Futurum: Building Communities Without the Blueprints – Brad Smith, Ryan Sims (Virb.com)
(4:15 pm to 5:30 pm | session details)

#wvc54: The futurum is what’s happening between now and the future. It’s the period in between the now and the future that controls where you end up. So, seize the future.

It is important to recognize the gap between talent and taste. You may start with good taste, but you have to wait (or persevere) for your talent to improve over time. Only experience will help your talent approach your creative taste and aspirations. Practice.

Get better: Inspiration Spree (make a list of designers or programmers you admire), Study Tools (keep learning new software features and techniques), Side Projects (maintain personal projects that overlap or bleed over into work life); Fringe Masters (get outside the sphere of your influence).

Overnight success takes time. Expect a long journey and be satisfied by the process. Appreciate your progress. Problems face with time (especially online). Is there great power in failure? What is the difference between failure and mistakes? Scope. Mistakes are common. Making mistakes again and again leads to failure.

A good quote: “Narrow the gap between when you made the mistake and when you finally realized it.”

Also: “Everything I need to know about community management I learned from The Dog Whisperer.” The five goals of community management: Be calm and assertive, practice discipline, be consistent, give affection, lead the pack. Both talk to your community and let them talk back to you (crowd sourcing). Crowd sourcing happens through community empowerment and feedback facilitation.

Virb is about creators and curators. Curators are now part of the creation community. With new social tools, you can easily share your taste without knowing any web design. For Virb, futurum is really focused on getting systems solid and empowering curation and its relevance. “Humans will soon become the most boring part” . . . of social transactions.

Curation is the future of the web. For more information, visit Virb.com.

(For information on WebVisions conferences from previous years, see my reviews from WebVisions 2008 and WebVisions 2007.)

Now that the conference is over, I am going to start heading toward the Sasquatch! Music Festival at the Gorge. Will find a motel for the night somewhere between Portland and Ellensburg, WA and hopefully see a movie.

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