SxSW Day 4 – Final day thoughts and wrap up

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So it’s a few weeks after SxSW now and I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages but haven’t had the time or energy to do so for a while now… so here it is ;-)

The last day for me was primarily about catching up with work, then preparing for the core conversation I did at 5pm, but inbetween that I did manage to take in “Considerations for Scalable Web Ventures” which for me was probably one of the most interesting and relevant panels of the conference.

I found the panel knowledgeable and happy to give away hard earned secrets and useful wisdom, which was cool. My humble recommendation is that if you have the opportunity to go see any of them speak, then do – you’ll walk away richer for it ;-)

I’ve promised that I’m going to send the content of the core conversation I did to the people that attended, so in the spirit of sharing I’m gonna upload it here as soon as it’s in a form that I’m happy with. More on that soon though.

As for the conference itself, I’m super happy I went. This time around the jet lag hasn’t been as bad, and having had the experience of the last time (cabs, locations, where to go, food to eat, when to sleep when to work when to panel) I enjoyed this time around more. I think that because it’s a huge melting pot of really cool people in the industry, where everyone’s interested in learning from each other, discussing stuff in the halls, and socialising (where all the cool conversations happen of course). London’s probably not the best place for a web startup for a number of reasons, so it’s a real inspirational change to be in the same place as loads of other people that are all in one way or another in a similiar situation to yourself… so it was good. Another humble recommendation – if you get the opportunity to go in the future, go! ;-)

Thoughts on second day of SxSW – 9th March 2008

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A/B Testing was pretty interesting but kinda strightforward theoretically. Interesting to see how Yahoo!, eBay and LinkedIn approach testing in different ways, and some ideas around testing ideas for user interaction and design vs results. Sometimes you get results you didn’t expect, design or plan for.

Red Dragon – Internet in China:

  • Chinese market is super large – 200m online & 600m mobile, but market stats are unreliable in general.
  • Problems with the market – mobile is bigger, largely internet cafe based, government controlled.
  • Quasi e-commerce – credit cards not common yet – impediment to online advertising.
  • User generated content is pretty low.
  • Hire people who understand culture and creative language.
  • Stock options not common – people understand cash.

Zuckerberg keynote with Sarah Lacy:
Interesting to say the least, not sure I believe everything that was said about valuations and finances. I’m not going to add to the (pretty justified IMO) noise, but I did feel uncomfortable several times… Can only imagine how Mark felt… ;-( Zuckerberg comes accross as a geek / dork, but a likeable one at that ;-)
Facebook kool aid is:

  • making communication more efficient (repeated over and over and over and over and over)
  • creating platforms for efficient comunication
  • have reached 500 employee mark
  • running at just about breakeven

20 Ways to woo users:
Great talk by Kathy Sierra, found her engaging and thoroughly stimulating. Got to chat to her in the hallway this afternoon, and was totally disarmed – think she could disarm a SWAT team ;-)
Most important take home for me was around:

  • making users feel like they’re super heroes
  • using real life physics to create a sense of wonder
  • giving your users joy

It sounds blatantly obvious, but the examples used and way it was presented makes it accessible. My notepad was flowing with ideas for Kindo after that…

Africa 2.0: Affecting change using technology, with Kofi, Uduok, Nii, and Erik.
An earlier blog post asking whether there were any Africans at SxSW was pleasantly answered when I read the schedule in more detail (the mini schedule said “affecting change” which didn’t hit my radar. Was super happy to finally meet Erik in person, who I’ve been chatting to for a while now over email. I think that his blog post does more justice than I could, however my take homes were around:

  • there are Africans who are motivated to do something in Africa, off the back of their education and experience in Western countries
  • the mobile market is bigger and has lower barrier to entry (but we already knew that – re-affirmation)
  • opportunities seem to be around connecting communities and interest groups, either to mobilise them, or provide tools to enrich their lives
  • it seems that there is the political and financial will to do things in Africa, but what’s lacking is on the ground implementable, executable ideas and people to do so…

More on that soon ‘tho.

As usual, the after panel discussions were the most interesting (as Erik mentions), and I found the dinner table discussions with the guys and girls from Vidoop and Nike really interesting. Spent the evening going from bar and event to bar and event, finally settled on Club Deville which was pretty good.
Have to say that the highlight of the evening was catching up again with Dustin Diaz and meeting his girl Erin ;-) Looking forward to the IHOP again!!! ;-)

Thoughts on first day of SxSW – 8th March 2008

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Sunset on the way to Austin from ChicagoSo I’m at SxSW again, and really loving the vibe. Missed it last year due to a little project called Kindo, but made a point of coming this year.

I’m not really sure what it is about “South By” that makes it so cool, apart from bringing together the best people in the industry, so at the moment I’m going with the idea that it’s where you get to meet and spend time with so many people that think the same way you do. Along the way you get to soak up stuff from people who have been successful, and listen to people who have already solved problems that you need to… On reflection whilst writng this I think the key for me is that I get to step outside of the daily grind and get some fresh prespective, with people who are doing the same thing. More on that soon. Also noticed there are more girls this year… ;-)

So, without further ado, some highlights of the day: Panel schedule

Ajax and Flash mistakes was pretty interesting. Some new idea for Kindo there, and some affirmations of stuff that I have been feeling negative about for a while. Also some affirmations of stuff we’ve done well too. Checkout slideshare.net

Startup Management was pretty interesting. Many new ideas for our team and really cool to see that people everywhere face the same issues… Checkout Dogster.

Opening remarks was perhaps most memorable for me in that it kinda made me realise how big the US is… And how different the UK, Europe in general and South Africa are from it. Jenkins and Johnson were amazing to listen to, and I can only hope that some of their thinking becomes more mainstream in the years to come. Apart from that, they’ve inspired me to make Kindo more than what it is now, and to embrace the course we’ve set for ourselves.
Recommend listening / watching if you can.

10 things we’ve learned at 37 Signals was a good kick in the nuts. I’ve always enjoyed listening to Jason. He seems to be able to distill stuff into nuggets that are easy to take away and do something about. I find myself getting caught up in the detail too much (which I’m working on) so it’s a good example to follow. Take homes were around focussing on good copy, making small decisions more often and disruptions being the enemy of productivity.

Social marketing strategies looked interesting but aimed too corporate for what we’re doing now, and so I elected to write this, catch up on some emails and think about stuff I want to implement in Kindo.

I’ll be putting photo’s on Flickr when I have more bandwidth… ;-)

Welcome to the Kindo Beta release!

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This has been a long time coming, and it feels good to finally get there, albeit with a mountain still to climb!!!
Personal reflective blog post to follow soon…

A little while ago we released an Alpha to a small group of people, to gather valuable user feedback. Thanks to those great people, we’ve had our heads down improving Kindo, and as a result we’re releasing the Beta, and at the same time opening it up to a wider audience for more feedback.

We’ve made the following progress:

  1. Kindo is much faster now
  2. The Kindo tree is now much more stable and knowledgable
  3. You can invite family members to your tree
  4. Many more user interface improvements and enhancements
    • *Note: we’re continually adding more, so please tell us about things you think should work better or be more obvious.
  5. The internet is global now, so we’re releasing in 7 languages:
    • English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Afrikaans, Polish; with Russian, Turkish, Hindi, Hebrew and Arabic on the way.

Our mantra has become “Speed, Simple, Pleasure“, so in a nutshell that means we’re always trying to make Kindo faster for you, simpler, more intuitive and perhaps most importantly a pleasure to use.

Our new URL is http://beta.kindo.com/.

What can we do to make Kindo better?
If you dont like it – tell us why.
If you do like it – what are you missing?
Join the conversation on our blog, we’d love to hear your opinion.

Don’t worry – the same login details apply, and your data is all still there.

Have fun!

Web 2.0 London Geek BBQ – summer kicks off; BBQ Etiquette humour

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It’s been about a week now since the the good weather has hit London, so I think it’s time to start thinking about the next Web 2.0 / Geek BBQ. This year has seen an explosion of the innovator community in London, or at least, folks are starting to come out of the woodwork, so it would be really cool to meet some new people, while enjoying the sunshine at the same time.

To get you into the mood, here’s a little gem from Tim (if you’re a girl, please take this as humour, from whence it comes ;-)

Right, so if you’re keen for some sunshine, stimulating conversations, and of course good meat, then please leave a comment here to show interest, and send this link to the people you think may be interested… (my mailing list has become to big to wield effectively in Outlook, so I don’t want to miss people out)

In the meantime I’ll start looking at dates and locations.
;-)