SXSW 2008 III – Wherein Kathy Sierra Brings Her Awesome!

Charles Seybold | September 3, 2008

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This was another day of hit and miss at SXSW for me. Mostly hit, but one really egregious miss.

I’ve only got one set of detailed notes despite the fact that there were three awesome sessions.

The morning started out great with a social design strategies panel. They went pretty deep on what does and doesn’t work in designing for social interaction. I’m not going to record a whole blow-by-blow of what they talked about here. But I will tell you that as soon as the podcast is posted to SXSW you should go listen to it.

No really. It was that good.

Todd Sieling of ma.gnolia gave a surprisingly detailed summary of the history of their efforts to combat spammers on ma.gnolia. The big take away there was that you can’t win the war against spammers, you can only minimize the damage to your community through good design. The key mechanism that he talked about was ma.gnolia’s “gardeners”. These are folks entrusted to help police the community by moving other users on and off of a whitelist. All those not whitelisted are greylisted and their stuff does not show up in public searches. Todd, I hope I got that right. 🙂

Joshua Porter (bokardo) talked about how you encourage good (i.e. desired) behavior. He pointed out that you want to tie behavior to a persisted identity. I think that in principle this is similar to the policy on The Well to “own your own words”. He went on to suggest that you give recognition Like with‘s Top Diggers (though they said Digg took that feature down because it made more sense with a smaller audience but as it got larger it became aggressively competitive for the people at the top of the list and less interesting for everyone else). Joshua also noted that recognition works best when it isn’t permanent. It should be transient otherwise the current top people stay there. He gave a good example in how (who’s party I’m going to tonight) handles the ephemeral nature of voting on designs.

After that great panel I went to “Make It So: Learning From SciFi Interfaces”. Great presentation and excellent discussion. Really the kind of gee-whiz stuff that gets you thinking. I didn’t take notes because I was enjoying it too much!

SM SXSW 4Then came the most dismal flop in the history of floppage. I think I can safely say that the Mark Zuckerberg keynote interview was weapons grade fail. While the interviewer didn’t actually say, “Oh, Mark you’re so awesome and cute and smart and rich I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking to you!” We were all thinking it for her. Watch it… it’s a train wreck.

Then… redemption. Kathy Sierra showed us her awesome!

I really can’t do her talk justice. You’ll just have to wait until SXSW posts “Tools for Enchantment: 20 Ways to Woo Users.”

Oh Kathy, you’re so awesome and beautiful and smart and… ahem.

Anyway, day programming is over. Back to drinking.