SXSW – Matthew’s Day 2(ish)

A little late on these, my apologies. 2 more coming this week.

DIY Panel

Presentation slides are available at

Must remember to get my dongle back from Gina. Yeah, that’s a great sentence to type. I was listening to music and between songs happened to hear someone speaking needed a dongle to connect to the projector. So I sprung into action.

Willem Vos spoke about how he built up a Bed & Breakfast network where he gets B&B’s to sign up to be in the network, then he designs their site, and writes reviews of their offerings. His business basically started because he couldn’t find the information he needed from the web about good B&B’s. Now people seek him out to help them promote their business.

Alex Hart spoke about something, but I didn’t follow too well because it was very devspeak. The end.

Note to all: if you need to leave a panel and you are sitting in the front row, just leave. It’s a lot less distracting than watching you trying to be low-key about leaving.

Gina Trapani had some good advice which you can read on her slides. But two points of advice (in my words) that she gave which I thought were spot on: DIY starts as DIFY (do it for yourself), and only reinvent the wheel if you are sure you can make a better from-here-to-there-device.

How to Build Your Brand With Blogs

Molly Holzschlag, Robert Scoble, DL Byron, Jason Fried, and Jim Coudal spoke about building brand with blogs. I’ve heard all of this before (I better have!), but it was still a good panel. Byron talked about the death of brand, long live the brand. There may be some talk that brand doesn’t mean as much anymore, but it isn’t true for the most part. Brand may not be a good enough word, but it’s what most people know. What most people don’t seem to know is that your brand is everything. Not just in the sense that it is important, but it is everything you do. Brands change over time because it is people (and their actions) that make a brand, and people change over time.

Molly talked about her accidental blogger effect; how you can become known for something even when you don’t mean to do so. She also spoke on the (potential, my parenthetical) fallacy of transparency; transparency doesn’t ensure authenticity. Which is sort of a duh statement from my point of view, but give the rise in use of fake blogs, probably the more this is said the better.

Robert talked about brand from the point of view of a brand user (of sorts). As he searches Google and other sources, the title tag of every site is listed as part of the search results. He said if that bit of information doesn’t tell him anything, he is less likely to read your stuff. Which I hadn’t thought about before, but I do that too. So, make sure your title tag is descriptive. It could be what tips people to come to your site instead of someone else’s.

Note to all: When the sign says don’t take pictures as a courtesy to the speakers, don’t take pictures as a courtesy to the speakers. Ask permission because 11 times out of 10 they will say yes.

JF. Best. Advice. Ever. “Drop the F-bomb. Drop it often.” Okay, maybe not best advice ever, but it lead to a point that I agree with. He mentioned something that is at the heart of how we approach our work with clients: don’t work with clients who you don’t like or who don’t like you. Not that we drop (m)any f-bombs, but we are ourselves and want to work with clients that can appreciate good work getting done, as well as working with us as who we are.

Jim Coudal, who I just met for the first time (hi Jim!) talked about building the audience first then figure out what they need. He pointed to Basecamp as a good example of that as well as Coudal’s own Jewelboxing. He also talked about their (Coudal, the company) concerted effort to become free of the shackles of clients. Basically that they want to be their own clients because it is a lot harder to get fired that way.

Web Awards Ceremony

The Blog Brand panel went long and I left already late to the awards ceremony, which turned out to not be so bad because it started late. We were up for best blog. No way we were going to win. And we weren’t surprised (nor at all upset) when the MC said, “And the winner is… Shaun Inman!” Go Shaun! Honour to be nominated. All that. But, we are not ones to sit on the sidelines, so when Shaun said, “I’m not sure what to say,” I poked Paul and said, “Get up there and give his acceptance speech for him.” So he did. In the end, Business Logs was on stage for the presentation of the Best Blog award. But seriously, Shaun deserved to win, congrats Shaun.

We sat with the gang from EA/Maxis who were up for Best Community/Wiki for The Sims 2. They lost too, but allowed us to join in their fun by taking a drink anytime someone said, “blogosphere.” Turns out they hate that term too. Do you hate it? I do. Why do we keep using it? Oh well. blogosphere.

After that we had dinner at a great Thai place on 6th street with me, Mike, Josh Williams, Rachel Williams (of the soon-to-be – consider that a hurry up sentence), Scott Kidder, Will Pate, Dr. Keith, Garret Dimon. Great food, and all 8 of us ate for about 70$, so it was a good price too. They kicked us out (because they closed, not because we were being bad, though Scott did drop his spoon on the floor) and we wandered to the awards after party which was crowded and difficult to navigate. And we found out too late that the beer was free. Alas. Though none of us was in the mood for being out and were all in the room by midnight. A first while we were there. And also a first, I was the last one in the room.