Dinner for Monday night was at Manuel’s in downtown. Unfortunately, the theme of most eating events is getting stuffed to the point where our buttons are popping. :X Everything IS truly big in Texas.

Antonia and I heard of this dish called, Queso – cheese in Spanish. We heard great things about it and immediately wanted to order it when we saw it on the menu. I’m not a big fan of cheese, but hey, I was determined to have an authentic dining experience in Texas.

Turns out, it’s a bowl of melted cheese (what else was I expecting? No idea). It came in a small bowl of Monterey jack and cheddar cheese with chopped jalapeños and a scarce amount of tomatoes….all topped with a layer of oil. Sounds gross and definitely did not look that appetizing to me. I put a little amount of the mixture into a tortilla and I was instantly satisfied. Basically, a quesadilla.


Oh my…and the chips and salsa! Before the queso came, I was munching away on chips (on too many, I might add). It was fresh and hot when it arrived to our table. The salsa was ok, but I LOVED the chips. I’ve never had this type of tortilla chips before. It tasted like Sun Chips – the same texture, but without the flavor. Surprisingly, they weren’t greasy and left your fingers oily. They tasted like they were baked…yum. I would love to order a bag if I could….

My next dish was a plate of chicken enchiladas in mole sauce with black beans and rich. It was raved as “Austin’s best enchilada.” Quite good, but after finishing only my first enchilada, I could not eat anymore. Somehow, I did finish both. :X

Looks like a blob, I know, which it was.

Antonia’s sizzling beef fajitas

I was too stuffed for dessert but I was ready for them to roll me out of the restaurant and carry me to my bed.


March 12, 2008 at 6:43 pm 1 comment

A Mixture of Mediums

The Web Agency: There Will Be Blood
Chris Bernard, User Experience Evangelist, Silverlight/Microsoft Corp
Kevin Flatt, Exe Creative Dir, Tribal DDB
Garrick Schmitt, VP, User Experience, Avenue A | Razorfish
Brooke Nanberg, Exec Creative Dir, ip pixel
Peter Eckert, Chief Creative Officer, Projekt202

There Will Be Blood

According to Garrick Schmitt, the number one tool to succeed is to understand and analyze data of how the customer interacts and behaves. From this data, you can adapt to the customer.

You must know the customer. Maybe the customer doesn’t want you to be there and certain channels make sense than others. You need to find what’s right for the customer and engage it.

Old advertising is working with print, tv and radio. It is no longer that way. We need to mix interactive mediums with audio, visual and motion. The distribution of our messages no longer rely on these traditional methods. Ads are blending marketing messages and entertainment to keep the customer amused.

Social media NEEDS to be in the business model no matter what. Clients and marketers need to embrace the new medium. We need to sell the connection of people – an emotional aspect that adds human-ness to our product. It is the most effective way to attract customers.

Lastly, sustain the experience of the customer and engage them to interact with each other.

March 12, 2008 at 6:23 pm Leave a comment


Design Eye for South By
Andrei Herasimchuk, Principal, Involution Studios
Bronwyn Jones, Sr. Writer, Apple Inc.
Paul Nixon, Sr. Art Dir, Apple Inc.
Keith Robinson, Creative Dir, Blue Flavor
Ryan Sims, Lead Designer, Virb Inc.

Design Eye

Design Eye is an experiment in which a team of designers and writers collaborate to bring a fresh vision to an existing web site. You can check out their site to see their new ideas for Craigslist and a couple of other sites. This year, they’ve decided to change the online registration page on SXSW’s web site.

Design Eye

The team wanted to showcase the actual experience of being at SXSW. They broke the idea down to:


Design Eye

SXSW is not just about the information you learn from all the different panels, but it’s also about meeting people and having face-to-face interaction. I find this very true. I’ve met several people already. It’s so easy to strike up a conversation at one of these conventions. SXSW has even incorporated “hallway-conversations,” a place where you can discuss the panel you just saw with others.

The redesign is a portable social network. Instead of focusing on the 3 major conventions – music, film and interactive, the team chose to focus on profile, events and parties.

The new profile page captures all the other social networks you use (Twitter, FB, Vimeo, Pownce, LinkedIn, etc.) in one place – your profile page. By having one place for this, you’re able to share and interact with people on a grander scale. A user can go to your page and gather all the information they want about you. It encapsulates our normal behavior of how we already do things.

Design Eye
Click to view larger

In the events, the user can include all the panels or other events she’s going to. This page will enable another user to find out if she wants to attend too. A quick, interactive map is also necessary to navigate around the city.

Design Eye
Click to view larger

Lastly, the parties page is quite straight forward. Which parties are you going to? I want to go too! Photos and videos are highlighted a lot more on this page, because seriously, that’s all we care about.

Design Eye
Click to view larger

The actual process is supposed to be easy. Filling out a form really quickly to include what you and don’t want on your personal space. From there, it will dynamically feed from all of the user’s other networks.

The pages use the original SXSW design style (block, 3D letters, grainy background), so I personally, don’t think it is amazing in that sense. In terms of the content of the pages, I really like it. I think it’s smart to have one page with all your social networks. It’d be easy for me to find out which panel that random person I just met is going tomorrow. The redesign is a lot more accessible than having to go to that person’s Twitter and then having to go to Flickr to see her photos.

It’s an interesting concept and really captures the greatness of SXSW – interacting with each other. It also enables the user to get ready for the conference, enjoy it and then relive it.

March 12, 2008 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

The Most Inspiring Keynote

Keynote: Frank Warren

“We don’t keep our secrets; our secrets keep us. And sharing them takes courage but ultimately allows you to be free.” – Frank Warren

If you haven’t heard of PostSecret or Frank Warren, please check out PostSecret when you have the chance.

I went to this panel with excitement. I really like PostSecret and couldn’t wait to hear Frank Warren speak.

Post Secret

He started the presentation with this touching video:

PostSecret started as an art project a few years back. He went around Washington, DC with index cards and passed them out to strangers on the street. One side was blank, while the other asked the person to write a secret, any secret and to drop it in the mailbox anonymously. Soon, he started to receive these postcards back and he was amazed by the art, beauty, wisdom, soul and thoughtfulness of each one. But, the postcards didn’t stop. He kept getting them and getting them, from all over the world. Warren quickly became “the most trusted stranger in America.”

Currently, Warren has a collection of 200,000 secrets and posts 20 every Sunday. He receives secrets written on everything from wedding announcements, parking tickets, a Rubix Cube (the person wrote 6 different secrets and he had to solve it to read them) and Starbucks cup (“I serve decaf to customers that are rude to me”).

Before the panel began, attendees were allowed to write their own secret to be shared to the audience. One secret that immediately got a huge reaction was, “My job sent me to SXSW to steal ideas from start-ups. I’m here pretending to be a freelancer.” Wow.

Warren wanted to share these cards with the world, so he started a blog. The Internet is a powerful, free and open tool fore everyone. It’s an online community that is self-growth and organizes itself. By creating a blog, he was able to share the human experience with everyone.

Warren noticed two themes while collecting these postcards:
1. The secret is underneath – we face the problem
2. We all have potential to change our life – we can liberate ourselves from the secret

The secrets reveal humor, beauty, art, wisdom, the soul of the creator. Each artwork is meticulously designed and each word is painstakingly chosen. Warren articulates that there’s an artist born in all of us. These postcards show that the role of the artist is expanding.

One extremely powerful quote he said during the presentation was “All of us have a secret that breaks our heart and if we find it, we’ll understand and have more compassion in the world.” He believes that together, if we share our secrets with each other, we can change the world.

Next came a huge surprise! Warren asked if anyone had a secret to share. A guy walked onto the stage and proposes! WOW. There was a long pause and everyone was looking for the girl. When he saw her make her way down the long aisle, he said, “Hurry, I’m shaking up here. There’s a lot of people.” She came on stage and of course, she said yes. It was so sweet.

Post Secret

“Free your secrets become who you are.” Every time I read or hear that, it gives me chills. It is so strong and inspiring. With those last words, the entire audience gave him a standing ovation.

Wow. Definitely a lot better, amazing and heart-warming than yesterday’s disastrous keynote from Zuckerberg. :)

Here’s the keynote visually from Sunni Brown of Brightspot Information Design:

Visual Information Design - Frank Warren Keynote
Click to view larger / Photo Source

March 12, 2008 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

You, You and You

Social Networking and Your Brand
Paul Boag, founder, Boagworld
Jina Bolton, Sushi & Robots
Mark Norman Francis, Web Architect, Yahoo! Europe
Steve Ganz, LinkedIn
Steve Smith, Web Guy, Ordered List

Steve Ganz with his mullet. I really wish I took the other panelists’ pictures…they were all funny, but this was the funniest…

This panel turned out to not be as applicable as I thought it would. When I had read the description for this panel, I thought it would be about your brand – the company you work for, whatever it may be. But, it was more about YOU, personally, as a brand in the Internet world.

This panel defined social networking as any kind of interaction between two or more people online or offline. Paul Boag had a great description of brand, “The promise of an experience that the customer will have with that entity.”

There were tips and tricks such as using just one common brand name to differentiate between you and the world. By doing this, you are creating consistency and being memorable to the audience.

You should also commit to your brand by keeping active. By being active, you can increase your posts, threads and responses. The more active you are, the more your brand will be recognized and reputable.

Lastly, you should be you. The more genuine you are, the better and more reputable you will become.

March 12, 2008 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

It’s All About Being Social

Going Social Now
Shiv Singh, Dir of Global Strategic Initiative, Avenue A | Razorfish


So, what is social network? Social network is a set of people (or organizations or other social entities) connected by a set of social relationships, such as friendship, co-working or information exchange (Garton et al., 1997).”

It matters because there is an overload of information. Know-who information rather than know-what, know-how or know-why information has become most crucial. People join networks if they already have friends in them. Others influence the behavior patterns in networks. Sharing is important in this concept because people will collaborate online if they trust each other.

The main idea for this panel is the fact that we are more influenced by each other than print ads, direct response, TV commercials, etc.

To break it down, here’s what really matters in social networking:
1. Compliance – an individual agrees with a point of view and acts in a certain way in order to achieve a favorable reaction among his or her peers
2. Identification – a person acts in a certain way in front of a group because she believes in what she says, and belongs in a group important to her
3. Internalization – a person’s views are truly altered beyond the relationship with the group

Social Influence Marketing is the new marketing direction, we no longer care about the brand, but the people behind them. 43% of users read customer reviews before they purchase a product. I know I do this when I’m searching for an electronic item. I feel as though I need to read a lot of reviews to make a valid purchasing decision. Since I don’t know much about electronics, I go out to search more information to compare to make a good reason on whether I should buy one product over the other.

The changes behind the scene are corporate websites do not matter as much as more because they are not built for sharing, collaboration, etc. Users are now going to 3rd party sites (Yahoo music, CNet, ESPN, Expedia, iTunes, etc.) to get collective information. No one brand can tell them, “Buy me! Buy me!”

Some recommendations to succeed in social marketing are:
1. Become your consumer
2. Aggregate information to your consumer
3. Articulate product benefits better
4. Amplify the favorite business stories
5. Participate where your consumers are
6. Don’t do it all at once

A couple of Singh’s work examples that successfully implemented social networking are CNN.com and Levi’s 501 Jeans collaboration with Project Runway.

Before CNN.com redesigned their website, Singh and his team got feedback from its readers and published it. This method of research insured that they would create a site that the readers will enjoy using. It also implied that they no longer just listened to what their marketing team had to say, they were getting the actual voice of the consumer.

The collaboration between Levi’s 501 Jeans and Project Runway was a success. The site was a portal for a contest where designers all over the nation could submit their fashion designs and Levi’s will manufacture the winner. Participants could look at all the designs, learn about the designer, write feedback and ultimately, vote for the best design. This was a clear example of letting the consumers shape the experience. Both Levi’s and Project Runway stepped back and let the consumers take the reins.

Singh’s insightful presentation clearly articulated the importance of social networking and I believe that is where we need to be headed.

March 12, 2008 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

Cheezburgerz + BBQ

LOLWUT? Why Do I Keep Coming Back to This Website?
Beh Huh, CEO, I Can Has Cheezburger?
Eric Nakagawa, CEO, FTW R&D, I Can Has Cheezburger?

This panel was the greatest way to end Sunday….or any other day, for that matter. Beh Huh and Eric Nakagawa are laid back, fun and entertaining. They’re the kind of guys that you’ll never have a dull moment with…and you’ll be laughing until you pee in your pants. They brought cheeseburgers and tofu burgers for everyone. I thought this was so thoughtful of them and made me like them even more.

Eric, Maggie & Ben
Eric Nakagawa, me and Ben Huh (he was wearing a cheeseburger hat!)

Nakagawa starts the panel by telling the story of ICHC. A friend, TofuBurger, sent him a picture of a fat cat with a funny caption. He laughed and they soon thought, “Hey, no one has a site with all these funny pictures.” They then created a site with all these cat pictures. They’d find pictures online and make funny captions on them, but the community jumped on and made their own. Now, they receive thousands a day but only pick six to post on their site.

Even though ICHC was an instant hit, it had challenges from the beginning like everyone else. ICHC had so many page hits (thanks to Digg.com), that they ended up not being able to support the capacity. So, they went to WordPress and the company gave them a special VIP package that let them support 3 terabytes of pictures and millions of daily page visits. Can you believe that? 3 TERAbytes of LOLCats? Currently, they have over 1.5 million page visits per day and receive almost 8,000 pictures a day and choose the best 6 to post.

The enthusiastic CEOs also mentioned that they have I Has Hot Dog, a spin off site with dogs. They talked about how they didn’t use any advertising or marketing to promote this site, but just let nature take its own course (they had also used this model with ICHC). When finally, they felt strongly that IHHD will succeed and took care of all the bugs, they put a plug on ICHC’s website.

My key take away from this panel is the fact that their company, strategy, marketing……everything is just about funny pictures. It always came back to this. I discovered that both Nakagawa and Huh are just like all of us and their success is attainable by all means.

LOLClinton – “THIS IS SPARTAAAAA!!!!!!!”

After the high of ICHC, Antonia and some friends we met went to the famous Ruby’s BBQ near University of Texas. I had a beef brisket plate with home fries. The home fries took longer than I expected, but it was a delicious combination of cut potatoes, butter, jalapeño peppers, cheese and rosemary. The brisket was good with it’s juicy meat drenched in BBQ sauce. Definitely a hit!

Ruby’s BBQ

While waiting for cab back to downtown, we quickly browsed in a store called Toy Joy across the street. Every single inch was covered with all sorts of toys and knick knacks – bouncy balls, figurines, stickers, trains, sunglasses, dinosaurs, cars, lanterns…. It was a collection of new and vintage things from all over the world. You could spend hours in there!

Toy Joy

Toy Joy

Toy Joy

March 12, 2008 at 12:04 am Leave a comment

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