Cool tools I’ve Discovered at SXSW (so far)

So I’m at SXSW 2013 this week, and I’m learning about some really cool, potentially useful apps, tools, etc. Here’s a partial list of some of them:

CratePlayer – I met the CEO of this startup, and he described CratePlayer like this: think Pinterest, but for media of all types, like video and music. Their website says this: “CratePlayer lets you discover, collect, play and share your favorite online media all in one place.” Nice. They call the Pinterest board-like thing a “crate.” So for a library, gather local media, news media, subject-specific or educational media into a crate, and share away!

Takes – a new iPhone camera app that turns your pictures into videos. Might be useful for video creation!

WeVideo – cool new online video editor. This one is freemium, as in the free version is fine, but to get HD videos and more than 15 minutes of exports, you have to pay a monthly fee. They told me that organizational pricing is available. So … instead of buying lots of copies of video editing software, think about using this online tool.

JumperCut – really interesting video tool. JumperCut lets you collaborate with others to make video. Think crowdsourced videos, multiple takes of the same scene, etc. And … then think about your smartphone-wielding teens. Could be a fun project!

modit – lots of basic online games that you can edit, or “mod,” using their browser-based editor. Then you can save it, share it, and play. This sounds like an easy way to make some localized games pretty easily! The guy I talked to mentioned making customized crossword puzzles, for example.

izik – a new search engine app built for smartphones and tablets. It has a more “Pinterest-like” search results display, and is built on top of Blekko (though the search results for the same searches come out different using the two tools … not sure what’s up with that).

meltwater – an online social media monitoring, management, and engagement service. Looked pretty extensive (but they didn’t tell me how much the service costs).

Nestivity – this looks interesting to Twitter users. It turns your Twitter handle into a “nest,” which helps you better organize, track, and save Twitter conversations. Analytics are provided, and the archive of the conversation is saved.

simplemachine – this looked cool. It’s a peer-to-peer cinema marketplace that allows anyone to book films for exhibition in a theatrical setting (think public viewing of videos). That generally costs money – with simplemachine, they’ve already done the hard work of tracking down the rights holder, and act like a go-between broker (so you don’t have to).

Xi3 – one cool newish hardware tool – check out Xi3. They make really tiny, inexpensive (relatively), power-saving computers. Definitely an alternative to the larger companies like Dell or HP! The picture included in this blog post is one of the computers. Here’s another image of the same computer side-by-side with a smartphone, just to see how big it really is (and a very low-light, grainy image, too – sorry about that!). They had some of these bolted onto the backs of computer monitors – pretty tidy setup!

Treeswing – not really a library app at all. It’s a cool new financial investing tool, and looked sorta promising. Why am I mentioning it? Because it’s sponsored by DST in Kansas City … and I worked for DST during the summers while in college! That was in the 1980’s, and my big job was taking huge dot matrix printouts upstairs to the programmers, so they could actually look at the coding work they just did. Weird job in a weird time. My how times have changed!

Talking at the #ideadrop house @ SXSWi

I’m headed out to SXSWi tomorrow (woo hoo!), and wanted to let y’all know about something I’m participating in on Friday. I’m heading up a discussion about being human online on Friday at the #ideadrop House.

What’s the #ideadrop House? It’s a fun event hosted by Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) and ProQuest. The goal is to “serve as a seriously fun place to drop ideas and a seriously great opportunity to dialogue about topics affecting libraries during SXSW when the creative juices are flowing and where the big ideas are percolating.”

For most talks at the #ideadrop House during SXSW, there’s a small space for people to actually attend (I think). And, the talk will also be livestreamed at – so you can still watch and participate, even if you’re not in Austin!

My talk is scheduled for 4pm Friday March 8 – I’ll be talking about how organizations can make real connections to customers using online tools.

Please come by, tune in, and discuss! Should be a blast! You can also follow along via Twitter using #ideadrop or @ERandL.

Vote for my SXSW 2013 Panel Session on Community!

SXSW Interactive 2013Update – ok. It’s really for SXSW 2013. Not changing the link, since it’s already been tweeted out. Hee. Maybe I should write a post on proofreading? :-)

Have you ever thought about attending SXSW Interactive (March 8-12, 2013)? It’s not a librarian conference, though a growing number of librarians have been going the last few years.

But it IS a great technology and emerging trendsconference, and usually has some really big names in the tech world presenting on a ton of topics – everything from monetizing blogs to how to use social tools for businesses, to the future of the web.

It’s a really good learning and networking opportunity … which is why I want to present there! SXSW has a unique way of figuring out who presents – they let their community vote on the potential topics, using the SXSW PanelPicker.

This year, one of the potential sessions includes me, Michael Porter, and Amy Buckland. Michael and Amy presented at SXSW last year, so here’s hoping! Here’s what we plan to talk about:

Title: We build online communities. Really, we do.


The concept of an online community means more to libraries than simply having a chatroom and a blog for folks on which to comment. It involves making resources freely available, teaching our communities how to access these resources, and getting local community members to interact and work together in ways no other civic institution can.

Be it digital collection or ask-a-librarian, libraries have been building online communities since before we were “supposed to be” online. In most cases, our technology is not particularly cutting-edge, and our SEO tactics are sometimes lacking, yet our communities love and use our online resources and want more.

Even with the unique success stories we have there is room for you to help libraries build community and succeed, especially as technology evolves and makes new services and outreach possible. Hear about how libraries made it online, and help us figure out how we can keep making it better in the future.

Here’s what I’d LOVE for you to do – vote for our session! You’ll need to set up an account to do it (it’s easy to do). We really want to see more librarians at SXSW Interactive. We have some really good insight into user communities and content trends that the business world simply doesn’t have. So this is just one way to get librarians and our unique knowledge out into the greater world.

So please vote us in!

SXSW Interactive is Coming … Please Vote!

SXSW Interactive is a very cool conference … and I have a couple of chances to speak!

Here’s how it works – everyone with session ideas submits those a couple months in advance. Then the fine SXSW folks put up their SXSW Panel Picker. The Panel Picker is a cool idea – people planning to attend the conference actually get some say into what sessions will be held – how cool is that?

It’s pretty easy to vote on sessions. First, go register … then vote – there’s a thumbs up/thumbs down button! You can also leave a comment on each session (you have to register to do this stuff – but it’s free, so that’s cool).

This year, I’m listed twice:

Designing Your Customer’s Digital Experience
Visitors to an organization’s digital space don’t want to think about interacting with a website. They want to make a purchase, find an answer, or connect with someone – they want to have digital experiences. David introduces digital experience design for websites, and explains how website structure, community, and customers are parts of the total digital experience. This one’s obviously focused on my book. I’m hoping to do either a normal session or an author talk (they separate those from the main sessions). Either one would be cool.

Curating Cultural Content – Libraries Save Your Ass & Etchings
How are libraries responding to the firehose of cultural content when deciding how to curate digital media? What does it mean to be an online archive or library in an age of user-generated content? Librarians, quasi-librarians and techies will share tips ideas and the usual horror stories. Jessamyn West submitted this one – I’m listed as a panelist.

So – go vote (ok – only vote if you really WANT to hear these presentations)! And go to the conference. I guarantee you’ll learn something, and meet some interesting people, too.

SXSWi2009: From Framing Shots to Pushing Pixels – Crossing Between Film and Video Games

Last session – let’s see if I can make it! And a funny aside – I was talking to two people before this session about sound boards of all things – one attendee and one SXSW volunteer. Turns out the volunteer is a librrarian who took a year off to write a novel (good for her), and the attendee – not sure who she is – actually attended another presentation and asked me what FRBR was, of all things! Wow.


Rich Vogel
Rodney Gibbs
Mark Bristol


If you flake, you’re out. Don’t leave the project before it’s done. Also share turntables – mix things up that don’t actually go together.

Try awkward things.

Learn how to deal with difficult people. (he worked with Michael Medved)

Henry Winkler says “say thank you” (panelist worked with him).

Ed Spielman says “Start with the poster…” Make believe the movie’s done. He’d get people to give him money … then they’d go write the script.

Megatron says “Geeks have a long, long memory.”

He transitioned into video games in the 90s.

Tim Curry says “say dirty words in funny voices.” Hmm …

What stuck with him in his transition was storytelling. Games are stories. In a gaming pitch he attended … the designers were focusing on the story.


To film makers – you should be able to transfer your writing ability to the gaming industry.

With film, you have a budget, can maybe just do 3 takes. With games, you can do whatever you want to do.

Talked about his transfer from film to gaming…


Ouch – he always loved film, made a documentary about a teacher affair with a student, got in trouble for that!

Loved PCs in college… After college, realized he didn’t want to program … so went to grad film school (I think).

Landed a game design job – they put in long 60-70 hour work weeks…

Film helped him develop game pacing, how to make them more immersive.

He was a senior producer for Ultima – a virtual world game from the late 1990s.

With “suits” – in presentations, they mainly notice what you’re showing them – not what you’re actually telling them. So his background with storyboarding and quickly getting to the point helped – if you have this skill, you will get the gig.

They went through 1000 writers before they picked the 12-14 they kept. Wow. The writers take a writer’s test.