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.

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.

SXSWi2009: Surviving Scandal: How to Manage Negative Attention in the Internet Age

Moderator – Megan McCarthy – was at Valleywag, now with Techmeme

This is a Core Conversation – I think more of an unconference, discussion approach. But the topic is certainly relevant to my library! So I’m attending, and we’ll see what transpires (hee – I used the word “transpires”).

#scandal is the hashtag

Megan has a few points to make:

– don’t panic. That’s the worst thing to do. It’s probably not really as bad as it seems. With Valleywag, people were upset – but it was only bad for an hour or two – people simply moved on. People’s mean reactionary comments made it worse than if they’d simply ignored it.

– what types of scandals are we talking about? People giving examples of different types of scandals that happened to them. Someone wrote a sex book, wanted to stay anonymous … the press took that anonymity away. Her point – people forget this touches real people’s lives. She took control of the situation by holding an interview wither the Guardian – all the tabloids then decided there was no story anymore and stopped bothering her.

when to respond, when to ignore.

Someone in the audience was on the Real World show. Getting her perspective. It happened 10 years ago, she’s still getting people coming up to her and commenting on it (I think she was hit or something – hard to hear). She left the show early. Lovely. She was hit, and all the stupid camera people did was keep on filming. Nice.

Someone claiming some people want scandal – because they want to be noticed.

Some scandal is good – Sarah Lacy from last year’s SXSW for example. She achieved scandal … most people didn’t know her before that – most of the tech community knew her afterwards … and since her book was coming out, it helped sales. It wasn’t a planned thing, but possibly was ultimately a good thing.

Another guy disagreeing – people don’t want the scandal.

Some scandal starts as an accident or mistake. A problem then is not admitting it – it’s better to be transparent and say “I was wrong.”

A webhoster talking about basic customer service stuff, ie., let the customer yell until they’re done, then say “I undersntand” etc – yay! Finally soemthing that us public librarians do lots and understand…. :-)

Best way is face-to-face, then phone, then twitter, comments, etc. If you send an email, assume it will get published. Watch what you say, no exclamation points, say as little as possible, spell-check, etc.

at can you do to prepare yourself? Don’t panic. This too will pass. No one notices your scandal as much as you do – especially on the internet.

Interesting stuff to think about… thankfully I don’t personally experience this!

SXSWi2009: Chris Anderson/Guy Kawasaki Conversation

Guy Kawasaki – CEO, Alltop
Chris Anderson – Wired Magazine

#free is the hashtag

Q: how would twitter make money? New goal with new media companies – to make money, as opposed to the older traditional ad model (freemium approach). So for twitter, charge companies.

Guy – so charge companies but not Guy, who’s not a company?

Suggestion of doing a first 500 tweets are free, pay so much after that. Good option. nline gaming is a good test case for that model. Sort of a free to play, pay to get better hair & weapons. Chris thinks this model with Twitter might make people go elsewhere.

Guy disagrees – he has lots of followers who might not follow him elsewhere, so he’ll stay and pay.

Guy – How would you reinvent Wired? Right now, paper still matters. The question is which paper adds value to the internet? Nice way to view the question – I’ll bet libraries can use that logic for the short-term, anyway. We’re NOT, but just sayin.

Right now there’s both, and that’s ok. Guy – will there be pdf versions of free? Guy – Chris, you’ll be a hypocrite if there’s no free version. laughter.

Hypothetical scenario – What is a book? Lots of different formats. Paperbacks. Sponsored paperbacks. Electronic version, audiobooks, DRMed versions, ebook in various formats, the web version of a book. Digital forms – marginal price is 0, so it should be free. Paper formats are not free to make, so they should cost.

If you believe that the physical version holds value, you need to still make those.

Chris’s publisher is forward-thinking .. chris also owns the rights to the ebook version (I think that’s what he said) – so he can do whatever he wants to with it

Popularity – is it easier to achieve popularity or monetize popularity? Chris says it’s harder to monetize popularity – because there’s no one right “here’s how to do it” answer.

If you’re a professor, you might want tenure. If you’re a speaker, you want speaking gigs – so it’s different. Guy says – me giving my book away gets me more speaking gigs – but it doesn’t help the book publisher. Chris – talking about similar thing with music industry. Music industry is moving along, but publishing houses are having problems. So they’re starting to represent artists differently – they’er seeing the business as the bands do now.

Can a book publisher do a similar thing? Get speaking gigs for the author, etc? Align their business to push the author and not just the book.

Guy talks about a meaningful trade – if you follow chris on twitter, maybe he can give you a free pdf? Then you can figure out how to monetize that. Chris says “he’ll do it.”

Guy is introducing soemone in the audience. The guy who negotiated the 99 cent song for Apple. Cool.

More models. A free/pay model like free cell phone, pay for minutes. Now a new free – anything online is near zero cost. Take the quotation marks off free – it’s really free bacause of no to low cost.

Freemium is fascinating. Giving out water. Give away 99% for free to sell 5%. The free version doesn’t cost anything – again, you see this in the game space. Online RPGs – much experimentation in online charging. If you can get 5% to pay, you meet cost. Guy says – it’s very hard to get 5% to pay. Chris – free for a couple of years, then add value. 37signals as example. TIme limited – first 30 days free. Storage limited, feature limited. Google – certain enterprise class is free, larger costs.

Guy – switch cultures. he bought Chris’s book for 50 cents. Chris says “oh really?” In China – no intellectual problems – what can we learn there, where there is no intellectual property? Chris – China and Brazil is the future of free.

CHina – has stopped fighting piracy. Instead, play off that and use it. Let the pirates do their thing, let them to spread the buzz for you, then use that to push celebrity – concerts, appearances, etc. Advertisements/product endorsements.

Guy – another model. Let’s say a basic Starbucks coffee is free. You buy muffins, buy the extra stuff – mocha, extra shots, etc. Chris – you have just described Walls Drugs. They needed some way to gain attention – they’re in the flat part of Colorado – they offered free water to bring people into the store, then people bought other stuff too while there. Companies do this too – they give you free coffee so you’ll stay and do more work. Zappos – gives away free shipping.

online shoe store – you can’t try on the shoes. Can you take that problem away? Yes you can with free shipping and free return policies. Some people feel guilty about this. Chris’s wife feels guilty about all the shoes that get sent back.

Guy – why is free better than 25 cents? Why is one penny more of a bump than free? Chris – someone he knows calls it the one penny gap. We always think “is it worth it?” That flag is enough to dissuade you from buying the stuff. What free does is to allow us to never raise that flag. It’s not about the money – it’s about the flag. Remove the flag, and you’ll be more successful.

Charging people a little bit can give it more value sometimes.

In the digital space, waste is a good thing – it’s too cheap to matter. This differs from the physical world. No one thinks less of Google because it’s free.

Is there any negative connotation for free in the digital world? Chris – I can’t think of one. But – there’s no excuse for sucking. If your stuff is bad, people will simply go elsewhere.

Office vs Google Docs. Ask which one suits my way of working best? Utility comes first. As you move online, free wants to be the natural price. If you don’t do it, someone else will do it to/for you.

Traditional marketing – shows you stuff you don’t have but want. Free – doesn’t do this. Free says – come try it out. If you really love it, when it comes time to pay, you’re cool with that. Because you love it. For Guy, if twitter asks him to pay, he’d be ok with that because he’s getting real value out of it.

Q&A Audience time:

A guy with a company that has a freemium model – a hosted app. People weren’t going to the free model. Chris – how people feel about free comes from their experience and familiarity with similar products. IE if you’re competing with Photoshop and you say similar to photoshop but free, people might be suspicious.

Chris’s new book, “Free” will be published on July 6. Follow him and apparently get the free online version. Cool…

Economy question – no good answers. Guy said “free money!” Chris – you need to start working on new freemium business models.

Guy hollered at someone who was going too long on the question – “Can you cut to the question?” Funny.

Chris says he isn’t telling the apple to fall (thinking about gravity). He’s just saying the apple will fall – it’s inevitable.

Depends on expectations. If people are used to free, they want free. If they’re used to pay, they want to pay (hmm … I must be different here – I always want free!).

How can you compete with free? Microsoft has been doing this for 30 years. They’re not selling software – they’re selling confidence and risk reduction – they’re selling a contractual term, a 1-800 support line.

Some dude says he’s willing to pay for premium video content. He’s being laughed at. His point is that this would be similar to current cable models … so why hasn’t YouTube done this? Chris – YouTube isn’t doing this – they more concerned with content and relevancy instead of premium quality.

Guy is making the next Q&A guy give $20 to a non-profit feed the hungry group, in order to ask a question – the guy agreed and did it! Housing credit bubble question … Chris says it’s different online. You can start a new company with a credit card over the weekend, vs the years and years of the housing market.