Archive for the 'FOWA Miami' Category

Miami rocked!! You guys were awesome!!

By Mel Kirk

On behalf of myself and the whole of Carsonified team, I’d like to say the biggest thanks for coming to FOWA Miami and making it so enjoyable. We’ve not had so much fun packed into a few days in as long as we can remember and we’re so pleased to hear that you enjoyed it too.

Above everything else, it was really apparent that the East Coast has such a strong sense of community and there are are great things being done there. Never have we had such a warm reception and been made to feel so welcome – so thank you!

Our personal highlights were, seeing all the amazing speakers on the Build a web app in 40 minutes panel…

FOWA Panel
Photo thanks to Obie Fernandez

For those of you who couldn’t make it, the panelists (Erick Schonfeld, Blaine Cook, Kevin Hale, Matt Mullenweg, Leah Culver, Alex Bard, Gary Vaynerchuk, Kevin Rose, Carlos Garcia and Cal Henderson) discussed ideas and brainstormed an app in 40 minutes. This made all the crazier by the homage paid to the famous Carson hat (courtesy of

Kathy Sierra gave an amazing presentation on Cognitive Seduction, creating pleasure models for your passionate users, which had the whole of the auditorium totally fixated. The presentations from all of the speakers were really well received, in particular Cal’s presentation which had people in stitches!

Cal Henderson presentation at FOWA
Photo thanks to David Basulto

This was followed by the one and only Gary Vay-ner-Chuk who spoke candidly about branding and communities before going on to do a live episode of

Gary Vaynerchuk
Photo thanks to William Couch
After the sun went down, you guys showed us how to party Miami style and boy do you know how to party…. made me wish I’d arranged the breakfast a little later the next day :).

FOWA Party @ Nikki Beach

So, as you can see, we found it hard to find a favorite part of the event. We enjoyed every second and we really hope that you did too. We’d love to get your feedback here and you could even win yourself an iPod Touch by completing the form. This really helps us to improve the event for next year, so if you could spare the time, we’d be really grateful.

The audio and presentation files will be uploaded to the site over the next few days, we’re tweaking as I speak and video will also be made available. For those of you who purchased Conference in a Box, I will be in touch shortly to refund your money as we’ve decided to give this away for free, yay!!!

Please stay in touch and we can’t wait to see you back in Miami next year, woot!


And the Web App Charts winner is….

Just a few weeks ago, we kicked off a survey to discover your favourite web app – the one you couldn’t live without.

Voting closed a few hours ago, and the results have just been announced at Future of Web Apps Miami.

It might come as no surprise that the top spots were taken by some big names… but number 6 shows that healthy, passionate communities are happy to get clicking to vote for their favourite app.

Check out the results in full at

Brian Oberkirch, Tantek Celik and Joseph Smarr: Future of Social Networks

Brian, Tantek and Joseph Smarr

Brian up first…
Be like the web – small piece, loosely joined.
Simplicity, modular design,…. Berners-Lee’s principles

Social networking fatigue… but increasingly we need more of them.
HAve to permanently ask are you my friend? And add new friends each time…

Building blocks are already out there to open up networks that will make the social web better.
Things we take for granted – RSS, Creative Commons licences – OpenID is increasingly gaining traction, also a part of this.
oAuth and Microformats too.

Tantek on stage to talk about building blocks.
Talks thought simple building blocks that you can use in less than a day.
Your profile – name, photo, notes, hyperlink – the hCard building block.
Profile equivalency – XFN rel = “me”.
Friends lists – hyperlinks to profiles, friend icons, name (in img alt text)

Social Network

Google’s social graph API is not an API for – it’s an API for the whole web.

Adding these building blocks to your site – hCard and XFN – enables Google to crawl this information.

Susprising how many sites already support all these things.
hCards + XFN supporting friends lists.

When you update your icon on Flickr, it updates on GetSatisfaction too. All of which is making things easier and nicer for the user – which is what it’s all about.
It also has clear business benefits, speeds development – stop reinventing the wheel.

Joseph Smarr from Plaxo talks more about how open is good for business.

Plaxo helps people stay connected across a lot of different tools and services.
each of these social networks acts like you’ve never used one before in your life – enter profile information, email address, photo etc…

Shows sign-up page for
Magically fillled out lots of information! Reduces sign-up attrition – and better for user.
Anybody can go out and do this today.

You can also get bigger, by being part of this ecosystem.
Graph of – his online personae.
(But obviously not everything goes into this – not all personal data, some kept private)

Google already crawls the web, so in the perfect position to mine this data.

We are on the cusp of the Social Web
No social networking in 2002 when Joseph joined Plaxo. Exciting to see the power of taking the real social graph, the people you know and care about, and can see what it can do.
We are just at the very beginning – we are AOL and Compuserve in 1992. Once protocols of web are open and data control is in the hands of the user, amazing things are going to happen. We are at the beginning of a tremendous period of innovation.
Lock-in not an issue – the pie available is going to be huge! If you’re building social networks, you have a rich pile of data to work with. The value of all the connections that can be made is exciting. a great example of ‘find my friends’ in action. Also

Kathy Sierra – Cognitive Seduction 3.5

What I’ve talked about in the past, is how to get people’s attention.
This time, taking to the next step – what really turns the brain on.

Why are you here?
The more communication paths we have to getting information, the less likely you are to be at an event like this! So why are we here today?

Probably more than any other group – you’re the ones that make the tools that make face to face stuff not essential any more, and yet you’re here!

Is it to get laid?

To make better apps, we must compensate for the missing ‘human-ness’.

there’s something – as real time and ambient as our apps are.

We have to help out users get together offline.
Make our software act more like a human.

Has had past issues with Twitter, but it’s increasing a level of intimacy between people who’ve never met before and that’s amazing.

There’s something human in our software.

Our brains filter out a lot of stuff.
Stuff that we feel, get through. If your brain feels a surge of chemistry, it gets through the bandwidth filter.

The brian responds to novelty, anything that’s not quite what you expect.
Bunny Suicides.
The brain pays attention to mystery – things that are not fully resolved. Anything that invokes our curiousity is very compelling to the brain.
Thrill is motivating to the brain.
Quote from Diane Ackerman – Deep Play.  …”an ancient pleasure that may lie at the heart of thrill-seeking”.

Michael Lopp, Apple – “it’s not secrecy, it’s theatre”.

Key point – we need to the user’s brain rather than conscious mind.

Where there is passion, there is a user kicking ass!

Hates overloading words like passion and community – been much abused.
Passion is defined by the fact that you want to keep going, and growing and doing it more – keep learning, and I keep getting better so I get a higher resolution experience.

Parts of the brain light up when people who study or play music listen to it – they have a richer experience because they hear more things.

Kathy not so much of a musician but a bit of a fader geek! Would love to get hands on mixing board at gigs. Daughter had listened to Radiohead before, but after seeing live at gig, swears she heard more the nex time she used it.

For Tantek, wine is just a one-bit experience 🙂 For wine snobs, they have a richer, deeper experience because they are better at it.

How do you get people through that phase? The learning ….

It’s not about the tools we build – that’s not going to make us better.
Getting good at usability and user experience – that’s not the point. People don’t want to better at the tools, but what the tools enable them to do. Choosing the right menu items is not going to excite them.
Even if we make simple tools, they come passionate about the thing our tools lets them DO.
And if that happens, then our tool gets to ride along.

Photographers don’t want to be camera experts, they want to be expert photographers.

Think: what do you help your users kick ass at.

Software development processes…
Waterfall, Spiral and Rapid models – what’s next?
UX design next phase – the apps knew what I wanted it to do.

Goes back to testing with monkeys and brain mapping.
Mirror neurons allow us to run simulations of another person’s brain. We have ‘telepathy neurons’ which see what people are feeling and thinking and then simulate it ourselves. We understand it.
We can mind-read people’s next moves – we need to activate this.

If you really want to see how users are responding to your app, you need to ‘see’ them – reports and stats won’t deliver this.

When you see something you’ve experienced personally, more of your brain lights up (picture of snowboarder on stage
If you’re going to be a better designer, need to have prior experience to – can’t just observe users, need to have done that thing we’re asking our users to do so we can respond more accurately.

Feelings matter way more than thoughts – particularly when something goes wrong. Think about how you feel when you use say, a travel website, when it goes wrong.
Are you thinking oops or bastards!

Ideally, you need to see real customers in action using your apps. Difficult when you’re a small start-up perhaps, but very important.

Make your apps seem psychic!
You can make a confused face that means something in real life, but the computer won’t respond.
Need to give apps a way to know when user is confused. Know when user is feeling lost.
There is actually some advanced research going on with people doing facial expression recognition. An easier way, get the users to tell us – WTF?
Let users tell you!! Anticipate it.

Make your software do more ‘human things’.

So to answer the question, why are we here?
One of things that seems to be coming up all the time when scientists look at why we are here.
We have senses that matter deeply – especially touch. Our skin is important.
If I make a product that exists purely in bits, is there anything I can do that gives them something to touch? Atoms still matter.

Brian Oberkirch and Tantek Celik set the FOWA agenda

Tantek and Brian welcome everyone to the sho and
explain the principles and ideas behind today.
Simplicity – the people here have succeeded through simplicity.
Brian said that many web apps that we think of standard bearers in the industry actually started off as side projects. Answering simple needs.
The power of leaving things out – is not a social network site, but still hugely popular with a community around it.
Speed – another principle, rapid iterating. Pownce is our case study.
Not resting on laurels – continuing to improve.
Flickr is doing this — but been responsive and honouring their community.
The community is actually regulating and iterating itself – BarCamp is a real version of that. There were 300 people here yesterday. That just wouldn’t have happened 5 years ago.
OAuth – a bunch of small companies getting together who had a real need, and quickly got together to solve this. Then the bigger guys got interested too. Open Social is now using it.
Open is the new black!
Believe in the competitive power of openness. Important to build things that are really open, not playing lip service.
Consumer delighting power of openness.
Tantek – one-upping the openness. There’s a lot of this competitive iteration going on which benefits everybody.
Brian – an exciting prospect for everyone – Plaxo, here today, are hanging their hats on being aggressively open! Using every standard out there.
Openness isn’t jsut about protocols, but creative commons, and terms of service. EG. Digg’s user contributions are placed into the public domain. The ultimate re-use API.
What does it matter? Sets an example and shows that sharing and the community and publishing is as important as technology and protocols.
Something very important for your future web apps.
Optimise for happiness – make sure you’re having a good time building what you’re building, and that your user have a good time using it! Build your business models on that.

And who better than to speak on creating happy, passionate users than Kathy Sierra…

Web App Charts results to be announced at FOWA

Next week we’ll be announcing the winners of our Web App Charts survey. If you haven’t already voted, head over to the site and let us know which web app you can’t live without!

We launched this quest after getting frustrated by the lack of quality information about the most popular and successful web apps out there. We’ve already received thousands of votes, so we’re confident it will reveal the apps that people are really passionate about.

If you run a web app and you’d like your community to vote for you, you can use this badge to send people to your site.

Web App Charts badge

The winners will be announced on Friday February 29th from the stage at FOWA.

More exciting news for FOWA…

By Mel Kirk

Awesome Motion Designer

We’re really excited to be working with Eden Soto to provide the official FOWA show reel for the event. Hosting the event for the first time in Miami we’ve tried to support local talent and businesses wherever possible. Eden is based in Florida and has worked for some huge names and on famous projects so we’re honored to be working with him.

Eden’s last motion projects include those for Digg, Channel 8, Yahoo Games, Nike, EA, GigaOm and CocaCola – examples of which can be seen here.

Eden Soto

Hangover Remedy

I know that I’ve yapped on and on about the Official FOWA Party (sponsored by Scrapblog – thanks guys!) but I can’t start to hide my excitement no matter how hard I try. I’m realistic though and I know a good hearty American Breakfast is going to be the only way forward on the Saturday (1st March). Having done a scouting trip, I came across Jerry’s Deli and I’ve managed to twist the arms of the team to go back there for breakfast. I should add, it didn’t take too much persuasion. So, we’re going to be there at 10am – if you don’t have plans that morning, why not stop by for some french toast with us?

FOWA Goodies

FOWA is crossing the ocean to land on Miami shores and so is the FOWA official merchandise (I just heard you woop a little didn’t you 😉 ). Seriously though, as an attendee, you have a fantastic opportunity to buy conference in a box material and survival kits at hugely discounted prices. So be sure to remember those wallets to bag yourself a bargain!

Survival Kits are going to be sold at the special price of $120 for 4 (which individually would cost $180), whilst we will also be selling copies of the last FOWA and FOWD conference in a box for just $100? (normally retailing at $380)…

FOWA Merchandise

Free AOL Workshop – 28th February

The guys from are going to be hosting a free workshop at the Carnival Center on the morning of 28th February. The workshop is titled Distributing Your Applications For Fun and Profit and looks at embedding social and community features, promoting distribution and syndication, and getting paid by serving ads within the applications you develop.

What does that mean specifically? Well, you’ll learn how to:

  • Plug into the growing ecosystem of widgets and social applications to engage your audience and improve stickiness
  • Encourage community among your users by adding viral distribution and social features to your applications and websites
  • Generate revenue streams by incorporating unobtrusive advertising

If you’re interested in attending and would like to put your name down, please drop me a note to mel @ carsonified dot com with the subject line AOL Workshop.

Don’t forget the passes!

Please don’t forget that passes will not be posted to you ahead of the event. Instead, they can be collected from the registration area (by last name) on the morning of 29th February from 8am onwards. Once you have your pass, please be sure to take care of it as you will need to present it at the parties to be granted access for those free drinks ;).

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