14 Mar 2013

All posts from 14 Mar 2013


2013 SXSW Interactive Award Winners

Yes I sat through the awards ceremony for you all to bring you this year’s SXSW Interactive Award winners. Subsequently, I realized I could have just got the information off the press release and used those two hours of my life in a more fulfilling way. Question to the organizers – why have a drinking game as part of the night’s entertainment when we all only got one drink ticket? The game was to drink every time the word “nerd” was used – which was surprisingly infrequent. But all was not a bust – the host for the awards was comedian Aisha Tyler – who introduced each award category with a specially written Haiku – very funny.

Anyway, browse through this list of some of the coolest stuff happening online today. From Kony to beautiful graphics and animation to new ways of learning, education and having fun – there may well be something here to inspire you to do something amazing.  So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, the winners are:

Special Honors

Digital Campaign of the Year
Invisible Children: KONY 2012 You may well know about this one for the right or wrong reasons but the KONY 2012 campaign yielded the fastest growing viral video of all time. 3.7 million people pledged their support for efforts to arrest Joseph Kony. With over 96 million views here’s the video once more. 

Best of Show and Amusement
Contre Jour  is  a “hauntingly beautiful” web game  where you swing, shoot, drop or fling a character called Petit through 30 free challenging levels right inside the browser. The game is optimized for touch and for working with Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 devices. It will also work with other modern browsers. 

Breakout Digital Trend
Leap Motion. I played with this and its cool. Its 3D motion technology. Soon we will all be waving our arms and fingers around in front of computer screens.

People’s Choice Award
Charity Miles is an exercise app that works by tracking mileage and raising money for different causes. Bikers earn 10 cents per mile while walkers and runners can earn 25 cents a mile for charities. The company is self funding the initial $1 million covering the app’s first users. There are currently nine charities to choose from, including Achilles International, Autism Speaks, Feeding America and Habitat for Humanity.  

Category winners 

Wikipedia Zero is an initiative of the Wikimedia Foundation to enable mobile access, free of data charges, to Wikipedia in developing countries. The objective of the program is to reduce barriers to accessing free knowledge — two of the largest barriers being cost of data usage and network speed.

Lost Art, curated by the Tate Gallery in the UK, is an online exhibition that tells the stories of significant artworks that have disappeared – be they destroyed, stolen, discarded, rejected or erased. This virtual online exhibition will last for one year before itself being lost. 

VIP Fridge Magnet, from the United Arab Emirates,  allows you to order your favourite pizza from Red Tomato Pizza just by pressing the actual fridge magnet. Seems a gateway to massive pizza over-ordering if you ask me. 

BioDigital Human  is a virtual 3D body that brings to life thousands of medically accurate anatomy objects and health conditions in an interactive Web-based platform. 

SoundCloud,  launched in 2008, is a social sound platform that gives users access to the world’s largest community of music and audio creators.

Educational Resource
ChronoZoom is an open-source community project dedicated to visualizing the history of everything. “Big History” is the attempt to understand, in a unified, interdisciplinary way, the history of the cosmos, earth, life, and humanity. ChronoZoom seeks to bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences. 

Chrome Web Lab  is made of up 5 Chrome  browser experiment installations in the London Science Museum that brings the extraordinary workings of the internet to life and aims to inspire the world about the possibilities of the web. 

The Beauty Inside The Beauty Inside is an ongoing film where the audience can play the main part. Its about Alex, a man who wakes up as a different person every day. 

Motion Graphics
Air Jordan 2012. Great motion graphics promoting the latest Air Jordans

JAM With Chrome An interactive web application that allows friends in different locations to play music together in the Chrome browser on their computers. From music pros to beginners you can choose from 19 different instruments, from acoustic and bass guitars to drum kits and keyboards. 

Marco Rosella is a designer and developer with a stunning professional site. You would definitely hire this guy after seeing this. It ain’t no LinkedIn, that’s for sure!

Social Media
NASA Mars Curiosity Rover social media campaign. They have 1.3 million twitter followers.

Living Galapagos is a student-authored multimedia website exploring the impact of mankind on the Galápagos Islands. 

Technical Achievement
Nike+ FuelBand. All you health nuts know about this. 

Go here to see the full list of finalists for the 2013 SXSW Interactive Awards


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2013 SXSW Interactive Award Winners

Is It Journalism, or Is It Social Media?

Social media and journalism influencers: (l-r) Mark Briggs, Mandy Jenkins, Evonne Benedict

Social media and journalism influencers:
(l-r) Mark Briggs, Mandy Jenkins, Evonne Benedict

One of the great things about South by Southwest Interactive is the opportunity to attend less formal sessions and meet people with similar concerns and interests, and hear from people who’ve put some serious time in the trenches. Such was a conversation with Seattle’s King 5 Broadcasting Company Social Media  Director Mark Briggs, and Mandy Jenkins, Interactives Editor for DigitalFirst Media.

I arrived knowing that the conversation would probably weave through the issues of corporate control versus social media agility, and implications that agility holds for journalistic standards. I hoped that Briggs and Jenkins would be able to offer some expert perspective, and I wasn’t disappointed. Bonus takeaways came from the experience of other attendees, which appear later in this article.

The conversation began with some insights on the demands placed on today’s journalists by the here-and-now media environment that has naturally developed from the ubiquitous nature of social media. Mark Briggs began by describing recent times in news reporting when journalists were pushed to tie up the day with major stories. But with so many channels available for information, deadlines are many and frequent.  “Now it’s minute by minute,” said Briggs.

He went on to describe a defining journalistic dilemma of our time:  with information about any event moving in at warp speed, and the pressure to be first with breaking stories, verification and vetting are even more necessary than ever but at the same time more challenging.

Mandy Jenkins illustrated the point by recalling an event that had occurred at the Discovery Channel when a shooting took place there last month. “People were locked down in offices in and around the scene,” she reported.  “We were able to get comprehensive coverage that wouldn’t have been possible without social media.”

Verification, she added, was possible because there were a large number of reports coming in that consistently described the same event and that information meshed with police reports.  “There’s a sweet spot between the immediacy of social media and journalism,” she said.

When asked about how news organizations could control the message and restrict social media, both Jenkins and Briggs were adamant that for outlets wanting to retain audience, the choice was clear. “You can’t afford to let someone else take over your branding,” stressed Jenkins. “If you don’t reach your readers on your platform, someone else will.”

To concerns about the perceived gap between social media and journalistic standards, Briggs had a clear answer: use the highest journalistic standards on social media, and social media will come to be associated with those same high standards.

King 5 Social Media manager Evonne Benedict was in the audience when a participant asked about guidelines and tools for social media managers. “It’s about breaking down silos,” explained Bennedict. “It’s a job that evolves every day.” Briggs, who is Bennedict’s boss at King 5, described how Bennedict had created the position herself through her own enthusiastic use of social media and innovative use of platforms to tell the story.

Jenkins added that she has held this same title in a variety of organizations, but that the job had been different in every location. Furthermore, it’s a demanding job, she told the audience, often with long hours and fuzzy boundaries.

A concern about today’s customer-centric news platforms was aired. Shouldn’t news organizations insist on telling the stories that the audience needs to hear be told as well as the stories they want to hear? Jenkins and Briggs were adamant that part of telling important stories is telling the readership how these issues affect them. This means using classic journalistic ethics, and increasingly means using the newest tools to present data in easily-understood ways. Jenkins advocates learning coding skills for journalists entering the profession and experienced reporters alike.

Other new tools for news professionals were discussed, such as Sourcesleuth for identifying sources and  Chartbeat, for identifying sources of tweets. Online platforms such as Storify and The Social Sponge provide places for reporters to establish a social media presence for their stories.

Briggs and Jenkins espoused a cautious approach to outlets embracing too many new social media platforms, or using platforms in inappropriate ways.  “We have to do our homework first – it irks an audience to see the inappropriate use of the platform that clearly says the organization doesn’t have any idea of how to use it.  You wouldn’t, for example, post grim accident scene pictures on Pinterest,” said Jenkins.

The final message was that the need for standards and ethics hasn’t changed, and that using new tools is a necessary skill, albeit one that is rapidly evolving. Both panelists agreed that telling and curating stories still comes down to human relationships.

Norwegian journalist Øyvind Solstad, head of social media and user involvement, agreed. He offered a different model from standard practices in North American journalism.  “US reporters seem to hold stories close until they’re ready to publish,” he remarked.  “But in Norway, stories are published as they progress, and at every stage the writer asks the audience for comments and information, so that the story grows and evolves.”  This additional input, Solstad said, allows the reporter to enlist many information sources and present a complete picture. “We should learn from you,” Jenkins replied. Solstad was agreeable. “It is a conversation, after all.”

Mark Briggs and Evonne Benedict are the Social Media director and manager, respectively, at King 5 Broadcasting in Seattle.  Mandy Jenkins is Interactives Editor at digitalfirst Media and a faculty member in the graduate program in journalism at the University of Georgetown.

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Is It Journalism, or Is It Social Media?

Communicating the Genome

23 Pairs of Chromosones

23 Pairs of Chromosones

Tuesday morning I went to a SXSW panel on “Personalized Health.” The featured speaker was Dr. Linda Avey, a geneticist and entrepreneur who founded 23andme.com. Much of the talk centered around her work at 23andme and their continued progress since her departure. I was quite impressed with the capabilities of 23andme and their project making personal genotyping publicly available. However, I had some concerns, and they have a lot more to do with communication than with medicine. In that area, if I may be so bold as to correct a successful geneticist, Dr Avey’s plan needs some improvement.

For $99 anyone can purchase a kit from 23andme, send in a saliva sample and get back a full report on their risks for various genetic diseases, whether they are a carrier for certain genetic diseases, information about their genetic ancestry (you might be surprised!) and information about how their body might react to certain drugs and allergens. The goal behind projects like 23andme is twofold: first, empower patients with their own data; second, build a robust database of genomes to increase the reporting accuracy by comparing each sample against the database. The end result – we all hope – is a healthier world.

While I appreciate the scientific benefits of this project and especially the health benefits to the human race, a few of the applications gave me pause. Dr. Avey mentioned first the great benefits of sequencing an infant with medical difficulties to help determine what might be the problem, which is all well and good. Then she mentioned – in passing – that another clinic has discovered a way to non-invasively obtain a DNA sample from a fetus, which could be sequenced so the parents could prepare for any eventualities. Not sure how that works, but let’s go with it; I can see how that would be helpful, but it presents some distasteful social possibilities. Finally, Dr. Avey mentioned the possibility of prospective parents having both their genome types reviewed to identify any issues before pursuing conception. In the hands of private citizens, this could be very helpful.

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Communicating the Genome