SXSW: Day 3

Session 1: Neurons Sparking! Design with the Brain in Mind

Dr. M.A. Greenstein (George Greenstein Institute), @DRG

This session focused on optimizing game design based on reward, trust and IQ systems in the brain.  I apologize if my notes for this session may seem random.  I’m trying to get the deck used in the session to include.

Working Assumption 1:

  • The Inimitable 3 C’s:
    • Consciousness
    • Creativity
    • Collaboration

Working Assumption 2:

  • Gaming is both good and bad for the  human brain

Stress degrades the brain

From a neuroscience perspective, there’s no multitasking, only task sorting.

3 Gaming Models:

  • Posit Science
  • Call of Duty
  • Civilization

Novelty creates learning

  • Keep things fresh and new
  • Brain is good at memory
    • Once it figures things out, doesn’t get better

Children are more interested in playing games than doing their schoolwork because games give immediate feedback/reward

  • Don’t get that in education
  • Novelty

3 Strategies common to the way gamers and the brain sees:

  1. Selective Attention
  2. Face/Pattern Recognition
  3. Visual/Spatial Fluency

Posit Science

  • Roving targets demand “focused attention”:
  • Single Pointed
  • Global


  • Face/Pattern Recognition
  • Age 0 to 4 – Greatest number of mirror neurons
    • Watching imitating everything to learn

Oxytocin (more produced/released)

  • When we recognize people
  • When we hug
  • Sex (forms connection/bond)

“Action gamers who played Call of Duty 2 were 25% faster at coming to a conclusion and answered just as many questions correctly than strategy gamers.”

Session 2: Q&A with Google & Bing on Website Ranking
Matt Cutts (Google), @mattcutts

Duane Forrester (Bing), @duaneforrester

This was one of the most anticipated sessions I wanted to attend at SXSW so much that we made it a point to get there at least 45 minutes early.  I’m glad we did because we were near the front of a very long line.  For some reason, they gave this session probably the smallest room possible, despite the popularity of the panelists amongst the people that attend SXSW Interactive.  Fortunately, I ended up in the second row, right on the center aisle.

If you’ve looked into the least bit of  information about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you know who Matt Cutts is.  If you’ve never heard of him before, he’s a Google engineer on their web spam team – he works on modifying the algorithm to make the most relevant legitimate sites pop up in the top of the search results.  I had only heard of Duane Forrester in the past month because he and Cutts got into a bit of a twitter battle after Google accused Bing of copying their search results.  The panel was entirely a question and answer session from the audience.

These were my takeaways:

Affiliates actually have to build good content site

Punishment proportionate to the crime

  • Hidden links – 30 days
  • Hacked sites -> Can submit a reconsideration request to get this pushed faster

Focus on creating original content/research/insight

  • Think about: “What interesting thing have I made in the last 30 days”

2 Key Google Signals

  • Reputation
  • Topicality

There are no normal search results.

  • A search for bank on east coast is going to be different for the same search on the west coast.
  • What matters are conversions/traffic
  • Page views, UVs, conversions, time spent on site – those are the real metrics


  • Deep Content
  • Keyword Research


Session 3: Moving the Web onto Mobile Devices (Panel)

Noah Broadwater (Sesame Street)

Kristin Long (MIGHTYminnow)

Scott Fegette (Adobe)

The content of this session was different than what I was expecting.  I was hoping they were going to address best practices when creating a mobile version of your website or an app.  I felt like the panelists focused more on limitations or issues such as no standards set by the W3C concerning HTML5, different video formats for different phones (e.g. Apple not supporting flash), and the lack of robust emulation tools that were affordable (especially with one of the panelists being a sole proprietorship).

The key takeaways I got from this session were:

  • Since there are variations of video formats on different phones, you need to figure out where/what/who are you targeting? – > What is going to allow you to reach the broadest audience?
  • W3C needs to set standards
  • jQuery mobile (tool)
  • Developing for native is very different than the mobile web
    • With native apps, you get the benefits of the accelerometer, camera and GPS.
    • You should incorporate these items
    • Allow for offline mode
    • More intuitive way of accessing data/interacting for children -> Children are very good with mobile devices over a computer mouse because it’s all touch based
  • Web (Desktop) to mobile changes the experience
  • Shifting environments forces you to be a content architect again
    • Make content more appropriate, accessible and fun
    • Content needs to be more concise
    • Structure content to be clickable (fat finger effect) -> Links presented differently
  • Shoot and store your highest quality video and then reformat to different video formats/transcode
  • VideoJS (tool)
  • CSS3 Media Queries (tool)
  • Kaltura (tool)


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