Updated for 2014 -- SXSW 2012 - Map of Austin Venues

Get around SXSW with my handy web application (useful for desktop, tablet and smartphone).

SXSW 2012 custom venue map
SXSW 2012 custom venue map
SXSW 2012 custom venue map

[caption id="attachment_1505" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="SXSW 2012 custom venue map"][/caption] SXSW is next week, so guess who is going a million miles an hour to prepare? Yep, you guessed it, yours truly. One of the hardest things about going to SXSW is that it is a conference that is spreadout all over downtown; so, if you're not a local, it's very challenging to find your way around to make your schedule without losing your mind. So, I know I needed to solve this problem and develop a solution fast. I've only been in Austin a little over a year and half and live about 30 minutes NW of the city and don't have the exact map in my mind just yet.

Well, this is where I needed a quick and easy map on my phone to help me in a pinch, without having to type in every address as I am avoiding throngs of people and trying to focus on what's next. My first thought was to develop a schedule in evernote or a google spreadsheet with a link out to the google map url for each venue, which is nice, but i needed something visual so I could quickly assess feasibility of any last minute changes to my plans (this always! happens at sxsw for a variety of reasons, so be flexible and ready to go at a moments notice).

In order to solve my map dilema, I googled for a solution but nothing turned up. There are no SXSW maps for this mobile-attendee-looking-at-all-options purpose, so I developed my own today and am now sharing it with you so you can use it too! There are two "views" of my SXSW Map (web and mobile). First, a view via web browser of Google Maps to use on your laptop. Second, a mobile version optimized to display nicely on your smartphone or tablet. My phone always wants to open up the Google Maps application and doesn't allow me to access Google Maps directly via the web, so there was a huge problem right away with trying to view my new custom SXSW map that way.

So next, I found a solution to address that very issue. That was all I needed to develop a highly useful mobile version of my custom SXSW venue map, so here it is: Custom Google Map designed just for SXSW - list of Austin venues / mapped locations

1. Web browser - SXSW Map (good for your laptop, see image above elow)

2. Mobile view - SXSW Map   (good for your smartphone or tablet, see both images below)

Using #2 Mobile view above, select the venue location you want to go to then the Google Maps application will pop up with on your device with the map, from there you know the drill, see the visual map, select the button to do more options like "get directions from here" (tip: select the pedestrian icon if you're walking!).

Here are some screenshots below from my phone so you can see what the experience is like. Let me know if you have any feedback or ideas for improvements. I hope this is useful for you - let me know. Perhaps I will bump into you while you're navigating your way around SXSW with my map on your phone! Happy mapping.

SXSW Venue Map - mobile version
SXSW Venue Map - mobile version

[caption id="attachment_1508" align="alignleft" width="433" caption="SXSW Venue Map - Mobile version (TIP: Click arrow, set Bookmark on Home Screen)"][/caption]

SXSW map google app
SXSW map google app

[caption id="attachment_1430" align="alignnone" width="433" caption="SXSW map google app (appears after you select a venue above)"][/caption]

See the MAP here as well... Feel free to re-use / embed on your site; of course, please attribute back to me and link to this blog post here. Thank you.

View SXSW 2012 in a larger map

Go See Your LinkedIn Social Graph - Visualization Tool

[caption id="attachment_1082" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Click to Enlarge"][/caption] Today, I stumbled upon a really cool social network graphing tool from the creative folks over at LinkedIn (part of the LinkedIn labs projects).

Basically, once you connect your account with this LinkedIn web application, you'll see a visual rendering of your LinkedIn network, neatly organized by colorful groups of your network connections you've created over time.

So, for example, my connections relating to my 10 years in New York and my Social Media Club group in Rochester, NY are grouped together. Not only are physical connections like these obvious, but also virtual connections, such as "social media" connections. My largest network is comprised of my Technology industry connections; no surprise there as technology permeates my entire career.

[caption id="attachment_1083" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Click to Enlarge"][/caption]

To get started go here: http://inmaps.linkedinlabs.com/network and allow LinkedIn labs to connect with your profile.

When complete, you can view the social graph rendered and then "label"your networks.

TIP: Use the magnifier tool in to zoom in and read the names in each color area. Then begin labeling accordingly.

I find this sort of visual rendering to be very appealing, not only because I am a visual learner, but because it allows one to see how their career connections are related. You can also easily spot key influencials and people who are very connected to the same circles of friends and industry connections you have. Some of those folks are the same ones who helped me make connections... very interesting data!!

What do you think of this? Do you find this useful and intriguing like I do? Does this kind of tool make it easier or harder to group your network of friends and professional connections?

Here's a visual step-by-step of the screens you'll see as  you generate your very own LinkedIn network social graph:

[slideshow]

UPDATED: Google FAIL. My take on Google + project and other social disasters from Google.

So, I heard all the buzz -pun fully intended- about Google's new social platform site Google + https://plus.google.com. First of all, where's my invite?! Second, why on earth am I getting a 404 error when I attempt to follow the project by clicking on the "Keep me posted" button?!  Seriously, if Google can't serve up the "Keep me posted" page, why on earth do I think they'll invest in this new toy, erm, social site? We all saw what happened with Google Buzz (yawn) and now this odd attempt at launching a new site. I am also surprised at the lack of news and information about the site. It fails to connect with me at this point. Curious what the experience will be, that is if I can ever secure a login. ;)

So, instead of experiencing the new Google + site, I only see this (#FAIL):

[caption id="attachment_1003" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Keep me posted ?!"][/caption]

I am seriously a skeptic when it comes to Google and social. It's just not in their DNA. Afterall, remember, this is a company that spends countless hours on shaving off milliseconds from server load times. Think about that for a second... that's engineering, NOT social social user interaction or design folks.

Don't even get me started on the concept of Google and "community."  That just doesn't exist. And therein lies the core of the problem. Google can't engineer its way out of this social conundrum.

This is yet another lame attempt by the search engine to grab a space in the social realm, because it knows the web is shrinking. They could hope to expand their reach, but it's too late for that. In 3 years, Google will be a tumbleweed of a brand, unless they can place their bots inside the social realm, which is quickly carving up the web as we know it. And that... is a whole other blog post!! More to come...

Disclaimer: I have not yet had the opportunity to evaluate Google + https://plus.google.com. I will try out the Google + tour link. Not sure my opinion would change much, but I could be swayed if I saw something innovative from Google; not getting my hopes up though.

Love to know your thoughts, reactions, debates and arguments on this topic. If you were Google, what would you do? Jarvis, anyone?

UPDATE: Remarkably, I now have access to the "Keep me posted" form (screenshot below). So, I've now completed that step and am waiting for the official invite to arrive.

After completing the form, you'll be presented with the option to learn more and take the tour I referenced above.

UPDATE 2:

Around 12 midnight, I downloaded the Android Google+ app to give it a shot. And lucky me, my login worked and I now have access to Google + which is really different. Google + looks terrific on my Dell Streak 5" tablet running Android 2.2.

I am still poking around and learning all the features (it's not a simple 1-2 layer deep app). There are numerous features and deep integration with Google products, which is a welcome change.

So, now I must confess, I was too hasty with my initial opinion and this blog post. Kudos to Scott Monty who first got me thinking I was being unfair, and he was right.

I just posted this on Google + here

"Just added a Google +1 button to my WordPress blog to show my support!

I have to admit, I was too hasty with my initial blog post (apologies for that). I will be sharing my updated views which are very supportive and positive... nice job Google!!

So many features, so little time!"

I will do a follow up post with more information. In the meanwhile, be sure to read Louis Gray's blog post which covers many of the features

#SXSW 2011 - my attempt to avoid zombies, stay awake and BLOG!

SXSW Chaos Management Central SXSW is a one crazy puppy of a conference. This is my irrational attempt to bring order to the insidious onslaught of chaos coming my way. Well any way… here’s my calendar of possible events I’ll be attempting run around and attend.

I will be doing a blog post soon with some tips on how I am planning to keep my sanity, avoid crazed zombies, find and attend the most awesome and *relevant* events/panels/parties; also, do some good ol’ fashioned networking to solidify connections with all kinds of “smarties”. Throughout this marathon conference, I will do my best to blog with photos/video content in real-time so I can share all this SXSW goodness with you guys.

STATS: The Continued Rise of Blogging – /via eMarketer #blog #stats

Social networks and microblogs have in recent years nudged blogging off the social media pedestal. For some consumers, who have more communication tools at their fingertips than they did a few years ago, Facebook and Twitter have supplanted blogging as life-streaming outlets.

But blogs continue to be important. eMarketer estimates that this year more than half of internet users will read blogs at least monthly. By 2014, readership will rise to more than 150 million Americans, or 60% of the internet population in the US. One reason for the rise in readership is that blogs have become an accepted part of the online media landscape.

“Trends in blog reading are expected to maintain an upward course as blogs continue to gain influence in the mainstream media,” said Paul Verna, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report “The Blogosphere: Colliding with Social and Mainstream Media.” “But there is a caveat to this forecast: Over time, blogs will continue to become indistinguishable from other media channels.”

US Blog Readers, 2008-2014 (millions and % of internet users)

Blog writing, by contrast, is a more niche activity. Just under 12% of the online population will update a blog at least monthly this year, eMarketer estimates. By 2014 that proportion will inch upward to 13.3%.

US Bloggers, 2008-2014 (millions and % of internet users)

There are several factors driving the growth of blogging, including the ease of use of personal blogging platforms and the growing comfort level with blogs as a form of media. At the same time, social media like Twitter and Facebook are giving consumers an alternative, less-intensive way to communicate their thoughts to the world. Blogging is no longer a primary way for people to express themselves online.