Author Archives: tylerkirsch

About tylerkirsch

Life is fast, and that's how I like it.

More mindmaps

Tuesday’s keynote interview of Chris Anderson, conducted by Guy Kawasaki, featured two artists on opposite sides of the stage drawing mindmaps during the conversation.

The talk focused on the future of “free” commodities and services in a digital landscape. Here are the finished products:


Again, check the Flickr stream to the right for closeups.


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The lonely PC

I thought having a PC made me an outcast while surrounded by the multitude of Macs in Allen Hall, but that was nothing compared to my experiences at SXSW. Wearing a jean skirt and bright red cowboy boots would have been less embarrassing than lugging around an oversized PC at one of the largest interactive conferences in the world.

The dirty looks and snide remarks of the iCult forced me into isolated corners of the convention center and bathroom stalls to check my e-mail. It didn’t help that my batter life only lasts for a bout 30 seconds, so I’ve constantly been sharing power strips with brand new Macbook Pro’s and Air’s 1/8 the size of my Toshiba. Mom and dad, if you’re reading this: how bout a Mac for graduation?

I’m a PC, and I’m humiliated.

P.S. When I just tried to post this my Internet wouldn’t work, so I had to use Alex’s Mac. FML

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Instant mindmaps

During each day’s keynote interview, an artist standing at the foot of the stage draws a graphic representation of the conversation. The way these mindmaps are drawn is one of the most amazing things to witness live. This instantaneous development of creative content from everyday communication is inspiring.

Here’s the mindmap from Nate Silver’s discussion of statistical analysis:

And this is the mindmap created during James Powderly’s conversation about political activism and urban graffiti.

For closeups and more images check out the Flickr stream to the right.


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Shameless self-promotion

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Broken models lead to failure

The Sunday keynote interview featured Nate Silver of, a political website that was created prior to the ‘08 presidential election that used a unique algorithm to predict the outcome. His career started by using an innovative approach to analyze baseball statistics, and this election allowed him to take the approach to a new level. By factoring in the complexities of humans beings, his statistical analysis changed political polling forever.

One of the biggest takeaways occurred during a discussion of his projects since the election. While using his method to predict the outcome of the latest Academy Awards, he realized it didn’t take into account the Academy’s reluctance to give an award to someone who had previously won. In the category of Best Supporting Actress he realized this error would result in the wrong prediction, breaking his first rule: never use a model that predicts something that you know will be wrong. “If you know you’re gonna be wrong, keep working on you F*@#&! Model.”

This statement applies to so much more than just gathering statistics. Whether it’s voter polls, educational curriculums, business models, group projects, personal interactions, etc. if you know in advance that the approach you’re taking will not lead you to the solution you’re trying to achieve DON’T KEEP DOING IT JUST TO DO IT.

Unfortunately, changing this model will likely be difficult: if it was easy you’d already be doing it, but instead it requires going back to the drawing board and reassessing the process. At times this might be scary as hell or hard to embrace, but saving the time, energy and resources that are spent building an unsuccessful finished product will be so much more useful in the end, and will truly allow for a sense of personal or organizational pride.

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What’s more important, the destination or the path?

This afternoon, interactive web designer Brendan Dawes was a member of a panel focusing on the importance of showing the creative path rather than the final product alone. One of his most interesting examples was a news site he created which changes the way people receive the news they’re searching for. Without giving too much away, the journey to find information is clearly the principle function of his creation.

Just click on the link, press “open doodlebuzz” and start experimenting.


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Marketing a pencil

A discussion of interactive marketing campaigns used “the pencil analogy” to change my way of thinking. On one side of the spectrum there is a standard, #2 pencil…on the other is a military helicopter.

Anyone can use the #2 pencil. It has the ability to write and erase. There is no user manual, online tutorial or insider tips. Everyone can pick it up and immediately start using it. Then there’s the military helicopter. The helicopter uses hundreds of buttons, knobs and levers to control the way it operates. An individual is required to complete moths of tedious training and virtual simulations before ever being allowed to sit in the pilots seat and raise the machine off the ground. In essence it is impossible to fly without any previous knowledge.

Currently, the majority of interactive marketing campaigns function like the military helicopter. The interfaces are complex and users require above average understanding of programs to access them. The session entitled, “Interactivity Beyond the Screen: Branding in Four Dimensions” concluded that to be successful these campaigns need to function like the pencil, at the most basic levels of understanding.

While I agree that interactive campaigns need to take into consideration the reach of their messaging, I believe a campaign can find a middle ground to reach all audiences. A pencil campaign will quickly lose the interest of the technological and intellectual elite, while a helicopter campaign is too complex for the average consumer to keep up with. Instead, brands need to develop campaigns that use a common voice to embrace the pencil for the common citizen and the helicopter for enthusiasts.

The future of interactive marketing requires engagement and a meaningful dialogue between branding campaigns and a range of audiences. Until this is achieved on an interesting , multi-platform level brands will suffer.

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