Seth Priebatsch’s Game Layer on Top of the World

Seth Priebatsch

I could not have been more impressed by Seth Preibatsch’s keynote at SXSWi (w/audio recording). A 21 year old who dropped out of Princeton after his first year, Seth started SVNGR, a location based service that makes checking in into a scavenger hunt and other games. His energy, presentation, insight, humor, and content were all right on. He wasn’t a smug, cynical hipster opportunist geek like so many presenters. He was humble enough for someone I expected to be brash.   He won me over from the beginning.

He said that in the last ten years we added the social layer to the web and in the next ten we’ll add the game layer. Then he went on to talk about all the stuff the game layer can fix, like education, by re-engineering motivations and rewards. Rewarding your participants is key for game makers, and your business is a game. It is by creating Epic Meaning for people that they become blissfully productive.

The first thing you’ll find when you flip through his slides are his ideas about how bad grades and failing are as motivations for school along with some suggestions for how we could have students level-up like a video game and remove some demotivation.

He had us play two games during the session. In the first he asked the audience to start clapping. They did, like applause. Then he asked them to synch up and clap a beat. They did in about 20 secs, it was a big crowd. He pointed out how quickly and easily a totally decentralized task can be accomplished

The second game was brought up in the context of how to solve global warming. Everyone had a colored card. The object was to trade cards while staying seated, and arrive at every row being a solid color. He gave them 2:30 to do it, and if they did, he would contribute $10K to a wildlife charity.

The audience accomplished the goal in 1:30 and he pointed out that the task was accomplished in a way that would have been impossible for a centralized government, that the hope of what the game layer can accomplish is taking an impossible problem and making it simply very difficult. All this from a 21 year old!

SXSWi 2010 Sketches and Notes


What did I learn at SXSW Interactive this year? I’ve had a few weeks to think about it, so here are my sketches and notes with some post-conference thoughts and conclusions.

There are lots of great videos at SXSW’s YouTube channel, but the long-tail goldmine is the podcasts of the interactive sessions which are slow to be posted, but which could occupy the entire year catching up on all the great stuff I missed.


To see my sketches and notes by session… Continue reading SXSWi 2010 Sketches and Notes

Sketches From TEDx Austin

McCombs sponsored the live feed of Austin’s first TEDx event and I’m a bit of a TED nut — frequently cueing up a TED talk during lunch or while I bounce the baby — so when I was offered a spot through work I was thrilled. Here below is the info from the TEDxAustin speaker’s page, along with my sketches and a few notes.

To use any of these images, just click the pic to goto Flickr where you’ll find multiple sizes and the embed code to make it easy.


To see my sketches of all the presenters… Continue reading Sketches From TEDx Austin

UT Social Media Collective (My Sketches And Notes)

Paul Walker, special assistant to the dean on social media, put together a day-long UT Social Media Collaborative event yesterday. Here are some notes from my sketchbook.

S. Craig Watkins
S. Craig Watkins

S. Craig Watkins author of “The Young and the Digital” asks, Has social media made us TOO social?

Continue reading UT Social Media Collective (My Sketches And Notes)

Julian Treasure: The 4 ways sound affects us

Derek Sivers told me to watch this, so I did. You should too.

My notes from the talk: Most sounds is accidental and unpleasant.

Four major ways it affects us:

  1. Psychological – breathing, heartrate, brainwaves
    12 cycles per minute is soothing – waves, sleepers breathing
  2. Psychological – music, birdsong, make you feel
    “Music is the most powerful sound there is.”
  3. Cognitive – can’t listen to two things at once.
    You are 1/3 as productivity in shared, noisy spaces.
    Inappropriate retail sounds decreases sales 28%.
  4. Behavior

Uses Soundflow to analyze (down-arrow) and create (up-arrow).


BrandSound Guidelines


BrandSound Guidelines

  • Brand voice
  • Brand music
  • Sonic logo
  • Advertising sound
  • Branded audio
  • Telephone sound
  • Soundscapes
  • Product sound

The four golden rules for commercial sound. Make it…

  1. Congruent (facing same direction or reduce impact up to 86%)
  2. Appropriate
  3. Valuable (give people something not just bombard them)
  4. Test and test again

Read Julian Treasure’s blog.

Social Media Panel With Tim Walker

Tim Walker invited Natanya Anderson and myself to join him on a social media panel at the Association for University Business and Economic Research conference held at the Driskoll Hotel. Here is the full audio and a few pics. I posted a few more at Flickr, and I recorded the audio: Tim Walker’s Social Media Panel.mp3

Social Media Panel
Tim Walker, Natanya Anderson, and Jason Molin at the Driskill
Social Media Panel
Our blurry audience

Tim asked me to speak to “INSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGES — some practical pointers about how social media plays out in a university / institutional setting” and here is the outline I prepared.


  • We started a year after we discussed starting, waiting for right people, prototype
  • I started with those that got it, wanted to do it, were already. Still looking for the eagerly engaged.
  • My sell was based on current communications failures, newsletters and site overburdened
  • Pitched as: make it easier on your audience and yourselves, communicate more efficiently


  • Our newsletters are too much, basically SPAM
  • Our site (and Web team) are overburdened with ‘bulletin board” info (and little strategy, audience focus)
  • Even our school news blog can’t publish everybody’s local news…you need a direct publishing method


  • Our newsletters are more weekly headlines
  • Our audience can ‘follow’ us in a variety of ways
  • They can comment on the blog and respond to our Twitter or FB accounts
  • Our Web stewards have control over local news

Social Media Panel

Why Blog?

I'm being Googled

Eighty percent of success is showing up. – Woody Allen

Seth Godin says:

Blogging is free. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it. What matters is the humility that comes from writing it. What matters is the meta-cognition of thinking about what you’re going to say. How do you explain yourself…How do you force yourself to describe, in three paragraphs, why you did something. How do you respond out loud.

If you’re good at it, some people are going to read it. If you’re not good at it, and you stick with it, you’ll get good at it…basically you’re doing it for yourself to force yourself to become part of the conversation, even if it’s just that big. And that posture change changes an enormous amount.

Now here’s what Tom Peters says about “The Brand Called You” and “Brand You Survival Kit

What you want is a steady diet of more interesting, more challenging, more provocative projects….Think about great gigs. – Seth Godin

Who is searching for you? They meet you somewhere… they’re interested, perhaps want to work with you… can they find you? What do they search for? What do they find? Who has defined you? Does it represent you? Make sure you do that.

A static site is ok for your product, your brochure, but the Web has progressed, people want to see what you’re doing now, your activity, your expertise. Google rewards relevance, recency, and referrals, so be relevant, be recent, and be cool so that you’ll want to share yourself and so will everyone else.

What to do.

  1. Start a blog. Start making a dynamic Web-presence for yourself, your organization, team, church, book group, photography, art, cause, hobby. Blogger is simple, all one page. WordPress a is powerful little CMS, easy, and user-friendly. Start telling a story. At the very least, fill our your Google profile.
  2. Join a network. It doesn’t matter if it’s a list-serve, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Comment on a blog you read, share your videos on YouTube or pictures on Flickr, but find your people, engage, converse, help, define a community. At the very least set up a Google alert for something and monitor it. Fill out your Google profile.
  3. Figure out who you are, what’s unique and valuable about you, and participate in the world by representing yourself, finding your people, contributing, sharing, and leading. This is how you get the good gigs.