SXSW Journal 03.15.2009 01:42PM CST

Sorry I didn't do much checking in yesterday. Rest assured it was because I was too engulfed in the South by Southwest learning extravaganza. A very busy day of panels and talks, interspersed with random web celebrity sightings and micro-tweetups.

In the morning I attended a talk by Larry Lessig, professor of law at Stanford and founder of Creative Commons. While Lessig is well known for his work with copyright law, he gave a fascinating talk about his new line of work, transforming politics through online organizing and education. He offered some insights into trust, mistrust, and the abuse of trust, especially as it relates to the politician/lobbyist/money triad. Lessig is a dynamic and animated speaker, with an equally impressive powerpoint presentation (it must have had 300 slides, and acted to literally animate his words).

Then I went to the opening keynote presentation by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com. The talk focused on company culture, and how successful businesses can be built by setting a set of company values, aligning the employees, and passing on those values to customers. Check out this graphic recording that was made during the talk in realtime.

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Then came Charlene Li's talk called "The Future of Social Networks" in which she lays out her vision for an open and ubiquitous social web. She also spoke about the need for a centralized trusted data warehouse, where your personal profile and data can be pulled using open standards.

And finally, I attended a panel called "Social Media Nonprofit ROI Poetry Slam." And strange enough, that's exactly what it was. Four panelists from orgs like the American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the US gave five minute talks in rhyme. While it sounds hokey, it actually was very informative (and fun). There seemed to be some common threads like the need for accurate and useful tools for measurement, and moreover the need for useful metrics. Since nonprofits don't always measure success in the same way as for-profits, it's necessary to define some metrics that can put a value to intangibles, and also to measure conversion.

Oh, and then all the geeks went out and sang karaoke. I'll spare you the singing, and just share this with you:

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