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Very random thoughts on a variety of interactive media topics. Broadly looking at experience design, brand, digital consumer strategies, innovation and a fair dollop of user-facing technology. I'm Experience Director at EMC Consulting and you can also find me masquerading as @poleydee on Twitter.

The MIX Rockstar

We’ve launched a little popularity contest known as the MIX Rockstar tonight. We’re still in beta, as we wait for enough votes and ‘Kudos’ to come in to make it all work, but so far it’s looking like it’s captured people’s imaginations!

What is it?

Gain Kudos by participating in MIX10 on Twitter, or having others talk about you. Then get votes from people. We add Kudos to Votes and declare the MIX Rockstars. i.e. the people who the audience love.

Vote simply by mentioning the following words in a Tweet:

vote      @<name>     #mixrockstar

Where the @<name> is the person you’re voting for. It doesn’t matter what order you say them in, so you could say: “I vote for @poleydee to be the #MIXRockstar” if you really wanted. So, yes you have to be on Twitter to be voted for, but there are no other restrictions on who you vote for.

The results and leaders table are updated here: http://mixrockstar.cloudapp.net/ and an auto-notifier tweets to congraulate people who played for the first time, and tells them when they get their first vote.

In a bit more detail:

Basically, we analyse the Twitter-sphere for people getting mentioned, talked about, or simply taking part in the discussion around MIX10. This builds “Kudos” for the individual Tweeps. Kudos can’t be taken away (except by the judges if we think you’re cheating too much!), and is the means by which you come to the attention of the voters.

Then, anyone can receive votes. Doesn’t actually matter if they’re at MIX or not. The MIX Rockstar could be anyone; Scott Guthrie, that bloke who always turns up with the kilt, or the latest X-Factor phenomenon. If the community playing wants them to win, they will. Is it about their ‘worth’? Or their popularity? Well, it’s a combination of both. People with a lot of Kudos won’t need too many votes to win. People with tons of votes will be hard to unseat by Kudos alone.

Although you can vote as many times as you want, only the last vote counts. So effectively you have one vote, and can move that vote at any time to anyone. I’d love to see the look on <un-named speaker>’s face when 1000 people move their vote from him to the guy in the kilt! (and yes, actually I do know the name of the guy in the kilt!)

What do they win?

Well, being the MIX Rockstar is pretty much enough we would have thought – so we thought a nice idea would be to make sure they could come back next year to defend their title. Now if it’s Bill Buxton who wins, then we’re pretty sure he won’t need our help to come back next year, so if this happens, we’ll ask the winner to nominate a deserving individual who would get the benefit of a full delegate pass to MIX11 courtesy of EMC Consulting.

The idea of this contest is simply to add an element of fun, maybe a little friendly rivalry, and even some intrigue if the dirty tricks campaigns start.

The Rules

Anything goes in this contest; and that’s part of why we did it, in order to see exactly what people do! With the unique blend of designers and developers at MIX we think we’ll have some serious attempts to manipulate the results, both technical and social – and we think that’s half the fun (for this community anyway!).

The only rule is really that anything in the spirit in which the contest is run is fair game – and that spirit is simply that it must be fun. If it’s not deemed to be ‘fun’ any more by the judges, then that’s where we might start applying some handicaps or penalties. But if you did have the gall to write a script and get Twitter spamming, well that’s up to you. But of course Twitter spamming has its own consequences, so it really is up to you!

Aside from that, well obviously we will block obvious spammers and anyone deemed to be offensive.

We think we’ve got most of the bases covered in terms of making sure that the end result reflects who the audience at MIX really believe is the MIX Rockstar, but… there are such things as “unknown unknowns” and we’re open to rewarding people who are clever about how they achieve results!

Some oddities that we’re happy to leave in play in the spirit of ‘seeing what happens’ :)

  • You can vote for yourself
  • The way in which Kudos is calculated is formulaic, but that formula is a secret. But because it’s a straight formula, it could be reverse engineered…
  • Judges can participate but can’t win
  • The weighting of how Kudos adds to votes is dynamic. Because we don’t know how many people will participate, or how big Kudos scores will get, we have to have a way of ‘balancing the market’ to ensure that the balance between popular appeal (votes) and true ‘worth’ (Kudos) is right. We’re not going to reveal much more about that until after it’s all done (to avoid making manipulation too easy!), but it may give you some ideas…


Why we did it – a few reasons

We love MIX

We do, we seriously do. We’d do a lot of things to make sure that MIX itself was fun and engaging for everyone, and this is just another way of giving back something that we absolutely know will fit in with the spirit of MIX. And of course we love being at the centre of attention! But we do sincerely hope that Rockstar gives you one more thing to tell the folks at home about, even if it’s about how the whole thing fell apart when Scott Hanselman reverse engineered the Kudos formula and kicked Scott Guthrie’s ass!

The experiment:

Well, at EMC Consulting we’re known for creating social media strategies for well known companies, and this year we’re increasingly looking at the ways in which those clients can truly take advantage of social media. We thought this was a nice mechanic and we wanted to try it. It also shows off our social analytics capabililty in a more public way than we’ve done before. I’ve said before that there is no such thing as a ‘social media expert’ and it’s in that spirit that we see this game as another way of learning about the different ways in which people and groups interact and participate through digital media. So I guess in a lot of ways it’s a big old experiment.

A study in innovation

There’s something else we’re known for at EMC Consulting, and that’s our ability to innovate for ourselves and clients. One of our team was given the chance to realise his own ambition by using our internal teams for a study he was carrying out on how groups think creatively together. To do that, we funded a day in which he studied several teams competing to create an innovative solution for a brand.

The incentive we offered was to fund the taking forward of the idea – and MIX Rockstar is that first step for that particular idea. Although the solution the winning team came up with on the day was much more far-reaching and ambitious than Rockstar, at its heart was the concept of creating a simple set of mechanics capable of analysing social media and encouraging participation. Rockstar built on that by creating a set of mechanics and a usage scenario that allowed us to take it to the next level as an idea.

So for us, it’s about not only looking at how innovation works in the creative process, but how you use small investments to prove out ideas, test their feasibility and viability and develop them further.

Interoperability on Azure

The final reason that MIX Rockstar exists, is that we wanted to test out for real how good Windows Azure was at interoperability with Java. The vast majority of our work at EMC Consulting takes place on the Microsoft platforms, and we were amongst the first in the world to get an enterprise application up and running Azure. So we found ourselves with a set of .NET developers who were all over Azure, but then our java developers wondering how to deploy their apps. Wouldn’t it be good if we could use the same thing and leverage our platform knowledge of Azure? Well, that’s what we set out to prove. We took 4 hardened Java nuts (for ‘nuts’ read ‘talented developers’) and told them we wanted them to build on Windows Azure and SQL Server. After they picked themselves up off the floor and stopped throwing things, they actually started to get quite excited. We’ll blog more on that another day – but for now, be assured, that we’re now very happy with Windows Azure for both our end to end Microsoft based stuff, and java based stuff.

The credits

There are lots… but let’s start with the team who architected it, designed it and delivered it:

Simon Barker, Nileesha Bojjawar, Niall Pemberton, Richard Tiffin, Stephen Fulljames (who worked all in his spare time!), T.Scott Stromberg, Matt Donovan and Alex Bischoff. A team that not only worked on it together, but were also dispersed between the US and the UK, and working on the train to and from work!

Some really key people who made it happen in the first place:

Rob Grigg, Matt Bagwell, Mark Kraemer, James Saull, Simon Evans (Azure guru), Stuart King and Iyas AlQasem for paying the bill! Also, Tom Rolloff, whose investment in our “Realizing Ambitions” programme made this happen in the first place.

The team that won the innovation contest:

Stephen Fulljames, Nick Marsh,  Stuart Harris, Matt Ratcliffe, Sian Armstrong & Rodney Sibanda.

And some people who stepped in from time to time, mostly in their own time, to bail us out, or help with specific bits:

Chris Gannon, Matt Ratcliffe, Cain Ullah and the resourcing team: Joanna, Rachel, Anitza, Clare & Anni.

And of course the MIX core team who were very tolerant of our nagging for advice and guidance, and ensured that we got something out that was absolutely in the spirit of MIX, and have been showing themselves today to be supporters and playerd of #MIXRockstar which is great support. Particular thanks to Tim and Thomas.

And finally, to MIX…

Now all we’ve got to do is rely on several thousand random people we’ve never met before to see if it becomes any form of success or not! That’s the nature of a social media experiment though I guess!

Published Saturday, March 13, 2010 12:52 AM by Paul.Dawson

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Flynny's Blog said:

Last night Microsoft hosted their Digital &amp; Creative Agency Event in Level 31 at Paramount .&#160;

April 1, 2010 2:32 PM

thomasamada said:

great keep it up?

June 2, 2010 6:56 PM

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About Paul.Dawson

I started working in 'new media' when it was new... around 1996, doing websites for people like DHL and Cellnet (remember them?) as well as CD-Roms for people like Dorling Kindersley. I joined Conchango in 1999 because I was fed up with the conflicts and overlaps between the companies that we tended to partner with to deliver these things. Usually it was a tech company and a marketing agency. Neither had the user's needs in mind, and both were trying hard to take business away from each other. So at Conchango I saw the opportunity to create an integrated team, who as a result of all being on the same side, and following good user centred design process, delivered better stuff for both our clients and their customers. Bizarrely, now that we have teams who truly understand all these aspects of projects, we now partner very well with both tech and creative companies! So we built an interactive media team who do design, branding and user experience, and since 2006 have consistently been rated best in Europe at this by Forrester Research. Which was nice! Since then I've worked on digital strategy and innovation for companies like Virgin Atlantic, Barclays, Tesco and other great clients as part of EMC Consulting. Now I spend a lot of time evangelising to customers and at conferences, about what EMC Consulting do in the field of Customer and Brand Experience, as well as still working for real clients on real projects. The final thing I do is look out for what new user-facing technologies will be relevant to us, our customers and consumesrs. I help shape how we adopt them, and how we apply them, and how we build the skills we need to be the best at them.

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