MIX08 Experience from Sean Diamond

Thanks to MIX, I had the opportunity to met with Sean, who is a recent grad at Queens University but already has his own company, UTours. UTours is a resource website that help students to choose the right post-secondary school by listening to the advice given by current and recent grads from a particular university. UTours features 20 of Canada’s largest universities through highly informative video tours. Sean is one of the founders of his company whose role it is to continually grow their web presence, further the amount and reach of their content as well as engage partners to create and activate new programs both online and offline. Here`s what Sean has to say about his MIX experience:

What did you want to get out of MIX (or your expectations of MIX) before attending?

  • To learn more about the future of the web and the place for RIA’s within the larger web environment
  • Network with people within the technology space
  • Determine how I can use emerging web technologies like Silverlight to continue to accelerate the growth of my company.

There are many announcements about Silverlight , Expression Studio, and IE8 during the Keynote on first day. Any announcement or demo really resonated with you and got you excited?

I found the new features within IE8 extremely exciting, specifically the advent of things like web slices and the ability for back buttons to work with AJAX- and for IE8 to be intelligent and know when you have lost connectivity. I was also extremely excited about the new applications that have been developed with Silverlight and the potential that Silverlight brings to the web. I was blown away by what NBC is planning for nbcolympics.com and how Hard Rock has redefined the way we will  browse through, and experience high quality images online.

I know UTours, and our partners (obviously those that are not as tech savvy) can learn to use a lot of these technologies to improve its web, and interactive experiences online. However, I will need to spend more time learning how to use them effectively.

What are some most interesting sessions you attended during MIX08? Why?

I would say that there were two types of very interesting sessions that I attended at MIX08. The first were the series focused around Web 2.0, how to make money from it and the direction that we are heading. It was very interesting to hear the insight of those who are on the forefront of this new web media, how they are building their communities and what they are doing to monetize. The second was centered around SEO and web advertising. I found the sessions from Nathan Buggia, Erynn Petersen and Eric Picard extremely informative, helpful and directly relevant to help us organically increase our web traffic and understand the options for monetization of our content both in the present and the future.

What sorts of content you wish to see at next year’s MIX? Any comment on how can we make MIX better?  

Next year I would hope to learn more about how advertising is growing on the web. Ray Ozzie mentioned that the total amount of advertising dollars spent on the web is forecasted to grow 3x in the next three years. What are the types of experiences advertisers are hoping to achieve? What are the metrics and what web technologies are helping advertisers distinguish between spends that are strictly brand builds and spends that are direct ROI based? How can we measure the user experience beyond where and how often they click and what technologies/support systems are available to facilitate the changing vehicle of high-value content from cable and television to the Internet.

The only real comment I have about improving MIX was that I spent 72 hours straight in the Venetian hotel. Although I loved the establishment and the facilities, 72 hours is a long time to spend in one place. If it is at all possible to vary some of the event locations like the delegate reception, I think I might leave Vegas with a little more of my sanity (and money ;)

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