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Saturday
Mar222008

SXSW Sketchnotes: Additional Observations

It's a bit over a week since posting my SXSW Sketchnotes and I've been fascinated watching the meme and images make the rounds. It started small, with mentions on Twitter and then blogs with links, images or both in postings (currently at 66).

Mike Rohde and Sketchnotes from SXSW 2008

On Thursday, I notice a huge increase in Flickr emails with favorites and comments on the sketchnotes, so I checked my RSS feed searches for 'sketchnotes' and found that both Boing Boing and Digital Web Magazine featured them.

The Digital Web Magazine article was an intentional collaboration between Matthew Pennell, Tiff Fehr and me, but the Boing Boing mention was organic, via a post by Laughing Squid earlier in the week.

My observations about this whole experience?

People like to share things that make them look good — If you do something unique and interesting, people love mentioning your work to their friends, especially if it makes them look good. Being the first one to find something cool can earn credibility with a network of friends.

Word of mouth is powerful — I couldn't have planned the path or the speed with which the sketchnotes would have taken any better their own path via word of mouth. This reminds me how powerful word of mouth is. I know in theory how quickly good or bad messages can spread — this experience reinforced it for me.

Share your work with your network to "seed" it — I had several friends who I first shared the sketchnotes with: Twitter friends who attended SXSW and the speakers at the events I covered with my note-taking. I also mentioned them to longer-term friends like Jim at Coudal, Armand at Moleskinerie, as well as newer friends like Matthew & Tiff at Digital Web Magazine, who contacted me prior to SXSW. The old adage that you should build your network before you need it is really true. Having the trust and friendship beforehand makes all the difference.

Creative Commons Licenses Encourages Image Posting — I firmly believe that hosting the sketchtoons on Flickr with a Creative Commons license allowing re-postng with attribution made it super easy for bloggers to include images on their sites. This further encouraged visitors to check out the set, my site and even dig into my archives or email me directly.

Things you do outside your main work can improve your reputation — I'm a professional designer and art director, specializing in logo, web and icon design, yet am gaining notice via sketchnotes. This is a good thing, since my sketchnotes show how I listen, process information, think, analyze information and capture it visually. While completely separate from my professional work, it is at the same time at the very heart of that work, showing how I solve problems for clients.

I'm now considering a few products created from the SXSW Sketchnotes, including an e-book with high res images and added notes, and an on-demand or limited edition printed version of the sketchnotes, for sale to those who would like a copy. If you have interest in either of these items, please leave a message in the comments.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has mentioned and linked to the images, or left comments here or on Flickr. Your kind words have been greatly appreciated! :-)

Stats on Flickr — Wow!
Sketchnote Stats

Photo: John December

Reader Comments (2)

Hi Mike,Love the post and your analysis/conclusions. It's quite an interesting case study on the impact of this interactive, dynamic milieu. And, yes, I'd be very interested in both an e-book version and an on-demand printed version.

The more I look at the notes, the more I realize that this "sketch" style might be applied to other things as well. It could be a very interesting way to tell a story - sort of a variation on a graphic novel. A sketch novel. And, for appropriate kinds of clients, could be an awesome style for a brochure or annual report. I think this is an exciting style with lots of texture and depth and has great extension possibilities.Best,Linda
March 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Ziskind
Linda, thanks! It's interesting to hear from someone with an objective view talking about what I'm observing. I suspect there are more things to learn from all of this, and I hope to catch it.

Interesting idea about using a condensed "sketchnote" style for other things. A few of the inquiries about illustration work in this style relate directly to this idea, so you're right on. :-)
March 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde

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