Scarcity is a well known, and thanks to Social Scientists, proven, characteristic of influence. The scarcer something is, the more people will desire it. I always find it intriguing that in taste tests people actually find the scarcer choice tastier. They don’t just want the food more, or will pay more for it, but the food actually, subjectively, tastes better.

When you derive that scarcity through competition, you just ratchet up the desire. It seems we’re wired for survival, keenly sensitive to scarce resources. Thsi is the very principle that auctions use to drive people to spend way more on something than could otherwise be charged (this is also why I’ll never buy a house on auction).

For the craziest contests though, and the only ones held in breakout sessions at TechEd, there’s only one session….

…The Smack!down

We Aim to Fail

In a conversation with someone (outside the tech industry) the other day, I asked the question “Why do you think Microsoft holds events like TechEd at a conference centre like at the Gold Coast?” and his response, no lies, was “Because they want a junket.”

This from an accountant.

Of course this couldn’t be further from the truth. No-one gets to hold a $5m event, and justify it as a “junket.” Microsoft is the most metricised company on the planet. Everything gets measured. Every $1 that’s spent is accounted for across a number of metrics. And of course that leads to a culture of success. Inasmuch as “you have to be successful.”

Success has to be defined, then it’s tracked. And let me tell you, people’s bonuses are determined by those metrics. Hence the eval sheets for everything at a conference from the lunch, to the exhibition floor, to the speaker sessions (just ask any speaker and they’ll know their scores to 5 decimal points).

So it’s pretty counter-cultural to aim to fail. To put together a session that seeks to amuse, please, and yes, educate our audience. Where the audience’s delight and energy is valued more than the official metrics. Customer experience over Policy.

Welcome to, the Smack!Down…

Intersection of Azure, Silverlight, and DeepZoom

I’m certainly not the first to blog about this great example of our newest technologies working together. You’ll find great coverage at Paolo Barone & Steve Clayton’s blogs. But I do like it.

One of the features I really love is the ability to import Flickr photosets and embed them like never before in your blog. To demonstrate, I created a quick album of Amanzi’s 13th Birthday shots here. For some reason, most of these shots are of Charis – I think I have more on another camera. 🙂


This is a great way to display any of your photos, in original resolution, on the web no matter the viewers connection speed. Try zooming into the photos, go full screen and play around with the options.

You can sign up for your own album at and display photos from Facebook, Flickr, or upload your own.