Silicon Prairie News

Sioux Falls firm has hand in upcoming Web 2.0 Summit

Sioux Falls September 13, 2010 by John T. Meyer

Blend Interactive created the above interactive map for the upcoming Web 2.0 Summit. Screenshot from map.web2summit.com.

You could call it one of those offers you can't refuse. When John Battelle called up Blend Interactive and said that he wanted them to submit a proposal to make an interactive map for his annual Web 2.0 Summit, the Sioux Falls firm decided it was an opportunity they probably shouldn't pass up.

Blend Interactive is a design and development firm that originally met Battelle when they started working with Federated Media Publishing. Battelle and O'Reilly Media founder Tim O'Reilly are co-moderators of the annual Web 2.0 Summit taking place in San Francisco, November 15-17. The theme for this year's summit is "Points of Control: The Battle for Network Economy" and Battelle knew that Blend could create an interactive map to build buzz and drive requests for signup to the seventh annual invitation-only summit.

The concept of the map is showcasing the current world of Web 2.0 and the battle grounds of claiming new territory in an ever-changing space. Senior interactive Designer at Blend, Sam Otis, knew exactly how to make a map exude the colorful and competitive nature of the Web 2.0 space. "We wanted to invoke the feel of an old explorer map combined with a game feel like a Risk gameboard," Otis said.

The Blend team met with Battelle after the Memorial Day weekend in May to start deciding where everyone should be placed on the map. "We had to figure out how to determine the size of each player on the web. We ended up developing a sort of power rankings list and started placing on the map," said Joe Kepley, director of development and partner at Blend. 

The "Points of Control Map" has roughly 100 different companies on it and allows the user to not only read and follow the movement of each player in the Web 2.0 space, but also encourages conversation and open discussion about the placements. "We really wanted people to talk about specific points on the map, but also have threaded conversations about larger topics," Kepley said.

Creative director and partner at Blend, Karla Santi, explained the process of the map going from idea to reality. She mentioned the map started as a whiteboard covered in sticky notes (below) to a scribbled drawing with arrows going in every direction. After deciding on locations the map became a heavily-layered design file and was brought to life for the web. 

Blend Interactive's interactive map for the upcoming Web 2.0 Summit began as a white board covered with sticky notes. Photo from John Battelle.*

Since its launch date on August 30, the map has already garnered tons of attention with over 22,000 site visits in the first week and an astounding average visit site time of five minutes. As you interact with the map it is quite easy to get lost and really study the current state of the web. Blend has already been making iterations to the map and has a few more additions planned in the near future before the November summit.

"The fun thing about working with John (Battelle) is you have to go at the speed of John…a mile a minute. We're excited to be part of the Web 2.0 Summit," Kepley said. The Blend team gave me a heads up that you may find a little Easter egg if you interact with their logo on the map. That's all I'm going to say.

Explore the map at map.web2summit.com, and learn more about it on Blend's website, blendinteractive.com.

*Update 3:45 p.m.: When published, photo was credited to Blend Interactive, it should be to John Battelle. 

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