Mary Heston [maryheston]
What is your specialty in the interactive world?
My specialty is building communities through social media.
Where can we see some of your work online?
What kind of projects do you usually undertake?
Twitter Party organizer / panelist
Developing social media strategies
What was your first job in the field?
Founder of Stayathomemom.com
Public Speaker for Wired Safety / Wired Moms
What is your professional background? What did you do before?
I graduated from the University of Washington (Seattle Washington USA) with a degree in English. After a series of jobs in Human Resources and Customer Service I began working for myself providing desktop publishing services. In the early 90's I took this online and started developing websites and as social media became more available I began developing online communities.
With which technologies do you normally work?
I adore technologies that bring families and friends together. This includes online, mobile apps, smartphones, and video game platforms.
Lessons learnt on user interface design
Keep it short
Keep it clean
Keep it visual
Do you work by yourself, or in a team? how is that team?
Its always better to work with a team - even if you are working primarily by yourself. No one can do Everything.
What is the secret to keeping customer expectations under control in interactive development?
Clarity. Discuss expectations prior to beginning any new project. Explain clearly what you can do. A good way to start is to explain what you can do for them and how much that will cost. Let's say you have outlined a $1000 project. The customer comes back and says "Oh. I was hoping to keep it to $500". Instead of saying that you can't do that for $500 OR accepting $1000 worth of work for $500 - instead come back immediately and say "Great! For $500 we can do this and this". Keep it positive but don't undersell yourself.
Online virality: isn't it the same as traditional word-of-mouth?
Online virality is not the same as traditional word-of-mouth. With Word of Mouth you really rely on people taking action and talking about products. With online virality you just have to give people the opportunity to easily click on a link and pass it along. It is easier, faster, and can be more effective at getting a product in front of more eyes than previous, traditional word-of-mouth marketing.
What were you doing in March 2000, at the height of the "dotcom bubble"?
Developing websites and working with Wired Safety on Internet Safety. But the highlight was being a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show talking about Connecting with your kids.
What is your blog address? What subjects do you deal with?
bringing family and friends together through technology
Travel, Wine, Adventure, Video Games, Reasons to Celebrate, Family
What was it that made you create your blog? On what date did you start it?
I've always kept a journal. In 1989 Doogie Howser kept a digital journal and inspired me to put it on the computer. Then in 1995 I started an online bookclub that turned into the Stayathomemom.com blog/community. So, actually, I have been blogging since there was a word Blog.
What do you currently have in your MP3 player?
HTC OneX smartphone, iPod, CD Player/ MP3 player, car stereo with MP3 player. Who wants to be too far from an MP3 player ever?
What books are you currently reading?
Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore, The biography of Carol Burnett, A Bacchic Pilgrimage by Ernest Peixotto and Rebel without a Minivan by Tracy Beckerman
Places in the world that you have visited recently.
Seattle, Washington USA - Mexico City, Mexico - Coeur D'Alene, Idaho USA - St. Lucia, West Indies Caribbean
What is that special film you never tire of watching?
Strictly Ballroom, Princess Bride, Groundhogs Day, A Bunch of Amateurs, Bride and Prejudice
What do you use: Mac or PC and why?
PC - That's how its always been
What is to come after consumist society?
Do you find the saturation of advertising in the media excessive?
No but I think it should strive to be more entertaining and engaging. Advertising is part of our life / society and I don't mind it. I embrace it. It is just a sharing of ideas that support the products that entertain us. Bad advertising bores me.
Do you believe there is excessive sex and violence in the media?
Absolutely - it is more the graphic and gratuitous sex and violence that I dislike. The movie Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock is a classic horror/suspense movie but in the shower scene there is never actually any contact of the knife with the victim. The illusion of violence is left for us to piece together in our minds. I would like to see more media producers leave some things to our imagination.
What were your favourite subjects when you were in primary/secondary school?
Do you think video games, chat rooms, etc. have a dangerous addictive
effect on teenagers?
No / Yes: I don't think that video games, chat rooms, or other social media outlets have a dangerous addictive effect on teenagers. But it is just like anything else - teens really need to be guided by their parents in ways to live a balanced life. If a teen is void of any other activity but has video games at his/her disposal they may just sit around and play video games.
Teens in particular also need regular sleep - this is the biggest problem with video games. They are fun to play and many teens play late into the evening. The dangerous addictive effect is not as big of a concern to me as the lack of sleep and consequences that come from that.
Parents Take Charge!
Has there been a personal-growth book that has transformed your life?
Two books in particular although you won't find them in the self-help section - look for these in fiction
Stickeen by John Muir
I heard the Owl Call my Name by Margaret Craven
Have you ever bought works of art? What type of art? What compels you to purchase art?
Yes. When I travel I like to buy works of art from local artisans particularly pieces that have a connection with the place I am visiting. These are the souvenirs I bring home. Everytime I walk past one of these pieces I smile and remember the wonderful people I have met all over the world.
Do you defend urban graffiti?
Yes / No: Thierry Guetta, Banksy (See Exit through the Gift Shop on Netflix) and others who are promoting beauty in street art should be encouraged and I think society would be well served to work with urban graffiti artists providing some kind of collaborative outlet. A peaceful and beautiful co-existence.
Tagging by gangs I despise - it is pure vandalism.
What magazines do you frequently read?
Online magazines relating to wine, travel, video games, technology, and occasionally how to make my house beautiful (some day after kids are all grown and moved out I may have one of those living rooms)
Piracy continues to grow: What will happen to the music and film
industries and culture in general?
We have to learn to adapt to the new technologies available to us - Apple created iTunes and now people can go online and buy one song at a time legally. Everyone wins. Kodak was never really able to keep up with the change in technologies and has become somewhat of a dinosaur. We have to adapt. Culture in general does want to support the arts - we just have to figure out how to make it work now that it is so much easier to produce and disseminate media.
What sports do you play and how often?
Skiing ( in the winter ) Hiking, Running / Walking in organized 5k and 10k races, mountain biking and occasionally tennis. I aspire to play golf - I'm brilliant at Wii Golf but have not connected out on an actual course.
How do you explain the rise in "fame" culture?
We have always been fascinated by celebrity since the beginning of time. Now, with Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets the difference is that we have full access to celebrities 24 hours a day seven days a week.
What do you have in your wallet right now?
Business Cards, My driver's license from the Middle East (as a woman I am particularly proud of this one), my regular driver's license, one debit card, my loyalty card to the local bookstore and a picture of my kids. Did I mention money? That's right, there is none - refer back to picture of the kids.
How do you kill time?
I always have a book with me in case I find myself waiting somewhere. But actually I am not a big fan of killing anything including time.