Note: This post is part of a continuing series of biographies of and interviews with the people who made things happen in Austin’s early internet history.
Dave Evans came to marketing through an unusual path, receiving a BS in physics and mathematics, with a concentration in art from the State University of New York at Brockport. In 1994, Dave founded the Austin Web Users Group with Mark Gaither and I.
Also in 1994, he co-founded Digital Voodoo in Austin, Texas. Digital Voodoo initiatlly provided strategic marketing services, and now also provides specialized software applications supporting social business strategy.
Dave published “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day” in October 2008. It remains the strongest book on the market on social media tactics. There are at least half a dozen books worth reading on social media strategy, but if you want to actually learn how to get things done, Dave’s book is your best source.
Now based in India, Dave travels all over the world to speak at conferences and other events, and even makes it back to Austin on occassion. He blogs at ReadThis.com.
Brian Combs: When did you first get onto the internet?
Dave Evans: I was first on the Internet proper in 1994, via BGA and Realtime. Prior to that, in 1990 I had joined Prodigy and then a year later Compuserve. Unlike Prodigy and Compuserve, which seemed relatively narrow in scope, the tools that Realtime provided–email, FTP, Mozilla, and TelNet seemed to offer a lot of options so I headed in that direction.
BC: How does a physicist/mathematician get pulled into multimeda and internet marketing?
DE: The love of a challenge. My wife and I launched Digital Voodoo, first as an audio and multimedia company. Within a few months we’d been contracted to build an Intranet application based on the audio application we had created for our company. We’ve been in technology consulting ever since.
BC: Let’s talk about the “good ole days”. What do you remember about the Austin Web Users Group?
DE: A lot, actually. It was where we got our start, and meeting people like you and Mark Gaither literally launched our business.
BC: No doubt you’ve been involved with hundreds of Internet/Web projects over the years. Of which are you most proud?
DE: The educational and training programs. We worked with Microsoft in the mid-nineties; Austin Doss Elementary won the national contest we created (which included a $10,000 grant!). When we worked with HP, one of the older engineers (who was younger then than I am now…) remarked that we had literally shown him a new career at HP. It’s those kinds of events–where what we did early on made a visible difference in people’s lives–that really stand out.
BC: How did you end up specializing in social media?
DE: When my son was born, I was working with GSD&M (the advertising agency). I was making digital ads and developing campaigns during the day, and then skipping ads at night as a consumer. I started working with advergames, and the idea that a non-interruptive media might be better than pop-ups hit me. I started researching this in 2003/2004 and then jumped into Web 2.0 shortly after.
BC: What projects are you working on currently?
DE: I am currently working on several strategy projects here (US) as well as in India, and, launching a business metrics platform. I am big proponent of measurement.
BC: Where is social media headed?
DE: Everywhere. If you step beyond the Facebook and Twitter, for example, which are both significant, and look at the applications that are now appearing on mobile (smartphone and netbook) platforms it’s clear that shared information–conversations–rather than point-sources–websites, for example–are going to figure into every aspect of life.
BC: Other than social media, what are the most important things happening online today?
DE: The transition from fixed connectivity (broadband in the home, office, Starbucks) to truly mobile (3G/4G) connectivity. It’s the emergence of the Cloud.
BC: Other than social media, what should we be watching for (or watching out for) on the Internet in the future?
DE: The big ones for me are Transparency and Identity. J.D. Lasica has published a great paper on the the requirements for true identity (which in turn pushed the need for transparency) in his work with the Aspen Institute.