I learned quite a few things at SXSW. Many are interesting but potentially useless, such as how unexpectedly interesting the reviews for Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz are.
However the one that I found most fascinating, and is relevant to a lot of people, was from the panel that I was on. Kevin Hale, the CEO of Wufoo gave an example from their support form. In the process of trying to fill out a ticket you have the option of reporting your emotional state. Which can be anything from "Excited" to "Angry". This seems to be a very odd thing to do.
They did this to see whether they could get some useful tracking data which could be used to more directly address their corporate goal of making users happy. They found they could. But, very interestingly, they had an unexpected benefit. People who were asked their emotional state proceeded to calm down, write less emotional tickets, and then the support calls went more smoothly. Asking about emotional state, which has absolutely no functional impact on the operation of the website, is a social lubricant of immense value in customer support.
Does your website ask about people's emotional state? Should it? In what other ways do we address the technical interaction and forget about the emotions of the humans involved, to the detriment of everyone?