The Fantastic 4 on Social Media

Went to iX New Media Forum 2007 on Wed 20 June, organised by TDM and SMU. Finally time to write my blog of this event, after my 2 quick MMS blogs on it at my moblog. They had four speakers in the forum, who are all gurus in new media, or social communication media. Check out detailed account at SGentrepreneurs website, they did a good live summary of the event with videos of Kevin Lim. Isn’t it great that with the web 2.0 nowadays we can actually read other people’s views and takeaways on a seminar directly online and it’s interesting how everyone has their own things they liked or disliked about the same event.

What I found interesting during the event was the live chat that was going on on the big screen behind the speakers. Sometimes interesting things were uttered and it was an interaction amongst the crowd that had gathered in the conference hall. Personally I found it a little distracting at times to focus on what the speaker was telling, and at the same time with one eye trying to follow the chat log to see if anything interesting was uttered there. Juggling with these two tasks, I didn’t bother to participate in the chat, it would have caused my brain to overload. Myself being about a decade older than most of the others in the audience (okay, some exceptions were there, I saw some respected aged men as well), I was wondering whether it’s me getting old… The technology with the chat could also have been a means of direct, non-intrusive interaction with the speakers, but I felt that didn’t really work out in that way. I guess the speakers were focusing on addressing the points they wanted to get across and it’s distracting if they would have to keep turning their back to the public to read the chat at the same time. I couldn’t help but keep wondering whether there would be a tool and moderator who could pick out interesting chat blurps and dump them in a sort of post-it at the side, so that they could be brought up as points during the forum discussion. Hmm, maybe a point for a next forum? The person(s) manning the technology did a really great job in bringing up websites that were talked about by the speakers quickly as an illustration, and everything worked smoothly.

The first speaker of the afternoon, Jeremiah Owyang, a social media evangelist as he calls himself, got the room rocking and his talk was very insightful. This is illustrated by the many blogs that mainly addressed his talk at the forum, like Walter Lim and Estee. Jeremiah believes that there should be an active dialogue between companies and their customers and that the communication between employees and customers should be more direct and not too restricted by the marketing & communications department only. Corporate websites should be collaborative and interactive. Negative feedback is no problem, it will hit you anyway and in this manner you are able to react to it directly and learn from it to improve your product / service. It’s not an easy thing though to convince large corporates to become transparent! Really admire his convincing power, and one example of that is DELL’s ideastorm.com. Something on my list of things to check out! Add on to the list: ustream.tv, valleywag.com (check out Robert Scoble who was target of a rumour), techmeme.com, public square (forgot what this was, will look for it), “Active worlds” which is similar to 2nd life (virtual world).

The next speaker up was Louis Broom, who works for Microsoft and has a job title that is amazingly long, I was impressed that he managed to pronounce it in one sentence without stammering, but I guess he must be used to it by now. Interesting part about him was that he started his career as actor and director and is now making corporate videos for Microsoft and customers. His talk didn’t leave a very lasting impression on me, but he had one interesting point, okay, two interesting points:

1. the content production is done decentralised, that means they start producing a video in the US, and when it’s night time in US, the teams in China and India take over to do the post production. Also the production is done with low cost, and fast. I guess in this fast-paced world, that’s the way to go and using the internet with collaborative tools, there should be a way to apply this concept in different industries too.

2. EPIC 2015, by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson. Will google and watch this show one day when I feel bored and don’t feel like doing one of the other million things on my list….

After his talk there was a short tea break and I had a quick refreshment, after which I checked my email and (wow, what a perfect timing) I answered a call from one of my colleagues in one of my projects to help him out with something. No time for networking this time, also wasn’t really in the mood for it that day, too busy, too many things going on, but still wanted to attend the talks.

The next talk after the break, was by Mike Downey of Adobe, promoting the great new development of Adobe, which was initially nicked as Apollo and now launched as Adobe AIR (Adobe’s Integrated Runtime). This brought a fresh breeze 😉 into the room!

As most of his demo of the new platform (much alike Java in its philosophy, i.e. cross platform, virtual machine, runtime execute) was pretty similar to one posted on YouTube, have a look yourself here:

The cool thing about AIR is that it is a platform that uses web-technology, but it can run offline, and will synchronise data soon as you get back online.

I can see this being used in educational systems as well, wouldn’t it be great, one central distribution, students can logon from multiple operating systems (Windows, Mac or Linux), download the application to run on their desktop, and interact with the server once they are online. And of course the graphics rendering engine of Flash, really think this product is going to have a great future. Moreover, it’s open source!

Some other interesting sites, mentioned by Mike: picnik.com (online photo editing), sliderocket.com (presentations online to share and to edit collaboratively) and quietlyscheming.com (a cool, “useless” application built by one of the AIR developers).

Last but not least, the only female speaker of the afternoon: Lynda Brown, who is from Canada and also a front-runner in her own right for new media and communication. She heads New Media BC and produces VIDFEST, an annual creative digital media gathering. She is very inspiring, and didn’t so much focus on the technology, but more on the social aspects. She is a consultant and mentor of many startups and it’s quite amazing how she keeps track of all that, while also being part of a team at www.gnwc.ca to set up a MA course in Digital Media in Vancouver. She was surprised to hear that hardly anyone here was using Facebook (Jeremiah also mentioned Facebook as one of the new technologies that he liked to stay in touch with friends). Funny part is that I have always perceived Facebook as a very US-based tool, whereas for instance MySpace and Friendster have more world-wide users. But maybe my perception is wrong. Not that long ago I joined Multiply, which initially I also perceived as a US-based tool, and it turned out to be a very useful tool, that has spin-offs in multiple languages and a large Asian community too (majority in Philippines), which I thought to be quite interesting. Anyway, I guess everyone has their own preferences and is also influenced by friends in which of the tools they use to share photos and stories. I love Multiply for its easy photo sharing options, IMHO better than Flickr (the number of free photos is too limited for my taste).

One interesting takeaway from Lynda’s talk: www.starfishandspider.com, a story to read online and make a choice whether you are a starfish or a spider (if I remember correctly), will definitely check this out, sounds interesting!

At the end of the individual talks, there was a forum discussion, hosted by Ming Yeow, which I think he did very professionally!

All in all an interesting forum and an afternoon well-spent! Thanks TDM for the organisation 🙂

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