Live from X|Media|Lab Sydney – Warren Coleman @warrencoleman, Arvind Ethan David @arvd & Shinta Dhanuwardoyo @shintabubu

The first speaker after lunch was actor, writing and director Warren Coleman (@warrencoleman), who’s presentation discussed the need for play in storytelling. He discussed the process of co-writing Happy Feet and its sequel, and how playful activity often generates some of the best outcomes.

Warren was followed by Malaysian-born London-based filmmaker Arvind Ethan David (@arvd) from Slingshot Studios, who confessed to starting a film company to find out why film companies always lost money. His talk focused on the impact of digital on film making, such as the unexpected rise of user-generated content, and the emergence of programs such as The Guild or Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. His advice is to bake globalism into every project.

The final presenter for the session was Indonesian digital entrepreneur and partner at Nusantara Ventures Shinta Dhanuwardoyo (@shintabubu). She talked about Indonesia’s mobile subscriber penetration as now reaching 200 million out of the 240 million population, with 60 million mobile Internet users – and that is set to triple by 2015. Everything is done using the mobile phone, and it is the number one market in Asia for Foursquare, Twitter (19 million accounts) and Facebook (fourth globally). Interestingly, in Indonesia local phone makers are beating Apple, with user-tailored feature phones dominating. Blackberry is also a big success in Indonesia. She also talked about a campaign that her agency ran for Unilever brand Axe featuring a phone number squirted into a hotdog, which received more than 76 million calls.


Live from X|Media|Lab Sydney – Michael Naimark @Naimark, Helen Chen @cmodabeijing, Rajiv Prakash @rajivprakash & Bonnie Shaw @bon_zai #XMediaLab

The second session at X|Media|Lab Sydney kicked off with a presentation from digital researcher and artist Michael Naimark (@naimark), who took the audience through three projects that he is working on. The first relates to live web streaming, and the idea of instantly matching content to viewers. Hence, takes the idea of live mediated simultaneity where operators can communicate and coordinate streams, allowing potentially hundreds of streams to be aggregated. His second project, Viewfinder, looks at spatial seamlessness, starting with a project that emulated Google Maps with Street View but 30 years earlier. His idea is that aligning content within context is critical to the appreciation of that image, such as how images can be fed into Google Earth. His third project examines the statistical similarity between different regions of the world, such as that between Africa and Georgia, as well as other bizarre cultural correlations, and the work of Alan Lomax and his Global Jukebox.

The second speaker of the session was Helen Chen, founder and CEO of China’s Museum of Digital Arts (@cmodabeijing). which is China’s first museum for digital art, which opened in December 2011. She discussed how digital consumption in China is booming, and asked the question of whether China can make the transition from its manufacturing economy to one more focus on digital content. She detailed a number of projects, including a 3D printing project. The museum’s aim is to become an exchange platform between digital creative artists.

The third speaker of the session was entrepreneur Rajiv Prakash (@rajivprakash) who discussed the start-up scene in India. He talked about aspiration, and the belief that Indians have that what they are born with is not what they must live with. The entrepreneur is India’s new role model, which has been reflected in successful Bollywood movies, and start-ups are emerging across a diverse set of sectors – and now contribute US$140 billion, or 15 percent, of total marketing capitalisation in India. Domestic consumption in India will grow by US$1 trillion over the next 10 years, which will double India’s current GDP. A lot of this growth is likely to be digitally mediated. He also talked about the model of frugal innovation, known as Jugaad innovation, where the entrepreneur starts with extreme constraints such as limited inputs and the need to work with a low-wealth customer base. It was this thinking that led to the creation of the Tata Nano car, which costs less than US$2000. Start-ups to emerge from India include Slideshare, inMobi and Zoho. Rajiv also talked about how many of the start-ups in India are social in nature, and designed to tackle India’s 40 per cent poverty rate. Developing markets can become laboratories for product innovation and export.

The final speaker before lunch was Bonnie Shaw, serial social innovator from iStrategyLabs in Washington DC. Shaw talked about collaborative applications such as Feastly, and also about the impact of putting computing power into our hands through smartphones. She discussed some of her company’s projects, including the Honest Cities campaign which melded online and offline interactions. Its Grandstand platform transforms online activities into offline interactions.

Live from X|Media|Lab Sydney – Ian Charles Stewart, Corvida Raven @corvida & Steve Baty @docbaty #XMediaLab

The second presentation at X|Media|Lab Sydney was delivered by venture investor Ian Charles Stewart, co-founder of Wired Magazine. Stewart talked about his early career as a photographer and how that led to the creation of Wired, and its foundation as a means for communicating cool ideas, rather than making money. Stewart discussed personal evolution to become an entrepreneur focused on doing things that are good and fun, including a project to help yak farmers in a remote part of China. His goal now is to bring wheelchairs to China, with a business that sells lightweight chairs in the West and uses the profits to supply the same chairs to children in China.

His final message was: “It’s possible to do cool things, it’s possible to have fun, and it’s possible to make money.”

The third presentation for the morning was from Corvida Raven (@corvida), founder of Raven based her presentation on the concept of listening, and discussed her life as a blogger and speaker on topics related to social media, including her work with Chrysler and TED. Her cache is based on the alternative views that she can bring, and how she uses her blog to connect audiences to companies. Her current project is to create a place where others can bring their own voices from the edge and have them heard in the centre of society. When you build on connections, listening happens.

The final speaker in the first segment of X|Media|Lab Sydney was user experience specialist Steve Baty (@docbaty) who discussed the concept of interaction design. He started with the invention of the mouse, and its evolution through the age to the wheel-based interface on the first Apple iPod, such as how we have moved from asking people to fill in forms to the creation of online services that are much more about action and reaction becoming a much less conscious component of the interaction. We have now moved to behavioural models, rather than fixed interaction models, which means removing barriers. Baty also gave the example of bicycle hire schemes, and how different cities have tried different models, many of which have not worked – but those that have have done so as a result of small behavioural observations. Baty’s company Meld Studios has applied similar thinking to the design of superannuation forms.

His message was that to understand people, and we can’t make assumptions, and we need to get out of our chairs and interact with people where they are in order to understand who they are and what their motivations are.


Live from X Media Lab Sydney – Ken Hertz @kenhertz #XMediaLab

I’ve lost track of how many X | Media | Lab events I’ve now attended, and each has been remarkable for the quality of speakers that it has assembled. This year’s event in Sydney promises to be no different. After a Welcome to Country address by Gumaroy Newman and further welcome by NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner MP the program kicked off with a presentation by Hollywood entertainment and new media lawyer Ken Hertz (@kenhertz), who is also a principal with memBrain.

Herrtz’ represents performers for a living, and his presentation titled Music, Marketing & Money – A Case for Curation started by posing the question of why Kodak – the 100 year old company that built the personal photographic industry and filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year  – didn’t create Instagram, the company that was bought by Facebook for US$1 billion. He asked why, given the angst the digitization bought to the music industry, did no one feel the same way about Kodak? He discussed the decline of revenue in the recorded music industry, and amongst his observations were that selling music is not a business, but music is the best way to sell other stuff. The reason there was little outcry about the fate of Kodak was that while people will fall in love with recording artists, no one falls in love with a can of photographic film. He also criticised the music industry’s response to digitisastion, likening it to the way that the railway companies lobbied the US government to ban the internal combustion engine and curb public highway development funds 100 years ago. He also talked about artists are being uncovered in unusual ways, and how they are now using services such as KickStarter to fund their productions.

His final message – thanks to the Cloud, we now have access to all the music that we want, when we want. But in a friction-free world, friction is where the money is.