Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lifestyle and New Media

Laurence Desarzens, urban communicator,
Media & communication specialist for lifestyle companies

Laurence is a Thought Leader in the
LAB on MEDIA and Human Experience
An immersed experience of a Do-Tank
May 29 & 30, 2007
Location: Girona near Barcelona, Spain

Club of Amsterdam: Laurence - you are in close touch with youth culture - this from a cultural as well as commercial involvement. Lifestyle is more and more the defining factor for new media. Can you give us some examples how young "urban tribes" are dealing with communication and media at large?

First I think we should talk once about the definition of what is “youth” today. Maybe “youth” is less related to an age group and more to a lifestyle. Keeping this in mind … Using new media (which essentially are tools) need time, that’s certainly why it influence your lifestyle. And for sure if you are using these tools you keep in contact to your network and group. That’s what allows you to learn, share and exchange, work, be cool ;). You use mobile, internet, constantly and everywhere, you communicate constantly. So everything influences everything to give birth to colourful, and creative trends in all fields, who constantly evolve. These trends can also be scary and dark off course. It’s the people and not the media who are defining the content. Or is it really ;)

Youth tribes fluidly use all means of new technologies to surf what can be of their very specific interests NOW. They double-check validity, relevance and credibility with their friends faster than the speed of light. They copy, they fake, because the tools are theirs to do so, and why not. They use what is the most convenient for them to communicate … internet, gsm, whatever.

You will see website about specific cultures interests: skate, sneaker culture, music, who can bloom in a very short time. You see trends come, go and come back, and mutate. If you take people in hip hop music, you have young producers doing beats, exchanging and working cross borders. Influenced by anything. So they use all these tools whatever they are … AIM, Skype you name it.

In hip hop and really in all subcultures it’s simply amazing to see all these mosaic of ideas, tastes and styles developing and exchanging via new media. If main media are not interested they create their own. Look at record label like Stones Throw for example … or Ninja Tune … They build shops, platform, and post. There are many examples besides my space and you tube. is a sneaker community for example, or the fashion blogs who are now giving “the ton” somewhere to print media such as Vogue, it’s “le monde a l’envers”.

Club of Amsterdam: Improved bandwidth allows to distribute content through Internet and wireless close to dvd quality. This means a radical change of the media landscape. Can you give us examples of "everybody can be a tv station" etc?

What defines a TV station? If it’s about making programs at regular time, with specific subjects, selected and where the information is provided via a journalistic approach, I think it then to have more bandwidth doesn’t necessarily facilitate. But if it’s posting moving images about specific subjects then certainly with bandwidth availability we see an explosion of the worst and the best DIY TV online. Like TV on demand.

In wide interests website like show what is happening when bandwidth and tools are available to everyone … I let you guess, sex definitely is the huge potential for online TV … on the other hand of the ethical spectrum you have a site like which is for the Christians community.

For entertainment was there pretty early on, and can be seen as TV on demand with lot of ads, special shows, like TV on demand again. Many subcultures used the bandwidth available to document their products, lifestyles or visions, from skateboard to graffiti, and off course hip hop . That’s what’s interesting regarding my own interests. But is it TV or not?

Club of Amsterdam: What do you expect from a dialogue about media and human experience?

Enhance my knowledge and my network on all levels. Seen the volume of information we need to exchange to proof the intel we get. You are nothing without the others. So I would like to define collaborative visions based on respect and openness or how to optimize these processes, we need to go over the clichés, the fear, we need to admit we can’t have it all, and we don’t need to have it all. I just need to be able to plug in. So it’s about keeping the network open. And respect again.

Thank you Laurence!

The Future of the Web

Q&A with Ricardo Baeza-Yates, Director and Roelof Van Zwol, Senior Researcher, Yahoo! Research Barcelona

Ricardo is a Thought Leader in the
LAB on MEDIA and Human Experience
An immersed experience of a Do-Tank
May 29 & 30, 2007
Location: Girona near Barcelona, Spain

Club of Amsterdam: Ricardo and Roelof - the Internet is constantly changing and offering new possibilities like Web 2.0. Social networks will benefit from these new features. Can you give us an idea how human interaction will improve?

Social networks will allows for direct communication with users with similar backgrounds, or interests, or with experts in a certain area.For example, inside Yahoo! we use a social network tool that is the perfect example, where given a few keywords, the experts in any topic like "social media" can instantly be found. It uses not only the self-descriptive tags provided by a user, but also the tags that other people used to tag fellow colleagues. We are using it on a regular basis, and it is especially useful for checking one's background, or for finding the person with the right expertise within the Yahoo! company, within seconds. Thus at a professional level it already improves the efficiency. When it comes to social networks on the Web, it also allows for the formation of large online communities that share common interests, and allow a user to share, and acquire knowledge. One recent development in the area of social networks, called second life, allows users and companies to start a new and perhaps more exciting life on the Internet.

Club of Amsterdam: Knowledge is essential for further development and innovation. Collaborative media will give us a world of new opportunities. Can you describe a future scenario?

The second life example already gives you a hint of where the "Future of the Web" will go. Last year, Yahoo! Research has organized a workshop under this title in Barcelona focused in Web Search, when the lab was opened. One future scenario will be that you are commuting to work, and would like to know which route to take, in order to avoid traffic jams, or that it might be better to work form home, due to expected traffic in the evening. You ask this question, and instantaneously receive audiovisual information from either validated sources, like traffic cameras, or from other commuters that have found themselves stuck in a traffic jam.

Club of Amsterdam: What are new developments in social media?

We already see that the dialog between users and media allows for new forms of interaction between users and their computers. Flickr, the Yahoo! photo sharing site, allows users to upload, and tag their photos online for sharing with their friends or to directly show them to a large community. When another user is exploring the Flickr photo database, he or she can provide additional tags, a photo rating, or give comments on the image. This allows for the retrieval of high quality and interesting photos at a scale that was not envisioned possible before. Currently, the Flickr site contains hundreds of millions of photos that are hand tagged by users, while the current state of the art in content-based image retrieval (CBIR) is not yet ready to handle this scale. This does not mean that existing research in this area has become obsolete. On the contrary, the combination ofCBIR with social media should allow for even better sharing and retrieval services in the future.

New forms of media are appearing on a daily basis, and it is next to impossible to track all the new developments in this area. It is however sure that the online presence of users will increase and that the role of media in this perspective is significant. It will allow for direct interactive communication through rich media channels in a fast changing world.

Thank you Ricardo and Roelof!