Sep 162005

Honolulu Lamp Lighter © Gary Hayes 2005This is a follow-up to the previous post written live from the event. I attended the Rewind Fast Forward conference today in downtown Sydney as invited speaker but very interested participant. The subtitle for the event was “a Business forum on the internet of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” organised superbly by Rachel and the team of SlatteryIt and others. I didn’t know quite what to expect (suppose the ‘business’ bit should have given me a clue) – as events that are not on the annual calendar are always complete unknowns. I was surprised the day was top and tailed with a cute 10 year birthday celebration of the commercial internet – complete with 6ft long heart clogging chocolate slab cake. This oddity aside here are some late night thoughts.

Still in assimilation mode about the Australian media industry (will I ever be totally assimilated, indoctrinated?) I am always eager to understand the sensibilities, passions and business drivers of the key players on this island. This event was an all embracing collection of the key media archetypes – but due to self-censorship and good judgement I shall leave the listing till later 😉 Some folk though that impressed me today were Tony Surtees, Jason Ashton, Stephanie D’Souza (one of those young people ;-), Philip Alexander and Domenic Carosa (more on him later).

What was relevant to this blog? What was presented and talked about in the user-generated, personalize media arena? Program link. A thread that seemed to run throughout all of the panels was an acknowledgement that outside the b2b and b2c business models (services, pushed-paid content and hardware) there was a lot of user media activity but – many saw this as irrelevant, poor quality (rambling, useless blogs – ed: bit like this site then!) or a fad that will be pushed to the periphery. I asked floor questions about peer-to-peer, blogging and bit torrent (to emphasise percentage of volume of internet traffic) and replys leaned towards “interesting but as we cannot make money from it we have to ignore it”.

This is no bad thing but it did bring home again the growing divide between business: those capitalizing on ring tones, dating sites, internet games consoles etc: and creative commons: the tidal wave of user generated, personal content. If users want to create and share mountains of digital content then so be it – what can we do about it? On my panel David and Michael (Microsoft and Sony respectively) are helping people share it, display it and store it – but not tag it, manage it or archive, which they did acknowledge are critical areas.

In the final panel on future trends and business opportunities I didn’t hear any suggestions about operating portals for UGC (user generated content) – they talked about givens such as firewalls, batteries?, DRM, more Voice of IP services and so on. Domenic Carosa did get close to the mark when he brought up a point I made in my panel (@entertainment) about the real need for personal filter/firewalls that screen out content from the constant waves we will be bombarded with in the near futures – especially in the mobile domain. I was impressed with his locking into this so obvious requirement. VC’s tip – interoperable profile/agent algorithms…no shall keep that one to myself.

In the four panels I listened to, personalization was rarely mentioned – if it was it was in the context of re-skinning (one of my fellow panellists point) or tailored web pages. I was hoping to hear more about agents-futures. I talked briefly about the opportunities we have to provide effective content recommendation to viewers existing Personal Entertainment Networks in the context of home systems. There just seemed to be far too much convergent-gadget envy going on though and the wider goals of understanding user experience and creating media relevance were lost on many panels.

To sum up. The commercial internet is 10 years old, but it is now in puberty, a troublesome teenager and will soon be unrecognisable as the internet – a ubiquitous, mature broadband pre-empting doc com boom v.2 (as one speaker suggested). Would have liked to have seen more discussion about content rather than endless re-versioned business models or gadgets, about user centric service design, new form interactive, cross-media narrative and user generative enablers. Perhaps Rewind Fast Forward 2015?

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005