FESTIVAL REPORT: Digital Media Symposium, Part 2

Dr. Alvy Ray Smith explains it all to you. [Photo by Peter Wayne]

By Kristen Daly
BIFF DigiComm Commando

The Digital Media Symposium opened with Harris Morris of Harris Broadcasting Communications expounding on a vision to enhance the sports arena experience with digital technologies. This arena experience has been lagging behind the technological capabilities of the “living room experience”. The new technology will allow sports arenas to compete on a new level with living rooms. One of the most interesting aspects of this technology is the effort to synthesize the virtual and the real or “live”. Buying certain sports packages could allow fans of all things ‘virtual’ to combine a real-life venue experience with a digital identity equipped with discounts and other benefits.

Andres Espineira, founder and CEO of Pixorial, aims to “liberate the world’s video.” He suggests that all those videos languishing in closets need to come alive and enter the cloud so that, instead of one storyteller who decides what’s important and meaningful, there would be multiple storytellers. This would be accomplished by sharing video content at a raw level and granting access to the public through the digital “cloud”. He goes on to say that this collective storytelling applies not just to content from the past but to current content as well. He used the example of a school play where all the raw content video would be put in a single place where people would be able to piece together clips that recreate their own story or memory of the event. Pixorial wants to change the passive consumption of content and make everyone an active storyteller.

Rob Shuham of Fearless Revolution shared the organization’s plan to reignite the passion behind the climate change issue. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent to change the issue of climate change from a fact to a “conversation.” The goal of Fearless Revolution is to use a combination of digital technology, grassroots activism and gripping content to “win the conversation.” They have trained 3000 people around the world to present a detailed slide show (a sort of Inconvenient Truth 2.0) as the first tier in a multi-tiered approach to reenergizing this issue. He also mentioned a series of “tent pole” events they have planned, the first of which happened this past September called 24 Hours of Reality featuring Al Gore. This project explored the effect of climate change throughout the world, streaming video through 20 different time zones, and boasted 8 million viewers on UStream, their largest viewing event to date.

Local Internet entrepreneur Micha Baldwin of Graphically, spoke of how although he is new to content creation having been primarily on the marketing side that he feels we are “doing it wrong.” Basically, we start with analog and try to put it on digital making it feel as much like analog as possible. As he points out, kids these days don’t care if their book is on paper or digital, they just care if its good and don’t want anything to stand in the way of the story. Turning the page, he says, stands in the way of the story. He spoke of how too many digital bells and whistles also gets in the way of the story.

At Graphically, they can now extract marketing data in a way that could never be done before and provide it to content creators. He gave the theoretical example of being able to tell a creator whose third novel didn’t sell well that 98 percent of people stopped reading after she killed off the cat in novel 2. He noted research that shows that people read on average 8 pages at a time. Maybe, Micah suggests, creators should cater to eight-page sections. He suggested new tools for creators to use, like putting up pieces or titles on social media and paying to direct traffic to them to determine what people like and don’t. He notes how Tim Ferriss did this with his book The 4-Hour Workweek bought Google adwords and based his title off what was the most popular. As he says content creators must think about the presentation layer in digital.