Media X Day 2, April 17, 2007
The presentations today were considerably shorter, usually less than seven minutes with a couple of exceptions by outside vendors who wrapped up the afternoon.
Clifford Nass, Dept. of Communication
"What Media-X does best and what's best for you
His speech was aimed at the business affiliates who support the program and expect certain results from the university. Paraphrasing him
"You should look for a direct and large impact on actual projects (in the company) and services. Having your competitors here (at Media X) is a great opportunity. Competition is irrelevant. You should demand some general understanding that results in something specific of use in your company. By bringing companies and ideas together, you can discover trends you could never find elsewhere. Stanford provides an incredible amount of enthusiastic labor (who don't demand much money).
"Intellectual property is not a deliverable. it's hard to use; you can't control it. Books and papers are not deliverables, nor are discoveries. We at universities are not good at delivering things, companies do that. Contracts impede; they do not protect, but do consider NDAs so that we know what's going on and can help."
Nass sees the flow from university to business as the best way to make use of all this research and intellectual activity. There seems to be no other outlet for this privitization of IP, no mention of a common pool of knowledge many can draw from.
Nass runs the CHIMe Lab (commnication between humans and interactive media lab) but the web site is being renovated. However, there's a link to an interview with Nass .
Byron Reeves, co-director Human Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute. His team is focused on 3D game environment like World of Warcraft. He listed 12 things that make games work:
1. self representation
ranks and levels
places to explore.
He spoke about the first three. With self-representation you are IN the media. You have 9 extra heartbeats per minute when you are interacting. If you are told the avatar is a real person it becomes a more intense experience.
In teams leadership happens in minutes. The roles are often temporary. Risk-taking is encouraged. Information is everywhere and there is reinforcement in all time domains. He gave an example of the benefits a middle-aged woman said resulted from her game playing.
Synthetic currencies have the same effect as real ones. Reeves has made a synthetic currency and a mapping system to show the trading network within a group. Later I asked Reeves if his research had changed his personal life. He replied that he liked to watch these interactions but the investment in time to build up strong characters was too great for him, though one of his students had hundreds of hours invested in a number of avatars.
Laura Carstensen, Stanford Center on Longevity. She wants to transform the culture of human aging and improve the quality of life for all ages, since many health problems begin early in life. She spoke about how technology had improved physical systems. Economists fear that old societies will break the bank. Stanford does not want to think about how to cope with frail populations but how to get everyone ready for healthy seniors.
Leroy Hendricks. Learning technologies for the digital generation
The new educational tools are authentic learning situations through task simulation. She showed a surgical team working together, except the patient was a manikin. They found that non-VR trained medical residents were five times more likely to injure the gall bladder in an operation or burn non-target tissue.
Stuart Gannes. Digital Vision Program showed BookBox, a program in India using same language subtitling to teach reading. Gannes claimed that 'in a few years every child in the world would have a cell phone.'
Brigid Barron, School of Education, is studying collaboration. Her breakout session featured more details of her research into collaborators good and bad experiences than she was able to cover in her short presentation. This has relevance for my work, and I spoke with one person from Steelcase who has software for engineers working together, and the head of the Oracle Education Foundation. We compared challenges of getting different groups to work together.
Daniel Schwartz from the AAA lab spoke about teachable agents where students learned tasks better when they had to teach a computer agent to answer questions about the task.
Ward Hanson. Institute for Economic Policy Research, spoke about the changing demographics of the next billion Internet users. New users from North America and Europe are few as the growth curve flattens, so the new ones will be the elite from emerging economies. He noted that Americans spend a very small amount of money for going online but 10% of their leisure time is spent there. Addressing the business community he said we will have to be culturally sensitive to the new users. (Witness the problems of YouTube in Thailand as one example.)
Ken Salisbury's research focuses on human-centered robotics. He showed a number of short video of Stanford robots that could vacuum the room, feed a human, and even fetch a cold beer and serve it to a researcher (without checking his i.d.).
The conference wound up with longer talks by Eric Hauser of Swivel media who thinks we have seen the birth of the prosumer (producer-consumer) and that the customer has "unprecedented control." While he has worked with Second Life, he said it's about like AOL ten years ago. Shooting star that will burn out? Lots of growth but other platforms are coming. Then he showed an SL property done for Wells Fargo Bank. Stagecoach Island "fostered a community that is 99% fun and 1% financial education."
Julian Lighton from Cisco deals with emerging markets, and his talk reminded me of the one his CEO gave at the Internet Society years ago. While they are in more than 100 countries, their focus is on large urban areas. He spoke of "lighting up" the cities where they concentrate their efforts and detailed some work in Azerbaijan. He noted, "we love benevolent despots. They make decisions quickly." He spoke glowingly of rfids all around Saudi Arabia to facilitate tracking vehicles and people.
At the end of the day I wondered how you might synthesize all the presentations into a single product. I guess it might be a robot taking part in using Second Life on a mobile phone while all the metrics are being charted by the different human grad students in the various Stanford labs. Though this is a remote concept, I did feel that in a short time many of the presenters made a good case of why some of their very special research could make or has made a difference in the lives of technology users as well as the companies who are rolling out new products and services.