Tech hosts FutureMedia Fest

This past week, Tech hosted the Future Media Fest 2010, an interactive mash-up of talent, ideas, trends and technology hosted by FutureMedia, a global innovation collaborative initiative. The conference, which took place from Oct. 4-7, covered a wide variety of topics ranging from social networking to disruptive business models and applications in e-democracy.

The conference brought together executives, investors, academics and researchers to discuss the paradigm shift that is occurring as an effect of next generation digital, social and mobile media across the world. The four-day event consisted of keynote addresses, workshops, discussion panels and demonstrations. Notable speakers included Michael Jones, chief technology officer at Google, Clyde Tuggle, senior vice president of Communications at the Coca-Cola Company and Christopher Klaus, CEO of Kaneva and major Tech benefactor.

Future Media Fest opened Monday morning with a keynote address delivered by Michael Jones, Chief Technology Officer at Google. At Google, Jones is charged with the task of advancing Google’s technology that attempts to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. He travels the world meeting with governments, businesses and customers working to make Google’s technology more accessible to the world.

Jones is an avid inventor and computer programmer, who was previously the Chief Technologist of Google Maps, Google Earth and Local Search and is jointly credited with the creation of Google Earth.

In his keynote address, Jones spoke of how the new generation of media is completely enveloping, and will reach into all aspects of our lives. He postulated that in the near future as we break down language and cultural barriers, information will become more universally distributed. Currently, 20% of the world’s population is using 95% of the world’s technology. According to Jones, in 20 years, that other 80% will have complete access to high-level technology.

Jones attributed much of this new proliferation of technology to current developments in open source media, and strides that have been made in collaborative publishing. He gave an example of how an undisclosed media source has been able to virtually map nearly all of unknown North Korea, including Kim Jong Ill’s personal residence and many government facilities.

He explained that almost all of this virtual map was compiled using open source technology, which gained access to the knowledge of North Korean expatriates, Americans who have worked in North Korea and others who have gained access to travel there.

“Intelligence is universally distributed, we just have to find the so-called lay experts who know all about the things that we know nothing about,” Jones said.

In an interview with international media representatives from Brazil, South Korea and China, Jones explained new green gaming technology that Google is working on. Studies have shown that these games can stimulate a near 20% increase in conservation efforts by citizens.

“We now have access to ‘smart power meters’ that can be linked to your Google homepage, and when you turn off a light in your house your power meter goes down. We’re trying to make a game out of it to show kids that conservation of resources can be fun,” Jones said.

Later in the conference, Clyde Tuggle, senior Vice President of Global Affairs & Communications at the Coca-Cola Company gave a keynote address. He focused on Coca-Cola’s revised marketing strategies in response to the new media that has unfolded over the past decade.

Tuggle explained that some marketing themes have never changed and will most likely always remain, such as authenticity, transparency and brand name recognition. However, he also explained that there has recently been a major paradigm shift in the way that corporations target audiences.

“In the past 80 years we’ve gone from hanging out at the corner pharmacy to face book. Now we have to meet customers where they are, we have to fish where fish are. We can’t rely on people being drawn to Coke anymore, we have to go out and get them,” Tuggle said.

To further explain how Coca-Cola has tackled his issue, Tuggle presented an in depth look at Coca-Cola’s newest marketing scheme, “Expedition 206.” The project took 3 “happiness ambassadors” who have been sent all around the world together to explore 206 countries in 365 days to find “what makes people happy” around the world.

The audience then had a chance to Skype live with all 3 “happiness ambassadors” and ask them questions. The ambassadors, Toño, Kelly and Tony introduced themselves and explained the countries they had already travelled to and the country they were currently in (United Arab Emirates). Audience members asked a series of questions, ranging in topic from the marketing impact that the campaign has had to how remote native populations react to Coke products.

One of the final events of the week was an “Immersive World” panel discussion about the discovery of interactive 3D environments and the role that such technology is playing in our developing world. Benn Konsynski, a Professor Business Administration at the Goizueta Business School of Emory University, led the panel. The panel also included Christopher Klaus, Founder and CEO of Kaneva, Inc and Tech alumnus.

Klaus, who began his career as Chief Technology Officer and founder of Information Security Systems after leaving the Institute, eventually sold his company to International Business Machines (IBM) for $1.3B in 2006. After giving a $15M naming gift to Tech to build the Klaus Advanced Computing Building, he now acts as CEO of Kaneva, a 3D virtual world platform.

While serving on the “Immersive World” panel, Klaus expressed his opinion that alternative reality technology, although it is sometimes be negatively perceived, can be of great value in improving our education systems through the use of virtual classrooms and educational incentives.

When questioned on the possible forgery of identity in alternative reality, Klaus pointed out that Kaneva is striving to augment reality, not create an entirely new one. Users are encouraged to accurately divulge their information instead of creating a new personality.

“I encourage students at Tech to go after what they enjoy, try and internship or a co-op, and you’ll find out what you like and what you don’t like. If you have an idea that works, just go for it. That’s how I did it,” Klaus said, when asked how he achieved his success.

The final keynote address of the conference was held on Thursday afternoon at the Ferst Center for the Arts, and was at the last minute opened up to all students with Buzzcards. Richie Baneham and Matt Madden, both Academy Award Winning visual effects directors who played significant roles in the creation of “Avatar”, delivered the address.

In addition to lectures, attendees also had an opportunity to experience first hand the newest in gaming technology in a gaming lounge that offered a hands-on preview of next generation technology. Games that were demonstrated included 3D applications, motion input controllers, robotic music reproduction and virtual worlds.

FutureMedia at Georgia Tech explores new paradigms in how content is created, distributed and consumed. FutureMedia is a global open innovation collaborative focused on discovering, creating, commercializing and shaping the future of media. There are more than 19 centers, 37 living labs and nearly 500 faculty currently working on this initiative.