Monday, January 08, 2007

The places you will go, the people you will see 1

During our trip back, besides catching up with family, friends and local food, I had the good fortune of being able to meet and speak to a great variety of interesting people. As a way to document my discussions with them and to help spread the word about the work that they are involved with, I am going to blog about my meetings with these individuals/groups.

Kevin Lim is a doctoral candidate at SUNY, Buffalo, New York. I first came across his blog and became aware of him as a result of my interest in the dissolution of the School of Information in Buffalo. Kevin's blog has been a wealth of information for me and he is the closest thing to an online personality that I personally know. Kevin is going to be in Singapore teaching undergrads in a course focused on new/social media at SIM. In particular, he is attempting to look at how games can be used to incentivize and structure student contributions with social media. I won't go into what we talked about during our meeting as he has beaten me to it in his most recent "face-to-face" blogpost :)Drop by his blog and keep updated with his latest gadgets and exploits ... and not to mention his teaching.

Himansu Shah and me go back quite a bit of time. Shah runs an outfit called AV8 media that was a pioneer in bringing digital video and nonlinear desktop video editing to Singapore. I approached him several years ago when I was experimenting with digital video as a way to facilitate creative and critical thinking amongst my students. Digital video has since taken off in a big way in Singapore schools in no small part due to Shah's work. AV8 outfits schools with digital video labs/studios and also conducts Adobe certified training for both students and professionals. I remember back in 2001 when he and I were talking about an online means to showcase student video. To a large extent the bulk of what discussed has been realized with the presence of youTube today. I had an interesting dinner and discussion with Shah about user contributed video and how that relates to the recent efforts by the Singapore government in setting up bodies such as IDM and MDA. The both of us ruminated about the present efforts from the government to seed a digital media industry. While laudable and noteworthy, such government funding often comes with expectations not to broach on 'taboo' subjects such as politics. Also, Shah pointed out to me that there is much funding available for HD content production and game development from the MDA. However, the funding comes with strict guidelines and seems to want to push large productions (no funding for productions made with handheld HD cameras). But it was also noteworthy that MDA funding has resulted in a splashy large budget film called, One last dance, featuring Harvey Keitel.

Shah also arranged for me to have lunch with Pete Kellock, who was the former CEO of MUVEE. I have been peripherally aware of MUVEE for a number of years as being a prominent local software company that made it's name on automatic video editing software. However, I was completely taken aback as to how much this company has grown. The company recently moved to its present location and had undertaken a comprehensive survey of its employees as to what they would like for their work environment. The results of this survey is nothing short of impressive and Pete took me on an a thoroughly enjoyable tour of MUVEE's premises. You can check out my Flickr set of my tour of MUVEE's space.

In my interactions with Pete, there were a number of things that stood out for me. Firstly, the company had only recently set up its first usability lab and were new converts to the user evaluation and experience. Pete, being the original developer of MUVEE's software, told me that he was absolutely taken aback by some of the findings produced by their usability evaluation process. It was also heartening for me to hear that they were now seriously considering deploying TechSmith's MORAE, a software that I had worked on as a user experience intern in the summer of 2005.

My conversation with Pete and Shah over lunched revolved around youTube, user experience and how ubiquitous mobile devices were changing the ways in which people were taking digital video. In particular, during the conversation I raised the fact that there was now a lot of attention being paid research on adolescent use of technologies. Take for instance Mimi Ito's work on Japanese Teenagers' use of mobile camera phones. Considering how OBSESSED Singaporeans are with their cellphones, research work like Ito's study would be particularly relevant and important. It would seem that there is a lot of work to be done with regards to user experience and how user make use of technology. This is especially pertinent to software like MUVEE's which has been embedded in devices like cellphones. In fact, Pete himself readily admitted that MUVEE needs to know its users better. Hopefully, I can follow up with him on this.

Meeting the media socialists was especially eye-opening and important for me. This is a group of prominent bloggers who are working in educational technology in the tertiary institutions, in the national library, in advertising/marketing etc. It was especially important for me to be able to put faces to the blogs that I have been following online for a while. In general, the meeting was more of a put a name to the blog meeting. But there were a lot of connections made and information exchanged. I won't go into the details of everything discussed right now. I'll save that for a following blogpost after I have followed up with a couple of individuals from the group :)

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Looks like both you and Serene had a fruitful trip to Singapore. I'll keep tabs on Singapore development since I'll be stationed here for a while. Keep me posted on stuff back in the States :P