55 minutes inside Microsoft Research's new "#99" building

Everytime I watch one of my own videos I see something that I could improve.

Microsoft Research's new building "99"

We spent half a day at Microsoft Research’s new building getting a video tour of the new building. Kevin Schofield, General Manager, gave us an awesome tour and introduced us to several of Microsoft’s smartest people.

This video is the result.

One problem: it’s way too long. Pretty interesting stuff in there, if you hang out for the 55 minutes, but it would have been better to chop it up to its component parts, rather than try to run it all together.

Actually doing that would help us with Google, too. Google rewards atoms, not molecules (this video is a molecule).

So, what are the atoms?

Microsoft Research

Atom One: 00:00-2:55 Kevin Schofield giving us an introduction to the building.

Equations

Atom Two: 2:55 – 06:57 Martha Clarkson, who helped design parts of the building, explains some of the innovations in the building (and there are many)

Jennifer Chayes and Christian Borgs, Microsoft Researchers

Atom Three: 06:57-19:59 Jennifer Chayes and Christian Borgs, theory researchers talk with me about their research, about building a new research center in New England (which they are heading up and which will use many of the same things in their new building that were done here).

Microsoft sign outside building 99

Atom Four: 19:59-30:07 Kevin Schofield continues his tour, showing us several things in the building that the researchers themselves helped design.

Anechoic chamber at Microsoft Research, Phil Chou

Atom Five: 30:07- 39:12 Schofield brings us into the signal processing group, where we get a look at the anechoic chamber (sound proof room) and he introduces us to Phil Chou, principal researcher in the signal processing group. You can really hear why TV studios try to build sound-absorption systems in. The audio gets noticeably better.

Lots of moveable partitions

Atom Six: 39:12-41:52 Schofield explains why Research builds hardware and gives us more insights into the building and shows us some of the work areas in the new building.

Rocky shoots Andy Wilson, researcher at Microsoft

Atom Seven: 41:52 Schofield takes us into meet Andy Wilson. If you haven’t seen my videos before, you might not know that Andy is doing probably the most bleeding edge work at Microsoft (he build the Surface table-top computer which you touch with your hands). If you only watch one part, you’ve gotta check out his lab in the new building.

Kevin Schofield at Microsoft Research

Atom Eight: 50:51-55:05 Schofield talks about how they built a public area of the building so that groups, even outside ones, can have meetings inside the new building and concludes the tour.

Thanks for hanging in there through the 55 minute video. We’ll work on the UI so we can cut these things up into smaller pieces and still bring you most of the good stuff.

Comments

  1. I think that it would help but the text menu is already a great step forward. Have you ever seen the TED player? They inline in the player a little outline of the content. May be an extension to add to the fast company player.

  2. I think that it would help but the text menu is already a great step forward. Have you ever seen the TED player? They inline in the player a little outline of the content. May be an extension to add to the fast company player.

  3. Really nice video. A suggestion though would be to have lapel mics on the main people (Scoble and Schofield in this video) and keep the regular mic around for additional people. Your arm must be killing you from holding that mic the whole time.

  4. Really nice video. A suggestion though would be to have lapel mics on the main people (Scoble and Schofield in this video) and keep the regular mic around for additional people. Your arm must be killing you from holding that mic the whole time.

  5. Got through the 55 minutes. Nice building and good interview. I think that the challenge for Microsoft research is to seat back and try to determine why they are not able to produce the flickrs, youtubes, ipods, iphones, facebooks and nings of the world. Somethings seems to be broken and as good and effective this new building seems to be, it is not clear that it is going to address the root of the problem.

  6. Got through the 55 minutes. Nice building and good interview. I think that the challenge for Microsoft research is to seat back and try to determine why they are not able to produce the flickrs, youtubes, ipods, iphones, facebooks and nings of the world. Somethings seems to be broken and as good and effective this new building seems to be, it is not clear that it is going to address the root of the problem.

  7. I’m going to be nice and not mention the hojillions of times commenters here told you your videos were too long and needed to be edited or chopped up into cohesive chunks and you claimed they were all wrong and it worked much better this way.

    Oh, darn… :-)

  8. I’m going to be nice and not mention the hojillions of times commenters here told you your videos were too long and needed to be edited or chopped up into cohesive chunks and you claimed they were all wrong and it worked much better this way.

    Oh, darn… :-)

  9. Robert,

    Yes if you break up the video it would be better for Google SEO however is that your primary concern? I mean there are people that like to watch a fluid storyline. Editing I believe should be for people and not bots. Although breaking up the video into smaller chunks would help with bandwidth for those that do not have a high speed connection and there are still a few out there.

  10. Robert,

    Yes if you break up the video it would be better for Google SEO however is that your primary concern? I mean there are people that like to watch a fluid storyline. Editing I believe should be for people and not bots. Although breaking up the video into smaller chunks would help with bandwidth for those that do not have a high speed connection and there are still a few out there.

  11. Well better snip slices, if a bit chaotic, but no matter how many times you goto Microsoft Research (this is the 6th?), it’s never interesting. It’s a sales pitch, geek tinkers going unpractical and pointless MAKE-magazineish and demoing the gee-whiz wow golly-gee “coming soon” stuff. Seems like an exercise just to save their jobs.

    Surface might be cool, but it’s eons away, and will cost too much, and have the usual showstopper Microsoft bugs, and then less excited as I have ‘surface’ with my Archos 5th gen and Touch iPod already.

    Not going FEDD?

    Full – too long, Scoble Show snooze.
    Snipplets – too random, context is lost, hard to get even divisions.
    Full Edit Down Divided Up (FEDD) – the answer, imho.

    An edited down full…55 to 20, broken into 2 parts, without any cliffhangers, yet continual. Doing it that way for my current stuff, seems to work…

  12. Well better snip slices, if a bit chaotic, but no matter how many times you goto Microsoft Research (this is the 6th?), it’s never interesting. It’s a sales pitch, geek tinkers going unpractical and pointless MAKE-magazineish and demoing the gee-whiz wow golly-gee “coming soon” stuff. Seems like an exercise just to save their jobs.

    Surface might be cool, but it’s eons away, and will cost too much, and have the usual showstopper Microsoft bugs, and then less excited as I have ‘surface’ with my Archos 5th gen and Touch iPod already.

    Not going FEDD?

    Full – too long, Scoble Show snooze.
    Snipplets – too random, context is lost, hard to get even divisions.
    Full Edit Down Divided Up (FEDD) – the answer, imho.

    An edited down full…55 to 20, broken into 2 parts, without any cliffhangers, yet continual. Doing it that way for my current stuff, seems to work…

  13. @Edwin Khodabakchian

    Great insight. I read year after year about Softie blowing billions into research (and now a fancy research center staffed with ‘top brains’), yet the output is a joke. If this does not change, Shareholders will finally question what they are getting for their investment.

    “I think that the challenge for Microsoft research is to seat back and try to determine why they are not able to produce the flickrs, youtubes, ipods, iphones, facebooks and nings of the world. Somethings seems to be broken and as good and effective this new building seems to be, it is not clear that it is going to address the root of the problem.”

  14. @Edwin Khodabakchian

    Great insight. I read year after year about Softie blowing billions into research (and now a fancy research center staffed with ‘top brains’), yet the output is a joke. If this does not change, Shareholders will finally question what they are getting for their investment.

    “I think that the challenge for Microsoft research is to seat back and try to determine why they are not able to produce the flickrs, youtubes, ipods, iphones, facebooks and nings of the world. Somethings seems to be broken and as good and effective this new building seems to be, it is not clear that it is going to address the root of the problem.”

  15. @Edwin and Jim: You’re both missing the point. Microsoft Research is a pure research lab, like a university. They produce papers, not products. What they do is not supposed to have a return next year, or 5 years down the road, or even 20.

    They’re like the old Bell Labs, or the old Xerox PARC. (These still exist in name, but not in practice.) Neither one did their parent companies any good, but they sure did the world a lot of good.

    MSR has people working on theory. What does P=NP have to do with Microsoft’s stock price? MSR has people working on programming languages. Functional programming languages which three people use while millions of programmers are content with Java and C++. MSR has people working on systems. Hard stuff, like distributed computing, or alternative kernel designs.

    So you want to be a hard-nosed stockholder? Yes, shut MSR down. You’re exactly right, they’re wasting money. Why should Microsoft fund its own university when they get sneered at for their lack of business acumen instead of thanked for their altruism towards science?

    I remember when MSR hired a psychologist, and the head of Quicken sneered that his developers don’t need psychologists to figure out how to make user-friendly software. That’s sort of like sneering that Harvard can’t produce good software because they hire psychologists (tenured ones, to boot). It completely misses the point.

    As for why Microsoft doesn’t produce the iPod, or Facebook, or whatever — this is a well-known phenomenon in large organizations. You should be asking the question of the development organization, not research. Remember it’s R&D, not R=D.

    I really don’t know if research has a place in corporations anymore. MSR is just about the last one standing. Maybe research will end up being left to universities, to piddle along on NSF grant money while we waste $300 million a day in Iraq. This is a philosophical question.

  16. @Edwin and Jim: You’re both missing the point. Microsoft Research is a pure research lab, like a university. They produce papers, not products. What they do is not supposed to have a return next year, or 5 years down the road, or even 20.

    They’re like the old Bell Labs, or the old Xerox PARC. (These still exist in name, but not in practice.) Neither one did their parent companies any good, but they sure did the world a lot of good.

    MSR has people working on theory. What does P=NP have to do with Microsoft’s stock price? MSR has people working on programming languages. Functional programming languages which three people use while millions of programmers are content with Java and C++. MSR has people working on systems. Hard stuff, like distributed computing, or alternative kernel designs.

    So you want to be a hard-nosed stockholder? Yes, shut MSR down. You’re exactly right, they’re wasting money. Why should Microsoft fund its own university when they get sneered at for their lack of business acumen instead of thanked for their altruism towards science?

    I remember when MSR hired a psychologist, and the head of Quicken sneered that his developers don’t need psychologists to figure out how to make user-friendly software. That’s sort of like sneering that Harvard can’t produce good software because they hire psychologists (tenured ones, to boot). It completely misses the point.

    As for why Microsoft doesn’t produce the iPod, or Facebook, or whatever — this is a well-known phenomenon in large organizations. You should be asking the question of the development organization, not research. Remember it’s R&D, not R=D.

    I really don’t know if research has a place in corporations anymore. MSR is just about the last one standing. Maybe research will end up being left to universities, to piddle along on NSF grant money while we waste $300 million a day in Iraq. This is a philosophical question.

  17. “Why should Microsoft fund its own university when they get sneered at for their lack of business acumen instead of thanked for their altruism towards science?”

    That response right there is probably what Microsoft is actually paying for. “…thanked for their altruism towards science.” Maybe one of their lawyers will even quote you in court at one of their anti-trust hearings.

    “Your honor, we are not an abusive monopoly, for we spend 150 million dollars a year on pure academic research that won’t profit us any, but will help the whole world for the greater good.”

    You see, money saved in court by running this place > cost of running this place. Maybe not, but it could have that potential.

  18. “Why should Microsoft fund its own university when they get sneered at for their lack of business acumen instead of thanked for their altruism towards science?”

    That response right there is probably what Microsoft is actually paying for. “…thanked for their altruism towards science.” Maybe one of their lawyers will even quote you in court at one of their anti-trust hearings.

    “Your honor, we are not an abusive monopoly, for we spend 150 million dollars a year on pure academic research that won’t profit us any, but will help the whole world for the greater good.”

    You see, money saved in court by running this place > cost of running this place. Maybe not, but it could have that potential.