This is why I love the tech industry…

Sometimes I get caught up in all the bubble and ego talk. You know, all that stuff that the industry insiders care about and what keeps tech blogging sometimes feeling like a high school (who has the bigger ego? The bigger puppet? Who is going to start a snit on Gillmor Gang? Etc. Etc.)

That stuff is all fun for the insiders as they create drama so that we’ll get you to pay attention and engage with us comment on our blogs.

But then, once in a while, something will happen that’ll snap you out of the World Wide High School and remind you that this industry does, indeed, create cool stuff that makes our lives more productive and interesting. Well, actually, for me, that happens very often because I have a front-row-seat on this industry and get to see tons of interesting stuff.

But this is one of those times when what you’re seeing and who you’re talking with is much more interesting than usual. And the response from people who participate (this was filmed live, with a live audience) tells me that I’m not alone in recognizing this was a special moment for my camera.

So, that was a long way of saying, don’t miss this conversation with Microsoft Researcher Andy Wilson. He’s the guy behind the “Surface” technology that you use your hands on. Thursday at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley offices he was showing off his latest version of that technology and taking questions from some interesting people themselves (my producer, Rocky Barbanica, who was a software developer for two decades before going back to film school, as well as someone from Symantec’s CTO Office were part of the conversation, along with people who dropped by my Qik channel while I was filming these).

It’s split into a few pieces because the cell phone connection died a couple of times, but you’ll see why I started up the phone again.

Part I 28 minutes long.
Part II 1 minute long.
Part III 6 minutes long. (physical objects interacting with virtual ones — freaking cool — he also explains the algorithm behind “pinch” interfaces).

Bonus interview: Research team that does bilingual translations live on Web pages, IM, and other places (Twitter?). That one is seven minutes and 43 seconds long.

This stuff is just so cool. If you agree, can you link to this from your Twitter account, your blog, or vote for this on Digg or Reddit? This conversation deserves a far wider distribution than my usual stuff because it could inspire kids to see how just one developer can change what we think of the tech industry. Thanks to Andy Wilson for the inspiring conversation and thanks to Microsoft Research for hiring him and helping this conversation to happen!

110 thoughts on “This is why I love the tech industry…

  1. wow. so much sniping. what about the thing? also, didn’t msft buy this tech from someone at NYU? or is this person the same that was at NYU? I need to find my reference. I have an article somewhere. It was invented at MSFT, It was invented, then bought by MSFT, as usual.

  2. wow. so much sniping. what about the thing? also, didn’t msft buy this tech from someone at NYU? or is this person the same that was at NYU? I need to find my reference. I have an article somewhere. It was invented at MSFT, It was invented, then bought by MSFT, as usual.

  3. Great videos.

    Obviously it would be best if the videos were HD, but for me, in Brazil, any video is better than nothing. This is my way to keep in touch with the best and latest technology without the travel costs (and the tickets to this kind of events). Thanks for your work.

  4. Great videos.

    Obviously it would be best if the videos were HD, but for me, in Brazil, any video is better than nothing. This is my way to keep in touch with the best and latest technology without the travel costs (and the tickets to this kind of events). Thanks for your work.

  5. “watched more than 450,000 times and, if you haven’t noticed, over at http://www.qik.com there are more and more people doing cell phone videos every day”

    How can you prove that? Clicking on the link to the video doesn’t mean someone watches the whole thing through. What tracking or surveying are you using to prove 450,000 people have actually consumed your videos from beginning to end. Nevertheless, 450,000 only reinforces my argument that you would do well not to suggest your content (quality aside) is of a higher caliber than CNN, or any other professional news organization. Now, if you started having 450,000 UNIQUE clicks on your videos per day, then you would start to enter MSNBC territory.

    The fact that people are doing more more cell phone videos every day is not really a great point. There are people that paint pictures and do other art every day. But if no one sees it, or buys it, who cares? Sames with the cell phone videos. If no one watches these cell phone videos, what’s your point?

  6. “watched more than 450,000 times and, if you haven’t noticed, over at http://www.qik.com there are more and more people doing cell phone videos every day”

    How can you prove that? Clicking on the link to the video doesn’t mean someone watches the whole thing through. What tracking or surveying are you using to prove 450,000 people have actually consumed your videos from beginning to end. Nevertheless, 450,000 only reinforces my argument that you would do well not to suggest your content (quality aside) is of a higher caliber than CNN, or any other professional news organization. Now, if you started having 450,000 UNIQUE clicks on your videos per day, then you would start to enter MSNBC territory.

    The fact that people are doing more more cell phone videos every day is not really a great point. There are people that paint pictures and do other art every day. But if no one sees it, or buys it, who cares? Sames with the cell phone videos. If no one watches these cell phone videos, what’s your point?

  7. Fantastic demo of the surface technology… I think the future of interfacing will not require a screen at all, but the screen may (in effect) move forward to become an overlay on our vision. Perhaps this could be done with an advanced ‘contact lens display’ or something analagous. Everything we see will then be a composite of virtual and physical, with virtual elements triggered as required. Might take a few years though…!

  8. Fantastic demo of the surface technology… I think the future of interfacing will not require a screen at all, but the screen may (in effect) move forward to become an overlay on our vision. Perhaps this could be done with an advanced ‘contact lens display’ or something analagous. Everything we see will then be a composite of virtual and physical, with virtual elements triggered as required. Might take a few years though…!

  9. OK, Robert, so I watched.

    And look, this isn’t meant as another one of those ‘oh, you’re a loser’, or ‘oh you are talking to MS so therefore it sucks’ slams, or any of that kind of abject negativity. I’m really trying to be constructive here.

    But honestly, my earlier criticism still stands. It would have been nice for you to say more than ‘this is soooo cool, watch it, tell everyone else to watch it!oneoneone!!’. Would have been great to have some kind of summary which tells us what we’re going to see, so we know whether we’ve seen it before, or if it interests us, or where to zoom in and pay attention.

    As for the video itself, well, again, this is just honest opinion, not heaping trash at your door because trashing is fun. But I got about 17 minutes in, then gave up. It’s a bunch of sentence fragments, delivered over some other continuous running audio (was there a a radio running in the backround?). We see the Surface, great, doing the same 3-4 things over and over again, amidst all these sentence fragments. “I’m having a little trouble with … what if I click on this …”, yadda yadda yadda. Bill Gates did a better and far more cohesive presentation on the same technologies at, what, 2006 CES? I kept waiting for the new parts, kept getting more sentence fragments and almost random ‘sorta this, sorta that’ kinds of conversation than anything new or innovative or shareworthy.

    One other thing, Robert – a few years back when you were at MS, I asked about the poor audio quality and the lack of subtitles for the hard of hearing. You said you were going to be doing that soon. Might be a good time to look into it again – a transcript would have been as valuable to this video as a good summary.

    Anyway, this was a swing and a miss. Thanks for the swing, but … I’d love to see a better and more fully-formed interview, with higher production values. I’d love to come up to speed on where MS is going with Surface. This attempt, I am sad to say, wasn’t worth the time invested.

  10. OK, Robert, so I watched.

    And look, this isn’t meant as another one of those ‘oh, you’re a loser’, or ‘oh you are talking to MS so therefore it sucks’ slams, or any of that kind of abject negativity. I’m really trying to be constructive here.

    But honestly, my earlier criticism still stands. It would have been nice for you to say more than ‘this is soooo cool, watch it, tell everyone else to watch it!oneoneone!!’. Would have been great to have some kind of summary which tells us what we’re going to see, so we know whether we’ve seen it before, or if it interests us, or where to zoom in and pay attention.

    As for the video itself, well, again, this is just honest opinion, not heaping trash at your door because trashing is fun. But I got about 17 minutes in, then gave up. It’s a bunch of sentence fragments, delivered over some other continuous running audio (was there a a radio running in the backround?). We see the Surface, great, doing the same 3-4 things over and over again, amidst all these sentence fragments. “I’m having a little trouble with … what if I click on this …”, yadda yadda yadda. Bill Gates did a better and far more cohesive presentation on the same technologies at, what, 2006 CES? I kept waiting for the new parts, kept getting more sentence fragments and almost random ‘sorta this, sorta that’ kinds of conversation than anything new or innovative or shareworthy.

    One other thing, Robert – a few years back when you were at MS, I asked about the poor audio quality and the lack of subtitles for the hard of hearing. You said you were going to be doing that soon. Might be a good time to look into it again – a transcript would have been as valuable to this video as a good summary.

    Anyway, this was a swing and a miss. Thanks for the swing, but … I’d love to see a better and more fully-formed interview, with higher production values. I’d love to come up to speed on where MS is going with Surface. This attempt, I am sad to say, wasn’t worth the time invested.

  11. “watched more than 450,000 times”

    Taking a page from the Dare-Dept.-of-Windows-Spaces-Misleading-Statistics, eh? You mean these crashy Web 2.0 video-hosting companies have set-top-box Nielsen-like representative tracking capability? I’d bet ‘watched’ translates into ‘hits’ and ‘spiders’, and even then, if so, the dot.com crash was built on eyeball economics. And ‘started’ doesn’t mean ‘finished’, I’ve clicked on tons of your videos, leaving after less than 5 minutes, do I count as a “watcher” then?

    And it doesn’t matter if you have a “professional” area and a “cell phone” area, in terms of the marketing, people will think both are crap, if one is. A company needs to be the best overall, even in the value lines, to make a substandard product in one area, expecting (or pushing) people to flock to the higher-end product is breaking marketing rule #1, perception is truth. This is college-freshman level basic stuff. It won’t matter how many well-produced videos you make, people will still reference you in terms of crappy cell phone videos, again, perception is truth.

  12. “watched more than 450,000 times”

    Taking a page from the Dare-Dept.-of-Windows-Spaces-Misleading-Statistics, eh? You mean these crashy Web 2.0 video-hosting companies have set-top-box Nielsen-like representative tracking capability? I’d bet ‘watched’ translates into ‘hits’ and ‘spiders’, and even then, if so, the dot.com crash was built on eyeball economics. And ‘started’ doesn’t mean ‘finished’, I’ve clicked on tons of your videos, leaving after less than 5 minutes, do I count as a “watcher” then?

    And it doesn’t matter if you have a “professional” area and a “cell phone” area, in terms of the marketing, people will think both are crap, if one is. A company needs to be the best overall, even in the value lines, to make a substandard product in one area, expecting (or pushing) people to flock to the higher-end product is breaking marketing rule #1, perception is truth. This is college-freshman level basic stuff. It won’t matter how many well-produced videos you make, people will still reference you in terms of crappy cell phone videos, again, perception is truth.

  13. robert,

    i’m sorry but i do have to agree with bryan. i understand why you’re touchy about the criticism but the quality of this just gets in the way of the viewer experience. you’re not well trained as an interviewer and it shows. maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take a course? i know that’s something out of the playbook from the bad MSM but the professionals do make it interesting for the rest of us.

    the other huge problem: the quality of the video itself. you can’t expect people to sit in front of their computers watching 30 minutes of herky jerk recording. it’s just not gonna happen. i don’t know if any of this will make a difference to you but please do accept this as constructive criticism. you need to bring your A game here because the competition is keen.

  14. robert,

    i’m sorry but i do have to agree with bryan. i understand why you’re touchy about the criticism but the quality of this just gets in the way of the viewer experience. you’re not well trained as an interviewer and it shows. maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take a course? i know that’s something out of the playbook from the bad MSM but the professionals do make it interesting for the rest of us.

    the other huge problem: the quality of the video itself. you can’t expect people to sit in front of their computers watching 30 minutes of herky jerk recording. it’s just not gonna happen. i don’t know if any of this will make a difference to you but please do accept this as constructive criticism. you need to bring your A game here because the competition is keen.

  15. Robert: In and of themselves, there’s nothing wrong with those videos. I didn’t find them interesting enough to merit the run time or difficulty in peering through the compression artifacts, but that’s just a matter of taste. I’m sure some folks will find them fascinating. And hey, I’m a big boy… I know how to use the back button.

    But when you hype your own work, there’s gonna be blowback. Telling people how great you are is a surefire way to ensure that someone steps up to say that you aren’t.

  16. Robert: In and of themselves, there’s nothing wrong with those videos. I didn’t find them interesting enough to merit the run time or difficulty in peering through the compression artifacts, but that’s just a matter of taste. I’m sure some folks will find them fascinating. And hey, I’m a big boy… I know how to use the back button.

    But when you hype your own work, there’s gonna be blowback. Telling people how great you are is a surefire way to ensure that someone steps up to say that you aren’t.

  17. Brian: my cell phone videos have been watched more than 450,000 times and, if you haven’t noticed, over at http://www.qik.com there are more and more people doing cell phone videos every day. They have competitors, too, over at http://www.flixwagon.com and http://www.kyte.tv

    What does Rocky produce? We put up a new video almost every day at http://www.fastcompany.tv/scobleizer-tv — those videos are all done with two $6,000 HD cameras and are edited and produced professionally, not done with cell phones.

    But there is going to be many times when I can’t film with the HD camera, for whatever reason, and that I’ll use the cell phone. If you can’t stand the quality, don’t watch the cell phone stuff, just stick to http://www.fastcompany.tv/scobleizer-tv

  18. Brian: my cell phone videos have been watched more than 450,000 times and, if you haven’t noticed, over at http://www.qik.com there are more and more people doing cell phone videos every day. They have competitors, too, over at http://www.flixwagon.com and http://www.kyte.tv

    What does Rocky produce? We put up a new video almost every day at http://www.fastcompany.tv/scobleizer-tv — those videos are all done with two $6,000 HD cameras and are edited and produced professionally, not done with cell phones.

    But there is going to be many times when I can’t film with the HD camera, for whatever reason, and that I’ll use the cell phone. If you can’t stand the quality, don’t watch the cell phone stuff, just stick to http://www.fastcompany.tv/scobleizer-tv

  19. “if you want edited video, watch CNN. I’m going for people who want a full conversation and not a few minutes of just the sound bite”

    And what is your audience compared to CNN’s? Who is “buying” the crappy quality videos? If there was a market for videos of “people wanting to participate in the conversation”, there would be more people than you doing them. I agree with Mr. Coulter. It’s sheer laziness. This Rocky guy is apparently your producer, What does he produce, if all you do is post unedited videos made on a cell phone.

    The Surface stuff makes for a great demo. Much like the automakers that come out with concept cars. Let’s see what it ends up looking like, if anything, if or when MS decides to commercialize it. I mean, hell, how long has “PlayTable” been a demo? Do they EVER plan to release it?

    At what point did the crying start?

  20. “if you want edited video, watch CNN. I’m going for people who want a full conversation and not a few minutes of just the sound bite”

    And what is your audience compared to CNN’s? Who is “buying” the crappy quality videos? If there was a market for videos of “people wanting to participate in the conversation”, there would be more people than you doing them. I agree with Mr. Coulter. It’s sheer laziness. This Rocky guy is apparently your producer, What does he produce, if all you do is post unedited videos made on a cell phone.

    The Surface stuff makes for a great demo. Much like the automakers that come out with concept cars. Let’s see what it ends up looking like, if anything, if or when MS decides to commercialize it. I mean, hell, how long has “PlayTable” been a demo? Do they EVER plan to release it?

    At what point did the crying start?

  21. Robert, love what you are doing, and won’t argue for the immidiacy vs quality thing. Will take anything interesting anyhow possible.
    But providing a download option for folks that are not on a fast/medium connection (in addition to streamed content) should really be a no brainer. What is the problem with that? Reduction in time spent on site? Or have I missed the download link? ;-)

  22. Robert, love what you are doing, and won’t argue for the immidiacy vs quality thing. Will take anything interesting anyhow possible.
    But providing a download option for folks that are not on a fast/medium connection (in addition to streamed content) should really be a no brainer. What is the problem with that? Reduction in time spent on site? Or have I missed the download link? ;-)

  23. Robert, didn’t you understand? It’s not the video quality or your vague description of the video killing those audiences. It’s the magic word, Microsoft, killing them.

  24. Robert, didn’t you understand? It’s not the video quality or your vague description of the video killing those audiences. It’s the magic word, Microsoft, killing them.

  25. I do have to pipe up that, while a huge fanboy of Microsoft Surface and damn near anyone who does stuff with multitouch, they are just yet another player in the space. Other commenters have pointed out the history, so I won’t repeat it.

    A good place to take the conversation is about the social impact on technology 20 years out, input devices, will there be a different type of touch interface based on stationery or mobile systems (desktop vs. mobile), will we see holographic touch, and will the next innovation come from gaming? Can Apple’s game initiatives compete with Nintendo while Microsoft struggles to connect Surface to the Xbox?

    That’s what I want to see/learn about.

    Also, how to tell if your video length/quality is a problem? If you have to spend more time defending it and there’s more conversation around THAT, rather than the topic you are covering, it’s time to revisit the process of producing content.

    An example of this is how Joseph Jaffe and his crew who started Crayon (a marketing agency with a neat approach) is more known (and has more Google juice) because of declaring ‘being first’. I don’t recall much musing about their approach to interactive marketing, but I surely recall the focus on the things surrounding process.

    That’s how we can collectively become *great* (while not proving Andrew Keen’s point).

  26. I do have to pipe up that, while a huge fanboy of Microsoft Surface and damn near anyone who does stuff with multitouch, they are just yet another player in the space. Other commenters have pointed out the history, so I won’t repeat it.

    A good place to take the conversation is about the social impact on technology 20 years out, input devices, will there be a different type of touch interface based on stationery or mobile systems (desktop vs. mobile), will we see holographic touch, and will the next innovation come from gaming? Can Apple’s game initiatives compete with Nintendo while Microsoft struggles to connect Surface to the Xbox?

    That’s what I want to see/learn about.

    Also, how to tell if your video length/quality is a problem? If you have to spend more time defending it and there’s more conversation around THAT, rather than the topic you are covering, it’s time to revisit the process of producing content.

    An example of this is how Joseph Jaffe and his crew who started Crayon (a marketing agency with a neat approach) is more known (and has more Google juice) because of declaring ‘being first’. I don’t recall much musing about their approach to interactive marketing, but I surely recall the focus on the things surrounding process.

    That’s how we can collectively become *great* (while not proving Andrew Keen’s point).

  27. Scoble,

    I am on something lesser than 100kbps.!!!! I have watched the earlier video where u roamed around the Microsoft Research and Andy showed of the surface, sphere and Minority report type screens among other things. These videos seem to more updates to it. Do I get a direct download link to watch them.!!!

    -Dhawal.

  28. Scoble,

    I am on something lesser than 100kbps.!!!! I have watched the earlier video where u roamed around the Microsoft Research and Andy showed of the surface, sphere and Minority report type screens among other things. These videos seem to more updates to it. Do I get a direct download link to watch them.!!!

    -Dhawal.

  29. This step in screen technology will be huge… it will change the “haptic” of online content… it will change the customer experience… it will change the design and structure of websites… can`t wait to use such a screen…

  30. This step in screen technology will be huge… it will change the “haptic” of online content… it will change the customer experience… it will change the design and structure of websites… can`t wait to use such a screen…

  31. Cool stuff? Just more gee-whiz Microsoft tech that will go nowhere…whole R&D billions of that, then Apple, Sony or some misc. CE company will come along doing something similar and it will take off like wildfire, leaving a small dedicated loyal-to-the-mothership MVP core that will create fansites and get invited to freebie junkets so that the marketing teams can feel like they are actually accomplishing something, aka Windows Mobile and Tablet PC.

    PS – Gotta agree with everyone above, these cell phones videos are really totally pointless and a waste of time, excusing it with “intimacy” is just laziness, as I am sure the Surface dweebs would like more marketing spaggy spam in full .x264 compressed HD. Steadi or Glide cam, with show prep and a script, or don’t do it, but a lost cause, I long lost that battle. btw, Tripods suck for video, ok for stills, but limiting in terms of the range of movement, which is why before anyone gets a HD camera, they ought to already have a Steadi/Glide, my philosophy at least.

  32. Cool stuff? Just more gee-whiz Microsoft tech that will go nowhere…whole R&D billions of that, then Apple, Sony or some misc. CE company will come along doing something similar and it will take off like wildfire, leaving a small dedicated loyal-to-the-mothership MVP core that will create fansites and get invited to freebie junkets so that the marketing teams can feel like they are actually accomplishing something, aka Windows Mobile and Tablet PC.

    PS – Gotta agree with everyone above, these cell phones videos are really totally pointless and a waste of time, excusing it with “intimacy” is just laziness, as I am sure the Surface dweebs would like more marketing spaggy spam in full .x264 compressed HD. Steadi or Glide cam, with show prep and a script, or don’t do it, but a lost cause, I long lost that battle. btw, Tripods suck for video, ok for stills, but limiting in terms of the range of movement, which is why before anyone gets a HD camera, they ought to already have a Steadi/Glide, my philosophy at least.

  33. Robert,

    I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the video. There is no way that I could have gotten so close to such a great intimate demo from one of the developers of such an important new technology. I thought that your camera work on the cell phone was great, and appreciate seeing your videos, as well as getting in on your front row seat. Thanks a lot for keeping us in touch.

  34. Robert,

    I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the video. There is no way that I could have gotten so close to such a great intimate demo from one of the developers of such an important new technology. I thought that your camera work on the cell phone was great, and appreciate seeing your videos, as well as getting in on your front row seat. Thanks a lot for keeping us in touch.

  35. sidney: if you want edited video, watch CNN. I’m going for people who want a full conversation and not a few minutes of just the sound bites. With these videos I’m going even further: to people who want to participate in the conversation themselves (note that this was done with a cell phone with a live audience and they were able to talk with me and get me to ask better questions). This is stuff that “professionals” can’t do.

  36. sidney: if you want edited video, watch CNN. I’m going for people who want a full conversation and not a few minutes of just the sound bites. With these videos I’m going even further: to people who want to participate in the conversation themselves (note that this was done with a cell phone with a live audience and they were able to talk with me and get me to ask better questions). This is stuff that “professionals” can’t do.

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