eComm conference 2009

On: November 4, 2009
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About Hania Piotrowska
My New Media interest grew out of studying Media Studies and Marketing during my undergraduate education at Maastricht University. After obtaining my Bachelor's degree I took a year off to work at a Public Relations company in Warsaw, Poland. This is where I had a possibility to Media Studies with Marketing, as the company's PR projects were executed mostly online. Using Internet platforms like blogs, Facebook, flicker and such to create a company's image was a really interesting experience and I think I'd like to further explore possibilities of combining New Media with marketing.


Last week I participated in the eComm conference (The Emerging Communications (eComm) Conference & Awards) in Amsterdam. Impressions? I’m impressed. For two reasons.

Firstly, I was impressed by the conference itself.

Reason 1

The organization was excellent. Moderation by Lee Dryburgh kept both speakers and audience (during question rounds) within strict time constraints. Content-wise the event was engaging and informative. Westergasfabriek proved to be a great venue. Big enough to have sitting places for every single participant and small enough to feel cozy and enhance socializing during breaks.

I wasn’t very convinced about the idea of packing 5 days’ worth of conference into only 3 days. I of course understand time constraints issues and increased costs for  spreading the content over more days but it indeed turned out to be a “contest of attention”, as Lee joked. Starting at 8:30AM with a morning coffee and finishing at 6PM, the conference seemed like a “stay awake and concentrate” marathon. The tight schedule collided with my university and work obligations so I couldn’t make it to all the speeches. But of course the event was organized for telecom professionals who came to Amsterdam to receive as much information during the least time possible (or so I imagine it) and not for busy students.

I was also impressed by the extensive use of Google Wave during the event. All the participants had received an invite a couple of days before eComm and the new accounts were put into good use! It was my first interaction with the platform and I must admit that it proved perfect for such situations. I’m not sure how often I will use this technology in my every-day online communication but I see a great potential in it. Google Wave is a communication and collaboration tool which merges e-mails, instant messaging, wikis and social networking. A great instruction video from Google might make it easier for you to imagine how it all works, in case you haven’t tried waving yet:

A total of 71 waves were created during eComm and they made it easier to follow the presentations. Some speakers uploaded slides from their presentations and most included at least outlines of what was being said.

A separate wave was created for the discussion of… the quality of catering! The lunch was indeed nice. Fresh fruit and even soy milk were available during breaks. But enough with the general remarks. I’d like to discuss some of my favouring speeches.

Day 1

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino from talked very interestingly about How the “Internet of Things” will Change the Way we Connect. The idea that we can become one with our environment was nicely illustrated by vast examples:

Kill-a-Watt (allows you to connect your appliances and assess how efficient they are), Kickbee (belt which sends tweets every time your baby kicks), CATaLOG (RFID cat tracker) or botanicalls (opens a new channel of communication between plants and humans, in an effort to promote successful inter-species understanding) are some interesting examples. My presentation-of-the day was How the Mobile Phone is Changing your Reality Forever by Claire Boonstra who presented some impressive facts about Layar, a virtual reality browser. Apparently Samsung Galaxy comes with a pre-installed Layar in it and about 180 layers are available worldwide. 3D versions are planned to be made available online soon, so stay tuned. Day 2

Thursday was much more technical than the previous day. The highlight of the day for me was a presentation by Skype’s Sten Tamkivi. He discussed whether Skype can be equalled to telecoms and concluded that in fact, no. Skype is, in his argument, not pulling clients away from telecoms but is creating a new traffic, generating minutes which would never have happened otherwise. Reasons mainly being high costs of lengthy calls. Tamkivi claims that 500,000,000 hours of calls from the USA to Mexico were made through Skype, the number probably being significantly smaller if people had to pay for those hours.

The speech ended strongly – Tamkivi concluded with the following statistics:

“In the last 30 minutes (the length of the presentation): 100,000 hours of Skype-to-Skype calls were made 33,000 video calls on Skype were made 12,000 Skype calls to landlines and mobiles were made”

For a more extensive discussion of the presentation, read John’s post Paranoid of the Proprietary: To Skype or Not to Skype on the Masters of Media blog.

Day 3

Friday started off strongly: the Google Wave team presented their new product. It was interesting and heavily waved about. Next, Stefan Agamanolis (Distance Lab) presented a very engaging concept of “slow communication” (as opposed to “fast communication”, yes similar differences as in the case of slow and fast food). Distance Lab makes us rethink the way we communicate. Often not concentrated enough on the conversation, as we multitask. Isophone takes conversation to another level:

Isophone is a sensory-less device. Floating on the surface of water you are deprived of any outside distractions.  You are exposed solely to the other person’s voice, as no other sense is involved. You don’t touch anything, don’t smell anything, don’t look at anything, don’t feel anything. Apparently people have reported to be more creative while talking on the isophone. BBC wrote an interesting article about the device. This was my favourite presentation of the day, I found most of the other presentations to be too technical for me. I couldn’t stay until the end but nevertheless, I was very happy to have participated.

Reason 2

Participating in the conference made me realize that the New Media master is teaching me even more than I had though it was teaching me. To my surprise, we discussed so many concepts brought up at the eComm in our class. It is very nice to see that my knowledge comes from the real world.

Two thumbs up. For both the eComm and New Media master.

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