Notes from Seoul Digital Forum 2012 – Day 1

As I have an interest in technology and the technobable it inspires, I decided to apply for entrance to the Seoul Digital Forum, an invitation only Ted Talk-lite for Korean Tech/Business types.  For some reason they invited me to come (I did label myself a Media Developer for E-Learning), and I soon learned I was nearly the only foreigner in the audience listening to ‘Visionaries’, their term for all the speakers.  Around 70% of the speakers were foreigners and the majority of the talks were in English.  So as one of the only native English speakers in the audience it was great for me.  They had headphones so every talk was translated into Korean and English.

Here’s some brief pithy musings I had while listening to some of the speakers.  This doesn’t reflect so much exactly what they said, more what they inspired me to think about while I was listening to them.  Note: My musings are in italics.

General Overview:

Conference Theme: Coexistence
Buzzwords level: Extreme. Koreans love buzzwords(Story/time/smart) + Tech people love buzzwords(cloud, augmented,ICT,SNS) = buzzword explosion.  String as many together in one sentence to be “modern netizen 2.0.”
Setting: Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel (with onsite Casino where you can gamble playing the card game War)
Most prevalent visual motif – Matrix raining green characters still a thing
Common Themes: How tech can help Africa, cloud cloud cloud, big data.


A video introduction from President Lee Myung-bak.  He seems to talk with his eyes closed.  Champions the Arab Spring as positive technology, but worried about digital divide.  Shout out to World Expo in Yeosu.

Microsoft – Steve Balmer 

I was hoping for a bounding sweaty uncle fester, but he was more subdued as he gave an intro to Windows 8.  He tried to impress the crowd with his ability to say two Korean names, only said one well.  Still love how the last words of his sentences hang in the air like duck farts.

He lays out Microsofts Focus:
“Our Focus: Technology

  • Machine Learning
  • Form Factors/UI  (mouse, touch and other things apple forced us to get into)
  • Cloud  Cloud cloud cloud   – Facebook born of the cloud – 10 years to exploit.
  • Core Platform – world becoming less fragmented – ie. windows wants to be a closed ecosystem like apple, 
  • New Scenarios (?, didn’t elaborate besides “note taking technologies”, wait to see what to copy)

“What’s Windows 8? It’s an operating system after Windows 7”
“I’ve got an 81 inch windows slate in my office.”  Baller?  Balmer.
A new Zune! for windows 8.
“Whoops, that’s a bad step” Balmer says as he almost falls off the stage.
Some talk about foldable screens maybe being a thing someday, maybe.

Demo of windows 8.  I’m a Mac, but I have to say this has some cool features.  Honestly, a more integrated OS for people who want their tablet and keyboarded PC synced.  Apps define the UI experience.  A bit info overload.  Bloatware meets Bloat interface, but luckily looks much easier to configure.
Tries to look at photos he took in Seoul – “file could not be found,” still some work to do.  MS is Involved with 600 startups in Korea.  Targeted at machine builders.(aka LG / Samsung)  Balmer see Windows 8 as best opportunity for 400 million new users.   But Korea is the land of android and most of the Korean apps are already entrenched in Google’s ecosystem.  Microsoft needs apps, like a church needs followers. I believe Korea will make and buy lots of windows PC hardware, but probably won’t gain much traction in the mobile space here, as phones are nearly tablets over here, Most people don’t really want tablets, they want, what seems to me, as ridiculously big phones.

Bell Labs – Jeong Kim

Korean guy speaking in poor English to Koreans.  I feel sorry for the translator translating his garbled English back into Korean
Rwanda has it rough.  Text messaging has reduced child mortality by a factor of 3.
Advertisers need to study an annoyance index, people don’t mind ads if they aren’t too long or two annoying.  Out of a scale of 10 you want your adds to only go to about to 3 on the annoyance scale.  No pop ups.

“Asimov – Science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
Need Ethics of technology.  (Hell Yeah!, but how?) We should teach ethics of technology at university.  Also put ethics onto government table.  Behind all these tech conferences is a wish for ethics.  Ethics is not a sexy word, need a better buzzword.

ARM Procesccors – Warren East 

A techno-optimist.  Likes competition.  Micro-micro processors.  Low power is the horsepower of microchips these days.  ARM got tons of partner ships in its fleet of tech Dominance.  With simple processors in all sorts of devices, we can make them smart and therefore use less energy.   Smart generators/motors could be a huge savings.

Processors can be as big as human hair and run for 15 years off a battery.  Or maybe a solar cell.   Basically, brains in everything for cheap and long lasting is coming sooner than later.  Tricky part is simple reliable cheap wireless, which is also coming.  As people move to 4g, machines can use old 3g tech to send an occasional zero or 1.  Please Korea make smart stop lights.  

Google – T.V. Raman 

He’s blind, but I hope someone tells him the powerpoint rule of using at least 24 point fonts.  Hard to read the bulletpoints.  Universal access – when we want, where we want, the way we want.
It’s incredible that google made the dream of all the information of the entire world available to you instantly.  In early nineties that sounds like the craziest dream, and now it’s such a mundane reality.

So what other world knowledge to do we want access to?  Want to see satellite photos of parking spots.  Want to know about all the deals available to me now and near.  Want to know what people are thinking.  Review me.  Man can you imagine if Facebook had star ratings for people.  There will be a braille iphone someday with tactile screen.
We want more info better tied to location, location aware hardware tech still needs to be better.

Sony pictures – Chris Cookson

This guy better not be promoting 3D as the future.  Cinema History Lesson – Oui Oui Lumiere Bros. Hey Hey the Jazz singer.  Film making process has stayed the same for 100 years.  Film people seem not to do well with powerpoint, they like a steady progress of sequence. Films don’t go to the wrong slide.   High Def is now 2k.  4k is the new High Def, but it will be a meh revolution.  TV and Cinema converging = death of cinema (houses).  Our eyeballs will get filled at home.

Essentially Sony is trying to sell 4k to give the “theater experience” at home, and get people to buy more TVs.  But most people’s eyes aren’t that good.  The film purist in me should be happy, as this is a closer resolution to 35 mm film.  Sony thinks they have a digital camera, the s65, that properly matches film = 20megapixels per frame..

4k will succeed (though slowly) because film purists will like it, but more importantly, it will mesh better with the 3 screen future.  We want high resolution text on our screens.  These huge film files create a data hog problem that will take 5 years to neutralize.
Sorry Sony this won’t be a money maker for you, you can pioneer but samsung will copy you for cheaper a year later.

Gartner – Mike Harris 

Called people old-fashioned for using a laptop. Hey I have a laptop…Shit I’m the only person here with a laptop.  Every gold rush involves someone making a lot of money, though usually not the people looking for gold.  Maybe the shovel manufacturer, or the guy who sold jeans to miners in California to the 49ers.  How to get the Cloud to rain some money?  Cloud is just storing stuff to connected database, but with more bandwidth and more media forms.  The new money is selling stuff to poor people = the billion consumers who make less than $20,000 a year.  The personal cloud will be most useful as a means to share things easily.  I can show you my photos on your device.  We can both work on the same project together.  Tricky part of cloud is it will tie you to a platform.  Will be hard for clouds to play nice.  Apple cloud will never float in the same sky as Windows cloud.  Java dream got perverted by all these disparate OSes + cloud(s).

Korea Telecom – Pyo Hyun Myung

We are reaching the “Homo 100 era” = so many old, old people.  Consumers last longer, hey not such a bad thing.  But need to get old people to buy more stuff.  10 million people = a culture.   In Korea Smart phone users are a culture = a smart culture of 10 million device freaks.  I can verify this from personal observation.  These cloud people like to pretend hard drives don’t exist anymore.

Tech Coexistence examples –

  • E-baking, rotting persimmons, mugwort, sold on kakaotalk, small town barter 2.0.  This works in Korea, but what about lazy loner America?
  • E-farming – find organic buyers on sms for tomatoes (damn that sounds annoying like the trucks that go around yelling at you but thru text)  Korea’s local farming is actually great, they farm every available bit of land here.
  • E-singing – better way for singers to get money, look how america sues people who steal music, this should be a model.
  • Smart-working – even ladies can work (from home)  100 year olds will need to work from home.
  • Lastly, Smart E-money, credit cards are going to be so old fashioned.

Lunch Time

Appropriate Tech – simplicity

Selling tech to the very poor, the 90%.  Poor people are the new dream market.   Is capitalism getting tapped out?   20 years ago there was an appropriate technology movement, but it died because the tinkerers didn’t get entrepreneurial enough, then the business men stole some of the ideas and ran with it.

So I believe the future won’t have enough jobs, but also costs will go down, how much money do you really need to have an enjoyable, tech-rich life?  Maybe only $5000 a year.  The phone replaces about 100 devices, maybe even a school.  

Companies that make a revolutionary cheap product, usually get lardy and more expensive over time – i.e. ford used to be cheap and small in comparison to the market.  Apple II was the same, apple lost it’s way, but then rebooted the ipad.
$35 Aakash Tablet.  $500 ipad is seen as extravagant, (but I believe Apple actually shot prices down and made cheaper computers possible).  Should apple make a $99 ipod touch?  I think so.   “You will die, if you don’t take this opportunity”(to sell products to poor people.

Scientists and Engineers without borders.
Korea is at the point where they are focusing on helping the rest of the world, no longer having to rebuild themselves, looking outward to repair the world.   Is it better to make expensive skin medicine, or just clean water that is giving the skin problems in the first place?  So they invented an easier way to transport water – Q drum (wheel shaped water holder).   Play pump – fun game for kids to run around in circles, but also pump water.  Rain water collectors.
Water disinfection system using solar energy (COOL)
NGOs need to get connected and networked.
They are making a talking poster.  Press a button and it talks to you.  I don’t know if this is good or bad.
Poor people need English to be apart of the digital world.

As tech has become a world changing mega force, I feel like punditry about tech is becoming less vital.  The dreamers no longer have to dream and tell us their dream, as everyday brings as many real things that are equally amazing.

Bloom Studios – Ben Cerveny – Play with Big Data

How game thinking can help us deal with Big Data era.
Starcraft is a lot of big data.   Is the amount of data part of the fun of “real time strategy?”
“Technology design IS game design”
Alpha users are performance players – those who step into the game and find new uses for a game engine

Game = explorable conceptual model (Settlers of Catan)
Games help provide perspective on data that is too complex to understand in one global view. (i.e. real estate is very complex – Monopoly is a game that focuses on one aspect, the acquisition through luck and trade)
WOW as model for designing augmented reality.  Almost all games overlay info onto a play world.
4 square evolved from Dodgeball.  Games as a way to encourage tool use and create focus.
Play data like music.  Apps focus big data into a single focused window.

Google labs digital visualization – Aaron Koblin 

Cool visualizations of airplane routes throughout the day, sms messages in geo location.
Collaborative data creativity – had people draw sheep with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and then sold them.
Had many people make a 100 dollar bill, paying 1 cent to each artist 10 thousand  Finds money is not the best motivator.  Community and fun often better motivators.
Made open source video for radiohead with 3D scanner.  A rotoscoped Johnny Cash video (Johnny Cash Project).  Arcade Fire Gmaps video – Wilderness Downtown
An Interface is a narrative device.


Samsung – Chang Donghoon – Interface the Window the changes the world

A window, in Korea, brings the outside landscape inside.  Galaxy s3 going for natural elements in the interface.  Camera watches you watch the phone so it won’t go to sleep.   Instantly send photos to the people in the picture using facial recognition.

Pesinet – provides medical service to people who don’t have access to doctors in Africa
The people in the developing world really need a good way to be taught English.
There will be a market for screen mirrors – especially for women to play with virtual makeup / try on virtual outfits.

Intel – Genevieve Bell – Interface and Humanity

For people on family plans – phone companies should let parents remotely restrict aka ground their kids’ phones.
Often times when we design for a user type, they are an ideal/fantasy user.  Need to think about an actual user – an isolated, slob with a cluttered existence.
Having lots of gadgets in your backpack is like having a bunch of needy baby birds.  They need to be fed electricity and keep beeping at you for attention.

Luddites in England, weavers who took hammers to the loom frames.
Turing Test – man or machine.
Yantra – device that controls the energy inside it for a certain outcome
In china burn symbollic ipads to give to your family in the afterlife.
She’s down on command and control over machines, more back and forth coexistence.

Robot servants will soon be obsolete and therefore become part of the realm of art.  Robots = humonoid/animaloid shapes to perform functions won’t be a useful, so instead they will be used for whimsy and joy and art.

Evernote – Phil Libin

Our brains are split into killing time | saving time
New Evernote apps:
Evernote hello – remember people
Evernote food – remember food
Other Evernote apps Penultimate , peek, clearly, skitch

Not big data, lots and lots of personalized small data tailored just to you.
Thinks the single device – ipad/iphone expereince is old way, new way is whole life experience.  Everything knows everything else, your life contextually aware.
Future entrepreneur has advantage of: App Store + Cloud Services + Open Source Infrastructure + Social Media = Geek Meritocracy
Need to be a global company = not where you sell stuff, where you make stuff.

Robots & Games – 

Hirosi Ishiguro – Robot avatars

Japanese are so obsessed with making fake people.  I guess because it’s art, connects with emotions, but it’s not a superior tool.  A mirror, a way to understand ourselves.  Freudbot.  His questions “how much human likeness does the robot need to have?” ZERO!  Scary horrible metal skeleton covered by sweater and plastic face.
The best robots will fly to observe, omni directional hands to move things, and a smart phone to report back/interact.

  • Geminoid – this guy made an doppelgänger that he can control remotely to speak for him like a telepresence, but horrifying.  Robot Marriage is so gonna be a thing. 
  • Android theater – this can be a thing.  Robots will be good for art.
  • Telenoid – the minimus – a neutral bot that you project things onto.  Looks like creepy fetus.
  • Elfoid – telenoid as a phone       Stay Crazy Japan.

Xbox – Michael Kim – Behavior-Change Gaming & Habit Design

Director of Xbox Live, Kinect
Half a billion people play online games 1 hour a day.
Korea is in a good place to make games that help us to grow personal and communal well being.
Exercise games are as good as exercise says some researchers.

Xbox live avatars now on windows phones, interact with real world.  Users increased healthy behaviors by 40% seeing a version of themselves do good things on their phone screens, i.e. like go to virtual gym = go to actual gym.

Half of Casual gamers want more games about achieving their own goals.
70% want applications that focus on health.

Theory of Well-Being – Martin Selikman (from book Flourish)

P – Positive Emotions
E – Engagement (Flow)
R – Positive Relationships
M – Meaning
A – Accomplishment

Keys to Winning in Behavior Change Gaming

  • Behavioral Conditioning (reconditioning of daily routines)
  • Deliver thru smart phone intelligence.
  • Tap into PERMA
  • Stay motivated through social Gaming


Examples of Behavior Change Gaming:

  • Swedish Speed Camera Lottery: Go over the speed limit = pay a fine.  Go under the speed limit = get entered in lottery to win part of the fines of the speeders.
  • Piano Stairs (also in Sweden):  People will walk on playful musical stairs instead of taking escalator.
  • Ways = realtime driving traffic map App, get points for alerting conditions of traffic/police.  Bonus candy if you drive over virtual candy.
  • Habitual – help you keep up positive habits by gamification.

Habit Design Network – consortium of designers making habit games

Mark Abrahams – Ig noble prize

The was a Korean in audience who invented Self-perfuming suit.  For the business man coming home from a smoky bar or smelly intimate encounter.

That’s it for day 1, Here’s a link to day 2.

One thought on “Notes from Seoul Digital Forum 2012 – Day 1

  1. Pingback: Seoul Digital Forum 2012 Day 2 & 3 « displayer

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