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Screen dump from livecast showing Minister for Trade Ewa BjörlingHow on earth can the Swedish Minister of Trade on visit in Tokyo be seen and heard all over the world, with simultaneous translation into Japanese? Of course there is a lot of complex technology being used. But also some smart planning and cheap tricks. Here is part of the story behind an interesting case.

The Tokyo branch of INVEST SWEDEN assist Japanese companies who are considering a new establishment or an expansion of its business in Sweden, or in the Northern Europe Market with Sweden as a base. Invest Sweden organize many interesting seminars, of which some take place at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo.

In September 2011 Johan Ronnestam visited Japan, including the Swedish Embassy (as evident on for example Flickr). There he met Martin Koos (@mkoos), who wanted to improve the way he was livestreaming different seminars. So, via e-mail Johan on the spot introduced me to Martin.

Least to say Martin Koos is on a very limited budget for this kind of activites. Early in the fall of 2011 we discussed different possibilities over e-mail and Skype. It’s kind of cool to have a breakfast table video conference at home with the Swedish embassy in Tokyo :). More recently, as January 2012 was coming to its end, Martin contacted me again for some last minute questions. He had purchased a new powerful laptop, a camera, and some other gear. The question now was how to put all this together, with a decent aestethical appeal and powerpoint integration.

Invest Sweden wanted to premiere their new livestreaming style today, during the SymbioCity Seminar at Swedish Embassy. Among the speakers were Sweden’s Minister for Trade Ewa Björling who visits Japan to showcase Swedish solutions for sustainable cities, along with Swedish food and music.

I recommended Martin which version of VidBlaster to use, and to purchase some additional devices and cables that would allow him to integrate the screen projections into the live stream. As the seminar was being translated into Japanese, he was simply going to connect one of the wireless translation receivers to his production laptop. I warned Martin that because such receivers are typically mono channel devices, he might be sending audio in only one of the channels. A mono to stereo adapter could fix that.

Hand drawing of interconnected audio Last Friday, while commuting to work early in the morning, I got an e-mail from Martin which started: “Good morning, I am in Akihabara and have found everything except the audio adapter. Please advice…”. We connected over Skype and I tried to describe how he instead could connect a few common cables. But it was hard to explain orally. While entering the store of Lindqvist Radio TV (where I was purchasing some cards for another customer of Westreamu), I borrowed pen and paper to make a drawing. When done I grabbed my mobile, took a picture, and e-mailed it to Martin. That did the trick! But a little bit later I realised that the Edirol M-10MX mixer would be better solution. And of course Martin immediately found one at Akihabara.

Today was the big day, and it all went very well, as you can see here in the embedded version of the archived livecast from the SymbioCity seminar.

All in all I am deeply impressed by how Martin Koos managed to put all this together. If you have ever been close to putting up a multiple camera live production with graphics and web integration, you know how complicated it is. As far as I can tell everything went the way it was supposed to go.

I am as I am, so I had to find something to improve. And I did, although not much (while realizing I have done the same mistakes myself ;)

Here are two pieces of general advice,  stemming from Martin’s inspiring work in Tokyo:

  1. Specify the time zone. When you livestream you potentially reach a global audience. Tokyo is 8 hours ahead of Stockholm. Therefore, announcements and information about times (e.g. an overlay stating “Seminar will continue at 16.00”) needs a longitudinal reference (e.g. “… at 16.00 JST”). For more info about local times, see for example Timeanddate.com.
  2. Alwas consider the post live linking. Martin chose to set up a live page at http://www.investsweden.se/live. A good choice (for a discussion about that, and alternatives, see Samla er webbtv på en sida (in Swedish). Their live page is mainly in Japanese, with the schedule spelled out in English too. I wanted to link to that schedule, as it also specifies speaker names and the contents of the presentations. Unfortunately that url (http://www.investsweden.se/live#english) will most likely lead to something else next time Invest Sweden goes live. Therefore, always prepare for some kind of documentation page, with a unique url.

Screen dump from English text schedule a live page

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What used to reside at weconverse.com has now moved into RichardGatarski.com. Hopefully all posts, comments, and pages have safely been included in the transfer. You are most welcome to join our conversations here instead!

In case you never heard of weconverse.com, please check out the about weconverse page.

Let’s continue…

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Basically a summary of the response I got via Twitter when I yesterday asked for examples of (presumably Swedish) government offices that are using social media in good ways. Only translated by Google.

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I first heard the term “meat LAN” (in Swedish as “kött-LAN”) from Björn Erikssen at Ocean Observations back in 2008. By “LAN” Björn was referring to LAN parties, that is when a bunch of gamers meet somewhere in physical space to hook up their computers and play through a Local Area Network. I just add a little twist and rephrase it as meat meet (Swedish “köttmöte”). Simply because IRL (in real life) connotes that the online would somehow be unreal. Furthermore, to me “physical space” simply sounds cold, boring, and less catchty.

Anyway, in a comment after my gig for F-Secure Daniel Grønbek asks about my concerns regarding how online relations affect “old values like communicating face 2 face, enjoying the companionship with fellows in eg. sports clubs, meeting with friends at the cofeehouse and more”?

Well, as far as I can see it we are genetically programmed to meet other humans in all kinds of physical ways. As a matter of fact, most parents fear the moments when their (young) kids want physical meetings with friends made online. This kind of urge is yet another proof of our need to make physical contact. And by “need” I really mean a basic human need. Meetings at LAN parties, sports clubs, coffe houses, etc are just different cultural expressions of that basic need.

Online encounters seems to drive the number of meat meets. As well as how such meetings are organized.  True, all human behaviour might turn into abnormal ways. Like individuals who isolate themselfes in front of a computer screen, reluctant to make whatever contact with the outside world. But such acts are exceptions, not the norm(al). On a personal level I tend to always want to meat meet people that I initially  have learned to know online.

A few contemporary forms of such novel meeting forms are tweetups, bar camps and unconferences (when initiated online). Again, we humans will always want meat meetings. As history goes on, and new technologies emerge, we develop new and interesting meeting formats. Of course these include online meetings too, like skype calls, MSN chats, twittering, and video conferencing.

But there is even more hope for a more humane look at business meetings. In 2006 I developed the Meeting model Connected (Swedish Mötesmodell Uppkopplad) for business purposes. Doing that I came to the realisation that as more and more of our “business meeting needs” could be satisfied with online tools, the “human needs” for effective group collaboration would become more appearant. And perhaps acknowledged with its true face. Most business meetings include a “social side”, be it as coffe breaks, dinner, dancing, bar hangouts, etc. Hence, I am looking forward to future business meetings with the sole purpose of meat meet. That is, meetings where the main (deductable) purpose actually is to satisfy our need to make physical contact (without talking business).

If you see what I mean…

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Yesterday about 200 people were invited to a closed beta of  the social micro payment system Flattr. The founders, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi (@brokep) and Linus Olsson (@bonq) want to “help people share money, not only content”. True, Peter is generally recognized as one of the co-founders of the Pirate Bay. While I am indeed for sharing, I am against massive sharing that is illegal. But I am massivly for paying for stuff I find useful. To me it looks like Flattr is a really interesting way to go.

Without further ado I used my invite code and signed up (with an account for my business). I am especially looking forward to business and tax related solutions. PayPal offer “donate” which is often good, but not hard enough if you play in the money driven value exchange system. (Swedish: compare Donera eller betala och kanske skatta).

You can find a Flattr badge here in the right column of RichardGatarski.com that you might try. As an experiment I have also embedded another badge with this post. Just to see the difference in tracking. As soon as possible I will try badges for some other forms of my content (image, video, and pdf). Guess most of you can’t pay, but you may dig my story (Flattr takes a small fee, so indirectly you dig/pay for their story too). For more info, and to request an invitation, guess what – go to Flattr.com.


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