Media X sounds like an achingly hip post digital agency pumping out same-as-it-ever-was comms. Turns out Media X is an achingly square group doing achingly hip things.
From our side of the pond we sometimes forget why Silicon Valley is in Silicon Valley (as it were). The answer is, of course, the presence of world-class academic institutions such as Stanford. We have already commented on the homage of Valley businesses to their Alma Mater in the form of their office buildings. However, in Media X there is a genuine connectivity.
In many ways the tech businesses commercialize and mainstream advances in tech. Mathematical algorithms (Google), Virtual Reality (Xbox Kinect et al) are two obvious examples. And the tech gets done in academia. And Stanford is about as gold standard academia as you get on that front.
The role of Media X is to offer a “public partnership for science, technology and development” as Dr Martha Russell, an Associate Director of Media X at Stanford, explained when she met with the Interactive Mission. Media X focuses on the “human use of advanced communication technologies”, conducting primary interdisciplinary research at the “intersection of people and technology.”
I love the notion of the exploration of “edge questions of interest” as that is where innovation happens. Issues such as form factors, content, virtuality, data sets robustness, the role and usage of avatars. It is these three to five year out issues that are addressed by the Stanford thought leadership.
Companies join as affiliate membership or strategic partners and it is kinda like buying your ticket to play in the future. Dr Russell could not tell us who these companies are but it is pretty safe to assume that they are the usual suspects. Knowing what they are working on now gives a fascinating insight into what will be part of mainstream tech down the pipe. In no particular order and only pretending to understand what they are boffing on about here comes the future:
- Measuring and increasing the productivity of knowledge workers particularly when they are not co-located
- The meaning of and fostering creativity across different cultures
- Collaboration in teams
- Reinventing workflow
- Agile networks - network orchestration