Tuesday 25th of October I went to see a conference in Brussels of The Netexplorateur Observatory at Institut des Hautes Etudes des Communications Sociales (IHECS). This observatory is formed of sociologists that analyses hundreds of innovation in the area of new media. Every year international experts select the 100 most interesting cases presenting during the annual Netexplorateur 100. The fifth edition will be held in the Palais de l’Unesco in Paris the 15th and 16th of March 2012.
As a new media student here in Amsterdam at the UvA I was pretty excited to go and see a conference about digital technologies in another academic institution and in French language.
Netexplorateur is a unique setup for detecting, analysing and putting into perspective future mainstream practices in digital society.Its mission is to give managers from France’s largest businesses and public authorities the keys to grasp, understand and adapt to the ongoing, global digital revolution 
During the conference Thierry Happe, co-founder of the Netexplorateur Forum, introduced three important topics related to our digital environment/culture, which are: “Crowdmash” – “VirtuRéalié” and “Webego”.
For centuries knowledge was produced by the elites (monks, humanists, etc) but with the Web 2.0 it looks like every human being can be a great contributor to the universal wisdom. Although there is a non-ending debate to know whether Wikipedia is a fantastic and revolutionary tool or rather means the end of scientific methods and basically an encyclopaedia that helps only the villains to succeed (aka Jimmy Wales), some crowd intelligence initiatives are really worth to see like Ushahidi (Kenya). This website was initially created to report violence in Kenya and has moved now to become a tool to collect and democratize information.
Augmented reality was also a topic largely discussed during the conference since it represents one of the biggest revolution to come and already ongoing. After integrating real life to digital world it’s time to integrate digital objects to real life. This is what SixthSense (MIT) is about. Pranav Mistry who is a research assistant and PhD candidate at MIT Media Lab has created a wearable gestural interface device (a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera backing every gesture):
You can carry your digital world with you wherever you go. You can start using any surface any wall around you as an interface 
We are now living in the Minority Report era and it looks pretty scary, right? Nevertheless, as Pranav Mistry mentions it could be also a good way to become less dependent to our digital devices and staying physically in reality:
So, as last thought, I think that integrating information to everyday objects will not only help us to get rid of the digital divide, the gap between this two worlds, but will also help us, in some way, to stay human, to be more connected to our physical world. And it will help us, actually, not to be machines sitting in front of other machines 
While SixthSense technology represents a possibility to get rid of the ever-growing number of tablets, Gesca Limitée which is a subsidiary company of the Power Corporation of Canada and publishes seven newspapers in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario will slowly move to iPad editions. It has come up with a maximum of five-year plan to reduce printed newspaper and will offer long-term subscribers a free iPad!
The japanese iPhone application using AR, motion sensor, and GPS functions to collect coupons (catching butterflies) in another example of augmented reality and represents one of the most popular smartphone games.
The last issue discussed and maybe the most depressing one was the concept of Webego. Thanks to Internet we got to know everything about anything. Unforthunately we all have become Narcissus falling in love with our own reflection in an iPad or smartphone while checking only topics that interest us. One very good example of this trend is the Chinese social network P1 launched only for extremely rich people (of course it’s the perfect place for luxury brands advertisements) or also the website Motribe that helps you to create your own social network.
Posted on November 2, 2011