Internet foresight 2015

Internetframsyn, “internet foresight” is a project organized by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, (Ingenjörsvetenskapsakademin, IVA in Swedish).
The theme is “How can Sweden become a leading internet nation by the year 2015?”

I have participated in the User panel since August 2007, focusing on how internet can be used to improve life for citizens and employers.

See my report text about work life in the year 2015 (in Swedish)
The full report can be downloaded on the Internetframsyn project web site.

Executive summary of my thoughts on how worklife should be in the year 2015:

Our work life in 2015 is based on flexibility and continuous learning. You have different work schemes depending on if you are young without children, have small children, are single, have teenagers or if your children have grown up and moved away. Full retirement is no longer mandatory and many more people are self-employed and have multiple careers at the same time.

There are two new keys that enables this work life flexibility in the year 2015: “Time shift“ and “Location shift“

A modernisation of our work culture using new internet-based technology and new standards enables us to work to a larger extent independent from regulated work hours (Time shift) and traditional places of work, like an office (Location shift). We move from trying to balance work and life to integrating our work into our life. The focus of the work culture moves from worked time and presence at the work place to the productivity and social abilities of the individual.

Time shift and Location shift requires development of improved internet based tools and social media technologies in order to increase the flexibility in many types of work. The goal is to develop new methods that enables a much richer and more personal communication that is independent of time and place, thereby increasing our productivity and decreasing personal stress and environmental pressure.

Empowering internet video

Video is an old medium with many strengths, for example:

  1. Video is more personal than texts and stills, it affects us and our feelings much more.
  2. Video is very efficient for learning, explaining how things work.

But internet video as it is mainly used today also has several drawbacks:

  1. It is linear: 5 minutes of video takes 5 minutes to watch
  2. It is hard to search videos, to find keywords about its content
  3. You do not get an overview of what the video clip is about before you start watching
  4. The controls are usually not very flexible; you cannot play the video at higher speeds, like with a DVD
  5. There is no index, you cannot jump directly to the most interesting part of the video

When was the last time you watched a 15-minute clip of someone talking?
For many types of video clips or TV shows etc, these drawbacks are not too important. But for example a long video lecture or interview often feels too time-consuming to watch for the above reasons.

Happily, there are solutions available today that begs to be used more:

  1. Indexing: inside the video frame and outside
  2. In-video comments
  3. In-video tags
  4. Automatic voice-to-text

So here are some examples of ways to improve internet video:

Viddler is a video service that offers both tags and user comments in the video player. Point to the white dots to see the comments and the black dots to see the tags. The tags are also automatically gathered in a separate tag cloud, so that you can search inside all the videos that contain a certain tag, very smart!


MIT’s lecture browser is a web interface to video recordings of lectures that have been indexed using automatic speech recognition technology. You can search for topics and play the video starting at the relevant point and see the synchronized transcript. As you can see, the transcript is not perfect yet, but it is certainly good enough to get an overall impression of what the lecture is about and search for the most interesting part of it.

These are just two examples of new, smart functions that empowers internet video. There are many more already, the future of internet video has just begun, so stay tuned!

Storytelling with video

Diploma is very successful elearning platform that I created in 2005  (and later updated) for Boehringer-Ingelheim, a large pharmaceutical company. It is based on a constructivistic learning model where medical doctors are trained using wireless PDAs to control video patient scenarios.It is all done in an intense group session with interactivity in three directions:

  1. Between the participants when they are discussing the patient scenario
  2. Between the participant and the video patient, since they can ask questions, take tests and decide on diagnosis and treatments and see how the patient reacts.
  3. Between the participants and the lecturer that moderates the event.

So this is a new way of learning, far from the traditional lecturing using slides and one-way communication from the speaker to the audience.

So how do you market this? How can you reach out to and explain this new concept to all the Swedish medical doctors and inspire them to sign up for the training?

Well, Boehringer-Ingelheim used to do it the traditional way; writing about it on their web site, handing out leaflets with text and photos during sales calls and seminars.

But they have a story to tell about this new learning system and video is a very effective tool for telling stories. So I persuaded them to let me produce a 2-minute video enacting a Diploma learning session, watch it here:

It is in Swedish, but there is no dialogue in the video.

This is a low- budget production, simply because we felt that we did not need professional actors and a large crew for this. The point is to tell the story so that the target group, in this case medical doctors, are inspired. The feedback has been very positive already.

Now this video needs to be spread. Their sales reps are using large-format versions in their laptops during sales calls, video banner ads promoting the video are in production for medical web sites and the video will also appear on a number of other web sites in order to make it viral.