Friday, March 29, 2013

Multimedia Bits

Cynthia Liem recently gave a TedX Delft talk called "Every bit of it". I have the pleasure and the honor of being her colleague at the Delft Multimedia Information Retrieval Lab. I missed being at the talk in person, but finally found time today to watch it on YouTube.

What she is saying is so critical---it at the same time both fresh and timeless---that the talk deserves a more in-depth reaction than a tweet or re-tweet. This post summarizes the message that I heard in Cynthia's talk.

Cynthia makes the point that every bit on the Internet has meaning to the original person who put it there. These are of course, multimedia bits, that she is speaking of videos and images that have been captured by people and shared on the Internet. An important question in this era of Big Data: each of these "bits" of multimedia is captured by someone for some reason. Cynthia tells us that we can add worth to these bits by enhancing them with other bits; in particular, she shows us wondrous transformations that can be brought about by adding music to video.

Towards the end of the video, she says that a big question that with face with multimedia is "What is relevant?"

She points out that we tend to focus for the obvious in our understanding of relevance, e.g., popularity and quality, and that because of this focus, we miss material that people do not know exists.

Instead, the "bits" of multimedia on the Internet should be seen as an entrance to the world, not as the final product, but a place to start. A diamond in the rough that needs to be polished in order to add value.

At the end of the video, she asks the audience to keep their eyes open for a rediscovered hidden gem....I discuss my gem in my next post: