How Music Sector Uses Technology, Data for More Collaborations


By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK — “Technology is getting better that it’s allowing people to collaborate wherever they may be,” said Souheil Medaghri Alaoui, product designer of Splice.

“I see how people want to collaborate more but still want to be in charge of their work,” she said. “I think data is being more useful (in this regard),” said Cynthia Meng, engineer of Next Big Sound/Pandora.

Alaoui and Meng were in the panel that included Harry Benson, director of US Strategy of Boiler Room in a talk hosted last March 2 by New York music label and creative collective Subdrive. The talk was its first one titled “Fostering Emerging Music Communities Online and IRL (In Real Life).”

Benson, a renowned cultural marketer and creative director specializing in music, fashion, art and culture, also talked about how virtual reality is still not there when it comes to music immersion.

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2 Opposing Sides Debate: Can Fake News be Solved?

By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK—There was no faking it. The Daily News Innovation Lab meetup last February 8 at Microsoft was packed for a good reason. The debate, “Proposition: We can solve fake news” had people giddy with anticipation. The debaters would not disappoint.

The hopefuls were Sally Kohn, political commentator and columnist, CNN and The Daily Beast; Dean Pomerleau, co-director, Fake News Challenge; and Melissa Ryan, expert in politics and technology.

The skeptics were John Borthwick, CEO of Betaworks; David Carroll, associate professor of Media Design at Parsons The New School for Design; and Jane Elizabeth, senior manager at the American Press Institute.

Justin Hendrix, executive director at NYC Media Lab moderated the debate with an equal dose of Orwellian seriousness and aw-shucks disbelief following the rise of fake news on social media platforms in the 2016 presidential elections.

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VR, 3D: So Many Visual Storytelling Ways, But is Anyone Watching?!


By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK–“I don’t believe in VR (virtual reality),” said Olivier Laurent, editor at Lightbox, a blog by the TIME’s photo department, in a meetup on the topic, “Visual Storytelling and the Future of Photos” last November 2 at the Libris by Photoshelter in Union Square. It was  certainly a gutsy admission, considering that tech titans have rolled out or are launching their own VR devices with fanfare.

Laurent moderated the discussion with panelists Paul Melcher, founder of Kaptur Magazine; Ben Plomion, chief marketing officer at GumGum, a computer vision company and; and Peter Krogh, photographer for PBS and The Library of Congress, among others.

Laurent challenges VR’s potential by referring to technological devices in the past, “Who has a 3D TV?” There was one raised hand in the packed room. What Laurent is saying makes perfect sense, of course. Yes, Facebook has the Oculus; Google recently launched its Daydream VR. Samsung and Sony have their own VR devices as well. This was not the main topic of the evening but it resonated with us because some tech products get some hype but never hit critical mass (eg. Google Glass).

But companies are latching onto VR because there’s always a craving for new ways to tell stories. Photographers, videographers and all practitioners then try to adapt to the new tools–for the purpose of adding a skill as the market demands.

Whether we want to embrace this or not is no longer a question, though. At some point, everyone will need to use cinemagraphs, VR, 360 and still movement in camera and gif, as enumerated by Melcher. There’s GoPro, Drones and many more.

“(Over the years), professional photographers have had to learn Photoshop and LightRoom,” he said. That was years ago but with more tech tools coming out, it seems the visually inclined will need to acquaint himself with more tools, software and equipment as technology keeps reinventing ways for us to tell stories.

However, there’s an even more problematic scenario other than the constant flow of new tech tools at our disposal. How do you get people’s attention span when a study by Microsoft last year pointed to how the ill-focused goldfish is said to have the attention span of nine seconds? How do people compare? We now lose concentration after eight seconds, it turns out. The survey consisted of 2,000 participants whose brain activities were studied using electroencephalograms (EEGs).

These are all compounded by the billions of images uploaded daily. Who has the time to tell their visual stories, if not absorb them?

Laurent, however, may be a purist in his observation about what images stick with people the most. He cites how the Tiananmen protester’s photo blocking a tank is remembered more than its video where he was shown moving left to right to block the tank.

What is future of photography? It may be about create an image that will feel like you’re in there, according to Melcher. “It may be better than any set of cameras.”

“We are developing a new vernacular. Image as data,” Krogh said.

On images as ads, Plomion said, “Ads that follow you. This already started four years ago. There will be more ads catered to us.”

Going back to the future of VR, Melcher said VR is mostly focused on hardware but the growth will be in content.

“In terms of aggregated reality, we’re not there yet,” Plomion said.

Thinking of Launching a Startup? Do Hackathons First to Avoid Failure


By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK—Nine out of 10 startups fail, studies say. Why? Because many of these startups make products no one wants. This is almost common knowledge by now if you’ve been reading up or attending meetups, at least. Being aware of the high failure rate can be discouraging, of course, but that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dream.

There are still ways to lessen the risk — and among the three panelists speaking at the Tech in Motion meetup last October 20, it was Dom Tancredi who probably gave the best advice, summed up in three words. “Do a hackathon.” In 48 hours of creating a product, he added, you’ll learn (a lot of things you can bring to your startup). It’s like a “microcosm of a startup.”

Even for someone already established in his web and mobile development business, Dom & Tom, he said, “I make it a point to attend 3 hackathons a year to keep myself relevant.”

Tancredi admitted to failing with 2 of the 3 startups that he started with his brother Tom. Unlike other startups, Tancredi started with 3 startups and proceeded to concentrate on one when the two other startups wouldn’t cut it.  He has more than 18 years of experience as a full-stack web developer and has led Dom & Tom since 2009.

He gave more tips: “Just know where you are spending your time. Spend 30 percent of your time on your customers another 40 percent on your product and 30 percent on yourself. Strive for equal balance.”

Josh Brenner, founder and CEO of bTreated, a yield management technology platform for the wellness industry, thinks failure starts even earlier. “People build this big idea in their head, but who (unfortunately) did not talk to people to validate their idea.”

“Immerse myself in the business. Everyone is better for it in the end,” he said.

Drew Silverstein, CEO and founder of Amper Music has a different take on the 9-out-10 failed startups observation. “5 of those 10 should not have started.”

He agrees with Brenner, though that you need to test each idea at its core and then validate that. Again, we go back to what you need to do: talk to customers.

Tancredi cautions though that talking to your customers is just “half the battle.”

When do you think you can reach some measure of success? For Tancredi, you’ll need to have to have “IP, the technology, the team and your efficacy and sustainability.

Silverstein has a more practical measure of success. When he hits his goal for 90 days, then he thinks he’s had some measure of success.

Brenner took his turn in giving cautionary advice. “People underestimate how much it’s hard to (build and run) a startup. You can be very successful one day and be a failure another day. You will have extreme highs and lows.”

To keep going, Silverstein said, “It is incumbent upon you to find a mentor. Ask a mentor for coffee. Solve one problem at a time.”

Brenner, for his part, thinks that “if you have a passion outside of your job, it helps (to give you ideas). “You don’t have to kill yourself, you need (time) to be creative.”

“You cannot overanalyze,” he added. “Just put out an MVP (minimum viable product) out there,” he said.

As for growing your startup, everyone agreed that you should learn marketing as well.

Video Tools That Tell Stories, Automate Transcription


By Dennis Clemente

NEW YORK — How would you like your video to be automatically transcribed? At the NY Video Meetup at Conde Nast last September 21, Auto Edit 2 took only a few quick steps and minutes to upload a media, put a speech-to-text system (with the help of IBM American English) to work, and voila! — you got yourself a saved transcription.

The transcription reportedly takes about 5 minutes to process regardless of the length of the media.  You can export a video sequence of selection as they appear chronologically in the video. Or you can export them in the order you selected them, getting you closer to make a paper edit.

Another presenter at the meetup, Verse, may be in a crowded video editing space but its DIY interactive platform is such as breeze to use. It’s a quick in-and-out experience. It’s great for independent storytellers who don’t have the luxury of an editing team or the skills of a coder to embed the images to a site. Headlines and other text in the images also allow for written questions to be clicked and led to the video portion of the question.

Next preseneter TVU offers web-based live video solutions. It transforms the way video content is captured, transmitted and shared from anywhere for viewing on the mobile, tablets, laptops and televisions.

Future Moments’ new app and its fourth one, AudioFix, is an iOS app that improves the audio in your videos.  The demo showed how the app cleans its sound and mazimizes its volume. As you save them using various filters, the original video remains in the same resolution. One can reduce the file size of video for easier sharing using a compress video option.

Host Steven Rosenbaum said his meetup group would not be possible without its audience, where one was inspired some to create video storytellers on YouTube like The Storyscape, which makes learning (some for kids and even adults) sound like “Dave Chappelle and Erkyah Badu hung out in Mister Roger’s neighborhood.”

3D, VR Content As Social Platforms


NEW YORK—So “who” is not a social platform these days? Even Sketchfab sounds like one the way it has amassed 100,000 members who publish 3D and VR content for everyone to share. And it has all the top guns for clients – Adobe, Facebook, Microsoft Hololens, among others.

Sketchfab’s Alban Denoyel, co-founder and CEO, was at the Hardwired meetup last September 14 along with Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta, a retail store designed for trying and buying new connected devices; Ben Einstein, general partner of Bolt, an early-stage VC firm focused on hardware and IoT; and Anthony Batt, founder & EVP of WEVR, which handles VR content production and network.

“3D is eating the world,” Denoyel said, as he showed samples of how 3D has been used to preserve cultural heritage, document world events, and market products and change how we see places, people and food.

Using Sketchfab is easy. You can upload files in almost any 3D format, directly on or using one of its exporters. Once models are on the site, you can embed them on any web page and share on other platforms like WordPress, Facebook, Kickstarter and Linkedin.

Vibhu Norby, CEO and founder of b8ta, came from Palo Alto present at the meetup as well. B8ta is a retail store like no other. It sells IoTs, connected devices and other hardware products.

For Norby, a retail store is a place to “discover, engage and demo” a product, which websites can’t do.

Today, retail is demand-gen, not demand fulfillment, he added.

Launched December last year, b8ta think stores can be used to funnel awareness.

Norby said pricing is the most important decision and you should build a strategy around it. He also thinks you should budget 15 percent of your margin for reverse logistics and customer support.

Before the last presentation, host Matt Turck sat down to talk with Bolt general partner Ben Einstein whose company invests in hardware and IoT devices.

He discussed the technical and product risks for hardware startups, pointing out the difference also between low-risk products like Fitbit and high-risk products like the Roomba.

Fitbit is a low risk proposition, because it simply calculates your steps where high-risk products can be far more complex and harder to market.

Bolt’s clients in the past include top tech companies such as Apple, Disney, Google and IDEO.

Last presenter was Batt of WEVR, a company that produces virtual reality content and has a VR platform called Transport.

Transport hopes to entice brave artists and storytellers to work in virtual reality and deliver a constant flow of high quality simulations to millions of new headsets.

Hardwired NYC, organized by FirstMark Capital, is a fast-growing community that explores frontier technology and emerging computing platforms: internet of things, virtual reality, augmented reality, drones, 3D printing, robotics, etc.

Shop while watching a movie

convert media

NEW YORK—Last May 26 at the HBO offices, the NY Video meetup featured ConvertMedia, Teleport, TVRunway and Snakt.

ConvertMedia‘s proprietary platform and broad range of video formats allows publishers to strike a balance between revenue goals, the exposure they afford advertisers and how they engage consumers.

Publishers reportedly use ConvertMedia’s video gallery to expand their supply of quality video ad inventory. These outstream video ad units are served through its dedicated programmatic monetization platform, which maximizes fill rates. The platform manages outstream video inventory, with controls for audio, viewability and frequency.

As partner with DSPs, CEO and founder Yoav Naveh said ConvertMedia offers access to exclusive video inventory on premium publishers for desktop and mobile that is brand-safe and viewable. It reportedly delivers over 100B display impressions every month.

TVRunway finds the clothes from your favorite shows with a single click while you watch online. Just by inserting 3 lines of code, retailers can have access to a new revenue stream, increased engagement and verifiable viewer data.

Now you can find your favorite clothes from your favorite shows with just one click at It turns all existing OTT content into an additional revenue stream. With its API, you connect directly inside the online video player, allowing a site’s users to click on clothes worn in the video and buy while watching.

“We don’t pin, tag, collect metadata,” Terena Bells and that means “no plugins, downloads, video editing or tagging.” makes use of machine learning and comparative algorithms to identify items, then displays the top three, real-time matches from about retailers’ available inventories. This approach reportedly makes TVRunway instantly deployable and 100% scalable across all videos, no matter when they were made.

“You just need 3 lines of code to connect to your website. It will never take more than 13 seconds,” she said, stressing it’s a “search engine.”

Everytime you hit buy, we share our money with the distributor. “About 75 percent hit the buy button with 72% user engagement,” she said.

Teleport’s Gavrilo Bozovic presented his interactive online video platform from Sweden. The startup developed a platform which allows distributing scrollable, media-enriched video, through web browsers.

“It’s about giving context to your videos,” he said.

Last presenter was Snakt’s COO and Co-Founder, Tristan Snell.

“Snakt is an invite-only iOS app for video that lets you create ‘video legos’ of 7-second-or-less clips for infinite remixing and compilations,” he said.

Now on open beta in the Apple app store, it is reportedly coming to The Onion while it also continues talking with sports networks.  “You can create private group and make videos on Snakt.”

Some affiliate marketing will be added as well. “You can add your reaction to movie or TV shows,” he said.

Museums, exhibitions get digital and 3D treatment

NEW YORK–Last May 3, the NY Tech Meetup featured 10 startups with founders barely out of college or high school sharing the stage with other more matured founders at the monthly event held at NYU Skirball Theater.  The night showcased how digital wizardry is also becoming part of museums and various exhibitions nowadays.

Enter the Machine is about the work of New York-based artist and programmer Eric Corriel and how he creates art out of custom software. The work showcases synchronized pulsating light boxes and a computer hard drive turned inside out to show its innards. Corriel raises questions about the digitization of contemporary society, exploring humanity’s dance with technology.

Karolin Ziulkoski, a new media artist, uses technological applications to create immersive experiences through Kokowa. Users from beginner to expert levels can create 3-D virtual spaces using an easy-to-use interface, powerful webGL technology and a growing database of user-created 3D content. They can be good for exhibitions, developing a game, showing off a new product, creating a 3D photography library, flying through an architectural model, and exploring new worlds.

Complementing the former two startups, presenter Local Projects showed how it works as an experience design and strategy firm that tests the limits of human interaction. It has won top prize in many design interaction awards. If you find yourself interacting with a digital artwork at the 9/11 Memorial Museum and Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, it’s not farfetched to think it’s Local Projects’ work.

Another presenter in a similar vein, Luxloop focuses on finding new ways to captivate and inspire our fellow humans with its creative technology, with Meural presenting itself as the canvas for the digital age. Fancy a digital art on your wall? Meural is equipped with a set of motion sensors and gesture recognition software that allows you to change your screen by waving your hand through the air.  


Now if you have similar ideas as all these companies, pitch to NEW INC, the first museum-led incubator for art, design, and technology founded by the New Museum.  

Other presenters at the meetup were SAM Labs, for fans of Internet of Things as it offers a toolkit for creating your own smart inventions.

Beaker Notebook is an open source polyglot UI for visualization and data analysis; Get Accent helps you read the news in a foreign language and Drone Regulator automatically monitors and enforces flight restrictions on drones.

For those who like practical ideas that can help you earn extra money, Peer Wifi demonstrated how you can sell your mobile hotspot data for other users to buy. It’s hard to do a demo in front of a big audience, but the young founders didn’t find any problems showing us how its platform works in less in few minutes.

Story behind Just Not Sorry’s 100,000 downloads in a month

NEW YORK– If you haven’t heard Just Not Sorry, don’t be sorry for yourself. The gmail plugin helps email users avoid using “just”, “sorry” and other weak words that undermine your message. It makes sure to strip out the highlighting before you hit send. In a month’s time, the app was downloaded 100,000 times, thanks to a healthy dose of media coverage that included morning TV shows and publishing sites.

Tami Reiss, CEO of Cyrus Innovation who had the idea, and Steve Brudz, who built the app, thinks that when you are creating an app, “simple is smart” and you have to be solving a “real problem.”

Reiss and Brudz walked the audience through its agile development at the Lean/Agile Practitioners meetup last April 18 at Kaplan Center in the Upper East Side. Reiss has worked with teams to develop technology solutions on platforms ranging from mainframe systems to modern microservice architectures and iOS.  Brudz is an engineering lead and agile coach at Cyrus Innovation with more than 16 years of experience in software development.

In building the app, Tami and Brudz said it is important to build fast, even if it gets messy in the beginning. They searched for how others have done similar things, researched open source libraries and wrote code in a week. They say never spend more than day on a spike.

They built it by getting feedback and iterating accordingly. Their advice. “Demonstrate progress regularly, listen to feedback and limit your work in progress.”

“Write automated tests where the benefit outweighs the cost,”Brudz said. There are faster types of code that you can use/test– recursion. “Code has lots of conditionals. Testing can help you get faster.”

In the iterations of the “trigger words,” they also took us to the time it first highlighted the words (iteration 1), then upon review, changed it to a dotted line (iteration 2) before it became a dotted line with explanation (iteration 3) and finally, a dashed line (with explanation) after feedback that said the previous iteration was too close to Google’s Spell Check.

After doing several landing page optimizations and Instapage AB tests, they recall launching on Product Hunt. On the day it launched on that site, they instantly got 79 downloads. With its media coverage later, which started with a media contact and a catchy name of course, the app eventually got its 100,000 downloads.

They are clearly not sorry about the name, because they knew Just Not Sorry would make a good hashtag — and the rest is history.

Book authors on videos, cameras for rent

NEW YORK—What is Penguin Random House doing in a video meetup, especially the NY Video Meetup? It turns out the publishing house carries a collection of videos in different subject matters with some tongue-in-cheek book reports.

Penguin Random House also carries videos of authors, so you can see your favorite authors talking about the creative process or just talking, all on its YouTube in channels called Papercuts (for fiction) and Videcracy (for non-fiction material). It makes complete sense, because it publishes 3,500 books a year and there are several ideas and inspiration that it can be mined.

Penguin Random House was also with KitSplit, Viosk, and YouNow were also at the meetup last March 24 at HBO. Steven Rosenbaum hosted and gave his audience his usual recap of video industry news and updates before the show-and-tell demos.

YouNow’s Dorian Dargan demonstrated how its live streaming channel can be so much fun and popular, especially among the millennials, as it picked a random musician online to interact with a birthday celebrant in the audience, singing Happy Birthday to her on split screen view, to everyone’s delight. The platform, which made it in the list of’s most innovative companies, has over 150,000 broadcasts or real-time streaming daily.

No if you want to make some videos for viewing anytime, Viosk’s Alex Romanovich showed how to make simple drag-and-drop videos in a few minutes complete with voiceover (even your own voice, if you prefer) and music (with Viosk having an in-house musician composing the tunes). The videos can be uploaded on YouTube.

“It’s a self-serve product with existing templates,” Romanovich said.

And if you’re strapped for cash, it need not stop you from making videos. Kitsplit makes camera rentals made easy, vetted – and even insured. It carries 20 million worth of camera gear, even drones and VR rigs, with delivery. It’s a marketplace site.

“Rental houses work with us. It’s also a marketing tool for them,” co-founder Lisbeth Kaufman said.