The following is the roughly edited output of the realtime captioning taken during the IGF 2014 Istanbul, Turkey, meetings. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the session, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. The following is roughly edited.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: We will get started in one minute. We are just waiting for Indrajit Banarjee to return. I passed around a sheet of biographies that are very tiny, but if you want to look at that... Indrajit. Okay. We're going to get started.
Thank you everybody for coming. We have a small and intimate room. So hopefully if we don't get too hot, we'd have a good conversation.
I'm Ellen Blackler with the Walr Disney Company. Thank you for coming. We will talk about today the role of content and content creation and encouraging local content. We really start from the place that the role of content is really what drives the Internet. People adopt Internet broadband because they're interested in what they can do with it, not because they are interested in that connection. And we see this all over the world. Where there is content that people want, that's what brings people to the broadband connection. And the converse is true. As more and more people go to the Internet, we see more and more content being created.
Policymakers see the same phenomenon. And they are asking how can we create a local content industry of our own. We're particularly interested I think in what -- the growth of creative industries, both as an economic development matter to grow your economy and also to share cultures and relevant information for people wherever they are.
Today we have brought together some actual content producers from around the world. And they are going to talk about the enablers of what allows them to create content where they are. And also some of the challenges and what we can kind of work together on trying to modify.
So we're going to jump right into it. And when people speak for the first time, I will ask them to say a little bit about the kind of work that they do, and give a little bit of a background. But I do have -- maybe we can throw these over here, but I have these biography sheets. And I think that the people who are sitting next to the door will be in charge of shutting it when it gets opened. So that the enthusiasm from the hallway doesn't dampen our enthusiasm in here.
I'll start with Karla. Welcome. Welcome from Guatemala. And I would like you to talk a bit about yourself, but little address three, if you could name three things that you think are most critical to creating a sustainable local content culture in Guatemala. Karla Ruiz. I will at least give her name.
>> KARLA RUIZ: Thank you. As Ellen said, I'm Karla Ruiz from Guatemala. And I own a digital agency called MilknCookies, where we develop games, content, applications, for clients. So it's not for our own development, but we are working for different clients.
So the three things that I think are very important for achieving a sustainable environment for developing content, number one will be education. I think we need to change the way we are educating the children. You know, when we are teaching them how to write and how to learn -- how to read and write, we really have to change the paradigm. Because it's not only about that, but it's also how to make study words, how to make scripts, how to tell a story. Because telling a story has changed with the things and platforms that we have. We have to be able to tell a story in six seconds (iinaudible) and 30 seconds for video. Sometimes we don't have that capabilities to do it.
So when I was in school 15 years ago, I used to do essays and I get to learn what was a plot. But all of that changed. And we still today we are learning the same thing that I was learning 15 or 20 years ago. So that is the first thing that we need to change.
The second thing is, we always say that the content is the king, but the distribution is the queen. So people need to learn what are the different channels for distributing content. If we learn about the channel, then we can understand what kind of content we are talking about. Sometimes we are talking about articles, we are talking about essays. But we can -- how can we translate that when we want to share them on Twitter and we have only 140 charters. We can tell a whole novel on Twitter if we know how does the channel distribution works.
And the third thing is it's very important to people to understand the different business models that they are accessing. Because there are a lot of people when they think about content, they think that the business model has to be around advertising or we see all these bloggers and instagramers that are making a lot of money because of advertising. But that is not the only business model that exists. When I talk about content, the content that I'm interesting in seeing in the Internet is doctors, lawyers, nurses, talking about their subjects, their topics. And they don't have to be like writers or producers, they can be normal people with normal professionals, creating content. And then the business model is like they have a better personal brand and that they can have more business around them.
But there is a lot of lack of knowledge in this part of the things that the Internet can do for us, as a business, outside of the Internet if you are given time creating content.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: Thank you.
Before we move on, maybe you can talk a bit about your business model in Guatemala and what you are trying to present.
>> KARLA RUIZ: Perfect. I would like to talk about three things that I'm doing in Guatemala. As I said, as MilknCookies, we are like a digital agency. So we are helping our clients create content and applications and everything.
But we realised that we didn't have all the capacity to do this for all the clients that we have. Then we opened a second unit that is called MilknCookies recipes, where what we are doing is trying to help other digital agencies understand what are the best business models, what are the best practices that they can implement. And this has been very successful. What we're doing is a bunch of -- a lot of workshops and conferences, in order to share everything that is happening. Because all the ecosystem in the Internet is changing all the time. So we really need to create an environment where we can exchange knowledge with people. That is where the MilknCookies recipes, our line is sharing knowledge to change the world. Because we need to be doing this constantly. So this is something that we really are working a lot.
And the third thing that we are doing is that we opened a programme called "Digital Awareness." Because it took us like ten years, in Central America, to make all the brands and services understand that they needed to have a presence on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and it was something that we were -- it was very hard work to doing this. And now that is a must. Everybody understands that and everybody has the digital marketing and everybody -- the brands are producing content. But what we need is normal people to understand that they have a digital tattoo that they have to create and they have to develop.
So in this programme that is called called "Digital Awareness," what we're trying to do is to help people to understand how does all these platforms work? How does really Facebook work and how can I make a video and why that is important?
And the most important thing that we are focusing on is that we need, because we have all the teenagers and the millenniums and we know that they are super good in all these platforms, they know how to use them but they don't really know for what and what are the consequences. And I always talk about going back to the basics. Because we need like having mentors and moderators and people that are more experienced in life. This is never going to change and I always have the example of, remember your mother, your father, when they were telling you who how to do the things when you were teenagers. And now that you're 30, you know that they were right. And we don't have this on the Internet right now. We have a lot of young people doing a lot of things, using all these different platforms, without knowing the consequences. So that is why we created this "Digital Awareness" platform, because we need people over 35 years old to be there and to give five, ten minutes of their time daily in order to mentor or to guide people that is younger. Sometimes they are doing things that can affect their career in the future. Because with this digital data, you already have applications today that in human resources departments are using to know who you are, how you behave, your character and everything. So for us it's very important to have this kind of guidance inside the Internet. So that is the third thing that we are doing.
With this "Digital Awareness" programme, what is happening a lot in order to -- what is helping a lot to create more content is that when we have people that understand how to move and how to use all the social platforms, then they are more comfortable developing content. Because as I was saying before, sometimes when we think about creating content, sometimes when I say to someone to create an Article, just the word "Article" they feel like very uncomfortable. Because they say no, an Article is for a journalist to do or for a writer, and I am not. But if you are a lawyer or a mother, then you know things that you can share and you can make -- just make a Facebook note that the word is less uncomfortable. Or you can just create a video and you would be a producer. So that is the content that we need to incentivate people to be doing.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: Thank you.
Let's turn to Anne Shongwe. Why don't you tell us about your business and also address what you think are the critical factors that helped you succeed.
>> ANNE SHONGWE: Thank you, Ellen, and thank you for this opportunity.
Good morning, everyone. Anne. I run a company called Afroes, a social enterprise. We build game based learning solutions that are really designed to get young people to start rethinking and challenging some of the norms that they have -- that have shaped the way they do things.
So an example is that we have worked on a series on peace and elections, called haki. "Haki" in Swahili means justice. This is about how to engage young people in making the right choices during elections that will end up in peace rather than in them being manipulated by politicians to engage in violence. We have done the same on gender based violence. We are working on one now on connecting young people to online work.
But we try to do it in a way that is fun, that is in their hands, that sort of aligns to the way in which they live their lives today, especially amongst young people. We are doing this across countries, so we're doing this in Kenya, we're doing this in South Africa and now Nigeria as well.
In terms of what I think would be useful, in order to make -- there we go.
In order to make this, you know, really to grow this industry and what have been some of our challenges. I think for me, research and development is very, very critical, and we have been really talking to Governments about how they could invest much more in that. And what that means is that because we're not picking content off the shelf, we're not duplicating what exists elsewhere, we are spending time working with the users, understanding where they are in a particular journey, understanding what the language nuances are, what are the characters. You know, if you talk about trying to persuade a young University student to start considering online work as a career, rather than a traditional job, what does that person look like? What is a typical one? What kind of skills do they have? What kind of language do they communicate with? What is the kind of phone or device that they have access to? How do they actually access the tools that they need to do online work?
So we will spend a lot of time trying to understand the different nuances of the user on the one hand. But on the other hand, how do you develop this so that it works across multiple users? And to really invest in what that looks like.
And so we found that many times we're shortchanging what we could do, just because of the costs that are behind that. But -- and I'm talk about that in terms of us ourselves as Afroes but really it's the industry at large. Because when I talk to other companies and organisations and we get together and we start talking about how do we help develop the industry, this comes up often, where many people just shortchange themselves and entrepreneurs don't have the kind of support that they need to be able to create world class scalable content, local content products that could really impact significantly on the lives of the users that they are working with.
So the R&D side is think is a very big one and really trying to work with global partners is something that we're exploring quite closely to see how do we bring in some of that global experience into the kind of work that we do, but then to help global partners understand what are some of the local nuances otherwise it's not relevant for our local audience. So that's a big one.
Karla talked about education. For me, there is also training of, you know, some of those who already have come through the schools of fine art and who have, you know, can do illustration and graphic design. But how do you apply this? I found that the education system for me is narrowly defined. It assumes that you come out of a particular school and you go into a traditional environment. Where you're going into maybe a digital agency that does graphic design in a particular way.
Now we're building games for mobile, across multiple platforms. We're using local characters. We're thinking about all kinds of pieces within this design and development that requires that our artists and our -- the different providers of the content or the creators of the content are well developed.
And so what we found that we have had to do is invest ourselves in the content producers with whom we work. So we have to actually really train them in what does that look like? Because they're used to providing, either for a global market or providing for short videos, now we have to do it for a massive game. How do you actually start doing that when the schools or industry doesn't train you in the same way, because it's just not developed. So we are investing quite a lot in that area.
The last one is around Intellectual Property. So now we have an interesting challenge of having to develop either proprietary or open source content. And the industry is not familiar with that. And so we have been having a very interesting experience in the last few weeks because we're working on it with a huge open source project. And the reason it's open source is because the clients that we work with want to be sure that this is something that we can be engaged with for the public good and for the public comments, and they want it developed over time to build an industry around online work in the African continent. So it's targeting young people. It's trying to challenge unemployment rates. So it's really going to be a public good.
So the big thing is how do we actually develop this open source community? It's not very well developed in our continent at all. And so we found that as we started trying to draw in people to come in and work with us with this open source licensing, there was so much confusion and so we had to then take on the role of educating people who then come into the system and start trying to bring them in to understand how Intellectual Property works in different contexts.
And so we just found that it's much harder, where a normal entrepreneur or an entrepreneur in a normal environment would just go out, find the content provider, you know, partner with different people. Put together your project and just go out and focus on the commercialization. We're actually finding the development and training and preparation and, you know, investing more in research and development is required all the way. And so our own investments and our own costs become really, really high, but we find that it's necessary because we are pioneers in this work. And so we have to trail blaze by trying to bring other people along with us.
So we're working now on a hub of creators to be able to enable this to happen much better in a group of partners in both Kenya and in South Africa.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: Great. Thank you.
So we heard from two examples of entrepreneurs working in this space. So I'd like to turn now to Indrajit to see if you can tie it together from the individual experiences. As you study this field generally, you know, do their experiences track what you're seeing? And what advice would you give policymakers who would like more Annes and Karlas that work in their countries?
>> INDRAJIT BANARJEE: Thank you, Ellen. Good morning, everybody. It's a pleasure to be on this panel this morning.
I was telling Ellen that I wish I had a visiting card with Mickey Mouse on it. I don't, unfortunately.
But my brief intervention will be from a macro level perspective. You heard from entrepreneurs who are on the ground. But I believe, and that's why I'm being invited to this panel, despite not being a producer, but the work that we do at UNESCO is absolutely critical in order for players like these and others to function.
Let me just shoot off a few very major initiatives UNESCO has taken, which creates a fertile ground for companies like Disney and others to work at local levels and so on.
To begin with, we had the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities in 1992.
Then came the Declaration on Cultural Diversity. Believe it or not, it took us more than ten years to get this declaration done. Even cultural diversity is a contentious issue.
Then the Convention for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in 2003. The Convention on the Intangible Heritage in 2003. And most importantly, in UNESCO, we are the first agency in the world to have a recommendation concerning the promotion and use of multi-lingualism and universal access to cyberspace. This was particularly interesting given the fact that it came already in 2003. So we were anticipating issues of multi-lingualism and cultural diversity and linguistic diversity in cyberspace, and therefore we worked hard to prepare this recommendation.
What does the recommendation mean? It means that unlike the other solicitations to 195 member countries, when you have a recommendation, it's a binding instrument. Which means every two years Member States have to report to us. What have they done to promote local content? What have they done to promote linguistic diversity in their countries and in stiber space? So this puts them under some kind of pressure and obligation. And then we can track what is the state of affairs in various parts of the world. And given the fact that we cover 195 countries, we have a fairly large scope of operation.
Now, on my subsequent intervention, I will mention some of the lessons we have learned by observing the field, by observing the ground. But what I think is very crucial is to understand what linguistic and cultural diversity and what UNESCO has done is that it placed it as one of the four pillars of our concept of the Knowledge Society, which we launched at the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005. And we insisted that any society which can be called a knowledge society must pay attention to linguistic and cultural diversity, because that brings out the wealth of local knowledge, local content, local creation, and creativity. And so therefore everything we do now within the overarching objective of the knowledge society has to keep a very, very close eye on the linguistic and cultural diversity aspects.
So from our side, we welcome all the entrepreneurs who are -- who actually make our hard work to convince Member States to open up, to encourage local content.
And we did recently a report with the OECD. And the whole idea was to show that the existence of the availability of local content brings down cost of access. Because this is one of the arguments that we can give to Member States saying not only do you have content in your language, but also the cost of access to your citizens will go down. And I think this report was very well received.
And we were also working closely with the EURID and ICANN, we have a session this afternoon on developing Top Level Domain names in local script. Because that, again, creates a space for greater inclusion, greater ownership of countries of Internet and cyberspace. So there are a number of initiatives that we took.
Our main job is to ensure that our 195 member countries realise the importance of local content creation, promote it in their own respective countries, and then we monitor what is being done. And if the entrepreneurs showed up every day, it makes us proud that our work is showing concrete utilization and manifestation. Thank you.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: Thank you. Now I'll ask Ken Huff to take a bit about the education issue. We heard from both Karla and Anne of the importance of the education system supporting the kind of people who can do this work and create this content. And I'll let Ken talk about the programme that he runs at Disney, which really is designed to bring really the cutting art digital skills and the artistry together and build the capacity for the employees that we need.
>> KEN HUFF: Thank you Ellen.
So I am the training supervisor at Lucas Film Animation, Singapore. George Lucas of "Star Wars" fame, many years ago decided that he wanted to open up a studio location outside of the United States. He had be very much based in San Francisco. And as he was looking around the world for a location to open up a branch studio, Singapore stood out to him for a number of reasons. One was that it was a cosmopolitan city. It was very centrally located in southeastern Asia. And he saw the potential of the southeast Asian market both on the talent side, artists who help create the work, and also on the consumption side, the people who would be viewing the films that were being made.
He was also looking for a place that had strong Intellectual Property protection in place. Because we do work not only on our own Intellectual Property, like the Star Wars franchise, but we also do a lot of work for other studios. And we needed to have protections in place that would protect all of that.
He was also looking for a supportive Government that would be a strong partner in establishing the studio, but also dealing with the issue that he is very close to my day-to-day work and that is the development of the talent at the studio. In order for all of that to happen, he needed a place with a strong education infrastructure. And that ended up being Singapore.
So in Singapore, while all of these things were there, what didn't exist was a strong visual effects and animation industry. And it was something that as a company we knew that we would have to help to develop not only for ourselves but basically to create a talent ecosystem within the country.
We needed something that would bridge the gap between what the formal education programmes were doing and what we needed as entry level artists coming into the studio.
So the core of this programme is something we call the Jedi Master's programme. It's a six-month paid apprenticeship programme. It's a full-time programme. It's highly competitive. We receive sometimes upwards of over 100 applications for anywhere from 8 to 12 slots, final participants in the programme. Usually we're averaging about eight apprentices each time we run the course. We don't run them on a regular basis. we're not on an academic schedule. Because we're trying to populate an artist pool within the studio, and that is based on our production needs. So we determine about six months to nine months ahead of time what kind of course we're going to run, what the specific discipline is. And then we recruit specifically for that course. But it does happen on a fairly irregular basis.
The courses are very much practice oriented. So we have people in the studio for six months full time. And they are working with the same tools that our artists are working with on the production floor. They are also working on the same content that our artists are working on in the production floor. So we're not creating simplified content or new content entirely from scratch for these programmes. We are actually taking assets and shots from films that we have worked on in the past and turning that into the course material. So they are working on actual practical production content. And I think that's one of the very important things about the programme.
Toward the end of the course, they also have the opportunity to work on live shows. So films that we are currently -- our artists are working on in the studio, the apprentices will have the opportunity to do practice work based on the live shows, which is very exciting for them and also keeps us on our toes, because there are always new problems that have to be solved and new challenges. So we don't have a set curriculum that we can rely on, we have to teach on the fly and help people learn on the fly, which is how they practically will be working in the future.
The ways that we maintain and structure the course is based on live production practices. So, for example, when our apprentices get ready to submit their work for review by their supervisors, they are using the same tools that the artists on the production floor use to get their work approved by supervisors. So we do everything that we can to recreate the production environment.
Our instructors are experienced artists and practitioners from within the studio, both from within the Singapore studio and especially in the past also from our San Francisco studio. Especially at the beginning of the -- our time in Singapore, we brought many instructors over from San Francisco. We have been fortunate, things have worked well, and now many of our local Singaporean and regional artists reached the level in their career, the level in their experience, where they are potential instructors for the course. So we incorporate them into it as well. So there is an instruction and mentoring happening throughout the entire six months.
One of the challenges with any kind of artistic, creative, technical education is that we have to get our very experienced practitioners to articulate all of the decision-making processes that go into the work that they do on a day-to-day basis. So much of what they do, they have done it so much that they have built up an intuition about the decisions that they make. And we have to get them to articulate that. And that's one of the challenges that I face on a regular basis is getting our experts to speak about everything that they are thinking about when they are trying to make creative and technical decisions.
One of the other things that we do is we engage our internal clients from the very beginning of the apprentice course. My goal is to have every apprentice hired on at the end of the course. So what I want to do is make certain that their potential supervisors and leads are familiar with their work and they are confident that these apprentices can do the production work that is going on. So we are engaging the supervisors in the process.
For us this has been a very successful programme. Over the past seven or eight years we have brought in over 180 apprentices. Out of those 180 apprentices, we have hired on as full-time artists 125. We have ten apprentices that started just two weeks ago. And we have nine more coming in in early October. So in October we will have total of almost 20 apprentices in-house. And they both look like very good groups and I'm very hopeful that we will be able to hire on a majority of them once the course is done.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: Great. Thank you. We will talk more about the elements of that programme as we go through the day.
I'm going to turn to questions from the audience in a minute. But before we do that, I did want to ask another question to our star entrepreneurs. We've talked kind of about some big picture issues, about education and the policy environment. But I'd be interest interested to know as a business person, what are the big challenges that you face in building a market? What are just the business challenges that you face and how you overcome them?
>> KARLA RUIZ: Well, one of the biggest challenges is back to education. Because when we are looking to hire people, the people that we are finding in the market, it's people that we have to train from zero when they are coming out of the University.
In our MilkNCookies, we have a whole unit that is working on 2D animations, 3D animations and everything. But the people that we are looking for is the people who studied architecture is the best that we found in Guatemala. And that's all that we have. So imagine taking somebody out of architecture and you're trying to get them into the content creation world. So they don't know anything about scripts, story boards, anything, but they have the skills and they are very talented. More artistic. So we have to take them from zero and train them. So it's a big cost for us. And there is no institution that is working in that matter.
So when was listening to you, it's inspiring, because it's something that we have to do, like creating our own people. And instead of just taking them and going, because when we hired them, we are directly putting them into work, and it's a very good practice to create a programme where we can train them ourselves. But maybe it would be something that we should have to work together. Because it's a problem that is in all Central America, not only Guatemala, that we don't have people that are specializing in Web content. That is a different matter as well.
So we have the same programme, this is for illustration and animation, we have this programme. We have this programme as well because we have copywriters. We don't have someone thinking in 140 charters Twitter, or somebody who is able to do a script for just a six-minute video. So all these things we are learning on the way that we are already selling our products to our clients.
So for us, that's been a huge financial barrier, because we have to invest on all this education.
And sometimes when we have already invested in the people, then we have -- so that will be the first problem, that people is not well educated in that manner.
The second one is that when we have people that has been for six months with us and they know how to work and everything, we have a competition thing going around. And what I said is that we shouldn't be focusing on competition, but in collaboration. So right now we are working on some kind of contract that we want to do with people, it's called like the "formation contract." I don't know if I translate it well. It's like -- if you are going to hire an architect or an artist or a copywriter and we are going to teach them how to produce content for Web and Internet, he has to sign a contract for -- we ask for a year. And after this year, he can leave or he can leave before, but he has to pay 15 percent of his next salary. Because we have a lot of people working for us for just six months and afterwards they can go to another digital agency or whatever. So this competition is just not making the -- it's not making a good market for everybody. It's just a bad thing. So we need to have a collaboration thinking and not a competition thinking. So this is something that we are really, really trying to find solutions and to see if this new kind of contract is going to work. But this is the second thing that for us has been a very -- it's been a very financial problem for us.
And the third one is not that much for us, but it's in the community, it's the access to the Internet. Because we are producing a lot of things, but not everybody has access to it. In Central America we have been awarded and everything for saying that we are one of the regions that have the more access to Internet, because you can find everybody with a smartphone and you have Internet. But as I always say, this is like saying that we have access to McDonalds because we have McDonalds every two blocks. But if you go into McDonalds and the only thing you can have is a glass water, then you don't really have access to it. And the problem that we have is the people who have access to smartphones and they have Internet, but they can only navigate through Facebook. And the moment they have a video, because you have videos on Facebook, they start running instantly, then it will eat all of the money that you spend on the Internet. So this is a big problem that we have. And we need to change with the mobile operators that we have so that we have like more natural Internet.
>> ANNE SHONGWE: Like Karla, for us, the high cost of production because of the skills is a big point. But, you know, we're working towards that, continuously looking and searching for alternatives.
For us, the ideal commercial model and one that we have been really exploring and trying to find ways to do is one that goes directly to the user. Because we know that for scalability, this is the direction that we would need to take it. Otherwise, anyway, I'll come back to that point.
So we have been trying to explore how this could work. The advertising model that works elsewhere doesn't really work in our markets. Because, you know, as Mozi who is here will tell you, if you put an ad on his phone for some game, he is not going to click on it. He is going to pass by it, right?
So we tested some of those models but they didn't work so well. So our initial model and the model that we work with right now is focusing on clients who are either with Government or social agencies or corporates who are keen to work with that same market, which is our market.
The challenge that we have is a lot of our work is impact oriented. Social impact oriented. Because of that, the minute there is a financial crunch in a business, the first thing that they drop is anything sort of altruistic. So it's difficult to depend on this market.
The other thing that we find with Governments, it's very slow. So sometimes the lag time can be two years before a decision is taken to be able to go ahead and actually contract for work. So that creates some real challenges.
But the biggest one that we have, and we have tried to work with the Governments to try to get the work into schools, is that the Governments themselves have policies both in Kenya and South Africa And Nigeria that prevent young people from going to school with mobile phones.
Access in our African market is on mobile phones. You have a few computers in schools, but those are just outliers. Those are just a few schools where people are testing the models and piloting. But the majority, if we're going to talk about access and have this kind of content that we are talking about really benefit young people, it has to be on mobile phones.
So I've made a couple of proposals, which is okay, you can block the students from having the phones all the time. Just as you have a computer lab, you can have a mobile learning lab, where mobile learning labs happen for two hours on a Thursday and another hour on a Tuesday. At that time students are allowed to use their phones. Otherwise, it becomes dead end, right?
And another thing is that pushing that free data is -- free wireless is provided at these schools once this is allowed. So we are not having the issue that Karla was raising about the cost of data. So that's really quite a big one.
And so when we go back to trying to figure out then how to get to the user directly, our long-term goal is to be able to actually come up with business models that will work directly to the user. But our biggest competition is the attention economy. So we're not competing with the next better game. We're competing with everything that is drawing the attention of a user. And so the difficult thing with that is how do you weed through that? Which is why we have been looking at how this can be provided in an institutional context. So there is almost a competitive advantage that has been given to our products because we have been sort of ticked off as a impact, they have sort of a public good mark on them that says, you know, parents, young people, this is good for you.
And of course the uptake would be a problem if it's not good quality. But the challenge we're having is that we're competing with Facebook and we're competing with whatsup and we're competing with everyone else. So it's got nothing to do with content that is around that particular issue, it's about everything that draws their attention.
So we have been trying to figure out how to get them to pay attention to this. But it's not easy. That's part of the joy of being an entrepreneur is that you're trying and testing. We are still alive four years down the road, so we figure we must be doing something right.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: Do you have anything to add? Okay.
So before we turn to it audience questions, I'll go back to Ken. Can you give us a couple examples of, if someone here is thinking about figuring out what they -- how they should be addressing this training gap problem, what are the key elements of a training or post secondary programme or starting in the younger ages, what are the technical skills that you see that you can work with them once they come to you as an employee.
>> KEN HUFF: Sort of thinking about what would an ideal programme look like, there were a few things that came to our mind. The first one was that the students, the participants, would be addressing open problems and complex problems. Problems that we don't necessarily know the solution to. You can't turn to the back of the book and look at the answer key to find out what is the best way to approach this. This is important because it teaches them to deal with the situations that they are going to run into in day-to-day life and also in day-to-day work.
Instructors and mentors that have practical experience in whatever it is that you are trying to teach, whether it's visual effects and animation or it's copyrighting, or creating artwork for short form on the Internet. All of those things have very specific technical requirements that I think you need to have experienced practitioners helping people to learn and understand.
Another thing is that along those lines to be aware of is that you may have someone who is a very experienced practitioner but they may not be a good educator. So it's important that you have someone around that is an experienced educator that can help that expert take what they know and extract it from their brains and share it with the students. I run into this problem all the time where I have incredibly brilliant practitioners in the studio, but they're not necessarily good educators. They're not necessarily good mentors. And that's part of my role at the studio is to help them with it.
With all of these mediums, anything dealing with content these days, there is a very highly technical aspect to it. There is also what I call the aesthetic aspects to it. So you have to have a balance between the two. You can't just teach people which buttons to push, which menus to select. You have to teach them why are you doing this? And not just why are you selecting that button, but why are you creating this content? What is motivating you to create this content? That is the harder thing to teach. And I think really the way that you teach that is by setting up experiences for the people to learn on their own and to build up their own experience.
We have two wonderful acronyms floating around at the studio. One is WIP and the other is CBB. WIP is work in progress. And it's a way that we mark, as we're getting work, passing it off to a supervisor for feedback, we mark it as work in progress. This isn't the finished result, but I want your thoughts. What do you think about it as it is right now? It's not the final, I want to do more work.
CBB means could be better. We have an incredible high standard within the snudio and I think probably anybody who works creatively has high standards for themselves. But we have to be practical. We have deadlines, we have budgets, we have constraints in the work that we do. So there is an indication that we can put on the work that we're doing called CBB, and we will put notes after this. If we had another six hours or two days to work on this, where would we spend our time? How could we make this better? It's useful to think about it in terms of giving and getting feedback, but it's really a wonderful way to think of things in terms of education as well. Education is always a work in progress. There is no one solution. And it's always something that can be better. We need to continue to iterate on our education practices, and we need to continue to strive to innovate. Sometimes we aren't going to innovate. Sometimes we're just going to have to slog through and get something done. But other times we have that opportunity where we can go back and look at things that could be better, and come up with some innovative way not only to create the content but also to teach how to create content.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: Great. Thank you. I think now we have a few minutes left if people have questions for our experts. Lots of questions. How exciting.
Start with you.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm Peter Bruck. I'm the Chairman of the World Summit Award.
I think that this has been a very, very useful and exciting session. When I come to listen to what Kenneth has said in comparison to what Anne said and Karla said, from my point of view, the business models divide like water and oil between that which is serial and that which is interactive. I just tell you, Netflix is moving into Europe, and the latest statistics show that 34 percent of Internet traffic in the U.S. currently is hogged by Netflixs. Which is -- I mean, Internet delivered television, zero noninteractive stuff.
So what Karla and Anne are talking about is obviously interactive stuff. You're talking games, you're talking educational. There are different kind of things. So money is still in the serial things. People talk about the renaissance of television through Internet, which is time shifted.
What is it from your side, Kenneth, where the interactive comes in? And my question to Karla and to Anne would be how can you leverage the possibilities of let's say more serial things in order to refinance yourself and the work that you're doing?
It seems that both of you were movingly specific and concrete, thanks to the invitation which you got, to talk about the difficulties which you have in terms of financing. And both your information contracts is a very interesting idea. I mean, the mobile labs is a very interesting idea. But these are not actually creating revenue streams the way, I mean, Disney would want you to do; if I understand Ellen correctly.
Is my question clear? It's a little bit difficult and tricky, but I think it's the grain of it. You know? And when UNESCO wants us to look at the cultural aspect, they have understood that interactivity is actually the watershed in our civilization, but they are not able to grapple with it.
>> KEN HUFF: I'll jump in. I think possibly you set up a false dichotomy. So I'll throw it right back at you. I think that it's not one or the other. I think it's a continuum. And I happen to work for a company that is at one extreme of the continuum. I work for a film company which is at least by today's standards is a very traditional form of storytelling. And it is a very -- call it a linear form of storytelling. And it doesn't necessarily lend itself to the kind of interactivity that other forms of story telling do. So I don't see it as one or the other.
Yes, it's a very established business model and it's very much where sometimes I think ridiculous sums of money are spent. But it is just one form. And I think that by experimenting, we can find other forms of storytelling. And that's coming from my background as a fine artist who creates static images that sit on walls and then working in a film company. So I come from a noninteractive background. So maybe my bias are showing.
>> ANNE SHONGWE: I have a dream. It would have what I know young people need, which is to view the kind of value that we want viewed, but done through storytelling, which we do great as Africans.
So I shared earlier how we worked on a series like this, three or four years ago, with the school of young people, African leadership Academy, and we have two of these concepts just sitting when we looked at what it would take to finance this. And we went all over. There is a big corporation that finances movies and things. So when we went to see them. They immediately said, well, if this is a single film, one big epic kind of film, maybe. But if it's this short series of 13 minute clips or this kind of thing, then we're not interested.
We have been trying to see who would bite. So far, okay, African market, where is their money and where can money flow from? So our business model has been opportunity driven. So in the way that this is happening, maybe there is a way to rethink this and open it up. So thanks for provoking us.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: Here and then there and there. Go ahead.
>> AUDIENCE: I'm just raising my hand in between when you were talking. We would like to see the content which would be accessible for all. We are seeing that one million people in the world are ignored because of accessibility.
So, also, the larger people being the low and illiterate. So when you talk about digital content, that is also ignored, that huge group of people. So we have some solution for that. We have designed a content which is fully accessible for all. That means people can see, people can listen, people can touch. That is the DAISY standard.
So we developed 500 plus content which is accessible to all. Like women who never go to school, she can listen. One blind person who cannot see, even though he graduated from University, he can read by Braille or listen. And also the person who can see, they can see by any form, so on the content, which would be inclusive for all. That's such a design that everybody can access, so that is my concern. Hopefully you would consider that.
I have publications here. If you want, you can take from me to know more about the DAISY standard and accessibility and what we are doing in Bangladesh. I work in IBSA Bangladesh. Thank you.
>> INDRAJIT BANARJEE: Thank you for the comment. In the main session, also, the main idea of inclusion, the concept of access, including in the realm of content creation and delivery was raised. UNESCO is active in this area. Last year we published the first global report on the role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities, highlighting best practices from all the five regions of the world. This year, in November, we are organising the first International conference on ICTs for Persons with Disabilities. And so for us, given the gravity of the situation, given the large number of people who are excluded, we believe that both in terms of infrastructure access as well as in terms of content access, serious effort needs to be made and UNESCO is deeply involved in this endeavor.
>> AUDIENCE: How can we as a development actor be helpful in the work that you're doing, Anne?
The second is we are, for example, working together with hubs around the world. How do you see from your perspective on this local hub or other hubs that are developing and already developed, how can those hubs be working more with local content and with open source development as you wish it to be? Okay.
>> ANNE SHONGWE: We built a model for working with development agencies. So we have a process called the Afroes way. We start out with research and insight processes, to be able to understand the context, the problem, what the users need. And then we work through what kind of concept and what kind of solution would need to be developed. So we can talk about how to do that. We have done that with different agencies. So that wouldn't be difficult. We welcome in. So the one on Info Dev. Our company has been involved with MLabs, and so we are familiar with the work of Info Dev. And I think the -- the big -- for me, the big obstacle with the kind of Info Dev approach is that they are great in that they bring people together into one big room. But the challenges that I raised earlier, which is research and very many, is still poorly financed, even within an Info Dev context.
So we're not pushing to make sure that some of the issues that need to be really thought through are thought through, the issue that the gentleman just raised about access for everyone, you know, we don't then have the opportunity to dig into that. Because you are using your $2000 that you may have to develop this application, and it doesn't take you very far. So, my -- and I said this to Info Dev directly. If you put all the wonderful entrepreneurs into one room, you have to resource them. These are innovators. You know what creators are like. They just want to solve the problem. But there are so many obstacles that need to be invested in. So we need the skills. We need to bring people together. We have to do the R&D up front.
If I have to think about all of that, I'm not going to pay attention to a lot of the detail because I have to go forward and raise money to make this sustainable. I have salaries to pay. Every month I pay ten people, so I can't spend my time thinking about how can I do the work that I think Government and other partners should be doing. But I do it, because I need it for survival and I know we need to grow this industry. I'm a mama, so I'm doing that. But a 20-year-old entrepreneur will not be thinking the same way.
So we have to invest in things. That's not just putting people in one room, it's about the backbone that needs to be built to build an industry. We have tools and approaches. We can share those openly, and we do. We work with MLabs to show them how do we do this? How do we do language?
We had an interesting point in language, just the last point. We in South Africa wanted to work with multiple languages with one of our apps. We learned after the research that as much as they communicate with one another in different languages, online, on the mobile, they only communicate in English. So that at that point, we had to make a decision that it wasn't worth the investment to actually do this in other languages, just to please SIDA or whoever the development partner was who wanted to see different languages. The market said we communicate with English, but that is the language of communication. So that is the language we had to understand more than the fact that we had to bring in other languages. In Kenya we did it in Swahili and (inaudible), but the uptake is low. It could be marketing. But it's something for us to raise, because we did do the effort to make it in local languages.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: As long as you have stamina, we can do a few more minutes.
>> AUDIENCE: My name is Alex. Basicall, we're the people who try to monetize content, and it's not easy. Because the market in general doesn't pay for it. It doesn't pay for quality content. It's very difficult to get a big enough market and a big enough audience to pay for quality content. Because quality content is expensive. And the mobile operators who usually take the lion's share of the market, often 70 percent of what the end-user pays goes to the mobile operator. Lion's share agreements. We're left with 30 percent. And that has to pay for the content creator, who spends a lot of time in training, innovation, R&D, salary, et cetera, and our sales, and we also have our own costs as a company. At the end of the day it's not profitable unless you have a huge market to talk to, or unless you are a very recognized brand, such as Disney, for example, that has done a blockbuster and it's easy to sell content on that blockbuster because it's top of mind.
However, trying to get local content, linguistically and culturally content and relevant, high quality, is expensive. And, two, it doesn't have the market. So my question is how do we get affordable content so we can make money? Unless we make a buck out of it, it's not going to be happening in the future. So you want local content. How are we going to get it cheap enough so we can distribute it and still have a set margin that will allow sustainability? We have gone from interactive to the sense that we deliver content in a subscriber basis. The user is getting taxed on a weekly basis or monthly or daily for content. So we are bleeding him, in a way, right? So how do we get affordable content, quality content? That's the question.
>> KARLA RUIZ: We think that this is something that should be solved by doctors or lawyers or teachers in order to create their own personal branding or digital tattoo. So their pay will be to have a better personal brand so they can sell themselves better. But in the Internet, we will have better content. Because right now we don't have like as 50 years ago, we don't have that anymore. But you can have that again like through the Internet. A pianist, he has a Twitter account and he shares what he is doing, and he shares great local content. But the problem is that these people are not used to creating content. So for me, some of the solutions that we are trying to come up with is trying to teach people that we all can -- it's the user generated content, but trying to have better content, that's the tricky part.
So I think that is just half of the solution.
>> INDRAJIT BANARJEE: I think it's a very important question. But this has been asked now for the first time. And people are thinking about this, how do you create local content which is affordable and it brings in money for you to sustain yourself? But a good example around the world, it takes time. Like Ellen mentioned at the beginning in our introductory remarks, this is a content creation and content industry. It doesn't flourish overnight. Look at companies like Disney and Lucas Film. It takes a long time. And it's a different business model.
I would like to take the example of the Indian film industry. All major local languages in India has very good solid content and everybody would make money. But it took a lot of time. Plus, of course, you can argue that even a single Indian language group, for example, Tanji language, they have 50 million people who speak it. It's bigger than most European countries. So the size of the market is important.
I liked your example very much. People in India like to watch movies in local languages. That's a fact. So, for example, when Hollywood tried to enter India -- and I'm sure Ellen is aware of this -- when they tried to enter India many years ago, they just couldn't break into the market. Because local content was not only good, but it was in the local language. Whereas all the Hollywood movies which came were in English. So the language became a good barrier for the Indian market to protect itself from films coming from abroad.
Today they are too smart, Disney and others, they set up production companies in India making Indian movies. Universal pictures is there. Walt Disney is there. Every major Hollywood studio is making Indian movies in India. Because it gives them high returns. So the question of local content is important and the point is taken. But I think it has to be an effort starting from policymakers.
In India, for example, we have had this Film and Television Institute of India for decades, making good producers, creating talent. They didn't come out in the digital industry. So there is a whole chain.
And I think the last point I want to make to your question is that content aggregators, like yourself, like you said, the amount that you pay to the operators, the amount of money left doesn't allow you to invest in more expensive content. So there, I think -- I don't have an answer to your problem. But perhaps you should make a deal with Disney or something. Maybe, you know, get some good content.
>> ELLEN BLACKLER: So I'll just amplify a couple of those points. I'll take the Moderator's prerogative and say a few things. One of the things, as you say, takes a long time, there is a big evolution. But one of the innovations of the Internet is it's letting companies like ours, who make Hollywood blockbusters, also invest in local content. We have done that in India by investing in an Indian company that produces Indian movies in India. Now we have the opportunity, because of the improved distribution channels, to work with local partners. And, for instance, in Turkey we create several shows that are Turkish and they do well throughout the Middle East, when our own shows were not doing well throughout the Middle East. And they are not American shows with Turkish language over laid. They are, you know, Turkish produced content.
So I think part of the goal is -- part of our task is to think broadly about what local content means. Karla's business model is producing content, she is exporting, not to put words in her mouth, she does it largely for Americans but she grows a local content market industry. Another goal would be to have content in local languages. So there are many pieces to the puzzle. I think we really -- I see no one wants to eat. But... I think we really do have to end.
Thank you all four coming. And there is, you know, other local content sessions this week. So we should keep the dialog going and they are all here for you to talk to.
(End of session, 12:40 p.m.)