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Streaming Media East 2005 Wrap-Up: Part II

With session tracks divided into "Panel," "How To," and "Case Studies," Streaming Media East attendees had plenty to choose from at this year’s show. Here’s part two of our sampling of the conference’s highlights.

Wireless Media Anytime, Anywhere
The always-excellent Peggy Miles led the "Wireless Media Anytime, Anywhere" panel Wednesday afternoon. Miles and her panelists discussed where mobile content is today and where we may see it going soon—eventually to the ultimate in portable products: epaper. The group began by talking about how Nokia is the first to market with handsets with visual radio, which allows users to get more information on a song.

One of the panelists was John Muleta, former chief of the FCC wireless bureau and partner and co-chair of the communications group at Venable LLC, who offered an in-depth presentation on the state of wireless. Muleta discussed from a high-level perspective how wireless can succeed, including the limited areas over which the FCC has control when it comes to the proliferation of wireless content. During Muleta's presentation, he quipped, "Wireless is Wheaties and all other models are toast," and he laid out a number of ways for wireless to succeed, including a focus on billing and customer service and investments in unique, scalable applications.

All of the panelists indicated the need for content providers to produce and format content especially for wireless devices, primarily because of the smaller screen sizes. Panelists also discussed (and showed live) content for Sony’s PSP game system, which is one of the few portable devices for which content is being specifically created (for example the new video for the song "Feel Good Inc" by Gorillaz - http://fans.gorillaz.com/multimedia.php). Other topics included the role of newspapers as broadcasters, the importance of partnerships and cooperation, and the sudden significance of vlogging and podcasting.

Streaming Video for Distance Learning
Ross DavisRoss Davis presented the case study for "Streaming Video for Distance Learning." A veteran SM conference speaker, Davis was asked to present a case study because his work at Seattle Community Colleges Television goes beyond the traditional streaming classes or low-end public access show, offering sophisticated programming around the clock at www.scctv.net.

The Seattle Community Colleges are the second-largest higher education institution in Washington, behind the University of Washington. With such a large and geographically dispersed student body, the school was extremely interested in exploring how streamed courses and information could be useful to students and faculty; they had started with a cable channel, but quickly realized they needed to be online. But as an educational institution, they had virtually no budget with which to work. So Davis decided to hit up major companies for donations and received impressive contributions from Microsoft, Cisco, Dell, and Hitachi Data Systems (and so he is effusive with his praise and plugs them when he has the chance), including software and storage. Davis also has built a lot in-house, including a CMS and ecommerce engine. SCCtv offers variable bit-rates for the needs of different users, but does not do dial-up for the simple reason that "we think it's a rotten experience," Davis explains.

SCCtv has a number of projects in the works, including three streaming courses this fall through a partnership with gurus Dan Rayburn and Steve Mack. As advice for others, Davis emphasized the importance of licensing, which he believes people overlook far too often and which he cites as the reason there is not more television programming on the Internet.

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