Could this project really make an impact on the media ecosystem?
As of October 1st, the Horizon 2020 MediaVerse project has officially started. The project is the result of an impressive collaborative effort from a consortium of 11 partners across Europe that led to a solid proposal in the Next Generation Media call of January 2020, and specifically on the topic of “New User Driven and Enriched Experiences in Future Media”. The project has proposed a very appealing concept of a “universe of media assets” that are easy to find, access, exchange and monetize by media companies and prosumers.
The main idea is that content creators, professionals or amateurs, will be able to easily connect to a “MediaVerse node” (MV node), i.e. a kind of server-enabled software, or set up their own, and through this MV node they will be able to import and make accessible their content in the MediaVerse network, i.e. all MediaVerse nodes that have already been set up by others. Beyond that, they will be able to determine the license of their content, so that other MediaVerse users can easily know, if the content is available for use and under what terms. This decentralized approach to content sharing and exchange solves a big problem with the large media sharing platforms (say YouTube and TikTok): the fact that they act as gatekeepers and arbiters on the media content uploaded to their platforms. There have been several cases where content creators have been treated unfairly and demonetized. MediaVerse aspires to give control to content creators and make possible a level playing field in media distribution.
Is it just that?
No, there are plenty of other goodies that MediaVerse aspires to develop. The project wants to bring new content authoring capabilities to creators, namely better support for easy 360⁰ video and Virtual Reality content authoring, but also capabilities for making the produced content accessible, e.g. by streamlining the subtitle creation process. Beyond that, the project will also leverage the latest advances in deep learning to facilitate the media annotation and moderation process.
One particularly interesting aspect is that MediaVerse aims to deliver capabilities for easily adapting the media annotation and content moderation features to the particular needs of each media creator or company. For instance, some media companies may be interested in tagging their content with specific categories or keywords that are not supported by existing deep learning models, but they don’t have the necessary expertise to train and deploy new deep learning models in their media workflows. Within MediaVerse, users will be able to “train” new media tagging models through intuitive visual user interfaces. Similarly, media companies that rely on user-generated content will be able to easily set up and configure content moderation filters that fit their specific needs of “inappropriate” content.
MediaVerse also aims at supporting content creators in their content distribution efforts, especially with respect to sharing and monitoring their content in social media. The MV node will make it easy to publish content to popular social media platforms and also track its performance through a simple to use analytics dashboard. Moreover, the creators will be able to monitor trending topics, that could stimulate their creativity or help them better tune their content promotion strategies. Last but not least, MediaVerse will also deliver capabilities for reverse image and video search over large collections of media content. In that way, content creators will be able to run queries across the MediaVerse network in order to identify potential cases where their content is used without their consent.
How far will MediaVerse go?
We want to think both small and big when considering the potential impact of the project. The vision of the project is disruptive and has great potential to transform the media industry, but we need to be pragmatic and focus on those aspects that will make clear the potential of the project’s concepts and outcomes to key stakeholders in the sector. In that sense, our primary goal is to define and implement the technical basis for MediaVerse, i.e. the MediaVerse node, and pilot test its capabilities in novel yet real-world scenarios. To this end, the project has defined three use cases that will offer concrete user scenarios and will guide the piloting activities of the project:
- A citizen journalism use case, where our partner SwissTXT will use MediaVerse to make content available to third parties such as Deutsche Welle, another of the consortium partners. This scenario will explore how existing media silos from different media organizations can be connected.
- A prosumer content creation scenario, driven by our partner UAB, that will explore the new authoring capabilities offered by MediaVerse tools, with a view to creating new forms of content and making content accessible, but also making sure that the content creation process itself is accessible.
- An artist-driven content creation use case, led by our partner ArtShare, that will leverage the Artificial Intelligence capabilities of MediaVerse in unconventional ways with a view to enlarging the creativity and content creation capabilities of tech savvy artists. This use case also offers a connection between the project and the STARTS community.
What are the biggest challenges in realising the MediaVerse vision?
Oh, there are countless challenges! 🙂
For starters, the project consortium brings together 11 partners from different countries and backgrounds, each with their own interest and ambition, and a unique understanding of the project’s goals. Managing to leverage the expertise and capabilities of each partner and align their efforts in an efficient way is a great challenge on its own!
Next, the technical objectives of the project are really challenging, as MediaVerse sits at the nexus of a number of emerging technologies including for instance media annotation and retrieval, decentralized systems, blockchain, social media analytics, and Virtual Reality and Human Computer Interfaces. Being able to combine and integrate such diverse technical components into a technology stack and a toolset that works smoothly and offers an engaging user experience is another great challenge!
Last but not least, even if the project manages to deliver a solid technology with new powerful capabilities that anyone can use, it will still face the big challenge of convincing key stakeholders to adopt it and use it in their daily workflow. We know that this is extremely hard, especially with large media organizations with established media workflows and tools. On a positive note, MediaVerse is designed to work together with existing workflows and not meant to replace them. Besides, having media stakeholders such as SwissTXT and DW already on board is a great asset to the project.
I’m both excited and curious myself as to how MediaVerse will unfold and to what extent the project will be able to set a stepping stone towards transforming the current silo-based centralized media landscape into a decentralized ecosystem where different stakeholders and creators will be able to freely exchange content and enjoy new services that will be catered for their needs. What I’m quite confident about is that we have a solid vision and a very capable team already working to make it a reality.