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European study presents findings on invention of online and interactive television applications by end-users


Citizen Media project used ‘living lab’ to study the invention of next generation applications

Paris and Antwerp. —On April 27 and 28, sixteen European partners, including Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU), will present at the Flanders Congress Centre in Antwerp the findings of a Europe-wide research project they conducted that evaluated ways in which average citizens could become engaged in the creation and development of innovative online applications. Addressing the boom in new user-generated digital content and the new digital formats with which they are shared, the partners investigated in particular the role that the Internet and television play in creating social networks and how these media can influence people’s daily lives and foster social change.

The study, named Citizen Media, was conducted over a period of nearly three years and engaged thousands of non-professionals without any prior ICT experience or Internet usage in specially designed “living labs” to track how they invent and develop socially-beneficial applications.

During the course of the study, participants from Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Norway invented a wide range of applications that deliver social benefit. Some of the most noteworthy included:

* Creating and posting photos and films - “living lab” participants in Austria developed IPTV and online applications that enabled the younger and older inhabitants of Engerwitzdorf, a widely dispersed village in rural Austria to reconnect by sharing content they had created.
* Improving interaction with municipal government - in Germany, citizens in Cologne and Hagen readily adopted an online application created by “living lab” participants that made it possible for them to play a key role in providing feedback to the local authorities on the changes to happen in the city today and in the future.
* Enforcing social bonds in off-line neighborhood communities - in Belgium study for a gay community in Brussels and a neighborhood in Limburg revealed that those who engage in online social networks enjoy stronger than average interpersonal connections and a higher-degree of social interaction in their daily lives if for no other reason than that the online social network offered them a common topic of conversation.

The sociologists and engineers who made up the Citizen Media research team were led by Michiel Pelt of Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs in Antwerp who noted, “This is technology upside down. The advantage of working with living labs is that by observing and working with end-users who are designing, developing and deploying their ideas we can quickly turn these inventions into socially relevant innovations that have value to them. Innovations that are built with customers have a higher probability of sustainable market adoption so this type of Open Innovation really pays off.”

“Users are very innovative,” Pelt continues. “Even people that never used the Internet before suddenly created their own videos and posted them in one of the applications. Language difference didn’t seem to be a barrier. But most importantly we observed that sharing content that is created by the users themselves strengthens the relationships between the people inside a community.”

The presentation of the Citizen Media study will accompany live demonstrations of the latest in user-centric design of social media applications that are running on different ‘living labs’ across Europe. This demonstration is open to the public on Tuesday April 28th, 2009, from 16h30 to 19h30 in the Marble Hall of the Flanders Congress Centre, Astridplein 26, Antwerp, Belgium.


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