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The metaphor of journey

Sony CSL Paris Open House at Maker Faire Rome

Rome, 7-10 October 2021

From the 8th till the 10th of October 2021, Sony CSL Paris has showcased its researches and technologies to the public on the occasion of the 9th edition of the Maker Faire Rome. The event took place at the iconic Rome Gasometer starting with the opening ceremony on the 7th of October and continuing, from the 8th to the 10th, with the Open House days at the Maker Faire.

After the stop due to the Covid restrictions, the doors of Sony CSL Paris opened again for the usual Open House, which this year represented a crucial moment for the entire lab, not simply because it has marked the 25th anniversary of the foundation, but also because it has been the first event where the laboratory met the public after a period that certainly did not facilitated this type of activity, inside a context all dedicated to innovation that did work as an engine for opportunities of exchange, dialogue and reciprocity.

In addition, the Open House was the occasion to announce the opening of the new office in Rome aiming at laying down the foundations of a new research entity -Futurium- that will combine, in a unique conceptual space, the sciences, the arts, the public engagement, and the business, to drive innovation and achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new office is located in the prestigious premises of the Fermi Centre  within the historical building of the “I Ragazzi di Via Panisperna”.

 The following document aims at narrating the overall experience focusing on the leading concepts that triggered the event organization, the main happenings during the exhibition days, the shared values, the effort in showcasing the real and complex, though wonderful, life of the lab, the ambition to communicate all this to the general public. Starting from here, the journey could start.

The leading concept of journey

“Science is a never-ending journey towards a free and a better world. At CSL, we care for the journey and the destination”.

The metaphor of journey has been the suitable one to follow, first to develop the concept, then to develop the activities and now to describe the Sony CSL Paris Open House experience.

It has been a three days journey inside technology, innovation and shared knowledge. Starting from the trivial idea of the Open House as a physical journey from Paris to Rome, with all the practical consequences of moving instruments, tools and technology from one city to another, from one country to another, it developed in an extended idea of journey which became the redline of the overall activities.

A journey, as the one we set up when designing the communication architecture of our stands that have been conceived as a step by step path among diverse research areas and technologic applications, in order to let people have their travel among them. A journey seen as an exchange of knowledge like the one we had with all our researchers and all the guests we invited to take the floor of the numerous panels and interviews and finally, the journey seen as the ambition of communicating all this to a wider level and preserving the memory of the total experience.

The journey among our stands

The exhibition area, shared with Sony Europe’s other divisions: SSS Europe and Professional Solutions Europe, has been set up in order to allow visitors to wander through the lab’s research areas spanning from Creativity to Sustainability, from Language to Music. The researchers from each team showcased their own projects to the public giving also the idea that every single project was both a single expression of a unique research work and, at the same time, a joint walk in diverse research topics where cross skills, approaches and interests did converge in a unique scenario.

 Shaping the visit to our stands as an itinerant experience, allowed the lab’s teams to organise each moment of the exhibition in the most suitable way according to the topic they were showing, to the functions they were explaining, to the interaction they where offering.  In this way Sony CSL Paris has been showcasing the research job from 4 teams for a total amount of 14 showed projects all in the space of 6 booths, plus 2 for partners and Sony Europe’s other divisions and 1 where the TV Studio was set up, for an amount of 9 micro legs in the entire journey of the wide exhibition area.

 

At the different legs of the journey, the 4 teams of the laboratory showed all their projects to the public.

The Language Team showed 3 of its main projects:  “Talking Heads”, “Writing Assistant” and “Frame Extractor”.

The Creativity Team had the opportunity to show some of its main projects such as: “Kreyon City”, “15min City”, “Cartesio”, “WeWrite” and “ForeMusic”.

The Music Team showed 4 of its main projects to the public: “PIA”, “Notono”, “DrumNet” and “Flow Machines”.

The Sustainability Team, with a booth located in the open-air, showed its “ROMI Rover” and “ROMI Plant Imager” projects.

The journey of exchanging knowledge

In addition to the physical movement from one stand to another and to what this means in terms of knowledge acquisition for the public and interaction with the scientific dimension of Sony CSL Paris, we conceived the Open House as a moment to share knowledge both with the public and with the scientific community too, composed by people who lead studies related to ours or complementary to them.

That is the reason why we thought about three main explicative formats onsite to share our scientific contents: The Coffee Maker, the Interviews and the Panels, through which we exploited all the possibilities offered by the broadcast studio set up.

This format, held in the TV studio,  presented a daily morning strip to anticipate all the themes that we would have been treating during the day and what we had just treated the day before. It was an informal moment to start the activities at the fair and to get prepared from the other steps of the day. The Coffee Maker was held from 10.00 to 10.15 and live streamed on Sony CSL Paris YouTube Channel.

This format presented a “on the road” approach to the sharing of information, where the researchers, interviewed at their own stand, had the opportunity to explain what the presented projects were about, the objectives and the possible  implications in our lives.

Interviews from the different stands

The time for interviews from the different stands was set twice a day, one during the morning from 12.00 to 13.00 and one during the afternoon from 16.30 to 17.30, except for the last day when the interviews covered just the morning session. All the interviews were live stream on Sony CSL Paris YouTube Channel.

The panel format has been thought to interact with the interested scientific community even though it has been addressed to the general public too as a second target.

The time for panels, which have been held in the TV studio, was set twice a day: during the morning, from 10.30 to 11.30, there was the first panel of the day usually in connection with Tokyo and during the afternoon there was the second panel of the day from 15.00 to 16.00, with guest online and onsite guests. All the panels were live stream on Sony CSL Paris YouTube Channel.

 

The detailed logbook

Day 1 (8th October)

After the opening conference, where Hiroaki Kitano gave his maiden speech, the first day of the fair opened with the usual “Coffee Maker”, the daily streep aiming at informing the public about the program, the anticipations and the curiosities. Then a panel about the “Past and the Future of the Sony Computer Science Labs” was held by Vittorio Loreto and participated by Hiroaki Kitano, Lana Sinapayen and Luciano Pietronero. Thanks to the presence of the Sony CSL CEO and the representatives from the different Sony CSL labs, (Tokyo, Kyoto, Paris) the occasion was the right one to institutionally announce the opening of the new office in Rome at the Centro Fermi premises through the presence of its director Luciano Pietronero.

After the panel there was the first round interviews of the morning: protagonist the Language Team with the team leader Remi Van Trijp and then with Martina Galletti and Michael Anslow.

During the afternoon there was a second panel about the “Scenarios for post pandemic cities” held by daniela Patti Architect and Urban Planner hosting Elsa Arcuate, Professor of Complexity Science at the London’s Global University, Matteo Gattola, Founder and CTO of Envision, Bernardo Monechi, Scientist at Sony CSL Paris, Giulia Lucertini, PhD at IUAV University, Lucia Tahan, Architect and experience designer.

After the second panel, the day ended with the second round of interviews, all related to the topic of “the city of the future”. We had Bernardo Monechi, from the Creativity Team at Sony CSL Paris, who spoke about the 15mincity project and the kreyon City project and Matteo Gattola Founder and CTO of our partner Envision who spoke about the design of a Smart City and the Private Public Partnership towards the digital transformation of cities.

Day 2 (9th October)

After the “Coffee Maker” the broadcast studio became the set of the panel “Creativity with Artificial Intelligence in modern music production” held by Michael Turbot from the Sony CSL Paris Music Team together with Théis Bazin. The panel hosted some important guests of the field such as Uele Lamore who is one of the first artists the Sony CSL Paris Music Team has collaborated with for the production of an EP, Sophian Fanen a French music journalist who worked for Radio and Press and a very well known music specialist for his interest in the music business and Ikuko Matsusaka-San, the technology promotion officer of CSL Tokyo. 

The day continued with the morning interviews session to Michael Turbot, the Technology Promotion Office Manager at Sony CSL Paris Music Team, about his experience in boosting the collaboration with artists, with Théis Bazin and Gaëtan Hadjeres who gave their contribution to the divulgation of the most innovative advancements in music production.

During the afternoon another panel was hosted in our broadcast studio facing one of the most debated topics of the moment: disinformation. The panel “Toward Post-Fake Era” was held by Pietro Gravino from the Creativity Team of Sony CSL Paris and hosted important guests like Giulia Boldi, lawyer and researcher on Constitutional Law, Claudio Cappon, general Secretary of COPEAM, Journalism Trust Initiative, former General Director of the Italian public broadcaster RAI and Vice President of the European Broadcasting Union for 6 years. Marco Delmastro, managing Director AGCOM, the Italian Authority for Guarantee in Communications, economist PhD, and former Director of Economics & Statistics at AGCOM, Anja Kaspersen, senior Fellow at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and Fabiana Zollo, assistant Professor of Computer Science and Research Fellow in the Center for the Humanities & Social Change at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. 

The day ended with the second session of interviews during the afternoon, when the rest of the Creativity Team, who was present at the event, gave a detailed overview of the projects they are working on. Pietro Gravino, in line with the panel he held, spoke about Cartesio, the project that studies the online information system, then Giulio Prevedello spoke about Foremusic, a project to predict the success of musical tracks and last, but not least, Pietro Gravin together with Ruggiero Lo Sardo from La Sapienza University of Rome, talked about WeWrite, the project that explores new ways of writing.

Day 3 (10th October)

After the last “Coffee Maker” the day continued with the panel “Sustainable Agriculture: Between reconnecting with nature and engineering a better future” held by Peter Hanappe the team leader of the Sustainability Team at Sony CSL Paris. The panel explored the development scenario for small organic micro farms together with Masa Funabashi, researcher at Sony Computer Science Laboratories Tokyo and Founder of SynecO, Linda Bedouet, farmer and author, Les jardins d’Hayden and Chris Giotitsas from the Tallinn University of Technology.

Then the interviews of the day moved outside at the sustainability team with an amazing demonstration of the Romi Rover and Plant Imager functioning, with Douglas Boari and Nabil Ait Taleb. Then, again in the broadcast studio, Aliénor Lahlou and David Colliaux gave their contribution to the divulgation of other projects from the sustainability team.

The journey of communication

As the internal communication of the event has been developed in the ways we have just presented, the external communication passed by some important steps too.

We can now distinguish three main phases: the preliminary phase, the live phase and the follow-up phase, which is still on going. Here it follows the detail for the first two phases.

During the preliminary phase:

  • 2 launched press releases, one as media alert for the upcoming event and one where the detailed event program was described. 

  • 30+ published posts on Twitter 

  • 5+ published posts on LinkedIn

  • 1 video promo

  • 1 website launch 

  • 3 dedicated blog post on the Maker Faire platform and other digital reviews

During the live phase:

  • 1 live social media activity composed by:

  • 100+ published posts on Twitter during the 3 days of the event

  • 10+ published posts on LinkedIn during the 3 days of the event

  • 24 live streamed session (daily strip+panels+interviews)

  • 2 interviews made by the Maker Faire organization to be edited and used for the   follow-up activities.

The conclusion of our journey

This Open House was such an important moment both for those who dealt with the organization and for those who achieved to visit the stands and took the opportunity to know a center of excellence for research in Europe and in Japan. Our observation of the event’s trends suggested us that the public really enjoyed the meeting with science, with all the researchers who work at the different  projects that did keep their attention high, from the first day until the end. The city of Rome, the European center of innovation during the Maker Faire days, hosted our Open House and didn’t miss the opportunity to show in which direction the research is going and how much this will impact our lives and how necessary it is to continue looking for solutions to some of the most debated issue of our life like improving sustainability, stopping disinformation, improving the quality of our life, and much more.

Interaction has been the icing on the cake, the possibility to “try to do something” with the presented installations has been a winning card, together with the involvement of the different interested targets through a complex social media campaign and an intense steaming activity.

Finally, the occasion to work hard together to create something better was the most achieved goal of the overall event. That is the reason why we would like this document in the same way we did start it:

“Science is a never-ending journey towards a free and a better world. At CSL, we care for the journey and the destination”.