Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part interview with Scott Shamp, director of the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia, discussing the future of wireless and wireless content.When the New Media Institute at the University of Georgia put on its “Go Mobile or Go Home!” event to tout wireless services a couple of weeks back, the organizers made sure participants received first-hand experience with mobile networks.

“Tremendous,” is how Scott Shamp, director of the New Media Institute, described the event to Local Tech Wire.

“For ‘Go Mobile or Go Home!’ we didn’t just talk the mobile talk, we walked the walk. We really went mobile. The entire event was outside in a couple of different locations throughout downtown.

“For the panel discussions we were under a big tent on our beautiful old campus – over 200 years old. It was really cool to be talking about the newest of technologies in the oldest state chartered university. WiFi was wafting through 100-year-old oaks. It was very neat.”

More than 200 people turned out, including representatives of some 60 different companies.

“We were amazed at the turnout,” Shamp says. “WiFi has a lot of people interested.”

LTW caught up with Shamp, who runs the institute that is part of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, to talk about Wi-Fi and the institute’s keen interest in it.

What was the purpose of the event?

The main purpose was to share our experience with mobile technology and help other people explore how it might be used. The Wireless Athens Georgia Zone (WAGz) has been a great focal point for some very creative ideas and approaches.

And the New Media Institute also had another goal. We have created the Mobile Media Research Lab – this is a new unit, which will coordinate UGA’s investigation of mobile content. We believe that compelling content will provide the real impetus for mobile technologies growth in the near future.

“Frankly, we think more people haven’t really adopted mobile and wireless is because they haven’t seen a wide range of uses that they find valuable.

“The Mobile Media Research Lab will capitalize and extend on the work that the NMI is already doing with mobile media content. Students and researchers are going to be researching wireless technology and creating mobile content prototypes. In this way the Mobile Media Research Lab is going to help the mobile market grow.

“We have adopted a kind of motto for our efforts – Demand creation through Innovation.’ Innovation is what will drive the market in the future.”

What are the key goals you hope to accomplish with the Athens project?

Our WAGz is really an experimental test-bed. It is a place where we can try out the future of wireless. We know have downtown Athens covered by a wireless cloud (that is the Wireless Athens Georgia Zone – WAGz) and that is a cool technological accomplishment. But the technology isn’t why we built it.

We want to use the WAGz to discover what is possible with mobile content – what it can do, what it should do, and what people want it to do. So the WAGz is our sandbox – a place where we can experiment to find out what works and what doesn’t. We know have over 50 students actively involved in building content applications and mobile content that will work in the WAGz. The understanding that they derive will turn them into the mobile content leaders of tomorrow. So inventing the future is what we are here for.

Part Two: What do business and consumers want from wireless?

To learn more about the New Media Institute, visit: www.nmi.uga.edu