Thursday, January 15, 2015

BPN 1701: In the year 1980: start of Dutch information industry

Young generations most likely are not aware of the existence of a Dutch information industry before the introduction of internet in 1994. The run-up to the commercial and public start of the digital Dutch information industry started in 1967 and 13 years later in 1980 the Dutch information industry went life with databases, videotext services and teletext information services, produced by existing and new companies.

The run-up to 1980
The digitisation of publishing information started with the automation of the typesetting process and storage on magnetic tapes. The process was figured out by Excerpta Medica and its sister company Infonet. Scientific publisher Excerpta Medica started phototypesetting and offline and online distribution, resp. on magnetic tapes and by host organisations such as Dialog since 1974. The expertise of Infonet was used by the reference team producing the Grote Spectrum Encyclopedie (GSE) and the national library system.  
In 1975 the management of Kluwer visited legal publishers such as Westlaw in the USA and started to discuss setting up a Dutch legal database. By 1977 Kluwer Legal was in the process of building up databases and having demos of the first legal databases.
In 1976 videotex was researched for introduction in The Netherlands. The Dutch state owned telco PTT expressed interest in videotex. A year later the Dutch public broadcasting company NOS started to study the variant of videotext, the text television service teletext.
The 1978 the consumer electronics fair Firato was the decision point to get serious about electronic services or stay behind. So in 1979 NOS decided to start experimenting with the official text television service Teletekst. PTT took the decision to start introducing a videotext service; also the Dutch publisher VNU set up a videotext consultancy service TVS (Toegepaste Viewdata Systemen). So two state companies and three private companies were preparing to go resp. public or commericial.

Race for digital information
The year 1980 started with firecrackers. VNU launched a media laboratory named VNU Database Publishing International. It was founded to research the digital opportunities in the business sector.
On April 1, 1980 two introductions happened. The public broadcast system started the television text service Teletekst, excluding the newspaper sector from this service. On the same day Kluwer Legal launched its Legal Database service commercially.

On August 8, 1980 the Dutch PTT started hosting the videotext service Viditel with VNU being one of the largest information providers with Jobdata, Teletips and Distrifood and several third party clients. In the same year Elsevier bought the US Congressional Information Service (CIS) for 43 million guilders; it considered the service to be a stepping stone for a comparable service of the European Economic Union (EEU).

 
It was clear that the race for digital information had started. Elsevier was far ahead with experience in the online database field worldwide and in the US. Kluwer had started the legal service as a new distribution channel for the legal information it owned. VNU set up a media laboratory in order to find its way in the business sector, but it failed as it did not own content and lacked a real policy. The two state companies just started the Teletekst and Viditel services on public money. However it was clear that the race for digital information distribution had started in The Netherlands. All three companies aimed at 30 percent of the turn-over coming from digital services and products in the year 2000.

Digitisation as part of the internationalisation
The race for digital information was not just limited to Dutch territory. All three publishing companies also got explicit on internationalisation policies. Elsevier had expanded already internationally with its scientific division. Kluwer started to look around in the scientific and professional sectors. VNU started its journey from Haarlem to Harlem at the business sector by buying the US service Disclosure and starting VNU Business Publications in London (UK).




Looking back after 35 years, we can conclude that Elsevier and Kluwer are great in the digital information industry and have established an international footprint. Elsevier is big with information services like LexisNexis, Science Direct and Scopus. Kluwer has specialised in law and health care and offers digital services. VNU is no longer since 2007, when its name was changed in Nielsen Corp.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

BPN 1700: Liberated from Facebook

Just before the end of 2014 I have deactivated my Facebook. I have not done this as I will be 70 years this week. I did not do so in order to get rid of the dog and cat photograhs and stories. If people love pets, fine with me, but do not force them upon me. But the way that Facebook is pushing  the boundaries of privacy and wants to usurp copyrights should be halted. Some FB account holders have made statements of their own arguing that copyright is theirs. That kind of statements do show displeasure, but still Facebook is being used. Besides Facebook will not be impressed. NO, YOU MUST VOTE WITH YOUR FEET AND STEP OUT OF FACEBOOK.

 Yes and then? You can look around for a similar service. I've looked at Ello, but  the site is too arty-farty.I also checked  Brewster but this site does not realise its promise.

Of course it is a pity to lose your contacts. I had about 300 contacts. And yes that's a shame to lose them. No longer you are informed about relatives and friends as well as business acquaintances. In my case I lose the necessary contacts in the World Summit Award (WSA) circuit. So I will now have to put more effort in it in order  to keep up with that circuit. Before Facebook, you had to keep an eye on the relevant sites for information, but now you must keep the social media. Well I still have contacts through the business LinkedIn, where you do not encounter  dogs and cats pictures and stories. And  I can see and communicate through Twitter, nice and short and pointed.

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Talking of liberation. On the occasion of my 70th birthday I received this vase, the so-called liberation vase from 1945. The vase belongs to the series orange vases, made on the occasion of a Dutch royal event. This vase is dated 1945 and designed by AD Copier, master glassblower from the Leerdam Glass Factory to celebrate the liberation of The Netherlands. The vase is not blown with the mouth as opposed to the other orange vases, but machine-produced. The series has a variety of vases orange coloured glass as there was a  limited glass supply in 1945.

 

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I wonder what I will happen without Facebook. Is it a liberation? Will I have free time? Now I can no longer place an announcement for a new blogposting through Facebook; only on LinkedIn and Twitter, and in some cases by special groups on LinkedIn, as Heritage 2.0. Does this affect the reading stats?

So my communication channels for 2015 are LinkedIn and special groups within LinkedIn, Twitter Yjabo) and Skype, but you can also follow me on my blogs:
- Http://buziaulane.blogspot.com  (in English);
And of course I also have an email address (the same for 20 years, this year).

What am I going to do with that free time? In early February I go to Abu Dhabi for the World Summit Award Mobile. A series of nifty apps, including the app Touch Van Gogh of the Van Gogh Museum, will receive their awards.

And on July 1 our company Electronic Media Reporting will celebrate its 25 years. It was founded in The Netherlands in 1990 as one of the first consultancies, specializing in content strategy. The anniversary will be commemorated with the launch of an interesting archive, whch is presently under construction.
 
 
 
 
Electronic Media Reporting wishes you a prosperous 2015! 
 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BPN 1699: Reed Elsevier acquired LexisNexis 20 years ago

Twenty years ago the Anglo-Dutch publishing company Reed Elsevier acquired the pioneer online information service LexisNedis. It was in fact twenty years, since Elsevier mounted its bio-medical files, EMbase,  on the US information service Dialog. These two milestones were great moments in the history of Elsevier, but also in the history of the online information industry.
 

LexisNexis
In 1994, Reed Elsevier purchased one of America's oldest full-text information services LexisNexis. This pioneer had originated from an activity of the IT department of the paper company Mead Data Central. Since 1967 this department delivered full texts of legal rulings to the Ohio Bar Association. In 1970, the Lexis company was founded, that was to distribute legal information online. Later the news archive service Nexis was added. This service offered the full text of newspaper articles, for example, of the Boston Globe and the Philadelphia Inquirer. A great asset to the service in 1979 was the addition of the archive of the renowned New York Times. Thereafter it bought the news archive service Profile of the Financial Times. By 1994 Mead Corporation streamlined its paper and packaging business and sold LexisNexis for $ 1,5 billion to Reed Elsevier.

The acquisition of LexisNexis happened right at the turning point from online to the internet. Lexis was the main reason for Elsevier. Since 1970, the company had acquired the Congressional Information Services (CIS) as legal-political information service. In 1983, the CIS model was copied for the European market under the name of Europe Data. However, the company failed and in 1987 it was closed. But when LexisNexis in 1994 came on the market, it was an opportunity for Reed Elsevier as general publishing company with a consumer division, a business division and a scientific division buy the online information service. In addition to the newspaper archives as well as business and legal information, LexisNexis yielded many technical and marketing experience. This was used to establish online scientific information services such as ScienceDirect (1997) and citations index Scopus. Now LexisNexis has successfully converted to the internet world and has penetrated in companies, law firms, institutes, colleges and universities.


Excerpta Medica
Twenty years before the acquisition of LexisNexis by Reed Elsevier, in 1974, the first electronic publishing within Elsevier product was launched by scientific publisher Excerpta Medica (EM). This company was founded after the Second World War. The war had changed the scientific world. Before the war, the language used for scientific publications was German with publishers like Springer Verlag and Thieme Verlag. After the war this changed and English became the language of science. That meant new opportunities and new players in the scientific publishing world. EM was founded as an international publishing house in 1946 by Janos Freud and E. Landsberger, both German immigrants, in collaboration with Prof. M. Woerdman. The mission of the publishing house was to publish abstracts of biomedical articles. The medical discipline was divided into 15 sectors and from 1947, the first abstract magazine were distributed.


In 1957, Pierre Vinken arrived as an assistant abstractor/editor. Vinken studied medicine at Leiden University and was trained to be a neurosurgeon. Within Excerpta Media he eventually managed Section VIII, psychology and neurology. But besides work for this section, he also proved to be an excellent organizer and innovator. In 1964 he was appointed as chairman of the editorial committee and in 1966 as co-director of the publishing house. By that time the publishing company had a permanent staff of 54 medical specialists who took editorial responsibility for 35 abstract journals and reference works. The editorial staff produced the summaries of biomedical articles and allocated the index terms. In the mid-sixties the archive contained more than 1.3 million English-language abstracts and an even larger number of index terms.

 
(© 1980 NVB; Collectie Jak Boumans)

After his appointment as chairman of the editorial committee Vinken quickly developed plans for the publishing portfolio. He wanted enlarge the number of abstract magazines. In practice, this meant reusing a summary and index terms in several magazines. In order to avoid retyping the abstracts, to prevent typo’s and misspelled index terms and to save time and hiring extra hands, he thought about an automated production street.

During his tenure in the academic hospital in Leiden, he had come into contact with the Hospital Information System (HIS), under development by  prof. dr. A. R. Baker. Inspired by this computer project, Vinken ordered in 1997 a report with technical specifications, which the Excerpta Medica system had to meet. In his quest to realize such a system, Vinken met Frans van der Walle, an aeronautical engineer. He advised him the purchase of a computer, four linked NCR 315 machines. These machines and the data entry activities were integrated in a new software house, Infonet, a joint company of the publisher and Van der Walle. In 1968 a successful trial run was held and after the installation of the system in 1969, the production process was completely realised with the portfolio enlargement and all significant savings.

Barry Stern, head Sales EMbase (© 1980 NVB; Collectie Jak Boumans)

By 1974 Excerpta Medica - in 1972 acquired by Elsevier - began to distribute electronically its publications both to pharmaceutical companies for internal use of the research departments as well as to electronic online services such as Dialog Information Service and ESA/IRS. With the launch of the online version, EMbase, the company had become a pioneer of the online industry in the Netherlands and had become a money maker for Elsevier in time.
 
Illustration from a brochure of Excerpta Medica is printed in the book Tegen idealisme, een biografie van Pierre Vinken, written by Paul Flentrop; Dutch publisher Prometheus (2007)

 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

BPN 1698: Fading files

On December 5th, 2014 I told the story about the first daily newsletter to go online in Europe in 1984. The newsletter was marketed by VNU on Telecom Gold for some years and then an aggregator incorporated the newsletter in its portfolio, most likely on the host Dialog (these days a ProQuest resource). This is all I know about the life of the electronic newsletter. I mailed Clive Snell, who designed the marketing for the newsletter, to inquire about the life cycle of IDB Online, but he could not help (see mail below). Checking on internet you cannot find any edition nor even a reference to a source on internet anymore. There is a good chance that all the editions have not been preserved or just faded out.

Hi Jak,
Good to hear from you. I think you know more about all this than I do.

I have been away from that world for some 20 years
so can't help with any of your queries at all.
Best wishes
Clive


Looking further in my archive, I hit upon another electronic newsletter I contributed to in the beginning of the eighties. The Online Chronicle was a fortnightly online newsletter, produced by Online Inc, publisher of the print magazines Online and Database, later acquired by Information Today. The newsletter was started by the editor of Online, Jean-Paul Emard and ran from 1981 till 1988. I contributed European news to it, some 300 articles.  These were loaded on one of the oldest online information services, Dialog as file 170. Dialog originated within the aerospace industry Lockheed, was acquired by the owner of Reuters, the Canadian publisher Thomson and later sold to ProQuest.  No files can be retrieved nor a mentioned source  on internet. The only content I have left of the articles is a list of bibliographic data such as date stamps and 308 headlines. Perhaps I might have some of the information on a floppy disc, but who can still read a floppy disc.

Why should have these files been preserved? This is usually one of the first questions. In my view these online publications pictured a developing information industry, in particular of Europe, before internet came onto the scene. IDB Online was a monitor for the computer industry in Europe and could give insight how companies came about and computing was promoted throughout Europe. And the Online Chronicle presented articles about the young European online information industry before the word internet came into fashion.

Sample list of 30 European News headlines of articles for the Online Chronicle (Dialog File 170)  from 1982 till 1988 by Jak Boumans on a Superbrain PC (see photograph above)

Jr   Titel

1988 Agricultiural Abstracts On CD-ROM
1988 Elsevier Buys TWO U.S. companies
1988 German CD-ROM With Economic Formule
1988 Dutch Magazine Titels On CD-ROM
1988 Book Review – Electronic Publishing, Looking for a Blueprint

1987 Kluwer Announces Merger With Wolters Samsom Group
1987 Hoppenstedt Shows CDROM With Dataware Software
1987 Elsevier Makes Public Bid For Legal Publisher Kluwer
1987 Jim Ducker Leaves One Pergamon Company For Another

1986 10th  International Online Informaton Meeting Held In London
1986 Search Aid & Publications (European) – Business Guide Minitel
1986 Pergamon-Infoline After The Take-Over Of Orbit 
1986 Changes at MEAD Data Central International
1986 Three Scenarios For European Information Industry

1985 Finsbury Data Adds New Database
1985 Belindis Keeps Going
1985 Datasolve To Launch New Database
1985 Belgian Host Euris Stops
1985 Television Channel Used For Business Data Transport
1985 G-Cam Launches French Language Daily Newspaper
1985 Eurolex Sold To Butterworth by Mead Data Central
1985 Finsbury Moves Into The Black Afther 5 Years
1985 Excerpta Medica Ups Prices
1985 CNOL Goes With Data-Star

1984 Prestel Security Breach
1984 French Online Market 1983: FFR 100M

1982 Elsevier-NDU To Start Europe Data
1982 Belgian Host Belindis To Enlarge Capacity
1982 IEPRC To Institute Fellowship

Friday, December 05, 2014

BPN 1697: 1984 first daily online newsletter in Europe

Today, it is 30 years since the first daily online newsletter in Europe was launched at the annual Online Information Meeting at the Novotel in Hammersmith, london (UK). It was the business newsletter IDB Online, a newsletter for the computer industry. Daily, corporate newsletters were already well known in the US, but not in Europe, let alone newsletters for consumers. I had the honor to launch the newsletter on behalf of VNU (London) Ltd., a computer trade publishing house.

IDB, Informatics Daily Bulletin, was an existing daily newsletter that was like a two-sided A4 on yellow paper. It brought daily messages from the computer and information industry. Most subscribers were located in Great Britain; further, there were subscribers in Europe and the US. These subscribers receive the newsletter via the Royal Mail.

The idea for a online newsletter arose from the postal strikes by Royal Mail. After a strike subscriptions were halted, especially from the US and Europe. Another form of distribution was discussed. Plans were presented for a daily online newsletter, but the management team had its doubts. VNU had just made its first investment in electronic publishing with the acquisition of the US company Disclosure. And in Europe VNU had just burned about 15 million guilders (7, 5 million euro) with the publishing laboratory VNU Database Publishing International. But with a grant of 60,000 ecus (similar value to the euro) from European Economic Community paved the way.

The daily service was closely studied by looking at US examples. One example was the fortnightly newsletter for the information industry, Online Chronicle, file 170 on the host (server nowadays) Dialog. But the plan got solid when the email service Telecom Gold, a subsidiary of British Telecom, got interested. This service was unique in 1982 because at that time, email services and database services were split up; but Westinghouse incorporated email and database services in one machine. In this wat the daily newsletter could be loaded on the database service, while the headlines of the items were sent to the mailbox of the subscriber.

In 1983, plans were developed and pilot was held in 1984. The editorial staff continued working as it had always done. The electronic newsletter was produced with a WordStar text processor. The distribution of the paper newsletter continued to be mailed out with the Royal Mail. The electronic version was produced in the morning after publication and was loaded on the machine Telecom Gold before 12 noon. From 1985, a copy was bumped to the US online service Newsnet, who had the same Westinghouse software.

It was the first encounter for VNU (London) Ltd. with an electronic product. The marketing was developed by Clive Snell, currently co-founder and commercial director of Mylearningworx ltd. The online newsletter ran for several years independently, but was later included in an aggregate file and marketed by a syndicator.



 Alan Burkitt-Gray said in a comment ...
The paper version of the Infomatics Daily Bulletin was founded - without the initial support of VNU management, but as an idea of his own - by Tim Palmer. I'm surprised you don't mention him. In 1983 I was editor of Infomatics magazine and Tim was editor of IDB, sitting opposite me. I left at the end of 1983 to move to a different sector. Tim, with others, went off with colleagues to set up another company. VNU had never been a wholehearted supporter of the IDB.

Friday, November 28, 2014

BPN 1696: EYA: an award plus a pressure cook incubator for starting social entrepreneurs

Last week I was in Graz (Austria), a nice neat town in Austria. It is a UN city of design and supports a number of creative events. Since 2011 the town has been the base for the European Youth Festival, during which the European Youth Award ceremony takes place. Yet the Festival is becoming more than just an award ceremony; it is a valuable pressure cook incubator for starting social entrepreneurs.

 
The European Youth Festival has already a long history. It started in 1998 as the Europrix for students, a multimedia competition for students en young entrepreneurs up to 30 years. The award consisted of a statuette and a weekend in Austria. During the weekend the students got lectures by gurus, presented their projects to the other winners and attended the award ceremony. Contacts were made and addresses exchanged.

Screenshot of the first cyborg worldwide, awarded the Europrix in 2004.

In the meantime instructors of the winning projects held an academic conference, presenting papers and discussing. From these meetings educational networks and projects were started resulting in summerschools and programs such as the European Master of Interactive Multimedia (EMIM) and the European Virtual Academy (EVA). Between universities in Finland, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Hungary, Italy and Romania also exchange programs for instructors were started.

The move to Graz brought more than the change of name. Of course there were gurus present and not just local ones. Internet pioneer Vincent Cerf passed by, accompanied by Bob Kahn. This year at the start of the festival, Paul Hughes blew the minds of the students and instructors with his challenging 10 Meters of Thinking. The students did present their projects as usual, but now for a large audience of Graz students studying business and multimedia. But there was more. A creative brain storm for a new project, a fish bowl session, a innovation camp, all methods in order to get the young entrepreneurs to think about their project. Their projects were commented on by a jury of instructors and established entrepreneurs. But what I like most was that the students groups from Graz, Tampere and Spain commented on the winning projects. Their own peers told the winners what they liked about the projects, but also gave the winners improvements along to be considered. So the outreach of the European Youth Award has been greater than ever.
 
By Friday night the festival reached its climax with the award ceremony, presented by Adam Montandon, in the Dom im Berg, a big hall in the belly of a rocky mountain.

Winning projects: http://www.eu-youthaward.org/winningprojects_2014
For a point of view on the EYA Festival by a winning team have a look at http://www.ahadesign.co.uk/blog.

The European Youth Award is part of the World Summit Award competitions. The EYA Festival was made possible by contributions of sponsors. The winning teams were sponsored by companies, which could also mentor a winning team. After the gala the preparations of EYA 2015 have immediately been started up by the organising bureau ICNM in Salzburg. So sponsorships and mentorships are available NOW.

If you cannot wait till next year you might take advantage of another opportunity at the World Summit Youth Award festival to be held in Sao Paolo in April 2015. Sponsorships are welcomed and for 1000 euro your company can be involved in mentoring a winning team and in the festival.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

BPN 1695: Internet of NEEDS

Last week I attended the European Youth Award Festival in Graz (Austria). Three intense days with a group of creative, ambitious and inspiring young men and women. Although the city of Graz looks like a conventional Austrian city, it offers room for inspiration as a UN city of design.

And it did happened again. One term hit me straight between the eyes and kept intriguing me from the beginning: the internet of needs. Wow, a real good theme for a conference. But what does it cover? It kept me busy, just like terms like Internet 2.0 (with a capital) and internet of things. So I went back into the historic terminology.
 

Internet
Internet was used as term first in 1974 by Vincent Cerf and Bob Kahn in document describing the transmission protocol TCP/IP. The protocol was rather revolutionary as it was not possible at that time to jump from one network to another. You had always to finish a session and start a new session for reaching a computer on another network. So internet was basically a technical term to describe the overarching network of networks.

Internet of documents
This technology got a real boost when the Brit Tim Berners Lee developed the internet of documents. Originally he designed a system to make internal documents accessible of the research institute CERN in Geneva, where he worked. Internally CERN used Standard Generalised Mark-up Language (SGML) for coding documents. Together with his Dutch colleague Eric van Herwijnen he designed a subset of SGML, for the coding of internetpages, better known as HyperText Mark-up Language (HTML). By combining HTML with the HyperText Transfer Protocol (http) it was possible to communicate between different web machines. From 1991 CERN worked on a system to make external documents accessible worldwide. On April 30, 1993 CERN released the software for external use. The World Wide Web was born. At first text documents were exchanged, between various servers. Graphic files, audio files and video files (in that order) followed.

The term World Wide Web eventually disappeared to the background, while the term Internet (with a capital as usually happens with new phenomena) remained en vogue. The term was followed by Internet 2.0. This conference term basically indicated a complex of software for internet. The term Internet 3.0 did not really fly as it did not have a real objective.

 Internet of Things
In the meantime the term Internet of things started to appear from 1999 onwards. Kevin Ashton, head of the MIT Auto-ID Center coined the term with the vision that all objects, including people would be provided with identifiers and could be managed with computers by exchange of data. In the present wired world IP addresses can be given to all things and even to people. The development of the internet of things is technically inspired with an objective to develop smart things such as smart cars, smart homes, smart health, smart economy and smart energy.

Internet of NEEDS
I heard the term the internet of needs last week for the first time. It was used as opposing to the internet of documents and the internet of things. While the internet of documents is traffic in one direction from sender to receiver and the internet of things will only refine this traffic in a smart way, the internet of needs was described as two-way traffic. Besides the internet of needs deals with the needs of users and uses software to cater for connecting people. With social media and mobile apps this aspect can be demonstrated.  Facebook and LinkedIn are examples of the social media. But from the group of social entrepreneurs we see interesting apps coming. The European Youth Award was a shining example of internet of needs with application in the categories Healthy Life, Connecting cultures, Go Green, Active Citizenship and Future Living. But also Vodafone Mobiles for Good challenge is a nice example, for exmple with its Into D'mentia app.