Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

We take you to a global stage in Brazil  – 10 more days to submit your social project
World Summit Youth Award
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Need promotion for you social initiative? –Winning the Youth Award will help! Don’t miss the chance to apply!
WSYA winners have the unique opportunity to be part of an international high-energy networking event. This year the winners’ celebration will take place in Brazil, Sao Paulo, Nov 28th – Dec 1st.
Meet and discuss with young social activists from all over the world about what happens after the UN MDGs. How will they work post 2015?

To submit a project go to

Sunday, July 06, 2014

BPN 1683: The Finnish Prime Minister is wrong

Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb accused Apple's late founder Steve Jobs of crushing his Nordic country's job market by selling innovations that caught Finland's companies off guard. "We had two pillars we stood on: one was the IT industry, the other one was the paper industry," Stubb told Swedish financial newspaper Dagens Industri.

However, the Finnish Prime Minister is crying over spilled milk. There was nothing wrong with the innovations of the Finnish and in particular Nokia. The company had the brick, the Communicator phone and mobile internet since 1997. And in 2000 Nokia had a prototype of a tablet in its US laboratory (Which company did not have a prototype? HP was working on its PC/hybrid turnstile screen).

Problem with the Nordic countries and particularly Finland was that despite the famous glass and clothes design, the IT companies did not have the design ability, which Apple celebrated as part of its company policy. Nokia was technically well advanced with its Communicator and shelved in 2000 the beta-development of the tablet for another five years due to the economic downturn.

My observation
In 1999 I was in Finland at the first Scholars’ Network Conference in Tampere, hosted by the Hypermedialaboratory of Tampere University in Tampere, the home of my friends Jarmo, Cai and Sohvi. As I had been studying the second wave of electronic books with Rocket Books, I presented an overview to the audience of the history and the near future.

I divided the history in two waves. Sony hijacked the term Electronic Book in 1990 and introduced a adapted discman plus a minidisk. The first device weighted 450 grams, had a black and white screen, but it rendered text, drawings and photographs as well as music. E-Books were produced for it and in fact the American novel Sliver was first published on e-Book and later in print. The device was introduced in The Netherlands in 1993 and a consortium of publishers and producers bundled reference works like a dictionary and hotel guide. The e-book adventure of Sony did not catch on. In my opinion for the singular function of reading books (no games, no diary), only the electronic cover was too expensive.

The second wave came in 1997 when internet was there as a distribution mechanism for e-books to be downloaded on a small tablet. Again, it was experienced as an exciting proposition for distributing and storing a number of book. But in my opinion it failed again by the louzy design, black/white screen and the single functionality. So in 1999 I projected that smart phones and smart tablets would meet e-book functionality. There were not too many smart phones around at that time, while tablets were just around the corner.

Invitation by Nokia
After the presentation a manager of the Nokia Venture Company came up to me and invited me to Helsinki to speak to the people of Nokia Research and Business Development. They wanted to discover the world of e-books, the production and the copyright issues.

By April 2000 we had set a date and I travelled to Helsinki. I was told that I was going to be picked up by cab and that I would travel with a Nokia researcher in the States. So at 8.30h we were ready and waiting for the cab. In the meantime we had gotten into a discussion on e-book, smartphones and tablets. So in the cab he opened his attaché case and took a demonstration tablet out. It was clear to me that this tablet was for games and e-books. Later on it appeared that the tablet should not have been shown to me. But I had had a peep into the future of Nokia; little did I know that the tablet would be on the market some 4 or 5 years later.

It was not innovation, but design
Looking at the statement of the Finnish Prime Minister, I conclude that Nokia missed the design ability of Apple and not the innovation capability. If Nokia had been able to apply more design to the Communicator, they would have been a competitor or Apple. Nokia launched some designs of future Communicators, but did not carry out further laboratory work. And Nokia stopped developing the tablet due to the economic downturn. These days we know that during low economic tides innovative development should not get shelved, but should get priority in laboratories.  

I also conclude that the Nordic countries did not take the threat of e-book serious enough and thought that dead trees would be the basic material for newspapers, magazines and books for centuries to come. At a meeting in Stockholm in 2000 on e-books, many directors of the pulp industry were present. My advice to them was to invest in e-readers and e-books like their American colleague pulp company Mead Corp had done in the seventies with Mead Data Central, the originator of the Lexis-Nexis online information service, now a Reed-Elsevier company. The Nordic directors did not. So, the North American companies like Amazon and Kobe are now dominating the e-reader and e-book market.

Despite the misinterpretation of corporate history, the Finnish Prime Minister is looking at the bright side of the Nordic development. The Nordic pulp industry is now at least investing in bio-technology, bringing in its pulp knowledge. And the Finnish IT industry is putting money on the game industry with companies as Rovio with Angry Birds and many app developers.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Trending Finnish companies on Startup100

Trending companies on Startup100

Startup100 is a monthly chart of the Hottest Startups from Finland. Our proprietary ranking system tracks over 700 startups, and lists them based on the companies' online marketing activities and performance.

Want to see the movers and shakers? Go to


Thursday, June 26, 2014

BPN 1682: Dutch heritage law in the making

France has since the beginning of this year a heritage bill, which looks to protect mainly monuments. The Dutch ministry of Education, Culture and Science is preparing a heritage bill, which will offer a integral protection of the cultural heritage. The ministry has opened an internet site for institures, organisations and private people to comment on the proposed bill till July 14, 2014.

This bill brings together existing bills and regulations for the con- and preservation and management of cultural heritage in the Netherlands. This is an integral protection of our cultural heritage as possible. The new bill on cultural heritage in the Netherlands includes the Bill on Cultural Heritage Preservation and parts of the Monuments bill. In the Heritage bill the Dutch government imposes clearly how heritage is handled, who has what responsibilities and thereby how supervision is managed. Thus the government underlines the considerable social importance of a careful treatment of the different types of heritage in the country and its handling by the bill. The bill will also keep open the possibility of new heritage areas such as mobile heritage and digital heritage. The bill on Heritage is foreseen to come into effect in 2016.

Target groups affected by the new bill
Owners and users of cultural and heritage assets, (national) museums, managers of the national collection, archaeologists, staff, members and directors in the heritage sector, municipalities, provinces.

The Heritage bill aims at the following specific effects
• Decisions about alienating and cultural (sub) collections owned by the Central Government or municipal or provincial governments are bound to an independent expert opinion;
• Caring for the national collection anchored in the bill;
• Arranging the financing of museums for the management of the national collections in a structured manner;
• Require the Minister of Education to accept responsibility if the owner is no longer able to manage themselves cultural (sub) collections of high quality for the national collection;
• Expand opportunities to preserve cultural property protected for Netherlands by museums and individuals in case a protected cultural property in danger of disappearing or being sold abroad;
• Making the archaeological quality effective by introducing a system of statutory certification of archaeological excavation;
• The disruption of valuable shipwrecks better prevention by modifying the definitions of "archaeological heritage" and "digs";
• Treating equally the supervision of any person, who has taken responsibility for national museum collections or collections, where the government has taken responsibility for.

The Heritage bill will not only deal with monuments and archaeological artefacts, but is also open for new heritage areas such as mobile heritage and digital heritage. This reach into new heritage areas is interesting as for example digital heritage is presently not a protected part of a museum collection. Only the Amsterdam museum has the archive of the Digital City, the first public internet service, started in 1994. For the rest two foundations are dealing with computer heritage and telecom heritage. So far they have either restricted collections or inventories of devices by organisations or private collectors. So far these foundations have not dealt with cultural aspects. In fact, there is already a gap in digital heritage from 1980 till 1994. Only a few photographs and printed directories are left of the first public online service Viditel; there is no system left to simulate ‘sites’ in the videotex presentation protocol nor have laser discs, CD-ROMs and CD-I’s been collected or the first interactive novel of 1994 been preserved.

Presentations (in Dutch)

Monday, June 23, 2014

BPN 1681: “My Data belongs to Me”

It is more than 10 years ago that the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was held in Geneva (Switzerland). On June 10-13 the WSIS returned to Geneva as the ITU WSIS+10 Review High Level Event. The World Summit Award (WSA) has been part of WSIS and its goals since its first conference. Now at this time of WSIS+10 review and the UN agenda, it seems prudent to take a clear stand and start an initiative of great merit which also signals that WSA and its network has grown into more and addresses issues beyond e- and m-content excellence and the sustainable developement of content industry. In other words, WSA is going into a higher gear, moving from a Human Rights and Citizenship based approach to Personal Data and the Virtualisation Society.

Below you will find the text of the submitted document by Peter Bruck, the chairman of the Board of theWorld Summit Award.

 “My Data belongs to Me”

Given the explosion of data and the staggering amount of misuse, one must conclude that data protection is not enough. We need to switch paradigms. The issue is not protection, but rights, not safeguarding, but property ownership.

Today we live in societies with data everywhere, globally accessible, combined and analysed in entirely new ways. From the biggest metropolitan areas to the smallest villages, we are entering a new age.

The trend is clear. We are going to always be online, the things with which we work and live are going to always be connected and everything including nature will be continuously ICT assisted and monitored. Consequently, data is pervasively generated, collected and stored. Already now and more so in the future, data is being generated and stored automatically. It is part of the many applications of ICTs which facilitate our activities from the hospital visits to online shopping, from family chats to professional business exchanges, from TV viewing to birthday celebrations, from driving cars to jogging for fitness.

ICT systems and technologies create a virtual skin for us, a “data skin”. This skin will increasingly represent our total being. Outside of or disconnected from the data skin, a person ceases to exist at both the social and economic level. Without the data skin, we will not get credit at the bank, be able to book a holiday, cross borders or be admitted to an emergency ward.

Data is our virtual face and our factual administrative being. Through data, we find friends and mates, interact with authorities and institutions, do business, engage in politics or entertain ourselves.

Yet this skin does not belong to us, nor is it defined by us. Rather, the data skin belongs to those who operate the systems, who provide applications, who control the technologies, who trace what we do. The data of our phone calls belongs to telecom firms, the data of our social media chats to Facebook or Google, the data of our medical records to health insurance companies, the data of our vacation bookings to the hospitality portal operators. These players monetize our data and turn it into the biggest source of revenue and fastest growing profits of the future. They mine the data, analyse it, and model our behaviour. They shape our data skin.

The hype about big data is justified. The analytical exploitation of the global data deluge is driving new businesses and offers hitherto unknown commercial and political opportunities.

Edward Snowdon has shown us the astounding depth and shocking breadth of data collection by a national security agency and the recent US$ 19 billion purchase of the 150 employee text chat company WhatsApp by Facebook puts a clear price tag on the value of data. One might note that WhatsApp has achieved this company price tag without having any revenues from its users. WhatsApp does not need to collect money from its users. It garnered US$ 19 billion by gathering our data. Data delivers direct cash value.
With such big money at stake, data protection does not suffice. It is the wrong approach. It is too weak a concept to withstand the combined onslaught of technology and profit motives. We need to move to a much stronger concept, one that has cornerstone character and a foundational impact for open and democratic market societies. There is only one such concept: namely, ownership.

Considering the intensifying trends, data protection and privacy have to be replaced by property ownership as the basis and principle of order for all data which refer to an individual person.

 Since the English revolution in the 17th century, this approach became anchored in all democratic constitutions. The right to property ownership created the foundation for all modern societies and states through the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, article 17.

When the Internet was developed in the 1970s, few people considered the issue of who would own the data packets transmitted and switched through interoperable networks. Data and wire were thought of as legally one. As the internet grew and was adopted outside its original national defence context (ARPA) by academics, the basic philosophy regarding data was still naïve and even anarchistic. The founders sought to develop open and interoperable networks to unlock closed vendor based and proprietary technologies generating monopolies. They based their work largely on the basic idea of a commons. Data was thought to belong to no one or collectively to all. The right to use data was limited to those from whom it originated or to whom it was addressed.

On top of this, the philosophy and approach of data protection was developed. It is now enshrined in most developed countries by laws and acts of parliament and relates to issues of privacy or misuse. Special agencies enforce data protection, ombudspersons guard it.

This approach seemed reasonable and worked as long as data was relatively scarce, locked into distinctly separate systems and used for limited purposes. This is no longer the case.

The facts of technology today, of Big Data and a globally connected society, have annihilated the basic assumptions of the data protection paradigm. Today and in the future, data needs to be secured by property rights. This axiom provides that the person from whose behaviour the data originates is also and remains the owner. As an owner, the person has the power and right to decide on the data, including the right to alter, share, exchange, sell, give away or destroy it. More importantly, he or she has the right to exclude others from doing these things.

This regime would put the citizen as a person with rights back into the basic equation of globally operating social media platforms, voracious data collecting governments and all commercial exploitation. It would require these players to obtain explicit permission to use data referring to a person. They would need to be transparent about all usage and limited in the extent of usage.

If we as citizens are to be the owners, we must not only remain the subjects of data, but also the sovereign owners. We need to regain the rights set out by the Universal Declaration 65 years ago. We need to stop these rights from slipping away from us due to the virtualisation drive of ICTs in our societies.

The motto of today needs to be “My Data belongs to Me”.

About the author

Peter A. Bruck is the CEO and Chief Researcher of Research Studios Austria Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, the honorary President of the International Center for New Media and the Chairman of the Board of the World Summit Award on e-Content and creativity, the global best practice initiative in more than 170 UN member states as part of the United Nations Action on World Summit on Information Society (2003-2015).

URL: | |
Contact: bruck [a]
Tel: +43 662 834 602 | Fax: +43 662 834 602 222

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

BPN 1680: Disruption – so what is next?

Over the last decade we have seen that the internet, smartphones and tablets – as well as, for example, solar panels – have been very disruptive innovations. They have wiped out businesses and have created havoc in many industry sectors, such as retail, publishing, entertainment, telecommunications, music, photography and more.

So what is next? Emerging technologies such as wristband trackers, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Google Glass and smartwatches are certainly next on the list. The whole development of wearables is going to be very disruptive. A key sector that will be hit with this is healthcare. That sector has been far too slow to adjust to the situation where their customers (patients) at home have been excluded from most of the technological innovations. With increased health awareness, increasing costs and higher lifestyle expectations, the next wave of innovations in this sector will come from end-user services; and wearables are going to empower customers to take a far more leading role in healthcare activities.

As has become clear from the current changes in the market the new emerging technologies will continue to take on the role of game-changers, especially for companies who are looking to make meaningful and valuable connections with their customers. The importance of this is that companies who have already made the cultural change, and with the assistance of ICT tools have placed the customer at the centre of their business model, will be able to embrace these innovations. However many companies – and even whole sectors – are not yet in a position to benefit from these innovations, and before they can do so they will have to undergo a painful and costly business transformation. Those who fail to do so will end up – as has happened over the last few years in relation to the internet and smartphone innovations – as road-kill on the digital superhighway.

Organisations will have to reinvent themselves and change their business models in order to remain relevant to their customers.

While all of the technological elements are critical in these disruptive developments even more important – or at least equally so – is affordability. The fact that within years these technologies reached mass markets indicates that customers can afford them; large-scale uptakes of previous innovations (radio, TV, telephone, cars, home electronics) often took many decades.

What makes these technologies so disruptive is that they can remove much as 80% of the costs from the old ‘analogue’ business models. This is very worrying for the developed economies, where for several years in a row many industry sectors have experienced a decrease in productivity. According to a report from the Productivity Commission, in Australia seven of the twelve key industry sectors show negative productivity. Unless these sectors transform themselves they will only slide further back. At the same time we see large productivity increases in developing economies. Here innovations can be developed from a greenfield position (no legacy), and in these cases innovations only add 10% to costs in their business models. In developed ‘brownfield’ economies retrofitting innovations (that is, transformation from existing models) costs at least ten times more.

This cost factor is a significant contributor to the delays in organisations transforming themselves. They face a significant upfront investment in order to make themselves smarter.

However, once implemented these innovations provide organisations with enormous efficiencies and real time data. This then assists them to speed up decision-making processes, while at the same time liberating consumers, providing great services and experiences, and tailoring communication to a location and a moment.

Paul Budde - See more at: