Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Movie vending machine

Prague is a city with a long and fine history in movie and theatre, which is embodied in the Laterna magika tradition. During the INYOP workshop on interactive movies in Prague in July 2004 we had a very special evening program about the performance Kinoautomat (movie vending machine), probably the first interactive performance in the world. It was a walk down memory lane, helped by one of the camera men and the daughter of the director Radúz Çinçera.

Daughter and cameraman Posted by Hello

I found this summary of Kinoautomat on Internet:
At the Expo of 1967 in Montréal, Radúz Çinçera presented for the first time to a larger audience the «Kinoautomat» he developed together with the directors Jan Rohac and Vladimir Svitacek, scenographer Josef Svoboda, and Jaroslav Fric and Bohumil Mika. It involved the world’s first interactive movie theater. In the movie theater’s seating, viewers found two buttons necessary for making selections; they were confronted with a film whose action could always be stopped. At one point, two principal actors from the screened film appeared onstage and asked the audience how they thought the scene should be continued. The viewers decided; afterwards, the adequate film version, arrived at by public vote, was then screened. The film«One Man and his Jury» told the story of an «average apartment house,» with turbulent goings-on between tenants. In one scene, a young woman slams her door shut after checking to see who rang her doorbell. Since she was in the shower, nothing covers her body except a towel. In her panic she rings her neighbor’s door and asks for help. Here the film is stopped. The audience is asked whether the neighbor should let her in or not. In almost every case the majority of the viewers answered yes. Only once, at the Expo, did the viewers vote no—when the audience involved a large group of nuns.

Scene from Kinoautomat Posted by Hello

«The branching structure wasn't tree-like, doubling the number of scenes needed at each choice, but rather always remained only two. They did this by carefully crafting a story such that no matter which of the two options were chosen, it would end up back at the same next choice. The vote was executed by the projectionist switching one lens cap between the two synchronized projectors. The artfulness, ultimately, was not in the interaction but in the illusion of interaction. The film's director, Raduz Cincera, made it as a satire of democracy, where everyone votes but it doesn't make any difference.» (Quote from: Michael Naimark, Interactive Art - Maybe It's a Bad Idea, 1997).

Cameraman Posted by Hello

Monday, May 30, 2005

120 goats

It is unbelievable. The French said NON to the constitution. Terrably shocked am I. This is really bad news. For The Netherlands it is even more bad news. Why would you go voting on Wednesday. If one country disagrees, in principle the whole process should stop. And with a 54 per cent NON vote from a country like France! A survey for Dutch public televison tonight shows that relatively more Dutch people will vote NEE (NO). At least 48 per cent of the population will go and vote. Of them 59 per cent will vote NO and 41 per cent will vote YES.

Today I am working on the administration of projects. In the past year I was involved in the EU project ACTeN, X-Melina and INYOP. Now, I finishing up the last project, writing up reports and producing cost statements. ACTeN has been a big project with 11 partners, of 2 years running time and with a budget of 1 million euro. The final report can be read on the ACTeN site. X-Melina has been a project for broadcasters looking at multimedia. Cross-media was the theme. The project consisted of an e-learning course, a workshop and a project proposal. The workshops were very intensive, but yielded a great burst of ideas.

Business Round Table and workshop in Prague Posted by Hello

INYOP was a cross media workshop for moviemakers. (The site http://www.inyop.org/ has been removed). One of the pillars was digital story telling. Besides a workshop in Prague, the participants went to an old town and produced an interactive movie.

The INYOP workshop has gotten a sequel in the meantime. You would not seek it behind a URL as Goatmilk Festival. But in this festival non-linear storytelling is the subject. My friend Paul van Zoggel, a young Dutch man, produced a non-linear story about the Romanian village of Belarechka. I really like it. You can start with the village facts:
- The village is located at a height of 500 meters
- There are 64 houses
- with 92 people
- of whom 35 people died in the last four years.
- There are two young families
- 120 goats
- 5 cows.
Can you imagine these cool facts, while you are living in a metropole like London, New York or New Orleans or just in Utrecht with 250.000 inhabitants. It is a nice production giving you an insight in rural life in Romenia. It is great to hear the man with the flying dream and to listen to the songs of the village.
It is clear that non-linear storytelling is virgin area to be explored. We are only at the beginning now of developing storylines, but also of developing software.
BTW the software used by Paul has a funny name: Korsakow. To me this name is related to dementia. Given my age I can joke that I forgot my password: 'last time it was Korsakow or was it Dementia?'

Prague is a beautiful old city. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 29, 2005

YES, OUI, JA for Europe

In Europe we are quite involved in the political process of becoming a European Union, complete with a constitution. What ever started after the Second World War as an economic union for Steel and Coal grew into a European Economic Community (EEC) and eventually into a European Union. Now this Union has grown from 15 member states to 25. With this extension also the rules and measures will have to be changed. For example, the European parliament will be playing a larger role in the decision process. So now the countries have produced a sort of a constitution, or better an updated collection of agreement clauses, for the European Union, on which the member states have to vote. Some of the European countries ask only the parliament to ratify this agreement (Austria, Belgium, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Greece, Germany and Spain. Together theses countries represent 49 per cent of the inhabitants of the European Union. Other countries consult the population by way of plebiscite; this is not a decisive vote, but just an advice to the government and parliament. Today there will be a plebiscite in France. It is going to be very interesting to see how many people will vote OUI or NON. A negative vote will have an effect on The Netherlands, where Wednesday a plebiscite will be held. Everyone is asking each other: what will you vote? JA (YES) or NEE (NO). Well I am clear about it. I am going to vote YES.

Posted by Hello

There are many reasons not to vote in favour of the agreement to a constitution. First of all it is not a proper constitution, but a composition of earlier agreemenst. There are also many other arguments. In the Netherlands there are groups that like to use their vote against the present government. And if I had no other arguments I might have used my vote that way.
The negative trend in The Netherlands can rather be explained by bad gut feelings. The change from the Dutch guilder as valuta to euro was not done on the right exchange value. Besides, The Netherlands has been contributing most per inhabitant to the European Union over the past years.
But in my opinion all these negative reasons represent the disinterest in the European Union in the past years. Besides the inclusion of another 10 member states with some aspiring countries in the waiting room has gone too fast and has not properly been propagated. For many Dutch people the joining of Turkey would be unacceptable, as they still think of Europe as a cultural area with a Christian origin.
My best personal argument for voting against the agreement for a EU constitution would be that I still get money from the European Commission. Not just a fee for a few days' work, but a lot of money, given my humble consultancy. Last year September our company concluded an EC sponsored project with flying colours and would get our final payment. By Christmas we heard that all the papers were ready and okayed. But we still have not received a penny of the final payment. And this while the European Commission says in every document that Small and Middle seized Enterprises with 10 to 500 employees are very important to the economic growth of the Union. The bureaucratic actions of the EU are often contradictory to their words.

So why do I vote YES. I have been working with the European Commission since 1983. I got involved in a newsletter project, DOCDEL 26. After that I have regularly worked for the Commision in many roles and as a company we have also been involved in EU sponsored projects (INFORM, ACTeN, X-Melina, INYOP).
Of course it easy to say, that this is business. But it more. Over the years I have built up a network throughout Europe, from Italy to Finland, from Romenia to Ireland, from Iceland to Greece. This network has delievered me contacts, business and inspiration. In fact in more than 28 European countries I have contacts. And some of those contacts have become dear friends.
To me, the main argument turns around creating a cultural, economic and research space with a common policy, which can compete with the States and with China. A visit to China makes clear that Europe should be prepared to be swamped with T-shirts now, with chips tomorrow; and tomorrow is closer by than many Europeans think. The Chinese statistics are scaring. More than 50 per cent of the population is between 18 and 35. And only 0,6 per cent of the 1,2 billion Chinese inhabitants are older than 60; compare that to Europe, where the grey wave of 60+, inclusive of myself, is rolling over The Netherlands and Germany.
So for me, arguments like a better campaign against terrorism are weak arguments; in fact they just play on fear. Those campaigns will be put together all the same, regardless of a constitution. We should strive after a smart European Union for the benefit of all member states.

So I hope my charming French friend Eve will vote OUI today, while I will vote JA on Wednesday, before I leave for Vienna.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Dutch snippets of the week

Dutch flag Posted by Hello

WEBtelevison by students

Students in the North of The Netherlands start a webtelevision with the assistance of the university. The new students’ television channel will be named I-see WebTV. The target group is the 40.000 students in the city. The television channel is an initiative of the Groningen Internet Change (GN-I).

Dutch Wikipedia collaborates with Knowledge Net

Knowledge Net, the school net for the Dutch primary and high schools has closed an agreement with the Dutch Wikipedia organisation. As the encyclopaedic site is being used more and more by educators and students, it was decided to work together in writing articles for Wikipedia and checking the details. The Dutch Wikipedia went online in 2001 and consists of more than 70.000 articles. The amount of articles doubles every half year.

E-mail on its way out for youngsters

E-mail is not fashionable anymore among youngsters. MSN is for teenagers, while students use still e-mail; but it is on its way out. That is the conclusion of a survey done by the university college inHolland students. In total 1.300 youngsters partook in the survey. The students observed a generation gap between themselves and youngster up to 14 years. MSN was used by this group more than e-mail. Boys are texting more than girls, who like to talk. Dutch students use internet one to three hours a day, while international students are more than three hours on the web. UMTS is not yet hot: 16 per cent of the international students use it, while only 5 per cent of the Dutch students use it. Also of the international students 32 per cent think that they do not need one, while 75 per cent of the Dutch students think that they can do without.

Dutch seniorweb grows fast

Dutch seniorweb is growing fast. The membership went up from 24.000 to 38.000 members in 2004. The number of requests for PC help rose from 30.000 to 35.000 requests and the PCHelp brigade made 17.000 house calls, which is 2.000 more than last year. Seniorweb concludes from the last statistic that this means that new members have more computerexperience. Website traffic went up from 450.000 page views to 600.000. Half a year after its start, the senior dating club has 5.600 participants, which sent 40.000 e-mails in half a year. According to Seniorweb more than 70 per cent has broadband; the 65+ years old people 30 per cent is online weekly.

Tom Tom goes IPO

The car navigation software company Tom Tom has gone to the stock exchange. It was the first technology company that went IPO since World Online in March 2000. The shares were introduced for 17,50 euro. The first day closed with the stock quote of 18,38 euro. The company is valued at 1.85 billion euro. Almost 27 million shares were placed.

Examination radio

Examination time is there is in The Netherlands. This means that the call centre for students’ complaints is working overtime again. But this year there will also be the Examination internet radio. The radio makes use of podcasting. Students can hear the answers plus explanations for their subjects. But also audio diaries are published as well as web logs.

Friday, May 27, 2005

At last a multi-functional tablet from Nokia

Nokia launched the Nokia 770 tablet last Wednesday. At last it has come out with a tablet. For more than 5 years the tablet got stuck in the US laboratory. The Fins had already a tablet in 2000.

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 Rockets Books, I presented an overview to the audience of the history and the near future.

Sony e-Book Posted by Hello

The history, I divided 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), the electronic cover was too expensive.

Rocket e-book Posted by Hello

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 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 tablet were just around the corner.

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.

Nokia tablet Posted by Hello

The games edition of the tablet has now been presented as Nokia 7700. The new Nokia 770 can be used as tablet for pdf e-books. The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet is easy to describe. It's a pocket computer with a huge (800 by 480 pixels) touch-sensitive LCD, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and Linux. The 770 has no hard drive. The 770 displays PDF and Flash files directly. It looks smart, but for the time being there is a problem: there is no telephone yet. By the beginning of next year, the telephone should be in it. By autumn the tablet without telephone will be available for 350 euro. I will be the first one in line, if I have money.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Changing landscapes

These days everything is changing. In the past days press releases were distributed about the changing landscapes of telecommunication companies and internet providers.
Telecom companies
In a detailed and wide-ranging report The European Telecom Review by Atos Origin, it is predicted that within five years, the European telecommunications landscape will have radically changed. The concept of a fixed connection for consumer voice will have eroded and enterprises will be buying hosted telecommunications services

Report The European Telecom Review
Posted by Hello
According to the report, telecommunications operators are engaged in a battle for enterprise value added services and customer attention. The convergence of fixed and mobile infrastructure and telecommunications and information technology is enabling operators to sell bundled services to consumers, including voice, TV, Internet, and mobile services. In addition, operators are forced to move up the value chain, caused by decreasing margins on basic network services.
The report highlights a number of key current trends, including: the relentless move to IP-based products and services by enterprises; growth of broadband access and increasing bandwidth; and the growth in wireless communications networks.
The report has a horizon of five years, which is sensible. The research is based on interviews with Chief Information Officers and Chief Technology Officers of major European telecommunication organizations including BT, Cable & Wireless, Cegetel SAS, Grupo Auna, France Telecom, KPN, O2, Swisscom Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefonica SA, Versatel and Vodafone. This looks like the people to ask. But whether this is the smartest group to ask, is another question. I do not doubt their intelligence, but I wonder about their scope. Did they have this five year vision, when internet came about? Now, triple play is the buzzword. In two years it will be part and parcel of the telco’s offer and the buzz word will be gone.

Posted by Hello
Internet providers
Another claim was made by Tiscali this morning. The internet provider claims to step right up in the ranks of the internet providers with a new package, named Tiscali Plus, for a personal, carefree online environment. The package bundles a popular internet services, which are accessible from one personal online desktop. It is like a control panel with icons and navigation options. Through your own safe Tiscali Plus website, inclusive of spam and virus protection, users can get on the internet easily and start e-mailing, maintain diaries, save photographs and websites.
The package contains: 1GB disk space, powerful e-mail service, one time log-in, synchronisation of PDAs, calendar and Outlook, building of websites and storing photographs as well as the Tiscali Communicator, SMS and fax.
It sounds impressive, just the 1GB (although…). In fact the package is said to be a primer in European internet providing. In the Netherlands this type of package has been offered to business people by the business magazine Quote. It was not a success. Now Tiscali in the Netherlands is offering a similar package to consumers. I wonder whether they will buy it. They are probably as stubborn as I am and work with all the separate packages. Why pay an extra 4 euro a month. The jury is out, but will return a verdict.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Dutch entertelco, that never came about

While writing the blog about Berlusconi’s interest in Endemol yesterday, I was reminded of a story of Endemol before it was acquired by Telefonica.

Endemol was acquired by Telefonica in 2000 for 5,5 billion euro in shares. That was a lot of money. But it was the hayday season of Internet and the acquisition fitted right into convergence trend of internet and entertainment as well as mobile phone and entertainment. Internet providers were hot and needed entertainment content badly. 3G or UMTS had not arrived yet, but the promise was there: playing games on internet at home and your mobile, when on the move and watching tv and movies on your mobile phone.

So the merger of AOL and Time Warner was an example for Telefonica. Also Bertelsmann was looking into that direction of converging its music, publishing and radio/television business, but the family decided differently and they never got to the convergence state. But in Europe Telefonica took the step of becoming the first telecom company with an entertainment division, an entertelco.

But the acquisition by Telefonica was the end of a hectic period for Joop van de Ende and John de Mol, owners of Endemol. If Telefonica had not offered so much money, the Dutch entertainment company had almost become part of a Dutch entertelco. Endemol was suited by telecom companies, internet providers and multimedia/internet production companies. KPN walked into the door as World Online just made its exit. World Online having just picked up a lot of money from its IPO in March 2000 was very, very eager to get its hands on Endemol. And several configurations were thought up at that time:
1. KPN, Endemol, NOB Interactive;
2. World Online and Endemol;
3. KPN, World Online, Endemol and NOB Interactive.

While this clog dance was going on, Endemol was being teased by Villanova, the CEO of Telefonica and a great believer in the entertelco construction. He offered money, distribution networks, and the whole world as the market place. So it is not strange that Endemol chose Telefonica in the end.

While Telefonica was not the best choice, when you look back over the past five years, it was undoubtedly better that a merger with any of the Dutch companies. KPN had to retreat from the flight forward to Eastern Europe and limit its playing field to Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. World Online went badly wrong on the stock exchange and had to sell out to Tiscali. And NOB Interactive was trimmed mean and lean and sold in parts. That was the end of the Dutch entertelco dream.

(Today it was announced that John de Mol and employees of his company have been extoted and threatened with the death. A demand of 4 million euro was made. The extortionist, who has a criminal record, had been arrested in February. )

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Telefonica + Endemol: the failure of an entertelco

When I am at home, I like to start my day by browsing the news sites. You see the local news, but also the international news; you see general, nice to know news and specific trade news, which sometimes hits you between the eyes. So this morning: BERLUSCONI WANTS ENDEMOL.

Posted by Hello
The news item said that Mediaset, the media company of the Italian prime minister Berlusconi, likes to acquire Endemol International from Telefonica. Mediaset has confirmed the interest, but has not informed Telefonica yet. But according to the Media spokesperson Fedele Confalonieri the time is not ripe for talking as Telefonica asks 3 billion euro for the company.
Mediaset is a dominant media player in Italy with Canale 5, Italia 1 and Retequattro. It exploits also digital theme channels and websites, while it also owner of the largest publishing company. Mediaset is interested as the company would fit well with its TV fomats such as Big Brother.

WOW. This spells a big content deal. Telefonica bought Endemol for almost 6 billion euro in 2000. But soon Telefonica would find out that Telecom and entertainment are different games. In fact in 2003 Telefonica got more money from fixed lines and mobile phones that from the entertainment company Endemol. The company had been unable to think up new successful formats and the formats it possessed were at the end of their lifetime; so not too much money would be paid for them.

Of course the entertainment business is different from the telco business. While telecom companies like Telefonica need to get their money from fixed lines, ADSL and mobile phone, Endemol needs to get its money from their bestsellers such as Big Brother. Endemol is in the best sellers business, which has to support weak programs with bestsellers. Even with a diversification in other media and so spreading risks, people will buy only best sellers, regardless of the complete offer. So far the regular tick business did not agree with the best-seller’s business.

At the time of the acquisition of Endemol by Telefonica, the convergence model was en vogue. AOL Time Warner had merged. They travelled through the digital conduit and found out that it was very hard to optimise all the digital content they had. And Bertelsmann had at the same time problems with the convergence road. Having a worldwide music company, a worldwide print and publishing company and a European conglomerate of TV and radio stations, the Bertelsmann family sent off the CEO and started to retreat to safe grounds. Looking back the conclusion can be drawn that the convergence model has not worked yet.

But John de Mol, once one of the owners of Endemol, has broken free from his agreement with Telefonica and has started his own entertainment production company anew: Talpa, which is the Spanish word for mole (what a smart , political pun). He is hiring television people left an right for his new television station that will go live in August. He just bought the mostly listened to radio station in The Netherlands 538 FM. And he is talking with the Belgian telco Belgacom and the Dutch telco Versatel of merging into an entertainment telecom company (entertelco), active in The Netherlands and Belgium. Both companies have the soccer league rights in respectively Belgium and The Netherlands and hope to make their breakthrough in triple play.

What the future holds for Endemol is not sure. They serve out their existing formats and badly need new exciting formats in order to the price higher. Telefonica bought Endemol in the midst of the internet hype at too high a price. Then it replaced the board by managers and not by creative managers. So, according to the Berlusconi company, even half the sum is now too much, while a new competitor has been created with the money from the sale to Telefonica. It is like Telefonica and Mediaset will be in a revolving door for a while, while John de Mol and his Talpa Capital group are taking the side door to go straight through.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Incommunicado 05 en WSA in Amsterdam

The press release on the cooperation of the World Summit Award and the Incommunicado conference in Amsterdam will be published today in the news section of the WSA site.

Incommunicado 05 is a two-day working conference to be held in Amsterdam from June 15th till June 17th, 2005, that will attempt to offer a critical survey of the current state of 'info-development', most recently known by its catchy acronym 'ICT4D'. Not too long ago, most computer networks and ICT expertise were located in the North, and info-development seemed to be a rather technical matter of knowledge and technology transfer from North to South. While still popular, the assumption of a 'digital divide' that follows this familiar cartography of development has turned out to be too simple. Instead, a more complex map of actors, networked in a global info-politics, is emerging.

Poster of the Incommunicado conference in Amsterdam Posted by Hello

Incommunicado 05 will open with a public event at the Balie in Amsterdam (Netherlands) on June 15 and will hold its working conference from 16-17 June. Incommunicado 05 is organised by the Institute of Network Cultures (INC) and Waag Society in Amsterdam in association with Sarai in New Delhi (India).

At the two days conference the World Summit Award will be present with its road show of 40 worldwide multimedia best-practices selected for the 2003 UN World Summit on the Information Society. On June 17th, 2005, the nominations of the Dutch pre-selection of the World Summit Award will be announced. These nominations will be sent to the Grand Jury in Bahrain, where the selection of products and services for the 2005 UN World Summit on the Information Society will take place. The final nominations will be presented at the Gala in Tunis on November 16, 2005.

The WSA time schedule is:
1 July: deadline for WSA entries from 168 countries
end of August/beginning of September: Grand Jury in Bahrain
16 November: Gala in Tunis (Tunisia)
From December onwards: road show throughout the world.

The World Summit Award (WSA) is a global initiative, launched in the framework of the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). It seeks to demonstrate the benefits of the Information Society in terms of the new qualities in content and applications, by selecting, presenting and promoting the best-practices from all over the world with a special emphasis on bridging the digital divide.

Nicolas Negroponte of MIT rated the World Summit Award once as “the Nobel Prize of the Web awards”. This is of course a nice one-liner. But it is not completely true, as CD-ROMs and DVDs can be entered in the competition as well. In the list of Dutch candidates for the nominations we have some 8 CD-ROMs and DVDs as well as one PDA product and a UMTS phone.

Preparing the Dutch WSA jury process

I have been busy all weekend making a selection of Dutch multimedia productions for the pre-selection round of the World Summit Award. Eventually the jury has to select 8 products to be entered for the best-practice competition and to be judged by an international group of eminent experts forming the WSA 2005 jury.

In the Netherlands we did not set up a special competition. We have already some 10 national competitions. It is an award for the best web shop. There is a competition for e-Government (it has a large financial award; something I can not comprehend as the web site is already paid with tax money and then awarded another 50.000 euro of tax money). But there is also an award to promote broadband. The Spinawards are there for the interactive advertisers. The EUROPRIX.nl aims at content products and sees many entries in culture and e-learning. But there is no competition which also looks at the social implications of multimedia content. From my experience with three editions of the EUROPRIX.nl, it is clear that we will change the categories next year and move to the WSA categories.

So I have gathered nominated and awarded entries from all the Dutch competitions. Altogether I have some 48 products which have received an award in the past year. From these the jury will have to choose 8 products in the categories:
- e-Culture;
- e-Learning;
- e-Science;
- e-Government;
- e-Health;
- e-Business;
- e-Entertainment;
- e-Inclusion.

Of course you hope to have a winner in one of the categories. But the odds are against winners. Conservatively, I estimate that 1000 products will be entered, while only 40 entries will be awarded. But it can also be 40 against 1300 entries. Yet if a Dutch winner would emerge from this, I would be really proud. Knowing the WSA 2003 award winning entries and comparing the present batch of Dutch entries, some award winners might emerge.

Finding entries for the various categories has proven not to be easy. Of course there is an interpretation problem. How wide do you take culture? What do you consider an e-Science product: a popularisation of a scientific article or a method to present scientific theories? And how elusive is e-Inclusion? I do not envy the Dutch jurors. And the international eminent experts, who will be judging the 1000 or 1300 entries in Bahrain at the end of August and the beginning of September, are not to be envied at all. The weather will be hot, up to 37 degrees Celsius. But what an honour to see so many entries from all over the world and to be surprised by innovative and social productions. Besides they will meet interesting people from all over the world and make friends.

In 2003 I was with the group of eminent experts of the Grand Jury in Dubai (one of the eminent experts Andy Carvin is there right now; hi Andy). There were 803 products to review. And with the carefully developed jury method by the ICNM office in Salzburg, all products received a proper review and were scored. In the end the last cut for the 40 products to be selected gave rise to long debates up to deep in the night. But great debates they were. In one week you learned more than in the rest of the year. Besides the eminent experts became a real network of friend.

The WSA Grand jury 2003 at Dubai during the opening of Knowledge Village Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Golden Palm for European movie

The movie L’Enfant (The child) has been awarded a Golden Palm at the film festival in Cannes (FR). The movie was made by the Belgian brothers Dardenne. The add this award to their palmares as they picked up an award in Cannes in 1999 for their movie Rosetta. The press gave the movie a lukewarm welcome.

Golden Palm movie L'Enfant by the Belgian bros Dardenne. Posted by Hello

The movie industry in Europe is fragmented. Although every country of the 25 EU countries has their own audio visual industry, production facilities and venture capital are fragmented. Due to the strong policy of the European commissioner Viviane Reding European and a support budget for 513 million euro between 2001 and 2006, movies are surfacing and competing with American movies for awards. Of course distribution remains a problem as there is a difference in mentality between Europe and the States, while dubbing and subtitling add costs. Nine out of ten films distributed outside their production country are supported by the EU MEDIA programme.

Yet this year 12 EU supported movies were selected for showing in Cannes. These movies together received support up to a tune of 1,25 million euro. The award winning movie received only 4.009 euro (watch the 9 euro).

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Dutch snippits of the week

Dutch flag Posted by Hello

Dutch tidbits

The Dutch internet company 357hosting is under investigation by the state attorney at the request of the Swiss ministry of justice. The company would facilitate Islamic website and in this way support terrorism.

The Dutch broadcasting production company NOB Cross Media will make use of the private glass fibre ring in Hilversum in order to exchange video- and sound files between broadcast companies and production companies. The speed of the network in the Dutch broadcasting city Hilversum is up to 1 Gigabit per second.
The growth of broadband in The Netherlands is levelling off. Incumbent telco KPN is the fastest grower in ADSL; it has now 1,5 million DSL lines. Casema is the fastest grower in the cable sector; the company has now 248.000 internet subscriptions. Versatel, who wants to be the first integrated triple player, lags behind.
The Dutch telecom watch dog OPTA is starting a survey into the costs of the infrastructure for television cable networks. It has branded the companies UPC, Essent, Casema, Multikabel and Delta NV, which cover the majority of 92 per cent of the cable subscription in The Netherlands, as monopolists.

Dutch habits

The Netherlands belong to the 20 countries with the lowest degree of software piracy in the world. Of all used software 30 per cent is illegal, a slump of 3 per cent since 2003, the Business Software Alliance reports on the basis of an IDC survey in 87 countries.

Three out of ten Dutch employees occasionally installs software from its employer. That is a rise of 22 per cent since 2003.

In the fifth e-mail survey of Dutch municipalities it becomes clear that more than 20 per cent of the municipalities do not react to a simple question sent by e-mail.

Internet has made Dutch cultural heritage more accessible than ever. Yeti t does not have any influence on the number of visitors to museums, monuments and archives. In fact the numbers of visitors has almost stayed stable between 1983 and 2003. Downloadable SCP report.

European news

The European Commission has published the IST Call 5 in the framework of the 6 FP. With an indicative budget of 638 million Euros, this electronic Call for Proposals covers the strategic Objectives listed in the IST 2005-06 Work Programme in the Call 5 section. It comes under the specific programme for research, technological development and demonstration: 'Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area'. Deadline for proposals: 21/09/2005.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Nominations EUROPRIX.nl publicised

Posted by Hello

Today the press release will go out with the nominations of the EUROPRIX.nl 2005. The nominations are more important this year as the nominations are going to be part of the national pre-selection for the World Summit Award. For this competition we will have to select one entry for 8 categories. According to planning this should all be done by next month.

On Tuesday we had in Rotterdam the jury of the EUROPRIX.nl 2005. The task of the jury members was to select the nominations. By the end of the day we had 22 nominations. Some real good ones, I think. Normally we have maximally three nominations per category, but this year we have two categories with four nomination. However the jury argued a lot about the category e-Business and the definition of it: is it marketing, is it business systems; so in the end four nominations were proposed. Also in the student section the jury liked to see the four entries.

The nominations are released to the companies involved and to the trade press. Here they are. The internet sites should be accessible, but might have the handicap for most of you that they are in Dutch; however you might get a feeling of the atmosphere. The CD-ROM and DVD productions are not online. Short extracts for the Award DVD and internet site will be produced by the team of students. These will become available after the public jury on June 16, 2005.

CATEGORY 1: Knowledge, Discovery and Culture
Company : B.O.O.S.
Title : My Pope
URL/CD : http://www.mijnpaus.nl/

Company : Fabrique
Title : Rijksmuseum
URL/CD : http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/collectie/meesterwerken/?lang=en

Company : Foundation Fabchannel
Title : Paradiso Concerts Online
URL/CD : http://www.fabchannel.com/

CATEGORY 2: Learning and e-Education
Company : Maassen Consulting
Title : KENNISSENnet
URL/CD : http://www.kennissennet.nl/

Company : Ra.nj. Digital Entertainment bv
Title : Professionals ll - \'Pool Paradise\'
URL/CD : cd-rom

Company : Teleac/NOT
Title : Schooltv-imagebank for kindergarten children
URL/CD : www.schooltv.nl/beeldbank

CATEGORY 3: Interactive fiction and storytelling
Company : IJsfontein Interactive Media BV
Title : Pluk van de Petteflet
URL/CD : cd-rom

Company : IJsfontein Interactive Media BV
Title : Sketch Studio
URL/CD : www.hetklokhuis.nl/sketchstudio

CATEGORY 4: E-Business
Company : Bookmark (Cadillac)
Title : Cadillac SRX
URL/CD : http://www.cadillac-cts.nl/index.aspx?Cha

Company : KSYOS
Title : KSYOS Client Safe®
URL/CD : http://www.ksyos.nl/

Company : MediaMonks BV
Title : Game Boy Advance SP Tribal edition
URL/CD : cd-rom

Company : Talmon Communicatie
Title : Annual Report WNF 2003/2004
URL/CD : cd-rom

Company : Foundation Face Your World
Title : Face Your World
URL/CD : http://www.faceyourworld.nl/

Company : Bookmark
Title : Kaboem.nl
URL/CD : http://www.kaboem.nl/

Company : Info.nl – villaneuzeroode.nl
Title : www.villaneuzenroode.nl
URL/CD : http://www.villaneuzenroode.nl/

Company : Bookmark
Title : Engin Go! Magazine
URL/CD : http://www.engin.nl/

Company : Kunstgebouw-codex
Title : Codex Kodanski
URL/CD : http://www.codexkodanski.nl/, http://www.mediafabriek.org/

Company: Media Republic
Title : TV2GO, Netherlands first mobile television
URL/CD : http://www.tv2go.nl/

CATEGORY 8: Producers up to 30 years and students
Company : Emiel Haring (HS Rotterdam, afd. GMT)
Title : Flashgame “The Oranges’
URL/CD : http://www.de-oranjes.nl/

Company : Kasper Kamperman (Kunst Techniek Saxion Enschede)
Title : Extract Project
URL/CD : cd-rom

Company : Michiel Waltstra (HKU, fac KMT)
Title : NS Game
URL/CD : http://nsgame.hku.nl

Company : Timo Scheltinga (HKU, fac KMT, abraham)
Title : Abraham Travels
URL/CD : http://abraham.hku.nl/test%20website/website/base_abraham_v2_content.html

BTW If you are in the neighbourhood of Rotterdam on June 16, 2005, join us; you are most cordially invited to attend the public judging; free lunch and drinks. Drop a line to info@cmbo.nl.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The hunk of Leeuwarden

The car ride to Leeuwarden in the North of the Netherlands was under two hours. For Dutch ideas that is a long way and usually you say: It better be good. Yesterday I went with my pal Wim Ouwerkerk to the junior college North Netherlands. We were supposed to give two lectures for the section CMD, Communication & Multimedia Design (you will have to brush up your Dutch). One of the lectures is on the multimedia competitions of the EUROPRIX.nl, EUROPRIX Top Talent Award and the World Summit Award. We have called this lecture the Best of….; we present the history of these competitions and demonstrated several entries. We have several DVDs of the competitions and love to showcase the best entries of students in the various competitions. Also the entries in the World Summit Award get attention, especially as these entries have a social perspective. In the courses this aspect is hardly touched upon. The other lecture is on the employment market situation in the field of multimedia in The Netherland. There are not too many surveys on this subject and the one that are available stem from before the internet disaster in 2001. So in the surveys of 2000 there was an estimate of 4.600 multimedia production companies in the Netherlands, employing some 16.000 people. The conclusion was that ther are a lot of small companies. In fact 70 per cent of the work was done by 25 per cent of the companies. Besides 40 per cent of the companies are established in the Dutch Multimedia Corridor which ranges from Haarlem, Amsterdam, Hilversum and Utrecht.

The map of the Netherlands indicating the spread of the multimedia employees. The dark brown blobs are cities and towns with companies employing more than 19 people. Source: GOC study 2000.Posted by Hello

After the internet blow-out there has not been a proper survey yet. So we do not know how many companies have been left after the blow-out and how many people are employed. Hopefully there will be money soon in order to get sound figures. It would help the sector greatly.

The college started started four years ago with this CMD section. So this year the first students will graduate. In September the first one will get his diploma and after that graduation more students will follow.

During the lunch break Albert van der Kooij, one of the multimedia instructors, demonstrated proudly the studios around the college. Students were hacking away code, editing video, refining soundbytes, producing animations and building up installations. As the school has a rather technical history is was not surprising that find students busy with 3D.

3D engine room.

Enthusiastically the students told about the building of a 3D engine room of a tanker for simulation. The production was almost finished and would go to a school were they train sea captains and other maritime personnel. The engine room will be projected on larger screen in order to reach real sizes. I made a snapshot of the engine room coming from the bridge.

Building the hunk of Leeuwarden. Posted by Hello

The students were also building people. One of them worked on the face of the hunk on the picture. And they produce much more. In fact they also made a rendering of the waterfall by the famous Dutch artist Escher. You can see a small video clip of this curious waterfall.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Jury EUROPRIX.nl 2005

In every year there are a few days, which are very enjoyable. In fact they are more than enjoyable, they are also very interesting. Yesterday was such a day. With five jury members we sat down and fixed the nominees of the EUROPRIX.nl, the Dutch award for content en creativity. It is a day to take stock of the state of art in multimedia in the Netherlands, but it is also a day of arguing with the jury members and convincing one another. This jury is not an online jury, but a jury that meets face to face.

The five jury members plus a secretary to the jury (that is me) were selected in March. Chairman of the jury is Ton Vermeij, who has an advertising bureau Meijson in Amsterdam. We had two ladies. Anneloes Jenneskens of Stap-1 in Amsterdam is an adviser and project manager, while Madelon Evers of Human Shareware in Utrecht is an advisor, but also instructor. Further we had Wim van der Plas, an instructor in Amersfoort and a member of the board of the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts as well as Hennie van Velzen, a innovation consultant for Broadband Netherlands and manager of the demonstration centre Media Plaza in Utrecht.

The jury at work. In front Ton Vermeij, the chairman. Next is Madelon Evers. In the back is Hennie van Velzen with Wim van der Plas hiding behind Hennie. To the right is Anneloes Jenneskens. Posted by Hello

The jury had to struggle through 63 entries. But we had much support from the student of the Junior College Hogeschool Rotterdam. It is a team of four smart people, three guys and a girl. They had taken care that all the entries had been properly installed. They also studied all the entries and wrote up their candidates for nomination and Seal of Quality. The team made the jury very efficient and the jury process very professional.

One of the students presenting the findings on behalf of the student team. Posted by Hello

Not all entries are online products. We had in fact 20 entries on CD-ROM or DVD and five entries on mobiles, be it a smart phone or a PDA. It is funny to see that online start dominating the entries now. Last year the relationship between online and offline was still fifty/fifty. There was also an installation, a production which is not dependable on a screen. Last year we had also an installation as an entry Interactive Projection System by Anya Shapira. This one was nominated in the EUROPRIX.2004, but did not win the category award. When her project was entered into the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award (TTA), a European competition for young talent, she won the category award, which came as a surprise to her. Of course as her sponsors to the TTA we, the organisers of the EUROPRIX.nl 2004, were very proud of her.

What is going to happen next. By the end of the week the list of nominations and the company names will be published in a press release and on this blog, of course. On Thursday June 16th, 2005, we will have a public jury day in Rotterdam. All nominees will come and present their entry in front of the jurors and the audience, consisting of professionals and students. The nominees get 10 minutes for the presentation, followed by the interrogation of the jurors, while the members of the audience can put one or two questions to the nominee. By the end of the day all category winners are made known and the awards are handed out. At the same day every nominee can take one of the desks in the hall next to the auditorium and can show their work. Last year we had about 100 people visiting during the whole day. Having decided about the Seal of Quality, nominees and winners, the organisation team (Wim Ouwerker and myself) together with the student team start writing texts and scripts, editing movies, organising voice-overs for a booklet, a DVD and a web side in two languages, Dutch and English. You can still see the EUROPRIX.nl 2004 Award website of last year. With those tools in our hands we organise a road show throughout The Netherlands with special lectures at junior colleges and master classes by the nominees for the industry. The EUROPRIX is not just about an award: it is a process of evaluation, selection, recognition and dissemination.

It has been an update for me again. This is the state of art in The Netherlands. And without being chauvinistic, I think I can say that we have some nice and even exciting entries.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Europe Day at Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes International Film festival opened on May 11, 2005 with the screening of a European film, “Lemming” by Dominik Mol. Today, the Festival will welcome the third Europe Day the topic of which is "Europe’s cinema and the Information Society". The EU Culture and Audiovisual Ministers will discuss the effects of new means of distribution for audiovisual works, such as film online and video on demand, together with directors, economic operators – producers, channel owners, studio heads - and the new ones –– telecoms businesses.

Film on-line services are becoming a commercial reality in Europe. Seeing a film in a cinema is and will remain an irreplaceable cultural activity and cinemas are making enormous efforts to enhance this "live" experience. Film on-line is an additional way of accessing culture, as television and video were during the last century. What policy should the European Union put in place vis-à-vis this additional market for films on-line? Which good practices have been identified in this field? How can cooperation between the creative industries and the access suppliers be improved? How can on-line films be used as tools for promoting cultural diversity? These are just a few of the questions to which Europe Day 2005 will try to reply.

After the morning discussion between politicians, artists and professionals, the afternoon of Europe Day 2005 will be dedicated to the inaugural meeting of the "Leadership Summit on film on-line". Under the presidency of the European Commissioner Viviane Reding, fifteen CEOs from the worlds of telecommunications, the Internet and audiovisual creation (Jean-Bernard Lévy, CEO Vivendi Universal, Ruud Huisman, CEO Tiscali, Jeff Bewkes, Chairman Entertainment and Networks of Time Warner, Riccardo Perissich, CEO Telecom Italia Media, Didier Bellens, CEO Belgacom, Andy Birchall, CEO On-demand Group, Pascal Rogard, Chairman of SACD, Catherine Colonna, Chairperson of the French CNC, Mark Thompson, Chairman of the BBC, Fred Kogel, CEO of Constantin Film, John Woodward, Chairman of the UK Film Council, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, CEO of the Zentropa studios, Jean-Charles Hourcade, Vice President of Thomson, Raj Raithatha, CEO Versatel Telecom, Nicolas Seydoux, CEO Gaumont) will open a dialogue with a view to reaching agreement at European level on the development conditions needed for film on-line in Europe.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Formula 1 content

This morning I got a message from Bahrain. Presently the Future IT Conference and Exhibition is taking place over there. The Conference has gotten the logo The Global ICT Summit, a logo developed by Elizabeth Quat of the Hong Kong Internet Professionals Association (IPROA). The conferences bearing this logo are associated with the World Summit Award and have as basic theme ICT , content and creativity. The logo was first applied to a conference in Hong Kong in May 2004. So now the logo is used for the conference in Bahrain. It will also be used during the ICT and Creativity conference in Vienna on June 2 and 3, 2005.

Global ICT Summit logo Posted by Hello

The people in Bahrain are quite busy with content. It is unbelievable for a country of little more than 600.000 inhabitants, which is almost comparable to the city of Rotterdam. In the Netherlands. It is a small country in the Gulf area, living from oil and trade, but are now repositioning for the time the oil will be gone. So one of their investment areas is content.

Waheed unpacking the World Summit Awards 2003 catalogs Posted by Hello

They caught onto the World Summit Award on content fast due to the efforts of Waheed Al-balushi. He is a journalist in Bahrain and deeply involved with ISOC activities. I got to know him in Dubai in September 2003, when he was a eminent expert of the Grand Jury of the World Summit. He has become a real friend in the meantime. But you need more people to have vision and a programme. And they do have them in Bahrain. The officials involved in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and especially in the Department of Commerce are guys with a vision of the future. They have seen the use of Internet for e-government and are using the systems to that end. So their Ministry of Commerce Portal won an award in 2003. And righteously so, as the Bahrain people are developing more e-government services for themselves but alsofor the Gulf region in co-operation with officials of six other countries.
It should also be noted that Bahrain has an e-learning programme for primary schools and they are very proud of it.

In order to participate in this years World Summit Award race (for insiders this is a pun with relation to the GP circuit in Bahrain), Bahrain ISOC with the help of the ministry of Economic Affairs set up the Bahrain e-Content Award and invited companies and institutes to submit products. No less than 149 e-Products were entered! Can you imagine. In the Netherlands we just closed the submissions for the EUROPRIX.nl and had 63 entries. For a week in February a jury of Bahraini experts and 4 outside experts were involved in the jury process. I was lucky tob e invited as one of the outside observers. It was a great week. The judges were experts in their fields and the organisers/ISOC members were great partners. In the meantime there was an e-Content Award Gala. The Bahrain nominations for the World Summit Award still have to be announced

The Bahrain e-Content Award jury and observers in front of the Convention Centre where now the Global ICT Summit is being held. Posted by Hello

So now the conference is still on till tomorrow. By the end of August, beginning of September Bahrain will host the eminent experts of the Grand Jury of the World Summit Award. This is going to be a week long event. Some 35 jurors from all over the world will be invited. They will have to work their way through a pile of entries from 168 countries. Logistically this is going tob e a nightmare: 168 countries x 8 category en tries will make maximally 1344 entries. But I guess that the number will be slightly lower as not all countries will deliver one entry for all 8 categories. In 2003 the World Summit Award organisation had 5.9 entries from 136 countries. But even with that figure it would mean almost 1.000 entries. But the World Summit Award organisation is capable and fit and for this task.

And it looks like the Bahraini have more plans in the content field. But those are presently under negotiation, I understand. All in all, I am very impressed by the Bahraini.

That's me in de control room on the F1 circuit of Bahrain Posted by Hello