Wednesday, November 29, 2006

TTA 2006: Offline/Interactive DVD

You would expect that in the age of internet CD-ROM and DVD will be used as data carriers and DVD in particular as storage of linear productions. Yet this category delivers every year still some fine productions. .

This year two music productions were nominated. 2006 being the jubilee year of Mozarts’ birth a CD-ROM production on this topic could be expected from Austria. And yes there was one from Salzburg. It was a very interesting production, which made use of some fine techniques for example magnifying glasses for manuscripts and accompanying the manuscript with the music. No new concepts, but the execution was well done. Sonorama is a great production databasing music from South Benin. The database has everything about the music pieces, ranging from movies, animations of the dance to the geographic area.

The German entry The best of all possible worlds is a philosophical production. Users do not just look and read with this CD-ROM production, but can also edit movies and music.

The question can be posed, whether these productions could not have been put online in stead of being stored on CD-ROM and DVD. I think that the question is dependent on the country where the producers live. Sure Austria, Germany and France have broadband, but it is not yet a common product. Besides, the Mozart CD-ROM works best on CD-ROM for music quality, I think.

Here are the laudations of the Festival brochure.

Mozart Digital (Austria) presents the original notations of Fantasy and Sonata in C Minor, published in 1785, enabling music-lovers to study the genesis of Mozart’s creative process and the real dramatic structure of the music in close detail. This highly instructive DVD allows users to zoom in and study the music note by note – as well as the additions and corrections – while it is being played. Alternative phrases of the piece can be selected as one hears the music. The programme’s clear navigation and expertly written content allows users to study the piece’s cultural context as well as Mozart’s innovations in composition and technique. Since very few of Mozart’s hand-written notations still exist, this programme offers a unique insight into his compositional methods and the rest of his work.
Team: Tobias Werner, Barbara Herzog, Jürgen Grünberger

The best of all possible worlds (Germany) is an interactive DVD which aims to create the fascinating and also threatening experience of living in a consumer society. The menu presents a typical suburban neighbourhood. By selecting from eight houses - each representing different aspects of modern life - users are presented with interactive stories inspired by the post-modern German philosopher Günter Anders. Through exploring each visualisation and the quotation which inspired it, users can interpret and reflect upon quotes which describe consumer society such as “Wherever we reach, we always get something to grab”. Each module expresses an intriguing idea with provocative visuals and contemporary graphic design. Users can, for example, create a movie by editing repetitive clips and music or destroy and rebuild a block of flats using their mouse. By interacting with the visual presentations, users must contemplate the logic of consumer society for themselves.
Team: Peer Runge, Joachim Kerkhoff

At the margins of West Africa lies Benin, a place where a love of music provides the link between migrants from Togo, Ghana and Nigeria. Sonorama (France), South Benin offers a fascinating interactive DVD database and audio CD of unique recordings, documentary footage, interviews and photos acquired through three years of field research. The menu-map provides a wealth of options including thematically organised content and music from around the region. By intuitively following the architecture of the interface and the interactive lexicon, users can make the connection between different languages or sounds and instruments. The musical style, rhythms and melodies can also be studied. Dance moves can even be analysed using the “Rhythm Box” tool. The interconnection between different types of media enables an immersive non-linear introduction to Benin’s traditional music and its vibrant cultural scene.
Team: François-Romain Dumont, Jean-Baptiste Miel

Tags: europrix

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Blog Posting Number: 587

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

TTA 2006: Broadband/Online

This year the entries in this category were more directed toward broadband. All three nominations are massive projects in terms of content, type of content such as text, audio and video and database structures.

It is not surprising that the Swiss broadcast archival application won. The broadcast companies all around Europe are busy to digitise and archive their historical material, not just for preservation, but also for use in education and entertainment. In fact on December 1, 2006 a new institute for image and sound will be opened in The Netherlands (I will report on this on that day).

Swiss Timeline (Switserland) provides an overview of Swiss history since 1931 as reflected by public service radio and television. Searchable according to subject, period, type of media and language, users can warp themselves back in time and follow Swiss life as it was originally reported. Site visitors can follow the cycle of events and their context by using the dynamic timeline interface, or simply select a wide range of thematically organised reports, interviews and debates. By using the powerful search engine or following the editor’s selections, users can follow the historical cycles of events (e.g. natural disasters) or national issues (e.g. debates about nuclear power, immigration or WWII). Developed in cooperation with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and designed using an attractive hybrid Flash/HTML composition, Swiss Timeline aims to raise awareness about Switzerland both at home and abroad.
Team: Dominik Stankowski, Cecile Cosman, Dani Wihler, Laurent Andrey, Denise Hegnauer, Andrea Stephani, Marco Majoleth, Kai Reusser, Lukas Jaggi.

Archives For All (France) clearly organises almost 100,000 radio and TV recordings and 10,000 hours of material into four capsules: explore, discover, share and download. The “Explorer” module enables users to search for particular topics, personalities and programmes or focus on any year or decade. The “Decouvrir” module surprises users with random selections from ten archives, carefully chosen educational programmes, an interactive timeline about the history of French media and even the daily news since 1963. The “Partager” module offers thematically organised forums and the editors’ daily selections. Users can subscribe to the service or download any content in the “Telecharger” module. Selections can be fully customised and even shared in the “mon espace personnel” section. The “ma zone mémoire” toolbar compresses any recently viewed clips, enabling the user to retain control.
Team: Safia Dziri, Paul Fleury, Jean Miguel Kawamura, Pauline Thomas, Pierre Cordani.

Mundo (Israel) was developed as a potential broadband site for broadcasting the 2006 World Cup online. Through its compact design and intelligent website architecture, Mundo aims to meet the needs of every football fan. Users can watch different games simultaneously and in diverse hierarchies or check out video based statistics pages. The betting application allows continuous betting during the match while the gift shop presents relevant video clips of every product in close-up. The comprehensive video archive enables users to record and save selected scenes. Fans are also brought together through the video and messenger based chat rooms. The website’s advance notice system also reminds viewers about any future broadcasts online, by email or SMS.
Team: Nir Yuz, Sagi Itah

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Blog Posting Number: 586

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flash: Iliad and De Tijd eNewsPaper (1)

On the 24 of November there was a conference on digital newspapers in Maastricht organised by the European Journalism Centre (EJC). Amongst others a lecture was presented on the results of the iLiad pilot with the Belgian financial newspaper De Tijd. This is the press release.

Ghent, 24 November 2006 – The IBBT ePaper project intended to test users’ reaction to real life newspaper content on a dedicated electronic device, in this case the Iliad e-reader (using e-ink technology). A field test involving 200 users finished June 30th 2006, and the project consortium is pleased to present interesting results on several levels.

As it turns out, users did not seem to compare the ePaper experience to internet news-sites, but rather to their existing ‘classic’ paper version. They were in fact expecting the same look and feel. They were also looking for the newspaper’s editorial concept. Getting last minute updates or the RSS style micro news seemed to be of less interest.

Many considered the device to be a complementary tool, ideal for mobile use. Users did consider it probable, however, that devices like the e reader would replace the paper version in the future. Over 45% of the participants indicated that they would consider the purchase of a next-generation e-reader device. If left up to the reader, newspapers will survive, but on new paper…

The project also yielded insights in business models, network distribution technology, content and device usability, and digital rights management. Short summaries of the research results can be found in attachment.

The following partners participated in the ePaper project: De Tijd, Philips, iRex Technologies, Belgacom, Agency.com, iMerge and IBBT.


I have received from ibbt a number of documents about the pilot and will be dealing with them in the coming week.

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Blog Posting Number: 585

TTA: the Dutch categorywinner

Today I am pushing out the good news of our Dutch category winner to the media. The Dutch company Submarine has won the award in the category Games with the Tulkse Luper Journey. The press release has gone to traditional print media such as daily newspapers and magazines as well to internet publications. Planet Internet, brought the news with a photograph, about half an hour after the release. The press release has also gone to the colleges and universities.

This publicity is intended in order to get the name of the winner and EUROPRIX spread. Of course we hope that next year these schools and young producers will participate in the Dutch competition EUROPRIX.nl, organised by the foundation EUROPRIX.nl. It has been a habit to enter the Dutch nominations to the European edition of the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award. So the more entries we receive in the Netherlands the more choice there is to select quality.

The nomination was for the game of the Tulse Luper Journey. This game reconstructs the life of writer and collector Tulse Luper, who archived his entire life in 92 suitcases. Despite spending most of his years in prison, he mysteriously managed to be at important 20th century events. Based on director Peter Greenaway’s film trilogy, the Tulse Luper Journey is an enormous community project which invited young flash designers from across Europe to submit interactive Flash games. Film fragments, puzzles and letters written by different characters must be unlocked and solved. By collecting all 92 film fragments from each suitcase, gamers reconstruct a 90 minute film about his life. Gamers also have the chance to discuss their ‘research’ in forums or compete for a round-the-world holiday. The installation version features real suitcases which contain LCD screens and hidden PC’s.

Of course the Dutch delegation was very happy for the company Submarine and specifically for the young producer Christiaan de Rooij (see photograph). This year there was a large delegation from The Netherlands. Besides the project team, there were representative of the Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden and the Hogeschool Rotterdam. There were attending the EADiM Academic Network Conference which ran parallel to the Festival.

In the coming week I will present an overview of the nominations in the various categories including the category winners as well as the links to the projects. You can find a list of the nominees.

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Blog Posting Number: 584

Sunday, November 26, 2006

TTA: the 2006 awards

I am just back from Vienna in Austria, where the 9th EUROPRIX was held, in fact the Top Talent Award (TTA) for young producers under 30 years of age. The Festival started last Thursday and ended last night with a big gala to celebrate the nominees, the category winners and the overall winner.

The winner of the Thesis Award in the hall of the Arsenaal (c Jak Boumans)












The Gala night was great. It was held in the Arsenaal, a military museum full with statues, plaquettes and paintings. Peter Bruck the initiator of the EUROPRIC Top Talent Award reminded the audience that this museum was about destruction, while we had come together to celebrate creativity.

Before the Gala I circled around the approximately 350 guests from 20 countries. There were Austrian government people. I got also the occasion to shake hands with Mr Fischler the former EU commissioner. But I saw also former employees of the organising bureau ICNM such as Verena and Barbara Korn. Of course all the members of the nominated teams were present. There was also a lot of bear hugging with former jury members such as Ted Baracas, and Martin Sperka. Great was the presence of the Irishman Martin Casey, whoever won the first student award with Broken Tongue and presently has a company which works for AOL and the real estate site Funda Ireland. An there was many a member of the European Academy of Digital Media (EADiM). There were also participants of the EADiM Academic Network, which held a conference in the framework of the TTA Festival; there were some 30 professors and instructors from the Arts and Media School in Tampere (Finaland), Thames Valley University (UK), Hogeschool Rotterdam and Hogeschool Leeuwarden (NL) and Israel. I will come back to this conference later in the mini-serie on the TTA.

The Gala was presented by two former winners of the EUROPRIX. It was great to see these winners come back in such a great shape. They called up the persons presenting the awards. After four categories, a small female combo played some music and when hardly the last note had died, the presenters moved on to the last four categories, ready for the overall winner.

Categorywinners
Category: Broadband/Online:
Project: Swiss Timeline, an overview of Swiss history as reflected in radio and television since 1931.
Country: Switzerland

Category: Offline/Interactive DVD
Project: Sonorama, music from south Benin
Country: France

Category: Mobile contents
Project: CabBoots, specially engineered boots which guide a walker GPS.
Country: Germany

Category: Games
Project: Tulse Luper Journey, a game with riddles in 92 suitcases
Country: Netherlands

Category: Interactive installations & TV
Project: Outerspace, a reactive robotic creature
Country: Germany

Category: Interactive computer graphics
Project: Neighbours
Country: Hungary
Catgory: Content Tools & Interface Design
Project: Shared Design Space, a collaborative tool
Country: Austria

Category: Digital Video and Animations
Project: Tadam, a multimedia puppet show
Country: France.

The overall winner can only be selected from the category winners. In this case it was the project Outerspace was selected. Immediately after the presentations of the awards a discussion started to ensue about the overall winner. It was more robotic than anything else was the main critique. On the other hand the equipment was in the category Installations and does fill well in it. Personally I would have liked to see a multi-channel and multimedia project with more content to it. But I was not on the jury this time; I had jury duty for seven consecutive years. The discussions were always very good with debates going till deep at night.

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Blog Posting Number: 583

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Video in The Netherlands: a news video site (6)

I wrote before about the site of Skoeps, a site with two major Dutch shareholders: the national newspaper company PCM and the commercial broadcast company Talpa... Where YouTube is a fun site, Skoeps (Scopes) is a site, which bring generates the news in pictures and video.

The site wants to break the publishing circle of the professional news companies. These companies will be alerted to a news fact, send a reporter and turn the item in. Following the journalistic trend of user generated content Skoeps explicitly turns the principle around. This had already been seen during the London bombings and the murder of the Dutch movie maker Theo van Gogh. The founders follow the reasoning, that there are eyes at every news happening, and these people always have recording equipment as photo cameras and video cameras with them. They need a post box to send in the photographs and videos, ready for publishing on the site. People can now share the personal experience of a news event.

The site has a number of categories, from regions to sports, from celebrities to fires. It has a RSS- and e-mailservice, the SMS-service, Skoeplogs, small new sites for individual Skoeps reporters and a community site for the cooperation of Skoeps reporters. The site is expandable with a digital TV channel.

Skoeps selects and recruits potential reporters from news tifosi and journalism students. Selected reporters get a Nokia N73 mobile, sim card, one year subscription to online NRC-Next or Volkskrant, a press card, business cards, and an original Skoeps calamity tape. Skoeps will also have training sessions

User generated content can often be replaced by the expression free content and free licence. The site operator does not want to pay for the pics or the videos and feels free to forward on the pics and videos to other sites. Skoeps has other rules. The pics and videos on the site are for free. But the revenues from the pics and videos sold by Skoeps or onwards sold by a wire press bureau, will be split with the creator. This money will be an incentive for Skoeps reporters. Skoeps has made a deal already with the Dutch wire ANP, which can sell on the pics or videos to media and corporate communication departments.

Tags: video, movie, TV

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Blog Posting Number: 582

Friday, November 24, 2006

Video in The Netherlands: integrating television and IP (5)

Video on internet is also giving an incentive to internet on television. Microsoft has been active in this field with Cabo TV in Portugal in the late nineties; internet television never succeeded. But now an interesting project is developing in the South of The Netherlands. I have written about the project before, but now I have more details and a presentation (in Dutch though).

Media Mall is a service integrating television in an interactive IP environment. It uses open standards and works without middleware. Most websites can be projected on the screen with a simplified interface. By using smart connections partners can build their own environment.
Traditional television will be over as personal content can be added and shared, clubs can have their own channel, advertisers can advertise interactively and the new television can function as a lead generator. Presently the pilot services have a start page, a personal section, a section on their city, thematic channels and commercial channels (BMW, Go Fast, VoD). All that is needed is a decoder and one channel selector.

So far the there have been two pilots, one in the city of Roermond and one in the metropolitan area Sittard-Geleen. The next step is to canvass The Netherlands. Media Mall has a participation of the incumbent telco KPN, which is eager to put up compition to the cable operators

At the Cross Media Cafe Mr Ruud Smeets, CEO of Media Mall, presented some statistics from the first two pilots. Almost everyone (90 percent) looked at least 1 time a month. 1in 3 looked at on demand photographs daily. 1 in 5 played music one or more times. More than thousands of content properties such as photographs, texts, video and music have been added by consumers, companies and other providers. Daily new video items are uploaded. There are now more than ten paid channels.

The Media Mall is an interesting service as it combines traditional television with a full service concept of interactive internet services. Technologically it is not a super complicated concept. Besides it keeps the amount of decoders down and gives the user one channel selector in his hand. For the service operator it is interesting that consumers can upload material themselves; also small and medium enterprises can manage their channels. It will be more complicated when companies like BMW want to have a lead generation system in its own back office. Media Mall is the embodiment of all the buzz words which are going around.

Tags: video, movie, TV

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Blog Posting Number: 581

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Video in The Netherlands: not all hallelujah (4)

In the forum of the Cross Media Café, there were two sites with the newspaper company De Telegraaf as partner: Clip’It and Sugababes.

Clip’It is a TV site which is under construction. The site looks rather straight as the user gets the instruction: clip a video, send it, vote it and win it. For the rest the site looks like a conduit for selling subscriptions of print products.

Sugababes is the most popular social network for youngsters. It has 1 million profiles with 350.000 active members. It has 1 million broadband visitors a month. Penetration of Sugababes audience is comparable to television channels like TMF/Box and MTV.
This year the Sugababes TV channel was launched with live shows, only via internet. The shows are produced by a young production team in an owned studio. For interactive TV broadcasts the production company had made a joint venture with Digital Magics. This company delivers the knowledge about interactive broadcasts, formats and the technical platform.

The expectations were high. By now the first statistics are known: 5.000 till 10.000 viewers per broadcast. The conclusion is that the majority of the Sugababes database does not automatically fall in love with TV. The statistics are not up to par with regular TV, which was expected; on the other hand the TV offer on internet is high. The present viewing figures are too low for a commercially profitable exploitation. The management team is now taking measures to upgrade the viewing figures by inviting popular singers.

For the time being Sugababes TV will be continued and the gained experience will be used for producing live web TV for third parties such as broadcasting companies, internet service providers and media companies. But the experience will also be used for the production of non live cross media web TV programmes with the stress on webvertising and sponsoring. All this is seen as preparations of the new Sugababes web TV format, dubbed the SB Experience.
This will imply an integration of Sugababes.nl and Superdudes.nl. The broadcasts will be available on demand. Per TV broadcast an audience of 50.000 people is aimed at. The exposure for ad account managers and sponsors will need to be higher through e-mail marketing and regular bannering.

Tags: video, movie, TV

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Blog Posting Number: 580

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Video in The Netherlands: various origins (3)

The video sites have various origins: broadcasters, cable operators, site providers. These various background lead also to various business proposals. In this instalment I will treat examples with a different background. NCRV and Salto have a public broadcast background. Zizone is a product by a cable operator/internet operator. Worldmadechannel is a new information provider. It is worthwhile to leaf through the presentations despite the Dutch language text.

NCRV is a Dutch national public broadcast company with a Christian pedigree. It recently started a music site UndiscoveredTalent, which has already 7.200 music bands and 12.000 songs. Interesting is the way the broadcast company deals with the music. A selection of potential hits is shared with a special music site, SeriousTalenet.nl, which has 12 bands and 500 songs. Comparable to the music site, the broadcast company started a video site under the name VideoTalent.nl. This video site was started on August 1, 2006 and contains now 4 series and 510 movies. The broadcast company works together with partners like FilmTotaal, Radio Netherlands and the public broadcast company BNN. NCRV sees it as an extra activity. It does not pay for the entries. It offers exposure a special video courses as a reward.

The Amsterdam public broadcast company Salto The broadcast company is a conglomerate of 3 TV channels and 6 radio stations, which service the population of Amsterdam with a multi cultural offer of programs. The statistics are impressive with 38.000 hours of radio and 600 hours of television. Through internet Salto sees an opportunity to expand the music and video hours. Salto recently got new studio facilities with multimedia studios, complete production streets and a connection to the glass fibre network.

ZiZone is the video site of the broadband operator @Home/Essent Kabelcom, which was started in August of this year. ZiZone aims at producing video together. ZiZone is an IP channel with an cable outlet. Once a week videos are selected to appear in a programme of 20 minutes on cableTV. Management sees opportunities to develop Zizone as a specific site by coupling sales messages with theme content.

A newcomer in this field is Worldmadechannel, a channel for home made movies. It is a global broadcaster, which selects music and videos and makes thematic clustering. Distribution is done by satellite, cable, over IP and mobile. The company has been set up in Russia. The company has a business model; the company will earn back with distribution licences, advertisements and sponsoring.

Tags: video, ,

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Blog Posting Number: 579

Flash: Election Day in The Netherlands

Today the inhabitants of The Netherlands go to the ballot box in order to elect a new government. It will be the fourth government in four years (a record in Dutch parliamentary history).

The elections have lead to a flurry of internet activities. There is a series of election guidance systems, but there are also sites where voters give advice to the party leaders. Games are developed. Politicians attempt to make friends in social networks.

One of the most used tools is the election guidance system Stemwijzer (VoteMatch). Within a week from the launch more than 1 million vote matches were given out. During the last elections more than 2.2 million vote matches were given out in 51 days. The election guidance system is not without competitors. Following other principles these systems throw light in a different way on the election items.

At the University of Amsterdam they developed a search engine. Voters can key in a subject and will get statements on the subject as recorded in the election programs of the 16 parties

Another approach is the site which gives free consultancy to the party leaders. The Liberals are advised to claim the successes of the last government, while a Silvia advises the Socialist party leader to start wearing a tie, if he wants to become the new Prime Minister.

A first in this election was the use of social networks by politicians. The present Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende has joined the social network Hyves, which has two million profiles. Within half a year, his profile attracted the number of 40.000 friends.

A public broadcast company launched the tower game; the tower symbolises the centre of government in The Hague. Upon registration the player can start running for office by using a party leader.

I had expected also a Google Earth application like in this year’s US race of the House and the Senate. And until last Monday I did not see any Google application. A reason for this might be that contrary to the US elections, the Dutch politicians do not have to convince local populations. But on Monday night the municipality of Amsterdam came up with a map of the city of Amsterdam with the locations of voting stations.

Despite the dep penetration of internet in The Netherlands, no voting by internet is allowed in the country itself. Roughly 21.500 Dutch people abroad can vote by internet since last Saturday.
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Blog Posting Number 578

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Video in The Netherlands: Brevidius (2)

After the general introduction, Pier Tholen of Brevidius MultiMedia Projects took the floor. Brevidius is a production company with many a video project. Besides a presentation of their projects and many a link, Pier Tholes demonstrated the audience the video pyramid and he told about the results of a small survey.

The video pyramid ranges from analogue television to web communities with a pyramid upside down indicating the reach of the video audience. A broad base audience can be found in combination with the analogue television. Contrary to this is the website community, which has a very small base of viewers. In all the phases of video examples are given. The pyramid give an insight in the numbers of viewers in relation to the five slices of video.

Interesting was the question Tholen posed about the future of video: will people participate? His company had executed a survey, which can not be seen as a representative survey of The Netherlands. For the survey the company talked to 386 respondents in a theme park (Walibi). The surveyors discovered that 84 percent of them had broadband internet. Man and women were equally divided; 55 percent had children and 30 percent was under 20 years. Of them, 70 percent look at videos on internet. Video recordings are made by 56 percent; 26 percent has a video camera, while 21 percent has a digital photo camera, 17 percent a mobile telephone and 8 percent a webcam. Of the 386 respondents 14 percent puts their video on internet. Asked why they participate there is a range of motives: pride of the result, sharing funny moments, sharing with friends, to be discovered, to win prizes. Asked when people would participate, they answered that they would shoot material when they would have equipment; if there were training sessions and if there was a special competition. From experience the company knows that 1 viewer in 1000 becomes an active movie maker, but that 1 in 3 will participate in voting.

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Blog Posting Number: 577

Monday, November 20, 2006

Video in The Netherlands: general overview (1)

Video is hot. Perhaps after the sale of YouTube it is already over the top. Reality is that video sites are popping up all over the place and related to this is the rise of user generated content.

Last week I got a fine general impression of what is going on. During the Cross Media Café, organised by the iMMovator Network in the broadcast city of Hilversum, a general overview (instalment 1) as well as an overview of video activities in The Netherlands (instalment 2) was presented.

Monique van Dusseldorp of Van Dusseldorp presented in 54 PowerPoint slides a general overview of what is happening in the video world. She started out with pointing to Flicker. She made clear that Flickr was not only an inventory of photographs, but that it also generated its own crazy categories like the League of Empty Chairs and What’s in your bag? The same category urge is seen in YouTube. After the choreography of on the threadmill, even a shrimp is simulated on the threadmill. And who does not remember the Mentos and the Croft-bomb crazes? And do not forget the Michael J. Fox and Bush Sucks videos. The videos also lead to formats, like Noah who takes every day a picture of himself for 6 years or like the guy who sends himself a message to be viewed over 5 years. Also the section Video and News is interesting especially for the political bloopers like the napping US senator or drunk Belgian politician.

A review of the services available on the web was presented, including Planet3, Revver and Dabble. But of course most interest of the participants went out to the money schemes. These schemes range from banners, display ads and sponsoring for the site operator to payment for a movie to a user/citizen. Especially for the news sector this last option is interesting.

Video is not only an issue of internet. It also affects internet TV, but also traditional TV. With all the movies an internet TV channel can be set up like Current TV. But from the delivered movies also a selection can be programmed. In fact both options do not exclude each other. Besides the combination of these options will give the programme a longer tail and more viewers.

In the video world there are presently no fixed formats. Besides searching is mostly still based on text search, although Dabble is trying to change this. Also money earning schemes and the payment to citizens are not fixed. A question which was not touched in this presentation was the question of copyright. What happens if a movie is copied from a site; who is going after this or start suing?

In the break of the programme I had a talk with a colleague blogger, who posed the question as to the origin of the user generated content. Why is user generated content now a craze and was it not so 25 years ago. I personally see a historical explanation in the fact that it is the scarcity of media and availability of tools. In the newspaper era, an editor-in-chief could at best publish a page of letters-to-the-editor, while these days publishers can open a site and publish all the reactions. Besides people did not really have the tools of a computer and broadband. I believe that broadband really is the breakthrough. Texts are okay, but photographs and video are more engaging. And you need broadband for that. My friend Walter in South Africa can not look through all the pics and videos as he is still on dial-up with no real competition in South Africa. He will only start looking or even sending in videos, when he has broadband. Of course the question still remains why people want to send in a video or pic? Because they want to be part of a news or entertainment fact or do they do it for instant gratification?

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Blog Posting Number: 577

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Flash: Talking about digital storytelling

A compilation of research activities within the EU funded project INSCAPE has been made available online! The INSCAPE research papers are available on http://www.inscapers.com.

The report Sound and Interactive Narrative by Gustave Taxen, Sweden contains two resources:
- It contains an embryo for a vocabulary/glossary for communicating about sound and music within the project.
- It contains a number of examples that outline the capabilities of some of the most advanced (with respect to sound) narrative-related applications today. If INSCAPE is to improve on the state-of the- art with respect to sound, the project must relate to these capabilities and (where appropriate) improve upon them in different ways.

Another report is Immersion and Presence in Storytelling Digital Environments by Björn Thuresson, Sweden The report proposes operative definitions of immersion and presence and their interrelationship, and to exemplify how these concepts can be used in an explanatory and descriptive manner for interactive media content. As a definition for presence is given: Presence is the subjective experience of being in one place or environment, even when one is physically situated in another.

Immersion is an objective description of the system and presence a subjective phenomenon in the user’s experience.

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Blog Posting Number: 576

Storytelling in the polder

Digital storytelling has been a subject, which is fascinating me for a long time. The old idea of have a bard telling a story with a head and a tail is a romantic idea in linear storytelling. The digitising has changed the art of storytelling and making it more complex; but storytelling has also become more interesting as there are more options and choices in digital storytelling. It starts of course with a medium (text, movie, audio), a carrier (PC, mobile, TV, video), the design, the opportunities of the software program and the choices in the menu.

One of the formats of digital storytelling is the telling of stories in areas, where the population is dying out. And as I have mentioned before, it has also become format in new cities. As an example I used the new town in the polder, where I am living in. the city of Almere. But recently I discovered that the other city in the same polder, the new town of Lelystad, has a cross media project storytelling project Het verhaal van Lelystad (The Story of Lelystad) for half a year.

Last Friday the project DVD was presented. The project had been initiated by the municipality and the execution was in the hands of the public library. The objective was to create a social cohesion and record the history of Lelystad, a new town which was founded in 1967 and was incorporated as a municipality in 1980. For more than half a year inhabitants of Lelystad could tell their story, which was recorded in audio and filmed. More than 250 stories were told by men and woman, young and old and Dutch and people from abroad.

The stories are basically concerned with travelling. For after the polder pioneer generation people came from all over The Netherlands, but also from former Dutch colonies such as Surinam and from elsewhere in the world. The stories are about the city itself, but people tell also how they came to Lelystad. It is funny that inhabitants of a new town always have to defend their choice of the city; when someone moves to Amsterdam no one asks why.









A special tour of the city quarters was set up with meetings where people could tell their story. There was a close co-operation with social organisations, schools, churches, mosques. Also a special canteen caravan of the type, which polder workers had used, served as a small intimate studio for people to tell their stories. And there were many a living room session. The project had trained storytellers and professionals; the local movie club Flevo Lacus filmed the sessions.

From the beginning it was clear that it should be a cross media project. Now there are a website and a DVD with a selection of recorded stories on film. A book is in production.

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Blog Posting Number: 575

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A guitar no strings attached

It was all over the newspapers and the internet news sites. Just pick up a special T-shirt, put it on and start playing your top songs as if you had a guitar in your hands. Sensors in the textile analyse the arm movements and translate these in music. In this way people can easily play the instrument, even if they do not have a musical background, according to the scientists. It is a nice gadget and it can train you at least in rhythm, harmony and pure notes.

The development of a virtual air guitar is a hot subject. Before the T-shirt, two Finnish entries to the Europrix 2005 were nominated and one was in fact the overall award winner. The Guitar Shred Show was the overall Europrix 2006 winner and the Virtual Air Guitar was nominated in the category Content Tools and Interface Design.

The Guitar Shred Show was produced by Liina Toiviainen and Mika Tyyskä of the Lahti Polytechnic Institute of Design. In Asloka (Finland). The site centres around Mr Fastfinger, who reveals the arts and secrets of rock guitar in the animated guitar school. The user can simply jam on the keyboard of the PC, or embark on their journey to be a guitar God by learning from the music tablature provided. Each keyboard key activates a different guitar riff or solo which players can link together in a sequence to create soring guitar solos and improvisations. After the tutorial, the user can help Mr. Fastfinger defeat his antagonist in a musical duel and then celebrate in their own jamming session. The Guitar Shred Show combines traditional storytelling with modern interactive technologies to take the player into guitar heaven.

The Virtual Air Guitar (Soiva Ilmakitara) was produced by Aki Kanerva, Juha Laitinen and Teemu Mäki-Patola of the Helsinki University of Technology at Espoo (Finland). The Virtual Air Guitar offers an inspiring way to experience music and get the rock star feeling within seconds. It is an entertainment device that users can learn to play instantly. No strings, no musical skills are required. It is literally an invisible instrument played in the air. Participants just need to wear orange gloves or wristbands. Having adjusted the distance between the hands with the help of PC you are ready to play a note. Heavy rock sounds are created when the user plays faster, triggering an effect which plucks several strings simultaneously. Besides being a nominee of the Europrix 2006, the producers were invited to Amsterdam several times. On the web there are a few movies of the virtual guitar available.

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Blog Posting Number: 574

Friday, November 17, 2006

RSS, web 2.0 and reputation systems

Years ago in 1996 I was involved in a project to create a newspaper and magazine alert service. The subscriber handed in you personal interest file with key words, while the publishers forwarded their XML tagged publications and the service would deliver the news items fitting the profile to the subscriber the next morning. The service was intended for the manager; it would suit him like the blanket of Linus in the comic series Snoopy. The manager could go out to his clients the next morning knowing what had happened to company, if they were in the news, or to the industry. My company wrote the business for this project, but the proposal came too early as copyright issues still had to be sorted out and the Dutch newspaper publishers had other priorities, anyway. These days they have a derivative of this service such as CLIP, which could greatly be improved and more marketing oriented.

This morning I was with a company which is using RSS technology and has built a number of products around it which not only push the news but also has many Web 2.0 features. So you have an RSS feed, but it will also present you with the most popular stories in the RSS feed, read by other RSS readers. It is like the Amazon recommendation system. Compared to the system we were proposing in 1996, this system is more intelligent and can be used in a social network.

The company Infocaster is a company existing of a group of young guys. They are presently selling their applications and their ideas. They have some applications which work well in the Dutch press world and have recently picked up an assignment from a tire company, which will distribute an RSS feed application throughout the company, mixing public news with company news. As the application is not depending on language, items in various languages can be mixed, but Cyrillic and Chinese might pose a temporary problem.

We thought aloud about a project using Infocaster for a community of interest, putting up a list of sources, having the latest articles passing by, being recommended by the members of the community. Even sources can be added publicly or personally. Instead of being an editor or abstracter of a newsletter, you only have to put in the sources and have people select their own sources and have them tell you what other sources they look at. This proposal looks simple, but it is not. For publishers still have a brand mentality. They think that readers go for the brand of the Guardian or the Washington Post; this is not true. People want to know what they have to know regardless what brand or publication. Sure you need reliable publications; but that is where the reputation system comes in. If you trust your network, you will also trust their recommendations. In fact there is a network of intelligence out there with people, who are all managing their personal knowledge systems. With the reputation mechanism this delivers a real knowledge system. The potential project could be interesting for business groups and researchers. This talk sparked some new ideas.

In the meantime I have been convinced that this blog should have an RSS feed and I will start using a RSS feed myself. It should shorten the time which I spend every morning culling the national and international news sources and improve my general survey.

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Blog Posting Number: 573

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dutch cable operators obliged to open networks

The Netherlands has two main networks: telephone and cable. After the sales by municipalities of the cable networks to commercial cable operators, the cry for open cable networks has become stronger from the telecom operators. Paul Budde, Australian telecom consultant from Dutch descent, wrote an article about this problem.

So far cable has been a monopoly for Dutch politicians are keen on competition in the country’s telecom market. The regulator has in the past kept a close eye on KPN to ensure that its DSL network is accessible to competitors via local loop unbundling, while municipal governments were recently given legislative backing to part-finance fibre networks for their denizens. This equal access policy has now been extended to the cable operators.

The Dutch cable market has seen some radical consolidation this year, mainly due to the purchasing power of the private equity firms Warburg Pincus and Cinven. Early in 2006 they won the auction to buy the country’s third largest cable TV provider Casema. For Warburg Pincus, the deal represented a quadrupling of its Dutch cable TV business, having acquired Multikabel in 2005. In August, Warburg and Cinven bought Essent Kabelcom from Essent for €2.6 billion. As a result, Kabelcom, Casema and Multikabel are in a position to co-operate in providing cable services to the Dutch market, and extend their reach beyond the 3.3 million subscribers which they have on their books, collectively.

Although the incumbent, KPN, tried to fight the merger of Casema and Multikabel, the competition authority, the Nma, saw no market domination arising from the deal. KPN’s next move was to seek an injunction against the Dutch government on the grounds that it regulated the cable and telecom sectors unequally. In the past, cable and telecoms used to be separate sectors for the markets addressed and services offered: cable offered TV while telecom provided phone calls and Internet. Now, both sectors offer the same total package (for phone calls, Internet and TV). This has turned both sectors into competitors, but with few amendments to rules and regulations. KPN is subject to a complex system of rules and regulations and is under an obligation to provide access to competitors, while the cable sector has never been regulated.

Politicians debated cable access a year ago, and got nowhere. The Essent deal has gone some way to change their mood, and the urgency, since the country now faces a substantially more influential cable block. Given the huge amount of money spent by Warburg Pincus and Cinven on acquisitions and network upgrades, it will come as little comfort to them that after fruitless negotiations with cable operators in recent months the Dutch parliament has now voted to regulate cable on an equal basis with KPN. This will impose obligations to unbundle access for third party services, and bring in price controls. Of interest is that the vote was near unanimous across all 14 political parties (148 votes for, 2 against or abstained).

In justification, the politicians were convinced that competition would lead to lower consumer prices for services. While competition in recent years has forced KPN to increase network capacity and data rates while lowering prices, the cable networks have been able, incrementally, to increase their package charges.

Two considerations are at issue: firstly the separation between network services and access, and secondly opening access to competition. Thus. within a year the government must introduce amendments to the Telecommunications Law to separate cable infrastructure and services through the ‘standing charge model’, and also prohibit the bundling of network provision and services. In tandem, it must legally provide for mandatory, open, non-discriminatory access to all networks for all service providers.

Essentially, what has happened in The Netherlands is a local solution to the net neutrality debate that is so hotly contested in the US and across Europe. By introducing legislation that separates activities providing networks and those providing services, and opening up the networks to all services, the network owner cannot influence the type of content it transports. It merely becomes a carrier for those services. The Netherlands is the first country to attack the network neutrality issue at its heart, and to separate network ownership and services for all networks, whether copper, coax or fibre. By deciding to abolish vertically integrated telecom networks, the Dutch have again given the rest of Europe a worthwhile example to follow.

More info on Budde.com: http://www.budde.com.au

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Blog Posting Number: 572

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Flash: Minitel

This morning the NRC-Next published a Dutch language article on the French online service and terminal Minitel in the column What was next. Minitel was a European predecessor to Internet and it is interesting to read that in 2005 there were still 3,6 million people using Minitel; a typical of: the first city on gaz will be the last on electricity.

In the article Gerard Alberts, a computer historian of the University of Amsterdam, states that Minitel was an attempt of the French government to stimulate the use of computers. As far as I know it was the French government that approved a new telephone network. The French PTT did not know how to fill the lines and came up with the service Teletel, later on better known as Minitel.. On this service the French telephone directory was available for consultation; the printed French telephone directory consisted of some 33 separate volumes).

A minitel of 1982

With the article a photograph of a terminal is presented which is not a Minitel. In fact it is a Viditel terminal of the Dutch videotext service, which was based on the British Prestel technology and service.

The article states that Minitel never became a success in the Netherlands. This is true. Yet in 1987 the Eindhoven company Telematica of Abelshausen and Rovers promoted the minitel terminal for the Dutch market. They had plans to start a pilot in Nuenen (these days a glass village thanks to the same persons) and in Amstelveen near Amsterdam. These plans were later on incorporated in the launch of the company Videotex Nederland. However the terminals became never a success.

(BTW I am still looking for a minitel for my museum).

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Blog Posting Number 571

Of blogs and students

When surfing I hit upon an article and a thesis on blogs and students. Blogging should help students to think and write more critically, according to the Australian researcher Anne Barlett-Bragg a lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney. As a teacher she has been using weblogs or blogs in her own teaching since 2001. Her basic idea is that blogs learn students to communicate outside the boundaries of the classroom and the institution. In this way they become critical and more responsible. One of the most powerful facilities in weblogs, she sees, is pinging, which involves a person posting a comment about someone else's work on their own blog. The 'TrackBack' tool is used to notify the author when they have published the comment, basically inviting them to discuss it. It alerts the original author that someone has written about them. But not everyone responds; yet many do.The blog plays also a role in the communication among the students themselves as they read others blogs and respect it, but also debate issues. Blogs are also extremely useful for categorising and managing a large collection of thoughts, whether they are from lecture notes, a student's own ideas, or comments on the ideas of others.

When I looked further for evidence I found the (Dutch language) thesis Learning by blogging of M.J.C. Kremers, a student of Tilburg University. He has mad an inventory of blogs in universities. He found four weblog sites offered by departments of universities and one university library. He counted 34 blogs from indivuals such as instructors, students or a small group.

Type of blogs
Individual weblog 15
Topic blog 5
Diary 4
Group blog 3
Blog of internship/Travel blog 3
Testing blogs 2
Portfolio / Personal weblog 1
Videoblog 1

He notes that the found web logs mainly are used in the research area as a communication tool. He concludes that the added value of the weblog for education is not clear yet. Weblogs are mainly used as a tool for reflection and sometimes for showing a portfolio.

At Leiden University blogs are used for instructors and their assistants to put up the content of the course. Mid 2006 there were 91 weblogs, 129 authors of which 41 active authors, 1815 postings and 1217 commentaries. As in other weblogs it is clear that one starts enthusiastically with a weblog, but then the enthusiasm tapers off: from 129 authors to 41 active ones.

In the Digital University, a cooperation of nine universities and colleges, web logs are used to report on the internship of potential teachers.

Personally I found the weblogs of 25 students of the international Master training MediaCulture most interesting. The students will have to master working with weblogs and will have to write for a large audience. They write in English and write with reflection on their course. The web is also used in order to hand in essays.

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Blog Posting Number: 570

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

IHT celebrates web imperialism

Last week comScore released a study about Web traffic in September. The US office and the European office produced different press releases. The US office stated that more than half of top 25 US web properties generate more traffic from outside the US than from within. The only European site in the top 30 thirty of traffic grabbers is Lycos, which is Spanish now but originally of US offspring. The European office stated that there was only one European site in the top ten traffic grabbers in Europe in 6 European countries, namely France Telecom:
1. Google Sites
2. Microsoft Sites
3. Yahoo! Sites
4. eBay
5. Time Warner Network
6. Wikipedia Sites
7. Amazon Sites
8. France Telecom(ii)
9. Adobe Sites
10. Ask Network

Source comScore

Victoria Shannon of the International Herald Tribune immediately made a big spiel about this study, using the headline The End User: Content vs. control. Her thesis was: If the question of control is about content, then the United States has a lock on the World Wide Web that looks unshakable.

In my view this statement is only right if you only look at Internet as an English language service. Sure, Google is used a lot. It is for example the top search service in The Netherlands. But many Dutch people use the service to find a Dutch language site. Of course there is a Dutch search engine, Ilse, but that search service is less complete than Google. If you take this reasoning one step further, you will find that the Chinese search service Baidu will succeed Google in 2008, when the Olympics will be held in Beijing. Such a perspective must come as a shock for Americans by that time.

This American web imperialism points to another problem. In the top 10 of the thirty web properties there are 4 US search engines. In the top 30 there is only one European search engine (as said from US parentage). But there are many search sites in the local language pointing people to sites in their local language. In other words the local language websites have never been combined over against English language American sites. So many websites are not sought after as they are put in a language other than English. Of course Google has taken the trouble to index sites in more than 115 languages, but this still leaves out a lot of not indexed websites.

It also calls for more language tools. For, at present you can search for elections in English and verkiezingen in Dutch. But when you key in the Dutch word for elections verkiezingen, as we will have elections in The Netherlands next week, the results will not contain any English language articles on the US Congress and Senate elections. So a multilingual search tool would be most interesting. Of course, at present you will get already a lot of redundant references and links and with such a language tool you probably will get an amount of results, which is difficult to handle. But giving the user the power to select the languages wanted, could shed another light on a lot of subjects, which are now dominated by English/American orientated search engines.

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Blog Posting Number: 569

Monday, November 13, 2006

Universal Music and Microsoft throw stones in the levy pond

I was reading an article in DRM Watch by Bill Rosenblatt over the weekend. The article dealt with the introduction of the Zune player of Microsoft and the agreement of Universal Music with Microsoft, that there will be a levy on every Zune sold. It looks like a new business model.

Microsoft is busy with the launch of Zune digital music player, a competitor of the iPod of Apple. The Zune will be more than the iPod. It has a wifi connection to share music and has a built-in FM radio. And of course, it will cost less than an iPod, unless all the music companies are going to follow the Universal Music example. Universal Music Group will collect US $1 in royalties for every $250 Zune device sold, in addition to per-track royalties for music sold through the Zune service. The other major record companies are expected to be cutting similar deals.

This business deal will have a lot of consequences. Normally governments cash levies on equipment like copying machines, tapes and CD-ROM. But now it is a private company putting a levy on a piece of equipment. So the first conflict can be expected with governments as some governments have are considering to put levies on iPod like machines. But the new business model might also backlash on the music industry: if they are going to put a levy on the machines, they should not use DRM on songs.

In many European countries there are already levies in place. And people are getting fed up with levied being put on levies. There are levies on copying machines, which are shared by publishers, but businesses have to pay extra levies for copying business literature, again to be shared by publishers. In the US this is different as only digital tape recorders and blank media have a levy put on them. It is clear that in Europe there will be a problem for the music companies to get to a settlement.

But there will also be consequences for the music companies. Such a levy will mean extra revenues for the music company and as this is related to equipment, it is most likely that it will stay with the music company and will not be shared with the artists. The companies will refer the artists to the per-track royalties which are shared between the companies and the artists. And 1 US dollar per player means 1 million US dollars when 1 million music players have been sold. But the music companies will also have to think through the consequences. When a blank levy is put on a player, it means that this is a blank levy for copying. So the music companies should abandon digital rights management on downloading such as encryption-based content protection technologies.

It will be interesting to see how this levy will go down with the equipment companies other than Microsoft, the music companies other than Universal Music and with the user. Universal Music will now attempt to get an agreement with Apple, I guess, while other music companies will have to knock on the same doors of equipment manufacturers. But what happens if Apple refuses to pay the levy. And the careful built up ethics of payment per track royalty will be lost again, unless encryption is being replaced with a combination of acoustic fingerprinting and forensic watermarking in order to track illegal copies.

It will be interesting to see how this Microsoft-Universal Media levy will be implemented and accepted in the market. But Zune will have to be launched first and become a fearsome competitor.

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Blog Posting Number: 568

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A first in the Netherlands: whole movie in episodes on mobile phone

For the first time in the Netherlands, an entire movie is offered on mobile phone. The The English-language movie Crusade in Jeans that premieres in Pathé Schouwburgplein Rotterdam on 12 November and will play in the Dutch cinemas from 15 November, will be serialised and exclusively offered on Vodafone live! in twelve installments of ten minutes each. From 15 November every week customers can watch a new episode on their mobile phone.

Crusade in Jeans is a compelling adventure in the international best seller Dutch language book for teens "Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek" by Thea Beckman which was published in 1973. The story has now been filmed by Ben Sombogaart. The fifteen year old Dolf uses a prototype time machine and gets stuck in the Dark Ages. He gets struck down by bandits, but is saved by the beautiful and tough Jenne. She is part of a children's crusade: eightthousand children on their way to Jerusalem to free the city of the Persians. Dolf helps the children to defy the terrible mountains, to conquer disease and to fight evil knights. Slowly Dolf begins to realize, the real danger does not lurk behind the next mountaintop, but the danger is the crusade itself. Dolf suspects the charismatic leader of the crusade, father Anselmus, to use him as a pawn in his horrifying plan...

From 30 October Vodafone customers can already see the movie trailer for free on Vodafone live!. Also the movie's music clip, full track music download by Ozark Henry and ringtones of the title song are offered on ^Vodafone mobiles. From 15 November the movie will be offered in twelve weekly episodes.

To offer "Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek" Vodafone signed an exclusive agreement with Benelux Film Distributors (BFD). BFD is a joint venture from several independent film distributors that presents a broad range of movies in the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg cinemas.

Prior to "Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek" the video clips "Stars are Blind" by Paris Hilton and "Saturday Night" by Armin van Buuren on the artist Herman Brood could be watched exclusively on Vodafone live! before they were broadcasted on television.

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Blog Posting Number: 567

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Internet in EU25 used at least once a week

A third of households and three-quarters of enterprises had broadband internet access. In the EU25, 52% of households1 had access to the internet during the first quarter of 2006, compared to 48% during the first quarter of 2005, and 32% had a broadband connection, compared to 23% in 2005. At the beginning of 2006, 94% of enterprises2 with at least 10 persons employed had access to the internet (91% at the beginning of 2005), and 75% of enterprises had a broadband connection (63% in 2005). In the first quarter of 2006, 47% of individuals1 in the EU25 used the internet regularly, i.e. at least once a week, whether at home or at any other location.

This data3 comes from a report of Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. This release presents part of the results of surveys on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by households, individuals and enterprises in the EU25 Member States, Norway and Iceland. As well as internet use, the surveys also cover broadband connections, e-commerce, e-government and e-skills.

Household internet access ranged from 23% in Greece to 80% in the Netherlands. In the first quarter of 2006, the highest proportions of households with internet access were recorded in the
Netherlands (80%), Denmark (79%), Sweden (77%) and Luxembourg (70%). The lowest levels were registered in Greece (23%), Slovakia (27%), Hungary (32%), Lithuania and Portugal (both 35%).
At the beginning of 2006, the highest proportions of enterprises with internet access were recorded in Finland (99%), Denmark and Austria (both 98%) and the Netherlands (97%). Only in Latvia (80%), Cyprus (86%), Lithuania (88%) and Poland (89%) were fewer than 90% of enterprises connected to the internet.

Broadband offers a much faster connection to the internet, and offers the potential of changing the way the internet is used. The proportion of households with a broadband connection in 2006 was highest in the Netherlands (66%), Denmark (63%), Finland (53%) and Sweden (51%), and lowest in Greece (4%), Slovakia (11%), Cyprus (12%) and Ireland (13%). Amongst enterprises the highest levels of broadband connections were recorded in Sweden and Finland (both 89%), Spain (87%) and France (86%), and the lowest in Poland (46%), Cyprus (55%), Lithuania (57%) and Latvia (59%).

Nearly three quarters of young people used the internet at least once a week. In the first quarter of 2006, the highest proportions of individuals regularly using the internet were recorded in
Sweden (80%), Denmark (78%), the Netherlands (76%) and Finland (71%), and the lowest in Greece (23%), Cyprus (29%), Italy and Portugal (both 31%).

At EU25 level a higher proportion of men than women used the internet regularly (51% of men compared with 43% of women), and this was true for all Member States, although in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland the gap was only one or two percentage points. In Luxembourg the gap was 21 percentage points (men 76%, women 55%).

While nearly three quarters of individuals in the EU25 aged 16 to 24 (73%), and more than half of those aged 25 to 54 (54%), used the internet regularly, only a fifth of those aged 55 to 74 (20%) did so. While the gap in regular use between Member States ranged from one to two for 16-24 year olds (47% in Greece to 96% in the Netherlands) and one to three for 25-54 year olds (27% in Greece to 89% in Sweden), it reached one to fourteen for 55-74 year olds (4% in Greece to 56% in Denmark and Sweden).

While we are on stats, I saw this morning some interesting stats on the broadband speed in the Netherlands in a report by Telecompaper. This is always interesting for comparison. Officially I am on 8Mbps for downloading, but this speed is hardly reached. Usually I am in the 7.x Mbps band. It is not bad. But there are times when the speed goes down to 2.5Mbps. By next month I will upgrade to 20Mbps with UPC Extreme.

Yet the average measured download speed of broadband access lines in the Netherlands at the end of June 2006 is 2,808 Kbps. Compared with the start of 2006, this download speed increased with 53 percent from 1.829 Kbps. These figures come from Telecompaper's latest research report "Dutch Broadband Access Monitor". In this report raw data from the firm's research partner Iping Research is used to analyse the actual download speed experienced by the end-users, and to analyse the composition of the installed base per provider and technology

Of the Dutch DSL providers, Tele2 has the highest average measured download speed, with XS4All and Orange following in second place. Het Net and Direct ADSL have the lowest download speed, which is in line with the market positioning of the two brands. It should be noted that Teletel provides ADSL2+ for the soccer games.

UPC outperforms its cable peers on average download speed, followed by @Home, which comes in second, but was the slowest at the end of 2005. Telco’s Chello and Tele2 are the only two providers which have average download speeds of more than 4,096 Kbps.


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Blog Posting Number: 566

Friday, November 10, 2006

It is the month of gaming

I guess that it is not planned. But there are a lot of gaming events and announcements in the Netherlands during this month. There was already a seminar on serious gaming with some good examples. An announcement for the development of a mobile educational game. And last but not least the Dutch game industry holds its annual conference in Utrecht (photograph of the Dom during last years Game Days) at the end of November and uses all available PR tools, including YourTube.

The seminar on Serious Gaming was different from the ones I have attended so far. There was more stress on simulation in business and management and less stress on the internals of serious games. Game developer Douwe Buis says: “Serious gaming is a very interesting way if you need to implement a new strategy in an organisation. You create a safe environment in which employees can experiment. Usually people think that a day of business gaming is a day full of fun; but it is hard day’s work with a valuable learning experience as a result”. The best part of the seminar were the cases. Four of the presentations have been put online (warning: they are in Dutch and movie parts can not be played). One is on the development of a product on diving instruction. The second one is a ship simulator which is used for training, but also promotion. The Dutch police force has developed a serious game for training. The last one is most likely the most interesting one as it is about developing a serious game for a mission to Mars. It gives a lot of insight in the development process (it is a pity the presentation is in Dutch)
Virtual Driving Instructor - Jorrit Kuipers - Green DinoShip game en simulator - Pjotr van Schothorst - VstepProfcheck Opsporing en Profcheck Basispolitiezorg - Harry Lassche - PolitieacademieProjectmanagement door een missie naar Mars - Paul Ras - Simenco

Yesterday there was the announcement that a pilot of a mobile educational game has received support to develop the 3G location based game to a full blown product. The pilot had attracted much attention already. It was for example one of the Dutch entries for the World Summit Award of 2005. In the Frequency 1550 mobile game, students are transported to the medieval Amsterdam of 1550 via a medium that's familiar to this agegroup: the mobile phone. Amsterdam schoolkids equiped with a 3G mobile and GPS discovered interactively historical venues in Amsterdam and shared the experience with each other. Apart from adding to historical awareness and knowledge we hoped the pilot would enhance communication and collaboration skills (game tactics) and educational abilities (interpreting historical sources and references). Throught this pilot, De Waag Foundation was researching whether actively experiencing history through the immersing qualities of a (location-based) game and the creation of your own media (pictures, sound, video) adds to the understanding and appreciation of the city and its history. The pilot will now be developed into a full blown game with a grant of 1 million euro; in the project will collaborate the City of Amsterdam, Waag Foundation, telco KPN and two Amsterdam schools. In the second year the game will will be avaialble to other Dutch schools.

Last but not least, the Dutch Game Days in Utrecht at the end of the month. It will be a very creative conference as you can see from the announcements in English (!).Over the last 9 months television makers, game developers and concept developers have formed 4 teams to create innovative concepts to combine television and games. Craftworld: What do you get when you mix games with television. The Spill Group created an award by requesting a game for the Clinilowns in the NLGD Development Rally. More than 100 teams registered. A jury of kids will help pick the winner. Rally: more than a 100 registrations. Speakers like Margaret Robertson, editor of EDGE, and Wim Veen, professor education and technology at the TU Delft, will talk about the convergence of research ánd entertainment regarding games. And completely in style with Web 2.0 the organisers put a trailer on YourTube, proclaiming that the city of Utrecht will burn.

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Blog Posting Number: 565

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Dutch public broadcasts creates long tail

The Dutch public broadcast will combine the viewing figures of television and internet. Seven days after a broadcast the internet statistics will be reported. This will result in a combined measuring and eventually in demonstrating the long tail effect of a broadcast.

Viewing stats of public broadcast programs are already available on the day after the broadcast. So far only the broadcast viewing stats were reported. But now the internet stats will be reported after seven days in a combined report of broadcast and internet stats.

Presently there are 17 theme channels on Nederland4.nl. One of the most popular internet programs is Missed a Broadcast? However in terms of extra reach it only got as far as 10 to 15 percent in comparison to the broadcast. But in concrete this means that in September 5,5 million streams were requested. Other broadcast programmes do even better. The Dutch public broadcast company VPRO has a music site called 3VOOR12 (3 minutes before 12 o’clock). In 2005 the Top 10 of the most frequently asked audio visual productions represented 6 percent , but the top 1000 was good for 60 percent. And a television game, called Lingo, of October 19th, 2006 got 86.000 internet recalls; this was more a form of showing support for a programme threatened to be taken off the tube.

The theme channels deliver repackaged programmes at a tune of 12 million euro, partly paid by the cable operators. They have 935.000 consumers or 27 percent of the Dutch households.

By combining television and internet figures, the reach of the programmes can at last be measured. And this is needed as some broadcast shows continue the show on internet and broadcast the result one night later. Now the total effect will be measured. A long tail of a programme existing of high figures on the night of the broadcast and lower stats on internet can finally show that a programme has a second life. Although the stats on the internet programmes are still not very high, it is expected that it is a question of time before the long tail will show.

The internet thematic channels have also their problems. Rights for reruns are difficult to get and negotiations between collecting societies and public broadcasting companies are not easy. The media law will also have to change from an analogue to a technology neutral orientation. This will allow other parties than cable operators to be covered by the media law, such a the telco incumbent KPN, which sells television via the ADSL2+ product Mine as well as digital terrestrial television via Digitenne and Versatel with ADSL2+ on soccer broadcasts.

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Blog Posting Numbers: 564

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

At last web science taken serious

While I was raving on a course on content in the past days, I noticed last Thursday an article in the New York Times, indicating that MIT in Boston, Mass., and the UK University of Southampton are setting up a joint research program in Web science. Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web's basic software, is leading the international research initiative.

It is interesting to see that finally after 10 years internet is no longer seen as something belonging to computer science and/or ICT. The research in this new field will be driven by social sciences and engineering. Networking and social networking will be studied closely by interdisciplinary teams. Finally Tim Berners-Lee is going to go deeper into adding intelligence to the Web through the semantic web. It is clear that web science is becoming a prerequisite to design and build complex, human-oriented systems. Technology is no longer leading, but social sciences and engineering. Of course algorithms are important, but understanding the social dynamics of issues like trust, responsibility, empathy and privacy in this vast networked space will be more important. Privacy is pointed to as an example of web science. A lot of provate information is given away when access is asked for to social networks such as MySpace and Facebook; besides so much private information is already known about a person, so why have it repeated again.

Web science will receive initial financial support from MIT and the University of Southampton. Support from large companies is also being sought as well as from government agencies. Eventually the program should take shape in an undergraduate and graduate course. For the time being workshops on Web science will be held, while research fellowships will be sponsored. The courses and workshops will not be the exclusive domain of MIT and the University of Southampton; the intention is to start up web science in more academic environments. Daniel Weitzner will be the technology and society director at the Web consortium between MIT and the University of Southampton.

This is an interesting development. Being from the humaniora, I have always wondered about the supremacy of computer scientists talking about internet, the web and social networks. To me the separation of web science out of computer sciences is a very healthy development. This will bring in sociology and network theories (Castell etc) more than bits and bytes. Of course history will be part of it. And having studied philosophy and theology, I wonder when the theological side of web science will become a study area. As I say in my e-mail signature: Theology is the best training for online.

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Blog Posting Number: 563

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Putting a course on content together (10)

As promised this blog will be the last instalment in the mini-series on putting a course of content together. The last instalment is about content resources and not so much about building blocks for the course. The list of resources has been culled from the resource list in the book E-Content: Technologies and Perspectives for the European Market by Peter Bruck (ed) e.a, published by Springer in 2005. Additions have been made from my own resource list.

ACTeN – Anticipating Content Technology Needs
ACTeN was a EU-funded thematic network headed by MFG Baden-Würt-temberg, in which 11 partners from 10 countries cooperated to build an enlarged business and industry community in the area of multimedia technologies and E-Content applications and tools. Especially the content e-content reports and reports on the round table conferences are interesting.
http://www.acten.net/

Content Village
An accompanying measure of the eContent programme of the European Commission – key to information on the eContent programme, its pro-jects and participants. This communication and knowledge-sharing plat-form offers a wealth of resources of interest to the digital content com-munity, language industry, and public sector.
http://www.content-village.org/

Cordis
Cordis is the European Community’s Research and Development In-formation Service. It is an important source on EU R&D programmes and relevant matters and can help to participate in EU funded research programmes, find partners, and transfer innovative ideas.
http://www.cordis.lu/

DM Europe.com
DigitalMediaEurope is an online daily newswire and subscription service dedicated to covering continent-wide developments in digital media. The explosion in the delivery of digital content via various media across the continent can be confusing even for industry stakeholders. With DMeurope.com, those in the industry, investors, academics and others in Europe and beyond can benefit from a news service that tracks these developments and allows them to come to grips with what is happening in the sector across the new Europe.
http://www.dmeurope.com/

eContent programme
The eContent programme was adopted by the European Council in De-cember 2000 for a period of four years with a budget of € 100 million. Later on, it was agreed upon an update of the work programme from 2003 to 2004. eContent aims at supporting the production, use and dis-tribution of European digital content and promoting linguistic diversity on the global networks. The programme contributes to the third objec-tive of the eEurope action plan: “to stimulate the use of the Internet”.
www.cordis.lu/econtent

EPS – Electronic Publishing Services
EPS is a consultancy which has concentrated its whole attention speci-fically on the information industry. It provides newsletters and reports on electronic publishing trends mainly for business and scientific con-tents.
http://www.epsltd.com/

Game Studies
Game Studies is a cross-disciplinary journal dedicated to games re-search. The focus lies on aesthetic, cultural and communicative aspects of computer games.
http://www.gamestudies.org/

Mobile Content World
The Mobile Content World web magazine looks at every stage of the mobile content value chain – from origination, through distribution, to sales. Its mission is to promote innovation in the development, distribu-tion and monetisation of mobile content across the world.
http://www.mobilecontentworld.biz/

Mobile Info
Mobile Info is a website for mobile computing and wireless informa-tion.
http://www.mobileinfo.com/

Moconews
MocoNews.net is a news site dedicated to the mobile content sector, that also offers a daily newsletter. Just like paidcontent.org (see below) it is run by ContentNext, an independent media and information company covering the business of digital media.
http://www.moconews.ne/

OECD Work on Digital Content
The OECD’s Working Party on the Information Economy (WPIE) is undertaking analysis of the digital delivery of content, recognising that the rapid development of "always-on" broadband Internet services is transforming high-growth industries that provide or have the potential to provide digital content. Specifically, it was agreed to undertake stock-taking studies in the following three areas: scientific and technical pub-lishing, music, and online computer games.
www.oecd.org/document/62/0,2340,en_2649_33757_32160190_1_1_1_1,00.html

Outsell, Inc
Outsell is the only market research and advisory company that focuses on the entire information industry, worldwide.
http://www.outsellinc.com/

PaidContent
PaidContent is an independent service for the digital media and technol-ogy executives, providing news and resources on: tethered and wireless paid content industry, subscription-enabling technologies, and corporate initiatives in gaining subscription revenues through content.
http://www.paidcontent.org/

Rightscom News Briefing
Rightscom News Briefing is a free newsletter provided by Rightscom, focussing on developments in the digital information industries such as E-Content, digital rights management, as well as online and mobile con-tent distribution.
http://www.rightscom.com/

sagas Writing Interactive Fiction
This joint initiative of the European MEDIA Plus Programme Training with the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München aims at further-ing fiction writing skills for the interactive media market. The project focuses on the most fundamental and creative level: the stage of devel-oping storytelling ideas and organising them into workable interactive concepts. The aim of the ongoing cross-disciplinary project is to en-courage a professional knowledge transfer between the audio-visual in-dustry and the interactive market.
http://www.sagas.de/

Screen Digest
The news and market research journal Screen Digest was founded in 1971. Screen Digest is an important source of business intelligence, re-search, and analysis on global audiovisual media.
http://www.screendigest.com/

Shore Communications Inc.
Shore's consulting and research services focus on professionally-oriented content and the technologies that enable its value in enterprise and media markets.
http://shore.com/

Software & Information Industry Association
The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) is the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry. SIIA provides global services in government relations, business development, corporate education and intellectual property protection to the leading companies that are setting the pace for the digital age. SIIA has a content division.
www.siia.com/content/

Strategic Studies on E-Content
Within the scope of the eContent programme of the European Commission, a number of strategic studies were carried out, e.g. on mobile con-tent or on the commercial exploitation of Europe’s public sector infor-mation.
www.cordis.lu/econtent/studies/studies.htm

Streaming Media
This industry-oriented site provides news and business intelligence, and covers strategic and technological developments related to streaming media.
http://www.streamingmedia.com/

Streaming Media World
Streamingmediaworld features articles, hours of audio / video content, news, research reports, industry directory and case studies that showcase the latest real-world streaming media implementations.
http://www.streamingmediaworld.com/

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Blog Posting Number: 562