Sunday, September 30, 2007

Europrix Top Talent Award Jury 2007 (4)

Before midnight all the decisions were taken and the jurors were tired (see photograph). The nominations and the winners were selected. The spokespersons for the jury were chosen. Ideas for upgrading the categories were discussed. Every year the jury looks at the categories; every the comment is voiced that most categories do not cover exactly a terrain. It is a returning discussion. But basically you need to keep in mind the purpose of the Europrix Top talent Award as a competition for young professionals, who are about to jump into big life. Being a nominee and/or winner will be an extra credit for the big jump.

The jurors took leave bear hugging and promising to be present in Graz for the award ceremony. For the last years the award ceremonies were held in the Arsenal in Vienna. Before that there were several other places for the award ceremony like Tampere (Finland), North of Sweden, Lisbon (Portugal) and Cannes (France). This year the award ceremony will still be in Austria, but now in Graz. For me it will be my first time in Graz and I look forwards to it.

Now also the preparations for the award ceremony can start. The nominated teams will have to be invited. The print catalogue will be prepared, while the internet site and the DVD will be ready soon after the award ceremony. Also the award show will have to be designed. Of course also the audience will have to be put together. Rainer Staindler, the project manager for the Europrix Top Talent Award, and his team will have some intensive weeks ahead.

I am planning to go to Graz for more than the award ceremony only. There is in fact a festival during which there will be an exhibition of projects and installation. This will take place in the weekend of 23 and 24 November. The nominated teams will also have a conference with a key-note speaker of format. Besides they will have to pitch and present their project. Parallel to this a conference for multimedia educationalists takes place. Of course the award ceremony is the climax of the weekend. Once the Top Talent Festival is over, a series of road shows throughout start.

BTW If you are a Facebook member look up the album with photographs of Cai Melaskoski.

Blog Posting Number 881

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Europrix Top Talent Award Jury 2007 (3)

The weather had really changed today from blustery rain to sunshine. It was great to await the cab to transfer the jury members from the hotel to ICNM HQ. Coffee and tea was awaiting us as well as the sweet left –overs of yesterday. It was a surprise to see the bio diesel car of Stanislav Miler, having returned from Croatia.

But duty called and today we had to fight ourselves through the shortlist of the eight categories, with at least three to five or more entries per category. But the jury members were very wise and efficient in the process. We started with the category Mobile. I had expected a lot of this category for the educational sector. Two years ago micro-learning was a big hype. This time we had two entries from educational projects. One was an application for learning languages like English and German by mobile phone for Chinese students; but the project was not selected as a nomination due to the difficult interface. Another mobile educational project did not make it to the nominations either. The project was concerned with teaching physics. High school students would take pictures of experiments and upload them to the server for class distribution. Students could add their comments to the photographs.

I was very happy to see in the category content tools an innovation in journalism and/or broadcast. Since 1980 BBC has been retyping the scripts of BBC World broadcasts and storing them in the computers of the former host Datasolve. These days broadcast companies chunk up videos of (news) shows, distil a picture out of the video, put the text next to it, whether it is the already typed translation or the speech to text converted type text and put it in a database, including the video. But that is not all. It is gong further these days. The text automatically links to the Wikipedia and the text is sent by e-mail to bloggers and forums. In this way broadcast companies are assuring themselves that they are not misquoted. This type of activity is called micro-chuncking.

By the time we had the first coffee break we were still on schedule but still had six categories to go. I saw a nice interactive installation which could be used for the Dutch SBS program Domino Day. On a table you could draw the patterns to be set up. And I saw a beautiful children’s’ project with interactive graphics. But on the other hand a social statement was made with digital media against the state watching you. In the category of interactive installation there were surprisingly two planetarium entries. One was in the entertainment atmosphere, while the other one was in the field of dance.

But we looked also at a category which had the highest number of entries last year, but had this year a meagre six entries; not much to choose from and the quality left to be desired. The question I ask myself: is this a trend. When the Europrix started in 1998 this category of CD-ROM and DVD was an absolute favourite. Broadband had not arrived yet; so multimedia productions were stored on a disc. But the change from CD-ROM to DVD-ROM was a hefty one. It looks like CD-ROM was more flexible than the DVD. Over against the many beautiful CD-ROM productions like a Ceremony of Innocence and an Anne Frank, a House with a Story, I saw hardly any mentionable production, except for a French product about a standard work on gender.

By seven o’clock we were done and had a beautiful sushi meal. It was a replacement for a meal was planned in the mountains. I have been at the restaurant before and it gives a beautiful sight on the river Salze and Salzburg. But as there were more matters to be treated, this trip was sadly cancelled and the meal replaced by sushi. One of the reasons was also the departure of many a juror by Sunday morning. Just to give you an example, flying from Salzburg to Amsterdam in the afternoon would have cost the organisation 200 euro more.

By the end of the day Stanislav came to ask Cai and me for interviews. Of the jury we are old hands, veterans in new media. Cai has been involved in the Europrix from the second year onwards, while I have been involved from the start. It has given us both a large European network.

Blog Posting Number: 880

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Europrix Top Talent Award Jury 2007 (2)

The trip to Salzburg yesterday was awful. I had a transfer in Frankfurt. But the plane for Frankfurt arrived late due to the bad weather. Of course I missed the connecting flight from Frankfurt o Salzburg and had to spend the afternoon in the airport; part of it attempting to get through a security check of more than twenty minutes (and they never caught a terrorist despite all those measures; this while you are not checked on liquids and gel in Croatia, Bahrain and Dubai). It gives people a secure feeling and politicians an idea that they are doing something for a secure society.

But arriving in Salzburg was like being greeted in a in a big sauna. There was a group of Europrix veterans (first five years) and veterans of the Europrix Top Talent Award (of the last five years). I had met my friend Cai and Martin Casey of Arekibo in Ireland, the winner of the first students’ award at Frankfurt airport. In the same plane was in fact the first spokesperson for the Europrix jury, Peter Kabel, who is these days a venture capitalist. But at the restaurant more young veterans were waiting: Irena from Slovenia, Jozef from Hungary, Karin from Salzburg, Frank from Graz and Ted from Paris. And there were some new faces. And this morning there was another surprise with the overnight arrival of Silvia –Adriana Ticau, a former Romanian state secretary, minister as well as senator and these days Member of the European parliament; in politics time flies (see photograph). Silvia was part of the Wold Summit Grand Jury team in Dubai in 2003.

This morning the work started in earnest. Happily enough the entries for the Europrix Top Talent Award had been previewed, so that the workload had been reduced to 125 entries for some 13 jurors. Of those 125 entries there were nine Dutch entries, which is not bad; the record still stands at 23. Today all the jurors had at least seen four out of the eight categories with roughly 30 entries each. And I enjoyed the old jury labour of viewing, thinking and evaluating; either grading them high or low. By the end of the day the shortlist was put together, which usually leads to some heavy discussions, in which jurors attempt to convince their fellow jurors of their views. Tomorrow it is decision time for the 24 award nominees, the eight category winners and the one overall winner. At the end of the day the jurors soaked up some sunrays, after two days of bad weather (see photograph).

The day was ended with a dinner under the castle, not in the centre of Salzburg. It was an enjoyable meal with an exchange about the policy on the creative industries in the respective countries and about the role of the public broadcast companies in digital media. So far governments in the UK and the Netherlands have sponsored the public broadcast companies heavily in creating portals, theme portals and international radio stations all over internet. They are quite a force in the national arena of internet, but they hardly play at an equal level with commercial companies like commercial broadcast stations like RTL and SBS or commercial internet companies. And they are not really innovative; as I have said before: they are riding the waves trying to keep up with every upcoming fad and are repressively tolerant towards user generated content, as long as their name remains immaculate.

Blog Posting Number 879

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Europrix Top Talent Award Jury 2007 (1)

Today I fly to Salzburg for the grand jury of the Europrix Top Talent Award. This time around, it is jubilee as the Europrix Top Talent Award is being held for the tenth time; it is a diamond TTA. The Europrix Top Talent Award is a digital media competition, which gives young professionals and top students up to 30 years the chance to be promoted and exposed on the European stage. The competition benefits those who want to know how good their university coursework, freelance work or hobby-projects really are in comparison with their colleagues from other European countries. The Top Talent Awards will be awarded to the top projects; projects which are well-received by the jury will be awarded a Quality Seal in recognition of their good work – a certificate to make good impression on future employers.

The Europrix Top Talent Awards started as part of the Europrix competition in 1998. At the occasion of the Austrian presidency, a multimedia competition for companies and institutions was developed, including a parallel competition for students. The Europrix competition including the students’ competition, was financed by the European Commission and the Austrian government. After the second year the European Commission withdrew as one of the convenors of the Europrix, thus missing out on being involved in the latest developments in digital media and stimulating competition with the USA and Austral/Asia. After five years the Europrix competition for companies and institutes was terminated, but the students’ competition was broadened to the Europrix Top Talent Award for young professionals and top students up to 30 years. Now the Diamond Grand Jury will convene and deliberate about the 2007 winners. From November 23 to 24 the awards will be presented at a festival in Graz (Austria); the winners will be invited for this festival.

It is interesting to look back at the 10 years of competition. The first award went to Martin Casey for his production Broken Tongue. Martin Casey became a successful entrepreneur. Last FM was the winner of 2002 and is now a successful music site. A social project in 2004 was Non-violence. And these were the overall winners. But in the category winners there were several social projects, innovative projects and mobile projects. Many of the people in the project teams have made a successful career after winning a category or overall award. But also many of the students’ jury members have made an interesting career. A guy like the Frenchmen Damien Marchi worked in the team of cross media productions like Loft (French version of Big Brother) and Cult.

By Sunday morning there should be white smoke in Salzburg for the overall and category winners.

Blog Posting Number: 879

Tags: digital media competition, broadcast, creative industry

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Internet long tail of television programs

Last week Thursday, I was present at a mini-seminar of Nedstat. This Dutch webstats analysis company holds regularly mini-seminars to promoter their products. Charming about their method is that they add value to their company presentations. In this mini-seminar the company had invited the SKO, the Dutch radio and television stats research bureau. SKO charts the stats of radio and television programs for consumers and for advertisers. The statistical operation is executed by GfK and TV Times. So far SKO has kept itself busy with radio and television programs, but not with the internet counterparts.

But SKO now moves beyond traditional radio and television programs and will include internet video. This type of video has been growing in the Netherlands since 1999, but really picked up after 2005. In 2003 the company Financial TV started to present movies on internet, preceded by advertisements. In 2005 the company changed its name into, which works throughout Europe these days. The video offers now is growing fast, partly because of set top boxes and through internet. Public broadcast as well as commercial broadcast stations like RTL and SBS in the Netherlands have popular play back programs such as Program missed.

SKO has now decided to measure radio and television programs as well as internet programs. In this way advertisers can get the real picture about the viewing of a program. Due to internet a program has received a second lease of life. The number of viewers on internet might not be many, but the program can be watched for a long time after the braodcast. An example of a video of program was shown (see photograph). The internet viewing shows a red long tail.

The combination of radio and television program stats and internet pose problems with business models: subscription; ad supported; content ownership; customer ownership.

SKO wants to make the usage of video on television and internet transparent:
- online live and parallel;
- online live only;
- program missed;
- micro-chunking: partitioning a program;
- micro-chunking of material not shown on television;
- theme channels.
SKO will have daily and monthly reports of the public broadcast companies and of the commercial company RTL by the end of October. After that time other broadcast stations can participate.

During the presentation a dummy of the stats was shown. The internet dummy stats were very low in comparison with the television program. This immediately solicited comments from providers which have video fragments on line. Bas Broekhuizen of de Volkskrant was very happy about these dummy stats as his stats were much better.

Blog Posting Number: 878

Tags video, television , ,

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

iLiad the 2nd edition

The iLiad has undergone a redesign. The backside has been ruggedised, the casing inside has been improved, the battery power has been extended, the travel hub has been made smaller and a sleeve case is now provided.

The backside of edition 1 was not stable, as the top corners were were lower than the bottom corner. When in use and put on a table, the tablet was unstable. Inside the casing has improved so that the tablet cracks less easily. (I cracked my iLiad -see photograph- early in the race and paid 250 euro to get it repaired; there must have been more people who did this). The battery power has improved with 20 percent. The power consumption is offcially not mentioned in hours, but in page turns. Yet if you would measure it in hours the battery would last up to 15 hours, but do not forget that loading will take three hours. The travel hub has also been redesigned. The hub is a horrible device for connecting the electriocity lead and a computer lead. As the iLiad is too thin to handle a computer jacket the travel hub has been redesigned. Making it smaller and lighter is an improvement and certainly for travelling. When ordering an iLiad a sleeve is now provided to protect the screen.

iRex Technologies has improved the iLiad on weak points like the backside and the cracking. The designers did not touch some of the usability points like the Wifi knob and the hidden on/off knob. Without any problem and extra costs the on/off knob could have been made more clear with just a small half circle above the on/off knob (see photograph). Repositioning the Wifi knob, which is mistaken for the on/off knob by anyone whom I offer the e-reader for inspection, will require redesign and technical changes. Perhaps these are suggestions for the iLiad 3rd edition.

With the appearance of the second edition of the iLiad, its manufacturer iRex Technologies, announced, that it has secured a first round of € 6million of venture capital. The syndicated investment round was led by Main Capital Partners. The new financing round will be used for acceleration of the company's business, R&D and the development of the next generation product. Existing shareholders ABN AMRO Capital and management have also contributed to the round. Global sales of the iLiad has doubled over the first year.

The company has mainly focused on dedicated B2B markets as aviation, education and professional business segments and is now on a breakthrough path to the consumer market. Not only with E-books (amongst others under's Mobipocket format) but also in providing news. Last week, Les Echos, the largest business newspaper publisher in France, announced it has started publishing its newspaper on the iRex iLiad e-reader as a bundled service. This makes Les Echos (which is negotiating a trasfer from Pearson to the French company LHMV) the world’s first ever newspaper to publish its content on e-paper, be it on two digital paper e-readers, iLiad and STAReBook (see photograph). Later this year, some major Dutch newspapers are expected to go live on e-paper. Several major international newspapers are preparing to have the iLiad on trial.

Blog Posting Number: 877

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Monday, September 24, 2007

The academic library to become a publisher?

Besides the scholarly book publishing presentation at the Leiden University conference Publishing in the Digital Age, Leiden university librarian Kurt Belder gave his view on academic publishing and specifically scientific journal publishing. A lot has changed in this area with regard to the role of the university and the impact on academic libraries.

The role of the university in Research and Development is changing fast, certainly in Europe. R&D expenditures are on the rise. And there are more publications, especially in Europe. There is more research being done than ever. European scientists are now more than before subjugated to the publish or peril regime. Scientific articles are on the increase with 3 percent. And in the meantime the market grows in Asia, especially in China and India.

The scientific journal publishing market is getting smaller as publishers are merging; Wiley bought Blackwell. Also private equity is stepping in; Kluwer Academic and Springer could merge through these types of companies. The return on investment is high; Elsevier Science requires 22,5 percent and Wiley 21 percent. The journal market is dominated by four large companies: Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and Taylor & Francis. In total there are 35.000 scientific journals, of which 21.000 are e-titles with backfiles, which function as a longtail for the publisher. Scientific journals which are not digitised have problems; if a title is not digitised, it does not exist.

All these indicators do not spell much good for the academic libraries. After some years of just making noise, the library world now looks into new opportunities like Open Access, for example. Basic idea behind it that the publication costs are for the producer and not for the consumer; several research funding institutes also fund the publication in one of the 2.200 Open Access magazines. The Open Access journals have in the meantime gained faster recognition than traditional publications. Also the articles in these journals are supposedly quoted more than articles in traditional journals.

One would think that the production costs of Open Access journals would be cheaper. In principle the costs remain the same, except that in the case of Open Access the producer or sponsor pays for the costs, while for paid journals the subscribers, i.e. the academic libraries, pay.

Besides Open Access publications, there are other initiatives like SPARC, an international alliance of academic and research libraries stimulating the emergence of new scholarly communication models that expand the dissemination of scholarly research and reduce financial pressures on libraries. Also repositories are built up. Scientific Commons contains now 1.6 million publications. Leiden University Repositorium has stored 10.000 documents.

A new tyrend in scientific publishing is the attachment to a print or digital publication of scientific data in corpora for later research. The question is here, whether the data are going to be maintained by the university or by the publisher in his closed data silo.

In the ensuing discussion in which two publishers, respectively Brill and Elsevier partook, the scientific publishers understood that the universities were in for a hard time in order to keep up their research and to get it published; academic libraries are under pressure and getting less money. But they advised Kurt Belder (left on the photograph) as a representative of the academic libraries not to turn into a scholarly publisher in order to save money. IMHO that would be a bad decision by the university libraries. Earlier experiments like the EU funded project Figaro did not work; university libraries in cooperation with a neutral party like SPARC could work. But the idea should not be that university libraries transfer people from the library to a publishing unit, just for the sake of it.

Blog Posting Number: 876

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Second lease of life for scholarly book publishing

Last week I was present at the presentation Academic Publishing in the Digital Age by John Thompson at the conference Publishing in the Digital Age, organised by the Faculty of Arts of Leiden University. John is a professor of sociology at the University of Cambridge. He wrote amongst others Books in the Digital Age in 2005 and is currently working on the changing structure of the book publishing industry and the making of bestsellers.

In his presentation he focussed on the impact of the digital revolution on academic publishing. He distinguishes three streams in academic publishing:
a. Scholarly publishing mainly by university presses such as Blackwell and Sage;
b. College text book publishing for higher education;
c. Scientific journal publishing by for example Elsevier Science.
In his presentation he was mainly concerned with scholarly publishing and was wondering whether we are witnessing the kind of fundamental transformation in the scholarly book publishing industry as we have seen in other sectors of the creative industries. Digitisation is having an impact on:
a. operating systems;
b. management and manipulation of content, basically the workflow;
c. sales and marketing;
d. content delivery.
Digitisation has been a quiet, but profound revolution in book publishing and especially scholarly book publishing. The workflow became less labour intensive; marketing of scholarly book found more channels and content could be delivered electronically, ready for fast distribution.

The basic question for scholarly publishing has been: are books going to be replaced? Following the technological view, books will eventually be replaced by e-Books (file and/or e-reader) as the technology is there and it will happen regardless the market and the price. But this technological view does not seem to be valid in scholarly publishing (at least not for the time being).

John moved beyond this technological speculation by developing an analysis of the impact of the digital revolution on publishing. He developed a contextual approach to the impact which is based on an institutional account of the evolution of publishing fields and a systematic analysis of the relations between technologies, markets and forms of content. This shows that some forms of content lend themselves more readily to online dissemination than others and that, while claims about the death of the book have been greatly exaggerated, it is nevertheless the case that the digital revolution is profoundly transforming the book publishing industry today. It is not so much a revolution in the product as well as in the process.

After 15 years of studying scholarly publishing, John concludes:
1. There is no obvious solution to scholarly book publishing. The digital revolution is no magical bullet;
2. Attempts to put scholarly books online are mainly economically driven. But so far the revenues have been only a trickle and not a regular stream. End-users do not want to have content served this way;
3. If there is a market for electronic delivery, this will be the academic libraries and not the market of individuals; besides the economic model is uncertain;
4. The added value of scholarly books online lies in their incorporation into a corpus, searchability and focus.

The conclusion is that the digital revolution is giving the printed book a new lease of life.
From my own experience in book publishing I would say that the digital revolution in scholarly book publishing has come in the work flow process by digitising, using make-up languages like SGML, Latex and XML as database technologies to create a corpus.

Blog Posting Number: 875

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

National Progress Report EU eGovernment

A National Progress Report on eGovernment in the EU27+, was presented at the Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Lisbon. The meeting attended by 22 eGovernment Ministers reviewed progress made on implementing eGovernment Services since the launch of the European Commission’s i2010 initiative for Growth and Jobs (2005), the Manchester Ministerial Declaration (2005) and the i2010 eGovernment Action Plan agreed by Council in June 2006.

Most EU Member States policies and implementation actions are now in place and aligned with the goals of the Action Plan. Services are becoming more effective nationally and more interoperable at European level; delivering higher quality, saving billions of euros through efficiency gains, and increasing transparency and accountability of administrations.

The National Progress Report revealed impressive progress in transforming public administrations, thereby boosting economic growth by placing citizens and businesses at the centre of government services. Member States have developed and agreed roadmaps for mutual recognition and authentication of electronic identities, for cross-border eProcurement and for inclusive eGovernment. Equally important is the effort to reduce administrative burdens for both citizens and businesses, the increasing level of eParticipation activity, and the willingness of public administrations to share good practices.

The achievements of Member States has been further confirmed by an independent survey "The user challenge: Benchmarking the supply of online public services" undertaken and published for the Commission by Capgemini.

While progress has been impressive, work needs to continue. Stock will be taken again at the next Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Stockholm in 2009, during the Swedish Presidency.

Blog Posting Number: 874


Friday, September 21, 2007

Depopulation of the media

In the span of one week, I attended two sessions by Marc Deuze, young professor journalism at Indiana University and Leiden University. He has recently published the book Media Work. The book is based on 600 interviews among creative people working in the media such as journalism (print, radio and television) and advertising. It is a book about instability and destabilisation in the media, mixing perspectives on media production with those on media audiences and their activities.

The promo blurb says: The media are home to an eclectic bunch of people. This book is about who they are, what they do, and what their work means to them. Based on interviews with media professionals in the United States, New Zealand, South Africa, and The Netherlands, and drawing from both scholarly and professional literatures in a wide variety of disciplines, it offers an account of what it is like to work in the media today.
Media professionals face tough choices. Boundaries are drawn and erased: between commerce and creativity, between individualism and teamwork, between security and independence. Digital media supercharge these dilemmas, as industries merge and media converge, as audiences become co-creators of content online.
The media industries are the pioneers of the digital age. This book is a critical primer on how media workers manage to survive, and is essential reading for anyone considering a career in the media, or who wishes to understand how the media are made.

Mark Deuze is not optimistic about the labour perspectives in media today. He signals in fact a depopulation of the media. Most of the media have lost the people formally fondly known as the audience (quote by Tom Rosen). They hardly know what they should do with internet. The only thing that they are concerned about is the reliability of their name. Besides the labour conditions of the media personnel are winding down. Workers under the 30 years do not have regular contracts; so they start doing projects.

Deuze goes back in history and points to the game world, where this pattern started. After that this labour ethos was visible in the advertisement world. Now the journalists take their turn. News is no longer coming from one source and can be picked up from the printed newspaper, radio and television and internet. Internet has made a commodity of news. News is becoming increasingly isomorphic, while news is becoming more and more inter-institutional between TV, radio, print and internet. Media work will yield unfinished products and leave the finishing to people and participants. If a company wants its product to stick, the media companies will have to work with talent.

The promo blurb says that the media industries are the pioneers of the digital age. I guess that you can differ on this observation. The media industries have not been real pioneers of the digital age, but scared protectors of their revenue resources, i.e. the advertisement revenues. And presently the media companies are not really innovative. They either buy start-up companies like News Corp did with MySpace or copy a user generated content trend like YouTube. IMHO, media companies ride the waves, have a repressively tolerant attitude towards user generated content and are very scared about loosing their reputation and independence.

Blog Posting Number: 873

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Flash: City of Amerdam EC eGovernment Award

Yesterday the winners of the European eGovernment Awards were announced at the EU Ministerial eGovernment Conference in Lisbon (Portugal). The City of Amsterdam from The Netherlands picked up one of the awards, celebrating Europe’s most innovative public services in the first category For Better public services for growth and jobs.

The project: Horeca1

Description: One-stop-shop for Hotel Restaurant Café licences" submitted by the Economic Development Department, City of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Evaluation: Horeca1 helps entrepreneurs and SMEs to easily find out which governmental documents they have to obtain for the seven local licences required in the City, by answering questions on-line and filling out a single form.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Digital paper to change newspapers

At the conference Publishing in the Digital Age organised by the Faculty of Arts of Leiden University, Jan Bierhoff of EC/DC talked about the paperless paper. His conclusion was that Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs; see photograph of a Vaio Sony UMPC) and digital paper panes beg to change the very nature of the newspaper business.

In order to build his case, he went back to the project Swedish DigiNews. This project consists of the Swedish newspaper partners Tidnings Utgivarna, AftonBladet, Ostgota Correspondenten, Gotenbogs-Posten, Nerikes Allehanda, Norrkopings Tifningar, Sundsvalls Tidning, Sydsvenskan and the research institutes Hogeskolan Halmstad and KTH Vetenskap och Konst. The European partners are the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the Belgian newspaper Publisher Concentra Media, the German research institute Fraunhofer FIRST, the software company Ibermatica, the Belgian research institute K.U.Leuven Department of Computer Science, the French newspaper, the technology partner Philips Applied Technologies and the company Robotiker The basic objective of this project was to produce three prototypes with hyperlinks, page indications and frontpage indexes. A number of lessons were learned in the project:
- An overview is needed;
- An index is appreciated;
- The paper metaphor is not necessary;
- There should be direct links to the articles;
- Start with the same sections as in the printed version;
- Mix familiar elements with the unexpected;
- Develop an authentic e-reader format.

He went on to speak about the MePaper project. This project has recently been started in The Netherlands and involves five Dutch newspapers and two research institutes. Aim of the project to develop novel journalistic formats for new technological devices for mobile newsreading: the e-ink mounted iLiad and forthcoming 'ultra mobile PCs'. Participating newspapers are De Volkskrant (national daily), Financieele Dagblad (Financial daily), SP!TS (free tabloid), Eindhovens Dagblad en Barneveldse Krant (regional dailies). The coordination is with the research institute EC/DC, while the (Flemish) research institute IBBT, partner in De Tijd experiment, joins in for setting up of user tests of the prototypes which will be developed in a joint design studio. A substantial part of the project budget comes from the Dutch Bedrijfsfonds, a newspaper development fund.
The vision of this multi-party group is that the classical paper will gradually shrink from broadsheet over tabloid to a magazine format, and the electronic counterpart will have the reverse development curve, from tiny cell phone screens, via the present 8 inch-panels of the e-readers to ultimately the same magazine size, full colour, flexible, mobile, versatile. That will take another decade, but it clearly makes the case for thoroughly rethinking the journalistic newspaper approach.

The focus of the ‘MePaper’- project is on the development of novel journalistic formats, especially designed for electronic mobile reading. We have to leave ages of tradition in newspaper writing, lay-out and organisation behind us, if the trade doesn’t want to become obsolete. That challenge knows an uncertain outcome and can only be met in an experimental set-up. This is precisely what the MePaper-project will organise: a development lab in which journalists rather than scientists start playing with the opportunities modern displays and software are offering. Journalistic focus must here be understood in a broad sense: writing staff, subediting, lay-out as well as the interplay between editorial and commercial content.

The lab will start next month with brainstorm sessions looking for the news scene of 2012 and deciding on the concepts, choices and priorities. It will be intersting to see the results coming out of this project, especially as it is ambitious enough to put up the position that e-readers and UMPCs will change the very nature of the newspaper business.

During the pause I spoke with Mr Bierhoff about the experiments in the market. The Belgian financial daily experimented with the iLiad e-reader and used the pdf file of the printed paper as the first page; this was difficult to read; from there users could let articles pop up. Recently there was the launch of the commercial electronic edition of Les for two e-readers. We agreed on the lack of interface. IMHO the interface to the electronic version of les Echos on the iLiad was treated as vertical tickertape with in the second column a lead to the Editorial Comment as a vague reminder of the printed edition. No effort had been spent in developing an authentic e-reader format. Given the elements of digital paper and wifi refreshing should have led to another interface.

Blog Posting Number: 872

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

FT to be sold off in five years time and more sales

Since the demise of VNU Publishers and the change into The Nielsen Company, the former VNU CEO, Mr Rob van den Bergh had hardly been seen on stage to tell the story about the change of a traditional publisher into a data company. I was very eager to hear his presentation The Case of VNU Publishers, when I read about the conference on Publishing in the Digital Age, organised by two Master Programmes (Book and Digital Media and Journalism and New Media) of the Faculty of Arts of Leiden University.

In his presentation he addressed the turn-around of VNU Publishers in general term, placing the development in a larger publishing framework. In the eighties VNU was a publishing conglomerate serving the consumer, educational and professional market with a wide package of products ranging from magazines, books, newspapers and online database. By the beginning of the nineties a strategy to become a professional information provider was developed, but this meant a complete turn-around of the conglomerate. The book division was sold off. After that VNU disinvested in the newspapers division, the magazine division and the education division. The Board foresaw that newspapers would be a losing division as it was an inflexible industry with not much sense for commerce; besides the revenue stream diminished on the subscription and the advertisement fronts. The magazine disinvestment was an emotional one, as most people knew VNU Publishers from the range of magazines from cradle to grave.

By the mid nineties, VNU saw that internet was a global operation, which pushed aside local players. Monsterboard became a global player in the recruitment market. E-Bay and its local subsidiaries such as Marktplaats took a large part of the market share of classified ads. So the basic revenue sources of consumer publishers slipped away.

He sketched the activities of the various big consumer publishers. Towards the end of the nineties the traditional publishers and the new publishers seemed to meet. Time Warner merged with AOL and divested in books. Disney picked up digital publishing companies.
On the other hand News Corporation took another approach. He does not believe in focussing, but in combining newspapers, cable and internet. Bertelsmann is a traditional publisher which combines print, music and television and has book clubs.

Pearson seems to have another diversified strategy. It is still successful, especially in education according to Van den Bergh, but he would not be surprised when the Financial Times would be sold off in five years time.

To Mr Van den Bergh these examples are proof that the strategy of VNU going for the B2B market was the right one and that the players active in this market are now focussing sharper. He pointed out that Reed Elsevier was successful in scientific publishing in print and online, but he predicted that the business publishing division will be the first division on the list to be sold off after the educational division. Thomson had sold off its educational division to concentrate on the financial information market, buying Reuters.

He also pointed to the influence of private equity. Kluwer Academic and Springer had been sold to private equity and merged. All the big companies (Reed Elsevier, VNU Publishers, Wolters Kluwer and Thomson) had sold off their education divisions and had sold them to private equity, awaiting consolidation.

He stopped short of pointing to VNU Publishers when it was on the brink of concentrating on market data with Nielsen; but the shareholders blocked the board in acquiring MSI and forced the board to sell off its business publishing activities.

At the end of his presentation, Mr Van den Bergh offered ten predictions:
1. From local to global; local site might be popular but will be overtaken or acquired by global sites; see the social networks;
2. There is a quick decline of the newspaper and the magazine industry;
3. The task of the journalist will change;
4. Specialist sites will generate revenues;
5. The music industry has had the worst problems in the content industry with regard to copyright;
6. Innovations do not come from large companies;
7. The content industry gets complex, so focus is needed;
8. New players enter the game and can move fast without legacies;
9. Education divisions have been sold off by big companies and so will B2B publishing companies;
10. Advertising online will increase at great speed over the next five years.

And just for the record, Mr Van den Bergh, forecasted the sale of the Financial Times by Pearson within five years and the sale of the B2B publication division by Reed Elsevier.

Blog Posting Number: 872


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Skoeps' first anniversary coming up

Last week, I visited the offices of Skoeps. The company is based in a posh canal house in Amsterdam. The founding group, of which most members came from the Dutch publishing conglomerate PCM, started there in the basement. In the meantime the company is growing so fast that it also occupies offices at the ground floor and populates the ground and basement level with all young people. The offices are sober and in the corridor a big golden statue of Nijntje/Miffy, a gift from the landlord and a reminder to the founders not to loose their innocence.

Skoeps, a joint venture by the newspaper conglomerate PCM and Cyrte, the investment vehicle of John the Mol, is a user generated and moderated content site where people can upload videos and pictures of news events and sell them. It is citizens' journalism, but excludes photographs from VIP spotters, paparazzi and ambulance chasers. The company has been launched a year ago and has already made impact in The Netherlands. John de Mol is already using the material for a television station on internet and for regional television stations.

After half a year the company behind the site is already cash flow positive. It is also selling the concept abroad. There is an English version in the Netherlands, filled with Dutch items as well as a German version. Negotiations with UK and German companies are on the way. Foreign services will not necessarily bear the name and logo of Skoeps. The concept and technology are available as white label as well. For example produces the Flemish and French Belgian sites. In the meantime Skoeps has already services and offices in South Africa and a few other African countries.

The business model behind the company is interesting. The company gets revues from licensing the concept under the name of Skoeps or as white label. It picks up money by licensing the service and software for events like the Cape to Cape rally, a car rally from the top of Finland to the cape of Gibraltar. But it is also negotiating for the Olympic Games next year in Beijing. Of course there are revenues from classic bannering as well as the sale of a photograph or a movie to news media or Youtube –like services. Another revenue source is sponsoring.

But after almost one year, Skoeps is not resting on its laurels. It is actively looking for partners in other countries. Presently Skoeps is talking to an international network which might deliver contacts in some 50 countries. But it is also working on additions to the service; video logging is one of the opportunities. Recently Skoeps started a cooperation with Startlog Nederland, providing authors of weblogs with news scopes. Startlog Nederland will distribute the scopes through its press release service.

The company celebrates its first anniversary on October 5th, 2007 with a nice first year result of operating a service, foreign services and a positive cash flow. What could an investor wish more for: a product, international expansion and a positive cash flow?

Blog Posting Number: 871

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Monday, September 17, 2007

The music industry pie to be divided differently

A discussion is raging in the Dutch amusement industry. Last week the news service of the ISP Planet Internet published an article on the amusement industry. It recognised that the music industry is in trouble while the games industry is flourishing.

For years the music industry has lived from selling vinyl records and audio CDs. But since internet this has changed dramatically. Live performances are seen as yielding the revenues. But this is not true, according to Wouter Rutten, spokes person for the NVPI, the Dutch recording association. “Yes live performance yield more revenues, but they do not compensate the loss of revenues from carriers like audio CDs”.

He continues saying that he disagrees with the position that the role of record companies and record shops is changing and even has finished. He offers the position that live music can not survive without record companies. They are the flying wheel. They put the artists in the market, make them known to an audience, offer their music to channels and accompany them with marketing actions. Without all these efforts, less people would come to their live performances.

He supports his position with figures of the Dutch music scene. The annual turn-over of live performances in The Netherlands yields 80 million euro. This is only a small part of the half billion euro spent on amusement products every year. The entire pie of the amusement industry is about 1 billion euro. And this is already so for some years with only light fluctuations due to the economy. There are changes within this pie, but they are diverse with changes from audio CD to DVD.

Mr Rutten notes that the amount of music record shops is diminishing in The Netherlands. However he also grants that many of these music record shops evolve to multimedia shops.
He also indicates that the NVPI is less strict about down- and uploading as the Dutch piracy watchdog Brein. He makes no bones about illegal down and uploading; the NVPI is against it. But the association likes to look at the whole picture, while Brein looks at piracy specifically. NVPI even looks at legal alternatives.

He cites examples in the UK, where Prince has bundled his latest audio CD in a Sunday paper; no less than half a million copies. This was done to promote the twenty concerts to be given later on. Rutten is not sure that this type of economic models will make it in the future. He is convinced that these models will also reach The Netherlands. But this will not be the only model or method of sharing revenues. Prince had first to get popular, a task for the record company.

Blog Posting Number 870

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

A game brought to the street

From October 4th, 2007 a real street game, the Monkey Murder Mystery, will start in four Dutch cities. The Monkey Murder Mystery is a local interactive reality game, which gets gamers away from their computer. The gamers will hunt or be hunted, not with a water or paint pistol, but with a camera equipped mobile.

Monkey Murder Mystery will start in four Dutch cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Nijmegen and Groningen) and will last 9 weeks. The participants of the game will compete with each other in order to become the ultimate opponent of Monkey Murder. The eventual winner will receive a sum of 5.000 euro.

The game is a combination of reality and virtuality. The stress is on gaming outside the house away from the computer, hunting for an opponent in the same city and attempting to catch him with a snapshot and sending this shot. During the game the participants will have to fulfil assignments. For every right answer they receive leads, which bring them closer to the person to be excluded. The assignments will get more difficult and vary from finding a location on internet or in the city or solving a riddle. As soon as the participant has collected enough information to identify the target person, the shoot to kill element with the mobile is started. The gamer make a kill, when he/she films or photographs the target person. After nine weeks one person will remain in every city, who will receive 1.000 euro. In the final they will compete with each other. The winner of this final will receive 4.000 euro from Monkey Murder.

The whole game turns around completing assignments on behalf of Monkey Murder. This sly criminal is searching for his ultimate opponent. Monkey Murder has been born on June 17, 1966 in Leiden with the name Wilhelm Adriaan Schrooten. At birth Wilhelm appeared to have a congenial disease in his face, giving him a monkeylike appearance. Monkey gets on the wrong track and has had to fight opponents in his criminal career. In this way he got the name Monkey Murder. He wants to let the world know what he has done and wants to be respected in eternity. This is his reason for looking for a respected opponent. He is looking for the craftful and most skilful player.

The game is produced for Hi, the youth brand for mobile of KPN. LG Mobile is sponsoring the game. The cross medial bureau On conceptualised and produced the game. The participant will on average send 15 MMS and 35 SMS.

The game is not the first outside game in The Netherlands. Probably the crossmedia game Blackbeard Connection was the first one. Recently the mobile game Triangler received much attention.

Blog Posting Number: 869


Saturday, September 15, 2007

VNU Media sharpens its strategy

VNU Media, the spin-out publishing company of the VNU conglomerate, which turned into Nielsen, has announced the sale of some of her Dutch publications. Earlier the company indicated already that its will diminish her international ambitions by selling foreign subsidiaries. VNU Media wants to position itself as a computer business media company.

The company has announced that it will sell some niche publications, management magazines and some consumer PC magazines. It will sell a stable business title for the fashion world Textilia and Shoevisie to Mybusinsesmedia; Textilia has been a title since the formation of VNU Business Group in the late seventies. The management titles Management Team and Sprout will be sold; Management Team has been in the portfolio since 1986. Consumer titles such as PCM, Computer idee, Power Unlimited and the gadget website Gizmodo, the consumer computer titles will also be abandoned.

With the formation of the new company VNU Media with the assistance of 3i, the company had decided to sell off the UK operation, which was the first international stepping stone for the former VNU conglomerate. Also the companies on the European continent, except for Belgium, are for sale.

The strategy of VNU Media concentrates itself on the B2B market in print and online products in the field of computing as well as the job recruitment market. Textilia and Shoevisie are small and outside the focus of computing; the management and consumer PC products have too little recruitment potential. VNU Media will now focus in The Netherlands on the market of the computing business as far as publications such as Computable, Emerce and the site Tweakers are concerned and on the job recruitment market with the newly acquired Nationale Vacaturebank (National Job recruitment database). Also its flagship Intermediair, a controlled circulation weekly for students and academics and similar titles will continue under the management of VNU Media.

The sale of the magazines will deliver a 20 percent of the turn-over this year. By a fast autonomous growth of the company in slimmed shape, VNU Media should be one year ahead of its financial objective. Already 50 percent of its revenues comes from online sources. The CEO of VNU Media Eric Hoekstra denied in an interview that the changes have been forced upon them by the 3i investment company.

I worked for VNU in the seventies and the eighties; in the eighties I worked for seven years in the VNU Business Group. It looks like VNU Media is back to basics, when they started their internationalisation program in 1980. The only difference is now that they have online sites and databases; in 1980 VNU Business Press Group started its first adventures in online with the acquisition of US company Disclosure and its own media lab VNU Database Publishing International bv (DPI).

Blog Posting Number: 868

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Les Echos first with proposal commercial digital paper daily

Les Echos, the French sister publication of the Financial Times of the Pearson company, has launched its daily on two e-readers officially. The newspaper had been advertising the service and promoting the e-readers for some months now. Les Echos claims to be the first commercial daily worldwide with this service.

Les Echos has chosen to offer two e-readers: STAReBOOK and the iLiad. Both products are based on the E-Ink digital paper technology. STAReBOOK is developed in China and the iLiad has been developed by iRex Technologies, a spin-out of Philips in the Netherlands. The difference between the two digital paper readers is that the iLiad has a Wi-Fi facility on board and STAReBOOK does not.

Les Echos has had a pdf internet service for a long time. It is now adding the e-reader service. It has experimented with 200 units in the past months and developing its own presentation software. A movie with French, English and Chinese (!) spoken text shows the newspaper as it works on the iLiad. First thing you will notice is the screen is great, but that the e-reader has a long start-up time and the long download time.

Les echos has a video showing how Les Echos has solved the interface to the e-paper differently from the experimental interface of the Belgian financial daily De Tijd. The e-paper of Les Echos is not the WSYWIG lay-out of the printed newspaper. The first screen is a series of headlines and short leads of the frontpage stories, while next to this column the editorial commentary is and a graph of the stock exchange. One can go also to the menu and make a choice of stories and categories and a company can be found in the company register. The interface of Les Echos is different from the experimental interface done by De Tijd in Belgium. That newspaper had a WYSIWIG lay-out of the printed news, which meant that the reader would scan the pages. Once an article was seen, the reader could tick on it with the stylus and call the article up for presentation in legible form.

The subscription to Les Echos also comprises a news stories’ stream by the French news agency AFP. AFP has a separate starting point from Les Echos. The offers for STAReBOOK and iRex also contain electronic books from two French book publishers. STAReBOOK has access to e-books from Flammarion, while the iLiad subscriber has access to the books of Nathan.

The business model of the e-readers is similar to the newspaper. You pay an annual subscription to receive the news (not the newspaper) electronically. The present offers include an e-reader: 649 euro for the STAReBook plus 1 year subscription and 749 euro for the iLiad. Given the fact that the iLiad costs 649 euro without any subscription, Les Echos is prepared to market the e-reader for iRex Technologies, as an e paper subscription normally costs 365 euro. Most like the e-reader manufacturers and the e-paper publisher have split the costs. In the second year the reader will pay 365 euro as they would do for the pdf edition.

Blog Posting Number: 867

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nokia Revamps its Location-Based Experiences

Press release from Nokia
Speaking at the Canalys Navigation forum in Barcelona, Michael Halbherr shared insights about the current state of navigation and plans for updates and improvements for Nokia Maps. Launched in February of this year, the Nokia Maps mobile application and the Nokia Map Loader for PC's have each been downloaded over 1 million times.

A key point highlighted by Halbherr, head of the location-based experience team in Nokia Multimedia was the evolution of Nokia Maps from the first version, announced in February, to the next phase, which is available for download today. "We have taken a lot of the consumer feedback that we received when we launched Nokia Maps and are feeding that into the next versions of the product," said Mr. Halbherr.

The updated Nokia Maps application has a new streamlined user interface with improved nearby search and detailed categories. "Many people were saying that they didn't know how much data they were using, so we have added a data download counter in the map view. We also added a GPS status indicator so that you know when your device is connected to the satellites." The updated version also comes with a bonus three-day trial Navigation license free of charge*. "With this trial users can try out the service over a weekend holiday or a short business trip and discover the convenience of having a personal navigation device integrated into their mobile."

"Speaking of streamlining things," added Halbherr, "We are happy to report that we have a new and improved PC Map Loader available for users to download." The Nokia Map Loader is used to conveniently side load maps on to the device before you need them. "The improved Map Loader transfers the maps up to 10 times faster than the first version and enables downloading the voice guidance files."

Both new versions of Nokia Maps and the Nokia Map Loader are freely available to download* for selected devices at

Nokia is also updating the map coverage during the second half of 2007 to bring the total number of countries covered to over 150, with more than 50 of them navigable. "Our goal is to have the world covered," exclaimed Mr. Halbherr, "We want our navigation customers to feel assured that when they travel abroad, their Nokia device has the relevant maps for them. A map is like an insurance policy against getting lost, you need it most when you are lost, and when that happens, it is invaluable."

Nokia Maps is being integrated into Ovi. Ovi is the door to Nokia's Internet services, including the Nokia Music Store, Nokia Maps and N-Gage games. It will also be an open door to web communities, enabling people to access their content, communities and contacts from a single place, either directly from a compatible Nokia device or from a PC.

*Download terms and conditions apply. See websites for information. 3-Day Navigation trial limited to selected S60 3rd edition devices. Service provider may charge for data transmission. The availability of particular products, services and map coverage may vary by region. The availability of GPS and related services are dependent, among other things, on wireless networks and satellite systems. Specifications are subject to change without notice.

Blog Posting Number: 866

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

From waste to art

At the e-Content Summit in Brijuni James Wallbank (see photograph), director of the Art and Technology Group of The Redundant Technology Initiative spoke about his projects from waste to arts. (I put this blog together by combining texts from several of their sites). The Redundant Technology Initiative (RTI) was set up in 1997. Based in Sheffield, in the UK, RTI was formed by artists who wanted to get involved with information technology, but didn't have the resources to buy computers. So instead they went about getting their hands on trash computers, finding new ways to be creative with old technology, then exhibiting the results. The process that they set up was a virtuous circle: each exhibition or arts event that they held raised people's awareness of the issue of technology disposal, so they were prompted to give the group even more computers. More computers led to more exhibitions, and so on.

In a few months RTI had more computers than they knew what to do with, so they set up Access Space, a unique creative media lab, to which anyone can come and learn, create and communicate online. The methodology remains consistent. We work with zero-cost technology rescued from the trash, and free, open-source software that costs absolutely nothing. In this regard the group has become a pioneer - Access Space is the first public access internet laboratory to be run entirely with free software. Free technology is something which everyone can get involved with.

RTI continues to exhibit trash technology art (see phtograph) around the UK and across Europe, and campaigns to advocate low cost access to information technology. The people are still hungry for obsolete machines and run an ongoing campaign that asks businesses and individuals to donate computers that they no longer use. Through its Access Space RTI has demonstrated that any group can build their own online lab for no capital cost, using the technology that's being discarded in their local neighbourhood combined with free, open-source software. It's a strategy that's highly sustainable, extremely green, spreads empowering information technology skills, and best of all, and is creative and a lot of fun!

That's why their new project is called "Grow Your Own Media Lab!" It does exactly what it says: helps groups across the UK and further abroad to set up their own creative, community-based technology reuse projects, forming a grassroots network of ICT learning and techno-culture centres.

One of their present projects is the Open Source Embroidery project, which brings together programming for embroidery and computing. It is based on the common characteristics of needlework crafts and open source computer programming: gendered obsessive attention to detail; shared social process of development; and a transparency of process and product. Open Source Embroidery is a socially engaged art project developed through workshops and an email list: There are also groups on Facebook and Flickr.

Embroidery is constructed (mostly by women) in hundreds of tiny stitches which are visible on the front of the fabric. The system of the stitches is revealed on the back of the material. Some embroiderers seal the back of the fabric, preventing others from seeing the underlying structure of the pattern. Others leave the back open for those who want to take a peek. A few integrate the backend process into the front of the fabric. The patterns are shared amongst friends in knitting and embroidery 'circles'.

Software is constructed (mostly by men) in hundreds of tiny pieces of code, which form the hidden structure of the programme or interface. Open Source software allows people to look at the back of the fabric, and understand the structure of your software, modify it and distribute it.

The code is shared amongst friends through online networks. However the stitches or code only make sense to those who are familiar with the language or patterns.The same arguments about Open Source vs Free Software can be applied to embroidery. The needlework crafts also have to negotiate the principles of 'freedom' to create, modify and distribute, within the cultural and economic constraints of capitalism. The Open Source Embroidery project simply attempts to provide a social and practical way of discussing the issues and trying out the practice. Free Software, Open Source, amateur and professional embroiderers and programmers are welcome to contribute to the project.

The Open Source Embroidery project pays homage to Ada Lovelace (1816-52) who helped to develop the Analytical Engine, the first idea for a universal computer, with Charles Babbage. Lovelace wrote "we may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraically patterns just as the Jaquard Loom weaves flowers and leaves.". The Jaquard Loom (1810) was the first machine to use punched-card programming.

Blog Posting Number: 865


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Innovation journalism needs a new perspective

At the e-Content Summit in Croatia there was a presentation on Innovation Journalism by David Nordfors (see photograph), a senior research scholar and program leader of the Stanford Center for Innovation in Learning. He started out by defining innovation journalism. He stated that he was going to talk about innovation journalism and not innovative journalism. He was basically not concerned with press room renewal, but with journalism about innovations. Of course, innovative journalism and journalism about innovation can be a good match.

That journalism is changing, is no news. Traditionally the news was associated with the delivery outlets such as television or newspapers. But with internet there is a real change. The delivery infrastructure is diminishing. In fact news content is disassociating itself from the delivery infrastructure. There is now a greater competition for eyeballs, competition of attention and higher demands on credibility. Besides building a brand is more important than ever. The news industry is now becoming a part of the innovation economy.

Innovation is a complex process. It is not linear, but goes through phases such as basic research, applied research, development and commercialisation plus the progressive and regressive feedbacks. The innovation system concerns the flow of technology, information and capital among people, enterprises and institutions. In parallel with this flow of technology key actors such as journalist, pr officials and communicators come along to fight for the attention.

Introduction of something new requires communication, which in turn requires a new language and a new name. The introduction of the iPhone for example was such an event with its own battle for the eyeballs and its own name. The launch was not just an innovation for a small group of people, but it was a broad happening in which news media are the actors for creating shared knowledge among politicians, academics and public.

Innovation needs it own policy. A network global professional community for innovation journalism is needed, backed up by scholarly research on the interaction between journalism and innovation.

In short, news media will have to get out their journalistic habit to sort news in category slots and categories like abroad, internal situation, media and sports. I have experienced these situations several times in the past. When a new CD title was produced, the press release was often treated by the staff of the economy sector as this most likely had something to do with Philips. A CD-ROM with poems was not covered by the staff of the book section, but by the media editor, who usually was a television entertainment journalist.

Innovation journalists should be able to cover the full cycle of innovation: from the basic innovative ideas, to the technical effects, the economic consequences as well as political and ethical implications.

David Nordfors has set up a program and courses at Stanford for journalists, technical authors, public relations officials and lobbyists. And there is a website and blog.

Blog Posting Number: 864


Monday, September 10, 2007

2007 WSA Grand Jury Croatia (12)

By two o’clock yesterday afternoon the conference was over; I will later come back to two items, which took my fancy: innovation journalism and recycling computers. The luggage had been packed, the bills settled and the exchange of photographs started. Stanislav had made giga photographs, which are on my portable. Perhaps I might make a photo blog over the coming days, while I recuperate.

Next was the trip to Zagreb. This did not start well, as a few jury members were not in time at the boat and in full Croatian fashion, the boat left right on schedule without them and did not return, when the missing persons ran to the quay. Another boat had to be chartered for them as there was a tight schedule. It was really laughing that the German jury member Alexander Felsenberg was not in time, while the Croatians executed their boat service punktlich; of course Alexander had an excuse as he is a Czech by birth.

The trip to Zagreb started at 17:30 PM and lasted till 20:45 PM; on the road we had lightning, rain and winds. But by the time that coach stopped in at the cathedral it was dry and we were greetde by two guides, dressed in eighteenth century dresses awaited us for a guided tour of Zagreb. I liked it as the centre of Zagreb is an old city and bears many resemblances to Vienna. I especially liked the view from the city elevator station on the hill. Having seen that, we all were really hungry as it was already over ten o’clock.

This morning a number of jury members were already at 6:30 AM at the airport. We had slept in a hotel at five minutes distance by car from the airport. And off we flew to Brussels, Cairo, Armenia and Nicaragua.

It had been an enervating ten days. The hospitality was offered by the Croatian State secretary for e-Croatia. The events have been organised by Kresimir Lugaric of the Internet Institute and the execution was done by Natalija Gojkovic of the Internet Institute. They have really done a wonderful job.

But flying out of Zagreb, there was the feeling that I had left someone behind, our Brazilian juror. He had been transferred overnight to the hospital for more extensive treatment as the diagnosis was not as optimistic as thought by the doctors in the hospital in Pula. It looks like the accident will change his entire life.

Now I am back in Almere (see photograph with view from the appartment) behind my desk, going through the snail mail. It will take some days to realise that the World Summit Grand Jury 2007 is over. Next on the list will the WSA Award Gala in Venice on November 5th which is planned in the framework of the Global Forum. Many of the jurors have promised to attend the ceremony. But before that time Osama Manzar, our Indian jury member, took upon him to produce the third version of e-Content- Voices from the ground, a review by Grand Jury members of the e-content situation in their home states. This delivers statistics, but also insight about the state of e-Content in the country and the new trends.

BTW There is an official WSA blogand there will be daily photographs.

Blog Posting Number: 863

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

2007 WSA Grand Jury Croatia (11)

I woke up this morning very early and the first thoughts went to our jury member from Brazil who is still in intensive care and has overnight been moved from Pula to Zagreb. Peter Bruck, the honorary chairman of the WSA, visited him before the transfer, talked to him and the doctors, and to his wife. The next three days are going to be critical for him and the rest of his life.

Life is cruel though. The weather this morning is beautiful, so I had breakfast outside near the quay, overlooking the harbour. Outside the harbour there is a large yacht (see photograph), on which George Cluny is; at least rumour has it.

This will be the last day on Brijuni island. The conference is still on for half a day. Sometimes a speaker is able to draw a laugh on the face of the participants like Felix T. Hong, originally from Korea, but now Professor of Physiology at Wayne State University. He was speaking about creativity and went on about rule based programming. To make clear that in creativity there is a verbal rule based programming as well as a visual rile based programming, he used the example of George Bush during the Katrina hurricane. When he was shown pictures about the situation and the people, nothing happened. But when he was read a memo saying that people were in distress and dying, he shot into action.

After the conference we are breaking up the WSA Grand Jury activities here, pack and go with the rest of the jury members to Zagreb for the closing dinner.

We take along from the island many things: a new list of winners and a lot of ideas such as students’ book on content as well as a virtual academy. We also received a request for Content Institute in the Middle East. Most of all we take along the fact that we, the jurors, the moderation team, staff and tutors have been a week together and have worked together on the results of the WSA edition 2007 on this paradise island. However after the accident it feels like we lost some of the paradise.

After the conference we are breaking up the WSA Grand Jury activities here, pack and go with the rest of the jury members and some mebers of the press corps to Zagreb. This will be a four hour ride, during which I most likely fall asleep, unless people keep talking to me. We will have a closing dinner. Tomorrow I fly back to Amsterdam

Our juror from Luxembourg Lafit Ladit summed it all up in his observation with a historical reference to the association of non-allied countries in the presence of the State secretary: Brijuni has its history, but now WSA is definitely part of it.

BTW There is an official WSA blogand there will be daily photographs.

Blog Posting Number: 862


Saturday, September 08, 2007

20007 WSA Grand Jury Croatia (10)

Last night the WSA jury and staff as well as 20 members of the press corps were bussed to Rovinic a, a town up the coast of Croatia. We were treated to a an evening of Croatian food and mingled with the press.

When we were back Standa the media activist had opened his bio-oil driven car for an unofficial party with music and photographs of the WSA Grand Jury. It was a very nice happening.

However it was a rude awakening this morning to hear that one of the jurors had been brought to hospital in a serious condition. He is in intensive care and the first reports are unclear. Of course we all hope that he will get better.

Today the e-Summit starts, a conference with high level politician, press and the Grand Jury. This is an initiative of the state secretary Mr Mir Slav Kovacic. The WSA Grand Jury members met him before the meeting starts and had an intensive discussion with him on the e-Croatia programme. It is part of the e-Europe initiative. Especially e-Education and the governmental portal are his priorities presently. And of course the infrastructure. Four years ago Croatia had 643 ADSL subscribers; now it has 300.000 subscribers for a population of 4, 5 million inhabitants. Basic problem for the infrastructure is the lack of competition in the telecom field. But the Croatian government is trying to overcome this with grants. It has now devoted 30 million kuna (I guess some 25 million euro) to special social group so that they can have internet access for free for a year. Also the schools on the islands get grants for wireless internet and smart boards. Croatia is also working on the continuation of the e-Croatia program, code named Croatia 1 2010. Bust as the state secretary thinks that the program will be rather on mobile and should therefore be called m-Croatia with a heavy stress on infrastructure, bridging the digital divide and stimulating e-Participation.

In the Summit I was interested in what Tin Radovani had to say about the BBC as he is a strategy analyst. He was looking at a shift in pattern in news. He cited the speed of news which yielded in the first 6 hours of this day: 1000 photographs, 4000 sms, 20.000 e-mails and 20 videoclips. He compared it with the speed of increase of Technorati, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. He drew in citizen’s journalism and user generated content. But in the end he granted that BBC was riding on these waves and not initiating trends themselves, except the video plug-in. BBC accepted and integrates the trend. But it sounded almost like citizen’s journalism and user generated content was tolerated by the BBC.

BTW There is an official WSA blogand there will be daily photographs.

Blog Posting Number: 861


Friday, September 07, 2007

2007 WSA Grand Jury Croatia (9)

The weather was supposed to get better towards the weekend, but it looks like clouds are still on the menu. In the meantime the Grand Jury has been evacuated from the hall where they were evaluating, as the hall had to be prepared for the Summit of Saturday and Sunday. Some 200 people are supposed to show up at the Summit, among which the president of Croatia and some government officials of other countries. The Summit is on e-Content, the objectives, the trends and its influence. It is a heavy programme of an on afternoon on Saturday and a long Sunday morning. After the Summit a number of the Grand Jurors will go by bus to Zagreb to a hotel near the airport, have dinner at the Zagreb race track and leave Croatia early in the morning.

Last night after dinner we had a WSA open board meeting. During these meetings ideas are born, intentions spoken out and plans announced about the next Grand Jury and the next Gala. Tentatively, the Grand Jury 2009 will be in Armenia and the Gala in India. And there was even a request for either the Grand Jury or Gala in Africa, while China is also still a contender. Sometimes WSA looks like the Olympic Committee, planning years ahead and selecting places to go. But many ideas are formulated about events such a as road shows and cooperation with other events and conferences. But always the question is where the sponsors are, how much money will it costs and what company is prepared to pour money into the events. This while they could benefit from seeing new products and trends closely and sharing in the knowledge of the winners and the Grand Jury. Personally I feel that we are going into a higher gear with the WSA. We know by now pretty well facts and figures about organising events and there is of course a worldwide network spreading from South America to Finland, from China to Brazil and from Australia to Canada.

The task for today is twofold. First WSA Spokespersons have to be elected. Secondly the jurors have to write the laudations for the winners. These will be in the printed and electronic catalogue. The catalogues have to be ready before the fifth of November when the WSA Gala 2007 will be held in Venice. Our Italian juror Alfredo Ranchi has been instrumental in arranging this and folding the event in the Global Forum Conference on ICT. It will give the WSA a lot of exposure. The Gala will be held on an island opposite the San Marco cathedral. The only thing we will have to pray for is nice weather, as November in Venice can be nasty and wet, even to the point of flooding.

Tomorrow afternoon we are supposed to get off the island and go to a coastal town to look around, have a meal and listen to local music. By that time some of the jurors will be leaving. That is painful, especially as you have lived and worked together intensively for one week. In fact it started already this morning when Lucas Lim from Japan/Malaysia and Carina Feldman from Austria left due obligations. But they are not gone as e-mail is all pervasive now.

BTW There is an official WSA blog and there will be daily photographs.

Blog Posting Number: 860

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