Friday, November 30, 2007

Academic Network Conference 07 (9)

Happiness and the Family 2.0 paradigm

Are families happier today with all the new media technologies available? This is a nice question posed by Rodica Mocan (see photograph) and Stefana Racorean. Rodica Mocan is lecturer at the Media Department of Babes-Bolyi University from Cluj, Romania and her research interests are in the area new media and interactive multimedia applications and their influence on social life. Stefana Racorean is a psychologist and a psychotherapist at the Areopagus Institute of Family Therapy and Systemic Practice, Timisoara; she holds an MA in counselling and psychotherapy from Babes-Bolyai University. Together they have started to explore the influence of new information communication technologies on family life satisfaction while analyzing some of the factors that determine changes in the way we live our lives in the information age. Family 2.0 is the new paradigm of family life and the emergence of Web 2.0 type of applications is at the very core of its existence.

The rationale behind this subject is the ddevelopment of science and technologies in the past decades impacted every aspect of society, resulting in pressures to adopt or resist changes. Besides there is a shift in home-work relationships. Technologies challenges us to find new ways to perform better, faster, more productively at work and there is a redefinition of the concept of work, from producing goods or services towards concepts that include personal development, career preparation, work related communication.

Of course the definition of family has changed over the years: the family of procreation, family of orientation, family of affine relations. But the family is also “doing things together or for each other”. While a more pragmatic view of the family is: a collection of individuals who create history and a set of memories from which family experience is continually reconstructed.

The researchers distinguish two perspectives for happiness in a family: the hedonistic and the eudemonic perspective. The hedonistic perspective is described as well being, defined as the optimal functioning and experience at the psychological level, is perceived generally as mere physical pleasure; the accent is on not experiencing difficulties and not exerting effort, being relaxed and free of worries. The eudemonic perspective places the accent on actualization of human potentials and implies the effort exerted to achieve a higher level of self actualization and accomplishment.

According to Marshall McLuhan in Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, the effects of technologies are seen as an extension of the human body. The tetrad as a basis of the study of the effect of the technology: What does technology extend?; What does it make obsolete?; What is retrieved?; What does the technology turn into if it is over-extended?

The use of technologies in the home in the hedonistic view, are the acquisition of entertainment technologies (DVD, home theatre, personal gadgets, personal computers, Internet), meant to provide pleasure and relaxation; home appliances, smart home applications - meant to save time and make pleasant chores that are necessary for everyday life. In the eudemonic view technology is used for need for self development; access to information and tends to be the main motivation for acquiring technologies for children.

As a consequence, families now use technology to acquire expertise and advice that usually came through family ties. Besides technology adoption can strengthen the stereotype of the traditional roles. The parent-child relationships are challenges by role-reversal (due to the child’s more advanced skills). But there can also be stress on the family finances - race to keep up to date with tech progress

There are now typical family 2.0 type of applications such as online family tree (Amigdalia.com, MyHeritage.com); keeping track of the baby’s sleep (Trixi Tracker); family finances (networthinq.com); family sharing of memorabilia (myfamily.com, ringo.com). Web 2.0 social networks transcend local/national culture or customs and embrace common global values. Traditional skills (child rearing, cooking, homemaking) are replaced by skills acquired through other channels, powered by technology, contributing to the globalization process. There is an increased blending of home and work related activities and an impact of ICTs in communication between family members separated geographically by migration

What is the future of the family in the information age? In their first inventory, Rodica Mocan and Stefana Racorean draw some conclusions:
- The family is challenged by the technological advancements like the other social structures.
- The impacts are both positive and negative, with the potential of changes becoming overwhelming and inducing perverse, undesired effects, due to the rapid change and the difficulty of controlling technology adoption
- The family needs to reassess its role in the society and renegotiate the role of its members with regard to external pressures and changes.
- Within the global context, we are witnessing a reassessment of family values and also a reaffirmation of core values in general.
- There is reported resistance from the part of families who want to preserve the traditional family model and who take measures to limit and control the negative impact of the use of technology in the family, with more emphasis on the quality time spent together in non technology related activities.

Blog Posting Number: 937

Tags: social network, web 2.0

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Academic Network Conference 07 (8)

Mobile Game Based Learning

Yesterday the millenials or digital natives were mentioned. Christina Handford is researching their relationship with digital technology. Sandra Schadenbauer of the FH Joanneum, a university of applied science in Graz, developed a a mobile location based game for them, called “Physics Geocaching”.

Her premise for developing such a LBG is that digital natives are used to the instantaneity of hypertext, downloaded music, phones in their pockets, library on their laptops, beamed messages and instant messaging. They’ve been networked most or all of their lives. They have little patience for lectures, step-by-step logic, and “tell-test” instruction.

Teachers must find a way to speak this new, digital language. They have to find new methods because today’s learners are different. They need to reconsider methodology and content. One way to adapting material to the language of Digital Natives is to create learning games. Such a mobile location based game is called “Physics Geocaching”. The game is created in a framework of special Moodle activity modules and is played with a mobile phone application, called “MoMo”. During the game, players have to find and solve tasks, which are hidden in the field.

To check the idea and usability of “Physics Geocaching”, the paper chase game was tested in practice with participants. The aim of the test was to find answers to the following questions:
• How are mobile phones used by young people?
• Which media are consumed by teenagers?
• How often do young people play games?
• Which kinds of games are popular?
• How important is social interaction in games?
• Do teenagers accept mobile learning games?
• Do the test subjects like the game and the story?
• Are the tasks difficult/easy? Do the aids help to solve the tasks?
• Does the framework support the game progress?
• Which technical problems can occur?
• Which potential improvement is possible?

Her conclusion was that learning with games works and students are motivated by games. Of course the part of the teacher and the right game determine the success of game based learning.

Blog Posting Number: 936

Tags: e-learning, location based game,

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Flash: Gender differences in ICT use

According to the EU report Gender differences in the use of computers and the Internet, the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) has become an essential feature of both economic and social activity across Europe. In nearly all European countries and in all age groups, however, men are more regular users of both computers and the internet than women and many more men than women are employed in computing jobs throughout the EU. The concern here is to examine the differences in the regular use of ICT among women and men in different Member States.

Main findings:
• The difference between the proportion of young women (62%) and young men (67%) in the EU-25 using computers daily in 2006 was relatively small. Differences in computer usage were greater between women and men in the age groups 25–54 and 55–74.
• Slightly more young men (53%) than young women (48%) used the Internet daily. A much smaller proportion of older people used the Internet and there were larger differences between women and men. Only 9% of women aged 55–74 used the Internet daily compared to 18% of men.
• In all age groups, the proportion of women with medium or high levels of basic computer skills was smaller than that of men.
• The proportion of women employed as computing professionals is very small (0.7%) and remained unchanged between 2001 and 2006, whereas the proportion of men increased slightly from 2.3% to 2.6%.

Academic Network Conference 07 (6)

Teen Appeal – Touching the Moving Point

At the Academic Network Conference Christina Handford of Staffordshire University (UK) presented a paper. Christina was a category winner pf the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award with her project Green scheme. Having received her Master’s degree, she went on for her Ph.D. and centers her attention around the relationship of designing educational multimedia for the teen target audience. Her premise is: though it maybe bad practise to make generalised assumptions about a particular group of people, it is a necessary step in order to move forward in determining the needs of the 13 – 16 target audience. She just started this research and presented the first results of her inventory.

Basic question is: Who are the teen generation? Those individuals born in or after 1982, and children of the ‘Baby Boomers’. They are typified as Millennials or Digital natives and are known to display different patterns and behaviours from their peers and siblings just a few years older. Millennials have little or no experience of what life is like without digital technology and are growing up to become the most knowledgeable group of multimedia users today.

She has made an inventory of traits and trends in this generation:
- Teens are fast-paced, multi-taskers;
- Social creatures;
- Sensitive
- Sheltered
- Conventional and High Achievers
- Able to adapt to new technologies very quickly
- Experiential learners
- Creative
· Teenagers are looking to make their mark on the internet and enjoy expressing themselves in different ways.
· In research tasks, teens find it very difficult to work though and contextualise large amounts of information. They are prone to giving up quickly and resort to asking teachers or adults for the answers.
· Teens have much less patience than adult users. They want answers quickly and become frustrated with complex interactions.
· Factors which positively impact teen user satisfaction are: Attractive design with age appropriate graphics and information that is easy to find.
· Teens are turned off by sites that offend their sense of maturity.
· Most of the sites which they are attracted to are those which target a broad age group, not just teenagers.
· Although they are willing to scroll pages teens are highly active clickers and will quickly leave if they cannot find what they need at first glance.
· Teens often find mine sweeping particularly annoying and like adults they do not like to hunt for navigational elements.
(Source: Neilson Norman group)

With increased awareness of the needs of the digital native we must ask: how do educators and instructional designers empower and inspire students in an environment that increasingly excludes them? This question is particularly difficult to answer due to the fact that digital natives/teens are such a dynamic, varied and trend conscious generation. However from the executed research we can conclude a number of steps to move forward in the successful provision of new technology content and recourses:

1. It is clear that digital natives are looking to see more integration of technology into general school life. One of the greatest complaints heard from students, with regard to technology, is that their access to computer equipment and the internet is extremely limited within the school environment. In review of this point technology should not be kept as a separate entity, confined to a time limited slot in computer laboratory, it instead needs to be seamlessly entrenched into the educational system and daily lesson planning.

2. Educators and e-content developers should not assume that all teens are entirely tech-savvy. Most teens are not interested in the technology itself but are more concerned with the fact that it facilitates improved communication routes, enhanced information retrieval etc.

3. Electronic applications used by the digital generation must be carefully selected in order to increase motivation and appeal. A special effort must be made so as not to insult their sense of maturity and dexterity, but at the same time make considerations for their patience level, research abilities and literacy standards.

4. E-content should be used in a way that holds a sense of value and interest to the learner based on topics which the students can see applicable to their daily or future life. Frequently, a digital native’s perspective is that their instructors do not make learning worth paying attention to especially compared to the range of other interactive experiences of which they have access.

As the digital native generation develops, the inherent importance and integration of multimedia combined with teen friendly, interactive content becomes ever more evident. Social network systems and digital communication will only be of more profound importance to the future teenager and instead of forbidding the use within the classroom environment, educators must embrace the medium as a prerequisite to 21century learning theories.

Blog Posting Number: 935

Tags: millenials, digital natives

Academic Network Conference 07 (extra)











This year the Academic Network Conference 07 was held in Graz (Austria). The city has an old center, dominated by a castle and a port (see illustration left). At the conference 40 participants were present (see illustration right).














The conference was held at the venue of the FH Joanneum, an applied research college, devloping amongst aothers programmes for the One Laptop Per Child, the 100 US dollar computer; it was great playing with this device. The Europrix Top talent Award was held in the center of the city.










The center of the city is divided by the river Mur, which is an object for kayak peddlers. The Europrix Top talent Award presentations were held in the Kunsthaus, a remarkable modern building in a baroque city center.










In the Kunsthaus there was an exhibition of the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award 07 nominees. On the illustration left is one of the performative installations in dialogue with a visitor. When I left Graz on Monday, I could see the snow tops of the mountains. By the time I reached Munich, we got into a snow storm.

For more photographs, please consult a series on the Fotodienst and the series Flickr 1 and Flickr 2. More photographs from Richard Vickers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Academic Network Conference 07 (5)

Pushing location based games further

In recent years, mobile gaming has been believed to be the next hype after the great success of the short messaging service in Europe. Especially location based games (LBGs) were said to be the next breakthrough for mobile gaming, as those games exploit the location of the players during the game flow. Although those kinds of mobile games are able to offer a new and exciting experience, not many LBGs have yet entered the market. (Illustration from mobile game site Can you See Me Now www.canyouseemenow.co.uk)

Stephan A. Drab, Christoph Grün, Jens Kroesche and Andreas Jakl of Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences Hagenberg and Vienna University of Technology Institute of Software Technology and Interactive Systems researched the subject of the lukewarm acceptance of LBGs by users. The authors believe that revenues created from this type of mobile applications only make up a minor part of the whole mobile games market, which is assumed to hit 7 billion euro or 10 billion USD dollar in 2009. The reason for the small market share of LBGs is that several additional aspects that have to be considered, adding to the large amount of restrictions already present for conventional mobile games. This makes it even more challenging to successfully market LBGs. Conventional mobile games suffer from diverse constraints that cushion their success, comprising high device fragmentation, compatibility issues difficulties of targeted advertising as well as distribution over the network operators' portals and channels. LBGs have the additional requirements for location-sensing or other context-acquisition technology. This might either be provided as a feature by the mobile device itself and/or by the infrastructure, which has to be set up and operated by a service provider. The end user, on the other hand, is often required to use special hardware in order to play those kinds of games, e.g. GPS-equipped mobile phones. Since wireless handsets, which are equipped in this manner, currently are not even close to be widespread, their impact on the entertainment business is negligible compared to the conventional mobile game market. As a result, LBGs have yet failed to reach the expectations of market analysts generating high revenues. Recent research in this area has been mainly focused on the development of prototypes.

We think that location based gaming can go much further than its current state. This paper addresses the need for identifying the challenges in the development of LBGs and presents concepts that can run on ordinary mobile phones. In particular, the paper sheds light on location based gaming concepts that are based on different positioning technologies:
a) approaches that make use of existing location sensing technology such as Cell ID;
b) self-reported positioning;
c) proximity sensing, e. g. measuring the distance between two gamers over Bluetooth.

In light of these points, this paper therefore seeks to:
a) Identify positioning technologies.
b) Evaluate LBGs including our approaches SpaceRace and The Journey with respect to the previously identified positioning technologies.
c) Highlight those interesting features and design elements that have to be taken into account when designing LBGs for the mass market.

Summarized, the goal of the paper is to determine the best practice of how to utilize location context on mobile phones targeted for the mass market. LBGs do indeed have a very high potential, but this has not yet been either fully realized or utilized by today's game creators. By lowering the technical-, design- and social barriers for playing LBGs using the identified design elements, they have the potential to be more successful in the future.

Conclusion
The most interesting question for an end user is not whether the game he wants to play fits the criteria, but if he can play the game right away, instantly so to say. In our terms this means that the game is end user suitable and therefore fit for the mass market. Thus, we defined an overall end user suitability criterion, based on our previous evaluation model. This is based on three different classes:

- The first class of LBGs, that are not suitable for the end user at all, is based on the criteria if the platform is proprietary; the positioning technology is not GPS or Cell ID; the game is bound to run on a proprietary phone device; some form of play field has to be set up on a per-game basis; the game is only available at special events or even not at all.

The second class, which may be suitable for the end user, but has several drawbacks, has been defines as games run on Symbian OS or Windows Mobile phone devices; requiring some form of external hardware like a GPS receiver or W-LAN capability; generating any form of data traffic costs; requiring an initial setup of a play field; generating consecutive game costs; supporting only multiplayer modes where the players have to play simultaneously; limiting the availability to certain countries or in association with special network operators.

The most interesting class consists of games suiting the following criteria: the
game does not run on a proprietary platform, i. e. runs on SMS/MMS or Java ME; the positioning technology is Cell ID or GPS; the phone device is Java ME capable; no special
or additional hardware is required; no traffic costs accumulate while playing; no application setup has to be performed; the game is available for free or only requires a single
purchase; the game comprises a singleplayer or multiplayer mode where the players don't
have to play simultaneously; the game is available publicly.

According to the definition of the above classification we evaluated the LBGs on their feature with the lowest score. The number of evaluated games out of all evaluated LBGs that can in fact be played instantly as defined above is zero! The LBGs having potential, but still drawbacks make up 43% and the games not being suitable for the end user at all, is no less than 57%.

The above analysis shows that current location based games only have a limited potential or are not end user suitable at all. Similar to our intuition and in contrast to numerous statements, which predicted LBGs to be the next hype in mobile gaming, the analysis shows the expected results. There are promising approaches in current LBG developments, however, none of the LBGs are ready to be deployed into the mass market. This shows that most of the current LBGs are only in the prototype or research phase and a lot more work needs to be done. We predict that it will take at least two more years until companies will start to pick up and utilize the LBG concept. During this time, the general conditions will most likely improve as well, with more GPS receivers being built into mobile phones, data tariffs getting cheaper and more developed concepts of LBGs evolving. When those games are finally deployed, they will gain the potential to have an enormous impact on the mobile gaming market.


The full text of the article will be published in s book; details will be published later.

Blog Posting Number: 934

Tags: ,

Monday, November 26, 2007

Academic Network Conference 07 (4)

I am back behind my desk and digesting the presentations of the Academic Network Conferences as well as the presentations of the Europrix Top Talent Awards. And the social networks such as LinkedIn (read that Murdoch might buy it; if so I will quit) and Facebook will have to be updated now and new contacts entered.

At the conference I had a small slot to talk about digital paper, e-books and digital newspapers. I had taken two units of my retro gadgets along with the ilIad in order to show the difference in screens and weight. I took my first Sony EB reader of 1993 along together with the minidisk of the former bestseller The Joy of Sex. It is a perfect illustration of how a colour print coffee table book does not fit on an electronic book reader (yet). This EB production was hardly a joy of an experience of any kind! I had also taken along the Rocket e-Book with Alice in Wonderland. The iLiad was much appreciated.

In my presentation I speculated whether the iPod business model would apply to the text iPod Kindle of Amazon. The success of the iPod can be explained of the business model. In the music industry digitisation has already a long history with vast digital libraries. Before the introduction of the iPod a lot of illegal copying and downloading on computers and portable memories. Apple as industry champion changed all this by introducing a sexy and smart device, a legal download service and a tariff card for downloading songs which was reasonable.

With Kindle there is a series of questions: is Amazon an acceptable industry champion, is there a vast library of digital books and newspapers, is the Kindle device sexy and smart, does the Amazon download service work? I would say that Amazon is an acceptable industry champion. The service has been around long enough to be named reliable, but it does not have such an innovative radiance as Apple. The question about the vast libraries of e-books and digital newspapers is not easy to answer. Publishers have digitised since the seventies, but have not made it’s a standard practice with standards for archiving. Only when Google, followed by Microsoft and Amazon went into digitising books the first attempts for vast libraries have been seen. The newspaper industry is still more fragmented and behind in this process of archiving. Amazon’s text iPod is not comparable to Apple’s iPod. The Kindle is not really sexy; in fact it is awful in design. However it has smart features. And last of all, Amazon has set up a tariff card for the digital books, magazines and newspapers which look reasonable. In the final analysis two features of the iPod success formula are lacking in parts. The slow progression of standardisation for archiving text products is hampering the formation of vast libraries to be tapped; this of course a problem of effort and time. The sexy radiance of the Kindle is of course a temporary problem: Amazon has now a base design e-reader and can start to develop real design e-readers.

The iLiad caught the interest of some of the more technology savvy people in the audience. One representative of the FH Joanneum was very impressed. I asked the people interested in this development to study the phenomenon of e-readers and develop good software for this type of applications. The iLiad is open and software can be developed for it and should be developed for it. So I hope some institutes will pick this development up.

Blog Posting Number:: 934

Tags: e-book, digital paper, e-reader, digital newspaper, , ,

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Academic Network Conference 07 (3)

Yesterday, by noon, the Academic Network Conference at the FH Joanneum campus was over. Many subjects had passed and perhaps too many presentations given. Yet the moderator and timekeeper Cai Melakoski kept close to the schedule. In the afternoon the participants of the Academic Network had been invited to join the nominee teams of the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award Winners 2007 for their presentations of the projects in the Kunsthaus (see photograph).

This is a programme item I always look forward to. And some presenters are not just giving you insight into the project, but give also a hilarious presentation, just like the guys (see photograph), who produced Lovelines. Being a German (Deutscher) and a Japanese (Japaner), they started to interview each other, in the meantime telling details about their project. It was a riot.

And the team of one of my favourite projects in the category Interactive Computer Graphics named Mijn Name is Haas (My name is hair, a Dutch expression for Do not ask me, I do not know anything nor have I seen), a playful game for young children to learn words and get computer literate, had not only come with a fine presentation, but they had also brought, a life size puppet of the hair (see photograph).

By the en of the presentations the nervousness among the nominees could be sensed. Bets were placed by some people that attended the presentations. The project Mijn Naam is Haas scored high to become a category winner. But the teams had to wait till the late evening for the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award Winners 2007 Gala. The Gala was held in the hall of an old, restored monastery with beautiful baroque paintings on the walls and ceiling.

By 20:00h the Gala started and enfolded the list of winners. There were surprises and disappointments. Mijn Naam is Haas sadly did not make it to the winners’ list and was surpassed by the production Kayak peddling. By 9:30h all the category winners were known and the suspense fo the overall winner started to become felt. And the overall winner of the tenth edition of the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award is: Where to Climb, anwell crafted mobile site for climbers with social network elements such as the formations of groups climbing certain mountain and passing on the tips and tricks..

List of EUROPRIX Top Talent Award Winners 2007

Category: Broadband/Online
Title: WorldABC
Producer: Christian Schrager
Country: Austria
URL: www.weltabc.at

Category: Mobile Contents
Title: Where to climb
Producer: Luke McSorley/Staffordshire University
Country: UK
URL: www.lukemcsorley.oxyuk.net

Category: Games
Title: Hide n’Tag
Producer: Michal Ferber/Shenkar College
Country: Israel
URL: www.hidentag.com

Category: Interactive Computer Graphics
Title: Kayak Paddling
Producer: Niko Hakkarainen/Lahti Polytechnic
Country: Finland
URL: www.kayakpaddling.net:

Category: Interactive installations & Interactive TV
Title: Performative Ecologies
Producer: Ruairi Glynn/Bartlett School of Architecture
Country: UK
URL: www.interactivearchitecture.org

Category: Content Tools & Interface Design
Title: Strip mine
Producer: Andraz Tori, Boatjan Spetic/RTV Slovania
Country: Slovenia
URL: www.rtvalo.si/odprtikop

Category: Digital video & Animations
Title: Life-Line
Producer: Tomek Ducki/Moholy-Nagy University
Country: Hungary
URL: www.tomekducki.com

Special Jury Award
Title: The Big Brother State
Producer: David Scharf, Johannes Berner/FH Augsburg
Country: Germany
URL: DVD Pal

Blog Posting Number: 933

Tags

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Academic Network 07 Conference (2)

The Academic Network Conference started yesterday with some 40 participants. The number of participants changes as there is also a meeting of the nominees in another part of the city. And some of the professors, lectors and instructors move back and forth depending on the subject.

The Academic network Conference had yesterday roughly three to four themes. Most prominent was the theme of mobile. It is clear that the schools are desperately trying to get material together for teaching purposes as well as for assignments. And I do not see too much of involvement from commercial and not-for-profit telecom research institutes. Of course this might be because the colleges do not find an entry into these organisations; on the other hand it might be that the organisations are not eager to be part of the educational institute. But I will come back to the mobile theme and especially to the mobile games.

Another theme was the social environment and digital media. Christina Handford, a 2003 EUROPRIX Top Talent winner from the UK, presented her initial inventory on teens and digital media for her Ph.D. Rodica Mocan, from Babes-Bolayi University in Cluj (Romania) made a presentation on happiness and the family in a digital media framework, a study which she is performing with a colleague in psychology. Both studies look very interesting and should give some extensive social insight. I will come back to these lectures later on. Also the social network were touched upon by Joanna Skoczkowska, who works for Procter & Gamble in Poland in her presentation To poke or not to poke..

Interesting was the presentation on Aesthetics as an attribute to usability by Raphael Kominis from Edinburg (Scotland). The subject is interesting as I saw a relationship with the presentations which were made in Hungary amongst others by Dalia Matijkiene and a colleague. It looks like EADiM might start up a special interest group in this area. Of course aesthetics is a difficult subject, which in practice gets aggravated by the cooperation of designers and producers.

During the day we had a working unit of the one hundred dollar PC. It was great to have the device in my hand. It looks great and is very intuitive. It reminds me of the forthcoming ultra mobile PCs (UMPC), such as the ASUS EEE (which is on my wish lit for Christmas, but which most likely will not arrive in the Netherlands before next year). An advantage is that the hundred dollars PCs are pushing the price for those UMPCs down in some cases and will start introducing open source.

Today there is a presentation of the Valnet-EMIN network, a virtual learning network In the project a group of European universities offers a MA degree to people working in multimedia companies. In this project the European Academy of Digital Media (EADiM) is involved. It is an exciting project to which I will return after the conference.

Later this afternoon the participants of the Academic Network will move over to the Kunsthaus for live presentations by the nominees of the Top Talent Awards. The nominated teams can present their projects. It is like a pitch for fame and for some teams it is a general rehearsal in order to pitch for venture capital. Tonight there will be the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award Gala. As the nominees have not been informed about their winning positions, all teams come with high expectations.

Blog Posting Number: 932

Tags:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Academic Network 07 Conference (1)

Yesterday I wrote about the e-book reader Kindle of Amazon.com. It was Amazon’s gift to me as I was going to give a presentation about digital paper to the Academic network at their conference in Graz (Austria). The conference is held at the FH Joanneum, a college of applied science, which has been very successful in yielding digital media experts. Every year students of this college enter the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award competition and have a list of nominees and winners.

It is my first time in Graz. So far the conferences of the Academic network have taken place in Vienna (Austria) and even the predecessors have taken place in Tampere (Finland). I have not seen much of Graz yet as I arrived last night. We had a welcome reception last night with the participants of the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award 07. This took place in a typical Austrian environment. The Karmelieterplatz had been turned into a ski slope with a make-shift tent to have the après-ski. Without skiing, we had drinks and finger food.

The Academic network has been going since 1999, when the first one was held under the name of the Scholars’ Network Conference in Tampere (Finland), during the MindTrek 99 conference. My friend Cai made an overview of the last five years. His conclusion: the participation in the conferences has been increased as well as the participants from different countries. In total 158 participants from 22 European countries have been present. The conference has always been connected to the EUROPRIX Top Talent Award, attracting also the professors, lecturers and instructors of nominees. The intention is to build out the conference to a larger event.


Friday, 23. November

9:00 -9:30 Opening Prof. Peter A. Bruck (ICNM), Jak Boumans (EADiM)

Moderator: Cai Melakoski, TAMK University of Applied Sciences (Tampere) FI

9:30 – 10:45 Panel 1 “Augmented Realities and Smart Interfaces”
Panel leader Alexander K. Nischelwitzer, FH Joanneum, Graz, AT, LOCAL HOST
9:30-09:45 Stephan Setscheny, FH Joanneum AT : Tangible Cubes: Implementation of tangible user interfaces through the usage of the microcontroller and sensor technology.
9:45-10:00 Kye, Bokyung, Korea Education & Research Info Service, KR: Investigation on the Relationships among Media Characteristics, Presence, Flow and Learning Effects in Augmented Reality Based Learning
10:00-10:15 Christoph Perhab, FH Joanneum AT: Visualization of machine-aided measurement of people counts in different infrastructures
10:15-10:30 Christophe Cotin Valois, Digitas, FR : User Universal Navigation Language
10:30-10:45 Discussion

10:45-11:00 Coffee Break

11:00-12:30 Panel 2 “Mobile Location Based Applications”
Panel leader Chris Bennewith, UK
11:00- 11:20 Andreas Jakl, FH Hagenberg, AT: Pushing location based games further – How to gain end-user suitability
11:20- 11:40 Sandra Schadenbauer, FH Joanneum, AT: Mobile Game based Learning – Designing a Mobile Location Based Game
11:40-12:00 Niki Theodorou, GR: Thessaloniki’s Tourist Guide: A tourist site for handheld devices
12:00-12:30 Discussion

12:30-14:00 Lunch Break

14:00-15:00 Panel 3 “The Mobile Paradigm for content development”:
Panel leader Richard Vickers, UK
14:00-14:30 Chris Bennewith / Richard Vickers, UK: Mobile Paradigm for Content development: Interface is key
14:30-14:45 Richard Hancock, Staffordshire University, UK: The complexities of developing accessible web content for mobile devices
14:45-15:00 Sohvi Sirkesalo, FI: Multichannel production for multichannel distribution -.case: Eurovision Song Contest
15:00-15:15 Discussion

15:15-15:30 Coffee Break

15:30-17:30 Panel 4 “Current Mega Trends”: Panel leader Rodica Mocan, RO
15:30-15:45 Christina Handford, UK Teen Appeal – Touching the moving point
15:45-16:00 Jak Boumans, NL: e-papers
16:00-16:15 Rodica Mocan, RO: Happines and the Family 2.0 paradigm
16:15-16:30 Raphael Kominis, GR: Aesthetics as an attribute to usability
16:30-16:45 Joanna Skoczkowska, PL: To poke or not to poke
16:45-17:00 Kieran O’Hea, IRE: Implications of Social Networking Websites for the Non-Profit Sector
17:00-17:30 Discussion

17:30 End of Day


Saturday, 24. November

9:30 – 10:45 Panel 5 “Teaching Models”:
Panel leader Melissa Lee Price, Staffordshire University, UK
9:30- 9:45 Mauri Kaipainen, University of Tallinn, Estonia: Using the Academic Network to foster collaborative European Projects.
9:45-10:00 Carina Roels, IT Institute, FR: Is it possible to conciliate e-learning, learning by doing and cross cultural approaches when teaching new technologies ?”
10:00-10:15 Tomi Numento, Pekka Uotila, Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences, FI: Events as Organisational Stories: An Event Based Approach for Learning Media Production”
10:15-10:30 Discussion

10:30-10:45 Coffee Break

10:45-11:30 Michael E. Jeppesen / Stanislav Miler, ICNM
Teaching interactive story authoring: The INSCAPE software suite
Discussion: How effective and valuable could INSCAPE be for teaching?

11:30-12:30 Panel 6 “Expectations to academia and how it can be addressed”:
Panel leader Richard Vickers, UK
11:30-12.00 Korash Sanjideh, Dan Livingstone, UK: How does academia ensure that graduates leaving education match industry expectations?
12:00-12:15 Mik Parsons, Bournemouth University, UK: The Learning Effectiveness of Cross-Discipline Collaborations
12:15-12:30 Discussion


12:30-13:30 Lunch and End of Conference
13:30-16:30 Top Talent Live Presentations at the Kunsthaus Graz
20:00-23:30 EUROPRIX Top Talent Award Gala - Minoritensaal

The EUROPRIX Top Talent Award is in its 10th year now. Tomorrow night the Gala will be held and the winners will be announced. Some of the jury members even from earlier editions will be there, for example Martin Sperka, a professor from Slovakia, Ms Melissa Lee-Price, a professor at Staffordshire University in the UK , Ms Rodica Mocan from Babesj University in Romania, Kieran O’Hea, a private consultant from Dublin (Ireland) and Sohi Sirkosalo of Tampere School of Art and Media (Finland). Again my friend Cai did some research into the jurors’ history. Ovr the 10 years there have been 258 jurors’ positions which have been filed by 158 persons from 25 European countries.

Blog Posting Number: 931

Tags: multimedia competition

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Re-kindling the text iPod

Last Tuesday I was invited to the Dutch weekly radio programme Tros Online (see the announcement in the Dutch language and listen to the 10 minutes session of November 20, 2007). The presenters wanted a discussion about the Kindle e-book reader, which was presented by Amazon on Monday. There had been long a buzz about the Kindle (kindle = to start a fire); even a prototype was out in 2006 (see photographs). It has not changed since. Before the summer holiday of 2007 there was even a rumour that iRex Technologies, the manufacturer of the iLiad, was in talks with Amazon. But now it is official: Amazon will sell the e-book reader Kindle. Even Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com, is unabashed about it, as can be seen in a television interview.

I looked at all the movies about it, even the drop test. And I read all the specs. And the first impression is: it looks awful. Yak. It is white and not sexy like the Apple iPod and iPhone. Technically it is a real 3.0 generation e-book, superseding the Sony EB and Rocket e-Book. It has digital paper and it has wireless connectivity (buying a book takes less than 60 seconds). There are a lot technical details, which can be compared with for example the iLiad. On the screen, for example, there seems to be a difference in the grey tones scale. Kindle is supposed to have 4 grey scales, where the iLiad has 16 grey scales; the grey scales affect the sharpness of the letters and especially the illustrations. On the connectivity Amazon.com takes a step ahead of the iLiad; from wifi to a fast network.

Amazon.com is also setting a standard, be it a proprietary standard. Of the text formats it has selected Mobipocket. This is of course fine for Amazon.com. It can now store books in one format. But it is a negation of all the efforts which have been put into the Open eBook Forum.

Looking at the business proposal I am impressed. Amazon.com offers books, newspapers and even blogs. Amazoin.com has 88.000 copyrighted books available at ten US dollars each. It has made deals with major US newspapers as well as magazines and offers editions at two US dollars. And it has 300+ blogs on offer, even at a price. Gosh, is Amazon.com attempting to professionalise blogs, forcing a caesura between paid and unpaid bloggers?

The price is another testing point. Kindle will be sold for 400 US dollars (251 euro) , 50 US dollars more expensive than the Sony 3.0 generation e-reader. It is less expensive that the iLiad, which costs a hefty 650 euro (899 US dollar at the present exchange rate). It actually turns around the iPod introductory price by Apple. Did Amazon mirror the introduction to iPod. The introduction of Kindle is definitely modelled after the iPod business model by Apple: a very portable device (iPod), an assortment (iTunes) and acceptable prices for a legal download. Amazon.com has all these characteristics also: the e-book reader is light (320 grams), but not as sexy as the Apple iPod; 88.000 copyrighted titles which is less than the iTune library at launch and the price of a book is under ten US dollars for a legal download (with even a virtual back-up).

I written before that e-book industry needs a champion, just like the music industry. Apple fulfilled that role and developed the format for music. I have indicated before that Sony would not be a proper industry champion because it uses a closed publishing system. Philips, stimulating digital paper, could not have been an industry champion, as it is in hardware and not content. Amazon.com looks like a proper industry champion as it has been in the internet bookshop business for years now. It is a great player in the States and makes efforts in China. But in Europe, except for the UK, and Ireland, the presence is not ubiquitous. In fact, if Bol.com would get together with Nokia, it could make a handsome and forceful business couple.

And the verdict (famous last words): Kindle is a brave step, but its impact will be less than the iPod introduction. It will stay a US service, not a global one and certainly not a European one. There is still enough room for competitors, provided that they refine the Amazon.com business model and the device.

Blog Posting Number: 930

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WSA 07 Jury Distinction (19)

Title: Dom-3
Media Format: cross media
Producer: TNT Broadcasting Network
Country: Russian Federation
Description of the Product:
The “Dom-3” project is a combination of an on-line game and a multifunctional web-site delivering an advanced massive virtual reality world where participants can learn about various ways and possibilities of socialization. Built on “Dom-2”, one of Russia’s most successful TV programs ever, one can find acquaintances and communicate in the interactive mode by means of chats, messengers, and smart phones. Ratings of a character are based on game and competition scores, level of health and mood, quality of clothes and apartment and of course circle of friends. A high rating results in a higher social status, a better position in the dating service, a more prestigious job or an invitation to the best parties in the virtual world.

The Dom-3 project is really a cross-media project or perhaps even better a transmedia project. Dom-3 builds on Dom-2, a very popular televison program for young people in Russia. The sit is basically a cross-over from televison to internet, from a linear televison program, whereby young people are shown images of their world, to a web 2.0 world where they can dream away, but also make contacts, earn points and climb on the social ladder of Dom-3. The site is very attractively designed.

Blog Posting Number: 929

Tags: , ,

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WSA 07 Jury Distinction (18)

Title: Triangler
Media Format: mobile contents
URL: www.tno.nl/triangler
Producer: TNO
Country: Netherlands
Description of the Product
Triangler is an innovative massive collaborative geometric outdoor mobile interactive game. Two teams of 5 players play and try to score most points by enclosing enemy players within 150-metre equilateral triangles formed by three team members. Alternately, two teams of 100 can play in a city or rural area with 2000 meter triangles. Using advanced location-based and presence services on cell phones, you can locate yourself, your team buddies and enemy players, learn. The value and fun of the game is in the competitive collaboration, tactical coordination of triplet formation and operational sharing of communication tasks, which all help to enhance the team’s score.

Triangler is a game concept rather than a game. The engine can be used for developing commercial games such as city games. It is interesting to see that the game concept has been developed by the telecom department of a research company. Triangler is now played amongst others as a team building game. During the WSA 07 event in Venice a set of two games was played on San Marco square by two teams. The developers were very happy about the results and called it one of their bests game sets.

Blog Posting Number: 928

Tags: e-entertainment, mobile games ,

Monday, November 19, 2007

WSA 07 Jury Distinction (17)

Title: ULSS Asolo Medical Network
Title in Original Language: ULSS 8 Asolo
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: pic.ulssasolo.ven.it/fpaweb
Producer: Azienda ULSS N. 8 Asolo
Country: Italy
Description of the Product
The ULSS Asolo Medical Network in Italy provides every citizen, as well as general practitioners and specialists with a comprehensive and integrated medical system. A personal site stores all clinical reports, images, tracings, etc. of the case history of a patient and makes the data accessible online under password restriction. Previously-made tests and exams can be seen from around the world in four languages at the patient’s request, thus letting a non-local specialists perform a simple distance-diagnosis and allowing travelling Italians to give doctors abroad pertinent medical information. Privacy, security and confidentiality of all information is guaranteed by a secure protocol with the issue of a Web Server Certificate as a proof of identity.

Asolo ULSS 8, the local health unit of Venice in Italy, has started a remarkable e-health project on patient’s information. The remarkable part is that the project does not gather all data of a patient into one file, store it and give access to it. But Asolo ULSS 8 uses the web principle. Images are stored with images, old data on paper is converted to PDF, lab test are automatically transferred to the lab results. Yet the patient, the physician and the hospital have access to the clinical records. A patient gets a personal site where all clinical reports, images, lab results of his case history are stored and easy accessible. In practice, every clinical file becomes “moveable”, available from anywhere in the world simply by connecting to the Internet. The benefit of this project is two-sided. Every moment and from everywhere, previously-made tests and exams can be seen and checked, thus letting a non-local specialist perform a very simple and cost-effective distance-diagnosis. The web portal is comprehensive, easy-accessible, integrated within the ULSS information system, secure and password restricted. It uses the digital database created by the ULSS in Caerano San Marco, connected at 1Gb/sec to 64 operational units. By simply connecting to the personal website
and choosing a search argument amongst those available, the system will display instant, on-screen results, with each item clickable and easily checkable; all diseases have been classified according to ICD9 CM. The system is also integrated with all the patient’s clinical files, accessible by both the GP and any specialists, and is also known under the name ‘Patient’s Personal Clinical File’.

Blog Posting Number: 927

Tags:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

WSA 07 Jury Distinction (16)

Title: Rural India: e-Panchayat of Orissa
Media Format: broadband/online
Producer: Panchayati Raj Department Orissa Government Agency
Country: India
Description of the Product
The online platform of the Orissa Panchayati Raj Department is the first initiative of its kind in e-Panchayat Governance in India. It has enabled networking and communication of the 314 block offices of the state with 30 District Rural Development offices and the state head quarter. This has led to a significant improvement of efficiency and better delivery of services to the target group consisting of people living below the poverty line of 45 lakh and involving annual investment of 2000 crore rupees. About five million families benefit from this e-content government system.

The Orissa Panchayati Raj Department has started a an ambitious program in 2004 and 2005 to help people finding employment in irrigation, water conservation and planting trees near avaenues and living blocks. In this project, ICT has been used in order to support a programme guaranteeing employment and to build up a robust infrastructure in rural areas in parallel. The vision of the local government was to use ICT to inform people and offciails, interact and transact business. The system was to regulate fund flow, financial accounting, project monitoring and monitoring the beneficiaries.

Blog Posting Number: 927

Tags:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

WSA 07 Jury Distinction (15)

The jury rules of the World Summit Award allow five awards per category. In this edition the WSA 07 Grand Jury decided to institute Jury Distinctions and made a selection of five diverse projects. In the coming days I will treat the projects separately, starting with the Labour Market project from Bahrain. First I will present the data and the jury laudation and expand on it.

Photograph taken during the WSA 07 Winners' Conference. Most to the right is Ali Rahdi, CEO, Labour Market Regulatory Authority in Bahrain.



Title: LMRA – Bahrain
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.lmra.bh/
Producer: Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA)
Country: Bahrain
Description of the Product
The Labour Market Regulatory Authority website provides a quick and transparent source of information and services in eight languages for foreign workers, employers and the public in Bahrain. The Expatriate management system covers the entire work flow where employers apply for, pay for, renew and terminate work visas. Employees on the other hand are empowered to check the validity and track the processing stage of their visa. The complex process of immigration and getting a work permit is made easy and requires no longer personal presence. The system allows for capturing and verification of biometric data, scheduling of Health check appointments and the issuing of permits.

Bahrain has been very active in the content world. It has mainly operated in the e-government and e-inclusion categories. And one notices it straight at the airport upon arrival in the capital Manama. An electronic visum can be applied for on internet and upon arrival some stamps are put in the passport and one is through. (This is quite a difference with the long qeues in Johannesburg and Beirut).
Bahrain is a kingdom with 600.000 inhabitants. A majority of these inhabitants make up the labour force. Before the introduction of the LMRA system, these people were dependent on a middle man and the employer. This often presented problems for the labourer; passports were kept by the middle man or the employer. Now the LMRA system checks every phase from application to departure. After arrival the new employee is signalled at the customs; an appointment is made with the physician for a check-up. The employee can keep his passport. But the system can also be used for spot checks. Upon a visit to a company, the inspectors can wirelessly check details like finger prints in their system. The system has streamlined the workflow for the Labour Authority and the information for the employer and employee, but it has also given the labourers a less dependent status in a foreign country.

Blog Posting Number: 926

Tags: ,

Friday, November 16, 2007

WSA 07 Awards in Venice (14)

Category: e-Inclusion

The category e-Inclusion demonstrates how content products and services play an important role in including groups in society such as blind and unemployed people. But it includes also an admission system for students in Oman, which puts together the applications for further education straightforward. Infoblago is a site informing people about charities organisations.The Brazilian telecenters project helps SMEs with running their businesses.

Title: IBSAR - Vision for Blind
Media Format: offline/DVD, CD-ROM
Producer: Sakhr Software Company
Country: Kuwait
Description of the Product
Ibsar is a powerful Screen Reader that converts the output of the screen into high quality human voice so that the blind users can professionally use most of the software programs both in Arabic and in English. It also enables users to write texts in the two language and allows saving and printing these texts in Braille format. This integrated solution enables blind users to have full access the Internet and read Arabic and English Web sites using a friendly easy-to-use method designed for visually impaired and blind people. Moreover, Ibsar empowers users to send, receive, write, read, and manage E-mail messages, helping users reach out for a wider world.

Title: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Original Title: Digital Inclusion for Communities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.ctph.org/
Producer: Conservation Through Public Health
Country: Uganda
Description of the Product
Multimedia for sustainability. Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a site on the world wide web and in Uganda where solar powered, high speed wireless Internet access produces income for gorilla monitoring as well as a human health project. The Telecentre serves important educational purposes and provides health and environmental awareness through multimedia. People trained in the use of ICT at the Telecentre include 40% women. The project encourages ecotourism and catalyzes economic activities and spin-offs. It provides employment opportunities to the community and is a good example of effective e-inclusion built on an innovative ICT and e-content initiative.

Title: Higher Education Admission Center
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.heac.gov.om/
Producer: Higher Education Admission Center
Country: Oman
Description of the Product
Educational divides run through many societies. The Online application for the Higher Education Admission Center in Oman was designed to help thousands of students to apply for college and universities no matter where they live in the country. The system has unified all admission procedures for higher education into one application. This portal includes all needed information, checks the requirements and allows online applications for all matters including financial support without travelling long distances or insider know-how. The system allocates places to students according to their exam results and their program preferences, and does so with great accuracy, equality and transparency.

Title: Infoblago.ru
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.infoblago.ru/
Producer: Information centre « Charity in Russia »
Country: Russian Federation
Description of the Product
Civic responsibility can be based on e-content. The Infoblago web-site links charity organizations in Russia to those willing to help or in need of help. It fills an information gap and is meant to counteract an “information blockade” of the social and charity themes and subjects in the mainstream mass media. It provides daily updated information on events, legislation and other topics relevant to charity in Russia. The web site also contains an active forum and allows to perform on-line searches to find both organisations which provide help in a specific field or persons who are looking for helping hands themselves. www.infoblago.ru sets a good example of e-inclusion through multimedia.

Title: Telecenters of Information and Business
Title in Original Language: Telecentros de Informação e Negócios
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.telecentros.desenvolvimento.gov.br/
Producer: Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Commerce
Country: Brazil
Description of the Product
The Telecenters of Information and Business Website - TIN - is entirely focused to the inclusion and digital education of small Brazilian businesses and people who run and own them. TIN promotes entrepreneurship and the creation of telecenters which then are able to provide news, information, services, courses and training on subjects that interest micro and small-sized Brazilian companies. Users can find several tools on the website: basic internet and computing courses, management courses, courses on IT tools. It also offers links to relevant government services as well as links to the main sources of commercial, economical and technological information. TIN also acts as 'Meeting Places' for community members.

Blog Posting Number: 925

Tags:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

WSA 07 Awards in Venice (13)

Category: e-Entertainment

The category e-Entertainment calls forth many expectations about multiplayer games and mobile games. Yet the jury has gone into different directions like electronic magazines as Indigo from Mexico and the 8 million circulation XPlus. Desert Rebel is a multimedia website with outstanding music. Most exciting is the Binar-e-World from Venezuela, a site about a computer theme parc, including the history of computing. Boys and girls is an Arab edutainment site.

Title: Indigo - Brain Media
Media Format: cross media
URL: http://www.indigomedia.com/
Producer: ÍndigoMedia
Country: Mexico
Description of the Product
Publishing goes broadband. Indigo is an independent multimedia application published weekly by digital publishing group whose products seek to provide entertainment and understanding rather than mere information. The user experience is provided by interactive tools, videos, animations, and audio in a variety of forms including electronic broadcasting, streaming, and on-demand delivery. Indigo combines in an excellent and seamless fashion publishing and multimedia design. The result is a media experience in which users read, see, hear, touch, and feel each article through the most up-to-date, cutting-edge technology. Every Friday, readers can enjoy the Indigo experience free of charge on topics such as politics, economics, culture, society, sports, and many more.

Title: Xplus
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: xplus.com.cn
Producer: Nuchannel science and technologies (Shengshi) Company Limited
Country: China
Description of the Product
Publishing is personal. Xplus is a most powerful digital publishing and content distribution platform from China, with an average monthly readership of 8.7 million people. Xplus utilizes its own developed data mining tools to analyze readers’ preferences and provide subscribers contents that fit to their tastes. The platform features user friendly and powerful tools to enable individuals, SMEs and large scale traditional media companies to develop original, creative and interactive digital contents online. Content owners can leverage their own content with branded contents, advertising partners, rich-media presentations and online delivery services to reach more audiences and be successful in their own media business online.

Title: Desert Rebel
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.desertrebel.com/
Producer: Original dub master
Country: France
Description of the Product
e-content is rebellious. Desert Rebel is the first from a series of documentaries on cultures of resistance across the world. Entitled “Culture & Resistance” the concept is the brainchild of French film director François Bergeron who aims at meeting artists to overturn history and free political stereotypes and national amnesias. The website is the start of the development of a multimedia platform for the diffusion of crossover cultural programs allowing users to listen to Desert Rebel music and watch videos from Niger. Desert Rebel is a beautiful multimedia website with outstanding music, a forum for worldwide citizen engagement and community building tools, benefiting durable development of schools in Niger and the collaboration of artists from Europe, Africa and South America.

Title: Binary World
Title in Original Language: Mundo Binario: El parque de atracciones con la computadora más grande del mundo
Media Format: cross media
URL: http://www.mundobinario.net/
Producer: Tecno Atracciones C.A.
Country: Venezuela
Description of the Product
A computer is content. Binar-e-World is the world´s first Information Technology theme park that has made it possible for everyone to travel inside physically a computer. The giant Computer is an impressive building located in the city of Valencia, Venezuela. It has a giant 740 inch computer monitor, a qwerty keyboard of 16m length, a CPU 10m high and a mouse the size of a compact car. Its a one-of-a-kind edutainment destination that combines a walkthrough with rides similar to those at famous amusement parks, full of animatronics and special effects. Binar-e-World explains in a fun way the past, present and applications of Information technology thus making it friendlier, attractive and accessible to everyone, no matter which age, sex or economic status.

Title: Boys and Girls
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.islamweb.net/
Producer: islamweb.net
Country: Qatar
Description of the Product
e-content is amazing. “Boys and Girls” is an Arabic online interactive edutainment site from Qatar dedicated to kids worldwide. The site includes different types of edutainment materials aimed towards establishing good manners and ethics in the life of kids in addition to providing scientific and historical information with a special focus on topics related to the Arab world and Islamic culture. The site is being updated on weekly basis by adding new movies and applications. “Boys and Girls” conveys its message and information with the help of interactive games, competitions, songs and movies covering nine different subjects.

Blog PostingNumber: 924

Tags:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Flash: EU FP7, Call 3 in motion

Directorate E of the European Commission, Unit E2 "Content and Knowledge", responsible for digital content, interactive media and knowledge technologies is organising a two-day event to coincide with the opening of the 3rd Call for proposals under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). The workshop will be held on 12-13 December 2007 in Luxembourg in the conference complex of the Jean Monnet building, with the aim of giving information to potential participants in Call 3. At the same time we intend to use the event to showcase work financed under FP6 and share the experience gained so far. This information is intended to be of assistance to future proposers in orienting their research.
For more information: http://cordis.europa.eu/ist/kct/fp7_call_3.htm

WSA 07 Awards in Venice (12)

Category: e-Learning
Teaching and learning are benefiting from the use of digital media. Although still not can be proven that the level of learning has risen since th use, yet learning has become less like a drill in a class and more interesting as well as playful. Digital media are used to learn the correct pronunciation of the holy book of the Koran. But with Numeropolis, the pupil can learn arithmetics in a playful manner, while Musicbus makes playing a musical instrument fun.

Title: Hafss
Media Format: offline/DVD, CD-ROM
Producer: RDI
Country: Egypt
Description of the Product
Religion requires learning. With the DVD Hafss from Egypt a religious Muslim can learn the correct pronunciation of the Holy Book Koran. The learner listens to the ideal recitation of the electronic Sheikh of Kuttab and is asked to imitate it as close as he/she can. Hafss analyzes the learner's pronunciation and evaluates it according to the rules of Tajweed, it detects types and positions of errors in the input utterance and prepares an appropriate corrective feedback. The program presents the rules of AL- Tajweed science that improves the recital of the Koran. The application also presents an electronic book with an easily understandable format divided into lessons each covering a rule.

Title: Geometry: Between playing and the highest mark!
Title in Original Language: Geometrie: intre joc si nota 10
Media Format: offline/DVD, CD-ROM
Producer: SC. SOFTWIN SRL
Country: Romania
Description of the Product
Learning mathematics can be adventurous. The CD-Rom “Geometry “has been created based on the Romanian curricula for grade VI and VII Mathematics teaching and represents an excellent support for students in all schools of the country. The CD sets include an intuitive “virtual geometry toolkit” where one can draw freely and with great with ease and precision, solve geometric problems and be instantly evaluated and corrected by the application. Geometry turns math into an adventure and captivating animated films bring geometrical concepts into an everyday context. In an innovative use of Artificial intelligence, avatars guide learners step by step through the entire field of Geometry and adapt to the knowledge level of users.

Title: musicbus
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.musicbus.it/
Producer: musicbus.it
Country: Italy
Description of the Product
Everybody online can learn music. The Italian Web Application Musicbus is an online learning aid which employs personal computer multimedia tools to cover the typical contents of a music education syllabus in a most effective way. Musicbus introduces interactive music e-learning objects, self-assessments, and games to engage and facilitate each student's learning process in three sections: singing, playing games, and three instrumental panels: guitar, keyboard and recorder. An elegant interface visualizes the changing of notes or chords, and the correct position of hands and fingers on instruments are demonstrated. A karaoke function helps develop rhythmical precision, test memorization, and vocal practice.

Title: Eureka
Media Format: broadband/online – LAN/CD
URL: http://www.designmate.com/
Producer: Designmate Pvt Ltd
Country: India
Description of the Product
Eureka is a CD delivered LAN system of learning to supplement rural education in India. Entire text books are converted into colourful 3D animated movies with interactive games and puzzles, bringing a visually beautiful and engaging learning experience to children. ,The students’ learning and retention capabilities are significantly improved. The software can run on reconditioned solar-powered PCs. Eureka assists rural students to compete for seats in Technical Institutions by delivering national examination science concepts first in local vernacular and then in English for exam preparation. Students can do scientific experiments virtually although the real laboratory equipment might be missing.

Title: Numeropolis
Original Title: Numerópolis
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.numeropolis.com/
Producer: INED Innovaciones Educativas
Country: Venezuela
Description of the Product
Games makes Math Teaching successful. Numerópolis is a web site teaching math to children between third and sixth grade in Venezuela. Numerópolis is a city made of numbers where only one person, Don Millón, owns all of the fun places. He does not charge for entrance, but proposes math challenges to those who want to have fun in the city. The basic sections of Numerópolis are games that practice the most important math subjects in elementary school in Venezuela. In Don Millón’s library teachers and parents can find e-books on teaching math to the children and sets of self-evaluations. The site’s records a child’s progress through the games and the record can be used as feed-back by the child, teacher or parent.

Blog Posting Number: 923

Tags:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Flash Commission: a single European Telecoms Market for 500 million consumers

Brussels, 13 November 2007

Today, the Commission adopted proposals for a reform of the EU telecoms rules. With the reform, the Commission wants to enable citizens, wherever they live and wherever they travel in the EU, to benefit from better and cheaper communication services, whether they use mobile phones, fast broadband internet connections or cable TV. To achieve this, the Commis-sion proposes strengthening consumer rights; giving consumers more choice by reinforcing competition between telecoms operators; promoting investment into new communication infrastructures, in particular by freeing radio spectrum for wireless broadband services; and making communication networks more reliable and more secure, especially in case of viruses and other cyber-attacks. A new European Telecom Market Authority will support the Commission and national telecoms regulators in ensuring that market rules and consumer regulation are applied consistently, independently and without protectionism in all 27 EU Member States. To become law, the Com-mission proposals will now need to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.

"From today onwards, a single market without borders for Europe's telecoms operators and consumers is no longer only a dream," said José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission. "Telecoms is a field where our single market can bring about very concrete results for every citizen in terms of more choice and lower prices, whether for mobile phones or for broadband internet connections. At the same time, a single market with 500 million consumers opens new opportunities for telecoms operators – if Europe helps to ensure effective competition and consistent rules of the game. This is why we act today. A more European regulatory approach is particularly justified in telecoms. After all airwaves know no borders. And the internet protocol has no nationality."

Viviane Reding, the EU Telecoms Commissioner said: "Today's telecoms reform proposals put Europe's citizens centre stage. In the past, Europe has made substantial progress by opening telecoms markets to new players and by progressively ensuring more competition. However, dominant telecoms operators, often still protected by government authorities, remain in control of critical market segments, especially of the broadband market. This restricts consumers' freedom of choice. 10% of EU citizens still have no broadband access at all. This is why new consumer rights, a new dose of competition, an effective system of independent telecoms regulators, new investment into competitive infrastructures and more space for new wireless services are needed to put Europe's digital economy on track."

The "Telecoms Reform Package", which was presented by the Commission to the European Parliament in Strasbourg today, will change the EU Telecoms Rules of 2002. It is expected to become law by the end of 2009 and includes the following main features:

- New consumer rights such as the right to switch telecoms operators within 1 day; the right to transparent and comparable price information; the possibility to call freephone numbers from abroad; and a more effective single European emergency number 112.
- More consumer choice through more competition, especially by giving na-tional telecoms regulators the new remedy of functional separation for domi-nant telecom operators.
- More security in using communication networks, especially through new in-struments to fight against spam, viruses and other cyber attacks.
- A "New Deal" for radio spectrum – the lifeblood of all wireless communication services – to spur investment into new infrastructures and to ensure "broad-band access for everyone". In rural areas of the EU, only 72% of the popula-tion on average have broadband access. The Commission wants to overcome this "digital divide" by better managing radio spectrum and by making spectrum available for wireless broadband services in regions where building a new fibre infrastructure is too costly. The switchover from analogue to digital TV will free a substantial amount of radio spectrum (the so-called "digital dividend") that can be used for this purpose.
- Better regulation in telecoms by deregulating those markets where EU-driven market-opening has already led to competition (see IP/07/1678); this will allow the Commission and national regulators to focus on the main bottlenecks, such as the broadband market.
- More independent watchdogs to guarantee fair regulation in the interest of consumers. Too often, telecoms regulators are still close to the dominant op-erator that continues to be partly owned by the national government in many countries. The EU Telecoms Reform wants to strengthen the independence of national telecoms watchdogs from operators and governments alike.

To quickly and effectively implement the reform, the Commission proposes establishing a European Telecom Market Authority that will help ensure that important communication services (such as internet broadband access, data roaming, mobile phone usage on planes and ships and cross-border business services) are regulated more consistently across the 27 EU Member States. The European Telecom Market Authority will more effectively combine the functions of the current European Regulators Group (ERG) and of the current European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).

"Through last summer's EU Roaming Regulation, we treated one of the most visible symptoms resulting from the lack of a single European telecoms market for consumers," said Commissioner Reding (see IP/07/1445). "With today's reform proposals, the Commission now goes to the heart of the problem: the fragmentation of Europe's telecoms market that is depriving European consumers of the benefits of cross-border competition in telecoms. This is what we need to change."

Background
At the end of 2005, the Commission began a public consultation on whether a reform of the EU Telecoms Rules, in force since 25 July 2003, is needed and how a single market in telecoms could be achieved (see IP/06/874). Today's reform proposals are based on the results of this consultation.

WSA 07 Awards in Venice (11)

Category: e-Business

The category e-Business shows a a range of applications, mainly in the non-profit sector. The project National Financing helps SMEs by providing credit and cutting red tape. The Kiva project provides micro credit for global projects. The Merino Innovation Portal has been set up to promote merino wool. The i-kimono project is collecting kimonos to restore and sell and using the money for charity. Digitalcopyright.hk is unique project, covering the complete chain of digital rights.

Below the jury laudations:

Title: National Financing - Development Bank
Title in Original Language: Nacional Financiera - Banca de Desarrollo
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.nafin.com/
Producer: Nacional Financiera, S.N.C.
Country: Mexico
Description of the Product
NAFIN´s website has developed a strong set of resources to help small and medium businesses overcome the long term credit terms of the big enterprises by an online system for Factoring. It fosters the development of Mexican SMEs by providing otherwise scarce and expensive credit and reducing costs and eliminating red tape through online services. Credit worth over US $40 billion has been already provided. NAFIN uses the internet to bring factoring, financing, training, technical assistance and real time valuable business information to small and medium businesses (SMEs). Other services include: eLearning, an on line B2B SMEs marketplace and selling opportunities to the Government. Everything works transparent making this site a must for all businesses in Mexico.

Title: KIVA Micro Finance
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.kiva.org/
Producer: Kiva Microfunds
Country: United States of America
Description of the Product
Kiva.org is a non-profit web site revolutionizing the fight against global poverty by enabling socially-conscious internet users to connect with and make personal loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world. An exceptional social software solution, Kiva acts as the world’s first person-to-person lending marketplace for the poor. Anyone can make a direct loan of as little as $25 to someone in a developing country. This affordable capital helps low income entrepreneurs start or expand their small businesses, creating a path towards economic self sufficiency. Specifically, Kiva.org has developed also a program that will accelerate the growth of microfinance institutions through the use of accounting software.

Title: digitalcopyright.hk
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.digitalcopyright.hk/
Producer: Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited
Country: China
Description of the Product
Aiming at preserving creativity and realizing the profitability of creativity in the digital economy, Copyright.hk is a one-stop trusted e-biz marketplace. It offers a centralized clearance solution to connect digital content owners and consumers. It assists owners in selling contents in a self-service mode and also flexibly setting business rules for their contents. Copyright.hk serves as a trusted source for consumers to buy copyrighted contents. In this way, contents are distributed in a controllable manner and thus unlawful replication and distribution of contents can be greatly deterred. This project is also a massive educational exercise concerning legitimate content downloads addressing especially students and youngsters intending to download and upload creative works.

Title: The Merino Innovation Portal
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.merinoinnovation.com/
Producer: Devotion
Country: Australia
Description of the Product
In response to fierce competition from lower-priced cotton and increasingly technical synthetic fabrics the Australian Wool Innovation uses a web portal to help sell more of Australia’s world-leading often undervalued merino wool. Merinoinnovation.com was created as the key element in a strategy to rejuvenate the fortunes of this iconic Australian product and the sheep farm industry of the country. The web site demonstrates the versatility of Merino wool in many engaging interactive formats. It takes users on a sensual journey from inspiration to implementation. It addresses different audiences from designers to consumers and has been successful in positively shifting perceptions and gaining a number of large international clients for Merino wool producers.

Title: i-kimono
Media Format: broadband/online
URL: http://www.i-kimono.com/
Producer: i-kimono
Country: Japan
Description of the Product
i-kimono’s creates an on-line market for used kimonos and spreads the culture of the kimono internationally. The site services are intended to serve commercial and cultural interests: kimonos stored by older generations with loving care can be passed to younger generations and brought to use in today’s culture and societies. The site features a Kimono Appraisal System in order to find out the fair price for an old garment thus creating a market for the precious antique kimono so that every one can enjoy freely kimonos for various uses. The unique i-kimono charity auction system supports Japanese non profit organisations by creating proceeds from internet auctions from members and supporters.

Blog Posting Number: 922

Tags: