Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The robo shrink has arrived

In Europe the impression exists that every American has a shrink. No action is undertaken without consulting your shrink. When he/she advises you to go on holiday, you go. Of course it is a gross exaggeration, but yet there are many psycho therapists and they cost a lot of money. Two Dutch psychologists have developed the internet solution for this, the Mindmentor, the robocoach.

MindMentor is a robot psychologist. The system was developed by Drs. Jaap Hollander and Drs. Jeffrey Wijnberg, two psychologists from the Netherlands. In 2006 they did research, tested the system and discovered that MindMentor solved people's problems for 47% on average.
MindMentor will work with any type of problem or goal. You can have the system help you with personal problems, but he will help you with business issues as well. (This is quite a claim, worth a test as it is not clear what business the psychologists mean). It tends to make things personal. MindMentor guides you through a series of psychological steps that help you solve problems and achieve goals. In a session of 40 minutes a direction should be given for a problem or an objective.MindMentor works on the basis of five psychological systems.1. Neuro linguistic programming (NLP): a system for personal development that emerged in California in the early eighties and is still popular today. NLP helps people discover and change the structure of their inner experience. This is MindMentor's main approach.2. Projective testing. This is a technique widely used by psychologists. The most famous example is the Rorschach test (the one with the ink blots). Projective testing is a way to bring unconscious knowledge into consciousness.3. Provocative therapy: an innovative system of therapy, originally developed by Frank Farrelly of Madison, Wisconsin. Provocative therapy helps people by challenging them.4. Client centered therapy, a very common type of therapy, originally developed by Carl Rogers. Client centered therapy helps people gain clarity by approaching them with a very positive attitude and restating what they have said.5. Pavlovian or 'classical' conditioning. This process connects certain mental and emotional responses to images. This is MindMentor's way of helping people to easily connect or 'anchor' inner resources to the situations where they need them.

Looking at the five psychological systems, I recognise NPL, the Rorschacht test, the Carl Rogers methods and the Pavlovian conditioning. I saw them never brought into one system. But I am not a shrink nor do I have one. But reaching a result of 47 per cent with a compound of five psychological systems sounds good.

It is an interesting development. Earlier I had seen a system for clearing up depressions (not that I need one as I am a born optimist). But I never expected that we would see the day of a robocoach. It looks like a step ahead. I guess that the professional association of the psychotherapists and the one of the psychologists are not happy with this development.

Will the site be used? I am wondering. I personally find the lay-out of the site unprofessional, certainly with the picture of the robocoach. There is neither a demonstration or free tour lacking as a confidence builder. In the promotion texts there is confusion about the tariff (7,95 euro or elsewhere on the site and in the press release 4,95 euro; or is this an introduction tariff). And on the site there is no visible counter to tell whether people are using the system at all. You have to register for a visit to robocoach.

Blog Posting Number: 971


Monday, January 07, 2008

Segmentation in social networks

Social networks are popping up everywhere and for different age groups. Recent the UK consumer group Which? published a survey grading the various social networks. Bebo, Facebook and Saga Zone came out as the best three. The top ten, including MySpace, show segmentation, according to age groups, but also to globalisation.

In the UK segmentation in age can be distinguished. MySpace is aiming at the segment of older teenagers and early twens. Bebo and Facebook and is aiming at a target group from 20 onwards. Now also the age group of silver surfers has its own social network in the Saga Zone, a site still at its infancy.

Of course the global internet has had from the beginning a segmentation in sites with regard to age. The site Habbo Hotel is a typical hangout for teenagers. LinkedIn and Xing have been the social network for professionals. And in several countries, like in the Netherlands, there is a network for seniors. From the beginning they have not been typified as social networks, but functioned like them, even to the point of organising physical meeting like Xing and Seniornet do in the Netherlands.

But the social networks have also another interesting aspect, the globalisation. Social networks like Facebook and My Space as well as LinkedIn and Xing aim at the whole world. Yet Bebo and Saga Zone are typically active in the UK. Also in the Netherlands there is a social network for young professionals, Hyves, which is not limited to the Netherlands, but has most of its subscribers there. Of course language is one of the factors as well as a limited national outlook. I can imagine that Saga Zone will do it better in the UK, as the target group looks for contacts in its own country. Yet Facebook is internationally oriented and has a global target group. I guess it will be very hard to set up a European social network as this geographical region is fragmented by languages.

Recently Ofcom, the UK telecom watchdog, released a study saying the UK social network participants spent more time on social networking than their European counterparts, devoting 5,3 hours a month and visiting them 23 times, roughly 14 minutes per visit. Yet people are getting cautious about participating in social networks. According to a survey by the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) no less than 71 per cent of 14- to 21-year-olds did not want their future employers to see their profiles on social networking sites; only 40 per cent realised that their online activities could be traced indefinitely. Also security of the network such as identity theft is an issue before subscribing.

Blog Posting Number: 670


Sunday, January 06, 2008

R.I.P. Netscape

It is like the end of an era. Bill Gates bows out this year to pay attention to the charities he and his wife have built up. In The Netherlands, the telecom incumbent KPN has dismissed the editorial staff of its Planet Internet after 12,5 years of service. And now the message reaches that AOL stops servicing Netscape, a browser since October 1994. Unbelievable, as there is a coincidence between Netscape and Planet Internet dating back to 1995.

AOL definitely pulls the plug on Netscape on February 1, 2008. After almost 15 years a pioneer bows and takes leave. It started all out with a group of students at the University of Illinois in 1993, who wanted to develop a web browser, named Mosaic; the web browser was supposed to play music and images. Up to that time Internet was no more than a remote text reproducing machine. One of these students, Marc Andreessen, left his study and started with financial strong man Jim Clark the company Netscape in 1994; this company changed internet as Netscape could show pictures, videos and play sound and it was easy to show. From October 1994 Netscpae offered Netscape 0.9 as a commercial version and it was an instant success. The company was listed at the stock exchange and grew into a billion dollar company, much to the chagrin of Microsoft (which had been sleeping with regard to the internet development). So by 1996 Netscape got competition from Microsoft, which coupled Internet Explorer to its operating system. And soon the Netscape lost market share in the browser market. It complained in court and in 1999 Microsoft had to pay 500 million dollar to Netscape, but by that time it was too late for Netscape to make up and eventually had to be sold to AOL. Despite efforts of AOL to convert Netscape into the open source browser Firefox of Mozilla, Microsoft gained a market share of 90 percent.

Netscape caused in 1995 a row in The Netherlands. The ISP Planet Internet, a site run by the telecom incumbent KPN, had started in June. The management was well aware of the fact that Netscape was an attraction in the market as for example competitor Euronet*Internet offered its users a disc for access, which was rather technical, talking about Windows sockets, for example. Planet Internet wanted an easier to install program with more possibilities. But trailing the success of Planet Internet was the ISP World Online, run by Nina Brink. She wanted to have Netscape exclusively for her subscribers and talked with Jim Clark. In late 1995 she in fact invited Jim Clark (who was in the Netherlands to inspect his million dollar yacht) to address a high performance meeting with the minister of Traffic and Waterworks, Ms Jorritsma. In the end Planet Internet won the battle, got the exclusive rights to the Dutch language version of Netscape and put it in their introduction package (see photograph).

Netscape is the end of the Internet pioneers era. Now Microsoft has 90 percent markets hare with Internet Explorer, while Firefox had 10 percent. But, projecting into the future and seeing that open source will get stronger, the market share of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer should diminish.

Blog Posting Number: 970

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Open source software in 2015 (2)

Yesterday I summarised the first five forecasts concerning open source software in 2015. These forecasts can be classified as:
- totally negative;
- technologically and socially optimistic;
- conditionally depended on political support.
Today five more forecasts.

Maarten Wijnen-Meijer, consultant with the government office OSOSS, is also rather optimistic, as open standards will reduce vendor lock-ins. He signals that more suppliers will support open source software products and that more closed products will be developed in such a way that they can cooperate with open source applications. He also predicts that companies will participate in the development of open source software application. He draws attention to the fact, that open source software and standards have been started out by communities. People take pleasure in developing and using open source software together.

Jeroen Visser, IT specialist Open Source IBM Nederland, makes the situation of open source in 2015 conditional on community based software development, as more forecasters did so far. But he is convinced that the break through of open source also depends on the government and especially municipalities. They will have to organise themselves as they have a common business model in order to develop community model solutions. Condition is that the government looks at open source as a product of a community based development and shared functionality.

Michiel Leenaars, Director of the 10 year old Internet Society Netherlands (ISOC), sees open source as increased entropy. Portable devices running on open source software and wireless connections will have become the standard and no longer the exception. But despite the strong increase of open source software there will be no mono-culture, but also competition, yielding innovation, cross-fertilisation, niche marketing and customisation. Even in 2015 transfer of complex open source CMS functionalities to another platform will not be easy.

Karel De Vriendt, Chief European Commission, Directorate General Informatica European e-government services, gave his personal view on open source software in 2015. The phenomenon will not disappear, but he also stress that it will not just fly. The success of open source software depends on four aspects:
- the rise of a real oss-economy and of business models;
- the end of conditional sales like PC with an operating system (Mac + Mac OS; PC + Windows).
- the permutation of open source software in education;
- the use of open source software by the government.
Use in education and government are essential; besides co-operation pays out.

Duco Dokter, managing director Wyldebeast & Wunderliebe and president of NN-Open, closes the forecasts in style. He simulates a fictional fragment of the State of the Union to the Dutch parliament on September 15, 2015: ICT policy has been oriented towards sustainability, openness and independence, safeguarded by using open standards and where possible open source programs. The effects of this policy is showing now: never did The Netherlands have such a healthy, technological climate. There is room for innovation by healthy competition. “The yoke of closed standards and programs has mostly been thrown off. Let us look ahead in the realisation that freedom is the highest good attainable”.

Blog Posting Number: 969

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Open source software in 2015 (1)

The Dutch language Open Source Yearbook 2007-2008 contains a chapter projecting the situation of open source software in 2015. The editor and a contributor have interrogated people about their view on open source software in 2015; the question was: When you think about the open source software situation in 2015, can you indicate the most important differences with the present situation (of 2007). The year 2015 has not been chosen ad random, but from 2007 it means a span of eight years. (It is a coincidence to note that the UN will hold a review of its WSIS, the World Summit on the Information Society) If the chapter had been about a technological forecast, the span could have been longer, but open source software becomes a social issue with ethical, economic and political consequence besides a technological development. In two instalments, ten people from various walks of life have been asked to give their view or look back to 2007.

Jo LaHaye, managing director of MMBase and chairman of the association HollandOpen, looks back from 2015 to 2007 and reminds the reader of the optimism in 2007, when a vice secretary of state of the Economic Affairs Department defined an Open Source Software policy and the EC Commissioner Neelie Smit Kroes ordered Microsoft to pay a parking fee. Yet two things went wrong after that: it is hard fighting against established monopolies. But what really brought down the open source software community was the software patent jurisdiction, executed by the European Patent Office, despite wide opposition from the European Parliament. Mr Lahaye remarks that predicting is difficult and he can only hope that he is the worst futurist in The Netherlands.

Ms Ada Gerkens, the only woman asked to give her view in this team of forecasters, is a Dutch parliamentarian of the Socialist Party. Ms Gerkens is more optimistic than Mr Lahaye. She notes in 2015, that since open source software now has a better market, there are more developments. Existing software will be improved in its functionality and even surpasses the Microsoft solutions with regard to user friendliness. It will also yield more innovative solutions in ICT. The climax will be, when Neelie Smit Kroes intimates an interviewer in 2015 that her PC and laptop are completely open source software driven. “I stand for my ideals, a free market doest not tolerate a monopolist”, she said in the interview.

Rishab Aiyer Gosh, a senior researcher of the United Nations University and the MERIT institute in Maastricht, has a positive forward looking view on the development of open source software. One of his strong quotes is: “Unless Microsoft changes its business model dramatically, companies will re-direct their investments to open source”. For him the real promise of open source is in the participation of users in the development and control of their information products and –services. Web 2.0 and Wikipedia are the precursors of what will happen in ICT in general due to open source. But the development is dependent on the fact whether children will be educated to be citizens and creators instead of consumers.

Wouters Tebbens is program manager of the Science, education and Learning in Freedom association. He foresees two scenarios: a continuation of the present situation or a paradigma shift. He wishes that in 2015 not only free software is widely spread, but that also the principles behind this software and digital works in general are generally known. It is not only free software, but also free knowledge with free and open content in the cultural sector and open access in science. For education this would mean the use of free teaching tools, in which teachers and students participate in an open production of it.

Aad Koppenhol, Principal IT architect with Sun Microsystems Netherlands, puts the software scene in a larger context. It is not only open source and other IT developments which count. Globalisation, political ideas and even Green IT all influence the future developments. And of course Internet, which has made the user part of the process, which was formerly restricted to code banger. Mr Koppenhol foresees Virtual Power Networks, which are going to be stronger than advertisements and other communications from companies. Other disciplines will have to be involved in the development of open source software. Humanitarian values should also be considered; think of Network Identity. This type of questions requires a multidisciplinary approach within the open source movement.

Blog Posting Number: 968

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Flash: EC boost to online content

The European Commission has decided to give a new boost to Europe's online content sector. EU citizens should be able to enjoy easier and faster access to a rich variety of music, TV programmes, films or games via the Internet, mobile phones or other devices. The Commission therefore encourages the content industry, telecoms companies and Internet service providers to work closely together to make available more content online, while at the same time ensuring a robust protection of intellectual property rights. The Commission also wants to facilitate copyright licences for online content covering the territory of several or all of the EU Member States.

According to Commission studies, a truly Single Market without borders for Creative Online Content could strengthen considerably the competitiveness of Europe's music, film and games industry and allow retail revenues of the sector to quadruple by 2010 if clear and consumer-friendly measures are taken by industry and public authorities (see IP/07/95).

The European Commission issued a 3 page document on the boost for content

Dutch language Open Source Yearbook

Just before the Christmas holiday, the second edition of the Dutch Language Open Source Yearbook 2007-2008 was published, looking back to the developments in 2007 and looking forward to opportunities of 2008. Two major happenings of 2007 were the Manifesto of Open Municipalities and the publication of the government document The Netherlands open in connection, instigated by the vice–state secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs. Compared to the first edition of the Open Source Yearbook, the second edition breathes more optimism, although not all doubts have disappeared; sweet and sour are included in the Yearbook.

In the first part of the Yearbook is a kind of survey and starts with the complete text of the government document The Netherlands open in connection is reproduced. It is the second political document regarding Open Source; as the first one the motion-Vendrik, a parliamentary motion by the parliamentarian Mr Vendrik, is considered. The text of the government document is followed by an article portraying the problems around the standardisation of OOXML and the developments around the developments of open source in the member states of the European Union. Part One is closed with an inventory of open source company applications.

In the second part of the Yearbook authors look behind the scenes. The ISO standardisation process is described with an analysis of what can go wrong and goes wrong. This is not just n academic problem, but also a political problem as is clear from software patents and copyright problems. There is information on The European Patent Litigation Agreement (EPLA) and about the political movement, which wants to reform copyright in Europe. The economist Marcel Creemers pleads for a new economical theory to explain certain developments in the digital era. The chapter closes with an analysis of three new open licenses, among which GPL version 3.0 and the first version of the European Union Patent License (EUPL).

The third part offers a perspective on open standard and open source software. There is a description of the successful open source software transformation in the Spanish region Extremadura. This story is contrasted with a story about open source software for education. Ten experts offer their view on open source software in 2015 (I will make a posting of it tomorrow).

The last part is an overview of organisation, communities and user groups in The Netherlands, Belgium and further abroad.

For those who read Dutch and would like to order the Yearbook, here are the bibliographic details: Hans Sleurink (editor): Open Source Jaarboek 2007-2008. Media Update Vakjpublicaties, Gorredijk; ISBN: 978 90 78730 02 6. Order from online bookshops such as Gopher and Bol.com.

Blog Posting Number 967

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Annual blog analysis

I had a change to look over the blog stats of last year. It was in fact the first full year of stats, as I started to log the stats from June 4, 2006. I have no stats at all over the period of the start from May 1, 2005 till June 4, 2006. It is interesting to see the page view, visit and visitor stats. Extrapolating the 2006 figures, the page views over 2007 have increased with some 20 percent. These pages were viewed in 17.026 sessions by 14.651 unique visitors. It means that in every session roughly 1,5 pages have been consulted.

The correlation between the figures of the visits and visitors also demonstrates that this blog is a blog for consulting and not a blog with a faithful flock of followers. Sure 11.117 visitors come back after one visit, but the figure dwindles to 1.363 visits for more than two visits and 522 after three visits. It indicates that the blog is often consulted rather than regularly visited. This is confirmed by the figures of the referrer. There are roughly 4.000 visits from bookmarks; the rest comes in via Google and other search engines.

The top ten of postings give away some pointers as to the public. Buziaulane was set up within the framework of old and new media and content. This means that it can move from Open Source to Microsoft, from crossmedia to serious games, from entertainment to culture and from the European Commission to the Dutch telecom watchdog OPTA. The framework is somewhat reflected in the Top Ten Postings. In the field of content the postings Serious Games for Seniors and Games for Seniors Needed scored high. And I believe seniors are still not being served. Except for Nintendo with the series Brains and More Brains, there is still a complete battle to be won. And I will get into discussion about it with some experts. Interesting is also to see that summer mini-series about Retro Gadgets scored well, certainly after a mention in the Dutch language e-magazine Bright. But also the 2005 Summer mini-series on the history of new media in The Netherlands is still popular. The publishing market postings about educational publishing and the Dutch newspaper market have drawn regular visits.

As for the international reach, visits came from no less than 141 countries over against 124 countries in 2006. The Clustr Map is impressive with many countries where I have not been yet and would love to go. I notice increases in countries where I have been in the past year such as Croatia and Hungary. Due to the World Summit Award Grand Jury in Croatia and the World Summit Award Gala, I met many people from all over the world, from Oman, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Estland, even up to Fiji Islands and I notice that they spread the word about the blog.

As for this new year I am working on a plan. I wrote a few days ago that I see that blog are using more media types such as audio and video and on the other hand are bringing down the time limit from occasionally to regular, weekly and daily, but now to the jittery time limit of twitter. Most likely I will start a new initiative in March 2008. So keep posted.

In my humble opinion it has been worthwhile to run this blog daily and I will keep it up. By now the fizz is out of the champagne so let us get back to work.

Blog Posting Number: 966

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Annual blog review

The new year 2008 was exhuberantly welcomed by Almere, be it in deep mist

Monthly stats blog Buziaulane

Blog: Buziaulane is a daily blog in English
Period: 1-12-2007 till 31-12-2007

Stats December
Pageviews: 1839 pages (November: 2446 pages)
Visits: 1312 visits (November 1609 visits)
Unique Visitors: 1146 visitors (November 1.395 visitors)
Countries: 76 countries (November 86 countries)

Top 10 subjects
Rank/URL/Percentage of Pageviews
1. Other 43,11%
2. http://buziaulane.blogspot.com/ 16,78%
3. http://www.buziaulane.blogspot.com/ 3,44%
4. ...gspot.com/2006/02/games-for-seniors-needed.html 2,08%
5. ...lane.blogspot.com/2006/03/new-p2p-software.html 1,09%
6. ...pot.com/2005/10/memorial-day-for-mata-hari.html 0,98%
7. .../25-years-online-in-netherlands-compact_20.html 0,82%
8. ....blogspot.com/2005/10/skype-and-webcam-era.html 0,71%
9. Rest 28,72%

Pageviews from the following countries
1. USA 24,92%
2. The Netherlands 19,84%
3. UK 9,18%
4. Polen 4,48%
5. Canada 3,39%
6. France 3,22%
7. Germany 3,17%
8. Belgium 2,79%
9. Finland 1,86%
10. Israel 1,86%
11. Italy 1,53%
12. Australia 1,53%
13. India 1,42%
14. Lithuania 1,26%
15. Turkey 1,20%

Stats generated by Onestat

Annual report blog Buziaulane
Blog: Buziaulane is a daily blog in English
Period: 1-12-2007 till 31-12-2007

Annual stats 2007
Pageviews: 24.201 pages
Visits: 17.026 visits
Unique Visitors: 14.651 visitors
Countries: 141 countries

Most popular postings
1. Other 26,96%
2. http://buziaulane.blogspot.com/ 20,04%
3. ...spot.com/2006/07/serious-games-for-seniors.html 1,62%
4. http://www.buziaulane.blogspot.com/ 1,33%
5. .../2007/01/no-not-again-those-merger-rumours.html 1,04%
6. ...buziaulane.blogspot.com/2006_08_03_archive.html 1,02%
7. ...lane.blogspot.com/2006/03/new-p2p-software.html 0,95%
8. ...07/02/educational-publishing-consolidating.html 0,77%
9. ...gspot.com/2006/02/games-for-seniors-needed.html 0,74%
10. Rest 45,53%

Pageviews from the following countries
1. Netherlands 30,42%
2. USA 20,23%
3. UK 8,45%
4. Germany 2,60%
5. Canada 2,59%
6. Finland 2,32%
7. Rest 2,26%
8. Italy 2,13%
9. France 1,95%
10. Australia 1,91%
11. Belgium 1,84%
12. India 1,53%
13. Sweden 1,26%
14. Poland 1,15%
15. Spain 1,07%
16. Croatia 0,93%
17. Hungary 0,83%
18. Austria 0,81%
19. Ireland 0,79%
20. Switzerland 0,69%
21. Norway 0,69%
22. Israel 0,68%
23. New Zealand 0,60%
24. China 0,50%
25. Portugal 0,45%
26. Malaysia 0,44%
27. Turkey 0,44%
28. Thailand 0,44%
29. Singapore 0,44%
30. Oman 0,42%
31. Brazil 0,37%
32. South Africa 0,37%
33. Kuwait 0,36%
34. Lithuania 0,35%
35. Denmark 0,33%
36. Philippines 0,33%
37. Slovenia 0,32%
38. Japan 0,32%
39. United Arab Emirates 0,32%
40. South Korea 0,30%
41. Romania 0,29%
42. Uruguay 0,28%
43.Czech Republic 0,28%
44. Bahrain 0,26%
45. Estland 0,23%
46. Hong Kong 0,22%
47. Greece 0,21%
48. Egypt 0,19%
49. Indonesia 0,18%
50. Taiwan 0,17%
51. Russia 0,17%
52. Guatemala 0,17%
53. Guyana 0,16%
54. Qatar 0,16%
55. Argentina 0,15%
56. Mexico 0,15%
57. Saudi Arabia 0,13%
58. Iran 0,13%
59. Senegal 0,13%
60. Serbia Montenegro 0,12%
61. Bulgaria 0,11%
62. Morocco 0,10%
63. Slovakia 0,07%
64. Colombia 0,07%
65. Chile 0,07%
66. Ghana 0,07%
67. Luxembourg 0,07%
68. Latvia 0,07%
69. Mauritius 0,07%
70. Ukraine 0,07%
71. Venezuela 0,06%
72. Mongolia 0,06%
73. Nigeria 0,05%
74. Pakistan 0,05%
75. Macedonia 0,04%
76. Vietnam 0,04%
77. Cuba 0,04%
78. Cyprus 0,04%
79. Dutch Antilles 0,04%
80. Jamaica 0,04%
81. Sri Lanka 0,04%
82. Lebanon 0,03%
83. Jordania 0,03%
84. Iceland 0,03%
85. Dominican Republic 0,03%
86. Uganda 0,03%
87. Malta 0,02%
88. Nepal 0,02%
89. Bangladesh 0,02%
90. Monaco 0,02%
91. Libya 0,02%
92. Peru 0,02%
93. Tanzania 0,02%
94. Surinam 0,02%
95. Zambia 0,02%
96. Kenya 0,02%
97. Kazakhstan 0,02%
98. Cambodia 0,01%
99. Georgia 0,01%
100. Bermuda 0,01%
101. Costa Rica 0,01%
102. Zimbabwe 0,01%
103. Tunisia 0,01%
104. Tonga 0,01%
105. Panama 0,01%
106. Sudan 0,01%
107. Puerto Rico 0,01%
108. Macau 0,01%
109. Trinidad and Tobago 0,01%
110. El Salvador 0,01%
111. Virgin Islands 0,01%
112. Cameroon 0,01%
113. Belarus 0,01%
114. Belize 0,01%
115. Ivory Coast 0,01%
116. Brunei 0,01%
117. Albania 0,01%
118. Fiji Islands 0,01%
119. Ecuador 0,01%
120. Lesotho 0,01%
121. Liechtenstein 0,00%
122. Algeria 0,00%
123. Dominican Republic 0,00%
124. Armenia 0,00%
125. Aruba 0,00%
126. Azerbaijan 0,00%
127. Barbados 0,00%
128. Cook Islands 0,00%
129. Central African Republic 0,00%
130. Bahamas 0,00%
131. Botswana 0,00%
132. Cape Verde 0,00%
133. Virgin Islands (UK) 0,00%
134. St. Vincent 0,00%
135. Maldives 0,00%
136. Mozambique 0,00%
137. New Caledonia 0,00%
138. Moldavia 0,00%
139. Paraguay 0,00%
140. French Polynesia 0,00%
141. Papua New Guinea 0,00%

Stats generated by Onestat

Monday, December 31, 2007

A Happy and Open 2008

Two Dutch parliamentary commissions have approved an action plan to set a soft deadline for the application of open standards and open source software in government environments. Mr Heemskerk, vice-secretary at the department of Economic Affairs and a former software application entrepreneur, has set a hard deadline for January 1, 2009. The action plan should lead to more competition and lower costs for the government.

The action plan, entitled The Netherlands open in connection, is ambitious in its objectives and its time window. The plan has three objectives: increasing interoperability, decreasing dependency on software suppliers and promotion of a level playing field in the software market. All objectives can be reached by defined open standards. The proposal distinguishes between open standards improving the interoperability and the use of open source.

If there is equality between open source software and software of a closed system, the open source should be preferred. When government bodies want to use a closed application rather than a open source application or open standards, they will have to explain the reason why and offer a time scheme, telling when the open standard will be applied; the so called comply or explain/commit principle.

The action plan contains rigid deadlines. Government bodies are obliged to apply the comply-or-explain/commit principle, while other (semi-) state bodies and institutes have December 2008 as a deadline. From January 2009 implementation strategies have to be formulated for tendering, buying and using open source software by all government ministerial departments. One year later these strategies should also be applied for semi-government bodies such as education, health and social care institutes.

The Dutch citizen should notice the first results by January 2009, when the Open Document Format (ODF)or the OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications should be in use for text files, spreadsheets, graphs and presentation by all ministerial departments.

In the meantime the vice secretary of the Economic Affairs department has asked the Dutch monopoly watchdog to perform a market analysis. The government estimates that it would save no less than 5,6 million euro (8,8 million US dollars).

It is not surprising that the reactions to the action plan were a mixed bag. Microsoft’s CEO in The Netherlands thinks that the Dutch government will burn its fingers, if the action plan will be executed without change. “In fact, innovation will be curbed”, he said (Hear Microsoft!). So far Microsoft’s Open Office XML standard failed to achieve certification by ISO. The Dutch association of ICT entrepreneurs ICT~Office reacted ambiguously, as could be expected. It profiles itself as an association for open and closed software developers, while it has only a few open source software developers among its 450 members. ICT~Office stresses that the focus of tenders should be on facts and not on emotions. The OpenDoc Society is happy with the action plan as far as the support of open standards.

So I wish you a happy and open 2008. One of my first actions will be to order an ASUS EEE with Linux OpenOffice software.

Blog Posting Number: 965

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

2008: Year of the fibre breakthrough

Amsterdam got its Christmas present from the European Commission. The municipality of Amsterdam was cleared from unfair state competition in the matter of the fibre project of the Cityring from the complainants the cable operator UPC and cable operators’ association VECAI (which changed its name to NLkabel recently). Amsterdam had never doubted the positive outcome of the EC investigation.

(c) 2007; Houthoff Buruma Solicitors

The Directorate General of Competition, headed by Ms Neelie Kroes, decided to start an investigation, acting on the complaints of UPC and VECAI. The municipality of Amsterdam had invested 6 million euro as equity with private companies in the passive level the proposed Cityring. Amsterdam did the investment in order keep control on an open fibre network. UPC have been closed out of the bidding process early, lodge a complaint of unfair state funding with the DG Competition. The DG started a voluntary and non obligatory investigation. A lot of documents went back and forth, confidential documents had to be cleaned up due to corporate details and draft documents were held up due to court cases. Even a case before the Court in Luxemburg was under consideration. In May the DG Competition was ready to start the final leg of the investigation, which ended in December with a ruling favourable for the municipality of Amsterdam.

The DG Competition looked at three items:
a. does the municipality act as a market conform investor, in other words does the municipality not support the foundation of a company unfairly with state support;
b. Is fibre to the home a achievable business case;
c. And some specific sub-items.

Already in December 2006 UPC and VECAI had the draft text, clearing the municipality of unfair support. UPC decently kept its mouth shut as the investigation was not yet final. Remained left the business case and the specific sub-items. Helped by the timeframe, the business case was not an item any longer either. In the Netherlands FttH initiatives mushroomed: Nuenen, Hillegom, Geldrop-Mierlo, Deventer, Enschede as well as abroad. Besides the projects various companies competed for these projects; in the Netherlands notably Reggeborgh and KPN. Last October, the Amsterdam municipal project manager Dirk van der Woude has published an updated list on Dutch and foreign FttH projects. The last sub-items have been cleared by the municipality of Amsterdam successfully.

So Amsterdam can continue its project to bring fibre to more than 450.000 Amsterdam homes. In the meantime more initiatives spring up, besides the already mentioned one. As ambitious as the Amsterdam Cityring is the living lab Almere project where 70.000 will be connected to fibre before 2010.

From the updated list it is clear that 2008 will be the year of the fibre breakthrough in The Netherlands. Not in the list is yet the Fibre to the Farm (FttF) project, a project where rural areas will be linked up to urban networks. Difficult areas will be bridged by leading cables through trees in woody areas; besides farmers will dig the ducts with tractors instead of calling in a cable laying contractor with urban experience. Also internationally fibre will break through with large urban areas in 2008. Fibre will no longer be in a pilot phase, but will be in a project phase.

Cable projects will have to prove in 2008 that they can reach the same type of speeds by cable. So far UPC has demonstrated speeds of up to 100Mbps, but has not started marketing it. It looks like UPC and other cable operators will have to stick to lower rates over against fibre operators. I look forward to the battlefield in Almere.

The usage of higher speeds will have consequences for content. We have seen the usage of video grow fast. Also the social networks have grown with movies and twitter-like services. But with higher speeds, services will have more freedom to compose services with live video. This will for example be a challenge for newspapers and broadcast services. But it will also have consequences for bloggers. So far the majority of bloggers have worked with text. But I would not be surprised, when we see more bloggers go into audio or video interview blogs.

Blog Posting Number: 964

Tags: FttH, FttF, Fibre to the Home, Fibre to the Farm, , , ,

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Computer theme park

In the summer of 2007 I wrote a series on the retro-gadgets in my museum at home, ranging from my first portable Zenith Model 100 in 1983 to the first Sony EB reader from 1993 up to my iLiad reader from 2006. The mini-series sparked a discussion on a computer museum in The Netherlands. By lack of real computer news in the summer season, on August 14, 2007 there was a radio discussion on this subject. The question was why in there is no proper computer museum in The Netherlands.

Of course such a discussion has many ramifications. Why should there be a computer museum in the first place. And when such an initiative is entertained, what would such a museum look like. Or should it not be a museum but a theme park or entertainment center.

A museum has traditionally an old-fashioned ring about it. It nicely exhibits all the various models of Apple and of IBM, has some software aboard to show that it works; add some public lectures and educational lessons, and the museum has a mission. Hardware and software companies should be attracted as sponsors and some grants should be acquired to make the institute independent.

Of course it does not have to be a museum, but it can also be a show. In fact EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, is an example of this. Epcot was built at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. The park opened on October 1, 1982, and was named EPCOT Center from 1982 to 1993. EPCOT demonstrated the innovations at a time that PCs had just been introduced to the consumer.

I was pleasantly surprised this year to find another solution: Mundo Binario, El parque de atracciones con la computadora más grande del mundo; in English the computer attraction park Binar-e-World. During the WSA Grand Jury in Croatia, Mundo Binario was presented as an entry by Venezuela and it was among the award winners in the category e-Entertainment. It is a theme park completely run by a family. Their reasoning was rather simple: a computer is content. Binar-e-World is an Information Technology theme park that has made it possible for everyone to physically travel inside a computer. The giant Computer is an impressive building located in the city of Valencia in Venezuela. It has a giant 740 inch computer monitor, a qwerty keyboard of 16m length, a CPU of 10m high and a mouse the size of a compact car. It is 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.

So when the Dutch theme park Neverland (Land van Ooit) went bankrupt, I saw a concept as Mundo Binario as a fit replacement. Besides I would be able to donate my retro gadgets a proper place to be maintained and demonstrated.

Blog Posting: 963

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Dutch free tabloids

2007 was an interesting year for the Dutch daily newspapers. Almost all of the newspaper kept in line with the world trend of loosing subscriptions. The newspaper conglomerate PCM bought out Apax, not having made any progress and loosing a hell of a lot of money. Royal Wegener was acquired by the media empire Mecom. And the companies did not move an inch on diversification of media to for example and radio and television; in fact PCM sold its radio operation. But against this back-drop of common newspaper happenings, the real new things happened in the sector of free dailies with two new titles on the market. On January 23, 2007 De Pers (The Press) published its first edition, while on May 8, 2007 the PCM fledgling DAG came onto the market.

Both of them have not been on the market for a full year. Yet they had to fight immediately against the two existing free tabloids, Metro and Sp!ts. Metro is well known throughout the world and has developed in the Netherlands to a daily with short bullets and a few spreads; not exactly a daily which presents news, but a perfect advertisement vehicle with a finely distribution network of public transport points. Sp!ts, the Telegraaf competitor of Metro, is also free daily tabloid with much of the same editorial formula; it also functions as an advertisement vehicle. In this setting, which exists since 1999, two new free dailies entered the market; one, which has no ties with a a newspaper publisher and one which come from the PCM nest. To make some impression on the market, both newspapers had to have their unique selling points, if only for the advertisers: an new editorial format, a new distribution network, a new proposition for advertisers and for the users a real attraction.

Both free tabloids have succeeded in that. De Pers is seen as the better intellectual free tabloid; its editor in chief Ben Rogmans received the press award recognising its quality. It was in fact the first time that a free tabloid won a journalistic award. DAG has made some impression with its visually oriented editorial format. It is full of photographs.

De Pers, a venture of multimillionaire Mr Boekhoorn, has fought for its place by quality. A distribution network and advertisements are basically instruments for competition and it does not make the daily stand out. The advertisement is not impressive, but this has to do with the time of launching. When the daily was launched, it still had to show and prove itself, while the advertisement budgets were already earmarked. So as for advertisements De Pers should be able to get a better market share. Also its distribution network is developing differently from the other free dailies as it is also delivered to the door in some zip code areas. The newspaper has built in less than one year a quality image.

Having talked with PCM about launching a free daily together, PCM broke off the talks with Mr Boekhoorn to start their own free daily in cooperation with the telecom incumbent KPN. And again it was the editorial format which should make the difference. The tabloid sports now daily pages full of photographs and highlights some headings in yellow. Compared to De Pers the printed edition of DAG is a rag, paper to wrap the fish in. And as for the distribution network started to use retail food stores for its distribution. Also DAG needs to attract advertisement for the coming year.

But the novice free dailies needed more USPs. Both free dailies have a website and have or are preparing a mobile service. Especially the owners of DAG the newspaper conglomerate PCM and the telecom operator KPN touted the term crossmedia wherever they could. Having an internet site with movies and mobile internet site is not yet enough to brand a product crossmedia. The newspaper has been unable to develop for example to introduce day parting, using various media at various times during the day, when the media fit the environment. A printed newspaper at the breakfast table or in public transport works. But when people arrive at the office they start using internet and should not get just a digital copy of the printed tabloid, but should get other feeds and stories. By midday they should be fed news on their mobile. This type of thinking has not been a principle from the beginning. So crossmedia has been an after thought rather than an integrating philosophy so far. As such PCM has not yet learned anything else but making a printed free daily and KPN has not yet come further than technology in this project and has systematically reduced the combination of its editorial and technical knowledge.

Overlooking the battle field De Pers has won the fight so far on editorial quality. Having set a standard for their content they can quietly build out their digital presence. DAG will have quite a difficult year ahead. The newspaper has costed 12 million so far and so far the management has been able to bring the costs down to 9 million in less than a full year. In order to control the costs, It has been announced that DAG will editorially work together with the PCM morning paper De Volkskrant. This will mean that it will copy or re-edit Volkskrant articles. KPN on the other hand is closing down the editorial operation of its content site Planet Internet and will be concentrating on the internet and mobile technologies.

Blog Posting Number: 962

Tags: newspapers, day parting, crossmedia , ,

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Revising crossmedia

The time of looking back and looking forward has begun again. One starts looking back over the year and the developments. In the coming days I will revisit some of the events I have been in over the last year and reflect on it, but also look forward. The first reflection will be on conference on Crossmedia and Interaction Design (CMID07) in Hemavan (Sweden).

The conference was held in a winter sports village up north. And there was snow (which I hate), but it was not even freezing cold. The timing of the conference was interesting. I had been discussing crossmedia without giving it a name with amongst others Damien Marchi (who is in 2008 starting to work for FremantleMedia), when he presented the lessons from the French Big Brother/Loft Story crossmedia production. In the Spring of 2004 I was wrestling with the definition of crossmedia, which eventually resulted in an ACTeN e-content report. The report was later on one of the contributions to the reader on e-content published by Springer Verlag. So three years later I was up North to discuss crossmedia.

And the conference did deliver some primers, valuable contacts and new insights. First of all Hemavan was the closest I had come to the North Pole. It still was no reason for me to start skiing or snowboarding. I met a group of new people. The organisers from Hemavan and Umea and a group of Nordic delegates from other institutions than I am used to. Two people made a deep impression on me as persons and my thinking about crossmedia: Christy Dena and Monique de Haas.

Christy showed the depth of the ‘discipline’ crossmedia and I am glad to see that she has stopped her blog and devotes her time to finishing her thesis in 2008; for we need a standard work on this ‘discipline’ and not the superficial articles, workshops and MBA courses touting the term crossmedia. So in 2008 I will be following Christy closely.

Monique de Haas, a compatriot, I knew only by name, as I had never met her in The Netherlands or abroad. These days she has a captive motto: Crossmedia is one big flirt. But besides using catchy phrases, she made me think about crossmedia from the user perspective. In the e-content report, I approached crossmedia from the forward production chain, not taking in consideration that in the online age interactivity had become the leading principle. So the theoretical part of sending a message to the user through various media is an element in crossmedia, but not the only one. The user is also challenged to respond through various media, using the various opportunities of the media such as a max. 196 character SMS message or a more elaborate reaction in text or by image to a blog posting.

In January 2008 I have been asked to write a new article on crossmedia for a book, which will be published by mid-2008. I have been asked to take the e-content report for departure and to integrate this with the Hemavan lecture and the conference results. This will be a nice challenge to bring three themes together: crossmedia, production chain, various media response from users and crossmedia as an instrument for regional planning.

Yet I am still convinced that crossmedia is a multi-functional, fashionable term to replace the misconceived term of multimedia, which never got any depth. I also believe that it will disappear as it is now only used for a lack of a better term. And I keep wondering why it is that the term is in use mainly in Europe (and only in some countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands and Belgium and Italy. There is enough material to think about in the first month of 2008, besides other assignments.

Blog Posting Number: 961


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

This is just a selection of the cards Mary and I received from all over the world. We like to thank you all for the best wishes and hope that you will have happy days:
Felix Bopp - Club of Amsterdam
Elke Barbara Bachler
Rudi Vansnick - ISOC Belgium
Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka - CTPH
Christy Dena
Samoila Gheorghe - ITC
Robert Wierzbicki - Wierzbicki.org
Cai Melakoski- TAMK
Pim de Wit
ITC Office
Katri Tammsaar - TLU
Michiel Leenaars - ISOC NEderland
Sona Makulova - ELET
Paul Budde - Budde.Com
Katherine Milton
Giacomo Rambaldi - CTA
Harry Bouwman -TU Delft
Irina Blomqvist
Eve Ross
Eldon C Hylton
Györgyi Rétfalvi
Jan Bieringa
Carina Roels
Herbert Blankesteijn
Matt Moayedi - C-Content
Melissa Lee Price
Hans Sleurink - Media Update

Marketing Department Brill (325 years in publishing in 2008!)
Marcelo Sant Iago

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Store idea, innovation or invention in i-Depot

The creation process is surrounded by uncertainty. You are trying to formulate an idea, but usually you do not want to be open about it with a commercial party; afraid as you are that they might steal the idea, tinker with it and come with their own idea. The television world is famous for this phenomenon. Besides, often a an ideas circulates around, so a television production company or an full service internet bureau can claim the idea as no one has taken the trouble to put it on paper. Of course you could go to a solicitor and deposit the idea (it was not uncommon that a solicitor would put a staple through a floppy disc, containing the description and perhaps the working of the idea). In some countries you could also lodge a description of an idea, innovation or format with the internal revenue service; they would time stamp the envelop and store it.

In The Netherlands File-reg.com started some years ago an online registration service to prove copyright worldwide with registration servers on different continents. New is the online component in the registration system. Companies and individuals use the registration system to prove they were the first to create and/or are the legal owners/developers of a particular work since they registered the ‘intellectual property’ at a certain moment in time. File-reg.com addresses:
- Media: : Concepts, Designs, (RTV) Formats, Photo’s, AV, etc.
- Science: Data, Logs & Journals, R&D, Calculations, Medical data, etc
- Software: Source code, Web pages & Complete sites, Applications, etc
- Other: Business plans, Presentations, Ideas, Contracts.

Now the intellectual property industry finally has discovered this area. So far they have kept themselves busy with the legal process of the intellectual property such as patents, trade- and service marks. But they did not get involved in the first phase of providing a creative person with some security about an idea, innovation or invention. Now this has changed. The Benelux-Office of Intellectual Property has created a i-Depot to record and deposit ideas in a very early stage.

A creative person can submit a i-DEPOT online or opt for the i-DEPOT envelope. An idea is submitted online. This submission method is fast, easy, cheap and, above all, safe. In several steps an applicant will be asked to fill in specific details and add a description or representation of your concept or idea. After the payment has been processed, the applicant will receive a confirmation by e-mail and he/she can download the i-DEPOT certificate immediately. He/she can also decide not to download your i-DEPOT certificate and instead do this later, for example when there is a need for the i-DEPOT certificate as evidence in a legal or other dispute. The i-DEPOT certificate is signed by the BOIP in digital form to safeguard the integrity of the document. Any change will automatically make the i-DEPOT invalid.

The method with the i-DEPOT envelope is available in case it is impossible or undesirable to record the concept or idea electronically, or to pay electronically. As soon as BOIP has received the order form (pdf in Dutch or French) and the payment, the BOIP will send you an i-DEPOT envelope. The envelope consists of two parts, in each of which he/she should place an identical document describing or depicting the creation as clearly as possible. The BOIP will time stamp them upon receipt and return one part to the original address and files the other in its own archives unopened. You can ask the BIOP to send you the second part as well (once only) to provide evidence in the case of a legal dispute or conflict.

Blog Posting Number: 960

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Piracy, copyrights, collecting societies

It looks like the Dutch are cleaning up the internet scene: handing out fines for spyware and catching front people in a bank fraud. For 2008 content piracy, copyrights and collecting societies have been placed on the agenda by no less than three government departments, i.e. the department of Justice, the department of Economic Affairs and the department of Education, Culture and Science. The three ministers have put together a letter to the Parliament promising more attention for maintaining the rights of authors, fighting infringement of copyrights and supervising the activities of collecting societies.

Fighting infringement of copyrights will be at source, aiming at large scale, illegal uploaders. The organised digital piracy and unauthorised distribution of digital content products such as movies, games and music via internet will be targeted. Measures will be announced in a letter to the Parliament in the first half of 2008. The fight against piracy on internet is part of a broader package of measures to attack problems in the sector of copyrights.

On the other hand the government wants to regulate the collecting societies better. Presently consumers are charged at source with blank levies, choirs are persecuted for paying for music scores and companies receive several invoices, based on various criteria. The whole system will have to be made transparent, while the inspection of almost the entire system of collecting societies will be overseen by an inspection team on authors’ and neighbouring rights. The inspection team will not only approve raising the tariffs, but also exercise preventive care.

Collecting societies will have to get organized in such a way that they can send out one invoice per company. This should be possible from January 1, 2009 onwards, so that administrative bureaucracy can be diminished. This will yield a lot of debate as people will see what kind of levies they will have to pay for; while they will have to object against every single levy, if they want to. On the other hand they can pay one invoice in one go.

The cabinet is also writing legislation to improve the position of the individual creator and executing performer. The possibility is researched for creatives to collectively negotiate about minimum tariffs and royalties on copyright protected work.

Also the position of the so called home copy – a copy made for use at home - will be researched on technical protection; an area seen by the cabinet as a meeting point between copyright and innovation.

Last but not least, a series of studies will be undertaken by the minister of Economic Affairs. Important is the study between copyrights and competition. This study should be ready by the fall of 2008. This might be come an interesting study as collecting societies have so far territorial protection, to which the EC has objected this year and asked the collecting societies to consider competition. A study updating the economic value of copyrights should be ready by the summer of 2008. And a study for the cultural and economic effects of digital piracy should be completed by the fall of 2008.

All in all the Dutch government is working on the protection of the traditional copyright in the digital setting. In the announcement of the program on piracy, copyrights and collecting societies, no mention is made op European Patents, creative commons and open access. This will be a challenge as the Dutch government has announced to take open source and its implementation seriously from April 1, 2008 onwards.

Blog Posting Number: 959

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

EC welcomes intervention by Dutch regulator OPTA

"I welcome the determined move by the Dutch regulator OPTA", said EU Telecoms and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding (see photograph) in reaction to the fast and effective intervention by the Dutch telecom watchdog. "Spyware, spam and malware are a real plague for Internet users. The decision of OPTA, which applies EU legislation vigorously, will therefore help considerably to make our European information society a safer, more trustworthy place for consumers and businesses. I call on the regulators of other countries to follow the positive example set by the Dutch regulator."

Yesterday, the Dutch Telecom Regulator OPTA imposed a fine totalling 1 million euro on three Dutch enterprises for illegally installing software - so called spyware and adware - on more than 22 million computers in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

The companies fined now by OPTA operated together under the name DollarRevenue, which was considered to be among the 10 largest spyware distributors in the world. They managed to install the software on personal computers via downloads from the Internet and by exploiting security loopholes in computer programmes. The illegally installed software allowed the companies to spy on the consumer's on line behaviour and triggered pop-up windows containing specific advertising material.

Unlawful access to a personal computer to stall information such as spyware and adware is prohibited under European law, namely article 5(3) of the EU's ePrivacy Directive of 2002. National regulators are called upon to enforce this prohibition by deterrent measures. Yesterday's decision by OPTA is the first time that a national regulator has resorted to drastic fines against a company acting in violation of the EU ban.

In 2004, the Commission has set up an informal network of the EU's national enforcement authorities (Contact Network of Spam enforcement Authorities, CNSA) to improve cooperation among national regulators and the Commission on fighting spam spyware and malware.

To strengthen the regulatory regime underpinning the Information Society, the Commission adopted on 13 November 2007 its proposals on the Telecom Reform, which include further provisions to reinforce security and privacy. Under the proposals national regulatory authorities will be given the power to issue binding instructions to companies on the security measures that are required to secure their electronic communication networks and services and to oversee proper implementation. Specifically in relation to spam, the proposals introduce the possibility for Internet Service Providers to take legal action against spammers.

Blog Posting Number: 958

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Friday, December 21, 2007

EU puts media literacy on its agenda

The European Commission plans to promote ‘media literacy,’ defining this as the ability to critically analyze what they find in the media and to make more informed choices. Viviane Reding said: ‘The ability to read and write - or traditional literacy - is no longer sufficient in this day and age. People need a greater awareness of how to express themselves effectively, and how to interpret what others are saying, especially on blogs, via search engines or in advertising.’ The commission's plans focus on three areas: media literacy for commercial communication, covering issues related to advertising; media literacy for audiovisual works, which is in part about raising awareness of European film and enhancing creativity skills; media literacy for online contents.

The media are changing, and so is citizens' use of such media. New information and communication technologies make it much easier for anybody to retrieve and disseminate information, communicate, publish or even broadcast. The ability of people to critically analyse what they find in the media and to make more informed choices – called 'media literacy' – therefore becomes even more essential for active citizenship and democracy. Following an EU-wide survey last year, the European Commission has announced today its plans to encourage the development of media literacy and the exchange of good practice across Europe.
"In a digital era, media literacy is crucial for achieving full and active citizenship," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. "The ability to read and write – or traditional literacy – is no longer sufficient in this day and age. People need a greater awareness of how to express themselves effectively, and how to interpret what others are saying, especially on blogs, via search engines or in advertising. Everyone (old and young) needs to get to grips with the new digital world in which we live. For this, continuous information and education is more important than regulation."

Media literacy relates to all types of media, including television, cinema, video, websites, radio, video games and virtual communities. It can be summed up as the ability to access, understand, evaluate and create media content. Ordinary people are increasingly accessing and posting on-line content, which is visible across the world. Yet today, not everybody always fully understands the context within which such material is written, seen or read, or the possible consequences of publishing something themselves. Everybody therefore needs to develop new skills, as active communicators and creators of content. In a global and multi-cultural environment, new media-related challenges arise and create concerns regarding safety, inclusion and access for all.

The Commission Communication is the first policy document on media literacy at the EU level. It focuses on the following three areas:
- media literacy for commercial communication, covering issues related to advertising,
- media literacy for audiovisual works, which is in part about raising awareness of European film and enhancing creativity skills,
- media literacy for online which, for example, will give citizens a better knowledge of how Google and other Internet search engines work.

The Communication adds a further building block to European audiovisual policy. It complements the new Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers Directive (see
IP/07/1809), and the MEDIA 2007 support-programme for the development and distribution of European film. It also announces a study to be launched in 2008 on how to assess media literacy levels and will feed into the report on the levels of media literacy provided by the new Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers Directive. "I believe that especially with regard to advertising, promoting media literacy is a much more appropriate approach than advocating advertising bans, which I oppose", said EU Commissioner Reding.

The Commission actively promotes the development and exchange of good practice on media literacy in the digital environment through existing programmes and initiatives, and will adopt if necessary a set of recommendations in the future. Finally, the Commission calls on Member States to encourage their regulatory authorities to become more involved and to cooperate further in improving people's level of media literacy. It also aims to develop and implement codes of conduct and co-regulation frameworks with all interested parties at national level.

Background information
The Commission Communication on media literacy is an integral part of its general policy to enhance the trust in, and take-up of, content online. It follows the launch of a survey held last year (see
IP/06/1326) which covered all parties involved; that is to say: media organisations and industry, education institutions, content-providers and producers, research and cultural institutions, regulators, citizens and consumers' associations. This Communication is the result of this broad consultation.

The Communication can be found at:

The results of the public media literacy consultation are available at:

My first comment: Just looking at the structure of the the media literacy communication, it gives the impression that the document has been composed of three separate political feeds: advertising, audio visual area and the online area (rather digital media or interactive media). I would have expected an integrated approach especially between the audio visual media and the online media.

Blog Posting Number: 957

Tags: , ,

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dutch national police arrests front persons ABN AMRO virus attack

The High Tech Crime team of the Dutch national police has arrested 14 suspects, which have acted as front persons for a group of international cyber criminals. The front persons, twelve men and two women, used their bank accounts as conduits for fraudulent transactions from ABN AMRO clients.

In March of this year clients from the ABN AMRO bank received spam mail. Upon opening the spam mail, which looked much like ABN AMRO bank mail, the computers of the clients got infected, key logs were installed and fraudulent transactions were made. ABN AMRO informed the police of unlawful computer infringement and fraud.

In the criminal investigation it appeared that the front persons, also named money donkeys, had been recruited via spam mail. These front persons should process to the money transferred to their accounts by the victims to other front persons in Russia and Ukraine by money transfers. The Dutch front people were allowed to deduct five percent of the amounts received from the victims; an income of 2000 dollar a month was guaranteed in the spam mail.

The internet criminals made use of a series of IP addresses in use with the Russian Business Network (RBN), an internet provider in Saint Petersburg. Against the IP affidavits have been issued for involvement in child pornography, spam, fraud and other forms of cyber crime.

With false identities Dutch detectives of the High Tech Crime team have involved themselves as front persons for the cyber criminals. In one case, a detective got a transfer of 1000 euro from a Swiss bank account. The person was instructed to transfer the money to Russia in two instalments. When the money was not transferred no reaction was received.

The infected computers of ABN AMRO clients were rerouted during electronic banking to a website in Hong Kong which was a look alike of the official bank site. Thanks to the co-operation of the Hong Kong authorities data logs of the look alike sites were achieved for further investigation. Also a botherder in New Zealand was identified and arrested.

The main suspects of the criminal gang live in Russia and the Ukraine. Most likely they are computer specialists, who hide behind computer addresses which are hard to trace. They are known for several attacks on banks worldwide and are estimated to make million of euros annually. The results of the Dutch criminal investigation will be handed over to the Russian and Ukraine justice authorities.

Blog Posting Number: 956

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

EUR 1 mln fine for distributing undesired software

(Having gone between lectures of academics of the Academic Network Conference and jury laudationd of EUROPRIX Top Talent Award 2008 nominees, I am back into the real world).

The Dutch telecom watchdog OPTA has imposed a fine totalling EUR 1 million on three Dutch companies and their two directors, because they installed software on more than 22 million computers belonging to Internet users in the Netherlands and elsewhere. By unlawfully installing this so-called adware and spyware these small enterprises distributed advertising material and obtained access to details of Internet users. This is the first time that OPTA has acted to impose company and personal fines on distributors of unsolicited and undesirable software.

The three companies operated together under the name, DollarRevenue. Using misleading files, amongst other things, Internet users were led to believe that they were about to download apparently innocent files, whereas they actually contained DollarRevenue software. They also used botnets, thereby installing files without user intervention. Each day on average 60,000 installations were infected. A total of more than 450 million program files were illegally placed on 22 million computers. These program files unleashed a flood of popup windows containing advertisements. Unsolicited search toolbars were also installed. They were nested in the toolbars of Windows XP and Microsoft Internet Explorer, where they displayed alternative search results. DollarRevenue was one of the largest distributors of unsolicited software in the world (see www.sunbelt-software.com, the website of a manufacture of anti-spyware software).

Hundreds of complaints appeared on the Internet about DollarRevenue software. They mentioned that people did not know how the software came to be on their computer nor how they should remove it. This is because the software did not include an uninstall function and could only be removed with expert assistance. DollarRevenue was amongst the top ten international distributors of spyware. Last summer OPTA imposed a conditional penalty on the two directors to ensure that these illegal activities were permanently halted.

The Dutch Universal Service and End Users Decree, is based on the Telecommunications Act and is designed to promote safe Internet usage and to protect the privacy of Internet users. The enterprises and their directors deliberately contravened provisions of this decree for a year and this produced large-scale material and immaterial damage. For this reason fines totalling EUR 1 million were imposed on both the enterprises and their directors. OPTA is of the opinion that these fines will have a sufficiently punitive and deterrent effect to deter these companies and anyone else from contravening the law (again). The persons can object against this decision, therefore the judge has not yet ruled on the penalty by OPTA.

DollarRevenue was a joint venture involving three Dutch enterprises and their directors. DollarRevenue was active from October 2005 until and including November 2006. The offenders earned a little over EUR 1 million through their illegal activities. The offenders had a network of intermediaries, also known as affiliates. The latter were other parties who distributed the software further using the above-mentioned methods on DollarRevenue’s instructions and in return for a fee. Based on tips and ex officio monitoring, regulatory officials within OPTA’s Internet Safety Team launched an investigation into DollarRevenue in 2006. Unannounced inspections were conducted in various locations in November 2006. As part of this process regulatory officials gained access to business administration records and computer systems. In addition, various people involved made statements. A report was drawn up based on the findings of these investigations. The relevant companies and their directors were able to present their case in response in both verbal and written form. One of the botnetherders, who was living in New Zealand, is recently arrested by the New Zealand police.

Fines totalling EUR 1 million have been imposed for these offences having regard to the gravity and duration of the offences, the culpability of the offenders and the gains they achieved through their offences. Two companies were jointly fined EUR 300,000. The responsible director was also fined with EUR 300,000.00. The other company was fined with EUR 200,000.00, as well as the director. The maximum fine which OPTA can impose for these types of offences on the basis of its policy rules on fines amounts to EUR 300,000.00.

For more information, read the pdf report.

Blog Posting Number: 955

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

EUROPRIX Multimedia Top Talent Award 2008 (11)

Quality Seals (continued)

In this last posting of the mini-series EUROPRIX Multimedia Top Talent Award 2008 I present the last entries which were awarded a Quality Seal by the jury.

Category: Mobile Content

Title: Tourality – Move Your Mobile!
Producer: Jonas Soukup, Klemens Zieptnig (Austria)
URL: http://tourality.com/

Title: Museum of Canterbury Digiguide
Producer: Elisabeth Valentine

Title: Makai – Just Colour up!
Producer: Christian Kandler, Melanie Friedrich, Marion Dandl, Christina Rotter, Katrin Graff (Germany)
URL: http://makai.fh-augsburg.de/

Category: Interactive Computer Graphics

Title: Dead on Arrival Interactive Control
Producer: Matthew Gibson, Geoffrey Gaviria (UK)
URL: http://www.dead-on-arrival.co.uk/

Title: The Eighth Day
Producer: Arnis Locher (UK)
URL: http://www.eigthdaynovel.com/

Category: Interactive Installations & Interactive TV

Title: PhotoGraphics
Producer: Alexander Koenig, Sebastian Schmidt, Daniel Müller, Florentin Steiner, Regina Demmel (Germany)

Title: Hannu’s Footsteps – Media Design for the Nature Photo Exhibition
Producer: Brnni Antti, Teemu Maikkola (Finland)
URL: http://www.hh-projekti.fi/

Title: Reflections
Producer: Peter Berezhansky, Aleksei Golovy (Israel)

Title: SARoskop
Producer: Martin Hesselmeier, Karin Lingnau
URL: www.martinhesselmeier.com/saroskop

Title: Between Blinks & Buttons
Producer: Sacha Pohflepp (Germany)
URL: http://www.blinksandbuttons.net/

Category: Digital Video & Animations

Title: A Thread of Reality
Producer: Stuart Dyson, Mike Hole, Martin Darby (UK)
URL: http://www.atreadofreality.com/

Title: He Didn’t Eat the Icecream
Producer: Michael Muik, Viktoria Wöss

Category: Content Tools & Interface Design

Title: INTOI – Interchange of Ideas: Digital Flipchart
Producer: Claudia Oster, Michael Hurnaus, Verena Lugmayr, Jürgen Oberngruber, Christian Schafleiner (Austria)
URL: http://intoi.net/

Title: icPoint – Interactive Night Sky Observation
Producer: Michael Dobis, Vladimir Hlavacek, Michael Jajcaj, Dusan Lamos, Linh Hoang Xuan (Slovakia)

Title: amCharts
Producer: Antanas Marcellonis (Lithuania)
URL: http://www.amcharts.com/

This posting concludes the mini-series on the EUROPRIX Multimedia Top talent Award 2008. For more information go to the site. There is a printed catalogue of the competition; for more information: contact the EUROPRIX Top Talent Office c/o International Center for New Media, Moosstr. 43a, 5020 Salzburg (Austria); office@europrix.org; t: +43.662.630408.

Blog Posting Number: 954


Monday, December 17, 2007

EUROPRIX Multimedia Top Talent Award 2008 (10)

Besides the nominees, the category winners, the overall winner and the special jury distinction, the competition of the EUROPRIX Multimedia Top Talent Award offers Quality Seals. These seals recognises projects and products that are considered highly innovative and creative by the international experts of the EUROPRIX Top Talent Jury. Overwhelming was the level in the category Broadband/Online with 15 quality seals. In this posting no extensive description is offered, but just a mention of the project. These Quality Seals projects are worthwhile to be researched, especially by digital media students and companies.

Category: Braodband/Online

Title: Project Gobelins Community
Producer: Samy Germaine, Pierrick Vanneau, Theophile Kalumbu, Thomas Dudon, Adrien Havet (France)
URL: http://multimedia.gobelins.fr/~crma2007-pl/

Title: Website for the Tilt Design Studio
Producer: Marc Antosch, Dominic Buenning, Ralph Heinsch, Felix Schultze, Guido von Marientrue (Germany)
URL: http://www.tiltdesignstudio.com/

Title: sperlinge.com
Producer: Martin Sperling
URL: http://www.sperlinge.com/

Title: Degree Show catalogue 2007
Producer: Paul Michalet (UK)
URL: http://newton.sunderland.ac.uk/~degreeshow2007/catalogue.html

Title: medialib
Producer: Leo Lanksford (UK)
URL: http://www.medialib.co.uk/

Title: mezzanaie – elevating your creativity
Producer: Julian Morency, Jack Steven (UK)
URL: www. mezzanaie.com

Title: Wikifonia
Producer: Thomas Bonte, Tom Deryckere, Benoit Catteau, Nicolas Froment (Belgium)
URL: http://www.wikifonia.org/

Title: Hello Staffordshire
Producer: Serim Abboushi
URL: www.serim.me.uk/heliostaffs

Title: Crimeface
Producer: Andrew Lim, Krishna Stott
URL: www.crimeface.net/interactive/inter.html

Title: Virtual FH
Producer: Max Brandl, Hannes Moser, Philipp Strahl
URL: http://virtualfh.multimediaart.at/

Title: The Batana House
Producer: Vladimir Koncar, Ozren Crnogorac, Gorjan Agacevic, Vedran Kolac, Aljosa Mohorovic (Croatia)
URL: http://www.batana.org/

Title: The Last Breath
Producer: Martin Brian, Claire English, Seamus Kavanagh, Ciaran Finnegan, Carmel O‘Callaghan (Ireland)
URL: http://www.thelastbreath.com/

Title: Balcony TV
Producer: Stephen O’Regan, Tom Millett, Pauline Freeman (Ireland)
URL: http://www.balconytv.com/

Category: Offline/Interactive DVD

Title: Multimedia Historic Bratislava
Producer: Peter Borovsky, Milan Ftaanik, Andrej Ferko, Martin Samuelaik (Slovakia)
Media format: DVD

Title: Bodmas’ Brain Buster
Producer: Joseph Waghorn (UK)
Media format: CD-Rom

Number Blog Posting: 953

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