Friday, August 08, 2008

BPN 1183 You can’t miss the Olympic Games

It is 08-08-08; today the Olympic Games start. 1388 days ago I was in Beijing and saw the first stadiums for the Olympic Games arise as well as the many construction works near the airport. Now the three week circus starts and I am glad I am not in Beijing, given all the crowds. Yet, I would love to see whether the waitresses of one of the restaurants I visited has made it to welcome the guests in English.

However I will have to watch the Games from Almere (The Netherlands). But I have a choice. Of course I can watch the games on television. Just a week ago I upgraded my UPC subscription to digital television. I installed it and so far I am impressed by some broadcasts and all the extra information. Yet I can imagine why people stick to analogue. So far I have not taken a HD package.

But outside the regular broadcasts, the NOS, the Dutch public broadcast organisation will offer broadcasts through 13 channels. The official channel Nederland 1 will offer all the highlights of a day. On the website the user determines himself which of the 28 Olympic sports he/she will look at on one of the 12 channels. There will also be summaries, highlights, statistics scores and on-demand content 24/7. Also special feeds and special widgets will be transmitted to record the performances of the Dutch sports people.

Central to the site and the channels is an electronic program guide (EPG). The EPG can be personalised according to the user’s preferences. From the schedule the user can click through to the live video channel.

However the user does not have to stay at home. Through NOS Mobile the user can also pick up the 13 channels. As the games in Beijing are between 3:00 AM and 4:00 PM, people can watch the games with a proper UMTS mobile telephone or a wifi connection at night, during the morning rush hour, during work or holiday. The content is free; the mobile telephone connection has to be paid for.

The NOS has acquired all the rights needed to broadcast the Olympic Games, ranging from television to radio, internet to mobile, live and on-demand.

It is remarkable that the media (television, newspapers and internet) are involving social networks. The NOS has feeds and widgets for Twitter and the Dutch social network Hyves. The daily De Telegraaf has created a Hyve with Hyves as a central place for news and background stories of the Olympic Games. De Telegraaf will blog from the press centre as well from the Holland Heineken House (see movie).



One thing is sure: if you do not want to miss anything of the Olympic Games, you need television, a computer and a mobile.

Blog Posting Number 1183

Tags: television, internet, mobile,
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Thursday, August 07, 2008

BPN 1182 Looking forward to a new (Reed) Elsevier

On Monday I wrote a posting on Reed Elsevier and I mentioned its forthcoming sale of Reed Elsevier Business division. This would make the slimmed down Reed Elsevier (or will it just be Elsevier again) a one-segment publishing company: scientific, technical and especially medical information (STM). Thinking about it I saw some similarities between the company histories of those two companies, which started out from The Netherlands and started there internationalisation and specialisation strategies in the eighties.

In the eighties The Dutch publishing company VNU started its internationalisation program. It bought publishing companies in Europe and the US and grew and grew. It sold its printing plants, followed by the sale of the newspapers and later on the book division, than bought and five years later sold its fast money maker, the directory division. In the meantime the strategy was to become a digital data company with more than 50 percent of revenues from databases. It started to specialise in marketing data company as those companies are less dependent on advertising revenues. And it collected a host of those companies with Nielsen as a pearl in the crown. From that point onwards it was no longer a publisher, but rather a data intelligence company. When the board wanted to buy the Kohi Noor diamond in the crown, IMS the shareholders, specifically venture capitalist started to revolt. In the end the board had to give up the acquisition and carve up the company into Nielsen and VNU Media (which sold most of its subsidiaries outside The Netherlands; it aims to become an digital publisher and is well on its way to become one).

For the former Elsevier the change into an STM company is the fourth step of the company to become a one-segment publisher. Elsevier began as a conglomerate of print plants and consumer, business and scientific publishers and over the years it sold off the division by division. The print plants were the first to go in the eighties. After that the newspapers in the consumer section had to go, followed by the consumer book publishers. The business division which got a big impulse when Elsevier merged with Reed, is now up for sale. So by the end of the year Reed Elsevier will be solely a STM publisher and might be re-named Elsevier or Elsevier Science again. Elsevier will be a full fledged science publisher with mighty databases like Science Direct. Of course the new company will be faced with all kind of new initiatives in the academic publishing world: open access and the public library of science.

The history of the two companies which were both Dutch by origin contains many similarities. They followed the same internationalisation policy and had the same strategy towards revenues from digital publishing (except Reed Elsevier and especially the scientific division was more aggressive than VNU). Now the new Reed Elsevier (or the future Elsevier or Elsevier Science) has also the intention to become a one-segment company, be it not an data intelligence company. Projecting into the future for the new Reed Elsevier (or the future Elsevier or Elsevier Science), the question can be posed, what the strategy will be of the new Reed Elsevier. Is the scientific publisher moving towards a break-up like VNU or will the company find fresh grounds in its one segment of publishing? Or will it also move out of publishing and more in the direction of running research organisations or other directions?

I wonder what the Elsevier Science people think about the new direction. Comments are welcome.

Blog Posting Number: 1182

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

BPN 1181 Watch out for the Google Street View car

If you are living in Holland or are visiting the Low Countries, watch out: the ET-like Google Street View car is in Holland! Stay inside; if you have to go out, cover your face with a mask or even better, dress up in a burka. Otherwise, you might be the laughing stock for the years to come or worse your marriage might end as you were not able to explain why you were in the same suspicious place as that strange ET car of Google Street View. Can you imagine, telling at a party that your marriage of 30 years was wrecked by a Google car!

At least the people in Amsterdam and Rotterdam might be safe by the end of this month. Since May the Google Street View cars are driving around in those cities and are recording street by street, so that anyone with internet can see in what street you live or are supposed to live. Instead of having a panoramic view, you can get a view as if you were driving through the street or do virtual walks from the train station to your house.

Street View was launched in the USA in the Spring of 2007 and started with the cities of San Francisco, New York City, Denver, Miami and Las Vegas and is now operational in Australia, Asia and Europe. The programme was already active in France; there was even a Street VIew programme for the Tour de France (even after the Tour you can relive the full edition). More recently the programme was started in the UK, where a weblogger had a talk with one of the drivers. And now Holland is being recorded. (Just search on Goggle for Google Street View car and you will see a line up of various camera devices; the one on the picture comes from the UK).

Infringement on privacy came up as a problem when the programme was introduced. A couple in Pittsburgh claims damages of 25.000 US dollars as the Google car shot photographs or part of a movie of the road in front of their house. This, while a notice board indicated that it was a private road. Google reacted rather indifferent by saying that in this modern world there is nothing like absolute privacy. But the company seems to have learned as it did go into discussion with British privacy groups and was able to reassure them with some measures. It also contacted the privacy watchdog of the European Commission and several European countries. The company reassures people that will not be recognisable and is now developing software to make faces and number plates fuzzy and unreadable. Whoever recognises him- or herself can lodge a complaint and demand the image to be removed.

It is not the first time that street film cars are touring around the Netherlands to record streets, the houses, offices, factories and parks. The first time this was happening was in 1989, when a transporter was used in Rotterdam to collect images of streets. It was a project by the former Dutch telecom monopoly PTT in cooperation with the CD-ROM producer CD-Europe. I am not completely sure anymore, but I suspect that the early navigation adapter Tele-Atlas was also involved. (BTW Not one complaint about privacy at that time!). Since 1992 the Dutch company Cyclomedia executes this type of work and has now 34 cars on the road to record the streets, one by one, for government and private companies.

Blog Posting Number: 1181

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

BPN 1180 Telcos seriously look at e-Papers

Der Spiegel, the sister publication of the German newspaper Bild, published a story on Deutsche Telecom being interested in digital newspapers. However the story was rather vague as the spokes person told the reporter that the telecom company did not have a content agreement with a newspaper nor did the spokesperson say anything on the e-reader(s) to be used. The story should be taken serious as Deutsche Telecom is picking up experience from its US sister network Verizon which is working together with Amazon’s e-reader Kindle, of which more than 240.000 have been sold already.

But the announced project does not really be on its way yet or does not want to tell too much about it. But in the fall the telco wants to start a pilot by handing out e-readers to some thousands of clients. The project is called News4Me and it is known that the telco tinkers on producing a personalised electronic newspaper. The site of Deutsche Telecom says: The News4Me project aims to create an individual electronic newspaper. Subscriptions are possible to complete issues or to individual sections from differing newspapers, which will then be transmitted to mobile devices. The contents and the layout adapt constantly to the way that you read. In future, wherever you are, you will benefit from easy access to current news and information which correspond to your personal interests.

So Deutsche Telecom or T-labs still have to agree on cooperations with newspaper companies. What DT wants looks like Google News. This asks for a lot of conversions from the various newspaper formats. Of course it has been demonstrated by Google and can be done for an e-reader.

The e-reader is still subject to speculation. However researchers of T-Labs have spoken about the specifications in June to Innovations Report and talked about an a screen almost as large a newspaper page, flexible and not an LCD screen with backlit facilities. The researchers referred to the product of the Dutch company Polymer Vision, the Readius (see photograph), with a rollable screen. They would also like to equip the e-reader with broadcast facilities, by which I think they mean video and audio.

It is interesting to see Deutsche Telecom going into e-papers as a telecom company and not having the support yet of the German newspaper industry. It is almost unbelievable as the international newspaper research institute IFRA is in Darmstadt and has been conducting an e-paper project for some years. Some US companies now benefit from the project by offering their newspaper to the public through Kindle. Besides IFRA recently performed a focus group test of e-reader with black and white screens provided by irex Technologies and Sony, but also colour screens, provided by Bridgestone.

But all these details aside: DT is the second telecom multinational going into a pilot of e-papers. Earlier this year France Telecom through its Orange Labs started the project Read & Go, the first 3G-connected mobile newspaper kiosk with the newspapers Le Monde, Le Parisien, Les Echos, L’Equipe and Télérama. Orange has specifically developed Wifi/3G coupled connectivity with a dedicated distribution platform, user interface and browsing capability. The Read&Go device has a storage capacity of 1 Gb – more than 200 newspapers – and also contains a e-library of thirty or so books (literature, strip cartoons, children's and practical publications, etc.) provided by Feedbooks, Médiatoon (Dargaud, Dupuis, Lombard et Kana) and Mango editions. The project will have 150 test persons. So far an iLiad has been used in the marketing utterances.

The move of the telecom companies France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom is interesting as the pilots are not just undertaken by newspapers and equipment manufacturers only like the projects of NRC Handelsblad in The Netherlands and Les Echos in France

Blog Posting: 1180

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Monday, August 04, 2008

BPN 1179 Elsevier: fine-tuning the last link

Reed Elsevier is much in the news during the last weeks. The financial results of 2007 have been reported, while the results of the second quarter of 2008 were published last week. Reed Elsevier senses strong business momentum and financial performance. It has a restructuring programme going which is on track to deliver further margin improvement. The sale of its education division Harcourt Education is fully completed; net proceeds of €2.7bn returned to shareholders.

Of course there are two very important changes coming up. Crispin Davis, the CEO, will leave Reed Elsevier beginning of next year. No new person has been presented yet (question will be, whether this will be a woman). And another item on the list is the divestment of Reed Business Information, which is in progress. Reed Business Information no longer belongs to the core business and will be sold as a division. This will present some name problems. Will the company continue a Reed Elsevier or return back to the company name Elsevier or Elsevier Science. In the Netherlands Reed Elsevier still has a magazine named Elsevier; changing its name will murder the magazine.

So the multinational will turn into a one-segment publisher, namely a publisher of scientific information. It is the fourth step of the company to become a one-segment publisher. Elsevier began as a conglomerate of print plants and consumer, business and scientific publishers and over the years it sold off the division. The print plants were the first to go in the eighties. After that the newspapers in the consumer section had to go, followed by the book publishers. The business division which got a big impulse when Elsevier merged with Reed, is now up for sale. So by the end of the year Reed Elsevier will be solely a STM (Scientific, Technical, Medical) publisher and might be named Elsevier Science again. Elsevier will be a full fledged science publisher with mighty databases like Science Direct. Of course the new company will be faced with all kind of new initiatives in the academic publishing world: open access and the public library of science.

In the meantime Elsevier, the publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, builds out its cashing machine by making it easier readers and subscribers to its more than 2,800 online journals to purchase article reprints for a variety of uses. Elsevier is partnering with Copyright Clearance Center to use CCC's Rightslink(R) service, the world's leading online platform for marketing and monetizing the rights to content.

The new reprint-ordering capability, available now, follows Elsevier's initial adoption of Rightslink in 2007 to handle copyright permissions for Elsevier's journals. Rightslink is an online e-commerce service that allows content users to instantly license content and order reprints online. The most widely used web-based licensing application, Rightslink is in use on more than 11,000 journals, magazines and newspapers, as well as thousands of books online. Major publishers uses the services from Rightslink such as Dow Jones, The New York Times Company, Springer, Taylor & Francis, O'Reilly Media, Time Inc., Oxford University Press, Nature Publishing Group, The University of Chicago Press, Blackwell Publishing and USA Today. Rightslink lets the Elsevier journal readers efficiently order reprints directly from ScienceDirect content pages online, providing a fast and easy transaction. It is also integrated into the print-and-delivery business process.

ScienceDirect and Elsevier's Health Sciences platforms deliver more than 9 million articles online from more than 2,500 peer-reviewed journals published in 24 fields of science, technology and medicine. More than 1 billion articles have been downloaded from the ScienceDirect and Health Sciences platforms by scientists, teachers and researchers.

Blog Posting Number: 1179

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

BPN 1178 Searching is still not cool

Whoever thinks that the search fight is over and Google has won, is wrong. Google is a marketing machine with a fast search engine, but excessive and dispensable results. On the marketing side it will be hard to win the fight, but in the field of search results lot can be won. Now a new entrant has presented itself: Cuil with a rather snoring blurb: rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics like Google does, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance.

It is clear that Cuil is in its beta phase; no advertisements, just a search machine and results. I had a look at it and did my own benchmarking with my name, the name of the blog and the name of our company. I compared the results of Cuil with the results of Google. I started with my own name Jak Boumans and was presented with the following results: 1827 results from Cuil and 7690 results from Google. Cuil offers fewer entries. Yet also Cuil has duplicate results and non-relevant results from either Jak or Boumans. When the duplicates are removed the number of relevant results could be diminished with 40 per cent. Cuil attempts to illustrate every entry with photographs and this leads to hilarious results. An old photograph - not taken by me and one I would have destroyed - is often used in connection with bibliographic data. But after 10 pages with results, a photograph does not work anymore. I also tested the name of this blog: Buziaulane. Google generated 5090 search results and Cuil 2143. Looking though the results in Cuil, the results concentrate on the name of the site and the occurrences in other blogs and on other sites. Multimedia assets are less abundant and in fact soberly applied. The last part of the benchmark took the company title and compared these: 1,3 million search results in Google and 4,7 million search results in Cuil. Funny part is that Cuil does not recognise the name as a company name, but as a method of reporting with electronic media. When I add the legal company form, VOF, there is only one result of an activity of the company; when the legal name is punctuated as it should, there is no result at all. So not even the chamber of commerce directories have been culled by Cuil. When I refine the term with the present and former company base, I get completely different results. When I add Almere to Electronic Media Reporting the search engine comes up with some results of the blog. When I added Utrecht, the first company base, there are more diverse results.

Am I impressed by Cuil? I loved Cuil in the first two benchmarks of my name and my blog’s name. But the results of the company are really bad, especially as the company names in The Netherlands are registered by the Chamber of Commerce. The addition of the multimedia assets is too much ad random, leading to portrait photographs next to for example the method of reporting with electronic media.

I recently also looked at Exalead. Putting this search engine through the same benchmark test, I got the following results:
Term/Exalead/Cuil/Google
- Jak Boumans: 672 results/1827/7690
- Buziaulane: 1578 results/2143/5090
- Electronic Media Reporting: 908,367 results /4,706.000/1,300.000

The retrievability of words and composed terms is still very inexact. The addition of multimedia assets is not an added value. So I guess that Google will stay alive for the time being.

Blog Posting Number: 1179

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

BPN 1177 Amazon buys Abebooks and dabbles now in two social networks

Abebooks was in the news yesterday. Amazon is going to buy the Canadian online marketplace for used, rare and out-of-print books. I remember that Abebooks was a winner in 2003 of the World Summit Award 2003 in the category e-business. (The WSA has a good nose for quality candidates!). The laudation for Abebooks read at that time: Abebooks.com is the world’s largest online marketplace for used, rare, and out-of-print books. It connects those who buy books with those who sell books and covers the entire cycle of an online transaction, from registration to logistics. Abebooks.com has unique features, including a matching system that helps users find unavailable books, direct bookseller contact and a free bookstore inventory management system. The site also includes literary features and community fora where booklovers have lively literary based discussions. Abebooks has an unparalleled selection including collectibles, comics and reading copies of bestsellers.

Amazon.com has reached an agreement to acquire AbeBooks,. Its site has over 110 million books listed for sale by 13,500 independent booksellers from around the world. It will continue to function as a stand-alone operation based in Victoria, British Columbia. AbeBooks will maintain all of its websites
But reading the news, I discovered some new thing about book and books collectors. While we have the friends’sites like Facebook and the Dutch Hyves and the professional network sites like Linkedin, Xing and Plaxo, there are also social network for booklovers. Abe books owes a 40 percent minority share in LibraryThing, which keeps track of books and finds other like-minded book lovers. Amazon has also invested in a similar service called Shelfari. So, what is Amazon going to with these two services? Basically the question is of course: has it any influence on those two companies and can it take any action such buying the majority stakes and merging the services?

Here is the reaction by the owner of LibraryThing: I congratulate Amazon on a shrewd acquisition. Abebooks is a great company, full of wonderful people. I have no inside info, but I can foresee Amazon's extraordinary technical infrastructure giving Abe a big lift. … The majority of LibraryThing is in my hands. Abebooks holds a minority of the shares, with certain notable but limited rights. This situation does not change when Amazon acquires Abebooks. Amazon will not get access to your data. The LibraryThing/Abebooks terms are specific. Abe gets only anonymized and aggregate data, like recommendations, and they can only use it on Abebooks sites (eg., Abebooks.com, Abebooks.de). Nothing has changed here. Abebooks customers won't see much a difference. The name will survive and the Abebooks.com site will continue. Both employees and management will remain in Canada. LibraryThing remains LibraryThing. We will continue to uphold and advance LibraryThing values, including open data, strict privacy rules and support for libraries and independent bookstores.

I did not see any comment on the site of Shelfari. This social site, online since 2006, introduces readers to our global community of book lovers and encourages them to share their literary inclinations and passions with peers, friends, and total strangers (for now). Shelfari was the first social media site focused on books, and will continue to innovate as it brings together the world's readers. Our mission is to enhance the experience of reading by connecting readers in meaningful conversations about the published word.

But both sites, LibraryThing and Shelfari are interesting. Their members can build virtual bookshelves to express themselves to their friends and to the world and discover books that are popular in their trusted circles of friends. It is also like a virtal book debating club where members can influence peers by rating and discussing books online and learn from people with similar reading tastes. They can also interact with with and learn from authors.

(BTW Have a look at the exciting, remodelled site of the World Summit Award, ready for the WSA 2009 edition. The site was produced by the board member Anya Sverdlov and her ACTIS team.)

Blog Posting Number: 1177

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Friday, August 01, 2008

BPN 1176 Twenty years in telecom networks

Recently, I received an interesting book on the history of SURFnet, the Dutch university network organisation (thanks Mariska!). The book is a commemorative book on the 20 anniversary of the organisations; it was also the commemorative book for the departing CEO Boudewijn Nederkoorn, one of the founding fathers of SURFnet.

The book is interesting as it presents contemporary online history. SURFnet was the result of university computer centres banning together to set up a network between the Dutch universities, to link the network to the European academic networks and to connect to the international academic networks. While setting up a network infrastructure, the SURFnet people got caught up in the internet roll-out. As they had the Dutch PTT (now KPN) as a shareholder, they got involved in the OSI X-25 vs. the TCP/IP discussion and decided already in an early stage that OSI-25was not the road to take, much to the chagrin of the PTT.

In the meantime the organisation has become a prominent network organisation in the Netherlands and outside. It now delivers an infrastructure for universities and colleges, libraries and school services. It also takes care of the international connections, for example with the Grid network Géant. By now it has developed six generations of networks and is drawing the seventh generation. The networks are so successful that even the old-time partner bought SURFnet5 for it commercial operation. Internationally it has optical light paths to speed up international secure services.

SURFnet has been a catalyser in the Dutch development of internet. It picked up internet from the beginning and was one of the first academic organisations to have it commercialised by private companies, while the Dutch incumbent KPN did not yet believe in internet. SURFnet was also one of the first organisations to establish Fibre To The Dormitory (FTTD) at jealous making speeds to normal consumers; it was also one of the first organisations transporting internet over the cable in dormitories.

The book, written by Verhoog & Warmerdam, a bureau for company history and genealogy, reads like a techno adventure book. However it wrongly establishes the impression that the network scene in pre-internet era was almost void and empty. From 1977 he Netherlands was already experimenting with online. The publisher Kluwer, now part of Wolters Kluwer, started to build up a legal online database. By 1980 a first consumer and SME service based on videotex, Viditel, came online. E-mail and online retrieval services were already handled by a national Datanet-1 as well as the European network Diane*Euronet (photograph taken in 1980, the network being demonstrated by the EC official Franco Mastroddi). The impression that hardly any network activities did exist in the early eighties or even before is based on the fact that the ASCII database world did not talk with the videotex world, which was looked at as the Volkswagen of the online world. Yes and there was already e-mail; in fact I have been empowered by e-mail since 1980, amongst others through the American service The Source and the hardly used videotext e-mail service of Viditel. All these services were searching for a market with confusion as a result. So when SURFnet started to set up another network, more confusion was added. But all this was over on January 1, 1997, when Videotex Nederland stopped its service and TCP/IP became a unifying factor in the network world.

Blog Posting Number: 1176

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Monthly stats blog Buziaulane

Blog: Buziaulane is a daily blog in English
Period: 1-7-2008 till 31-7-2008

Stats
Pageviews: 1415 (June 1192)
Visits: 1089 (June 949)
Unique Visitors: 971 (June 830)
Countries: 63 (June 70)

Pageviews from the following countries
Rank/country/percentage
1. The Netherlands (32,79%)
2. USA (24,95%)
3. UK (7,84%)
4. Germany (3,32%)
5. France (2,54%)
6. India (2,47%)
7. Canada (2,26%)
8. Australia (1,70%)
9. Rest (1,63%)
10. Thailand (1,48%)
11. Spain (1,20%)
12. South Korea (1,20%)
13. Belgium (1,13%)
14. Poland (0,92%)
15. Italy (0,78%)

Most visited pages
1. other (54,28%)
2. http://buziaulane.blogspot.com/ (15,62%)
3. rest (2,76%)
4. http://buziaulane.blogspot.com/2006/12/tta-2006-games.html (1,41%)
5. ...buziaulane.blogspot.com/2006/07/serious-games-for-seniors.html (1,27%)
6. ...uziaulane.blogspot.com/2005/10/memorial-day-for-mata-hari.html (1,06%)
7. http://buziaulane.blogspot.com/2006/03/new-p2p-software.html (0,92%)
8. http://buziaulane.blogspot.com/2006_08_03_archive.html (0,85%)
9. ...logspot.com/2006/01/at-last-portable-electronic-newspaper.html (0,78%)
10. ...e.blogspot.com/2006/12/iliad-and-de-tijd-enewspaper-close.html (0,78%)

Links
Google Pagerank: 4
Google Indexed Pages: 3510 (June 3390)
Yahoo links: 4407 (June 4204)

Stats generated by Onestat , ClustrMaps and Directshop

Thursday, July 31, 2008

BPN 1175 FTTH taking off

Last night a smart helpdesk lady of UPC seduced me into a subscription to a faster connection up to 10Mbps and a digital television subscription (yes I was charmed out of my pants). This morning the speed was already up to 9766 Kbps downloading and 1450 Kbps uploading. A comfortable speed. So far, I always said that I would wait to October 2009, when our apartment in Almere is up for a fibre to the home connection (FTTH). KPN is already selling three bundles of three speeds: 30, 50 and 60 Mbps for downloading at respectively 65, 80 and 110 euro a month, including telephone, internet and television. So I guess by 2010 stats of the Netherlands will be quite different in the ranking of semi-annual continent survey of the FTTH Council. In the latest survey it takes the 12th ranking.

With continued regional growth in fibre to the home (FTTH) market penetration, Asia consolidated its position as the global leader in the march toward next-generation broadband while the United States and Europe also continued to experience robust growth in FTTH, according to an updated global ranking issued today by the FTTH Councils of Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America.The ranking, updated twice a year, tracks the level of FTTH market penetration in economies where more than one percent of households are connected directly into high speed fibre networks. In all, 14 economies met this threshold.In Asia, FTTH has overtaken DSL in South Korea and will soon do the same in Japan. The Asia-Pac region is witnessing the end of a hundred years of telecom history as copper loops are quickly being replaced by optical fibre access networks. South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan now occupy the top four positions in the ranking, and the Asian region now accounts for more than 27 million of the world's estimated 32 million FTTH connections. South Korea now has nearly 37 percent of its households connected to fibre, with Hong Kong at 27 percent, Japan at 24 percent and Taiwan at 7.7 percent. And while the People's Republic of China ranked 11th in terms of market penetration, growth in the number of connections to 7.5 million means that China is now second only to Japan in the number of households with FTTH.

In Europe, large FTTH projects are now underway in France and Germany, as well as deployments in other EU countries such as Greece and Portugal. The fact that seven European countries made the global ranking, and that several rank among the top FTTH countries in the world, is a clear indication that Europe is moving forward with the adoption of next-generation broadband. However, this positive picture does not yet represent the entire continent. For this reason the FTTH Council Europe will continue to educate investors and other stakeholders and to promote accelerated deployment of FTTH networks in all European countries. Four Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark) and Slovenia occupied the fifth through ninth positions in the ranking, with market penetration ranging from 7.5 percent to 3.2 percent. The Netherlands and Italy were in the 12th and 13th positions, each with market penetration of 1.4 percent. In all, European countries reported 1.4 million FTTH connections.

North America, and particularly the United States, has crossed the chasm and is now moving decisively toward fibre to the home as the broadband platform of choice. Aggressive FTTH deployment in the U.S. has created a lot of buzz about this exciting technology, and the word of mouth from early FTTH subscribers is driving growth and fuelling further deployments. The United States is third among the world's economies in the total number of FTTH households at 3.3 million, and is in 10th position in the global ranking with 2.9 percent market penetration. The U.S. continues to experience the highest rate of growth of any economy in terms of FTTH subscribers - doubling the number of connections year over year. This is due largely to an aggressive FTTH deployment by market leader Verizon, Inc. and ongoing FTTH build out by more than 600 smaller providers across the country.

Blog Posting Number: 1175

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

BPN 1174 FT: working on the holy grail

Pearson, the UK holding company of the Financial Times Group, published it quarterly figures this week. The press release said on the Financial Times Group, that it made 17 per cent on 2007 sales and 25 per cent of operating profit. “The FT Group is on track to achieve continued profit growth this year. FT Publishing has shown sustained growth in subscription, circulation and advertising revenues (up 2%) in the first half. Future advertising revenues remain difficult to predict, but we continue to expect to increase profit at FT Publishing even without any growth in advertising revenue”.

But there is a more interesting trend to be discovered in the figures: there are more online registered users than readers of the print edition. In figures: the daily circulation of the print edition remains constant on 450.000 copies, while more than half a million users have registered for access to the site. Online registered users are not equal to online subscribers, of which there are 100.00 subscribers.

So where does FT pick up its profit online. The number of subscribers is hardly enough to present a profit. Yet the online registered users are the money makers for FT as they are the collateral for the advertisers. Online subscriptions and online advertisement yield 63 per cent of the turn-over of the FT Group. In 2000 online subscriptions and online advertisement accounted only for 20 per cent.

The rise of the registered online user came after a change in policy by the FT at the end of last year. The visitors of the site are now allowed to read four stories a month for free and have access to the three-year archive. To read six or more stories with a limit of 30 stories per month, visitors will have to register themselves and log in; they have access to the five-year archive. An annual standard online subscription will cost the subscriber 119 euro and a premium one 319 euro. Pearson did not present figures about the non-registered consultation and the number of page views.

Yet it is clear that FT has found a way to make a profit from online. Of course, FT is a global, need-to-know newspaper for the financial world and a global, nice-to-know paper for an even wider group of users. Marketing wise the company has now a nice pond of fish to start upselling subscriptions to various products. In the meantime, the registered online user is a perfect audience for advertisers.

The online strategy can not just be transposed on the local newspaper of Almere or any other place. There is a certain algorithm in the numbers of FT: 500.000 registered users and 100.000 online subscribers. Projecting these figures to both sides, there are most likely 5 million people who occasionally visit the FT site in a year, while there are only 10.000 premium subscribers. FT hopes to increase its profit margin in the online business over the rest of 2008.

Blog Posting Number: 1174

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BPN 1173 ACAP: a friendly negotiation tool

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that many text providers such as journalists, are taking measure against illegal copying and piracy. This I think is a rather negative approach and an approach after the publication. I have often criticised publishers for taking measures afterwards and not taking preventive actions or even starting projects with other publishers. So they often end up in court with a series of court cases, not relevant to jurisprudence, and with a lot of antipathy from the audience.

But things are also changing. ACAP (Automated Content Access Protocol) is officially introduced and is in The Netherlands going to be used by the association of Dutch publishers NUV. The good thing about ACAP is that it is a product which puts content owners in control of their content. It is basically a tool for the publisher to tell search engine operators what they can index and link.

ACAP takes care of the entry to the websites of publishers and especially the discriminate access of crawlers and spiders. It offers four choices: follow, index, present and preserve. The command follow directs the crawlers or spiders to linked pages; with index command they are allowed to make a copy; with the command present the links are taken out of the index, while with the preserve command the crawlers and spiders get to see when an item is not available any more.



ACAP is devised by publishers in collaboration with search engines after an intensive year-long pilot in 2006-2007 and set to control the dissemination, use, and protection of copyright-protected content on the worldwide web. ACAP is destined to become the universal permissions protocol on the internet, an open, non-proprietary standard through which content owners can communicate permissions for access and use to online intermediaries.In the first instance, ACAP provides a framework that will allow any publisher, large or small, to express access and use policies in a language that search engines' robot "spiders" can be taught to understand. ACAP’s scope is now being extended to other business relationships and other media types including music and the audiovisual sectors. Technical work is ongoing to improve and finesse ACAP V.1.

With the ACAP tool in hand, the publisher can decide on his business model and offer access or not. They can make a difference in paid and free services and services for subscribers and occasional visitors.

Blog Posting Number: 1173

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Monday, July 28, 2008

BPN 1172 The old, analogue world is back

Last month the news wire organisation Asociated Press (AP) demanded from the owner of the Drudge Retort, that he would correct seven contributions as they contained more than 39 words of a quote from the AP service. The blog community started to comment on this measure. They hated the fact that AP demanded corrections in blogs and the fact that AP thought that a quote of 39 words from an article is enough fair use. The whole discussion blew over, but I guess only for the time being.

There is an analogy with the music business. Many people download music illegally and a ten per cent upload the music illegally. After many fights it looks now that the ten per cent of uploaders will get a letter from their ISP, telling them to stop uploading or face being cut off. So also with the official press and the bloggers. When bloggers copy full articles or a excessive long quote, AP wanted to tell the bloggers what is fair use and what is not. The old, analogue world is coming back!

The Dutch journalists trade union NVJ is now also preparing a mechanism of control. It will start a service for member-journalists. The service intends to chase website owners and bloggers who copy articles from the member-journalists with or without their name and without permission. The service has already been dubbed in many blogs as a plagiarism and a anti-plagiarism service at the same time. The objective of the service appears to cover copying without permission, but mentioning the name of the author; copying the article without permission and without the name of the author.

The software which is going to be used bears the name of Ephorus and is the product of a Utrecht based SME company. It looks like the NVJ is piloting the service in practice. It looks like the college and university software which tells the teachers that the presented material is from internet or particular books. In the case of the journalist, he/she uploads an article and the robot will travel around the Dutch language web to find the website owners and perpetrating web loggers, which copied the article. I wonder whether also parts of the article will be recognised. After that, a train of administration can be expected of sending letters and invoices.

In the Netherlands there are already companies writing web site owners and bloggers about the illegal copying. And they are not very much loved. On the one hand it is naturally that web site owners and web loggers will be annoyed telling them that they are illegally copying. On the other hand it is by the aggressive way of the handling. One of the companies is Cozzmoss; on their site they claim that they act on behalf of authors. (It looks almost like a collecting society, except that they are commercial and acting in a legally grey terrain). A web site owner or a web logger directly receive an invoice; there is no correspondence telling them that they have copied articles illegally. And the invoice is three times the original fee. This legal stupidity still dates from the early days of internet, when the NVJ started a court case, asking the judge to attribute 300 per cent for every re-use claim. Presently the NVJ uses a fee of 20 per cent per copying with a minimum.

So far the claims of Cozzmoss and other companies have not been fought in court. It is about time that a judge let his light shine on the claims which can be made on the ground of illegal copying and about the height of the fee. In the meantime a bureau Stichting Copyright & Nieuwe Media (Foundation for Copyright and New media) has been founded in The Netherlands; it will have a helpdesk for amateur authors/bloggerswho will have legal problems. It will also promote Creative Commons.

Blog Posting Number: 1170

Tags: pircy, copying, anti-plagiarism, plagiarism, , ,

Sunday, July 27, 2008

BPN 1171 2/3 TV time "Made in Europe"

More than 63 per cent of Europe's television broadcasters' programming time is devoted to European works and over 36 per cent to works by independent European producers. These new figures come from the European Commission's eighth report on effectiveness of EU rules on the promotion of European works, which covers the period 2005-2006. This report which is published every two years is based on information provided by the EU Member States and monitors the promotion of European works on European TV screens under the 'Television without Frontiers' Directive. For the first time, broadcasters in the new EU-10 Member States are fully analysed in this report, and the report shows that they show today as much European content as those in the EU-15.

The figures show the impact of Articles 4 and 5 of the "Television without Frontiers" Directive, which aim at promoting the broadcasting of European works, including those created by producers who are independent from the broadcasters. The European Commission proposed these measures in 1989 to bring the benefits of the single market to television viewers (in the form of greater choice) and to broadcasters and producers (a bigger audience for European programmes).

The new report on the implementation of these provisions in the 25 EU Member States, adopted by the Commission, shows that the EU-wide average broadcasting time for European works has increased from 63.52 per cent in 2005 to 65.05 per cent in 2006. The Commission report also shows that in the medium term (2003-2006), the broadcasting of European works has stabilised at above 63per cent. Average transmission times varied between 47.31 per cent in Slovenia and 81.14 per cent in Denmark in 2005 and between 45.44 per cent in Sweden and 81.07 per cent in Poland in 2006. These shares were comparable with those recorded for the previous reporting period 2003-2004 (IP/06/1115).

The average share of independent producers’ works broadcast by all European channels in all Member States rose from 36.44 per cent in 2005 to 37.59 per cent in 2006. This is well above the 10per cent set by the "Television without Frontiers" Directive. This also means that in the medium term (2003-2006), the EU-wide broadcasting of European works by independent producers improved by 6.2 percentage points.

For recent European works by independent producers, that is to say works broadcast within five years of their production, transmission time in 2005-2006 was constantly above 25per cent. This confirms the positive trend in the scheduling of recent works, which increased by 2.59 percentage points over 2003-2006.

Blog Posting Number: 1171

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

BPN 1170 MAX ACKE SPAMS

Recently I received an e-mail from Max Acke with the subject line Radio+Art+Education. The e-mail asks the recipient to visit his Dutch language site on radio, art and education. I do not know the man nor have I ever met him. As I do not like to receive e-mails out of the blue sky, I requested the sender to remove me from the e-mail list, saying that I consider his e-mail as spam.

I received a response to my e-mail from the sender (who claims to have a legal degree in international politics), saying that he did not exploit an e-mail list, but had a robot working for him which grazes sites for e-mail addresses in the Belgian (be) and Dutch (.nl) country domains of people hopefully speaking Flemish or Dutch. Once the robot has a package of 40 e-mail addresses, it sends off the batch with a standard e-mail text, promoting his sites.

The sender does not see the e-mail as spam. He defends his actions, by saying that he even does not know where the e-mails will go to. And if I do not want to receive the emails, I should (mind you) take action by using the possibilities of the e-mail browser. Put the filter on the address and all the problems are over, is his advice.

For the rest the sender thinks that he has a real world hit with his site and informs me that many Dutch and Belgian internet users have sent him thank-you notes. In other words, I should use my filter and keep my mouth shut. In passing he tells that this is the last time he will respond to my e-mails (he must a peevish old man, being disturbed in his hobby).

I could have rested the case, activated the filter, kept my mouth shut and use this blogging space for more sensible subjects. Daily I receive some 400 spams, ranging from Viagra and Cialis advertisments to photographs of Angelina Jolie (whoever she is). So I am used to it. But I think that MAX ACKE SPAMS. He collects 40 addresses at a time and attaches e-mail messages to them. The fact that he is not using an e-mail list, but a robot to collect the addresses is immaterial. He solicits addresses from people from the net, who did not ask for his e-mails. That the subject is cultural and not Viagra is also immaterial and that many people have sent him thank-you notes, does not change the fact that he performs spamming actions.

Blog Posting Number: 1170

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Friday, July 25, 2008

BPN 1169 e-Book lands in the UK in September

Well, it is finally happening in the UK: the large-scale introduction of e-readers and e-books. The bookstore chain Waterstone and Sony are taking pre-launch orders for the e-reader of 199 pounds (232 euro) to be launched in September. Will the combination of a bookstore and a consumer electronics giant make an impression on the UK market? Does the combination fulfil the conditions for the iPod syndrome: innovative hardware, a large portfolio, easy access to a fast download service, a reasonable price and does the combination have an innovative image.

Hardware: Sony will sell the 2006 model PRS 505 e-reader, which weighs 260 grams, can hold 160 e–books, has a battery life of 6.800 page turns. It sells in the US for 299 dollars. The model has the dimensions of a printed paperback. The action of Waterstone and Sony is a pre-emptive strike to grab market share. Book distributor Borders has announced to introduce the non-wireless iLiad of 399 pounds (465 euro). And the Kindle of Amazon still hangs above the market; the Kindle costs in the States 359 dollars, which would make it the cheapest e-reader for 155 pounds (210 euro).

Portfolio: Waterstone and Sony have not announced which portfolio they use. The buyers will receive a free CD with 100 classic e-books. Recently trade publishers have been falling over themselves to get in on the e-book act. Penguin, Random House Macmillan, HarperCollins and even Harlequin have all made announcements. I had expected that Penguin would have been in on the deal with its 5.000 e-books. But of course the problem will be the publishing format. Penguin is using the .epub format, a format already adopted by Hachette Group USA. HarperCollins is expected to go the same route. And Sony has announced that it will support the .epub format (Sony writes the format as .ePub); that is quite a change from a closed format Sony has used since the launch of its first e-redaer in 1991. Borders and the iLiad adhere to the Mobipocket format. Amazon and Kindle list more than 40.000 titles.

Download service: Sony has already a download service in operation. Thousands of eBookscan be downloaded at Waterstones.com/eBooks from early September 2008 onwards.

A reasonable price: for the iPod the price per song was important and turned out to be reasonable in the end; in fact downloaders started to realise that they could legally download against a reasonable price. In the e-book sector illegal downloading is less a problem as in music. Yet if there is not a price difference between the printed copy and the e-book, it will not really work.

Innovative image: Apple is the promoter of the innovative products iPod and iPhone. Waterstone and Sony is not the most exciting combination; the combination Waterstone, Sony and Penguin would have made a super combination. The team Borders and iRex Technologies is not a real winner either. Amazon is of course a winner, but the UK publishing industry does not want to hand itself over to the Moloch, which could create a monopoly on e-books.

Blog Posting Number: 1169

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

BPN 1168 Esquire will have a digital paper colour cover

So far we have talked and read about digital paper in the context of an e-reader for e-books, magazines and newspapers. By now we have a whole range of e-readers with digital paper: iLiad, Sony, Kindle, Hanlin, Jet; just to name a few. But so far digital paper has not had another application yet such as digital paper for reading the time on a watch; digital paper in mobiles. But another application brought me back to the beginning of digital paper.

The research into digital paper started years ago in the Xerox Lab in Menlo Park. Although scientists were working on a completely different technology they also produced a plastic paper with electronic letters and numbers (see picture). However it was to difficult to produce font seizes of point 12. So one of the first applications for the large letter digital paper were banners in department stores likes Sachs in New York. The banners were not used for static messages, but were used for promotions and for changing the prices of products. Since the eighties this application has not been seen around.

But now the monthly Esquire of the Hearst conglomerate comes with an application of digital paper in the printed magazine world. They are not going to produce an electronic replica of their next September issue, but they will have a cover of digital paper. They can be seen for three months, until the battery dies. Esquire will distribute only 100.000 copies at the kiosks.

Why would Hearst do this? Mr Granger, a veteran editor to Esquire, told the NYTimes: “Magazines have basically looked the same for 150 years,” Mr. Granger said. “I have been frustrated with the lack of forward movement in the magazine industry.” This sounds like an old man, sad of the days assigning cover designs. And it is not for the subscribers or for the occasional Esquire buyer, but for the gadget freak. It is not for the cover; they might be famous in some circles, but they are not especially designed for digital paper. Remarkable is that the cover will be in colour; so far we only have seen digital paper in black and white n the market. But it is not for the colour digital paper, either. Esquire will celebrate its 75th anniversary in September and as the magazine is a legendary publication best known for its features and covers, it will have colour digital paper with replica of three classic covers as a gadget. How did Esquire pick digital paper as a celebration feature? That is simple. The owner Hearst has been an investor in e-Ink and is now having his investor’s perk.

But the Esquire cover opens up a new avenue not only of magazine covers. What about packaging material for food product can flash messages just as the number of days you can still eat the prouct; if the battery has died and the picture is gone, the product will be out of date. Another avenue is book covers; by the time the battery has died and the picture has gove, you should have finished your book!

Blog Posting Number: 1168

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Update 24 July 2008: Oldest bible

Pages from the Codex Sinaiticus will be available on the web. The pages are the first batch of the reproduction project. Next year the project will be completed. (more)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

BPN 1167 iPhone and iPod as e-readers

Several times writing about e-Books, I have posed the question why Apple would not get into the fray. With so many iPods around and more recently the iPhones, the Apple products have a perfect point of departure of becoming text iPods. Well it is happening now. Fictionwise and e-Reader.com, both e-Book web shops, have announced the availability of its free eReader application for eBooks on the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The users of these Apple devices get immediately access to almost 50.000 eBooks, including bestsellers of Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Michael Crichton, Ann Rice, James Patterson, and Harlequin Romance.





The eReader application is immediately downloadable on the Apple iPhone 3G. The older iPhomes and the iPod Toch need to upgrade to the 2.0 operating system through iTunes 7.7. The eReader application is available as a free download. The Apple devices have three advantages as e-reader. Uploading of e-Books can be done wirelessly. They have large screens compared to most PDAs besides the screens are sharp and clear. And last, but not least they have 6 to 8 solid hours of battery life.

The eReader application is not just limited to the Apple devices. Multiformat versions are also available for more than 300 different handheld devices, ranging from special e-Reader devices to mobile phones and PDAs. The eReader program can read encrypted or unencrypted eBooks from Fictionwise and e-Reader.com.

The eReader is a first version for the Apple devices. It means that it will not be possible to transfer eReader content downloaded from other websites onto eReader for iPhone and iPod touch. Version 1.1 will have the ability to browse other sites and directly download from them, as well as ways of moving eReader format eBooks from your personal computer to the iPhone and iPod touch. This includes both encrypted and unencrypted eReader files. Version 1.1 will contain features like reverse video, the ability to lock the page orientation, the option to tap rather than swipe to turn pages, options to sort your on-device Bookshelf by author or title or most recently purchased, the ability to browse the web right from the application and download eReader PDB files from any website, and several other improvements.

Looking at the attempts of these web site e-book shops, it is very laudable what they are doing for the distribtion of e-books. But promotion by Apple would help the promotion of e-book. Of course integrating the e-reader software and offering access to the iTunes e-Bookshop would defeat the Kindle in one strike.

Blog Posting Number: 1167

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

BPN 1166 Online censoring is tightening in China

56.com, a leading Chinese on-line video site, suddenly suspended operations in mid-June 2008. The usual user-generated, YouTube-like video offerings were replaced with a brief message noting that a server upgrade was to blame. Over three weeks later, the message still existed. Company executives have refused to explain the continuing delay, despite typical server upgrades being completed within hours.

In December 2007, Chinese regulators jolted the industry by issuing rules that threatened to shut down at least some Internet video-streaming sites that are not state owned. Regulators later clarified that some private-sector operators already offering such services, might be issued licenses, provided they complied with government content restrictions. However, the fate of popular sites like 56.com and its larger rivals, Tudou.com and Youku.com remained unclear. Regulators did indeed shut down dozens of smaller sites, and left the top three sites alone, apart from a warning issued to Tudou.com for unspecified infractions.

Online video has been one of the fastest-growing applications of the Web in China, which has over 225 million Internet users. According to one government survey, 77% of Internet users in China watched online video in 2007. Advertising revenue has fallen to just 2% of all online-ad spending in China, but that has not stopped investors from pouring money into online-video companies. It is estimated that the top eight online-video companies have raised at least US$250 million as of May 2008. Investors include Adobe Systems Inc, Softbank China, venture capital giant Sequoia Capital and Steamboat Ventures, a fund backed by Walt Disney Co.

The suspension of service has the potential to damage 56.com’s future in the intensely competitive environment, as its traditional users switch to rival sites each day that 56.com is down. This could also bode trouble for the content partnerships that give 56.com an edge, including the rights to broadcast content such as games clips from the USA National Basketball Association.

Some private companies have been awarded online audiovisual licenses during 2008. However, the three biggest video sharing sites are still waiting. As long as those three continue to filter their content in line with government rules, they should be issued with licenses in due course.

(c) BuddeComm, 2008

Blog posting Number: 1166

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Monday, July 21, 2008

BPN 1165 Nokia mobiles sing, dance and lead the way

It looks like it might become a classic business case: the changing face of Nokia. The recent figures and the product announcements indicate that Nokia is changing it business model. It used to be a company offering network services and mobile telephones. But now it is changing to music, games and software. Will the company be able to survive the change? Why not: once the company produced wellies, rubber boots, and moved to mobile telephone. The new move is from complex hardware devices to software.

Nokia is already changing its business model for some years. Of course network services and mobile telephones have been sales products for years. But with the saturation of the market for mobiles, other products and sources of income have to be sought. Despite the fact that Nokia bought all the shares in the Symbian consortium o 264 million euro, Symbian will not be a real source of income. In fact Nokia will put it at arm’s length and accommodate it in a foundation, offering other companies like Google the benefits of the development.

As the company is in content related devices it has been looking around for some time into content products and services. In 200 the company looked into the tablets for games and electronic books. Due to an economic depression, this development was shelved. But since two years Nokia is working on content products with a vengeance: games, music and maps.

Gaming has been a difficult area to start up in. The NGage device was not a success. But now the general game software comes on stream.

The music service is interesting. Of course the mobile devices are becoming Christmas trees with many bells such as telephone, SMS, camera game device and now also MP3 player and navigation device. But as Nokia is rather late in the music game it will have to compete with the iPod. In fact the company is applying the iPod syndrome: a device, a library, a fair price for songs. Nokia is producing special mobiles for music. It is building up a library through all large record companies, except for EMI (for the time being) and by buying the music store Comes with Music. And the price is more than fair (for the time being): songs are for free.

The latest content addition is navigation.. Of course, here the mobile functions as navigator. But for the device maps are needed. For this purpose Nokia bought the competitor of Teleatlas/Tom-Tom the US company Navteq. Last month the European Commission gave permission for the acquisition. In the meantime the company had already 406.000 dowloads of maps.

Nokia is changed its face from industrial products to telecom hardware in the nineties. Now it is changing again from hardware to content related products and content services. For the time being the company is still dependant on the sale of mobile devices, but gradually it becomes a download company building on revenues from games, music and maps.

Blog Posting Number: 1165

Tags: mobile, game, music, map, , ,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

BPN 1164 A weblog register for the EU: bad idea Ms Mikko

I read this week about the excitement around a proposal of a member of the European Parliament (MEP) to start a webloggers’ register. Ms Marianne Mikko main recommendations in a report on media called on the European Commission and EU member states to apply competition law to the media to ensure media pluralism and in a sideline remark she proposed a weblogger’s register. She wants to know about the reliability of a weblogger. If she proposed a register – and I have my doubts about the context -, the lady must be a stranger in the Wired Wide World.

The postings I have read so far, have it, that Ms Mikko likes to see a register indicating the reliability of a weblog and its producer(s). It does not necessarily mean that the weblogger has to be registered with full name an address with a CV and a profile of the weblog... However the name of the weblog could also suffice with a register mentioning the weblog’s name and voluntary labelling of blogs by their authors (whatever that may be). I guess that she wants some keywords. This is strange as every serious blog uses tags, making it easy for Ms Mikko to search a weblog and ascertain the reliability. In an interview with the EU Observer she said: “We need some credentials, a quality mark, a certain disclosure of who is writing and why. We need this to be able to trust and rely on the source”.

Just the thought about a register, is ridiculous. Internet started as a free internet not bound to any rule or law, just to netiquette. Gradually it I integrated in laws, rules and measures. Just look at the music downloading; illegal downloading was a problem, but now it is becoming a sin, with letters sent straight from the confession box. Weblogging started as a freer form of journalism. Where journalist normally bound t a publication by contract or by association, a weblogger could publish whatever, whenever and wherever he/she wants.

I wonder why the MEP wants to have a register with or without the name of the webloggers. The blogs are there and most of the professional blogs have tags. So searching on a tag will give the reader already an impression on the seriousness or the ill will of the weblogger.

Brussels, i.e. the European Parliament and The European Commission, has many ritual dances and registers. Journalists have to get registered with the press office and the press office decides who is an accredited journalist. Also lobbyists have to register with the European Commission, just as they have to do with many governments. Are the lobbyists now more reliable since they registered and do the MEPS and EC officials now only see registered lobbyist and consultants? Of course not. When non-registered lobbyists want to meet a MEP, the MEP does not invite them on EU premises, but in Belgian or French restaurants and cafés or in O’Reilly, the Irish pub in Brussels.

The question of reliability does not come about with the institution of a register. It lies of course with the MEPS and EC officials, and their use of journalists, lobbyists and consultants. Perhaps Ms Marianne Mikko should look into another direction and start a European counterpart of Maplight.org, an organisation mapping the correlations between money and politicians in the USA.

Blog Posting Number: 1164

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Flash High Performance Mulimedia is out!

High Performance Multimedia
A Reader on the Technological, Cultural and Economic Dynamics of Multimedia
Edited by: P.A. Bruck and J. Boumans
July 2008, 192 pp., hardcover ISBN: 978-1-58603-861-8
Price: US$140 / €100 / £70

The focus of High Performance Multimedia is on the ever expanding European e-content industry. Production, aggregation and distribution of that content are the starting points to any future development towards a flourishing industry sector of the third millennium. Nevertheless, in addition to the diffusion of knowledge throughout the industry, digitalisation has completely changed the structure of the content business through the dissociation of content and media channel. This movement creates problems in the process of the business. Highest technological demands in time and money are limiting the size of e-content enterprises today. In contrast, its distribution is still being dominated by broadcasters and telecom providers that skim the biggest part of the profits. However, possibilities do arise when analyzing the industry of e-content. The European e-content market will be able to play a major role in the future by including all relevant players and their abilities. The challenge during the next years will be to stop the concentration on high-end technology and to create new adequate e-content services providing added value to everyone in Europe.

IOS Press
Nieuwe Hemweg 6B,
1013 BG Amsterdam,
The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 20 688 3355 , Fax: +31 20 687 0039
E-mail: info@iospress.nl

BPN 1163 A faulty chip remains a faulty chip

On the day that chipmaker Intel celebrates its 40th anniversary, the Dutch semiconductor manufacturer NXP is refused an injunction to prevent indepenndent scientific researchers to publish about a faulty chip. The action by NXP Semiconductors, an offshoot of Royal Philips, looked like an American court action; only the damage suit was not filed yet.

However the judge in The Netherlands was not impressed with the request for an injunction and lets researchers publish their report on how they cracked the public transport chip card. The manufacturer of the chip card, NXP Semiconductors, had asked the judge for an injunction as it feared damage from publication. For the court the freedom of speech succeeds the potential damage.

Six month ago the researcher of the Radboud University in Nijmegen told the press that they had succeeded in cracking the code of the public transport chip card. Presently the public transport companies are in the process of introducing the chip card as form of payment. It is apolitically sensitive project, as the introduction has been postponed already several times. Besides the chip card is also in use at many ministries as entry pass for the civil servants.

The chip manufacturer NXP demanded a publication injunction, arguing that it would damage the trade of the chips and the security of its clients. However the court did not follow NXP and thought it of importance that the scientific research should be published and society should be informed about the defects of the chip card. If NXP would suffer commercial damage, the court said, it was due to production and trade of a defective chip by NXP.

The researchers discovered the secret algorithm of the Mifare Classic, a chip used in billions of access cards. The algorithm produces a secret code safeguarding the cards from copying. However the researchers found that it was easy to manipulate these chip cards and that free rides in public transport could be organised with simple computers and card readers. The researchers informed the ministries, including the one of public transport, and NXP. Later they informed the press that public transport chip cards could be cracked. However they did not publish details to allow the involved parties to take counter measures. However when the researchers wanted to present their findings at a scientific conference in Spain, they found NXP on their path.

In the meantime it became known that a Chinese company is selling a copy of the chip already since 2004. The company had to unravel the algorithm in order to copy the chip. It is unclear whether illegal access cards have been produced.

The ruling sets a precedent. Never before had a company attempted to stop a publication of independent scientific research in The Netherlands. If the court would have granted the injunction to NXP, companies could have prevented unwelcome results to be published.

Blog Posting Number: 1163

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Friday, July 18, 2008

BPN 1162 More competition between collecting societies

The European Commission has adopted an antitrust decision prohibiting 24 European collecting societies from restricting competition by limiting their ability to offer their services to authors and commercial users outside their domestic territory. However, the decision allows collecting societies to maintain their current system of bi-lateral agreements and to keep their right to set levels of royalty payments due within their domestic territory. It basically means that the trust agreements of the collecting societies made in the CISAC (International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers) will have to be changed. It will increase competition in Europe. In statements collecting societies say that the measure is logical and could be foreseen. But the smaller ones are not very happy as they expect to be unable to compete. They point already to super collecting societies in the UK, France and Germany and expect a triangle between Los Angeles, Tokyo and London.

Now international broadcast organisations, mobile telephone companies and online music provider can now start shopping with national collecting societies of their choice and collecting societies can offer pan-European licences. In this way Apple will not have to negotiate with every national collecting society in Europe any longer. And Nokia can negotiate a pan-European licence for its music service. The competition between the collecting societies is now focussed on efficiency and service; two aspects the organisations have not been famous for. It is only in the last three years that the collecting societies saw the pressure of the music providers and musicians. The Belgian collecting society saw the iTunes dilemma of negotiating with 24 EU collecting societies and anticipated with an authoring organisation Solem offering pan-European licences. The Dutch BUMA/STEMRA produced a pan-European licence for music provider eMusic in 2006.

The effect of the measure on the market is doubted by several participants. Musicians have already indicated in hearings that they believe that they will be the losers getting less money as providers will shop for the cheapest licence. Of course the providers will also cry foul. And eventually the bill will be put on the desk of the consumer.

The press release reads:

IP/08/1165
Brussels, 16th July 2008

Antitrust: Commission prohibits practices which prevent European collecting societies offering choice to music authors and users
The European Commission has adopted an antitrust decision prohibiting 24 European collecting societies from restricting competition by limiting their ability to offer their services to authors and commercial users outside their domestic territory. However, the decision allows collecting societies to maintain their current system of bi-lateral agreements and to keep their right to set levels of royalty payments due within their domestic territory. The prohibited practices consist of clauses in the reciprocal representation agreements concluded by members of CISAC (the "International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers") as well as other concerted practices between those collecting societies. The practices infringe rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81 of the EC Treaty and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement). The Commission decision requires the collecting societies to end these infringements by modifying their agreements and practices, but does not impose fines. The removal of these restrictions will allow authors to choose which collecting society manages their copyright (e.g. on the basis of quality of service, efficiency of collection and level of management fees deducted). It will also make it easier for users to obtain licences for broadcasting music over the internet, by cable and by satellite in several countries from a single collection society of their choice. (more)

Blog Posting Number: 1162

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

BPN 1161 A eulogy for a printed railway timetable

Yesterday the German newspaper Frankfurter Algemeine published a eulogy (in German; apologies; just learn German!) on the German railway timetable. Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company has announced to stop publishing the printed timetable in favour of internet and CD-ROM. It is the end of the printed era and the start of a fully digital era. But it is not just a time warp in railway communication, Germany now also looses its symbol of punctuality.

I am a fanatic railway user, always taking the train in The Netherlands for my business appointments. But that has a reason as I do not have a driving licence. But also for foreign trips I take the train, if I can. I will travel to Frankfurt by train in order to avoid the horrible airport with different security instructions than Amsterdam Schiphol Airport or any other airport. I take the Thalys to Paris as it is a fast and comfortable train and saves time.

But I must acknowledge that I did not know when the Dutch railway corporation NS terminated its printed version. But in reaction to the German announcement, the Dutch railway corporation announced its continuation of the printed railway timetable. Annually some 60.000 copies are still being sold, a spokesperson for the company said.

The NS has embraced new media in a very early stage. In my covers collection I have a copy of the CD-ROM disc of the season 90/91 (see illustration), called Travel Planner. In the nineties internet came around and was used as electronic timetable. Presently also SMS is used to search the timetable. But as the NS spokesperson said: “On internet and SMS you have to put a specific question, while in the printed version all data are available at once”.

The vanishing of the German printed timetable is also a signal that a new, digital era has started. When the French started their Minitel project in 1980, they offered an electronic directory for the whole of France; the printed editions had always been local. So access to the national directory was progress. After that the encyclopaedia went digital in 1985 with the Grolier CD-ROM version and later on internet, printed encyclopaedias have been (rightfully) reduced to wall decoration, despite the printed version of the German Wikipedia (is it a bestseller; I guess not). Now the railway timetable is up for extinction. After the Deutsche Bahn many other railway companies will follow suit.

The sector of reference works was the first area to embrace digitisation, now print reference works will start to phase out. In print you had to search yourself with the lovely facility of serendipity; in digital reference works it is hard to gain full oversight.

Blog Posting Number: 1161

Tags: reference, encyclopaedia, timetable, directory, , ,

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BPN 1160 More than 3 mln .nl domains

Daily more than 1700 .nl domains are registered by SIDN, the Dutch national domain registry. This month the milestone of 3 million .nl domains was passed; it is now the fourth largest country domain in internet.

Presently there are 250 country domains. The Netherlands was one of the first country domain, when the research institute CWI registered the first .nl domain on May 1, 1986. Ever since registrations have continued to such an extent, that there is one registration for every five inhabitants. In terms of penetration, The Netherlands are the first of the pack. However in terms of numbers The Netherlands rank fourth behind Germany with 12 million .de domains, behind China with almost 12 ml .cn domains and behind the UK with almost 7 million .co.uk. Last year the .nl domains in The Netherlands grew with 23 per cent.

The large number of .nl domains is linked to the use of internet and especially broadband. In 2007 more than 82 per cent of the Dutch households had access to internet. Globally this is third place behind Korea and Denmark and it is 25 per cent above the OECD average. The Netherlands is second in broadband connections with 35 per cent behind Denmark with 36 per cent. Of the Dutch companies 97 per cent uses internet. Of the Dutch consumers 81 per cent is weekly online, even up to 12 hours. Nine out of ten Dutch internet users can not live without internet.

Facts & figures- .nl-domain names are the longest with an average of 16 characters, while other TLDs are 13 characters long.
- The most .nl domain holders live in Amsterdam. But university cities like Groningen, Enschede, Nijmegen and Eindhoven yield many .nl domains.
- 66% of the holders use the .nl domain for a personal e-mail address.
- The most expensive .nl domain is the domain for soccer voetbal.nl which was sold for 1 million guilders (500.000 euro).
- The prices for the auctioned .nl domain names rose with 50 per cent from 1000 euro to 1500 euro.
- The market shares in The Netherlands: .nl 70 per cent, .com 14 per cent en .eu 9 per cent
- The share of consumer .nl-holders was 29 per cent op 1 January 2007 en 33 per cent op 1 January 2008.

Source: SIDN, July 2008

Blog Posting Number: 1160

Tags: domain