Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BPN 1321 WSA 09 Pre-jury and International summit schedule

Day 0 – Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Arrival of WSA Grand Jury members in New Delhi
20:00 Informal get2gether in the Jury Hotel
Jukaso IT Suites Gurgaon
1, IDC Mehrauli Road, Gurgaon 122001
Haryana, India
Tel.: + 91-124-4082000
Welcome by Osama Manzar and Anastasia Konstantinova

Day 1 – Thursday, 2 April 2009
Nehru Place, New Delhi, 110019 • INDIA
Tel Front Desk: +91-11-41223344
09:00 Departure from the Hotel for City Center New Delhi

09:30 – 18:30 WSA India International Summit on ‘21st Century India through Digital Content’, organized by the Digital Empowerment Foundation and under the patronage of the Ministry of Communication and IT, Government of India
Grand Jurors are asked to make a presentation & country chapter on e-Content scenario of the country and participate in the panel discussions of the meeting.
Details to follow in separate schedule.
19:30 – 20:30
Opening of the WSA Grand Jury 2009 Session by WSA Chairman Peter A. Bruck, Indian Host Osama Manzar, Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation, and Jury Co-Moderator Jak Boumans, European Academy of Digital Media
20:30 – 22:30 Grand Jury Welcome Dinner at the Hotel

Day 2 – Friday, 3 April 2009
Jukaso IT Suites Gurgaon
1, IDC Mehrauli Road, Gurgaon 122001
Haryana, India
Tel.: + 91-124-4082000
9:00 – 11:00
Opening Plenary
Introduction of Jury members in groups (4 persons), each group introduces
itself. In the groups – 2 old Jurors, two new Jurors.
The introduction shall be done by the new Jurors
Set up of the Panels ( 4 flip charts with je 2 categories)
11:00 – 11:15 Coffee Break
11:15 – 13:00
Opening Plenary – continued
Briefing on the WSA Grand Jury Manual, Proceedings, Database
Briefing on the schedule. Signing of the confidentiality forms and explanation
on the conflict of interest declarations.
Putting Juror Groups in the Database
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 -16:00 1st Evaluation Round – 1st Session
16:00 – 16:15 Coffee break
16:15- 18:30 1st Evaluation Round – 2nd Session
18:30 Plenary - Evaluation of the 1st Session
19:00 – 20:00 Buffet Dinner
20:15 - Open End 1st Evaluation Round - 3rd Session

Day 3 – Saturday, 4 April 2009
8:30 – 09:00
Plenary session
Review & Feedback Session
Time management, time contract
Nomination of Panel Spokespersons
9:00 – 10:00 Plenary session - End of 1st Evaluation Round
Panel Switch of Jurors and Panel-Presentations of Shortlists
Panel Switch
10:00 – 10:30 Coffee Break - Management of Shortlists
10:30 – 13:30 2nd Evaluation Round – Session 1
13:30 – 14:30 Lunch at the hotel
14:30 Sightseeing in New Delhi Organised by Indian Hosts Digital Empowerment Foundation and partners and friends
19:00 – Open End Social Dinner and Networking Evening in New Delhi

Day 4 – Sunday, 5 April 2009
08:30 – 09:00 Plenary
Review and Feedback Session
09:00 – 11:00 2nd Evaluation Round – Session 2
11:00 – 11:15 Coffee Break
11:15 – 13:00 2nd Evaluation Round – Session 3
4th Session continued
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break
14:00 – 16:30 Plenary Session: End of 2nd Evaluation Round
Establishment and Finalisation of Nominee Lists
16:30 – 16:45 Coffee Break
16:45 – 19:00 Plenary Session: continued – and Panel break outs
Nomination of 5 WSA 09 Grand Jury Spokespersons
Preparation of Presentations of Nominee Lists
19:00 – 20:00 Buffet Dinner
20:15 - Open End Plenary Session – Category 1 and Category 2
Presentations and Pre-Selections on WSA 09 Finalists

Day 5 – Monday, 6 April 2009
08:30 – 09:00
Plenary session
Review and Feedback Session
09:00 – 11:00 Plenary Session – Category 3
Presentations and Pre-Selections on WSA 09 Finalists
11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 – 13:00 Plenary Session - Category 4
Presentations and Pre-Selections on WSA 09 Finalists
13:00 – 14:00 Buffet lunch
14:00 – 15:30 Plenary Session - Category 5
Presentations and Pre-Selections on WSA 09 Finalists
15:30 – 16:00 Coffee Break
16:00 – 17:30 Plenary Session - Category 6
Presentations and Pre-Selections on WSA 09 Finalists
17:30 – 19:00 Plenary Session - Category 7
Presentations and Pre-Selections on WSA 09 Finalists
19:00 – 20:00 Buffet Dinner
20:00 – 21:30 Plenary Session - Category 8
Presentations and Pre-Selections on WSA 09 Finalists

Day 6 – Tuesday, 7 April 2009
8:30 – 09:00 Plenary session
Review and Feedback Session
09:00 – 10:30 Plenary Session – Review of Finalists
Presentations of List of WSA 09 Finalists
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 – 13:00 Writing of Evaluation Reports
13:00 – 14:00 Buffet lunch
14:00 – 15:00 Writing of Evaluation Reports continued
15:00 – 19:00 Plenary Session
Voting on Jury WSA Grand Jury Spokespersons
Voting on the WSA 2009 Winners
19:00 – 20:30 WSA Grand Jury 2009 Closing Dinner
20:30 – 22:00 Closing Plenary Session & Feedback Session
Outlook: WSA Gala Events in Monterrey and WSA Schedule of Activities in 2010/2011
Open End Social Farewell

Day 7 – Wednesday, 8 April 2009
8:30 – 09:00 Plenary session
Agenda for the Day: Special Evaluations
Formation of Panels

9:00 – 10:30 Special Mentions Session
Moderator: Osama Manzar
Presentations of the WSA 2009 Special Mentions

Arab e-Content Award Session
Moderators: Jak Boumans, Gabriel Deek
Presentations of the WSA 09 Arab e-Content Award Winners

World Summit Youth Award Session
Moderator: Peter A Bruck
Presentations of the WSYA 09 Finalists
11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 – 13:00
Final voting on the WSA 2009 Special Mentions
Final voting on the WSA 2009 Arab e-Content Award Winners
Final voting on the WSA WSYA 09 Finalists
13:00 – 14:00 Wrap Up Lunch

Departures of WSA Grand Jury members from New Delhi

Blog Posting Number: 1321


Monday, March 30, 2009

BPN 1320 - WSA 09 - Letter of Welcome

Dear WSA Grand Jury Member*,

Welcome to India!

We are delighted that you are able to take time out from your work commitments and join in the World Summit Award Expert Jury 2009. During the next 6 days you will have the almost impossible task of selecting the world’s best in e-Content and creativity. It is thanks to your support and work during this evaluation process that the best e-Content producers and designers will have their work recognised, celebrated and will hopefully enjoy new opportunities.

Besides the Winners Gala, which will take place on 12th June 2009 in Monterrey, Mexico, the WSA Grand Jury Meeting is definitely one of the most crucial events of the entire World Summit Award process. The act of bringing together 36 renowned experts from all over the world and making them work and live together creates a special atmosphere of unique intensity and suspense. It is a great and unforgettable experience, and this is well known to anyone who has ever been to such an event, be it for the WSA or other ICNM jury events like the EUROPRIX Multimedia Awards or Austrian State prize for Multimedia and e-Business.

Working at the jury meeting means 6 days of non-stop highly professional and creative work, of evaluating about 500 nominations, which this year have been submitted from 150 countries. Being part of the evaluation process thus also asks for finding ways to understand each other and to find a compromise, for trying to stick to the schedule while being open to open-end sessions. 36 jurors, 2 moderators and 7 staff from the WSA office in Austria will be part of it all – thanks to the the Ministry of Communications & IT, Department of IT, of the Government of India, which will host the event.

We are happy to answer any additional questions you may have and will all try to make your stay in Delhi both pleasant and enjoyable.

Let this experience will be both fun and enriching!

Warm regards,

Prof. Peter A. Bruck
World Summit Award Chairman of the Board

Blog Posting Number: 1320


Sunday, March 29, 2009

BPN 1319 Trailblazing for the 2009 World Summit Award Grand Jury

This week the 2009 World Summit Award Grand Jury will gather in New Dehli. Some 35 multimedia experts come from all over the world and some 15 people are local and Austrian staff.

The Austrian staff is already in New Dehli in the hotel where the competition will be. Things are happening with a slight delay, I understand. The Internet connection requested will be linked up as soon as possible, so that the installations can be tested. It is warm and damp in New Dehli, but not burning, I hear. For the coming days the weather is okay till Wednesday. I arrive on Thursday morning, but then rain is forecasted. Rooms are on air-conditioning, but the aircondioning does not look as heavy duty as in the Middle East. Good news: the European plugs work here without adapters.

It will be a big reunion of staff members, former eminent jurors and the moderation team. The former eminent jurors will be from the 2003 edition in Dubai, the 2005 edition in Bahrain and the 2007 edition in Croatia. But there will be also new blood, a contingent of new jurors. The whole event has been organised by IDCF [India Digital Content Forum], an initiative of the Indian Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) with support of the Indian Government Department of Information Technology of the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology and the World Summit Award.

The Grand Jury will start with the summit 21st Century India through Digital Content. The one-day summit is designed to be highly interactive with 40international experts who would be a mix of panels for various sessions, and there would be around 40 other diverse experts from government, business and social sectors from various parts of India. After the inaugural session, the day would be divided into 3 sessions with sub thematic group panels and participants as subject experts. Focused discussions on 3 series of topics with digital content and new media are Business, Enterprise & Livelihoods; Education & Culture; Governance & Inclusive Development. The Summit will close with a valedictory session. At the summit a book entitled Development & Digital Inclusion: Innovative Deployment Of Digital Content & Services For Masses, Cases From South Asia will be launched.

Blog Posting Number: 1319


Friday, March 27, 2009

BPN 1318 FTMH – Work in progress

The digging work of the fiber cable has come to our side of the channel. Earlier the fiber cable had been shot under the canal and was ready to be connected (see spot 1 on the panorama photograph). In the past week the sidewalks were marked.

Now the passing of the homes has started in earnest (see mark 2 on the panorama photograph).

In week 16 the team will be on the side of our apartment building. Representatives of AlmeerNet are nervously running around trying to get permission from the apartment owners to link up their apartments. However the owners' union will officially decide to be linked up to fiber on April 15. A representative of AlmeerNet will be present that evening. Appearantly AlmeerNet is not exactly coordinating well internally.

Blog Posting Number: 1318

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

BPN 1317 E-reader and journalism

This week I had an e-mail interview on e-readers with a student journalism. He had interesting questions. Below follows a translation of the questions and answers.

Q. What, in your opinion, has to happen in The Netherlands before the e-reader will be used by the masses?
A. A lot of things and habits will have to change.
a. Business. Companies involved with the e-reader should start to work together in marketing: the manufacturers and distributors of e-readers, newspaper and book publishers as well as software companies. Now they all work on their own and have small and not very impressive marketing campaigns. Like everything which has to do with new media in The Netherlands, it is all too fragmented.
b. Cultural. The present generations of 20 to 50 and 50+ have been educated to be ink sniffers and have not yet integrated the digital lifestyle in their daily life. They rather buy printed book and publishers and bookshops like to keep it that way.
c. Generations. As indicated above, it will take a long time before the e-reader will be used by masses; in The Netherlands the change over would be when 8 million (is 50 pct of the Dutch population) buy and use an e-reader. I have said in other interviews, that this will be in 2030 rather than in 2020. Just compare it with the portable PC. In 1983 I bought my first portable PC (Zenith Model 100 with 40k internal memory!). It is only in 2007 that more portable PCs have been sold than desk PCs. It took roughly 25 years before habits changed and portable PCs became accepted and common.

Q. Why is the e-reader a success in the US and not yet in The Netherlands?
There are a number of reasons.
a. Numerically is the population of the US (60 million people) larger than the Dutch population (16,5 million people);
b. The digital lifestyle in the US is further than in The Netherlands;
c. Culture in the US is not as much a tradition as in Europe;
d. The marketing is more effective. You can compare it to the marketing of the iPod device:
- Equipement is sexy, innovatief;
- Price equipment: 300 to 400 euro maximally;
- Effective download service;
- Broad portfolio;
- Reasonable Price for content;
- Promoter: trustful company.
Apple was well positioned to introduce the iPod. It produced sexy and innovative products and was able to set up a reliable service. Also Amazon was in that position, be it that the company was seen as a not-avoidable monopolist by publishers as Amazon is the equipment designer, format producer (Mobipocket) and distributer. This might change when the magazine publisher Hearst comes on the market with its e-reader of own design, own format and distribution in the fall of 2009. Hearst has promised to open up its format

Q. Do you think that the newspapers will change overnight from print to e-paper? Why or why not.
I do not see this happen. For this would mean that the printed word has grown more expensive than the electronic content and subscription and street sales have lost out.

Q. Do you think that printed papers will disappear at all?
Yes it is a clear calculation. In the present economy printed editions are kept alive by bundling titles, runs and subscriptions. But this will stop some day given the decrease of subscriptions and advertisements. As I said before: by 2030 (famous last words).

Q. What are the consequences for design, when a change-over from print to e-paper is made?
a. The format will be depended in the size of the screen;
b. Colours: presently screens are still black/white; colour is coming up.
c. Lay-out: the lay-out is intrinsically related to the size of the screen. This can be clearly seen with the lay-out of the French ePaper of the financial daily Les Echos en the ePaper of the Dutch NRC Handelsblad.

Les Echos did not stick to the lay-out of its printed edition. To give the reader the impression of the articles available, a horizontal ticker tape has been developed. The NRC Handelsblad has stuck to its print lay-out. As screens grow in size and get colour ePaper will stay close to the original print lay-out and division of sections. Larger screen, almost A4 size, are coming; iRex has already e-reader of that size and Plastic Logic is close to releasing its e-reader.

Q. What are the consequences for journalism with the change-over from print to epaper?
None. It is just another outlet for news. The ePaper will not really change anything for an editorial staff. It will not have any advantage for the news circulation. There is no change for the e-reader taking its material from a desktop PC. The wireless e-reader can pick up news more times a day like the electronic newspapers on internet. So there is no real change. The e-reader still has to catch up with the internet version of the newspaper in as far as colour and video.

Q. What are the changes for the editorial staff in order to make a successful change-over?
Nothing will change for the core editorial staff. There will only be changes for the internet editorial staff, as they have to serve another outlet.

Q. Do you think that the e-reader will deliver more readers to the newspapers.
No, not one reader. The e-reader will have to compete with other news outlets like radio, television and internet.

Q. What developments can we expect in the short term?
So far e-readers have developed on the waves of technology. The first e-reader by Sony in 1991 had a mini-disc of 200Mb. The second wave used internet with the PC as in-between station for the Rocket eBook in 1977. In 2006 the iLiad came on the market with wireless communication.
The coming changes will be incremental:
a. size of the screen to A4;
b. colours.
A successor to digital paper is being developed by Liquavista on the basis of the principle of electrowetting. The introduction will be in 2012 at the earliest, but more likely in 2015.

Q. What is your position with regard to the proposition below?
Daily newspapers should invest in electronic paper and change over from print to digital paper in the short run.
Nice proposition. I am personally convinced that newspapers should invest more in digital editions (internet, facsimile and ePaper). But newspaper managers are conservative. When in 1966 internet was on the increase
The Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad invested 5 million euro in a print glossy monthly as supplement. This year the supplement has been abolished as non profitable. NRC Handelsblad had better used the 5 million euro for the development of formulae of digital editions.
But newspaper managers will not enforce a change-over to e-readers. It means that they will have to stop the expensive print presses and hand out e-readers for free. Besides the readership of 35+ will not like a change-over to e-readers as they are ink sniffers and lack digital skills.

Blog Posting Number: 1317

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BPN 1316 FTMH - Fiber To My (Almere) Home

Fiber is getting close to our apartment in Almere now, as you can see from the photograph. Work is being done on the ring of fiber cables around the city. Two weeks ago the orange fiber cable was visible in our neighbourhood. Presently company laying the fiber cable is preparing the main routes in the neighbourhood. One of the difficulties is the crossing of the canal in front of our apartment.

Elsewhere in the city I saw work being done, laying the fiber cable in the street and bringing the fiber behind every door. The company has learned from the Amsterdam experience where in first instance the fibre cable was laid up to the door; then the marketing campaign for the subscriptions was started and the fiber connected to the home, behind the door. As this method yielded few subscriptions, now every house and apartment is connected (if permission is given by the owner).

But it is not only the fiber cables that tell the arrival of glass fiber in the neighbourhood. A public relation offensive has also been started. A letter and paper has been delivered to every mailbox, proclaiming the benefits of fiber and the activities in the neighbourhood. During the meeting of apartment owners next month, a representative of AlmeerNet will come to speak and answer questions.

In the meantime the network organisation, known as AlmeerNet, has been active already in other parts of Almere Harbour and Almere City. By the end of the year 70.000 houses will have to be connected. Presently 275 people are employed in the project.

I will follow the project closely as decisions have to be made: do we choose for AlmeerNet or are we sticking to UPC. The speed will not really be the issue, but the offer of radio and television programs and perks as well as the financial subscription will. Besides AlmeerNet has one provider, the incumbent telco KPN, so far, while it is an open net; UPC is a closed net so far and has also one provider, UPC itself. Yet there is a politically unanswered question whether KPN has a monopoly for the first year.

In short: decisions, decisions. I will follow and write the whole process of the fiber cable laying, the PR to the potential customers, the offer and the political situation. The articles on this subject will be gathered in the blog FTMH – Fiber To My (Almere) Home.

Blog Posting Number: 1316

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Monday, March 23, 2009

BPN 1315 Removing subs to social networks at death

Last week I attended the funeral of a former colleague of the Dutch technology research centre. Former and present colleagues of him were present at the burial and brought back many good memories.

When I came home, I just googled on his name and noticed some 100.000 links. Many of those links went back to his reports and writings. But I also discovered entries to social networks such as LinkedIn and Plaxo. That begged for the question, who will strike out the profiles?

The basic question is of course whether he left his access code and password somewhere around or with a friend. If he did not, his relatives might see the name popping up regularly. And for people new to the deceased one, it is awkward when they asked to be linked and do not hear anything.

For the social network organisation, it means that the organisation will build up a ghost database of deceased subscribers. This can have an effect on the marketing status of the social network. A core of active users and a slew of ghost subscribers is the fastest way to destruction. In 1989 Compuserve acquired the pioneer information service The Source and dismantled it integrating the active users and suspending the many ghost users.

So the question is now: who will cancel the entry. The company will not do it as they do not know about the death. The next of kin can only do if they have the code and password. Such only happens when death is foreseen; which was not the case with my former colleague. The chance is great that there is no access code and password to be found on the computer or in a log.

What can be done? I looked at the conditions of one of the social networks and there is no mention about the death of a subscriber. It is unbelievable that the administrators of social networks think that subscribers have the eternal life with them. Cynically you could offer the suggestion to move the deceased subscribers to Second Life. Yet I guess that the nearest of kin will have to write a physical letter with a copy of the death certificate to the administration of the social network and request removal from the site. (It is strange to see that you can start subscription online as a legal procedure, but to request removal you will have to write a physical letter and send it by registered mail!).

Come to think of it, that I registered for a lot of social networks, more for the purpose of lurking than for active participation. Although I do not have the intention to pass away soon, I should register my access codes and passwords and put them in the safe. But of course when changes are made, I might have forgotten to effect the changes also in the register in the safe.

Blog Posting Number: 1315


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BPN 1314 Dutch railway co. starts e-ticket service, at last

NS, the Dutch railway company, has started an e-ticket service, at last. The company is late in the game considering airline companies and foreign railway companies like in Germany, France and Italy. As I had to travel by train to Amsterdam to apply for a visa to go to India, beginning next month, I tried out the service. And it was not exactly a joy, despite the discount for using this service.

The service contains three modules. The first module maps the destination, using the same module as for the information service. The second module requests personal information such as name, date of birth, which can be checked by the ticket collector against a railway card or a passport or an ID card. The third module is the payment one. This one is the tested and tried iDeal module. The routine is closed by a confirmation screen. The e-ticket will be forwarded to you by e-mail within 15 minutes after closing the data entry exercise.

At first glance the service looks reasonable, but at close inspection, the second module is rather weak. Whenever ordering an e-ticket, you will have to fill out your name, date of birth and e-mail address. There are no provisions letting the computer remember the name and date of birth. The e-mail address will have to be confirmed by … the e-mail address, making sure it is complete. I am also wondering why the service does not accept numbers from the off-peak hours service; just the number from the card, while the rest is known in the database.

When I tried the service everything worked, except for the forwarding of the e-ticket. After 15 minutes nothing was delivered. After three quarters of an hour there was still no e-ticket. By 13h25 it finally arrived. This does not give you any certainty that you can travel with an e-ticket. I can not understand either why the ticket can not be forwarded immediately after closing the procedure. If I buy books from an internet web shop, I have a confirmation immediately. So what is the problem with the NS.

As I had to go earlier to Amsterdam, I had to buy a ticket in the conventional way, from the ticketing machine. I did so and it took 40 eurocents extra from my virtual wallet. The e-ticket service is cheaper.

When I called the customer service later that afternoon, the lady intimated to me that the service did not function well yet and that she had a many callers telling that they did not get an e-ticket. It is one of the teething problems.

Am I impressed by the service? Not really. The service is late in operation and still has teething problems. And the second module could be tweaked better.

Will I try it again? Not for the time being. I guess after a while, when the teething problems are over, I will. When I started to bank electronically in 1986 I knew that it would be an instant success as I would not have to stand in line before the teller. But the NS e-ticket procedure is still unnecessarily laborious.

Blog Posting Number: 1314


Saturday, March 14, 2009

BPN 1311 Back from Q8 (2)

I am back from my first time visit to Kuwait. I left the country with 27 degrees Celsius and arrived in The Netherlands with 5 degrees Celsius. The weather was pleasant in Kuwait except for the sandstorm we experienced on Tuesday. The sky was diffuse and the sea water was very rough. Even the pelicans had sought shelter.

It is a colourful country, although the colour green, especially for grass, is rare. But as I arrived after liberation day, many buildings were lit up with the national flag and numbers 25 and 26, the day the Iraqi were chased out the country, leaving many oil wells on fire.

It is a very rich country. I spoke to someone who had a year-around collection of Rolex watches, representing some 2 to 3 million euro (divide 1 euro by 3 to get the value of the Kuwaiti dinar). The country is still rich with operational oil wells. And the petrol does not cost much; for some 70 gallons you would pay 5 Kuwaiti dinar, which tranlates roughly to 15 euro).

With interest I have looked at the infrastructure of the country. As other Middle East countries Kuwait has large shopping malls like the Marina one. But for the daily food there are cooperatives per neighbourhood with additional shops for dry cleaning, pharmacy and other needs. The people in the neighbourhood are co-owners of the co-operative and get at the end of the year a share in the profit. But there are also private shops owned by Indians.

Also the labour structure is different from the West. As in other Middle East countries much of the labour is done by people from Egypt, India, the Philippines and Indonesia. The construction work is mostly done by people from Bangladesh. In fact there are roughly 1,29 million foreign workers and only 1,2 million Kuwaitis. It is a close knit Kuwaiti society, based on family ties. Every Kuwaiti has a right to a job. And if he happens to loose a job due to lay-offs, the government will have to offer him/her a job within six months or start paying an allowance. Most of the Kuwaiti are in the service of the government. Not many Kuwaiti run a private business nor have many employees. Of course this labour policy has an effect on the development of private business and competition. As such there is not something like a branch organisation for multimedia and content. In fact the Kuwait eAward (KeA) competition was in fact the start of a network of people interested in multimedia and content.

Kuwait is also working on its skyline. There is the old skyline in the city and the new one with twin towers in daring architecture. But the Kuwaiti have also a sense of preservation. On Monday night Ahmed, one of the jurors, took us to the area with new skyscrapers and should us around an old section of the town. The area looks very much like Les Halles in Paris in the good old days. They have meat there and a special hall for fish. It was exciting to see so much fresh fish (it made my mouth water). In this area there are teahouses and restaurants. We also stopped to have tea in the traditional way, on a stove filled with coal.

Blog Post Number: 1311

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Friday, March 13, 2009

BPN 1310 Back from Q8 (1)

Wednesday was the end of the first national Kuwait eAward competition. The whole process had taken four days, from Sunday till Wednesday. The jurors were tired as well as the moderation team consisting of the Lebanese Gabi Deek, Serbian/Austrian Predrag Micakovic and myself, the Dutchman. Manar Al Hashash was the organiser of the competition and the jury event; she was also part of the moderation team.

Also the support team was tired, but very happy that things had gone smoothly. They were four IT graduates and very critical. They looked to me like the Girls of Halal, a Dutch TV group, scrutinising the relationships between islam culture and the Dutch with toingue in cheek.

It was an impressive event. Manar had worked on it for three years. In 2005 Manar was part of the World Summit Award competition in Bahrain and is still involved. She has been a presenter of the WSA gala in Tunis and Venice (she has her own TV show in Kuwait). Now after three years of work there, is the first edition of the Kuwait eAward competition, under the patronage of the emir of Kuwait and established within the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS).

The event was organised at the venue of Microsoft Innovation Center, close to the KFAS venue and the university grounds. The venue was on the shores of the Gulf. We had four rooms available: two for jury work, complete with fully equipped PCs on wifi. We used the plenary room for jury deliberations; there were many, so we spent a lot of time in there. There was also a small, cosy staff room for the moderation team. All together the venue was suitable.

The jury existed of 18 men and women from various walks of life, from university teaching, to a business man and a medical doctor. It took a while to get them talking and debating, but once they started they kept arguing with each other. And the debate sharpened the arguments for ranking the entries.

On Tuesday one of the female jury members had taken a cake along, celebrating a lot of items, but most the international day of women. Appointing the winners took two days of intensive debate and exchanging arguments. The first ranked Kuwaiti winners of the categories will be scrutinised again in the international WSA in New Dehli and compete with entries from the other 160 countries

As for the entries submitted I was impressed by the quantity of 195 entries. The number of entries by category differed sharply. eScience and eHealth did not receive many entries. However this is quite common in every national competition as well in the international WSA competition. But I was surprised by the low number of the eCulture category. In most national competitions and the international WSA competition there is never a lack of entries. We debated this issue. I had the impression that the lack of cultural products was partly due to the Islam not allowing human representations in art. We did not find a clear answer to it.

Interesting was also to see that many of the entries had a link to the Iraq-Kuwait war of 1991. This war has made a deep impression on the Kuwaiti. In one day the country was occupied and many cruelties started to happen. From one of the jury members I heard that two brothers in law of him had been imprisoned and tortured. Despite the fact that the war did not last a year, generations will talk about it for years. Looking at The Netherlands and its five year involvement in the Second World War (1940-1945), The Dutch have struggled with the war for years. If literature is something to go by, one can say that every novel up to 1975 had to have a war element in it to be dubbed literature (I exaggerate, of course). But only after 1975 Dutch literature got a wider scope again. And it is only since the nineties that one talks about another scope of the national liberation day.

Blog Post Number: 1310

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

BPN 1309 Back in the Middle East

I am in Kuwait. It is my first time in the country. I flew in from Amsterdam on a KLM flight to Oman with a stopover at Kuwait. I was met by an representatives of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and whisked away to the VIP room, where the passport and visum where checked, while tea and water was served. A car was waiting to bring me to the hotel.

I am in Kuwait to be part of the moderation team for the national multimedia competition which is organised according to the World Summit Award model. The team exists of Gabi Deek, a WSA Grand Jury member of 2003 and 2005 for Lebanon, and Pedrag, who will take care of the competition software. Gabi and I have been a team before in a national competition in Bahrain; he is a fine link to the jurors as he speaks Arabic and I only English, except for some Arabic words. The national multimedia competition is no small beer. It is an event under the patronage of the ruling emir. And while winners of the WSA competition get a small memento and a certificate as well as global publicity, the 8 category winners and runner-ups of the local content competition will get 50.000 Kuwaiti dinar, which converts roughly to 150.000 euro; 3000 euro for the category winner, 2000 euro for the first runner up and 1000 euro for the second runner-up.

Part of the organising team is Manar Al Hashash, a WSA Grand Jury member of 2003, 2005 and 2007. She is a Kuwaiti citizen, who has a multimedia production company and has her own TV program every week. When I arrived, I spoke with her on the phone while she was preparing for a one hour broadcast.

As it is my first visit to Kuwait and I arrived after dark, I was very eager to see Kuwait. On the way from the airport to the hotel I saw the characteristic water towers being lit up in various colours. But I was more eager to see Kuwait by day as the hotel is on the seaside.

Blog posting Number: 1309

Tags: multimedia competition

Thursday, March 05, 2009

BPN 1308 Glass fibre to combat the crisis

At the conference Light My Fibre yesterday, the Portuguese Diogo Vasconcelos was one of the speakers. He is a distinguished fellow in the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group and works with governments and the European Commission. He had an optimistic message in these days of crisis.

Vasconcelos started out with criticism on many governments and governmental institutions as they are attempting to put right the mistakes of the past rather than prepare for the future. Old industries like the automotive industry are bailed out, rather than to stimulate the SMEs, who are the innovators in business and communities.

Officials are still following the old Keynesian economic mantra of being busy filling up the holes that have been dug in the past instead of digging holes for new infrastructures. They should look more at the Austrian economist Schumpeter, the prophet of innovation, who wants creative destruction. He recommends putting new infrastructures in place and integrating long-term concerns (ageing, climate, diversity and poverty), while promoting structural change which have short-term impact.

Vasconcelos sees excellent opportunities for glass fibre here. The investments for glass fibre do not have to be negotiated as they are shovel-ready. Obama has reserved funds for broadband infrastructure and the European Commission has almost 1 billion euro ready for broadband in the rural areas. It will create many jobs and broadband will increase with the economic and social effects that go with it.

Vasconcelos put down a 10 point manifesto:
1. Fix the future and do not bail out the past;
2. Reshape the recovery plan for the long term;
3. prioritise the sectors for job growth;
4. promote pluralism and local creativity;
5. invest in innovation;
6. bank on entrepreneurs;
7. support new infrastructures;
8. promote social responsibility;
9. reward responsibility;
10. mobilise public creativity.

I really like the first point: fix the future and do not bail out the past. By pushing glass fibre into the community, a lot of activities can be optimised. Contact with the ageing over glass fibre will increase the attention and security for them at home. Working at home will save time for driving between home and work. The Smart working centre in Almere is one of those experiments. Civil servants of the municipality of Amsterdam living in Almere have only to drive maximally a quarter of an hour in order to start working and they can be in contact with their colleagues by video-conferencing. It saves fuel, reduces CO2 and irritation over the daily long traffic jams. Of course glass fibre is not the saviour of the future. But presently it is a fine means to start stimulating new ideas.

Blog Posting Number: 1308


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

BPN 1307 Fast introduction of glass fibre in The Netherlands

In these bad economic times the Dutch government will stimulate a fast introduction of glass fibre. That said under secretary of state Frank Heemskerk at the first national glass fibre conference Light my Fibre at my hometown Almere.

Heemskerk pointed to the fact that The Netherlands belongs to the absolute world class with regard to broadband. With various infrastructures and open nets The Netherlands have a fine starting point. This has led to the greatest internet density in the world and the third place in broadband. Broadband has become affordable. Yet The Netherlands is behind looking at Japan and Sweden when it comes to the latest generation of glass fibre. There is a need to recover this arrears. By laying glass fibre in an accelerated way , The Netherlands will stronger come out of the crises.

The government will not dig ducts for glass fibre. Private companies can do this faster and better. The government has three tasks in getting these newest generation networks laid, despite the crisis. The under secretary of state pointed to a change in the law which is often neglected by municipal officers with a stagnation of the private glass networks as a result. As Amsterdam has demonstrated, municipalities can participate in glass fibre companies and so stimulate private glass networks. The under secretary of state will clarify these rules for municipal officials soon.

As a seconds task of the government the under secretary of State pointed to special regulations guaranteeing the investments in glass fibre project. By doing so he hopes to stimulate the laying of networks and hopes that the Dutch society will come out of the crisis.

And last but not least, the government will see to it that there is a clear regulating framework offering companies open networks. This will promote competition and low prices. The under secretary of state hopes that cable operators in The Netherlands will open up their networks for competition as well. Various networks and open networks have brought The Netherlands where it is now. By offering a investment opportunities The Netherlands will be able to nestle itself among the world top in glass fibre.

Dutch towns and cities, preparing for or having realised fibre net:
Aarle-Rixtel - OnsBrabantNet
Almere - KPN Glasvezel and UNET
Amersfoort - XMS
Amersfoort Hooglanderveen - Community initiative and XMS
Amersfoort Kattenbroek - Community initiative and XMS
Amersfoort Nieuwland - Community initiative and XMS
Amsterdam - Fibre Amsterdam, Citynet, gna, Alice, Concepts ICT, InterNLnet and TweakFiber Amsterdam (Westerdokseiland) - KPN Glasnet
Arnhem - XMS
Bathmen - Glashart and Concepts ICT
Beek and Donk - OnsBrabantNet
Berkel and Rodenrijs - Glashart
Berkelland - B3n-CoopNet
Best - OnsBrabantNet
Biddinghuizen - Solcon
Bronckhorst - B3n-CoopNet
Denekamp - Concepts ICT
Deventer - Concepts ICT and Y-3Net
Diepenveen - Y-3Net
Dijkerhoek - Concepts ICT
Dordrecht - Glashart
Dronten – Community initiative, Glashart and Solcon
Eindhoven - Ons Net
Elburg - KPN Glasvezel and Glashart
Enschede - Glashart, KPN Glasnet, casaNet, Concepts ICT, UNET and Solcon
Etten-leur (Schoenmakershoek) - KPN Glasnet
Geldrop-Mierlo - OnsBrabantNet
Haaksbergen - KPN Glasvezel and Glashart
Helmond - OnsBrabantNet
Hillegom - Lijbrandt telecom Kadaka
Hilversum - XMS, Glashart and KPN
Holten - Glashart, Concepts ICT and Solcon
Hoofddorp - KPN Glasnet
Houten – Community initiative
Laarbeek - OnsBrabantNet
Laren - Solcon
Leiden - XMS
Lieshout - OnsBrabantNet
Lochem - Glashart
Maarheeze – Community initiative
Mariahout - OnsBrabantNet
Nijmegen - Glashart and XMS
Nijmegen Biezen and Hees - Community initiative and XMS
Nijmegen Groenewoud and Galgenveld – Community initiatief
Nijmegen Hazenkamp - Foundation Glazenkamp and XMS
Nijmegen St Anna, Hatertse Hei and de Emanciepatiebuurt – Community initiative
Nijkerk - Glashart
Nuenen - Ons Net
Rijssen - Glashart, Concepts ICT and Solcon
Rotterdam – Foundation Fibre Community Nesselande, Concepts ICT and Luna
Schijndel - Glashart & KPN
Sint Anthonis – Community initiative
Sint Oedenrode - Glashart & KPN
Soest / Soesterberg - XMS
Son and Breugel - Glashart, KPN Glasvezel and Ons Net
Swifterbant - Solcon
Twente - TwenNet
Uden - KPN Glasvezel and Glashart
Utrecht - XMS
Utrecht Lunetten - Community initiative and XMS
Valkenswaard - OnsBrabantNet
Veenendaal - Bewonersinitiatief and XMS
Veghel - KPN Glasvezel and Glashart
Veldhoven - OnsBrabantNet
Vleuterweide - Community initiative and XMS and KPN Glasnet
Wijchen - Foundation Fibre Wijchen ism XMS
Wijk and Aalburg Altena – Community initiative
Zeewolde – Community initiative, Glashart, Solcon and XMS

Blog Posting Number: 1307

Tags: ,

Monday, March 02, 2009

BPN 1306 Hearst FirstPaper

The Fortune announcement of the American publishing company Hearst launching an eReader, asks for some research. As it was indicated in the Fortune announcement that there would be a wireless device with a large screen with black and white for the time being, speculation was raised that iRex Technologies or Plastic Logic would be potential manufacturers. But from the googling it became clear that Hearst has invested in an hardly visible start-up, also stealth start-up called, named FirstPaper (a symbolic name after the article First Paper by Albert Einstein aboout relativity; it is clear that the FirstPaper wants to change reading). On Google there are references to the company, but presently there is no link to the company itself.

FirstPaper claims to produce a digital paper device, but flexible and with colour. Last year the company showed already a lab demo and said that it would take two years to develop. So now the launch gets closer and so do the speculations. The question is now whether Hearst will launch an eReader in the first place; what size will be the screen (14.1 inch wide?) and will it have colour or start up with black and white. Interesting will also be the price of the device, compared to the Kindle 2.

So Amazon might have Kindle 2, but Hearst will have its own ereader device. Amazon has an extensive portfolio of products for distribution, Hearst has a lot of eBooks and epapers of its own to sell on the ereader. Besides Hearst has an official, who used to be involved with the Sony eBookStore. So Hearst will be able to build its own business model. By having its own ereader and a lot of econtent Hearst will be able to compete with Amazon, which has monopolistic traits. So far publishers had to join Amazon to distribute their eBooks and other econtent. But when the Hearst device is on the market and Hearst has its business policy in place, other publishers might move over to Hearst. At last they will have a choice.

Blog Posting Number: 1306

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