Tuesday, December 18, 2012

BPN 1619: Leonardo goes crossmedia

While in Milano, our host took us to Leonardo 3, a small creative company, which produces crossmedia products on the basis of the works of Leonardo da Vinci. Ralph Simon and myself were flabbergasted. Here is a company of some five people, who produce exhibitions, books, games, video and (wooden) models. And not just obligatory products, but very exciting ones for young and old. In fact the products feed the curiosity for how technology works.

The producers or better craftsmen base all their work on the writings and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Of course Leonardo is mostly known for the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. But he has left so much more. In fact he painted the Last Supper for money to continue his search into mechanics. The producers have a collection of facsimile works. They are quick to note that, yes, Bill Gates has bought some of Leonardo’s writings and drawings, but he has only 16 pages. Leonardo 3 has facsimiles going back more than a century.

In the meantime the producers of Leonardo 3 have built up an impressive track record. They have organized several successful interactive exhibition in the States. Kids can see how technology works from wooden models, but also by touchscreens. The producers present the kids and parents with a screen showing a lot of parts of a wooden model, e.g. the lion. By touching on the parts, without and guidance, they will have to build the wooden lion and show that they understood how motion is set to work; if they do not understand the principle, they will create a non-functioning fantasy model.

With their knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci, they have also put together an exhibition for the Emir of Qatar, based on The Book of Secrets by Ibn Khalaf al-Muradi, an early Arab scientists, showing amogst others how water clocks work.

They publish also books. Yes they do it themselves. They have been maltreated by a large publisher with a very successful popular book, so they have started for themselves and have built up a nice library with publications on Leonardo’s workshop and on the Codex on Flight. These books look very professionally done. In the meantime the books have become a regular source of income to the producers.

 
 
 
 
They are also moving into the business of games. They have models of Leonardo’s multi gunship, paddle boat, mechanical lion and self-propelling cart in plastic part. In this way kids can discover the mechanics. But the producers are now also moving in games. They have a prototype of an app, which is a game of putting Leonardo’s mechanics together. But they are also looking into the gamification of mechanics, so bringing hard core mechanics and for example 3D software together. Also this part of the company is a regular source of income.

The producers also regularly shoot video’s. Once they have developed a new model they produce a video of these marvelous machines. And they use the videos in their exhibitions, CD/DVD publications and for promotion on YouTube.

For all their work sucha as exhibitions, photographs in a book, on CD/DVD, on video, they need models. They usually make them of wood in such a way that they can work mechanically and be taken apart for break-out purposes. From the wooden models they produce again the plastic paddle boats and other puzzles.

What is the secret of their success. The producers look very cocky about that. They put it clearly that many so called experts on Leonardo da Vinci hardly understand the mechanical principles by this genius. Having studied and still studying the facsimiles of Leonardo da Vinci, have given the producers a lot of insight of what Leonardo was after. Using his principles, they can develop products in a crossmedia way.

The producers have 100 ideas, but still five people. And you wonder why. All those 100 ideas will take more than 100 years. In order to realise all their 100 ideas they need more funding in order to train people and produce the ideas. In fact they need a mecenas who is crazy about mechanics and see the link with IT, 3D software and publishing opportunities. One of their 100 dreams is a theme park on Leonardo’s mechanics. The plans are ready for it. And they do not just want the theme park a commercial venture. They want to put their workshop right in a type of an aquarium in such a way that the visitors can watch what they are doing.

The session with the producers of Leonardo 3 was short, but intense. Their enthusiasm, skills, and vision are contagious. You really wish them a mecenas, who provides them the opportunity to realize their 100 dreams in their lifetime.

 

Monday, December 17, 2012

BPN 1618: e-Content Award Italy


Last week I was invited to be present at the award ceremony of the eContent Award Italy in Milano. It was a great time. Milano at Christmas time was surprising. Around the Duomo was a Christmas market with many stalls, filled mostly with regional food products.

Out of the many submissions winners have been selected and the received their awards. The organizer, dottore Alfredo Ronchi, secretary general to the MEDICI framework, had put together a program with national and international speakers.


The organiser Alfredo Ronchi and Jak Boumans

"Initiatives such as the World Summit Award are a concrete testimony to the commitment that is  increasingly given to innovative and creative products and services,” said John Paul Del Nero, commissioner for economic development, job training and the Province of Milan. “The explosion of digital content facilitates the transfer of knowledge, experiences and best practices in all areas, from health to science, from politics to the economy, until you get to culture and entertainment. This access and use of applications targets everyday use."

"Innovation is the strategic element on which to base the present and the future of economic development and society as a whole,” said Cristina Tajani Assessor to work, economic development, universities and research of the Municipality of Milan. “The Milan City Council has identified the areas of creativity and dissemination of innovation for central and sustainable development and this should catch in particular the attention of the younger generations. Initiatives as the WSA contribute actively to spread the creativity and innovation of citizens, businesses and even institutions, both at a national and at an international level. It is in a concrete way an enriching “confrontation" with more than 170 nations."

"This initiative dedicated to companies and institutions,” said Giorgio Rapari, director of the Chamber of Commerce of Milan, “demonstrates for all local institutions, that innovation is crucial to overcome the crisis and improve the competitiveness of our economic system."

Pierpaolo Saporito, a high level advisor of GAID, president and founder Infopoverty Occam program & conference, said in his speech: "This award is unique in the UN, and important because it not only enhances the creativity of companies and individuals, but stimulates new generations to see the opportunities that the digital revolution is opening, thus counteracting the wave of pessimism that pervades the current ruling class, who sees off the old world born during the industrial revolution.”

Ralph Simon with Madalina Tomita
 
Ralph Simon, chief executive officer of Mobilium Global and the founder of the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF) started out with some light notes, mentioning that many people were fast becoming ‘screenagers’ as they have become addicted to their smartphones and tablets. But he also indicated that this mobile movement will offer new opportunities never dreamt of. Apps can be produced in a short time and enhance the experience of an environment. And we have only started as smartphones can be part of eHealth, measuring blood pressure and detecting illnesses.

Photographs movies of the ceremony are available:

     -        YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QymnCw438N4


Friday, November 23, 2012

BPN 1617: The social University (2)


Fireworks were promised by the conference organisers oand fireworks the conference delegates got. The first speaker was Mr Adam Montandon, a UK citizen working in Denmark. He is not completely unknown in this circle of people as he won the Europrix overall award in 2004 with an applied multimedia project for a practical problem. For a man who was absolutely colourblind, he and his team thought up a cyborg, a camera linked to a microcomputer, which translated colours into sounds. The camera has been refined and is now part of a pair of glasses. So in 2004 he already was able to look at the world in a different way for solutions. And in fact he still does, but now he is an assistant professor and teaches students in Denmark creativity or how do I tackle problems from different angles.

In his presentation he summed up a series of projects he had started at the IAL school. All these projects carried the same slogan: Look at things in a different way and just play! And playing they do. In order to learn code and object, they play human table football. Having played the game and understood the objective, the students will never forget what code is and how object can be recognized. An absolute racket is playing the game of space invaders by humans. Opponents are charging right at you and try to get through line of humans. Interesting was the assignment to build QR codes with Lego (what else in Denmark). Participants will never forget how precise they have to be in constructing the QR code. Misplacing a piece of Lego will produce a wrong QR code or even a non-code.

The assignments are intellectual and physical. Believing in yourself can be tested by using techniques from Taekwondo. Slashing a piece of wood really makes your day; for some people slashing an iPad would make their week! But what about business skills. Students get stuck with plastic swans and have to turn the lot into a business opportunity. And some students did it. They produced ice-swans and sold them. A business group of students had to produce a rap about business ideas and also composed a rap about business ideas.

Crazy ideas, but where do they lead to? At least students experience a very unconventional assignment, but will often remember it. The coding assignment will stay grafted in their memory and having completed the QR assignment, they will never be sloppy about a precision assignment. And all these crazy ideas even lead to new start-ups such as Free Hugs, a company to cheer up people in the street. The business model still has to be worked out, but paid advertisement and free publicity should be able to cover costs.

The man bubbles with ideas and is a master in unexpected social interruptions. And he loves it. One of his sayings is: there might be a credit crisis, but there is no creative crisis. And another is really sharp: don’t look for a job, but for an occupation; something that might interest you for a long time, businesswise but also personal.

Adam made also the observation that all teachers want to be different, but they all have the students use the same book. And this is funny for him to say, as he is finishing up a book called The Awesome Department, which is book on creativity and contains many suggestions for assignments. The book is due to be published shortly (in English, of course), but you can pre-order and follow the title blog..





Thursday, November 22, 2012

BPN 1616: The Social University (2)



The University of Graz was today the host of the Academic Network Conference organized by the network European Academy of Digital Media (EADiM), a foundation legally incorporated in The Netherlands. The conference usually attracts professors and lecturers from universities and colleges throughout Europe. This time the following countries were represented: Finland, Denmark, The Netherlands, UK, including Wales, Austria, Hungary, Italy and Cyprus.

This year’s theme The Social University sounded very interesting. The organizing committee wrote on the theme: “ Today’s students are intense users of ICTs and multimedia and have taken charge of creating content. Intellectual and cultural production in general have been democratized radically through social media. The new technologies deliver smart phones and tablets in everybody’s hand, and social media and PCs are ubiquitous in higher education environments”.

EADiM’ chairman Peter Bruck extrapolated the statement at the start of the conference. Students, besides creating content, learn by creating content and generate knowledge in the process of creating content. Students even share content faster than professors can speak, Professor Petre Bruck said.

No longer can you speak of an info transfer between the professor and the student as the student breathes Google in and out. That is the way he learns, basically out of poverty. And learning is relational. Relations count and are decisive for the education of the student. It is formed by social structures, altered by technologies and access to them. In this way the intellectual production is democratized radically and the web and social media are the channels.

A new culture is emerging thanks to the new media platforms and the convergent media environment. New skills and new lietarcies are acquired and need to be passed on. Try and learn, explore and study, live and reflect are the main ways of growing up as a student and staying up2dateas teacher/instructor.

The basic question to Institutions of Higher Education/Universities are maintaining currency in this shifting media environment and engaging students as producers and partners in practicing new paradigm of learning and research.

With such a theme there should be some fireworks coming from the lectures and discussions. And it did on the first day.      

Monday, November 19, 2012

BPN 1615: Program EADiM Conference 2012

 
Program, of the EADiM Academic Network Conference 2012
Location: Resowi, Geidorfgürtel  or Universitätsstraße15, 8010 Graz
Room G2, SZ 15.22, Second Floor

Moderation
Richard Vickers, University of Lincoln, UK
Cai Melakoski, TAMK School of Art, Music and Media, FI
 
 
Thursday 22nd Nov

10:00-10:20 Welcome Note
Wolfgang Rauch, Dean, Faculty of Social & Economic Sciences, Univ. of Graz, AT
Peter A. Bruck, Chairman EADiM Board, Honorary President ICNM, University of Salzburg, AT

10:20-11:00 Collaborative learning in interactive learning environments
Play Is More Important Than the Bottom Line
Adam Montandon, Erhvervsakademiet Lillebælt, DK

Experiences on collaborative online learning
Cai Melakoski, TAMK School of Art, Music and Media, FI

Leadership in education
Niki Ernst, Planetsisa GmbH, AT

11:00-12:00 Teaching research in action/ Learning practice as research: Academics present projects and works.  Part 1

Combining courses with real life projects
Ari Närhi, TAMK School of Art, Music and Media, FI
 
The use of digital media in the creation of a safety culture
Kostas Gouliamos, European University, CY

Develop This - Educating science doing research as education
Geert de Haan, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, NL

12:15-13:30 Lunch

13:30-16:00 Teaching research in action/ Learning practice as research: Academics present projects and works.  Part 2

Toward student teacher research
James Norwood, Erhvervsakademiet Lillebælt, DK

Teacher or/and eLearning producer
Vladimir Burcik, Comenius University, SK
Jozef Hvorecký, City University of Seattle, Bratislava, SK
Robert J. Skovira, Robert Morris University, Moon Township/Pittsburgh, USA

Some examples for archaeological education and on the evolution of social media
Katharina Holzinger, TU Graz, Student, AT


16:00 EADiM joins EYA Festival: Departure for the Design Walk!
UNESCO City of Design, Walking tour around Graz
16:30-17:45 Meeting point: Hauptplatz

Digital Disruptions and “Designing MDGs”, Opening of EYA 2012 Festival
Lightning Talks and Vernissage of Exhibition
18:00-19:45 City Hall Graz, Hauptplatz 1

Graz Twittering and Styrian Supper
Find friends, network for the evening
20:00-21:00, City Hall Graz, same location


Friday 23rd Nov.
Location: Zentrum f. Weiterbildung, Harrachgasse 23, Room SR 38.21 

10:00-11:00 The new economy of education: the more you share, the more you have
Findia as best practice of Student and Youth Project
Mathias Haas, SuperSocial, AT

Transformatlab - an intensive multiplatform progression for creative industry graduates
Hannah Raybould, Media Academy Wales, UK

Pleasure of Participation
Albert van der Kooij,  Hanze University, NL
& Gyorgy Retfalfi, BKF, HU

11:00-13:00 The paradigm shift in universities: new media teaching that is student entered, learning focused
UX as a critical success factor for participatory projects: Enhancing the user experience to encourage participation.
Richard Vickers, University of Lincoln, UK

Leading the change or missing the challenge? A proactive approach to the natural evolution of the educational domain
Alfredo Ronchi, MEDICI Framework, Politecnico di Milano, IT

Science is to test ideas - Engineering is to put ideas into practice On Experiences with Research Based Teaching
Andreas Holzinger, Medical University Graz, Research Unit Human-Computer, AT

Serious Game Design Summer School
Maja Pivec, FH Joanneum, AT

UVIC_Lab, an innovative concept of digital content laboratory at the University of Vic
Arnau Gifreu Castells, University of Vic, ES
 

13:00 Conclusion & EADIM Next Steps

EADiM Publication: SPRINGER (Gabler), Serie "Smart Media and Application Research”
Jak Boumans, EADiM, NL


13:15 EADiM joins EYA Festival for lunch!

 
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

BPN 1614: The India tablet at 32 euro

The version of low-cost tablet Aakash, coined the India tablet, was launched in New Delhi on Sunday by President Pranab Mukherjee. Coming at a price tag of Rs.1,130 (32 euro) for students, the version which will be made available to students of engineering colleges and universities to begin with, is now powered by a processor running at 1 gigahertz (GHz), has a 512 MB, a 7 inch capacitive touch screen and a battery working for three hours of normal operations. It has been developed under the aegis of IIT Bombay with the active support of THE Centre for Development of Advanced Computing.

Photograph: PTI

Canada-based firm Datawind is rolling out the device. “The price is Rs.2,263 at which the government purchases the device from us. The government subsidizes it by 50% and it will be distributed to students at Rs.1,130,” said Datawind chief executive officer Suneet Tuli. He said the government is also trying to encourage the state governments to chip in by subsidizing it further so that the device can eventually be available to students free of cost.

The first 100,000 devices will be provided to students of engineering colleges and universities and subsequently these will be distributed to others. About 220 million students will get the device across the country in the next five-six years.

By Livemint.com through the Digital Empowerment Foundation

Thursday, October 18, 2012

6 Day Creativity Boost – Free to the first 1000 people.

(non-commercial announcement)


Welcome to the 6 Day Creativity Boost.

Hi everyone! My name is Adam Montandon and I am trying a new experiment to boost your creativity. I am a teacher in Denmark, and I want to share my lessons with everyone, so I am testing out something completely new!

Its been my mission in life to help people boost their creativity, and now I want to boost yours, in just 6 days!

Fo more details: http://www.awesomedepartment.com/about-the-awesome-department/

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

FfeST International Students Film Festival

(non-commercial announcement)

6th edition of the FfeST International Students Film Festival
November 22-25, 2012, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania


The festival is organized by the ”Sapientia” Hungarian University of Transylvania, ”Babeş-Bolyai” University and University of Art and Design from Cluj-Napoca. In Romania, the festival is the first one which declares itself as the first competition forum of the Romanian and European Cinema Schools. Already in its 6th edition, this event unites a number of over 200 students from Eastern Europe of no less than 10 film schools.

The festival invites film schools from Romania and other countries to perform their films in the Competition Program, as well as in the Out-Of-Contest Program. In the Competition Program every school will have the possibility to nominate 90 min. of film.

Students can submit films in competition in five categories: extra-shorts (1-3 minutes), short fictions, animation, experimental and documentary films (the maximum length of one production may not exceed 20 minutes). Please send a 90 min. Best Of presentation from your University/Festival, and also films for competition before November, 1 (date of post).

Contact details:
Orsolya Tóth, Vice-president of the FfeST
tothorsolya@sapientia.ro
Tel.: +40-744-502475

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BPN 1613: Frankfurt Book Fair: checkpoint book industry

This week the annual Frankfurt Book Fair will be held again. Some 7.000 exhibitors from 100 countries will be there. Some 280.000 visitors from 129 countries are expected. They will be looking for books and nothing else but books, from literature to scientific books, from fiction to non-fiction.

Over the years the fair has changed. Was the fair a necessity to acquire new to be translated books formerly, now e-mail and skype have made negotiations possible on a daily scale without travelling.

But also the product book has changed. The book portfolio exists of printed books formerly, now the offer has been expanded with electronic books. This year also the apps have been added as a product and as marketing tools. This also shows in the booth arrangement as, there are not only booths for printed or electronic books, but there were also booths reserved for integrators and apps developers.

This change has had a long  and slow start. In 1970 the book industry started to change the process of typesetting and page make-up aided by computers. In 1985 the CD-ROM was introduced as a mega book, ready to store a 25 volumes encyclopaedia. For the Encyclopedia Britannica it was the beginning of the end, which took place in 2012, when the decision was taken not to print an encyclopaedia anymore.

This whole process was characterised as electronic publishing. The term did not only entail the computing of the production process. But on the Frankfurt Book Fair 1993 the term was expanded to electronic products, derived from books, in the EC report New Opportunities for Publishers in the Information Services Market (1993, Consulting Trust). The electronic products were embodied by the first Sony e-readers and minidisk e-books. In 1996 the term electronic publishing was canonised with publishing of EC Electronic Publishing: Strategic Developments for the European Publishing Industry towards the Year 2000.

Electronic publishing started to penetrate into the realm of readers in 2006, when the first e-readers with e-Ink screens reached the market. Besides, the publishers were eventually forced by Amazon to publish e-books. And e-books are doing well. E-books can now be bought, hired and streamed to the screen.

And this is only the start. The big bang is still to come and the first rumble can already be heard. At the Frankfurt Book Fair an e-reader has been announced for TEN euro (10 euro). Dependent on the quality of the screen and built-in facilities e-readers cost from 99 to 350 euro. But the German txtr beagle can keep the price so low as it did not put in high-tech in the device. The e-reader contains facilities built into smart phones. So no wifi, but blue- tooth to transfer a book. An Android app takes care to put the books into place. Users of the beagle do not need cables to connect to plugs, but just two AAA batteries which will keep the reader going for a year. And when they are empty, just change them. The txtr beagle has a 5 inch screen with a resolution of 800 x 600. The device weighs only 128 grams, including batteries. The memory is 4Gb. The e-reader can handle epub and pdf.  The German company presented their own e-reader at The Frankfurt Book Fair 2009, but the e-reader never reached the market. But having been acquired by 3M, a new e-reader has come off the drawing table, ready to go into mass production.  

UPDATE 14 October 2012 Just saw an interview on YouTube in which the announcement was made for a Kobe Mini e-reader. This will cost 80 euro in The Netherlands; 79 US dollar in the US.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

BPN 1612: Dutch movie screening 100% digital


All 301 movie theatres and cinemas in the Netherlands are equipped with digital projection equipment since 12 September. No less than 730 (of which 373 with 3D facilities) of the total of 795 cinema screens in the Netherlands were ready for digital reception thanks to e project Cinema Digitaal (Digital Cinema). The Pathé cinema chain, Utopolis, Euro Coop and some independent theatres digitized independently. Digital Cinema is a unique public-private digitization program initiated by the Dutch Association of Cinema Operators (NVB), the Dutch Association of Film Distributors (NVF) and the EYE Film Institute Netherlands. This collaboration made collective transition from analogue to digital possible and prevented the forced closure of small movie theatres and cinemas.

The technological transition in the cinema industry requires a high investment for many movie operators, which would have been financially unfeasible individually. In Digital Cinema the scale of digitization is based on the principle of solidarity between commercial cinemas and movie theatres. So now the cultural agenda of national and international movies can be kept. And new opportunities can be explored such as the special soccer ball viewings. During the European Soccer Championships 2012 many games were distributed to theatres and cinemas. Also a well known musical duo ayed in a theatre and the show was streamed to 55 cinemas, filled with fans.  

The first installation took place on July 20, 2011. The transition period has lasted 14 months. The total cost of the Digital Cinema project is € 39 million. The film distributors active in the Netherlands - 20 independents and 6 American major studios – bore the bulk of the cost (70%) of the Digital Cinema project. These consisted of the one-time replacement of 35mm projectors and the savings they realize now producing celluloid film prints not more is needed. Digital Cinema was co-financed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (€ 3,000,000 from the Programme Implementation Agenda ICT-Bellied/PRIMA) and Dutch Film Fund (€ 2 million). The total film sector in the Netherlands invested in short period over € 55 million in the digitization.

Due to the project Digital Cinema of the Dutch cinema industry, celluloid film (35mm film) has virtually disappeared from the cinema from 12 September 2012 onwards.
 
The Dutch fim industry

Last year the Dutch movie industry offered employment to 20.000 people through 8.000 companies. In the past four years the turn-over of the Dutch movie industry has risen 80 per cent. In a recent study by SEO it was concluded that there is a relationship between the showing of Dutch movies and the number of people visiting cinemas. The cuts in production budgets announced by the Dutch
Film Fund and Public Broadcasting companies will reduce the production volume by one third, according to the report.

Friday, September 28, 2012

BPN 1611: Dutch Book publisher VBK independent again


The Dutch book publisher Veen Bosch & Keunig (VBK) will be split off the holding company NDC/VBK per November 1, 2012. The company will become the largest independent publishing company of general books in the Netherlands. The company has been bought by the management, interested employees, while the ING Bank has taken a minority share. VBK had been put on the market since March of this year.

The move is the logical consequence of the decision made by NDC/VBK to split up the company in three independent activities: daily newspapers, house-to-house newspapers and books.  The decision meant to be the end of a dream. NDC has been a rich publishing company in the North of the Netherlands. In 2001 NDC bought the book publishers VBK. Due to the economic dip first the newspapers experienced acquisition problems with advertisements and the book publishers with the sales of books.

In 2007 the newspaper and book holding NDC/VBK bought the educational publishing company Thieme Meulenhoff from PCM and combined it with its own educational division, Veen Bosch & Keuning-educational. The new combination had 400 employees and an annual turn-over 100 million euro.The move to make VBK independent will most likely have consequences for Thieme Meulenhoff.
 
Per September 1, 2012 VBK has sold eBook.nl to ePagine. This Belgian company will take a majority in the company, while VBK will keep a minority share. VBK had already concluded that the retail activities did not fit with the VBK publishing activities, despite the fact that eBook.nl has a market share of 10 per cent of Dutch language eBook sales. ePagine is already some years active in the eBook segment and cooperated with eBook.nl. ePagine is part of Tite Live, a company with a turn-over of 10 million euro and about 100 employees.

Friday, September 21, 2012

BPN 1610: Social media not history proof


The history of digital media (mind you not digitised media like e-books) has been the subject of many a posting on this blog. There are several posting complaining about the lack of heritage of digital content and installations. Hardware is being saved on a regular basis, but not so with content related artefacts such as e-mail correspondence, databases, sites and these days blogs, Facebook messages and tweets. This week I saw support from an unexpected source.

My dear friend Andy Carvin (see photograph) drew my attention with a Facebook message to a study of Hany SalahEldeen and Michael Nelson at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, who checked to see how much of the material of the Arab spring was still alive and quantified the material or what was left of it. And the result was startling. In fact they demonstrated that history is vanishing from the web, especially as recorded by social media such as Twitter. The statement is proven by a study on the Egyptian uprising and other world events. The researchers claim that 30 per cent of the recorded history shared over social media has disappeared. The study was highlighted in a recent post by the Physics arXiv blog.

The uprising in Egypt started on 25 January 2011 that eventually led to the overthrow of the country’s president and the first free elections. In this uprising social media were paramount in organising protests and spreading news.

By now curators have finally started to store the calls for protest and news items. Not surprisingly, a significant proportion of the websites that this social media points to has disappeared. And the same pattern occurs for other culturally significant events, such as the swine flu virus outbreak, Michael Jackson's death and the Syrian uprising. In other words, history, as recorded by social media, is slowly leaking away.
 
SalahEldeen and Nelson looked at six significant world events between June 2009 and March 2012. They checked the tweets about the events and looked for URLs they pointed to, to see whether the content was still available on the web in its original form or in an archived form.

And yes, they found an almost linear relationship between time and the percentage lost.  No less than 11 per cent of the social media content had disappeared within a year and 27 per cent within 2 years. Projecting these results to important daily social events, SalahEldeen and Nelson say the world loses 0.02 per cent of social media material every day. You can wave this percentage away and point at the many irrelevant gs, messages, tweets and retweets, but it also means 0,02 per cent of the relevant social material. These can total up to 30 per cent of the recorded history shared over social media

It’s not clear from the research why the missing information disappeared, but it’s likely that in many cases blogs have simply shut down or moved, or news stories have been archived by providers who charge for access (something that many newspapers and other media outlets do to generate revenue).
 
Although the Virginia researchers didn’t deal with the cause of disappearance as part of their study, a related problem is that much of the content that gets distributed through Twitter—not just websites that are linked to in Twitter posts, but the content of the posts themselves—is difficult and/or expensive to get to. Twitter’s search is notoriously unreliable for anything older than about a week, and access to the complete archive of your tweets is provided only to those who can make a special case for needing it, such as my friend Andy Carvin of National Public Radio (who is writing a book about the way he chronicled the Arab Spring revolutions). Recently an external service called Gnip provides access to the full archive of Twitter content,  which it provides to companies for a fee. And Twitter-based search-and-discovery engine Topsy also has an archive. But neither can be easily linked to for research or historical archiving purposes. The Library of Congress also has an archive of Twitter’s content, but it isn’t easily accessible, and it’s not clear whether new content is being added.

Besides not carefully curating digital content in practice, digital media producers and consumers show any interest in saving digital artefacts. Recently my business partner Hans Sleurink pointed me to an analysis of Neil Postman in his book Technopoly. He is convinced that technology has served human values throughout several historical development stages. But in the 20e century technology has become so dominant that a reversal has taken place. Technology increasingly determines what human values are instead of supporting. In other words: the printing press brought democracy; internet brings ubiquity, but per se not respect, as signs and bracelets bearing the message of respect spring up all over.

Monday, September 03, 2012

BPN 1609: One Dutch freesheet in the future


Last week the Telegraaf Media Group (TMG) announced the acquisition the freesheet Metro. TMG  already owns the freesheet, Sp!ts, since the launch of Metro in The Netherlands on June 21, 1999. TMG claims to keep both freesheets alive.

Why Metro was sold
Metro Holland had a turn-over in 2011 of 23.4mln euro. Its EBIT in 2011 was 451,000 euro (2%), a sharp decline as in 2010 Metro Holland still recorded an EBIT of 3.6mln euro (15%). The present goodwill of the brand is 3.6mln. This decline is due to the dip in the advertisements, which is being felt by all Dutch newspapers, paid or free. Besides the freesheet market has reached its saturation in The Netherlands.
Another reason for selling off the Dutch Metro is the strategy by Metro worldwide to sell off in the European titles and invest in Latin America, where the freesheet market is still growing. Editions have been launched in Guatemala, in Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, while an  edition in Argentina is being planned.

Is TMG allowed to buy the Dutch Metro
The Dutch Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has not yet been asked to look at the acquisition. It looks like the TMG did its homework. If both companies have a turn-over of more than  30 mln euro, the companies should inform the NMa. Both companies should have more than 113.450.000 euro in turn overs, before they are obliged to inform the NMa. The turn-over of the Dutch Metro had only been 23,4mln euro in 2011, so the NMa does not need to be informed so far, unless the turn-over of 2012 is dramatically higher.

Two freesheet titles in one company
There are few newspaper publishing companies in The Netherlands who liked to acquire a freesheet. The Belgian/Dutch Pressgroup already indicated not to be interested in freesheets. They had their try in 2008 with the launch of De Dag. Wegener terminated the freesheet De Pers in March of this year after failing to get sufficient advertisement volume. So why should TMG acquire  the Dutch Metro and keep both titles alive?
TMG immediately stated, that Metro would stay as an independent title. In fact one of the TMG managers stated that the differences between Metro and Sp!ts would increase. The advantages of the acquisition would be in the common printing, distribution and sales of advertisement.  And as TMG is the only one in the freesheet market, it can up the prices of the advertisements, the management stated.

Just a question of time
The arguments by TMG to acquire Metro sound reasonable, but are just cosmetic. If TMG wanted to create a difference between its own freesheet Sp!ts and another freesheet, it should have acquired De Pers; it probably would have been cheaper than Metro. Sp!ts is a throwaway freesheet, while De Pers had content. Now TMG has two throwaway freesheets, of which Sp!ts is the stronger brand. It will just be a question of time that TMG will kill one of the freesheets as both will go for the same advertisements and the editorial content will hardly differ.

IMHO, before 2015, Metro will be killed off and Sp!ts will survive as the only Dutch freesheet as there are not enough advertisements budgets with the ad companies and not enough budget for two editorial staffs of throwaway freesheets.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

1608: Buyers shares World Online compensated after 12 years


It took ten years to reach a settlement and one-and-a-half year to pay out, but finally the buyers of shares in World Online (WOL) will be paid out 47 euro per share, this includes the original buying price and rent.
The IPO of WOL is still the example of the Dutch internet hypes of the turn of the century. The Dutch railways which had provided her with an existing network, the broadcast company TROS and the telecom company Telfort invested large sums of money in the company. The company should eventually become the largest internet provider of Europe.   ABN AMRO Bank was the advisor to the company together with Goldman Sachs.

Buyers of World Online shares at the launch on March 17, 2000 get finally 110 per cent back for the shares bought at 43 euro per share at the launch. On March 17, 2000 the shares rose to 50 euro per share, but at the end of the day the shares were worth 43,20 euro per share. And five days later the shares went down to under 30 euro per share.

The downfall was due to the news that the founder and chairperson of WOL Nina Brink had sold her shares for 6 dollar a share (roughly 5 euro at that time).  Despite the knowledge of the launching banks this fact was not clearly mentioned in the portfolio by the banks Goldman Sachs and ABN AMRO. Some 150.000 buyers of shares lost  3 billion euro, according to the Dutch Investors Association.


Half a year after the IPO WOL was acquired by the Italian provider Tiscali for a meagre 5,9 billion euro, while the company was worth 12 billion on the day of the introduction.
(© 2000 Bert Driessen) The settlement and final payment will end a long trail of court cases and negotiations. In 2007 the association already received a favourite ruling, but it was not considered good enough. By November 2009 the banks ABN AMRO (the launching unit is now part of the Royal Bank of Scotland) and Goldman Sachs admitted that they had given a too prosperous picture of the value of WOL and settled.

In 2010 a settlement of 11 million euro was reached for the 12.000 investors who started a class action led by the Dutch Inventors Association. Another 5.000 investors were represented by the Consumer Claim. 
Much to the chagrin of the investors, Nina Brink is no partner in the settlement. The banks were held responsible for the lack of essential information about the shares sold by Nina Brink.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

BPN 1607: 25 years ago Apple missed the web with HyperCard

This month it is 25 years ago that Apple presented the Hypercard program at MacWorld Expo in Boston. On August 11, 1987 Danny Goodman wrote: It is not a database, but an informational browsing tool. But the magazine Der Spiegel concluded after 25 years with the present knowledge, that Apple almost had invented the web, but missed it because of two mistakes.
The Hypercard program was the first software program, which linked text, image and sound to each other. At once there were links, searching in full text and interaction. This does not sound exciting in our days, but the browser with the HyperText Make-up Language (HTML) still had to be developed by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990.

That the Hypercard program was unique was clear from the start. The concepts of Hypertext and Hypermedia were floating around in the academic world and in multimedia production. Ted Nelson formulated those concepts in 1963, having attempted to build a computer network and simple user interface in 1960. Apple, however, considered the Hypercard program as a closed, offline database. The software developers still missed the split between data storage and data representation and consequently the turn to web software. As Apple asked $ 400 for the production software, the program did not get a wide circulation.
However HyperText did get a uniquely creative stimulus. In combination with the recently launched information carrier CD- ROM HyperText was considered to be a new publication medium. A stream of content products started to show with as first product Whole Earth Catalog, a production containing 2500 articles, 4000 photographs, 2000 text fragments and 500 sounds fragments including birds’ sounds. The brothers Rand and Robyn Miller published the adventurous productions of The Manhole en Cosmic Osmo. In the game Myst videos in the Quicktime format were incorporated for the first time.


HyperText appeared to be a unique solution for the German pastor Hanns-Johann Ehlen for the use in the Matthäus Evangelium. Since 1984 this priest was busy to digitise and analyse this text. By 1989 the first Hypercard Bible in the German language was ready. But the Hypercard was soon to be succeeded by the World Wide Web, as became clear when the Library of Congress moved its Hypertext presentation of the collection American Memory to the web.

Pearls of hypertext production beauties were manufactured by the Voyager Company in Los Angeles. In 1989 this production company published de CD Companion to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. This recording of the Wiener Philharmonic got an interactive analysis thanks to Hypertext by the scientists Robert Winter. Users were able to follow bar by bar from the score. Besides users could look up information on the life and works of the composer Beethoven. More than 130.000 copies were sold of the CD-ROM. The quality of the production was so good that Peter Bogdanoff, programmer and designer of this CD-ROM, is still convinced that the immediate, interactive music/audio experience is impossible to achieve on the web.

(© Jak Boumans Collection)

The Beethoven CD-ROM did not just pop up. In 1984 Bob Stein his wife Aleen Stein bought the rights to two classic movies Citizen Kane en King Kong for $ 10.000 en started a multimedia production company. They started publishing the movies under the Criterion Collection label; later on, they focussed with the imprint Voyager Company on the possibilities of HyperCard for education.
But they went further in October 1991, when they started introducing the first Expanded Books, which were priced at $19.95 each: Alice in Wonderland with annotations of Martin Gardner, the classic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. In the Expanded Books it was easy to navigate, search and annotate. With dog’s ears a page could be marked for revisiting and fragments could be highlighted.

No less than 70 Expanded Book titles were published. Real top hits were A Hard Day’s Night, of which 100.000 copies were sold, Marvin Minsky’s Society of Minds (see photograph) and Who built America? As well as Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. However in 1995 the Voyager adventure was over as well as the marriage of the Steins. In 2004 Apple removed the features about HyperText en Hypercard from the website. HyperCard had lost; the web browser had won.