Wednesday, December 09, 2015

BPN 1717: DNA on auction

Would you put up for auction on Internet the full genome of your personal DNA sequence? The Dutch social artist Jeroen van Loon did put it up for a year in his project, which started on September 27, 2015. Today his DNA is worth 333 euro with 292 days to go. It is not a Dutch auction, so the highest bidder of the auction gets 380Mb of data, a server with a display, and server rack. The buyer of will own an extremely personal ‘selfie’ and will become co-owner of the artist’s DNA.  

© Jeroen van Loon / photographer: Gert Jan van Rooij

Blood has been tapped from the artist and DNA isolated from the blood sample. Then a DNA sequencer was put to crank data for two weeks to come up with 380Mb of the genome data. These data were transferred to the data center of the medical institute and studied by experts. Eventually the data were transferred to the server of the installation. Presently the installation is on show in the Utrecht Central Museum (Netherlands).
The DNA installation will most likely not beat Van Gogh’s paintings, but provoke more questions. By putting it up for auction the DNA is turned into commodity, that can be bought, collected  and saved. It is like the auctioning off of a hair lock of Napoleon, but DNA looks more intimate. An expert can read the sequence and discover deficiencies. It is also something that you do not want to be in the hands of the wrong person. And is DNA the future collection item as it is as unique as painting?

There are a lot of ethical questions surrounding this DNA installation. A painting on auction is being sold if the highest bid and the auctioneer’s commission have been paid. The sale is not restricted  by conditions on place and security. The sale of this DNA will need a negotiation with buyer: why does he want to have it, how is being secured, at what expositions is it allowed to be exhibited. And this is just on the external side. But are the data allowed to be collected with other DNA sequences and perhaps being mixed? Can it commercially being used to produce a unique biometric password?

The auction will run till September 26, 2016. It will be interesting to see what the highest bid will be. But more interesting be to see the thought provoking question arising from the project.

Jeroen van Loon is an artist posing social questions in his projects. In Life Needs Internet he documented digital culture through handwritten letters. In Kill Your Darlings he shows the ‘private’ social circles of young teenage girls using social media.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Apps, E-Books and Big Data on healthcare mission

Press release

GRAZ – Every year in November the Styrian capital Graz becomes a melting pot of Europe’s young and creative entrepreneurs. From November 18-21 the EYA Festival 2015 presented digital solutions, with a special focus on improving healthcare. The winning project from Spain facilitates learning for autistic children using apps and e-books; other projects deal with big data and heart diagnostics, & a robotic exoskeleton supports impaired people.

The Festival Jury consisting of 16 international experts choose the European Youth Award Overall Winner 2015 on the basis of the 13 winner’s presentations. The key aspects of this year’s projects were Internet of Things, Big Data and Cyber Physical Installations.

Jury touched by learning solution for autistic children
The Overall Winner. For autistic children the main way of learning is visually – the winning project takes this into account and offers new learning possibilities for autistic children with e-books and interactive apps.

The touching background story. Miriam Reyes is 19 years old and lives in a small town south of Sevilla. As her niece turned 3 years old, the young girl was diagnosed with autism. Miriam didn’t want her niece to be left behind while other children were learning happily. She collaborated with her friend Carla Monguió, 29, who is an outstanding painter and artist. Together they produced “Aprendices Visuales – Visual learning for children with autism” to help the 200.000 children with autism in Spain, like Miriam’s niece.

The jury decision
“The EYA Jury set a clear statement with ‘Aprendices Visuales’. A NGO can produce great apps and e-books very professionally and with low cost. This project is outstanding regarding its social impact, the passion of the team and its high scalability, because it can help all children to learn happy”, summarizes Peter A. Bruck, initiator and mastermind behind the “European Youth Award.”

From big data heart diagnostics to a robotized exoskeleton
13 start-up projects from all over Europe, from Ukraine to Great Britain, from Sweden to Italy, were invited to the EYA Winners Festival in Graz. Each project stands out due to high social engagement and technical excellence. Besides “Aprendices Visuales” there were many other outstanding projects like the big data project for heart diagnostics “Complex Disease Detector” from Sweden and the project “Exempt from Theory,” produced by young entrepreneurs from Poland.

Further projects that were introduced are the robotized exoskeleton “UMRE,” which helps impaired people to move normally, and “CityTree,” a multifunctional display made out of trees that is used for adver-tising in cities while at the same time reducing air pollution.

Austria was represented with a social media platform that connects younger and older students to help each other with studying called “” and an augmented reality game called “Origin” which was produced by students of the FH Salzburg.

How “Internet of Things” can improve society
The EYA Festival 2015 took place under the theme “Internet of Things – Improving Society”.
Numerous successful entrepreneurs and business leaders like Nigel Hickson, vice president at ICANN Europe, or Manar Alhashash, e-content entrepreneur from Kuwait, shared their success stories with the young creative minds.

Cristina Birsan, campaign coordinator of the UNV International Volunteer Day, summarizes the special “EYA-spirit“: “Normally you go to an event, take the –for you – best out of it and leave, but not with EYA events: you gain so much personally and professionally that you can’t wait to return!”


Find a full list of the winning projects and more information on

Save the date for next year’s festival in your calendar – EYA Festival 2016, November 23-26.

Contact: | T: +43 660 63 04 08-2 | #EYA2015

Friday, November 06, 2015

BPN 1716: Internationalisation of the four main Dutch publishers

Surfing in my digital archive I noticed that this month 31 years ago I wrote an article on the internationalisation of the four main Dutch publishers: Elsevier, VNU, Kluwer and Wolters-Samsom Group. They mainly aimed at expanding in the US, but also aimed at getting into new business such as databasepublishing. Looking back it is clear that Elsevier (RELX these days) has come out as a real survivor and winner. VNU turned from a consumer info publisher into a professional info publisher, but lost and is no more. Kluwer and the WoltersSamsom Group have merged and survived internationally.

Page 32 contains an advertisement

Friday, October 16, 2015

BPN 1715: Linguists start to move towards Open Access

The editorial boards of prominent language journals are  say goodbye to their commercial publishers. With the support of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) they are moving to the Open Access platform to promote the accessibility of their scientific results with less limitations. NWO supports two linguistics publications  to exit, while the editorial boards of another two or three linguistic publications negotiate a departure with their commercial publishers, among which Elsevier. 

Open Access
Open Access has been brewing ever since the introduction of internet. This new way of publication was seen as a replacement for the expensive way of distributing the results of scientific research. In the publishing chain universities were paying three times for their own results: universities pay/paid the salaries of the scientists; the scientists do not get paid for their articles, if accepted; universities pay subscriptions for the journals. Of course the publishers pay desk editors, the peer review as well as the printing and distribution. Yet the expensive subscriptions do not weigh up to the costs made by the universities.

In the Netherlands a turn to another way of academic publishing has been coming since the nineties. Were scientists of optical technologies of the Technical University in Eindhoven already using e-mail and repositories for their publications in a fast changing area of technology in 1998/1999, university boards were not yet interested in addressing  the issue. I In the new century Open Access came on the agenda of university boards and scientific institutes such as the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), Association of universities in the Netherlands (VNSU) and the Dutch academic network SURF. By 2004 the online database of scientific publications NARCIS was started. Besides academic support, there is now a political drive as State secretary Dekker of the ministry of Education, Culture and Science insists that in five years 60 per cent and in 10 years 100 per cent of the scientific publications will be Open Access. Publications of scientists are financed with public money and need to be accessible without any financial thresholds. 

Project LingOA 
Now a unique initiative, named LingOA, commences. Editorial boards of five journals for linguistic research will say goodbye to their present publishers, among others Elsevier, and start publishing their articles, accessible for society. Two of the editorial boards of LabPhon and  Journal of Portuguese Linguistics have received 20.000 euro to start up their publications. Lingua and Journal of Greek Linguistics as well as a third journal are still negotiating with their publishers, among other about the ownership of the journal’s title.
Articles will be published by the online platform Ubiquity Press from January 2016 onwards. Besides online, LingOA concluded an agreement with the Open Library of the Humanities (OLH), guaranteeing at least a five year existence of the LinOA journals.

One small step 
The step by LingOA to Open Access is important. It can be made as the academic linguistics world is small and close and the subscriptions of the journals are not extreme. But the journals in categories as bio-medical publications the subscription prices are extreme and might still take some time to exit the realm of commercial, academic publishers. LingOA has set one small step, but an important one to change academic publishing.

Update 8 November 2015: 
Just read that the linguistic journal Lingua has left the Elsevier stable. The 5 editors and 31 member editorial board will start a new competing journal Glossa in January with the British publisher Ubiquity Press.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

BPN 1714: Libraries and subscriptions engine behind growth Dutch ebook sales

Press release CB: October 14, 2015 - Media

Today the Dutch e-book distributor CB presents at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the E-book barometer in the Dutch-speaking region for the third quarter of 2015. The e-book sales grew by 127% as compared to the third quarter of 2014. The figures show that the e-book reader finds his way to libraries and e-book subscriptions.Consumers will read more and more digital. Readers dot not buy just e-books, but also rent them from the library or subscribe to a service that offers 'unlimited' titles

A fifth is a top-100 title 

In addition, the share of e-books in the total book sales increased from 5.5% to 5.8% (only in online book sales the increase was from 27.6% to 28.7%). New is the figure of CB concerning the share in bestsellers: "Of all e-books only one-fifth is top-100 title." This figure has been derived from the title barometer published by CB today showing the development of Dutch-language book titles as expressed in titles, genre division, some self published titles and bestsellers share in the total.
 (Sorry an English version of the infographic is not yet available) 

Title Barometer CB: Wide range of titles success factor in book salesCB publishes today at the Frankfurt Book Fair for the first time the title Barometer, with figures on the development of Dutch-language book titles. The infographic includes the development of new titles, the number of sales of  best sellers on the total and the number self published titles.The figures are compiled based on registered Dutch titles at CB and the movements thereof.Mathijs Suidman, Business Unit Manager at Media CB: "With the development of the title Barometer, we want to give the market a concrete understanding of relevant developments. A good example is that the number of new titles has increased in recent years despite the fact that we were dealing with a shrinking book market. "BestsellersIt is clear that the top-100 has become of less importance in book sales. Suidman: "In the past 12 months, only 13.2% of all sales concerned the top 100 titles. Moreover, the figures show that 20% of the bestsellers are bought by booksellers on publication. A bestseller is often a bestseller after its publication, supported by attention on television and social media. That the reader is not only interested in the top-100 underlines the importance of the wide availability of Dutch books. 'Self publishingOf the currently available titles 6.2% is self published; self publishing authors, are possibly assisted by others. Print on demand at CB (a book is only produced when it is ordered) also makes an important contribution to a wide range of titles.

  (Sorry, an English version of this infographic is not yet available)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


40 Winners from 24 countries, selected from 386 nominations. WSA 2015 once more presents a diameter of innovation from Indonesia to Argentina, from Iceland to New Zealand. Be it a tool for accurate diagnostics of wounds, a webpage to organize international meetings for you or a political think... The WSA World Congress and Gala - World's Best in e-Content  will be held in Shenzhen, China  from Dec. 7 - 9, 2015. Check the World Summit Award site!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Shortlist WSA2015

The World Summit Award announces the 97 international projects chosen by the WSA Online Jury to go to the second round of evaluation. Selected from 386 nominations from 86 countries, these 97 digital innovations have been evaluated by the WSA Grand Jury, that stepped together in Baku, Azerbaijan. The WSA World Congress and Gala - World's Best in e-Content  will be held in Shenzhen, China  from Dec. 7 - 9, 2015.

To review the shortlist yourself:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

PRESS RELEASE: 13 European Youth Award winners

An app encouraging people to discover pretty streets by walking instead of taking cars, and motivating youth to engage creating a trendy brand of ‘social projects’ through an online portal are just two of the aims this year’s most outstanding and creative digital initiatives from all over Europe pursue. 17 international experts selected 13 projects having impact on society as Winners of the European Youth Award in the European Youth Capital Cluj-Napoca (Romania).

Two intense days full of constructive debates, passionate discussions and fruitful collaboration led to the most important result of the European Youth Award 2015: thirteen projects winning this year’s contest for young & smart digital social start-ups.

“From the projects I have seen in this competition, there comes out a sense of “wow, I wish I could do that” and the feeling of pride and effort that these people put in their projects.”, says Marsha Tarle, Communications Manager at Telecentre-Europe and member of the EYA Grand Jury.

Among the change-makers of tomorrow who convinced the 17 members of the EYA Grand Jury are two brothers, trying to fight worldwide killer number one with the means of technology: coronary artery disease. In Sweden, they developed a screening and early diagnosis tool based on a machine learning getting smarter over the time. Ultimately, this tool may save many lives.

Although each of the winning projects is unique and stands out for itself, they have one thing in common: high-impact on society through the creative use of digital technologies.

The winning teams come from 10 different countries: Austria (2), Czech Republic, France, Germany (3), Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine. They are invited to showcase their projects at the Winners Event (EYA Festival) in Graz, Austria, from November 18-21. This three-day-long Festival is a unique event combining knowledge, innovation, networking, inspiration and motivation. On the basis of their presentation, the EYA Festival Grand Jury will select the Overall Winner 2015.

Apart from being recognized on this international stage and getting access to the vibrant EYA network, EYA winners gain much more: for instance, students from all over Europe will develop project analyses and each project will be taken under a mentor’s wing for two months. “GovFaces has benefited enormously from the award which played a central role in helping to affirm, validate and legitimize the quality and aspirations of our work.” concludes Jon Mark Walls, CEO of GovFaces his expierience of winning the EYA in 2014.

The complete list of winning projects and Festival program can be found on

Saturday, September 19, 2015

BPN 1713: The Trouble With Digitizing History

The Netherlands spent seven years and $202 million to digitize huge swaths of AV archives that most people will never see. Was it worth it?

Driving through the Dutch countryside near the town of Hilversum, I have an overwhelming feeling that the surrounding water will wash out the road, given that my car is almost level with it. So it’s surprising that the Netherlands’ main audiovisual archives at the Sound and Vision Institute reside in a multilevel underground structure here, ostensibly below sea level.
Sound and Vision, together with two other national institutions, finished digitizing the bulk of the Netherlands’ audiovisual archives last year, for a cost of $202 million over seven years. The project ran smoothly and transparently, digitizing 138,932 hours of film and video, 310,566 hours of audio, and 2,418,872 photos.

Read further at: 

Monday, September 14, 2015

BPN 1712: Launch digital newsstand Blendle in Germany

Newsstands, where newspapers, magazines and a small selection of books are sold, are not uncommon in the streets of Paris. The French call them kiosque.  Starting today, the Dutch digital kiosk Blendle is also accessible in Germany.

The digital kiosk Blendle is already available in the Netherlands since 2013. Soon after the start the service received venture capital up to 3 million euro from the German publisher Axel Springer (publisher of Bild) and the New York Times. The German equivalent of the Dutch service sells newspaper and magazine articles at a unit price of 25 euro cents.

The Blendle formula is new in the newspaper and magazine chain. Up to now, in particular newspapers tried to put up a payment wall, with little success. Only newspapers with financial and economic news were really successful. The formula to sell products at a unit price is new. Variations on this formula already pop up; so is the Swedish company Start-up Readly copying the music service Spotify offering a service of magazines  for they pay a flat rate of 10 euros per month.

Many publishers  welcome the Blendle formula. Yet it is questionable whether Blendle will occupy a crucial place in the newspaper and magazine chain. Apart from this question the digital kiosk will experience a problem in Germany as readers are still ink tifosi; they prefer to read printed paper.

Place in the chain
The formula of Blendle is new. Until now, there were a few services, who provided similar services, but just different; they are the so-called syndication services. These services provided a subscription service to a collection of newspaper and magazine articles. In contrast to the syndication services Blendle sells an article for a flat rate of 0, 25 euro cent. Besides Blendle targets a wide audience, while syndicators  target professional users.

For Blendle it is difficult to assess whether the service will ever be profitable. The history of syndication services shows an upward battle. The oldest digital syndication service LexisNexis dates back to the seventies. In the eighties, the company added the British FT Profile service to its portfolio and LexisNexis itself was acquired in 1994 by Reed Elsevier. The service works globally and has mostly businesses and institutions as customers. A competitive service is NewsEdge, part of Thomson, owner of Reuters.

In the Netherlands attempts were made at syndication services. In 1987 the Dutch Press database in The Hague was established. The service was sold to the newspaper group PCM in 1996 and became part of the archive service Fact Lane, which in its turn was sold to LexisNexis in 2002. One year later in 1997 the syndication service Your News was founded by by Jan van Ottele; the service went bankrupt in 2002.

Profitability for syndication seems to depend on a broad portfolio of newspapers and magazines, subscriptions and professional users. Moreover, the income is marginal. It took LexisNexis more than 10 years to become profitable. It took the British service FT Profile exactly 10 years to become profitable. The other syndication veteran NewsEdge showed a turn-over of 71,5 million dollars after 11 years.illion dollars. And Your News burned 31 million guilders in five years.

Acceptance in Germany
The adventure of Blendle in Germany is uncertain. Of course the digital world has been growing for years. Yet, Germany still is a country of ink tifosi, addicts to printed paper. Dutch news services noticed that, when exporting their formula to Germany. Your News was forced to withdraw within two years after the launch in Germany. also found out that the culture and reading habits in Germany were different. In 2011 the subsidiary of the multinational Sanoma withdrew from the German market after positioning  the news in two years, quoting a slow growth.

Great adventure
Blendle has started a great adventure. Blendle is no syndication service and therefore has no steady income from subscriptions and  has a broad range of passers-by. In June 2015 Blendle claimed 400 000 users in The Netherlands. But the question is how many of these only logged in to test the service using the free voucher of 2.50 euro. For the time being one can suppose that there are more ghost users than paying customers. In Germany the question will how quickly the German Internet users will accept Blendle and come back regularly to acquire articles and pay for them.

Blendle remains a middle man in the chain of newspapers and magazines. Its turn over and profits will be likewise. Let's be honest, the kiosks in Paris have never produced a publishing empire.