Monday, November 20, 2017

BPN 1736: Manifesto FREEZE! Save and preserve digital heritage

The project group The Digital City Revived consisting of of the Amsterdam Museum, Waag Society, University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision has presented its final results of: FREEZE! Save and preserve our digital heritage. The Digital City as a case study for web archaeology.
The final results of FREEZE! contain three parts:
• Do It Yourself Manual for Web Archaeology (Dutch language);
• Feasibility Study Presentation (Dutch language);
• FREEZE! A manifesto for safeguarding and preserving born-digital heritage.

Version 1 – November 2017

Finding ways to preserve born-digital heritage has become a matter of urgency and growing concern. Websites, games and interactive documentaries each bring specific challenges that need to be addressed. It takes three to tango: Ensuring that our digital lives and digital creativity are not lost to future generations requires a joint effort by the principal players: creators, heritage professionals and policy makers. This manifesto lays out the actions they need to take today to safeguard born-digital heritage.

Digital products are at risk of being lost from the moment they are created. Creators are therefore part of the preservation process - whether by writing code, editing digital content or by creating some other form of digital expression. We encourage creators as follows:
• Invest time to describe your work carefully, whatever platform you use to store and manage your work. Provide at least a minimal set of metadata (who, what, where, when). Always include versioning data and information about the rights status of the work.
• Document your work as copiously as possible. Documentation enables future users
to understand and reuse your work more easily. Describe the technical specifications of your work, for example the hardware and software used to create the work.
• If possible, assign open licenses (such as Creative Commons) to your work. This enables content to be reused. Reuse will help to ensure the longevity of your work.
• Where possible, use open-source software and open-source hardware. Your work will withstand the test of time better, since open means: independent of proprietary technology and vendor lock-in, and transparent availability of the source code and building blocks of your work.

Heritage Professionals.
Digital material presents several challenges for heritage professionals. For instance, the sheer amount of material created, dispersed among diverse platforms, hardware and domains makes selection a daunting task. There is little standardization of file formats and environments that supports these. Norms for describing and managing this complexity are inadequately developed. The tasks involved in collecting, preserving and making digital materials accessible fall into three categories. We encourage heritage professionals as follows:

• Identify vulnerable digital heritage in your area of activity and find out which forms of digital heritage your organisation develops, manages or intends to manage (in line with collection policy plans). Create a convergent digital landscape by harmonising collection policies with other institutions. To ensure success, avoid overlaps and gaps in the combined collections.
• Develop policies for acquiring and keeping born-digital material accessible sustainably. Use existing models, as described in the ‘DIY Handbook of Web Archaeology’.
• Obtain legal advice regarding storage and reuse. Act responsibly when using, managing and making personal data or information accessible.

• Where possible, cooperate with (fellow) institutions and industrial partners to find collective solutions. Choose robust –preferably open - technical infrastructures and operating systems.
• Assume that your current technology will need to be updated regularly. So prepare your exit strategy: can you move data from system A to system B easily?
• Use well-documented, open standards, e.g. for storage formats and exchange protocols. Non-dependence on suppliers ensures your archive material remains interchangeable in the future.
• Agree clear guidelines for delivery of acquired and transferred born-digital material: when, why and under what terms. Outline the rights and obligations before and after material is transferred. If accessibility is an objective, organise this when the acquisition is realised: lay down terms for accessing the collections.
• Ensure copious metadata records are kept of digital objects so that the context in which these were created is clear for future users. E.g. record the hardware and software environment in which objects function. Document data in the form of descriptions, photos, screenshots, screencasts, videos etc, and establish conservation procedures.
• Ensure collections can be used and reused, that digital objects can be found, accessed, interoperated, reused and stored in a sustainable manner. Use and reuse by a large group of users increases awareness of the importance and need for preservation.

Knowledge sharing
• Exploit the power of the community. Introduce your team to the original creators, inventors and users. Organise meetings to share expertise.
• Keep track of developments in amateur communities involved with digital works. Much can be learned from bottom-up initiatives by amateurs who keep older digital cultures alive.
• Invest in your co-workers’ increasing expertise and keep track of developments by following blogs, seminars and participating in domestic and international expert communities, such as NDE (Digital Heritage Network Netherlands) or iPRES.
• New born-digital products require new instruments and new research queries. To keep pace with rapid changes in technology, be prepared for new ways of working and new ways of cooperating.

Policy makers
You hold the key to creating a sustainable policy that ensures sustainable digital heritage. We encourage policy makers to do the following:
• Stimulate cross-domain collaboration and use of collaborative instruments. Value hands-on expertise. Encourage the experts who love tracking down bit rot, annotating ancient code and building emulators. Put them in a position to share their knowledge and obtain recognition for their contribution.
• Bring the need to develop sustainability policy and preservation policy to the attention of institutions.
• Stimulate the emergence and use of open and collective services to ensure that as many heritage institutions in the Netherlands as possible will be able to guarantee long-term access to the digital collections they manage. Encourage collaboration within the Digital Heritage Network, based on the National Strategy for Digital Heritage.
• Encourage copyright reform to facilitate the preservation, availability and reuse of born-digital heritage.

There are many ways to advance the aims outlined here. We are the steering committee of the DDS project, realised in 2016 and 2017 with support from Mondriaan Fund, National Coalition Digital Preservation, Digital Heritage Network, Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, Creative Industries Fund NL. We welcome your feedback regarding this version of our manifesto and are keen to learn about other activities designed to pursue these goals. We encourage others to join us to help further the overarching objective of preserving born-digital heritage.

Judikje Kiers Amsterdam Museum
Julia Noordegraaf University of Amsterdam
Johan Oomen Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Marleen Stikker Waag Society

More information:

This material is licensed under Creative-Commons-Licence BY 4.0 International: http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/4.0/

Monday, November 06, 2017

BPN 1735: List WSA WINNERS 2017 is out

The list of the 40 WSA winners 2017, selected from over 400 nominations from 180 countries has been published. They present a truly global spectre of change making projects. The WSA winners 2017 present the top 40 of change making projects ranging from big data for tourism to organ 3D printing, from a job-platform focusing on female IT talent to empowering smallholder farms. Be it a miniature AED machine with diagnostic app, AR children books, or a tiny programmable computer that supports/encourages school children to learn coding, the WSA winners 2017 - no matter what the technology, it’s the unique content that makes these top 40 exceptional. 

See all winners here… 

The jury consisted of 20 international experts in entrepreneurship, innovation and IT and met in Berlin to select and evaluate the 40 WSA winners from a shortlist of 90 entries. The Jurors discussed in a moderated, democratic 3 days process all sides and facets of each shortlisted project. In cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and GIZ, and in the framework of MAKE-IT, WSA leveraged the presence of the Grand Jury members also to schedule a series of innovation events in Berlin together with local government, corporate partners and local start-ups and social entrepreneurs. Grand Jury meetings took place in past years in Dubai, Bahrain, Croatia, India, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Estonia and Azerbaijan. 

The WSA winners 2017 will present their innovations and receive their awards on stage during the WSA Global Congress on international digital innovation to improve society from 18-20 March in Vienna.

Friday, September 29, 2017

BPN 1734: Fourth Dutchman in the Internet Hall of Fame

The Internet Society (ISOC) has admitted the Dutchman Jaap Akkerhuis of NLnet Labs to the Internet Hall of Fame. Akkerhuis began his career at the Mathematical Centre, which is now CWI. Membership is an honour given to people who have made an exceptional contribution to the development and advancement of the global internet. Other internet pioneers on the roll include Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee. The announcement increases the Hall of Fame's membership to 103, of whom four are Dutch.

Photograph: Olav Kolkman
Connecting the technical community worldwide
Jaap Akkerhuis's admission to the Internet Hall of Fame is in recognition of the tireless work he has done on the internet's development since the eighties. When the internet was in its infancy, he was constantly travelling between research centres, internet service providers (ISPs) and registries across Europe and the United States. Akkerhuis is particularly famous for his level-headed approach and his many technical and organisational contributions down the years. ISOC consequently regards him as an innovator of the technical community. In his current role at NLnet Labs, Akkerhuis remains extremely active in organisations such as ICANN, IETF, RIPE, ISOC and CENTR. He has been a member of ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee since its creation, for example.

Senior Research Engineer at NLnet Labs
Since 2004, Akkerhuis has been Senior Research Engineer at NLnet Labs, an independent, non-profit R&D foundation. The organisation is known around the world for the software it develops for the Domain Name System (DNS) – a core component of the internet, which translates domain names into the numeric IP addresses used by computers. NLnet Labs' software is widely used by ISPs and other domain name administrators. The organisation therefore makes a major contribution to the security and stability of the internet as a global communication infrastructure. 

Involvement with CWI and SIDN 
Akkerhuis began his career in 1977 at the Mathematical Centre - now Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) - in Amsterdam, which later developed into a major hub of European computer networks. After working in the United States for about eight years, he joined NLnet, the first Dutch ISP, in 1995. From 1999 to 2004, Akkerhuis was at SIDN, the organisation created in 1996 by Piet Beertema (CWI), Boudewijn Nederkoorn (SURFnet) and Ted Lindgreen (NLnet) to manage the .nl domain. During that period, the number of .nl domain names grew to more than a million and SIDN rose to national and international prominence.

Fourth Dutch person in the Internet Hall of Fame
The Internet Hall of Fame was established in 2012 to honour the visionaries, leaders and geniuses who have made outstanding contributions to the development and advancement of the global internet. Anyone anywhere in the world can nominate a person for membership. ISOC considers all incoming nominations against a prescribed set of requirements and assessment criteria. The final decision on admission is made by the Internet Hall of Fame Advisory Board and a select group of existing members. Jaap Akkerhuis is the fourth Dutch person added to the illustrious list of members. The first two were Kees Neggers (former CEO of SURFnet) and Teus Hagen (former Chair of NLnet), admitted to the Hall of Fame in 2013. The following year, they were joined by Erik Huizer, CTO at SURFnet. 

Source: ISOC press release

Thursday, May 25, 2017

BPN 1733: First Dutch Internet poster

Go back in time to almost pre-internet times. You wake up in the morning of May 1st, 1995 and expect Labour Day rallies with red flags. But instead you are confronted with a poster of a monkey with a twisted tail and a slogan Be curious with a telephone number.  What would happen if you had called the telephone number? Would they have made you out for a monkey? 

The poster 
Such an alienating poster the Amsterdam people did not expect and certainly not on May 1, 1995, Labour Day. The poster was even cryptic in its design.  It consists of three sections: the monkey and monkey tail, the pay-off Be curious with a telephone number and a corporate name.

A monkey with an unnaturally twisted tail was not part of Dutch iconography until that time. What did the monkey tail represent? Of course, the word was known from the animal's anatomy. But was the monkey tail a secret code intended for insiders? People working with a calculation machine or a cash register might have recognized the monkey tail in the addition symbol point (@) of the calculator. Only the early internet adopters would have recognized the symbol by which the computer engineer Ray Tomlinson sent an e-mail from one computer to another in 1971. The e-mail sign represents the term at, because it indicates which internet domain the e-mailer is in.

The pay-off was intriguing in more than one sense. Be curious was an invitation to inquire, but in what. The telephone number did only tell that the answer would come from an Amsterdam subscriber.

In addition to the symbolism of the monkey tail, the intriguing pay-off as well as the red star between the corporate name of Euronet and the Internet striking. Did the red star refer to the Cold War farewell in 1989 or was it a variation on the red star of the beer brewer's guild, as Heineken used on the label of its bottles? Asked for the origin of the red star, one of the founders of Euronet*Internet states: "There is no very complicated philosophy behind the star ... except that we thought The Sky was the limit. It had absolutely nothing to do with Heineken." 

First Dutch internet poster 
The poster with the monkey tail was the first commercial internet poster in the Netherlands. In 1995 internet did not have many internet users yet. The term was used for the first time on a May 1, 1993 in a national newspaper. But in 1995, the term 'internet' was not yet part of the common language of the general public. In trade publications it was used abundantly. But in 1995, the word 'internet' only appeared 22 times in the national newspaper Trouw, while in all national newspapers and public magazines, it was used two thousand times. From May 1, 1993 the first commercial consumer internet service was offered to the general public by XS4ALL. In January 1994, the Amsterdam Digital City (DDS) was opened and attracted ten thousand users in six weeks. By mid-1995 there were about three hundred thousand users of commercial and non-profit internet services. In short, only a small circle of internet users knew that the poster meant to promote a new Internet Service Provider (ISP). Only inquisitive people were lured by a cryptic poster.

The poster was the first public performance of the company, founded in the summer of 1994 by Simon Cavendish (1961-2005) and Arko van Brakel (1968 -). The ISP did not position itself as a technical company that granted access to the electronic highway, but brought the Internet, as the first ISP in the Netherlands with a marketing plan. The poster, designedby Krijn van Noordwijk, was part of that campaign. The internet novice received a welcome pack with internet software and a manual. Euronet*Internet thus set a standard for internet marketing, which was followed by the later PTT Telecom Service Planet Internet and World Online. Euronet*The Internet was purchased by France Telecom in 1998 and continued under the name of Wanadoo. Now Euronet is still used as a trade name at, an internet service company that is part of M7 Group S.A.

After publication about the first Dutch internet poster in a Dutch blog, the item has become a subject of web archaeology. A Dutch museum, collecting Dutch digital heritage, has expressed interest to let it be part of its collection.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

BPN 1732: 50 years digital culture in The Netherlands

It was in the sixties that mainframe and mini computers made its entry in Europe. Besides administration, computers started to be use used for digital culture tasks. This year, 2017, it is fifty years ago that digital media in The Netherlands were introduced to be used for digital culture. Pioneer was the late Reed Elsevier publisher Dr. Pierre Vinken.

New business 
Vinken worked as a neurosurgeon at the University Hospital in Leiden. There he came into contact with automation thanks to prof. Dr. A.R. Bakker, the promoter of a hospital information system BAZIS. Until 1966 Vinken also worked as an editor at Excerpta Medica, an international abstracts publishing  in the medical field. The publishing house had a permanent staff of 54 medical specialists who were editorially responsible for 35 abstract journals and reference works. The editorial staff produced summaries of biomedical articles and indexed these. In the sixties the archive stored more than 1.3 million English-language abstracts and a multiple number of index terms were deposited in a thesaurus. The paper production process was cumbersome and not very efficient. 

More production, more accuracy, fewer people 
When Vinken became managing director in 1966 became director, he soon developed ambitious plans for the publishing portfolio. He wanted to expand the number of abstract journals. In practice, he wanted more targeted journals with cross journal summaries. In the former production line this  meant that the relevant abstracts and indexing terms had to be typeset again. Moreover Vinken strived after full consistency in the thesaurus terms by a fully automated thesaurus Malimet (Master List of Medical Terms). In fact Vinken aimed at more production and more accuracy. Despite the  greater production, he did favour expansion of the typing  room where texts and index terms were punched on the ribbons for processing in typesetting machines

Pierre Vinken (second from right) during visit to headquarters the computer manufacturer NCR in March 1969 

In response to these plans, technical specifications were drawn up for an editorial system  in 1967. In his search for a system, Vinken met Frans van der Walle, an aircraft engineer. He recommended him to buy a computer system that consisted of four linked NCR 315 machines. In a next step, all typesetting and computer activities of Excerpta Medica were transferred to a new software house, Infonet, a joint company of the publisher and Van der Walle. In 1968 a pilot run was successful and after the installation of the system in 1969, significant savings were realized in the production process of publishing. Moreover, thanks to the new production method Excepta Medica was able to launch new magazines for smaller targeted audiences. 

The success of Excerpta Medica and Infonet, made Vinken made a much sought after consultant in electronic publishing  projects. In 1969 he was consulting for the Dutch library project PICA, the Project for Integrated Catalogue Automation. The thesaurus method of Excerpta Medica was imitated in the project of the Great Spectrum Encyclopedia, for which Infonet developed the editorial and production system in 1970.

Pierre Vinken, sitting next to the later EU commissioner Neelie Kroes during the launch of the European Network Euronet-Diane in the Netherlands in 1980 (© NBBI) 

In 1973 Vinken was asked by the Dutch government to lead the Committee on Nuclear Information. This committee was established by the government in 1973 and was responsible for importation of the Dutch abstract contributions to the database of the International Nuclear Information System (INIS). More committees would follow such as one on metallurgical information and one on Dutch Bibliography.

In 1974 Vinken started the last phase in electronic publishing.  Excerpta Medica, now acquired by Elsevier, began to distribute its publications per tape to pharmaceutical companies for internal use of the research departments as well as electronic online services. In that year the abstracts became available worldwide on the American Information Service Dialog.

In 1976 Vinken was appointed professor of medical information collections at Leiden University. His inaugural speech was titled: Information generates information. 

Until 1980 Vinken remained actively involved in the development of new media and electronic publishing in the Netherlands, but he also operated internationally. In 1980 he bought on behalf of Elsevier, the American publisher Congressional Information Services (CIS), reportedly f 43 million US dollar. CIS was engaged in collecting, indexing and distributing data from nearly 300 committees and sub-committees of the US Congress, both in print and digitally. The acquisition of this publishing house was the prelude to the establishment of the publishing house Europe Data in 1983 by Elsevier. This new publishing company had to apply to the US CIS formula in the European Community, but through multiple media and multiple languages. The company was off to a slow start, despite the financial participation of the Limburg Development Fund LIOF. But the company never picked up speed as Europeans do not pay for government documents. Vinken as CEO of Elsevier, decided to close Europe Data.

But in the year 1994 Vinken won the trophy of his electronic publishing career as an electronic publisher. As a member of the Board of Directors of Reed Elsevier he was part of the group responsible for the acquisition of the LexisNexis information service for 1.5 billion US dollar by Elsevier.

In thirty years Vinken saw the whole publishing process, from production to distribution and profitability change and experienced company successes of Excerpta Medica and LexisNexis, but also the failure of Europe Data. With such a career dr. Pierre Vinken proudly can be called a pioneer of new media and electronic publishing industry in the Netherlands, but also abroad.