Friday, September 30, 2005

Interactive narrative

Recently I started reading the book Developing Interactive Narrative Content, edited by Brunhild Bushoff. The book is a compilation of articles related to the subject of narrative content creation for interactive media. The authors have been drawn from workshop leaders, invited speakers or participants on either the workshops Sagas writing interactive fiction or Sagasnet, both vocational training initiatives. Both initiative are being supported by the European MEDIA Programme and have been established since 1997. The workshops are offering 5 to 6 days workshops for European professionals. Participants have been writers, directors, designers, developers, producers and artists.

The reader gathers 22 articles by sagas_sagasnet experts and selected participants dealing with a broad spectrum of issues to be considered when developing interactive narrative content, as well as on the expanding field of interactive media itself.The collection covers iTV, interactive film, games, mobile applications, installations; gathering interactive theory essays, descriptions of experimental applications, relevant articles on legal issues or teaching methods for interactive film...

Ernest Adams: Design Considerations for Interactive Storytellers;
Richard Adams: Behaviour, Intelligence and Invisibility and its Effect on Narrative;
Frank Boyd : The Perfect Pitch;
Matthew Costello: The Big Question… about all those horrible, terrible videogames;
Noah Falstein: Natural Funativity;
Steve Dixon , Magnus Helander and Lars Erik Holmquist: Objective Memory: An Experiment in Tangible Narrative ;
Christopher Hales: Interactive Filmmaking: An Educational Experience;
Michael Joyce: Interactive Planes: Toward Post-Hypertextual New Media;
Sibylle Kurz : The Art of Pitching;
Craig A. Lindley: Story and Narrative Structures in Computer Games;
Michael Nitsche : Film Live: An Excursion into Machinima;
Teijo Pellinen: Akvaario: – you are not alone at night;
Bas Raijmakers and Yanna Vogiazou: CitiTag: Designing for the Emergence of Spontaneous. Social Play in a Mixed Reality Game;
Christian Reimann: Authoring Mobile Mixed Reality Applications;
Greg Roach: Granularity, Verbs and Media Types in Interactive Narratives and Narrative Games;
Vincent Scheurer: Adapting Existing Works for Use in Games;
Jochen Schmidt : Behind the Scenes – Before the Screens: Interactive Audience Participation in Digital Cinemas;
Tom Söderlund: Proximity Gaming - New Forms of Wireless Network Gaming;
Stale Stenslie: Symbiotic Interactivity in Multisensory Environments;
Maureen Thomas: Playing with Chance and Choice – Orality, Narrativity and Cinematic Media: Vala’s Runecast ;
Christian Ziegler: 66movingimages - Interaction in Filmic Space;
Eric Zimmerman: Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games: Four naughty concepts in need of discipline.

Brunhild Bushoff (ed.).2005. Developing Interactive Narrative Content. sagas_sagasnet_reader. München: High Text Verlag. 486 pp. (ISBN 3-933269-92-X)

You can order the reader online at:

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Conference webcast

Year after year, I have heard that e-mail and internet would diminish business travel. I have never really believed in that. People like to meet people and network with one another.

But yesterday I made a decision not to travel to a mini conference in The Hague, despite the fact that I had registered (apologies to the organisation, but the experiment had a strange attraction). The municipality had its annual Telecom conference. It is an annual event and one of the few events where you can leave your mobile on or keep your laptop going; sms messages are in fact encouraged and presented on screen.

The conference ticket in my name

The Hague Telecom Conference is one of the happenings in the framework of The Hague Telecomcity, a program started in the late eighties of last century. The Hague was and still is the base of KPN, the incumbent Dutch telco. So on the one hand the campaign was city promotion to attract high tech companies and on the other hand to keep qualified people at work in the city. The campaign started out with projects like videotext at home through Infothuis and a press database. These projects were run by a crazy city official who did not understand technology nor content or copyright; so the impact of the projects was not impressive. The press database changed hands several times since and is no longer an independent service. The consumer service is still alive and in fact facilitated the webcast yesterday.

The free event was heavily overbooked. E-mails arrived saying that you had to be in time in order to have guaranteed seat; otherwise you would have to follow the sessions from the basement. These e-mails added another hour to the travelling. So it would take me something like 3 to 4 hours to be present at a conference of four hours.

So it was interesting to receive a press release telling that the conference would be webcasted. No travelling, while you could follow the presentations from the office. I took the decision not to go, although I had registered. And somewhere in the back of my mind there was a hesitation. Would you see everything about the presentations and would you miss the networking? But as the presentations were going to be up on the site some days after the event, that was no reason to go. And for the networking, the whole list of participants had been published.

The webcast started in time with a beautiful shot of the candelabra of the church, where the conference was held. The quality of the pictures was very good. And when the opening was made, I knew that this conference was going to be a one-lane event: the presenters would be webcasted, but their Powerpoint presentations not. So you saw the presenters doing their nervous ice bear walk and their gesticulations, but you did not see the presentations they referred to. The cameraman did not take a wide angle shot either so that you still could read something of the sheets. In short the webcast organisation was in need of real conference webcast software like that of Noterik Multimedia, a company that presents municipal meetings of mayor, the alderman and the deputies or EU conferences.

Was the experiment to skip the physical meeting worth to stay home for? I think that having the back-up of the PowerPoint presentation will make it possible to check them over. One presentation I would like to see back. The other ones by KPN, UPC and Versatel were the usual presentation on triple or multi play; not too much detail as these companies are quoted on the Stock Exchange (Versatel still is for another two months or so).

For the networking the moderator had promised a beer. With a webcast you miss that offer and of course the contact with the delegates as no Internet forum for discussion and contact is offered.

So weighing up the pro’s and con’s of the decision, I did not feel like I was playing truant. I can say that I will stay in the office more often whenever a webcast is transmitted. As The Hague Telecom Conference is annual happening, the organisation might look at a three-lane webcast (presenters, presentations and messages) and a discussion forum on Internet. In this way they can also limit the number of delegates to comfort standards.

BTW That the city promotion works in the field of telecom was clear from the (almost shameless) closing act when the alderman for economic affairs presented the latest catch, the Chinese telecom company ZTE, which will have its European HQ in The Hague.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DVD is back to standards competition

On August 28, 2005, I wrote a blog about the upcoming DVD standards competition. Well here it is. In the weekend Intel and Microsoft announced that they have chosen HD DVD as the successor to the present DVD.

Intel Corporation and Microsoft Corp. will join major consumer electronics manufacturers, content providers and other companies as members of the HD DVD Promotion Group. After extensive review, both companies determined that the HD DVD format developed by the DVD Forum meets important criteria and delivers unique advantages, including PC and connected device interoperability and an easy, affordable transition to high definition for consumers. HD DVD can bring the excitement of HD video to the consumer faster than competing formats, with the potential for more affordable hardware and more interactive experiences.
Intel and Microsoft are the two most recent additions to the 100 member HD DVD Promotion Group, joining such companies as NEC Corp., SANYO Electric Co. Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. and content providers such as Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures Corp.

The joining of the HD DVD camp is a blow for Philips/Sony which support the Blu Ray standard. Intel and Microsoft say that they have determined that HD DVD is the only viable solution at this time, but that they keep working toward one format that meets consumer and industry requirements. For the consumer this will mean two DVD players (HD DVD or Blu Ray) if he/she wants to see everything on DVD. Products will be more expensive as the volumes will be smaller.

Microsoft and Intel cited the following consumer and industry requirements of any successful next-generation optical format for high definition, which is reflected by what HD DVD delivers:
- Managed Copy: A first for DVDs. Managed Copy is a guaranteed feature within HD DVD that gives consumers the freedom to make copies of their discs to a hard drive or home server, including Media Center PCs using Intel Viiv technology, and enjoy them in every room of the house over their home networks. HD DVD discs also will allow copies of the movie to be played on portable devices.
- "Future-proof" compatibility. Using proven HD DVD "hybrid disc" technology, a single disc can store both high-definition and standard-definition versions of a film, allowing consumers to immediately enjoy the standard-definition movies stored on these discs on today's DVD players, while HD movies can be replayed later on the HD DVD platform. This is an opportunity for consumers to buy discs at launch that future proof their collections -- in other words, helping assure customers that the discs they buy will remain viewable in the future.
- Proven low-cost, high-volume manufacturing. HD DVD discs use essentially the same manufacturing equipment as existing DVDs, meaning that production of HD DVD can ramp up easily and with lower costs.
- Capacity. HD DVD-ROM discs will offer dual-layer 30GB discs at launch, compared with BD-ROM discs, which will be limited to 25GB.
- Interactivity. HD DVD discs will offer greater interactivity using iHD technology, allowing for enhanced content, navigation and value-added functionality for high-definition films. For example, HD DVDs can offer advanced picture-in-picture capability so that other video, such as a director's commentary, could play on top of the movie.
- Format for notebook PCs. The compatibility of HD DVD with standard DVD facilitates and simplifies development of slim disc drives for integration in notebook PCs, one of the fastest-growing segments of the PC market.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A makeshift testlab in Amsterdam

In the Vondel Park in Amsterdam two containers has been placed on top of each other. It is not the beginning of a new series of Big Brother, but it is the testlab of online games. In the container 7 people will rank a list of 1000 online games in 4,5 days. It must be a crazy task.

The seven, 3 ladies and 4 men, can be seen live thanks to webcams and they write also a blog (in Dutch) about their experiences. The seven fanatics have been selected out of 300 candidates.

Gamers are asked to send in their favourite games. They can win prizes by participating.

It is a nice action, but what will be the lasting result? The list will always be controversial. But on the other hand there has been exposure for the sponsors.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A Sunday with Khachaturian


Yesterday I had a chance to look at the commemorative CD-ROM of the Armenian conductor and composer Khachaturian. He was the composer of the film music of Spartacus and famous for his Sabre dance. He was born in 1903 and at the centenary of his birthday all kind of festivities were held and this CD-ROM made.

It is a CD-ROM with a menu stucture containing a photo album, timeline, principal works, videomaterials, biography and catalogue. The CD-ROM is full of photographs, contains videos and of course a lot of music. The CD-ROM does not contain any scores of the music pieces. So you cannot listen to a music piece and go to the music score; I guess this is a feature for tifosi and why would you like to read a music score on a screen?

I enjoyed a quiet Sunday with nice music.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Blogging for self therapy

I saw this article on a press release of AOL.

We blog. We're not ace journalists breaking news exclusives and we're not trying to get famous. But we blog: We talk about what's going on in our lives, and we like it. And a new survey by America Online, Inc. shows that we are not alone. The AOL Blog Trends Survey, conducted by Digital Marketing Services, Inc. (DMS) asked 600 bloggers from around the Web: "Why do you blog, and what do you blog about?"

Why Do We Blog?
▪ Nearly 50% of bloggers do it because it serves as self-therapy.
▪ One-third of bloggers write frequently about self-help and self-esteem topics.
▪ In times of need or high anxiety, 31% of bloggers say they either write in their blog or read the blogs of other people who are experiencing similar issues; that's six times as many people who seek help and counseling from a professional (5%), and second only to those seeking advice from family and friends: 32% vs. 31% who turn to blogs.

Why Don't We Blog?
▪ Only 16% of bloggers say they blog because they're interested in journalism.
▪ As few as 12% say they blog in order to break or stay ahead of the latest news and gossip.
▪ A fractional 8% blog in order to expose political information.

Bloggers Write for Their Favorite Audience: Themselves
▪ Fifty-four percent like to share their thoughts and feelings with others, and 43% like to chronicle their life and interests.
▪ Bloggers don't blog because of peer pressure: Only 16% blog because it's the latest Internet trend, and 21% because their families or friends do.
▪ Most bloggers (66%) feel free to write on "anything and everything."
▪ Only 12% worry that their blogs are funny and witty.
▪ A significant percentage (47%) say they feel no pressure at all when they know they have an audience reading their blog. Although, 54% admit it may take them a little longer to write an entry when others may read it.
▪ Only 13% of people feel disappointed if other people's blogs attract more readers or responses.
▪ Sixty-six percent of respondents say they don't feel pressure to update their blogs frequently (although they do care about how often the blogs they read are updated.)

Blogging Etiquette
▪ Forty-percent of bloggers say it is important to address messages people have posted in their blog in a timely manner.
▪ Sixty-one percent of bloggers feel that posting a comment on another person's blog is the "right thing to do."
▪ One in five bloggers (23%) worry about offending people in their blogs.
▪ More than three out of five bloggers (65%) admit to feeling disappointed when people post negative or abusive comments to their blogs.

More Blogging Factoids
▪ Twenty-nine percent of people write blogs to improve their writing skills and 41% to stay in touch with family and friends.
▪ Survey respondents write and maintain an average of two blogs.
▪Consumer bloggers spend an average of four hours per week writing their blogs.
▪When asked why they read other blogs, most (53%) say for entertainment, 44% say to get a new or fresh perspective on the news, and 36% say to interact with other participants through posting.
▪ Sixty-percent consider themselves to have a 'laid back" blogging personality. A small number (3.8%) describe themselves as blogging perfectionists, obsessive and compulsive.

About the Survey
The survey was conducted from July 17-22, 2005 through Opinion Place, an online research site operated by DMS. Opinion Place utilizes real-time, randomized assignment of respondents to surveys based on a scientifically process. A total of 600 Web users completed the survey. The screen qualifications for this study were males and females aged 18 and above who write one or more blogs on the Web.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Recommended events and books

Today I just make a list of recommended events and books.

Event: Second Vocinet workshop in Tampere (FI) from 10-12 Nov. 2005

Interactive content production demands a new kind of project management. Production cycles have changed and good knowledge of these processes is necessary for all professionals involved, not only for those responsible for management. Media convergence brings new devices, new formats, new business models and new roles for all members of the creative team. Designing digital media content is often cyclical and iterative, a continuous development process. Many people work in small companies where each person may be responsible for project management.
The VocINet workshop on Project Design will discuss the challenges that young professionals meet working in digital media business: the importance of communication, resources, networking. The workshop provides different methods and possibilities how to teach management skills for design students from different fields, how to help students to understand the importance of customer’s and user’s needs, the clients expectations; how to combine their creative skills into a controllable designing production process.

The workshop is organized as a part of VocINet - Vocational Training and Network for European Instructors in Interactive Audio-Visual Media. VocINet is partly funded by the EU MEDIA programme.

It brings together new media experts, producers of outstanding multimedia projects and instructors who want to learn and enhance their skills together with participants from all over Europe. Specially designed for instructors in the field of new media, the two and half day intensive workshop will feature theoretical lectures as well as group work and practical case analysis sessions, all held by international experts and pioneers of Project Design. The workshop consists of lectures, case study presentations and group work sessions, in which the participants create and develop ideas for curricula and practical training.

For further information and to register for the Workshop visit:


Book: E-Content - Technologies and Perspectives for the European Market

This book edited by P.A. Bruck; A. Buchholz; Z. Karssen; A. Zerfass addresses the question how content industries change within a digital environment and what role information and communication technologies play in transforming the competitive landscape. The authors argue that post-industrial societies tend to pay substantial amounts for equipment and gadgets but invest far too little in the quality of the content. In result, much effort is and has to be spent on the enhancement of E-Content. The contributions give an elaborate overview of - the specifics, challenges and prospects of content in the network economy; - Market developments of digital media services; - Paid content business models; - Impacts on scientific publishing; - Developments in the field of E-Learning; - The interplay between technology and content with the example of interactive digital TV; - The mobile games market; - Emerging new cross media markets; - The need to enhance the usability of websites and mobile applications; - How digital applications might be used to capture and store our personal experiences; A final chapter shows the prospects of the European E-Content market and gives an overview of valuable initiatives and resources dealing with the topic of E-Content.

From the contents: ▶ Introduction ▶ E-Content in Europe - Dimensions of an Emerging Field ▶ The State of Digital Media Service Business ▶ Paid Content – From Free to Fee ▶ The Impact of E-Learning ▶ Scientific Publishing – A European Strength ▶ Mobile Games – An Emerging Content Business Area ▶ Cross-Media on the Advance ▶ Interactive Digital Television in Europe ▶ The Usability Factor – Improving the Quality of E-Content ▶ Experience Machines – Capturing and Retrieving Personal Content ▶ Prospects of E-Content in Europe ▶ A Guide to European Initiatives and Resources in E-Content.

2005. XII, 244 p. 24 fig. 28 tab., Hardcover
ISBN 3-540-540-25093-X ▶ € 64,95, £ 50,00

More info

Book Spatial Portals

“Spatial portals are Web sites that make it easier to find, access, and use geographic information available on the World Wide Web. They are changing the way we interacxt with spatial information and have the potential to become the fundamental platform through which we discover, publish and share geographical knowledge.”

Spatial Portal gives an interesting outlook in the evolving developments in geographic information. It will not only make information more accessible but also more easy to interpret. It will change information in content.

The author Winnie Tang is the founder and CEO of ESRI, a company specialising in Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

Order in US:; UK, Europe and Middle East:


Book: e-Content: Voices From the Ground

The book «e-Content: Voices From the Ground» presents for the first time a comprehensive comparison of e-Content and ICT policies on a global scale. It introduces 30 countries from every continent on their way to the Information Society. The book comprises a mixture of expert-interviews and research findings which describe the situation of ICTs in countries like Brazil, Gambia, Slovakia, Canada, Zimbabwe, Indonesia or Bahrain. «e-Content: Voices From the Ground - Version 1.0» by Osama Manzar and Peter A. Bruck has been published by the Digital Empowerment Foundation and the World Summit Award.The book costs EURO 15/$ 10.More info:

Friday, September 23, 2005

EPIC updated

Last year Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson made the Flash movie EPIC 2014, a movie full of predictions on the future of Internet. The personal Video Recorder TIVO plays a role as well as the Philips/Sony digital newspaper. By 2014 the New York Times would go offline after it lost a copyright case against Google and would be reduced to a high class newsletter. The new news product would be the Evolving Personalised Information Construct.

The movie was produced by the Museum of Media History(!); the screendump contains a photograph of the founder of New Media, Vannevar Bush

This year the producers bring an updated version, EPIC 2015. The outcome is the same: the NYT will go offline. But the updated version is mixed with development of the last year: Blogger, Friendster, Google News, GMail, Picassa, iPod etc. No word about TIVO anymore and the Philips/Sony digital paper is either so accepted that it does not warrant attention or so obsolete, that it is not mentioned. Time flies.

Although the NYT is chosen as an icon for newspapers (it could have also been the Washington Post), it is a kind of tragic to see the NYT being used as victim. This newspaper publisher was in the late sixties one of the first publishers to start a newspaper archive with an extensive thesaurus. Most of the archive is now part of the Lexis Nexis service of Reed Elsevier, while it also has an arrive service itself.

Both movies are nice pieces of linear storytelling as well as analysis. Both movies are projections into the future with the data of today. Of course, everyone knows by now that Google or MSN will not rule the world. I still believe that Google will get a successor which analyses the search request more precisely and does not overload the searcher with a quantity of links and often a repetition of the same links, but with relevant links.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Just a brainstorm

Recently I talked with a high tech company, where engineers need always manuals. They had started a new complex product in which the engineers have to crawl all over the place. In order to avoid that they have to go back to their manual on screen (they have abolished printed manual already), they were thinking about e-books. It was an interesting talk as no restrictions to the brainstorm session were set.

The second generation e-books such as Rocket book was discussed, but was not really an option as it was too small for technical details. After that the tablet came up from the computer tablets on HP machines to the Nokia tablet. Similar products have been developed by the Dutch research company TNO for construction managers. They were interesting, but would need a strap around the arm in order to carry the tablet along.

The developmenst of digital paper of E-Ink and Philips was also considered. It is an interesting option as it has a low power consumption, the contrast between black and white is clear. Advantage is that it has a clear readable screen even in sunlight, but a problem would be that it has no backlight in dark areas. There was also discussion on the black and white as the manual works with colours; but as Philips will have digital paper with colour in 2007 and the application we talked about has to be introduced by 2008, this would not be a problem.

But in the brainstorm we went a step further. Why not have a screen in the clothing of the engineers. So get smart clothing. Research has been done on this already; but the research of a Belgian research company, which portrayed itself as the European MIT Media Lab, was stopped just like the company. But given the time span, the development of their manuals, the development of digital paper with colour, the Wimax facilities and the development of smart clothing, this option should be exercised. The engineers' clothes will not be cheap, but it is an exciting perspective to have the technical manual always with you.

I guess by 2015 we will have clothes with built-in screen for reading the newspaper, magazine and books. Yes print will have been abolished by that time; this projection is just as much worth as the 1995 prediction I made about the end of the printed newspaper in 2005.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A small niche

Would a publisher ever think of going into identity verification services? It looks just such a small niche. But Keesing Reference Systems did. Yesterday a press release on such a service was published online.

Years ago Keesing Reference Systems published a looseleaf book with passport and other identity images. It looked fit for a small market of customs and police. After the looseleaf book a CD-ROM was offered. But now the publisher has developed an identity validation service, which is not only intended for police, customs and social services, but also for employers and temp agencies.

The service is offered as a secure internet application. The service works on the basis of of a scan of the original document . The Documentscan keyes the machinereadble data in, analyses the data and reports online in real time. The scan, personal data, biometric data and report are stored in a secure database of an AAA class data center. Besides the identity data other data such as agreements, CVs and other documents can be filed. The documentscan uses a refence database with detailed information on identity documents from more than 200 countries including safety characteristics such as watermarks and UV-reaction.

The Document scan works with Internet Explorer and Firefox, on PCs as well as on Macs. The software was developed by Icontact.

Keesing Reference Systems also offers a verification service for banknotes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Deutsche Telekom in fibre frenzy

I regularly receive announcements of Paul Budde of BuddeComm, an Australian telecom consultancy. Paul Budde is from Dutch origin, but emigrated in the eighties to Australia. In the Netherlands he was involved in the launching of videotext services on Viditel. In his reports he is rather straight forwards and so he is again this morning. This time it is on fibre.

Northern Europe has several avenues for fibre roll-outs. In The Netherlands, municipal councils such as those of Amsterdam and Rotterdam have been investing heavily in fibre networks to supply 10Mb/s broadband to their denizens. Much of the stimulus originally came from the need for fast broadband which was not being met by the major players, and now those municipal networks are coming under fire from cable operators for unbalancing the market.

Germany’s approach promises to be different. Deutsche Telekom has just announced the largest commitment to fibre access in Europe. The company’s ambitious plans involve an investment of up to €3 billion on FttC networks which promise to deliver up to 50Mb/s to homes in 50 cities by the end of 2007. By reaching 50 cities, the company will effectively access the vast majority of the country’s 82 million citizens. The lion’s portion of the investment will go to upgrading fibre access and VDSL equipment, and fibre deployment.

Trials involving DSL and fibre links have been going on since May this year, and participants in Stuttgart und Hamburg have been enjoying speeds of up to 25Mb/s.

Once on-line, the project will propel Germany to the top flight of broadband countries, both in Europe and globally. The first cities will be connected by mid-2006, bringing fast fibre to almost three million households. The speed of the network is what Deutsche Telekom needs to provide the full triple play package of video telephone, TV, PC and other multimedia services. The company’s merger with T-Online is part of the Group’s effort to create the foundation for this step.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Dutch cable companies start to hurry

The cable companies in the Netherlands finally start to go digital. In the past they have attempted to convert consumers from analogue to digital television. But they have the dilemma, whether they have to provide the media player themselves and asks a monthly subscription or that the consumers buy the set-top box themselves. But now it looks like they are in a hurry to get the set-top box in the home. UPC starts introducing digital television for all subscribers from October 1, 2005, while Essent has already 80.000 subscribers with a settop box and Delta cable start the introduction of settop boxes.

UPC, the largest cable operator in the Netherlands, starts with a big campaign. The main points of the campaign are:
- the settop box, UPC MediaBox, will be provided by UPC;
- The settop box is a complete idigital box for EPG, video on demand, tv-email, games, tv-internet, voting services and home-shopping. An option is to select a box with Personal Video Recording (PVR);
- The price of the settop box is included in the subscription price.

Essent has already connected 80.000 households for digital TV. People buy their own set-top box and get a basic package of 45 channels. Extra channels cost 7,95 euro extra.

Delta Cable Comfort starts also offering digital television and radio. Consumers will have to buy the (Samsung, Panasonic or Nokia) settop box themselves. They pay from 90 euro for the box and need a starter package, inclusing a smartcard of 14,90 euro.

The other two cable companies Casema and Multikabel (to be sold soon) are following the model of Essent.

The cable companies will have to hurry as they get competition from IPTV offered by the telecom incumbent KPN and from Digitenne, a terrestrial digital operator, in which KPN has 40 per cent.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Accessibility by speech

During juries of multimedia competitions accessibility is always a point of discussion. Testing sites on accessibility first, would make the work of jurors easier as not too many sites will be left after the evaluation tools have done their work.

Quite often accessibility is seen as a priority in government sites; not that all government sites stick to this. But I think that it should be an issue at every site being built. For visually impaired, deaf people and dyslexic people like also to browse in other sites on Internet. Just easy things like putting a title to a picture is often forgotten. This despite the free software evaluation tools of the Web Accessibility Initiative of W3C.

This week I saw a new tool being used for accessibility in practice: text-to-speech. Of course you know that this facility exists, but you do not directly think about using it when you start designing a site. Besides in the back of your mind you wave away the facility, as it will be expensive (but you never checked).

The VGZ page with a speech balloon

Last year May I saw this facility being used in Hong Kong and China. As the Chines sign language is difficult to read, a start-up company in Hong Kong had developed a similar program for simple Chinese, Mandarin and English. It has been in use for more than two years now for the department of Health in Hong Kong. The founder told me that the program made use of developed speech technology and could be used in combination with Dragon speech software. But this Readspeaker software comes from Sweden and is based on Phoneticom Accessibility Technology (PHAT), has been developed by ReadSpeaker’s parent company, Phoneticom AB, Sweden.

Readspeaker is available in UK English, American English, Swedish, French, Spanish and Italian

In this case, the Dutch health insurer VGZ has looked accessibility. Of course this is not strange for a health insurance company. They should improve the quality of life and do so by having a female voice reading the texts of the site. You push a speech button on the page and the texts are recited. From research the company knows that 20 per cent of the visitors rather listen to the text than read it themselves or that they have a handicap with reading.

VGZ has a collaboration for this facility with the Swedish company ReadSpeaker. Although the emphasis in some words is not perfect, the accessibility is greatly improved. All in all, I guess that blind people working with a word rule for feeling letters will rather listen to the voice; but there will be more people activating the speech button for whatever reason.

Readspeaker is also available in Dutch, be it with different commands (Say it vs Read it to me)

The addition of speech should be seen as an addition to the accessibility pallet. When setting up a site basic accessibility rules should be applied.

(Of course the promotion pages of Readspeaker can also be read to you by pushing the balloon)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Broadband yields broadcast on Internet

Broadband gets broadcasters online In the Netherlands more than 54 per cent of the 6.2 million households have broadband. And you wonder what the people in those households really consult. Do they read news, do they download or stream music or do they download or stream video.

This week it became clear that the Dutch broadcast companies reap the benefits from internet for the first time. In August the visits of the websites of the public and commercial broadcast companies grew to 20,9 million; in comparison to the same period in 2004 it was 8,3 million. And the latest broadcast company Talpa of John de Mol was the fastest growing multimedia broadcast company; even before starting the Big Brother TV program and 24 hours Internet site.

While the TV audiences slim, the internet audience of the broadcast companies on Internet grow. This is not only due to the growing number of broadband households, but also due to the web strategies of the broadcast companies. Talpa has forced the other broadcast companies to the brink as far as internet goes. With 24 hour Big Brother the public and commercial companies are loosing ground. And Talpa is not only moving up fast in the Dutch broadcast list, but takes already the 18th position in the total Dutch list.

SBS Broadacasting is lagging behind. Their interest in Internet is not great. RTL (Bertelsmann), radio and television stations, is rapidly closing in on the public broadcast companies. But at least for the rest of the season it will have to fear Talpa with Big Brother.

Multiscope, a Dutch market research company, put the following table together.
1. Public broadcast companies 5.510.000 49% (+33%)
2. RTL Nederland radio and tv 5.180.000 46% (+96%)
3. Talpa radio and television 3.050.000 27%
4. SBS Broadcasting radio + tv 1.550.000 14% (+61%)
This table shows the four groups of Dutch broadcasting companies, the unique visitors level in millions, the market reach in percentages and the growth in percentages.

RTL Netherlands is in fact the fastest growing company which will take over the lead of the public broadcast companies. This is partly due the action domain, and also to the uniform style adapted for the websites. With Big Brother Talpa will also threaten the position of the public broadcast companies.

So far no theme channels nor interactive televison show sites have been researched.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Spatial Portals

The last weeks I have taken a regular look at the maps of the US and particularly of Louisiana. Having studied theology and philosophy in New Orleans I was trying to discover how my alma mater Notre Dame Seminary is doing. On their website I read that have been doing rather well: not too much water and no looting.

I supposed that the complex was not under water as it was built on higher grounds. So I started to look at Google Earth and later found maps indicating the breaches in the levies (the Dutch would say dikes). But it was hard to get an exact impression of what was going on in the neighbourhood. But last night I found perfect areal shots of the place. I saw that the buildings have not been hit hard; even the tenniscourts were dry. I found the photographs on the Katrina Flyover of MSNBC. The application they have is a combination between a map and a special photographs. It is a fine piece of journalism.

Notre Dame Seminary: before Katrina (left); after the hurricane (right)

A year ago this type of information would have been hard to come by. But since Google Earth maps are a hot item, which leads to creative application. I saw recently, for example, a map of the world on which the places of news items were dotted. Business wise this is also an interesting application to show company activities, clients activities (from where do they call), for e-mailers to see the their span of the world.

It is clear that we are adding a spatial dimension to government and business information. And from what I read there is more to come. I recently started reading Spatial Portals: Gateways to Geographic Information by Winnie Tang and Jan Selwood. I know Winnie Tang for almost a year now. I met her in Hong Kong last year May during the First Global ICT Summit. She is the founder and CEO of ESRI, a company specialising in Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

“Spatial portals are Web sites that make it easier to find, access, and use geographic information available on the World Wide Web. They are changing the way we interacxt with spatial information and have the potential to become the fundamental platform through which we discover, publish and share geographical knowledge.”

In the meantime various Geospatial One-Stop Portals are put on the map. These portals are interesting resources not only fore the use of the government, but also for citizens. In the book chapters have dedicated to GeoNorge, a national map portal for Norway; Transport Direct: Keeping Britain on the move; Mapster: Managing the waters of the Canadian Pacific; Scan: Public health information in South Carolina. Other chapters deal with the applications in institutes and companies: 12M portal: Managing US Navy Atlantic Fleet installations; GeoInfo One-Stop: Hong Kong’s planning information portal; Shell’s global portals: Connecting a global enterprise.

I guess because GI systems and software is still expensive applications for the private use by consumers. I would not mind having a system that tells me daily where my e-mails come from. Another application in the field of hobbyists would be the geographical distribution in genealogy. And what about a historical overview of the place, where you live now.

Spatial Portal gives an interesting outlook in the evolving developments in geographic information. It will not only make information more accessible but also more easy to interpret. It will change information in content.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Second VociNet workshop

There was an announcement in the mail of the VociNet project. This EU funded project is an initiative of the Instructors’ Network. This network of multimedia instructors, mainly from Europe, exchange ideas, have workshops and once a year a conference in Vienna.

This will be the second workshop of the VociNet project. The first one was held in Salzburg on digital storytelling. It turned out to be a very interesting workshop with very interesting presentations.

The Finnish host Cai Melakoski (picture: Andrea Buchholz)

The second workshop of the VociNet project will be held in Tampere (Finland) in November. The workshop will be held at an interesting time, as at the same time the Mindtrek week takes place, the largest multimedia event in Finland. If you want to meet a multimedia producer from Finland, you have to be there in that week.

The city of Tampere (picture Andrea Buchholz)

The VociNet workshop concerns teaching project management for students of interactive content creation. The brochure text reads:
Interactive content production demands a new kind of project management. Production cycles have changed and good knowledge of these processes is necessary for all professionals involved, not only for those responsible for management. Media convergence brings new devices, new formats, new business models and new roles for all members of the creative team. Designing digital media content is often cyclical and iterative, a continuous development process. Many people work in small companies where each person may be responsible for project management.
The VocINet workshop on Project Design will discuss the challenges that young professionals meet working in digital media business: the importance of communication, resources, networking. The workshop provides different methods and possibilities how to teach management skills for design students from different fields, how to help students to understand the importance of customer’s and user’s needs, the clients expectations; how to combine their creative skills into a controllable designing production process.
The workshop is organized as a part of VocINet - Vocational Training and Network for European Instructors in Interactive Audio-Visual Media. VocINet is partly funded by the EU MEDIA programme.
It brings together new media experts, producers of outstanding multimedia projects and instructors who want to learn and enhance their skills together with participants from all over Europe. Specially designed for instructors in the field of new media, the two and half day intensive workshop will feature theoretical lectures as well as group work and practical case analysis sessions, all held by international experts and pioneers of Project Design. The workshop consists of lectures, case study presentations and group work sessions, in which the participants create and develop ideas for curricula and practical training.
For further information and to register for the Workshop visit:


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

TTA Jury starts

Today the jury of the Europrix Top Talent Award (TTA) starts its deliberations at the ICNM office in Salzburg. It is for the seventh time, that a selection is made of European products, produced by Young Professional up to 30 years.

It started all out when the Europrix was interdicted in 1998 at the occasion of the EU presidency of Austria. A big European competition had been organised for companies with a separate competition for students. This lasted till 2002. After 5 years the Europrix for companies was disbanded, but the students’ competition was transformed in a competition for Young Professional up to 30 years.

It is the first time in seven years that I am not part of this jury and it feels strange to sit in Utrecht, knowing that something very interesting is going on in Salzburg. It is the meeting of old jurors and meeting the new ones; strengthening the personal network, but also the network of the European Academy of Digital Media; looking for trends in multimedia. Last year for example we saw the trend of multimedia installations coming through with entries as Kick Ass Kung-Fu and content tools such as the project Bridging the Island of the Colourblind. It is interesting to look back at the Hall of Fame. But after Bahrain the work has piled up; besides young blood is needed.

Right: Kick Ass Kung-Fu; left: Neil Harbisson with his cyborg camera

The list of the jury members is up on Internet. There are 17 jury members. Some I know from juries in the past years such as Frank Alsema, Jozsef Fulop, Marcus Schmal. Other I know from the circuit such as Ania Bobrowicz, Irina Blomqvist and Sohvi Sirkesalo. Interesting is the presence of Hannah Kodicek, who was involved in the making of the encyclopaedic game Timehunt. It received a special distinction in 2003 from the TTA. It is a fabulous game that keeps you busy for a long time; you can shorten the time by going to discussions groups. Hannah is currently developing an ‘intelligent’ Massive Multiplayer online game entitled Life-Fiction with Studio 727. She told me about the new game and I am very curious to see it.

For the coming days it will be hard work for the jurors to get through the products. It will take a few weeks before we hear which projects did win.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Amsterdam theatres on fibre

The Foundation Fabchannel has taken the initiative to put the Amsterdam theatres grouped around the Leidseplein in Amsterdam together on glass fibre, thus making them more easily accessible to the rest of the world. The project Leidseplein will be part of the Citynet, an initiative for a local glass fibre net in Amsterdam. The Glass fibre Starnetwork Cultural Amsterdam, as the project is officially dubbed, connect pop temple Paradiso, Melkweg, De Balie, Stadsschouwburg, De Waag, Bellevue, Montivideo and Amsterdam Uitbureau. The project is seen as a first project of the creative industry in Amsterdam.

Presentation of Fabchannel during the jury deliberations

Fabchannel was recently the winner of the The foundation is the internet channel for the pop temple Paradiso, which decided five years ago to launch Fabchannel, because of decreasing media attention for live music. Fabchannel now broadcasts concerts, festivals, lectures and competitions on the Internet, in sound and vision. The objective of this channel is to promote live music. Fabchannel has now more visitors online than Paradiso has physically.

Monday, September 12, 2005

e-ContentPlus programme calls launched

It took more than the summertime for the European Commission to get their call for proposals finalised. Now the Commission has adopted the eContentplus Work Programme and call for proposals 2005 on 9 September 2005. Both documents have been published in English.

A call announcement, pointing to the full call text on the programme web site, has been been published in the Official Journal of the European Union on Saturday, 10 September 2005 (OJ C 223). The eContentplus Helpdesk adds that the final versions of the Work Programme, the call for proposals and the Guide for Proposers contain the following changes in relation to the drafts made available to the public in June:

- The call closing date has changed to 24 November 2005, 17:00 Luxembourg time (originally it was 11 November 2005, 17:00 Luxembourg time).

- Proposers submitting on paper will have to submit only two copies (one bound original and one unbound copy).

- The draft Guide for Proposers said that the role of the co-ordinator may be carried by two applicants, with one responsible for the technical co-ordination, and the other responsible for financial matters. This has been dropped. There will be only one co-ordinator. However, the consortium could allocate technical co-ordination tasks to other beneficiaries.

- The financial joint responsibility covers all beneficiaries, and the exclusion for public organisations has been dropped.

These changes are also listed on the programme website. Further information on the last two points is available in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the Web site. The new model grant agreement for eContentplus and Safer Internet plus will be published after its adoption by the Commission (scheduled for 15 September).

Sunday, September 11, 2005

WSA Grand Jury Bahrain: Day 9

Yesterday was a free day for shopping, visits and meetings. It was interesting to see people letting off steam. Edgar from Gabon got himself a full local outfit. Rudi from Belgium went on a hunt for spices. MD from Bangladesh and Merilyn from Indonesia went for a traditional dress. And by the time we were ready to leave our host Waheed had to get on a chair to exchange bear hugs with Martin from Ireland.

Left: Edgar bought himself a local dress; right the spices Rudy was hunting for

Left: MD and Merlyna; right: Waheed on a chair ready to exchange a bear hug with tall Martin

Some 20 people from Europe (jurors and ICNM staff) left on the KLM night flight to Amsterdam, which was dubbed the WSA company flight. This was the end of the Grand Jury 2005 in Bahrain. All the eminent experts have left the Kingdom in the Gulf and many of them are already looking forward to the UN Summit on the Information Industry (WSIS) in Tunis on November 16-18, 2005.

Usually, all stories are ended by trhe trumpeting of a an elephant. But in this case the Bahrain Grand Jury will be ended by a camel (Bahrain has camels with one hump).

The Arab camel for junior, our grandson


Check also Merylina's blog

Start - Previous instalment

Saturday, September 10, 2005

WSA Grand Jury Bahrain: Day 8

The result of a week hard labour is there. This is the list of five best practices per catagorie:

Brisbane City Council Green Home (Australia)
e-Visas (Bahrain) (Canada)
Municipality Meeting Online (Netherlands)
Directgov (United Kingdom)

Tianfu Agriculture Information Network (China) (Ireland)
Artisanal Shopping (Morocco)
WebTelegram (Tunesia)
Jotun Professionals Network United Aerab Emirates

Eternal Egypt (Arab Republic of Egypt)
Paris, A Roman City (French Republic)
Aram Khachaturian: Work and Life (Republic of Armenia)
The Victors: Soldiers of the Great War (Russian Federation)
Lakota Winter Counts (United States of America)

E-Entertainment (Argentina)
Gullivers World - a Multimedia Theatre (Austria)
Mole's Trip e-Entertainment (Czech Republic)
DVD-Kids e-Entertainment (Iceland)
BBC One Music e-Entertainment (United Kingdom)

Australia 2004 Underworld (Australia)
Canada 2051 Contraception Awareness Project (Canada)
Czech Republic 2062 Internet Access to Patient Health Care Information (Czech Republic)
India 2037 Sisu Samarakshak (India)
United States of America 2056 Medline Plus (United States)

Virtual Science Museums of China (China) Croatia)
Edumedia (France)
JST Virtual Science Center (Japan)
Cape Farewell (United Kingdom)

Womengateway (Bahrain)
DeafPlanet (Canada)
Children@Hospital (France)
Using ICTs for social inclusion (Guatamala)
Web Content Translation Engine e-Inclusion (Kuwait)

Digital Literacy Program (PAD) (Argentina)
E-Blocks (Brazil)
Nature Park Kopacki rit (Croatia)
Advanced e-Learning Objects (Romania)
Stagework (United Kingdom)

Some statistics:
742 products entered
168 countries participated
40 products selected as best practice from 26 countries
37 jurors from 36 countries


Friday, September 09, 2005

WSA Grand Jury Bahrain: Day 7

Today it is the last day of the WSA Grand Jury process. The last of the 8 categories have to be presented by a panel to the Grand Jury. It has been rather hard to get through the categories. There was a lot of debate among the jurors with their different national and knowledge backgrounds.

The remaining time will be used to set up a schedule for the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunesia in November 16-18, 2005. The WSA will have a booth at the exhibition to exhibit the 40 selected products. There will also be a Gala during which the awards will be presented. Also workshops will be held on e-content.

The multimedia festival is over; a new interface is packed

Before that time a lot of work will have to be done. Most of the work will be done by the organising bureau ICNM in Salzburg. But again like last time in 2003 we will produce a book with the jury members; in 2003 the jurors produced a book under the title e-Content: Voices from the Ground v1. It was produced by 33 jurors, an editor and a Osama Manzar as producer. He finished it in 40 days! It was a nice symbol of the cooperation between the jurors. In between the jurors will have to get the news of the nominations out in their own countries. That means press releases and presentations for them and for WSIS.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

WSA Grand Jury Bahrain: Day 6

Last night we visited the GP racing track of Bahrain. It is a Formula 1 track, where two races have been held so far (2004, 2005). It is some 40 kilometres from capital Manama. But it is very impressive. During my last visit to Bahrain I had been on the racing track already, but this time we did a recreational ride in a Hummer going up and down a steep track (60 degrees), through water tunnels and very rough terrain.

The manager of the racing track told in his speech that the Formula 1 race of Baharain had not been a bad investment so far. Besides terrain racing and speed racing of cars, Formula 3 and motors, many people come to Bahrain for the Formula 1 race. And no less than 300 million people watch this race on television. Tourism to Bahrain has increased since the opening of the race track.

Left: Rudy from Belgium wants to cart the just arrived new TRS cart; right: with this car we did not race

After that we went with the WSA Landrover fleet on the race track, but that was rather disappointing as we were only allowed to drive 180 kilometres. Of course they did want to risk accidents. After the racing there was a dinner in the royal tower.

The royal tower

Today we met officials from the ministry of Information, amongst others Dr Nasser Qaedi and Mr Salah Alkobashi. The meeting had been arranged to talk about Internet governance, one of the discussion points of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis in November 2005. The internet situation in Bahrain was explained. Bahrain has a high penetration of computers and Internet. Between 70 to 80 per cent of the households have a PC, while some 60 per cent have an online connection with Internet. The country has a school programme, making pupils and parents aware of computers and online. There is only one ISP, the telecom company Batelco. It is also the company that registers the e-mail addresses and domain names.

The representative of the ministry of Information indicated that Bahrain want legislation on Internet traffic and content without impeding growth. So it studies presently self-regulation or government regulations. The Bahrain Internet Society has backed this legislation. So far Bahrain has adopted an internet registration as it is seen as a medium next to printed and broadcast material. The registration though is voluntary. Bahrain, so the spokesman declared did not want to become the hub for pirated material, cyber criminality, pornography or terrorist’s sites.

Bahrain has no independent domain registry as there is only one ISP. Yet Bahrain has troubles with the registrations of domains. You can register a .bh domain from abroad. But if you register with then your company has to be based in Bahrain.

The discussion table

For the WSIS Bahrain strives after democracy on Internet by strengthening regional nodes. One of the WSA jurors indicated that the Gulf States perhaps should follow the example of Belgium and become an Icann at large. In this way security could be secured and actions could be taken immediately in case of trouble.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

WSA Grand Jury Bahrain: Day 5

It has been interesting to see how Bahrain got interested in the World Summit Award and after 2 years takes over from Dubai, where we had the first Grand Jury meeting in 2003. Bit by bit I start to understand a little bit the reasons for the interest of the Bahraini.

At the press conference last Saturday the government of Bahrain sent the Under secretary of the ministry of Industry and Commerce as well as the Undersecretary of the ministry Information

It all started with the formation of the sixth Gulf states that are forming an economic community. Among the countries are the United Arab Emirates, Quatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. In this community tasks are divided in order to work efficient. On the agenda of this economic community is e-commerce as top priority; this is assigned to the UAE. Bahrain has received e-Content as focal point. This is the reason why Bahrain is profiling itself as the e-content hub of the Gulf region. In order to give body to this aspiration, the World Summit Grand Jury has been invited. But it should not stop there. Other more lasting institutes, dealing with e-Content are on the drawing board and are part of the ongoing discussion with the WSA.

It could be interesting to see what directions such an institute is going to take. Will it just follow the traditional sector line of e-culture, e-learning and geographical information services? Or will the institute study the interaction in the value chain, the industry and sectors, the technology related to content (DRM, authoring systems, content management systems), the education in the content field, the economy of content and the politics of content. These are just themes for study. The Finnish institute of content could serve as one example.

At the World Summit on the Information Society the Gulf states will present themselves as a community. They will show e-commerce and e-government. In this community the Bahraini will show that they are building the e-content hub for the Arabic world and for the rest of the world.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

WSA Grand Jury Bahrain: Day 4

Last night the jury, the staff and the tutors were the guests of the ministry of Information. A dinner was being held in an arts and crafts centre Al-Jasra. This centre has been set up by the ministry of Information in order to inform people about traditions, traditional crafts like weaving, copper work and producing musical instruments. There are small shops were craftsmen work and a shop with the products produced in the centre. The ministry of Industry and Economy is now adding to the centre a place for education of small and middle great entrepreneurs. One of the spear points is to make an e-commerce portal to sell the local craft products.

Beforehand the jurors were asked to bring a national costume so that it would be a colourful happening. And it was very colourful with the first price going to our Mexican juror Rudolfo. But there were more beautifully clad people such as Merylin from Indonesia.

Left: Dorothee from Ghana mixes up natinal costumes; right: a small selection of national costumes

We went to the centre in a fleet of 15 Landrovers. They have been made available by a motor company as part of the sponsoring program set up by the Bahraini. The government gave a guarantee for the budget, but eventually the whole event will be paid sponsors.

At the centre we were welcomed by an Arabian band with dancers, while the jurors could visit the shops and meet the Bahraini people of the ministry, the hosts and invited guests. The Undersecretary of Information was also present. He is a real official. His goal in professional life is to abolish the ministry. En passant he told that the government has no less than 23 ministries; this for a population of 660.000 inhabitants.

Right: a pottery model of a traditional custome; left: Arabian dancers at the dinner

In the morning the hotel piccolo shoved a copy of the Bahrain Tribune newspaper under the door. The edition did contain a fill page on the World Summit Award with the CVs of the jurors and the moderation team. This was just the first instalment. Another one will be following.

The newspage; click for enlargement

This morning the jurors were free. A tour to the Koran museum had been organised. But the jurors got also a chance to go to the souk. Of course they came back with beautiful and fine scarfs, for example. Others went to the shopping malls just behind the hotel. In a square mile there are some five shopping malls. It is unbelievable. But I start to understand why shopping is so popular. People are not going to the beach here, but to the shopping malls. Besides many shoppers come Saudia Arabia over the causeway. It is funny to see Debenham and Marks & Spencer over here. But it is logical, given the reign of the British over Bahrain.

View on two shopping malls from the top of the hotel


Monday, September 05, 2005

WSA Grand Jury Bahrain: Day 3

This day is a stressy one. The jurors have to get through the lit of products and evaluate them. The objective is to select 20 products for closer study in the second round. It is a lot of reading, trying products out and looking at accessibility.

Usually discussions arise about what a particular subject is all about. What new media is doing to business, what internet does society in e-inclusion. They are interesting subjects as the first contours of the framework for the winners shapes up. By tomorrow afternoon the first round will be closed. Then we will have maximally 20 entries in every of the 8 categories.

For the first round a piece of software has been develop by the organisation bureau ICNM in Salzburg. So by the end of evaluating some 100 products per category the jurors have their own score sheet, the scores of the category teams. From this the moderation team of process managers can read the minimum and maximum scores as well as the variations between the jurors. Sometimes this is revealing and interesting enough to start a talk.

Every day there is a plenary, conducted according to rules of motions, seconding and raising of hands

The second round will be more relaxed as there are maximally 20 products to be evaluated. But in this phase the potential candidates will have to be identified. Not that the groups are deciding about the five winners per category straight away. That is being done by the whole jury body. But I will tell about that part of the process later.

But in the meantime, it is nice to hear jurors say that they have identified winners for themselves.