Friday, February 29, 2008

BPN 1023 Search engines in the Netherlands

How do search engines fare in the Netherlands? Of course some of the Dutch use Google, Live Search Yahoo, and/or Altavista. And others search in engines from Dutch origin. The result bears hardly any surprises as Google is way ahead of foreign and Dutch search engines. In fact nine out of ten Dutch people google, when searching.

Checkit and the marketing survey bureau RMI Interactive monitor the use among 1475 internet users by web survey twice a year. The method is simple. User get a list of search engines and are asked whether they know the name of the search engine, have used occasionally or use it mostly.
Below are the stats of the five most popular search engines in The Netherlands. Between brackets is an indication of the rise and fall over against the results of the survey presented in September 2007. Google, Live Search and Yahoo are foreign search engines with a Dutch language interface and Dutch priority search. Ilse is the oldest Dutch search engine, owned by the Finnish publishing company Sanoma. is a meta search engine, combining the results of more search engines.

Familiar with name
Google 99% (+1)
ilse 83% (-3)
Live Search 63% (+15)
Yahoo! 71% (=0) 49% (+14)

Used occasionally
Google 95% (=0)
ilse 9% (=0)
Live Search 7% (-1)
Yahoo! 4% (=0) 7% (+5)

Used mostly
Google 93% (-2)
ilse 1% (-1)
Live Search 0% (-1)
Yahoo! 0% (=0) 2% (+2)

From these stats and this graph it is clear that Google is well known and well used. Remarkable is the fact that MSN Live Search picks up 15 per cent, when it comes to name familiarity, hardly used. picks up name familiarity and converts this in more search actions. The eldest search engine in the Netherlands ilse is slipping further into oblivion.

Blog Posting Number: 1023

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

BPN 1022 and Universal jointly in live concert videos online announced a recording and multi-territory digital exploitation agreement with Universal Music Netherlands, a division of the world’s leading music company, for live recordings of Universal Music artists performing at the Paradiso in Amsterdam.Fans from around the globe will have access to live concert videos from international and local Universal Music artists performing at the Paradiso and other Fabchannel related venues. Fabchannel will record concerts of up-and-coming as well as established Universal Music artists in broadcasting quality and make them available for fans to view on and to buy as video and audio downloads on their download service. In addition, Universal Music will distribute the video and audio downloads across digital and mobile services.

For this a giant step forward as the company and the site have been recognised by one of the leading music companies. has been pioneer of the model. The fact that Universal now comes in means a recognition of the business model: an ad-supported live music video model, which enables artists, labels and media companies to make their live music available. The model also gives brands and businesses new ways to connect and interact with a highly-engaged audience of consumers in the 25-and-under youth demographic range.

The cooperation between and Universal Music shows that music content companies are looking for other ways of supporting their distribution channels. So far the music conglomerates have never initiated a service of their own, but have used third parties to distribute music of artists under contract of the music company. Now Universal Music will take part in the distribution of live concert videos online. The agreement comes at a time that the music distribution services are re-arranging and consolidating.

Today has put the concert online gezet op, recently given by the popular US band JIMMY EAT WORLD. This exclusive concert recording opname is the first result of the agreement between and Unoversal Music Benelux. The show, in which the band played hits such as 'The Middle’ and ‘Sweetness’ as well as new songs from the latest record 'Chase This Light’ can be viewed now completely for free. No less than eight cameras registered the concert. The recordings can used on own sites and in profiles through the video widget Fabplayer.

Blog Posting Number: 1022


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BPN 1021 Building a virtual world at school

It is quiet around Second Life. No longer are governments, municipalities and banks wasting money and storming into the virtual world to show the world how internet savvy they are. But now a Dutch language (sorry; please try the translation facility) evaluation report Best practices: Virtual Environments in Education has been published about an education project using virtual environments. The conclusion is that virtual environments are valuable additions for education, provided that the virtual environment project is bundled in with the teaching content.

Seven high schools have participated in the pilot project. Four experimented with Active Worlds and three were active in Second World. The Dutch organisation Knowledge Net offered training and technical support. The pilot fits in the SURFnet/Knowledge Net Innovation program for education.

The report offers a series of recommendations in the field of technology, organisation, and didactics and practical tips for schools which want to start virtual world projects. Here are a few hints:
- Test the environment well beforehand and arrangements with system maintenance about support;
- Make a special section in the electronic teaching environment for the participating pupils and teacher;
- Produce a plan with clear objectives;
- Offer the pupils a special section in the system, where they can experiment;
- produce a map of the environment with the object to be built and a division of tasks;
- Bundle the project in with concrete teaching content;
- Keep the pilot small;
- Make the pupils depended on each other, which will promote cooperation.

In the report two examples are offered, which can be used during classes. In a module on Roman architecture, the teacher can show a lot of examples of temples and houses. Parallel with the lectures the pupils can start building a temple or a house with an atrium. Another exercise could be modelling the school (see illustration).

The report stresses that the virtual environment should not be a project for project’s sake. But it should be an exploration trip in which pupils can work together and use the knowledge they have picked up. A virtual environment object should help the pupils to gather information about a subject. Cooperation in such a project is essential. The virtual environment also serves to excite pupils and to activate them to learn something about a subject like Roman architecture.

In my opinion the teacher will be essential in starting such a project. And almost every teacher regardless of the subject which he/she teaches can start such a project. Of course subjects like chemistry, physics and biology as well as art can use virtual environments. But also language teachers can offer a virtual world around the Eiffel tower and have the pupils chat in French. Even those pupils following abstract subjects like math and philosophy can use virtual environments. What about building the cave of Plato and discuss the problem of representation of knowledge.

It looks all exciting, but these types of projects will depend on the enthusiasm of the teacher, his/her computer versatility and the factor time.

See movie.

Blog Posting Number: 1021

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

BPN 1020 EU funded movies win Oscars

The Academy Awards have been handed out again. And again this year EU movies were and actors and actresses were among the prize winners. For the first time in the forty years of the existence of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, all Oscars for the best performances went to foreign actors and actresses. The British actor Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), the French actress Marion Cotillard (playing Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose), the Spanish actor Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) and the Scottish actress Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) took the highest accolades of Hollywood for lead performances.

Also for the EU Media programme, the Academy Award ceremony was gratifying, as two European movies received three awards. The Oscar for the best foreign language film went to the Austrian-German co-production "The Counterfeiters" (Die Fälscher). Also "La Vie en Rose" (La Môme) from France was very successful last night, with an Oscar for the best actress in a leading role and one for the best Make-up.

In total four EU movies have been nominated for the Academy Awards. Next to the Austrian-German co-production of "The Counterfeiters" (Die Fälscher), there were three French productions "La Vie en Rose" (La Môme), "Persepolis", and "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon) entered. These four EU movies received a contribution from the EU MEDIA programme up to a total amount of 2.629.331 euro.

This is the third year running that EU movies have been successful in obtaining Oscars. Last year, the Oscar winner for the best foreign language film came from Germany, with "The Lives of Others" (Das Leben der Anderen), directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. In 2006, the French film "March of the Penguins" (La marche de l’Empereur) won the Oscar for the Best Documentary Film. The Lives of Others was also supported by the EU MEDIA programme with a contribution of over 0,5 million euro, while March of the Penguins received a contribution of 1,13 million euro.

The EU MEDIA 2007 programme is providing 755 million euro to Europe's film industry from 2007-2013. A clear priority is the distribution and promotion of European films outside their originating country, across Europe (almost 65% of the total budget). Under the EU MEDIA Plus and EU MEDIA Training (2001-2006), more than half a billion euros were injected into 8000 projects from over 30 countries.

The EU MEDIA programme's overall objectives are to strengthen the competitiveness of the European audiovisual sector by facilitating access to financing and promoting use of digital technologies, to reflect and respect Europe’s cultural identity and heritage, and to increase the circulation of European audiovisual works inside and outside the European Union.

Blog Posting Number: 1020


Monday, February 25, 2008

BPN 1019 Archiving the Web

Well here we go with a real internet problem: archiving web content. Now the EU project LiWA will research Live Web Archiving. The project has a PowerPoint presentation on its vision. It looks like a project to follow. At last real preservation of real multimedia digital heritage (as opposed to digitalised heritage from museums and archives).

Web content plays an increasingly important role in the knowledge-based society, and the preservation and long-term accessibility of Web history has high value (e.g., for scholarly studies, market analyses, intellectual property disputes, etc.). There is strongly growing interest in its preservation by library and archival organizations as well as emerging industrial services. Web content characteristics (high dynamics, volatility, contributor and format variety) make adequate Web archiving a challenge.

LiWA will look beyond the pure "freezing" of Web content snapshots for a long time, transforming pure snapshot storage into a "Living" Web Archive. "Living" refers to a) long term interpretability as archives evolve, b) improved archive fidelity by filtering out irrelevant noise and c) considering a wide variety of content.

LiWA will extend the current state of the art and develop the next generation of Web content capture, preservation, analysis, and enrichment services to improve fidelity, coherence, and interpretability of web archives. By developing methods which improve archive fidelity, the project will contribute to adequate preservation of complete and high-quality content. By developing methods for improved archive coherence and interpretability, the project contributes to ensuring its long-term usability.

LiWA RTD will focus on innovative methods for content capturing, filtering out spam and other noise, improving temporal archive coherence, and dealing with semantic and terminology evolution. Two exemplary LiWA applications - focusing on audiovisual streams and social web content, respectively - will show the benefits of advanced Web archiving to interested stakeholders.

To ensure demand-driven RTD development and broad, sustained project impact, the LiWA consortium will closely work with the International Internet Preservation Consortium (IIPC) as well as important library and archiving organizations, two of which are members of LiWA.

The project partners are:
University Hannover - L3S Research Center – DE (Coordinator)
European Archive Foundation – NL
Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik – DE
Computer and Automation Research Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences – HU
Stichting Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid - NL
Hanzo Archives Limited – UK
Moravian Library - CZ

Blog Posting Number 1018

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

BPN 1018 Missed chance: Barbie and new media

Last week I went to an outlet shopping centre. It mainly is for clothes, but there are also bookshops and entertainment shops with DVDs and games. Looking for kids stuff, I saw the booklet Barbie: the new media and I. In the framework of media literacy I examined the publication. Unbelievable that a brand company puts its name to such a shabby and superficial publication. The Barbie company Mattel had licensed the publication to the Belgian company Hemma. The text is in Dutch.

The publication exists of an introduction, an address book and another informative section followed by a notice section. When you open the book and pass the title page, you find the first section, opening with a sentence without a capital, asking you whether you have a computer. No problem if you do not have one; you can always write a letter or a post card! The anonymous author rambles on for two pages on how to produce a letter or a post card. Can you imagine this type of introduction in a book about new media?

The first section is followed by and address book. I did not expect that in the book about new media you have an address book and worse of all in this Barbie book you can only note address information of your female friends, not even address information of friends of Ken. The address book section is followed by an introduction into internet, or better into e-mail. The section refers to internet and e-mail screens. A closer look shows that the screens are in French, while the rest of the text is in the Dutch language! (Belgium is bi-lingual with Dutch and French; The internet part provides some information about internet, URLs, country suffixes and search engines, roughly 240 words long. The e-mail part tells about the composition of an e-mail, roughly 240 words long.

Of course you can not tell much in 240 words, so it will stay rather general. But there are no critical words or warnings against not trustworthy sites or spam. It is a missed chance for a big influential brand as Barbie to educate youngsters to be critical towards internet and e-mail and to act media literate. By putting out a media literacy responsible publication, a company like Mattel using the Barbie brand could show its responsibility towards society in the field of new media.

I bought a copy of the book for my business partner, who is heavily involved in media literacy to provide him with an example of a missed chance. Of course there is one excuse for Mattel, the book was produced in 2001. That was why I was able to buy it in an outlet store.

Blog Posting Number: 1018


Saturday, February 23, 2008

BPN 1017 UPC NL starts printed mag to sell digital TV

This afternoon there was a mail shot from UPC under the slogan: Here you are, the magazine which is all about the pleasure of watching TV! It was a letter and a glossy, one big ad for digital television, larded with superficial interviews with Dutch TV VIPs. It is one big attempt to sell digital TV. It is clear that UPC has a problem in promoting digital television. Of course UPC subscribers do not understand what digital TV offers them; now and in the future. The letter continues: and why UPC is still the best choice for years; not only for digital television, but also for telephony and internet.

UPC started a big campaign to introduce digital television in 2005. It planned to connect 1.000 subscribers a week. The goal was to have 2 million subscribers at a cost of 300 million euro conversion from analogue to digital. (Update 28/02/2008: At the end of 2007 UPC had 550.300 digital TV connections; the subscriber population grew in 2007 with 10 per cent; UPC expects in 2008 a stabilisation). But UPC is not the only operator to offer digital TV in the Netherlands. UPC has a regional cable monopoly as has @Home, Casema and Orange. It has competition from digital TV through ADSL from KPN and its affiliates Het Net, Telfort, Planet and XS4ALL as well as from the Swedish operator Tele2 and the Telecom Italia brand Alice. It is clear that the campaign for 2 million connections of digital TV is not on schedule.

The letter continues after the introduction that UPC has invested to improve the cable network, which supposedly consists of 97 per cent of glass fibre. If this is true, then I still do not understand why the internet speeds are still so low and so expensive. When Alice offers a 20 Mbps speed on a copper wire at 30 euro and UPC offers a 20Mbps on a fibre glass connection after a cheap introduction rate of 30 euro at no less than 59, 95 euro. Ridiculous!

The glossy is there to convince me, the viewer, of an improvement of television viewing by watching digital television. (Funny thing is that the sender does not know whom he is talking to, addressing the printed glossy to Mr/Mrs). talking about personalising at conferences and not knowing the sex of the addressee. And apparently the printed magazine is not enough. For if you want to change to UPC Digital television you get the digital television service 3 months for free; after three months you pay 3,99 euro extra for the basic package. Of course UPC hopes that you will go for the special sports and movie channels. Mr Paul van Doorne, the Director Marketing of UPC (Regional, The Netherlands, Benelux or Inc.), wishes the viewers a lot of reading pleasure!

It is unbelievable how a company executes its marketing for a certain product, while it keeps up its basic service in such a sloppy way. Since three months the cable head-end box of our apartment building in Almere suffered a severe blow from a mowing machine. All the live wires are there to be seen and cut for anyone. In a telephone call to a UPC help desk employee promised to have the situation remedied as soon as possible. To this date the box is still lying open, baring the cables of 50 apartments. And this company is trying to convince me of digital TV with a printed glossy! Reliability and execution of a promise are the basic features of sound marketing, Mr Van Doorne. Forget the printed glossy!

Blog Posting Number: 1017


Friday, February 22, 2008

BPN 1016 Dutch entertainment market stats for 2007

Every year he Dutch association for producers and importers of image and sound carriers (NVPI) publishes stats on DVD, music and game carriers (the categories in the document are in Dutch, but they can easily be translated). The survey of carrier sales, not rent of carriers, is executed by GfK Benelux. The Dutch consumers spent in 2007 no less than 915 million euro on music, movies and games; an increase of 5 per cent. A switch in spending the money has been noticed. More money is now spent on computer games, DVD boxes and music downloads. The real growth comes from the DVDs of television series.

An average Dutch household bought in 2007 four DVDs. The total amount of DVDs totals 32,4 units, which represents a turnover of 346 million euro. This is absolutely a record for the video branch. TV series on DVD represent 25 percent of this product group.

Interesting is to notice the second generation DVD war in the home turf of Philips. In total 175.000 HD products were sold, representing 2,2 million euro. Blu-ray represented 81 percent of the HD carriers; 40.000 Blu-ray discs over against 10.000 HD-DVDs.

The music carriers have been a sector for complaints for years. But in this sector new movements are coming up. The market for music albums has been stable in the 4 quarter of 2007 for the first time in years. The downloads showed a an increase of 20 per cent. A decrease is shown in the cd singles and music DVDs. In total 91,8 million euro was spent on music products in total. It is clear that the Dutch music sector is trying to stop the revenue decrease in line with the global music industry; it did not find yet new business models to compensate for the loss.

In the games market 2007 was the year of the games consoles. No less than 400.000 more units were sold in 2007 with the knock on effect on the sales of software with 1,4 million units, a rise of 26 per cent. The market for PC games remained stable thanks to the sale of some strong titles. But the game consoles like PSP, Xbox and WII Nintendo win it from the PC games.

Blog Posting Number: 1016

Tags: music, games, television series, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, , , .

Thursday, February 21, 2008

BPN 1015 European research project to shape next generation internet TV

This is an important announcement from the European research front on the next generation internet TV. P2P-Next, a pan-European conglomerate of 21 industrial partners, media content providers and research institutions, has received a €14 million grant from the European Union. The grant will enable the conglomerate to carry out a research project aiming to identify the potential uses of peer-to-peer (P2P) technology for Internet Television of the future. P2P-Next will develop an open source, efficient, trusted, personalized, user-centric and participatory television and media delivery mechanism with social and collaborative connotations using the emerging P2P paradigm, which takes into account the existing EU legal framework. The partners intend to develop a Europe-wide “next-generation” internet television distribution system, based on P2P and social interaction.

P2P provides an alternative to the traditional client/server architecture of computer networks and signifies the next big step in the evolution of internet media delivery. While employing the existing broadband networks, each participating computer, referred to as peer, functions as both a client and a server for a given application. A P2P network enables the sharing of content files or streams with audio, video and data content. Today it is considered increasingly as a potentially efficient and reliable mechanism for distributing any media to the general public worldwide.

The P2P-Next project will run over four years, and plans to conduct a large-scale technical trial of new media applications running on a wide range of consumer devices. If successful, this ambitious project could create a platform that would enable audiences to stream and interact with live content via a PC or set top box. In addition, it is our intention to allow audiences to build communities around their favourite content via a fully personalized system. This technology could potentially be built into Video on Demand (VOD) services in the future and plans are underway to test the system for major broadcasting events.

The project has an open approach towards sharing results. All core software technology will be available as open source, enabling new business models. P2P-Next will also address a number of outstanding challenges related to content delivery over the internet, including technical, legal, regulatory, security, business and commercial issues.

One of the project managers is the TU in Delft, which developed Tribler, a social based peer-to-peer system. The system can be downloaded for Windows, Mac and Ubuntu Linux and GNU Linux. With this system, the TU has been able to experiment and attract the attention of TV giants like the BBC and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

The complete list of Partners is:
AG Projects - Haarlem, Netherlands
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) - London, United Kingdom
DACC Systems - Taby, Sweden
Technische Universiteit Delft - TU Delft - Delft, Netherlands
Fabchannel - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Institut für Rundfunktechnik - IRT - Munich, Germany
Josef Stefan Institute - Ljubljana, Slovenia
Kendra Foundation - London, United Kingdom
Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan - KTH - Stockholm, Sweden
Markenfilm - Wedel, Germany
Norut - Tromsø, Norway
First Oversi - Petach Tikva, Israel
Pioneer Digital Design Centre Limited - London, United Kingdom
RTV Slovenia - RTVSLO - Ljubljana, Slovenia
STMicroelectronics - Milan, Italia
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) - Geneva, Switzerland
University of Klagenfurt - Klagenfurt, Austria
University of Lancaster - Lancaster, United Kingdom
University of Rome - Rome, Italy
University Politehnica of Bucharest - Bucharest, Romania
VTT – Technical Research Centre of Finland, Tampere, Finland

Blog Posting Number: 1015

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

BPN 1014 The terabyte kids

The Dutch present day youth have received 250.000 e-mails and SMSs when they reach 21 years. Up to that age they also have spent 5.000 hours behind their PC, gaming. Besides they will have surfed 3.500 hours on internet. And this is only an average as some of the youths are active on the computer day and night. These are the conclusions of Marianne Hebert of Logica CMG in a study for financial markets. She points out that their behaviour has radically changed over the last two years. On the other hand companies have found new ways to approach them and penetrate in the target group by offering commercial products such as horoscopes, ring tunes, screen savers as well as other gadgets.

The digital 21 years generation now processes on average 80 e-mails and SMSs a day, including a bombardment of spam. The youths will have to learn to handle these spam messages as they will not decrease, but increase. According to Albert Benschop of the University of Amsterdam youths are able to handle more. They can filter enormous mountains of e-mail, SMSs and select chat sessions via MSN. They protect themselves and are very inventive. They can process more matters in parallel than we thought a few years ago.

These characteristics and their flexibility in filtering the mountains of information are worthwhile for companies. The more you can filter out, the more valuable you are as an employee of a company.

Logica CMG is not convinced that the new employee, who lives in the digital world, is already welcome in companies. The companies do not know how to handle these digital life employees and how to get the most out of them. The problem for the companies is that they do not know what is possible and how to optimise the knowledge of digital life employees.

IMHO, it is clear that a dichotomy is growing between the generations of PC and internet pioneers, the early adaptors and the contemporary PC, games and internet adepts. For the PC pioneers the pc was a large typewriter and calculator. For the internet pioneers internet is still a medium which produces information, including user generated information. But they do not maintain a blog, write micro-blogs or twitter. So even in a young company a divide will show.
Just think of the next generations, which will come onto the market every five years from now. My young grandsons will have a terabyte of multimedia information, mails and SMSs by the time that they reach 21 by 2025.

Blog Posting Number: 1014


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

BPN 1013 HD-DVD: It’s over

Toshiba stops promoting the HD-DVD format. From today on the company will decrease the distribution of the HD-DVD players and recorders, and by the end of March it will stop the entire distribution. Toshiba terminates the product line of players and recorders, as film studios and retail chains no longer supported the DVD format.

This is a real blow for Toshiba. The Japanese company had built up a slew of movie companies, hardware and software manufacturers as well as retail chains for the distribution of the HD-DVD players, recorders and titles. And now the game is over for Toshiba and its following, which includes Microsoft as the most prominent partner. Toshiba and the companies which followed will have to write off a lot of money on the research, production and stock. (Save a recorder/player and several titles for the Museum of the Future, for digital heritage's sake, please).

This decision proves that the market will not take two different formats for its edutainment products, certainly not when exclusive deals are being made. This was already clear from the history of the first DVD series, when Toshiba also tried to set up its own format, but bowed for the pressure of IBM, being helped by Philips.

Does this mean that Philips and Sony have won? This depends on the horizon of duration of this format. One lesson has been learned. Despite the fact that movie titles are a driving force of the DVD and HD-DVD format, the format of the second generation of DVDs has been dictated by the game world. Sony built in the Blu-ray in the PlayStation. Microsoft offered HD-DVD optionally for XBox users; HD-DVD would have had a better chance if they had been built in.

So now the victory march for Philips and Sony can begin. Their stock prices will rise a little bit, I guess. Just for some days and no longer than that. For DVD is no longer a real money maker for Philips or Sony. The recorders of Philips and Sony are still pricy, the players will drop and be given away, when you buy a few movie titles. But it is not the manufacturing which makes money for Philips and Sony in the field of DVD and Blu-ray, but it is the stream of license money on the patents. With the sale of every non-Philips and non Sony hardware as well as the discs, the cash till will rattle; be it for a few euro cents, yet we are talking about millions of pieces of hardware and discs.

The victory might also be short-lived as glass fibre becomes more common. By offering glass fibre connections, the need for DVD and its second generation will decrease, as the speed of downloading will increase dramatically. In fact it will be just as a milestone as the change from dial-up to ADSL was., but then exponentially. The whole optical disc movement which started in 1984 is temporary as optical discs contain only frozen online.

The DVD format war is over after two years. Let it be a lesson for the future.

Blog Posting Number: 10012

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Monday, February 18, 2008

BPN 1012 HarperCollins takes off the shrink wraps

After offering a few pages as a browsing teaser for buying books, HaperCollins Publishers goes further and puts up free electronic books on the Web. The company hopes to increase book sales.

The idea is to let people flip through a book like they could in a book store. HarperCollins has put a twenty or so books online now ranging from a novel, to a cookbook and a book about the US elections.

HarperCollins already offered internet users the opportunity to browse a few pages of a book, like But apparently this did not stimulate the sales well enough. Now HarperCollins offers the entire book for the duration of one month. The books can be read on screen. HarperCollins will also be giving 20 per cent deduction prior to the publishing of hardbacks.

The marketing people at HarperCollins are convinced that readers keep buying books despite the free availability on the web. They think that readers will be tired from screen reading after 20 or 30 pages. Of course the company has taken measures against copying. The book can not be downloaded nor can it officially be printed, but a small public domain software tool will let you print page by page; a book like Silver Angel will take 235 times a print command to reproduce all the pages.

The argument that people will buy a book once the shrink wrap is removed is interesting, but not fully convincing. It depends on the type book. Of a novel you like to know how the plot shapes up and the last pages. It depends on the writing style whether you want to read the in between stuff. However with a cook book, you like to scan recipes; so a table of contents and a few examples will give a good impression of the book. If you offer the full cook book (for a month) people will select the recipes and print these with the public domain software. And the sale of a children’s book, especially one for small kids, often depends on the graphical design, the format and the concrete printed book.

HarperCollins sports the novel of Paolo Coelho The Witch of Portobello for this new way of marketing, even including an embedded link (oh so Web 2.0). Checking out the various distribution channels, I could not find the e-book version of this new novel. There are already e-books of Paolo Coelho’s earlier novels. So instead of offering the full novel for a month, as a publisher I would rather offer an e-book version simultaneously to the publishing of the printed version.

Last year the top three Dutch language books were two novels and a diet book: Harry Potter, a diet book and The Kite Runner. In the Netherlands and Belgium the top means more than 500.000 copies for that year. These titles have not been supported by a fully accessible file on internet. I believe that a title benefits from a well documented site rather than a fully accessible file. But the jury is out now.

Blog Posting Number: 1012

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

BPN 1011 European archived movies site to launch in April

A Europe-wide video-on-demand platform bringing together content from 37 film archives across the continent is to be launched in April. The free site will be known as European Film Treasures and initially offer about 100 titles but eventually expand to as many as 500 from over 80 years of European movie history. The site is partly being funded for 500.000 euro ($725,000) by the European Union's MEDIA Program, and is headed by Serge Bromberg, founder of Paris-based film restoration firm Lobster Films. A jury will decide on which films from various European countries' archives to include on the site, which will Footage will be accessible for streaming only, not download, but the site may in the future extend to associated DVD sales. Films will be available in their original language with translation where needed into English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Lobster is coming up with original music to accompany silent films.

It has taken Serge Bromberg at least ten years to get the idea across to archives and potential sponsors. The last two years he spent convincing all the archives to come on board. So far the only major national archive not represented is Belgium.

The video-on-demand hype has helped Serge Bromberg a lot in the last two years. People working in the archive saw the European Film Treasures platform as an opportunity to attract viewers worldwide. Besides many of the early movies are short movies. Programming movies on internet is more grateful for the curators than recovering and restoring at cost for just a small local audience. Now the archives do not have to put money in making the movies available. The business model can be based on the long tail.

The curators are excited about the opportunity and the forthcoming publicity for their archive. Yet they are shielding themselves against too great expectations. So far people have not pushed their archives to open up. But now the historic movies will be made available online for streaming, not for copying, 24/7. And it will not be the movies only, but all the documentation that will go with the movie.

At last digital heritage is coming out of the dusty archives to be digitalised, documented, promoted and available on demand. Europeana will have this mission as well as European Film Treasures.

Blog Posting Number: 1011

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

BPN 1010 Preview of a European Digital Library

This week it was possible to take a sneak preview of the European Digital Library (EDL). The library should become the portal to the European digital cultural resources. From November 2008 the portal will provide searchers with digital information from European archives, museums and libraries. The demo gives the interested people an impression of what they can expect and how they can browse in paintings, photographs, books, archives, movies and sound bites from many European collections.

European Digital Library is a i2010 digital library initiative, a thematic network building on consensus. It will find solutions to the interoperability of the cultural content held by European museums, archives, audio-visual archives and libraries in the context of EDL. The results of the network now show a prototype demonstrating cross domain access to the objects and information held in the museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual archives of Europe. There will also be a series of recommendations for future research to continue to ensure access to the digital heritage of Europe.

A specific objective of the network is therefore to clear the ground to be able to propose one or more separately funded practical implementations of EDL. The network will work in harmony with the EDL Foundation and the EU Strategy Group for coordinating libraries, archives, audio-visual archives and museums cooperation for EDL. The network remains open for the lifetime of the project to all relevant cultural heritage institutions.

The criteria for inclusion in the network are sector or topic representation and reach, EU country coverage or specific technical expertise. Therefore the membership of the network to date is from more than 80 European cultural heritage associations, institutions or projects with all the European Union countries represented.

Sector or topic members will normally be organizations representing the interests of a relevant sector or part of a sector at supranational (normally European) level and capable of having multiplier effect. These are mainly networks or associations, but exceptionally individual entities, if they are a leader in a field essential to the network’s objectives. Some national executive cross-domain agencies such as ABM-Centrum (Sweden) and MLA (UK) are also partners in the network. A few significant European research projects (VideoActive, Dismarc, etc) that also represent cross-sectoral multinational consortia will contribute as well. The aim is that the interests and expertise of key cultural content providers are represented in the Network and that pan-European coverage is achieved.

The EDLnet is being coordinated by the National Library of the Netherlands and an EDLnet office will be set up at their premises to coordinate efforts and implement input from the various workgroups. It will be administered as one of the research projects of The European Library, which is a service of the Conference of European National Librarians.

Blog Posting Number: 1010

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Friday, February 15, 2008

BPN 1009 EU consultation on copyright levies

Charlie McCreevy, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, is re-launching a consultation process on copyright levies. These are the levies which are applied in 24 Member States to compensate rights holders from losses accruing due to private copying of protected works.

This move is interesting as Mr McCreevy suspended work on this issue over a year ago since it was clear there was no hope at the time of finding a common way forward. But with the passage of time he believes it should be possible for all stakeholders to come to this debate with an open and constructive attitude.

In re-launching this discussion he made clear that it is not the intention to question the entitlement of rights holders to receive compensation for losses due to private copying. This is enshrined in Community law and Mr McCreevy has no intention of proposing a change to this legislation.

Member States are given the right to set how compensation for private copying is applied in their territory. In most Member States, this compensation is raised through the imposition of levies on items such as printers, hard disks, MP3 players, blank CDs, mobile phones etc. There is little coherence between Member States as to how they apply these levies, or the level of the levies.

He anticipates as a result from this consultation process ideas and a willingness to relate the level of levies to the loss suffered through private copying.

McCreevy illustrates the present situation in Europe with a few examples: a computer printer in one Member State has a levy of EUR70 imposed on it. Levies on a 4 gigabyte MP3 player, for example, range from zero in one Member State to over EUR15.00 in another. What should be the correct level to compensate for the loss due to private copying? McCreevey wants all stakeholders to come to this discussion with a willingness to find workable solutions.

Following the consultation period which will end on 18 April, McCreevey intends to hold a public meeting in June to see if common ground can be found among all stakeholders.

It must be a coincidence, as the Dutch financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD) published a large article on copyright and especially the transparency in the payments of copyright levies. Is the action of Commissioner McCreevy focussed on the differences between type of levies and the heights of the levies, the FD article showed the range of Dutch collecting societies. At least 16 collecting societies are active in the Netherlands, collecting money from companies or intermediaries:

Organisation/Revenues*/Paid out*
Buma: 120,0/98,6
Stemra: 48,4/53,5
Sena: 48,2/45,1
Reprorecht: 22,3/13,2
De Thuiskopie: 19,9/n.a.
Videma: 5,2/5,4
Norma: 3,4/4,8
PRO: n.a./10,7
* Totals in million euro during 2006

Other collecting societies: Nieuwswaarde, Leenrecht, Lira, Musicopy, Pictoright, Irda, Vevam/Sekam/Sekam Video, Ibva.

The Dutch Public Broadcast company paid in 2006 almost 21 million euro a year for copyright on music and video. The cable operators, united in the association NLKabel pays some tens of millions euro a year.

Blog Posting Number: 1009

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

BPN 1008 The flood of press releases on mobile stops today

Today the boys and girls of the mobile industry pack up and will leave Barcelona. They have a lot to think of. They got quite some messages for the next year to think about. I am not in the mobile business nor am I in Barcelona. I am just a mobile user with an interest in the development of mobile content. So I have been reading the stream of press releases. Most of them could be relegated to the dustbin immediately and were not even worth reading. And as I wrote before about the Readius, the mobile with flexible digital paper, of course the old tricks were played to lure the press; but the press can have a better memory these days due to search engines. (I recently spoke to someone who had seen and felt the Readius and was shocked to find out that you have to open the mobile when called. There is no interface and/or screen on the outside of the mobile to accept the call. This mobile will not win a usability award, was his final judgement).

The flood of press releases shows that the mobile industry will have to deal with saturation. This year there will be more mobiles in China than in the USA. Of course there are still markets which still have to pick up mobile telecom, but they are not the most interesting markets. And the profit margins on devices are under pressure; Nokia has to move its production from Germany to Romania.

After saturation, consolidation sets in. No longer the various models of mobile telephone (or handy as the Germans call the device) are important but the software will influence the acquisition. And the software is based on the operating system. Presently there are some 50 operating systems and new ones still pop up like Google's Android. But the most important ones for now dominate the market: Symbian, Microsoft Mobile, Opera. And the manufacturers are no longer strict in using operating systems. Even Symbian shareholder Sony-Ericsson has now used Microsoft Mobile in one of its new models. And they are desperately looking for infrastructure like search engines. Of course Microsoft hoped to catch two flies in one go with Yahoo. Once the search engine would be part of the conglomerate, it could also function as mobile search engine.

But the main manufacturers and operators are still dancing around the issue of content. The latest item in content is of course television. This will bring in the ship with gold; so they think. I am not a believer of that. Mobile television will fit in the snack culture: short, funny movies. I do not believe that you will watch television series. In my view this will be something for the Ultra Mobile PCs, which will flood the market by mid 2008.

But also in other content areas, manufactures are looking again. Nokia started to distribute content of games, music, navigation information and other information through its Ovi service. Local operators will be glad to pick up the connect minutes, but will not get any extra’s out of it. The operators have also looked for the content revenue extension. But the time of the walled garden services is over. Besides people pick what they want to have and not what the operators think that they should have.

One of the reasons mobile content has not been a success is the tariff of connect time. Just downloading a1Mb from the mobile net cost a fortune. Of course T-Telecom has brought down the price, but if you have to pay yourself, you will not connect to YouTube for the daily selection. And money is not the only handicap, but also the operating systems. The scaling/reformatting of internet screens does not really work, even not on smart phone screens.

There is an old wisdom in the PC world that you have to sell a PC for free and ask money for software. IBM forgot to do this, when it launched the PC in 1981 and Microsoft came in. In 2004 IBM had to sell its PC business to Lenovo. Nokia is trying to hold the fortress by launching the Ovi service. But will this service mature in time to deliver profits, when the profits on device manufacturing will start to tumble and local operators are back to their old game of ticks and bundles.

Blog Posting Number 1008

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

BPN 1007 UK Gov: ISPs cash points for music and movie industry

Just when you think it is all over and Music companies finally understand that they will have to do something themselves, it is the legal roadroller which revives the discussion. Now the UK internet users can await a legal stop on illegal downloading of movies and music. The UK government has sent a draft to the House of Commons. It is one of the many legal solutions which are offered in Europe.

London thinks that Internet providers should play a role in preventing illegal downloading. ISPs should take steps when they see illegal files being downloaded. The internet user should get an e-mail warning after the first illegal download, at the second illegal download a suspension and after the third time a termination of his internet contract.

The UK chooses to control illegal downloading through ISPs. Regardless whether ISPs are happy with this, the UK government takes that route. Of course the ISPs are very unhappy to be institutional policemen for the music and movie industry. In other European countries like The Netherlands the ISPs have to save traffic logs already, at their own expense, for a long period of time to assist, if needed, the police. On top of that they might get the policing task of controlling illegal music and movie downloads.

Besides this, is not the first model to combat illegal downloads which is using the ISP. During the introduction of internet it was proposed that the ISPs should pay the collecting societies for the music downloaded (movie downloads were still far off); the ISPs should organise their own way of recovering the fees paid, either by charging the individual downloader or sharing the costs among all subscription holders. This model of using ISPs to be the cash point for the collecting societies never made it, although the Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM) has recently shown willingness to sign cooperation agreements with ISPs. STIM wants to sit down with the ISPs and discuss how it can work together to enable their customers to pay - via their internet subscription - for the music streaming through the providers' networks, thereby allowing them to become legal music surfers. According to STIM's model, an average user's monthly internet costs will rise in proportion to the total amount of music being downloaded. In return, internet users will be able to access and download all the music available on the internet at a given time; in time a similar measure would apply for movies. But STIM concedes that a number of technical, financial and legal barriers need to be overcome before their proposal gains general acceptance.

Of course it is unfair to push such a task to a party which is not part and parcel of the music and the movie industry. In the UK and Swedish cases, the ISPs become the cash points of the collecting societies and indirectly of the music and movie industry. This while this industry only assists in uncovering illegal download cases and has so far not put up a download service which offers easy access, reasonable prices and a fair policy for media shifting. They let Apple set up iTunes, but could not yet organise a decent download service themselves.

Blog Posting Number: 1007

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BPN 1006 EU Safer Internet Day

Today is the 5th Safer Internet Day. At the occasion, Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the
European Communities, presents a selection of statistics concerning internet activities, security concerns and virus attacks. The Safer Internet Day is part of a global drive to promote a safer Internet for all users, in particular younger people, and is organised by Insafe, a European internet safety network co-funded by the European Commission.

The data presented have been collected from the 2006 and 2007 surveys on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usage in households and by individuals from 16 to 74 years in the EU27. The individuals use internet at least one time in three months.

e-Shopping: The percentage of individuals aged 16 to 74 in the EU27 who ordered goods or services over the internet increased from 24% in 2005 to 30% in 2007. The highest proportions of internet shoppers in 2007 were recorded in Denmark (55% in 2006), the Netherlands (55%), Sweden and the United Kingdom (both 53%), and the lowest in Bulgaria and Romania (both 3%) and Lithuania (6%). In 2006, 12% of the respondees in the EU27 had not ordered goods or services over the internet in the preceding 12 months because of worries about giving credit card or personal details online. These security and privacy concerns were most common in Spain (27%), Finland (26%) and Cyprus (20%).

e-Banking: In the EU27 internet users, meaning individuals aged 16 to 74 who had used internet in the last three months, increased from 52% of all individuals aged 16 to 74 in 2006 to 57% in 2007. During the same time period, the proportion of internet users who used internet banking grew from 38% to 44%. In 2007, this proportion was highest in Finland (84%), Estonia (83%) and the Netherlands (77%), and lowest in Bulgaria (5%), Romania (7%) and Greece (12%).

Safety: One quarter of EU27 internet users suffered a virus attack in the last twelve months
In the EU27 in 2007, nearly a quarter of internet users had had a computer virus in the preceding 12 months, which resulted in a loss of information or time. Virus attacks were most frequent in Lithuania (41% of users), Slovenia (35%) and Malta (34%) and least common in the Czech Republic (7%), Estonia (15%) and Sweden (16%). One way of protecting oneself against the loss of information is to regularly make a safety copy or a back up file of information. In the EU27 in 2007, nearly a quarter of internet users always or almost always made safety copies or back up files from their computer. The highest proportions of individuals making safety copies were found in Greece (43% of users), France (35%) and Malta (34%), and the lowest in Poland (13%), Estonia (14%) and Sweden (15%).

Blog Posting Number: 1006

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Monday, February 11, 2008

BPN 1005 Dutch public broadcast videos available

The public broadcast companies NOS and a BNN offer now the opportunity to copy videos to the personal pages. The NOS offers already feeds to sites and blogs. Copying NOS and BNN videos to a profile, internet sites and blogs will be just as easy copying YouTube videos. The NOS now offers items from the news programs; the NOS has now applied micro-chunking to their news and broadcasts, so that specific items can be selected. Also BNN offers videos through the digital channel

Now users can add fragments to pages concerned with specific programs from BNN or news or sports items to a profile of a user. At the same time users can start to broadcast with their mobile phone, as the site allows for example software from Livecastr.

The move of NOS was announced in November in an iMMovator cross-media café. It has some likeness with the move of the BBC, which offers also video fragments to users. But there are some differences with BBC and there are some unsolved questions.

The NOS offers actual news and sports items and items of the short term archive Program missed?. It does not offer any long term historical items. These video items are archived by the Institute of Image and Sound. In order to get a 3 minute item of 1980, the item can be retrieved by any internet user on a public database, but then a long way of negotiating starts. The item might still be on nitrate film and has then to be converted to a digital format. But before this is possible, permission is needed from the news staff. Once that is given and the conversion has been done, you will have to pay about 600 euro for the 3 minute item in order to show it on a site. It is not possible to make an embedded link to that particular video.

BBC has clearly limited the opportunity to use embedded video or a requested video to users in the UK. They have paid for the television license and can use it. I have not seen any country restrictions on the use of embedded video fragments. I will have to ask one of my tech savvy friends outside the Netherlands to try it out.

The public television allows now embedded video links. Of course the question rises again, whether money can be claimed by collecting societies for neighbouring rights or for art work rights. When a news item deals with a special concert like the Lohengrin concert opera a week ago, the collecting society for neighbouring rights can claim that embedded links are new publications. Or when someone gives an interview in front of a famous contemporary painting a collecting society for art work protection will send an invoice. I wonder when the first invoice will be on the doormat of a blogger, if only to start a test case.

At last NOS starts to experiment. It will be interesting to see how long it will take them to offer historical items.

Blog Posting Number: 1005

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

BPN 1004 Mid March:

The Dutch social network with 5,6 million registrations is very prominent in the press at present. During a meeting of the Dutch cross-media network iMMovator later on radio, Yme Bosma, business developer at, explained that starts to deliver movies to digital television channels from mid March onwards through Presently friends look at movies for 15.000 times a month. And this is only the beginning. will have to do this as it will be up against competition in the near future of the Dutch version of MySpace and indirectly of the international version of Facebook.

Yme Bosma told the audience that friends are not always online. Especially in the weekend the pageviews jumped up and down and people used mobile to consult These are indications for that the users want to view whenever and wherever. now wants to extend its movie content to digital television as well the Who What and Where info of users. TV viewers will be able to see movies and can call up user profiles. In the first instance Tele2 will transmit the pages trough its digital channel to a television set. Other digital channel operators will also be able to transmit this feature in due time.

The announcement brought back memories of webTV, for which Philips bought a European license and never used it. Yet this rendering of internet on television works differently. WebTV had a local converter box. will use technology of Avinity, Technically this will mean that the ‘signal’ goes to the company Avinity, which will convert the signal to television format in size and pixels.

Yme Bosma also believes that the Hyves television community will start another trend. The group will be able to compose its own electronic program guide by voting for the best videos. The users can also show their relatives movies they put up on internet. willl have to be very active in the coming time. Although Yme Bosma did not say a word about the competition, MySpace launched a Dutch edition of MySpace including its own ad sales office. So far MySpace has experimented with a Dutch trial site and picked up some 400.000 users, but now it will aggressively go into the market. That is what Travis Katz, managing director of MySpace during his presentation. He does not see as a problem, remarking that in every country so far they always found a competitor against them He referred to the situation in Germany where MySpace superseded the incumbent social network.

MySpace has developed a Dutch language site with its own content. It has its own music and video channels. It will also show content specially produced for MySpace in the Netherlands, just like the thriller series Beyond the Rave in the UK and the drama series Quarterback in the USA. MySpace Benelux will also organise offline events like small intimate surprise concerts with popular musicians, singers and entertainers.

It will be interesting to see, whether MySpace will make it in the Netherlands. MySpace does not possess the Dutch domain name; the site does mention that it is not related to Recently a National Day Against MySpace was organised. MySpace users were called by the message: MySpace users fed up with glitchy pages, annoying banner ads and an abundance of spam may finally have the motivation to take the plunge and delete their accounts. Wednesday (February 7th,2008) is International Delete Your MySpace Account Day, an online protest geared at uniting users eager to ditch the popular social networking site. But also business wise, MySpace will have trouble to be profitable in the Netherlands. IT would not be the first international internet company that did not make it. abandoned its sales offices in the Netherlands. It is a country with only 16,5 million inhabitants, with a language different from English and a television oriented advertisement market; on the other hand English is a second language to all Dutchmen and many people prefer to join the international edition of MySpace and Facebook due to their global orientation. And given the home grown social network of, I still have to see that a Benelux office will survive.

Blog Posting Number: 1004

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

BPN 1003 Collecting society questions embedded video links

This week Dutch bloggers got frightened. The Dutch music copyright collecting society Buma/Stemra had released an e-mail., stipulating that bloggers who incorporate music movies from video sites in their blog will have to get a license. However Buma/Stemra told the bloggers that the e-mail was released prematurely and that for the time being they did not have to fear any legal action.

A number of music blogs received an e-mail from the collecting society. It said that Buma/Stemra had noticed that the sites actively offered material from the world music repertory, which is guarded by the collecting society. In order to continue legally with offering the music the bloggers would have to pay an annual fee to Buma/Stemra. One of the blogs was (MOMI), which promptly ask Buma/Stemra for an explanation.

The collecting society answered promptly with an explanation and statement about the e-mail. The explanation, which also was published by MOMI, made clear that it concerned movies from for example YouTube which were integrated in the site of the blogger. This was seen as a new publication, which should be licensed. Just linking to the respective movie is not seen as a problem, as the source is responsible for the use of the music.

Buma/Stemra said that the e-mail had been sent pre-maturely. The organisation has started up a new department dealing with online music and they are still researching the phenomenon of integrated music videos. The collecting society said that it is happy with the present licensing models, but that it had to look ahead and see what was possible in the future and feasible. It said that it is having meetings with organisations having experience with offering copyrighted material.

The discussion on the weblog MOMI is rather fierce. The collecting society is portrayed as a police ticketing machine. Some web loggers give advice not to answer as Buma/Stemra has asked for the their name and license number. And only a few web loggers analyse the problem. Buma/Stemra sees the integrated movie as a new publication, while the web loggers see it as an embedded link. Embedded video has become popular with website as YouTube. This video site picks up almost half of its traffic from third party blogs and sites. The embedded video is online video in which the video screen of the sender through html code is integrated with the webpage of third parties. In the meantime broadcast companies like BBC offer their video material to integrate video and audio in third party websites.

Embedded video bears some likeness with the problem of frames, whereby pages from a site were framed by a third party site in their site. It was a hype for some time as it could be created by a simple link. So in most cases no permission was from the original site owner. Framing eventually was legally contested and has disappeared as feature.

Update 11/02/2008: The Swedish Performing Rights Society (STIM) has shown willingness to sign cooperation agreements with ISPs. STIM wants to sit down with the ISPs and discuss how it can work together to enable their customers to pay - via their internet subscription - for the music streaming through the providers' networks, thereby allowing them to become legal music surfers. According to STIM's model, an average user's monthly internet costs will rise in proportion to the total amount of music being downloaded. In return, internet users will be able to access and download all the music available on the internet at a given time. But STIM also concedes that a number of technical, financial and legal barriers need to be overcome before their proposal gains general acceptance.

Blog Posting Number: 1003

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Friday, February 08, 2008

BPN1002 Media literacy minor in the Netherlands

This week a minor in media literacy has started at the University of Applied Science Stenden at the education department in Meppel. The driving force behind this minor is Hans Sleurink (see photograph), a scriptwriter and television maker, author of articles as well as books and publisher of the Dutch language newsletter Media Update. Hans is not unknown in the area of media literacy. Four years ago he produced, together with philosopher Arjen van den Berg, an essay on values and norms in the media world for the Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy, proposing a media diploma in the line with a swimming diploma or (another Dutch item) bicycle diploma. In 2000 he published, again with Arjen van den Berg, a book under the title Media-educatie: een kennisinventarisatie (Media education: a knowledge inventory). In the book he took the position that the Netherlands were about to make a change-over to a knowledge society. In this process the speed and quality of transfer of information and knowledge would become more important. Because of that the importance of media literacy would also increase in importance. Government should let its passive attitude go and would have to choose for a stimulating role in the development of media-education. In the Netherlands the item is still discussed, but has not received a real stimulus, despite the government’s promise to come up with policy measures in the first half of 2008.

Internationally media education or media literacy is also being discussed. In December 2007, the European Commission published a communication Media Literacy. It was accompanied by a study Current trends and approaches to media literacy in Europe, performed in the second half of 2007 by the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain). I took time out to discuss this document with Hans.

What is the first impression of the study?
The study mentions that all 27 EU member states have been treated. And as a Dutchman you immediately start searching through the document for Netherlands and Dutch, and if you find nothing you might still try Holland. But the Netherlands does not show in the study, except for two footnotes. I am not sure whether this also happened to other member states. But in the study a number of front runners are named like Finland.

What did you think of the study?
The study is interesting for its content. However the historical approach is a limitation. The study does not go further than the sixties of last century. This can be justified, but no justification is offered. This is unsatisfactory.
The analysis produced is okay; it takes a broad approach. Many elements which are important to media literacy are addressed in the study. Given these elements an inventory of useful insights has been composed, which shows the forces around media literacy. Useful as well is the list of gaps, barriers and deficiencies (page 70), which hamper the development of a common media literacy policy. The first item on that list is, in my opinion, also the most important deficiency: the lack of a generally accepted theoretical and conceptual framework. Unanimity is still far off in as far as objectives, concepts, methods, sources, research and evaluation of research results is concerned.

What are the objectives of media literacy?
The researchers offer the position that two interests dominate media literacy: economy and active citizenship. These items are linked with other areas such as education and the home environment. I think that this is an acceptable approach. However it is remarkable that in the communication the European Commission only chooses for media literacy for:
- commercial communication;
- media literacy for audiovisual productions;
- media literacy for online use.
It is strange that in the beginning of the communication citizenship is mentioned as an important objective of media literacy, but it does not show in the recommendations. In this way the economic interests are very much stressed. This does not do justice to the study, which is richer than the communication leads to believe. Are policy tactics underlying this limitation? Are matters like citizenship and education so much a matter of member states when it comes to media literacy, that the EC will not touch it, afraid of being accused of neglecting the subsidiarity principle. Or is it simply a plain choice for the Market?

What is you general evaluation of the study?
Despite the fact that the study seems incomplete in country information, it offers a lot of information about policy plans and projects in a number of EU member states. For example, information like sources on policy and on practice of media literacy in Finland, Ireland, and Austria, is very useful for setting up projects nationally and in the European Union.

Blog Posting Number: 1002

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

BPN 1001 Games for seniors -- The Interview

Since June 2006 an Onestat counter has been recording the traffic to Buziaulane. This counter lists the pageviews, the unique visitors and their country of origin. Most it also lists the favourite subjects. Games for seniors is such a sought after topic. At the memorable occasion of the 1000nd posting, I found an expert on games for seniors. He is Jarmo Roksa, a Finn working at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim in the Midgard Media Lab, a multidisciplinary project with goal to facilitate advanced new digital media research and find different ways to use new digital media. Games are part of the research.

Q. Games for seniors have proven to be of great interest to blog readers of Buziaulane. Can you explain this interest?

I believe we can find several explanations for that. Economical, social, demographical and even medical explanations have been used to explain the raised interest for the elderly games or games for seniors as you put it.

Economical: game market is expanding. While core gamers brought 1000 x more revenues ago than casual gamers ten year, they will bring only four times more within two next years. Digital games have become main stream and a socially acceptable way for spending the spare time. Marketing departments of the game companies are targeting new audiences: seniors are already spending a lot time with digital media. The key issue is how to capture part of their time for gaming. There is a good chance for this since studies show that games can contribute to the health (i.e. medical explanation) but also socio-economical (savings in the health care etc.).

Social and demographical explanations are intertwined. Loneliness and solitude is a vast problem among the senior citizens. Mobility of the societies has caused situations where senior citizens are living far away from their relatives. Gaming and especially social gaming could bring in the active communicative element into the senior citizen’s everyday life.

At the same time the population pyramid is slowly turning upside down. There are more and more senior citizens living in the European societies and in some Asian countries. This increasing group is more and more an interesting target group for the marketers; at the same time society and politicians seek ways to keep this generation active as long as possible. More seniors mean more workers at the social sector and since the following generations are smaller and smaller there will not necessarily be enough therapists, home workers, nurses and so on – could gaming postpone the need for these services?

And then, obviously, there’s a personal explanation. Grandparents are of course interested in what their grandchildren are doing. Creating games which connect generations together will have a good chance to succeed.

Q. So far I have seen two kinds of games for seniors: games from Nintendo like Brain Training and More Brain Training as well as general games adapted for seniors. The Nintendo games look like memory drills; the general games adapted for seniors are just for past time.

Yes, Dr. Ryuta Kawashima’s Brain Training has sold over 17 million copies worldwide. He has recently worked with Toyota in order to make their cars safer for driving by senior citizens. Some critics claim that there is no evidence that these games really make a difference, while others say they contribute to activate alternative parts of the mind a person normally uses and thus activates the brain. There is a school, which believes that in therapeutic sessions with demented people one way is to use for instance memory games.

You are right with your statement that adapted generic games are something made for passing time. But is this bad or good compared to a passive television viewing?

In near future we will see more games for seniors who take a game in a more pervasive way: Nintendo Wii’s innovative gamepad with the movement control has already brought generations together. For instance, sales statistics from Japan show that seniors have actually been pretty eager to buy Wii games.

This opens a possibility to develop games which focus on physical excercises for the seniors. Studies show that English youngsters loose weight after getting Wii, likewise alternative game plays open huge opportunities to develop games for the seniors that really matter. Just think what the games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Factory and different karaoke games have done for the gaming.

And of course there’s a social aspect as well. Games can bring people together. Combinations of communication, gaming, communities, and self authoring are all phenomena of Web 2.0 which have taken the world by storm. Isn’t Facebook with its many features also gaming?

Q. Presently more and more seniors start using PCs for entertainment/edutainment. Should we be developing games for them specifically and if so, what kind of games: crossword puzzles, sudoku, adventure games, arcade games, shoot them up, serious games, simulation games?

Lot of this was answered already earlier. As there are different tastes among youngsters, there are different needs and tastes among elderly people too: some like sudokus, others like to shoot on everything that moves. One of my good friends, a jolly 67 year old Englishman, enjoys advanced flight simulators – being much better than me or any youngster than I know. So question is not only if we produce games for the seniors specifically but also how we introduce good games to them which already are out there.

I believe that for the seniors the communicative aspect has a central role as well. How to connect with other users? How to keep in contact with far away relatives? How to meet new people? The gaming so far has been stigmatized that they make people a-social. I believe that the question should be posed how games can become social plays with a key role for seniors in it – but they can also affect younger generations. As Dr. Kawashima recently said: ”I do not believe that games are dangerous/bad by themselves, but they affect the youngsters in a way that they don’t do what they should do – like study and communicate with the family”.

Q. Do you know Timehunt? This was an animated virtual puzzle leading you through
mysteries of time and history; it included a time diary for visitors to write, a bulletin board, and a forum of sorts. It was a kind of encyclopaedic puzzle. It was terminated by the beginning of 2006. Would this type of encyclopaedic games work for a group of seniors?

I have heard of Timehunt but do not know that closer. I interprete that many of the issues you describe are characteristics which we attach to Web 2.0 solutions which have become extremely popular. The gaming industry all over world is working with implementing 2.0 characteristics for their games. As I have said earlier game mechanism (scores, competition, interaction, customisation) together with social media (like chat, friends, share, create) is the way how the future of the networked entertainment will be arranged. Nintendo has its own communication and social channel, so has SONY with its Playstation and we are only seeing the start of it.

Q. Do you know of any research in games for seniors?

Especially in the fields of Medicine, Psychology and somewhat in Pedagogy studies on games for elderly are made. The majority of these studies are focusing on the psychological and neurological benefits of the gaming but I expect that physiological research will take off shortly. So while research now is “Games help seniors to stay sharp”, in future they will also help seniors to keep fit.

Game research as an academic research within other disciplines is still young – Research is still marginal but the interest is rising because especially younger generations are spending less time with traditional media. Media researchers followed shortly by sociologists have become interested in the phenomenon – but this interest has been focused mostly on the major and most popular genres withing gaming. Seniors have been in the side line.

But there are many R&D projects in this area of games for seniors especially in Japan and South Korea. Norwegian SINTEF is participating to European wide project in elderly games and results can be expected soon.

Just a little anecdote: Dr. Ryuta Kawashima’s games have generated 15 Million Euros in royalties. Half of the amount belongs to his university, Tohoku in Sendai; the other half was reserved for Dr Kawashima. He could have cashed 7.5 Million Euros. Yet this 44 year old professor preferred to donate his part to his university.

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