Monday, June 30, 2008

Flash EUROPRIX Multimedia Awards deadline extended

Due to the large amount of enthusiastic requests from young multimedia whiz-kids across Europe, the deadline has been extended to July 30 2008! But get a move on! If you want to associate yourself with the best of the best in European multimedia, you have until July 30 to enter! You have to be in it to win it!

All you have to do is to click on this web-link: , complete the registration process and you could fulfil all your hopes and dreams of recognition and success. The multimedia scene is increasingly competitive. Companies are begging for new ideas, fresh content and sparkling technical innovations. Get to the head of the pack by entering the EUROPRIX Multimedia Awards.

For more information and registration please visit:

BPN 1144 E-books change academic life

In Spring 2008, ebrary collaborated with more than 150 college and university librarians throughout the world to develop an informal survey to better understand students’ usage, needs, and perceptions with regard to e-books.

Colleges and university libraries of all types, worldwide, were encouraged to invite their students to participate in the survey. ebrary did not promote the survey directly to students. The survey was promoted primarily through ebrary’s newsletter distribution list, which includes more than 12,000 college and university librarians, representing approximately 2,100 individual institutions. Approximately half of these institutions are located in North America, the other half in the rest of the world. A total of 6,492 students completed the survey, representing nearly 400 individual institutions, from approximately 75 countries.

Librarians were also invited to participate in a “cloned” student survey to see how their responses differ from those of students. A copy of the “cloned” report, will be available later this summer. This survey is not about e-readers, but about electronic books, ranging from Word, PDF to Mobypocket format.

From the librarians survey it was known that 63 per cent have over 1000 e-books and 37 per cent has less than 1000 e-books.

The student e-book survey was completed by a total of 6,492 students, representing nearly 400 individual institutions, from approximately 75 countries. It sounds impressive, but when you look in detail the survey can hardly be called represetative. Respondents came from the US (2143) and Italy (2707) and 73 other countries with participants ranging from 1 to 529. From my own home country only 2 prticipants have been registered. When you look at the primary subject/major of study, the lit is dominated by engineering (1983 rspondents). On the far end of the list are mortuary science, oceonography and criminal studies each with 1 respondent. Only 23 students languages and literature partook in the survey.

Half of the respondents (3122) fall off from the start, when they are asked how often they use e-books provided by the library. They never use them. Ome 2700 respondents say that their library does not have e-book; or they do not know about it. So only some 3200 students answered the rest of survey.

Remarkabl of the rest is that 2517 rate e-books assecond resource for research and class assignments. And when asked about th trustworthiness (accuracy and reliability) of the resources, e-books (279) almost equals print books (2845). Resources as Wikipedia, wikis and blogs as well as social web applications score very low in trustworthiness. When asked for the option of using the e-book or a print book, more than 2500 respondents indicate sometimes (974), often (868) and very often (698).

Th respondents could indicate whether 19 statements were true for e-books, print books or both. No less than 1905 respondents listed environmental friendliness of e-book the highest; as said before in a posting, this is utter nonsense. Any time, any where access is a fine second followedby easy to search and find information. Interesting for any e-book producer and e-reader manufacturer are the 19 features list as very important to e-books (see illustration).

Asked on what would make e-books usage more suitable for use in thei area of study, the students answered: more titles in my subject area (2465), less restrictions on printing (2073) and copying and more current titles (1902). Only 1150 students demanded better e-readers.

In the concluding summary of the surveyAllan W. McKiel Ph.D, dean of librray and media services of Western Oregon University draws some intersting conclusions on the change in scientific behaviour. Books, print or electronic, are holding their own as a preferred resource. E-books were in second place as a resource used for research/class assignments with 78 per cent of the students selecting them. Print books followed closely at 77 per cent (2478/3208). It is noteworthy that e-books are just behind Google as an important format for students. It is a hint of evidence suggesting that the format may endure in the context of the Internet. In ebrary’s 2007 Global Faculty E-book Survey, e-books were the sixth element (53 per cent) in the list of the electronic resources that faculty indicated they used for research and course preparation. Seventy-nine percent (658/829) of the faculty reported that print books were preferable for reading the entire work.

Student and faculty usage diverged slightly over the use of e-journals. They placed second in the faculty survey with 86 per cent of the faculty selecting them. Only 65 per cent of the students indicated that they used them for research/class assignments. Faculties are moving to the Internet but the traditional format of the journal organized in the context of the Internet appears to have a stronger utility for them than students.

Other inferences appeared in the student data. Wikipedia scored just behind Google as a tool of choice for assignments. E-reference resources like online dictionaries, encyclopedias, and maps are firmly established tools. Textbooks are fading as a central course resource. Both students and faculty skew toward a preference for working online. And both students and faculty view instruction in information literacy as important. Fifty-six percent of students selected very important while 85 per cent of the faculty indicated that it was very important.

From the student survey it is clear that something is changing in scientific behaviour. The librarian survey is most likely more conservative, but will reflect the immediate tendencies.

Blog Posting Number: 1144

Tags: e-books, e-readers

Sunday, June 29, 2008

BPN 1143 Geotagging meets online novel

Sometimes you wonder about applying applications. Geotagging looks obvious for indicating where you are living or indicating destinations. Another application is discovering neighbours on internet: who is doing what on the net. Through wifi I can see which neigbours have a wifi active, but I do not know what they are doing on the net. Perhaps I do not want to know this. But recently I discovered an appication which did arouse my interest somewhat: the application GeoURL links geotags, so that you know who is blogging in the neighbourhood and which company has a site.

But geotagging has gotten a creative sibling. It is now also a tool for novel writers. I recently saw two applications, an English language novel and an online German language novel. On the Penguin site there is The 21 Steps, a thriller by Charles Cummings that uses Google Maps as its storytelling medium. The thriller tells the story of Rick, a man with a checkered past who has to go from London to Edinburgh to smuggle a mysterious vial into Scotland. A series of satellite images from Google Maps is the red thread of location markers on the trip. The book hs become famous now. The 21 Steps has now been read over 150,000 times online which is more than all of Charles Cumming’s book sales put together. The 21 Steps is part of digital fiction series We tell stories: six authors, six stories, six weeks from Penguin; a real laudable project by a classic publisher.

The German author Christoph Benda looked in a different direction. He wrote the interactive book Senghor on the Rocks the German Language. The text of his novel has on every page a Google Map illustration, which shows the location where the story is playing and when the location changes, an animated illustration of the rote is shown. Day and night changes are shown in line with the story line; even the morning maps are lighter than the eevning hours. The online book will contain three volumes, of which the first one comprises no less than 421 pages. The roman has been published under a creative commons license. The background to the story is Senegal and particularly Dakar in 2001. Poet-President Senghor has died in Paris and Senegal awaits the awarding of the Football World Championships.

Blog Posting Number: 1143

Tags: geotagging

Saturday, June 28, 2008

BP N 1142 Dutch judge forbids downloading

Every Dutchman who downloads protected songs, movies or software from internet, infringes on the law. That is the ruling of a court in The Hague. It is for the first time that a Dutch judge marked unauthorised downloading of copyright protected material for private use as illegal. The ruling goes against the government’s position of tolerating downloading for private use.

The court case concerned the conflict of blank media levies. In the Netherlands manufacturers of blank media carriers have to compensate rightful artists by paying a levy. In this way artists are still paid for the music which is recorded on the media carriers like CD-ROMs and DVDs. The manufacturers thought that the levy was too high and started a court case against the collecting society Homecopy (Thuiskopie), which distributes the money among the claimants.

However it came as a great shock that the judge expressed himself so explicitly about illegal copying. So far in The Netherlands only uploading unauthorised material was illegal. However downloading concerned the recording of a home copy was tolerated. This has been the position of the government also so far. The court ruling now says that downloading is liable to punishment. However how can this position be consistent with the copying levy? The consumer compensates the artists at source, when purchasing a blank media carrier. And at the moment that music is recorded on the blank media carrier, he is again liable to punishment.

The music recording companies are very happy with the ruling. They can now start prosecuting any downloader. And it will give the piracy watchdog Brein more clout in prosecuting downloader. However the execution of the ruling will be a problem, as the anti piricay officials just can not knock on everyone’s door to check who is busy downloading what. So privacy will be an issue. The piracy watchdog might go to the ISPs to worm data of individual trespassers out of them.

The ruling comes at a moment that the government is studying the collecting societies and the blank levy issue. Also the European Commission is making an inventory of the collecting societies and the blank levy issue. In France the minister of Culture piloted a very strict download law through the ministers’ council. In the UK, British ISPs and music rights holders are engaged in serious negotiations, being pressured by legislators, who have threatened to enact their own measures to resolve massive piracy issues if the industries cannot devise their own solutions.

Blog Posting Number: 1142

Tags: piracy, blank media levy

Friday, June 27, 2008

BPN 1141 Tough talk for telcos by two EU ladies

Lower charges, greater consistency, more competition; that is the matra of the two tough female commissioners of the European Commission, Viviane Reding (photograph left) and the iron lady Neelie Kroes (photograph right). They have asked the Commission to have a round of consultations on bringing down mobile phone tariffs in Europe. In the past years the telcos were forced to bring down costs of telephone calls from abroad. Recently the telcos were asked to bring down the costs of SMS originating from abroad.

Now the Commission, after assessing over 770 regulatory proposals by national regulators over the past 5 years, warned that price regulation of termination markets across Europe lacks consistency. It said that gaps between fixed and mobile termination rates and between mobile termination rates imposed by national regulators cannot be altogether justified by differences in the underlying costs, networks or national characteristics. This could have the following negative effects:
- Legal uncertainty and increased regulatory burden for operators providing cross-border services.
- National regulators bringing down mobile termination rates in their country risk punishing their own mobile industry if a neighbouring regulator still allows higher rates.
- Investment in new networks and services hampered if operators face different regulation in every country.

At present, fixed operators and their customers are indirectly subsidising mobile operators by paying higher termination rates for calls made from fixed lines to mobiles. This cross-subsidisation is estimated at €10 billion in Germany for 1998-2006 (WIK Consult) and €19 billion in the UK, Germany and France for 1998-2002 (CERNA-Warwick-WIK).

The Commission yesterday presented a draft Recommendation for convergence of termination rates in Europe, including clear principles on which cost elements should be taken into account when national telecoms regulators determine termination rates, an efficient costing methodology, and symmetric regulation (where the same price caps apply, within a country, to mobile and fixed operators, respectively). This will help foster an effective regulatory environment and avoid distortions such as cross-subsidies from fixed to mobile consumers. The advice of the European Regulators Group (ERG), which has made several attempts towards more consistent regulation of termination rates since 2006, was taken into account by the Commission in the draft Recommendation and the Explanatory note.

The Commission will issue the final text of the Recommendation on the regulatory treatment of fixed and mobile termination rates in October under article 19 of the Framework Directive of the EU Telecom rules, which allows the Commission to further harmonise the application of EU Telecoms rules in the single market to promote competition and consumer benefits. Member States have to ensure that national regulators take "the utmost account" of Commission Recommendations.

Blog Posting Number: 1141

Tags: ,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

BPN 1140 Effective Network Competition Freeway to the Future

On June 25, 2008, EU Commissioner Vivianne Reding addressed the annual conference of European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) in Brussels.

The main messages of her speech were:
* The technological and economic developments paving the way for high-speed broadband networks have the potential to increase competition to the benefit of consumers. But they can also lead to new bottlenecks and re-monopolisation of end user markets.

* A key element in my vision for Next Generation Access (NGA) regulation is to ensure that all parties, entrants or incumbents have sufficient incentives to move in these markets.

* Regulatory restraint as a carte blanche for incumbents to re-monopolise markets where the buds of competition are flourishing is not a policy option if we want competitive markets.

* It is very important that the conditions to invest exist and regulatory certainty is one of those conditions. Today, the regulatory landscape in Europe is unfortunately heavily fragmented in this respect.

* Regulatory guidance by the Commission is therefore required and appropriate in order to foster investments and maintain competition between infrastructure networks and service providers in the broadband area.

* In the forthcoming Commission Recommendation on Next Generation Access, the Commission intends to ensure consistency of regulatory approaches by establishing three principles of NGA regulation for the next 5 years:
First of all, access regulation which has been imposed in the past on dominant network operators will be continued, extended and if necessary reinforced also in case of a switch by the dominant player to a next generation network. Technological change should not, in itself, lead to a change of the regulatory rules in place.
Secondly, we want to encourage investment into next generation access networks by a stable and predictable regulatory environment. We are still discussing the final details of this in the Commission, but I believe that the best way for encouraging long-term investment is to establish a priori a number of principles that national regulators should take into account when regulating access prices with regard to next generation access networks. In my personal view, these should include a risk premium of around 15 per cent.
Thirdly, we must manage the transition from the system of measures applicable to SMP operators [= operators with significant market power] to tomorrow's next generation access measures. We have to recognise that the "ladder of investment" that has brought us to unbundled local loops will in the future have to adapt to the different end-to-end network architecture. Alternative operators will increasingly be given an incentive to roll out their own infrastructure closer to the customer. Or, where this is not feasible, will have to go back to bitstream remedies. In order to manage this transition in a predictable fashion for both SMP operators and alternative network operators, regulators must impose transparency obligations on SMP operators so that they cannot use these 'informational asymmetries' to thwart or delay alternative infrastructure investments or to destroy the competitive potential of alternative players.

EU Commissioner Reding concluded: "A competitive race to invest is the best way to ensure timely investment in next generation networks. I believe such a race to invest can happen even where there is currently only one infrastructure so long as adequate access is given to passive infrastructures. But I also believe that the geographic reach of competing infrastructures is likely to be limited and so access regulation in other forms will need to continue in this case.

Competitive operators have served Europe well in the past and a vibrant, competitive market is what Europe needs if it is to continue to prosper and deliver on its promise".

Blog Posting Number: 1140

Tags: , ,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BPN 1139 Creative Campus around the corner

It is next month two years ago that we moved our offices and living apartment to the new town Almere, the sister city of Amsterdam. We have settled in and love it here. People, most of them from another part of The Netherlands, speak rather negatively about the city. The newspaper De Volkskrant last year published a survey saying that Almere was the ugliest city of The Netherlands and Amsterdam the best. Oh well, the majority of respondents were, most likely, Amsterdam singles, who look in the morning at each other’s breakfast table. You do not have to do that in Almere; here is still space (see photograph).

Almere has now some 190.000 inhabitants and should double this number in the coming years. There is space enough for houses and for industry. Business wise Almere is a pushy city. It wants to be in top leagues. So it attracts industries and companies and takes care about the living environment. Almere sells itself as a high-tech city. It has since 1998 the Institute of Information Engineering, specialising in digital life, and has many IT companies and consultancies like Accenture within its municipal borders.

In order to execute high-tech plans Almere has an organisation, Almere Knowledge City, which thinks up projects. There has been a project to streamline the ICT infrastructure of public schools. There is a two year project going on, linking up every company and household to a glass fibre network. By 2010 it should be ready (Our offices are due to be connected by October 2009). And there are many more projects. But most of these projects are technical.

In the creative business field there were some signs of activity. A well known television personality established his studio in Almere in 2006. But now it looks like there will be a great impulse and that just around the corner of our offices! On the business park De Vaart, the Creative Campus has been established by MAC3PARK Businesscenters. The company will transform an enormous plant, formerly owned by a farmaceutical company, into a creative spawning place with international flair. The campus will encompass 50.000 square metres, six soccer fields. And the creative campus has a bright future. Its position with regard to the creative centres of marketing and publishing Amsterdam and broadcasting city Hilversum are only half an hour by car or half an hour by train, when there are traffic jams. But Almere has the also the advantage that it still has space in abundance; and that is something that Amsterdam and Hilversum do have not. Besides a square metre in Almere is cheaper than in Amsterdam or in Hilversum.

From July 1, 2008 the plant will be remodelled for offices, labs, construction and exposition halls. And the first companies have already signed up. Go Crossmedia, a new publisher in social networking, internet marketing with video and audio streaming, Go Facilities and Divi systems, an ICT supplier, will be the first companies to establish themselves at the Creative Campus from September 1 onwards. A spokes person for the GO Crossmedia company said that the companies could have looked for separate buildings. However they expect synergetic effects from being in one building; a foregone conclusion which had already be drawn in cities like Helsinki and Manchester.

Blog Posting Number: 1139


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

FLASH: Last call EUROPRIX entries

Only one week to go to send in your entries for the prestigious multimedia competition EUROPRIX! Please remember the deadline for submissions is June 30 2008! Great prices and unique networking opportunities are waiting for the nominees & winners:
- All-inclusive trips to the Top Talent Festival (November 27-29 2008) in Austria;
- Microsoft/Adobe software;
- EUROPRIX Roadshow and much more!

Please tell your friends and networks now!

To register and for more information please visit:

BPN 1138 From txt to vids

One of the last speakers at the MPJC 2008, was Marianne Zwagerman of the Dutch media company Telegraaf Media Group with its flagship, the daily newspaper De Telegraaf. She told the story of how a newspaper company was changing into a media company, crossing from traditional media to a hybrid paper/digital media company. It is one of those company stories of conversion from a traditional medium into a digital medium in search for a digital product portfolio, while making money on the traditional media. De Telegraaf is not a small media company, so it is like changing the course a mid range tanker in a small (language) channel. And it is not just simple to say: from analogue to digital, from paper to bits and bytes, from texts and pictures to sound and video.

D Telegraaf Holding has a vast range of traditional publications: 100+ newspaper titles, 4 radio stations, 100+ puzzles and game titles, 12 magazine titles, 20 events. De Telegraaf was an early bird in the field of digital media; yet the turn-over of the digital media is less than 15 per cent of the 800 million euro turn over of the company. Besides these activities De Telegraaf Holding has a substantial share in SBS television company.

While the traditional media still bring in money, the digital media are working their way up. The activities are brought together in a digital division, which has a turn-over target of 15 per cent this year. De Telegraaf has been on internet for 12 years now. In the meantime the digital range has broadened from a simple extension from the printed newspaper to a pdf version to a special classified ads site, Speurders. But the company has also extended to narrowcasting and its subsidiary LibriumTV takes for example care of the McDonald network, the underground stations, Total gaz stations, buses of a particular company and shopping malls. The advantage for De Telegraaf in this activity is the combination of news and advertisement. .

Reigning the digital department is video in general and mobile video in particular. With the narrowcasting (or out-of-home TV) activities, De Telegraaf got into the video business. Now it operates Dumpert, the Dutch YouTube, but under editorial supervision. Dumpert has 550 uploads a month, 2,5 million visitors and 100 million watched videos.

But De Telegraaf also invested in the shockblog and The reasoning behind this investment is curious. The newspaper De Telegraaf has always set the tone in the public discussion in The Netherlands. With De Telegraaf shapes the talk of the day, showing that we know what make people tick.

For De Telegraaf there are three principles on their road from text and pics to sound and vids: branded media, hybrid business models and journalistic independence.

Blog Posting Number: 1137

Tags: ,

Monday, June 23, 2008

BPN 1137 A social media hub

An interesting presentation during the MPJC 2008 was given by Idse de Pree, one of the three partners in recently formed company The Crowds. All three partners have a television background and all three have been pioneers for their broadcast company: Ids de Pree for the TROS, Wessel de Valk for VARA and Erwin Blom for the VPRO. Now they have started their own company on the basis of social network strategy.

Media have changed over the past years. Some five years ago they have started to move from Media 1.0, existing from purely sending to the TV viewer, to Media 2.0, which consists of sending and responding. But now Media 3.0 is coming up, which means co-operating with the audience. People are already linked through internet and there is an immense amount of knowledge available: 3 billion search assignments every day, 10 hours of new video mounted every minute on YourTube. The New York Times contains more information in one week than in one lifetime in 1800. In the past year no less than 40 exabytes (4 times 10to the 19th) content was produced. This is all quantitative. But also qualitative things are changing. In fact the best information is no longer per se with specialists in companies. In fact some cases are proving that the best information is outside the company. One of the companies is LEGO, which used to have an R&D department of 100 employees, developing 300 designs every year. Now the company has moved the department to internet and has 1 million designers producing 3 million designs. A site like solves 1 out of the three industrial problems with the help of people from other disciplines. has developed a system for predictions, of which the reality level is filtered.

This method is called crowsdsourcing. You use the crowd to solve a problem. And The Crowds is exactly doing that. One of their top projects is the building of a new neighbourhood in the North of the Netherlands. The Crowds will use the audience, existing of potential inhabitants, interested people, students and experts. A planning group will keep the overall direction.

Another project is to use the crowd as a coach for a soccer team. (Perhaps The Dutch Football Association should have used the principle and should have used the collective insight of 16,5 million Dutch soccer coaches. But with the Dutch out of the European Championship is too late.).

Crowdsourcing can be interesting for companies and institutes as it uses bonding with the audience. With the method money can be saved or better spent and products and services can be improved. But the proper approach to the audience/crowd should be used. On most sites there are contact opportunities, mostly to lodge complaints. Or people can send in their reactions to a product or a service, but these reactions are hardly used. This is the repressive tolerance principle, which will not deliver anything. But in sourcecrowding the audience should be tackled in their passion, their experience with a product or a service and in the reputation they can build up.

Blog Posting Number: 1137

Tags: ,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

UPDATE: Dutch soccer team out of EC

The Dutch soccer team is out of the European Championships. Last night the team lost after an extension with 3-1 to the Russians, being coaced by Guus Hiddink, another Dutchman. The Dutch will return to normlity. The garlands will disappear. And the consumer electronic shops will notice a slow down in the acquisition of plasma and LCD screens.

BPN 1136 Computer music from 1951

When I got introduced to personal computers, I got a bonus with an introduction to computer music. At Christmas time 1980, I had an Apple IIe, which had a demonstration bundle of music songs, amongst other the songs of Switched-on Bach. I knew the songs as in 1969 I had bought the record with songs performed on a Moog synthesizer. Although I had worked with mini computers before, I had no idea before the personal computer, that computers could be used for making music. Of course I had one excuse; working for a business information publisher, music was not exactly a daily gadget.

Yet there was computer music from early on. So far a historic listing of computer recordings has been established. The honour for the oldest computer machine, rendering music, goes to CSIRAC, Australia's first digital computer, which rendered the Colonel Bogey. But no one has yet unearthed a recording of CSIRAC in action. Until that time the UK can claim to have the oldest recording of computer music. In June 2008 a recording of a computer music rendition has been unveiled in the UK as part of the 60th Anniversary of "Baby" (see illustration), the forerunner of all modern computers. The songs, God saves the queen, Baa Baa Black Sheep and a part of In the Mood, were captured by the BBC in the Autumn of 1951 during a visit to the University of Manchester, which was a hotbed for computing in those days. The tunes were played on a Ferranti Mark 1 computer, a commercial version of the Baby Machine.

The music program is ascribed to Christopher Strachey, a maths master at Harrow, a friend of the computing legend Alan Turing. However there are two versions about the music program. One says that Mr Strachey wrote a program for playing draughts, but which also could be used as a music program playing God Save the King. Others contend this version and say that the program was solely for playing music. Now the recording has been unearthed and is available on internet.

Computer music really established itself from 1957 onwards, when music was made on an IBM mainframe computer at Bell Labs, of which still recordings exist. Making music on computers was not easy as computer music programs typically did not run in real-time. Programs would run for hours or days, on multi-million dollar computers, in order to generate a few minutes of music. It is only in the early 90s, that the performance of microprocessor-based computers reached the point of real-time generation of computer music.

Blog Posting Number: 1136

Tags: ,

Saturday, June 21, 2008

BPN 1135 4K: new genration cinema

I thought that I had a big screen with my 40 inch Sony Bravia HD screen, especially bought for the soccer matches of the Dutch national team. But at the Media Park Annual Conference I saw a demonstration of 4K cinema on a large screen. On the screen movies were projected in the highest available resolution possible at present.

The demonstration was given by CineGrid Nederland, a project by SURFnet, University of Amsterdam and Waag Society. They had organised an enormous 4K projector and proudly introduced the Cinegrid Exchange, a collection computer discs with a capacity of 96 Terabyte. The Dutch Cinegrid Exchange is coupled with already existing Cinegrid Exchanges in the United States and Japan.

The image is larger and very sharp and compare to normal television ten times better and four times better than HDTV. Also the sound is better. The claim of 4K cinema is that it offers new opportunities for visualisation of science projects, in education, but also for cultural and entertainment events. From the first viewing it looked to me that the new opportunities are incremental and not really innovative.

During the demonstration a series of movies was shown. In the series science projects the visualisation of a part of the universe was shown; beautiful due to the resolution. For education a hurricane was visualised, based on scientific data; it looked great, but had the effect to me as the first break-out design of Mitchell Beazley in the seventies. Also the Dutch artist Jaap Drupsteen had produced a graphic animation (see illustration). A cultural movie came from the Holland Festival. Last year the opera Era La Notta was recorded in 4K (see illustration). An impressive movie. But also existing movies are scanned and upgraded for 4K showing. During the demonstration the movie Baraka, a movie containing images of 24 countries from 6 continents was shown (see illustration). At the end a movie was shown by an artist who had drawn a helicopter view of a town. All over the screen, cars are crawling; busses run their course, while bridges over canals are opened for passing boats.

4K cinema has the problem of a big screen, while the audience will have to be in close range. To see the crawling effects of the last movies you have to get very close. So projection for large crowds might be a problem.

All in all, I loved what I saw. Great resolution and beautiful effects. But also the drawback of close viewing. But it remains an incremental innovation, but will not be a substantial leap forwards.

Blog Posting Number: 1135

Tags: ,

Friday, June 20, 2008

BPN 1134 Digitalisation disruptive for TV

During the MPJC, Erik Jan Geelink spoke on television. He put into perspective what was going on in the television world. Erik Jan has worked amongst other for UPC on the (failed) introduction of their media box. He looked at the television world, which finally is trying to turn the page from analogue to digital.

Television has not been known for innovation. Yet the present digitalisation is a disruptive technology for the television industry. Despite the fact that the broadcast industry was warned in 1996 for personal television and other new trends, it is only now that broadcast companies, public or commercial, start to realise that they will have to do something with internet and digital television. So far internet was an extension of the television and radio programs, but with digital television through cable, glass fibre, terrestrial digital network or IPTV there is another medium than the traditional television coming up.

In the Netherlands there are 3,4 million digital TVs in the home, which means a penetration of 44,5 percent. Cable is still the dominant carrier, while satellite usage decreases. On the other hand terrestrial digital TV, Digitenne, is a hit in the Netherlands, mainly due to the lower price than cable. The conclusion is that cable is on its way down.

On the other hand video is maturing. The quality of video is differentiating, according to the principle horses for courses. In the temple of video, the cinema, you can not show the YouTube movies made with a mobile. Yet every minute almost 10 hours of video are mounted on YouTube. The British public broadcast company BBC has developed the iPlayer; the usage of the player will cost 1 billion euro for broadband capacity. Who will pay the bill: the ISP or the user. It just indicates that video is in demand.

The television production chain is also changing due to the digitalisation. Most broadcast people still think in terms of a linear production chain of creation, aggregation and distribution. But with digital television the production chain becomes more efficient, but also become more interactive. The viewer can respond to the program, participate with the red knob and even offer content for showing. Presently digital channels are created around a theme such as history, humour and consumer matters. Basically they are Catch-up Channels. Either you want to inform yourself or relax or you have missed a program and want to catch up using a theme channel. The Dutch Uitzending Gemist of the public broadcast companies is such a catch-up channel and is very successful.

The disruptive technology of digitalisation in the television world will change the paradoxes. Years ago the content offer was scarce due to the technology. Now content is abundant due to the plethora of media, but is the attention from the user, which will be scarce.

Blog Posting Number: 1134

Tags: digital television, catch-up channel,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

BPN 1133 Live streams popular with Dutch football fans

The Netherlands is in a collective state of excitement. The national football (soccer) team is doing very well at the European Championship in Switzerland and Austria. The national team has survived the pool of death and has now reached the quarter finals. Coming Saturday the national team will play the Russian national team, coached by Guus Hiddink (he was born in the same village where I happened to be born due to the Battle of Arnhem during the Second World War; except his birth was one and half year later).

The excitement is also expressed in the streets with orange as dominating colour (orange is the colour of the Dutch royal family). Houses are decorated with the national flag and with orange flags and garlands. Complete streets have been decorated and people watch the matches together. More than 11 million people out of the 16,5 million inhabitants, watch the matches on television! And on a match day orange clothing is very much en vogue. You will never see so much coherence together in the Netherlands.

And business thrives well by this event. Especially consumer electronic shops do well. In the rush to the event, they had sold already 160.000 television sets. After each game they sell about 25.000 sets extra, mainly plasma and LCD screens. (We, my partner and me, do fit completely in this picture as we bought a 40 inch wide Sony Bravia).

EC Football is seen as a public event and is seen as a ‘must carry’ event by the public broadcast organisation. One of the Dutch public broadcast stations will carry all the 31 matches over two television channels, but will also offer live streams on internet.

But the EC Football event is also an incentive for public television to experiment. The public broadcast has the rights to the EC Football matches. So the public broadcast station NOS, a quango of the public broadcast stations, has introduced the opportunity to chat during live broadcasts of the matches; the only condition is that you need to be a member of the social network site Netlog. At Netlog members log into their account, see the live stream and can start chatting immediately. It is a virtual way of watching soccer games together.

It is remarkable that the live streams are consulted that much. Up to the 18 June, the first three pool matches, audio and video clips were consulted for more than 3,3 times. The clips are not just goals or summaries of the matches. The day after the match between the Dutch and the French there were 1,2 million page views. On June 18, when the matches Holland – Romania and Italy - France were played, there were 40.000 simultaneous internet viewers (over against 11 million television viewers), watching one of the two matches. It required 39Gbps in broadband; there were 1.1 million server requests during the matches.

Blog Posting Number: 1133


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BPN 1132 Cross-media still needs finetuning

Yesterday the Mediapark Jaar Congres (Media Park Annual Conference) took place for the first time: MPCJ 2008. Media Park is in Hilversum the place where most of the public and commercial broadcast stations have their base. Over the years digital media companies have based themselves in that park as well as every self respecting broadcast station has now at least one web site, if not more. The conference was well visited. No less than 602 delegates had registered. This is a big number in The Netherlands; but one should not forget that the admission price was 50 euro over against the usual 950 euro. It was a conference with lectures, short movie reports, pitches, a spoken column and two interviews. It was a lot to chew on.

The overall theme of the Conference was officially cross-media, but could have been specified more closely as cross-media in a broadcast environment. In no way for example the lectures touched print. The closest to that came during an interview with Michiel Buitelaar, the COO to be of Sanoma. Buitelaar has worked for KPN and is presently working for Endemol; but he will leave his present post, which he accepted hardly a year ago, as he misses the work floor.

He was asked what cross-media meant to him. Endemol is usually describes as a format producer, he said. Instead of the word format he rather used the word brand (he is probably already accommodating to his new employer, which sees it print magazines also as brands). Cross-media to him was the use of a brand over more than one medium. A rather superficial definition IMHO. Buitelaar is not talking about cross-media, but about multiple media. You take a theme and you apply it to a medium, using the characteristics of that particular medium and that sit. Just one way multiple media. No mention is made of the interactive side of cross-media, i.e. the particular response yielded by the medium. I guess Buitelaar should start reading up cross-media literature before he joins Sanoma.

Buitelaar was asked how far Endemol is with cross-media? Is it used in all the formats that are generated. Endemol is working on it and now starts for example to put web programs in social networks, so that people can tell their friends about a particular television program and discuss it. But cross-media has not penetrated yet into all corners of Endemol, was his assessment. The 360 degrees format was not accepted yet by everyone. Partly this can be ascribed to the fact that TV stations have little contact with clients, Buitelaar said. But cross-media was coming through slowly at Endemol as could be seen on Upstaged, a brand new entertainment event by the BBC.

Blog Posting Number: 1132


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

BPN 1131 It’s Firefox 3 day

Today it is download day for Firefox 3, the new web browser version of Mozilla. The new web browser version offers an improved security while surfing, than the earlier versions and its competitors.

It has taken developers three years to complete version 3. In November 2007 a test version was distributed. But now the new version is ready for downloading. And this download day will be accompanied by a ludite action. Today Mozilla hopes to set a world record of downloading for the Guiness Book of Records. In a well orchestrated marketing campaign Mozilla had already a site where people could pledge to download the new web browser version. The record will certainly be set as no one has claimed such a record before. Besides there are certainly half a billion of Firefox 2 users, who will download Firefox 3; the web browser was downloaded mire than 0,5 billion times between November 2004 and February 2008. They all have an auto-download button on their browser.

The open source web browser distinguishes itself in its security features, ease of use and openness for more than 20 most downloaded plus-ins. The new version offers improvements for surfing. Sites infamous for phishing will be automatically be blocked, while sites, which install spyware will not be accessible immediately via Firefox. The address bar can now also be used as search bar, as a key word will be searched in the favourites and history lists for suggestions. Also favourite URLs can be added with one click, completely with a keyword.

Will it have impact on the downloading of Microsoft Internet Explorer? The new version will undoubtedly make new converts and see the Microsoft’s browser elevator go down. In 2003, one year before the publication of Firefox 1, Microsoft had 97 percent of the market. In 2007 this had gone down to 45,1 per cent.

The Dutch are avoiding Firefox, as can be seen from the map. In fact the Dutch suffer from the gaz-electricity syndrome: the first city on gaz is the last on electricity. The Netherlands has been an early internet adopter and has embraced Microsoft Internet Explorer. In fact the Netherlands is almost the last European country on the list of Firefox penetration. In June 2007 Firefox had a market share of 14,6 per cent and in March 2008 16,4 per cent, while the European average is 28,8 per cent. Of the 32 European countries only the Ukraine tails The Netherlands. By the end of summer 2009 Firefox hope to have gained 33,3 per cent of the browser market.

Update July 4, 2008: Firefox did succeed in registering for a record in the Guinness Book of Records. 8.002.530 computerusers downloaded Firefox 3 within the first 24 hours of the browser becoming available.

Blog Posting Number: 1131

Tags: ,

Monday, June 16, 2008

BPN 1130 Dutch cable operator eyes IPO

The Dutch cable operator Ziggo is contemplating a stock quotation, so its financial director said. The recently formed cable company leaked the news just as it was buried under a flood of complaints. To make matters worse, the company experienced technical hiccups of its network over the weekend.

Ziggo is the largest cable operator in The Netherlands with 3,2 million connections, serving 7,8 million people. The company is a three-way merger of the cable operators Casema, @Home en Multikabel. The companies were bought by two British equity companies Warburg Pincus and Cinven. Usually these companies hold the shares of companies for three to seven years. An IPO in the short run is not expected due to the bad stock exchange climate.

An IPO opens the door for foreign companies to come. Before the merger into Ziggo the private equity houses hoped to sell the cable companies to UPC, which was the largest cable company at that time with 2,1 million connections. Together UPC and the merger would have delivered a countrywide network and would have established competition for the incumbent telecom company KPN. However UPC’s holding company Liberty Global declined the invitation.

The remarks about an IPO were made in a week that the Dutch consumer association started a complaints’ desk as Ziggo was unable to handle all the traffic. In less than a week the consumer association registered 10.000 complaints, ranging from administrative actions to helpdesk problems with telephone, internet and television. The management of Ziggo was completely taken by surprise. Customers grew angry because of the long waiting times and the tariff for the helpdesk. Ziggo will meet the consumer association this week to solve to exchange the results of the complaints’ desk.

By the end of the week the disasters were still not over. Affecting more than 300.000 subscribers in the Utrecht province, the telephone network showed a defect, affecting the telephone and internet services. By Sunday night the breakdowns had been solved.

Despite the swell of complaints and the technical breakdown the company went on to advertise its services on radio, enticing new subscribers. A company spokes person indicated that they had followed the PR rule book for mergers. However they should have known that two is a party and three is a crowd.

Blog Posting Number: 1130

Tags: cable, IPO

Sunday, June 15, 2008

BPN 1129 Public broadcast companies urged to use open standards

The Dutch public broadcast companies have been urged to support an open source media player by the political party SP. Presently the public broadcast companies support only the Windows Media Player. The political party thinks that this is in conflict with the Action plan Open Standards, which was adopted last autumn.

The public broadcast companies have a favourite item on internet, Uitzending Gemist (Did you miss this program). It has a lot of visitors who look at the missed programs in their own time. They are part of the long tail of the public broadcast service. The broadcast used to be available in Windows Media Player and in the Real media format. The public broadcast companies stopped offering the Real format, as too few users made use of it. The programs are also available in Linux, but these software programs have been produced by amateurs simulating Windows Media Player. Since February the public broadcast companies offer QuickTime as a media player.

The political party has objected to this policy as the public broadcast companies are financed by public money and should conform to the Action plan Open Standards, to which (semi-)government institutions are committed by law by 2011. The political party thinks that the public broadcast companies should not only offer commercial media players; they should also start developing open source programs.

The public broadcast companies have not reacted with a statement yet. They have a precursor in the BBC, which started to produce the open source BBC iPlayer, after 16.000 signed a petition for an open source format. Now the BBC iPlayer is also available in Linux format.

Last week the Dutch public broadcast companies launched a mobile platform in several formats. The mobile application is available for most modern devices and supports the following device platforms: Symbian, Windows Mobile, UIQ, J2ME (Java) and Blackberry. In the future the iPhone and Android will be supported.

Blog Posting Number: 1129

Tags: ,

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Update 20080614 iPhone in The Netherlands

T-Mobile in The Netherlands expects many iPhone buyers. It says that 40.000 people requested the newsletter about iPhone in one week. The iPhone 3G will not deliver a percentage of the data traffic to Apple but a fixed fee.

BPN 1128 Encyclopaedia Britannica: repressive tolerance

I recently saw a quite remarkable news item on the Encyclopaedia Britannica (EB). With a background of 10 years in Dutch language reference works, I was eager to see what was the next step of EB. I heard of the EB when I started my publishing career in the reference department of the Dutch publisher Het Spectrum Uitgeverij. The company had just been bought by VNU and needed a kind of flagship. In 1969 the first plans were formulated for the Great Spectrum Encyclopedia (Grote Spectrum Encyclopedie, abbreviated to GSE). In 1970 I walked in and became the first editor (in time; not in rank) of the GSE. One of the first jobs was to familiarise myself with the various editorial formulae: alphabetical order; systematic formula; hybrid formula, using a systematic approach in alphabetical order. It was a great time. Besides it was the first time that I was involved in a project, where a computer was used for editorial purposes; a computer was in fashion as an enlarged calculator but not as an editorial tool. In the Netherlands, already Excerpta Medica was using the computer for editing editorial tools, photo-typesetting and as archive; as Excerpta Medica had a terminology thesaurus at the heart of its operation, the computer took care that no dead links and senseless links were created and recorded. In that environment I got familiar with the EB. It was a fascinating time.

I have been watching the EB during the CD-ROM decade (1985-1995) and later on into the internet era. It has been a stormy time for EB to survive. With internet as the new encyclopedia, EB lost influence dramatically. EB got a real blow when Wikipedia appeared on the horizon and when the scientific magazine Nature made a comparison between articles in EB and Wikipedia. Wikipedia articles were as good as EB articles. The EB rebuttal in a 20 page paper did not have much effect. But it has set the editorial staff of EB thinking.

It has taken some time, but EB will now allow users to write for the encyclopedia. Users will be able to send in contributions, but in contrast to Wikipedia, the users will not be able to adapt the content of the articles right away.

The publisher of the EB says that he will not shirk his responsibility and give in to the wisdom of the crowds and mass intelligence. Editors will remain responsible for the content of the articles and decide on what user information is incorporated. User will have to make themselves known by first name and surname. Experts in certain fields, who can demonstrate their expertise, will get more freedom in changing and adding to the articles. The new system is called ‘together, but not democratic’; it is basically a repressively tolerant editorial policy. It is clear the Wikipedia is hurting EB. Wikipedia is indexed completely, while EB is not. The renewed site of EB is still beta.

Blog Posting Number: 1128

Tags: ,

Friday, June 13, 2008

BPN 1127 A public broadcast mobile TV platform

The Dutch public broadcast company NOS has launched a series of mobile products, offering news on a mobile, but on various platforms, from mobile telephones to Blackberries and iPhones. All the information available for the broadcast station will be available from traffic jam information, weather report, live video from the Olympic Games and regular news. The information can be called up anywhere: in the train, and in the car. And it is free, except for the data transport of the mobile operator.

Heart of the mobile platform is a specially developed NOS Mobile application, which can be installed on the mobile telephones. Through this application a user gets access to Teletekst, the latest NOS Journal, sports news, weather reports and live television from NOS Journal 24 as well as theme channel Politics 24. For the sports events to which the NOS has the rights, live images can be broadcasted on the mobile platform. During the Olympic Games a user can select one of the six channels and follow live the progress of the games on the mobile. In the mobile platform the broadcast company unites teletext, live television and on-demand video content. Soon programs of other public broadcasting companies become available.

The application has been developed by the broadcasting company in cooperation with weComm and Triple IT. The NOS Mobile application is available for most modern devices and supports the following device platforms: Symbian, Windows Mobile, UIQ, J2ME (Java) and Blackberry. In the future the iPhone and Android will be supported. In total more than 200 devices will be able to receive the Mobile Platform. The usage of the mobile application is for free. However the data line usage has to be paid by a flat fee subscription. The platform can also be used though wifi.

Besides the application there is also a NOS Mobile website available, produced by the Dutch company Momac. The website can serve as an alternative for storing the application on the mobile; however live television channels and teletext services are not included. Especially for people with only a GPRS subscription, a light service without photographs and video has been prepared.

Blog Posting Number: 1127


Thursday, June 12, 2008

BPN 1126 Will the Apple magic work in Europe with iPhone 3G?

On July 11, 2008 the Apple magic will have to work in Europe. On that date Apple introduces the iPhone 3G in Europe. AS sales strategy it has selected two European telecom operators, T-Telecom and Orange, to take care of the introduction. Question is: will the iPhone 3G become a runaway success. Can this version of iPhone seduce the European user? Where can they get them? Is the price okay? Or will the sales people of T-Mobile and Orange have to go to the beach to push their phoneware/wear?

Apple has divided Europe into two parts: the T-Mobile sphere and the Orange sphere. T-Mobile start distributing the iPhone in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands on July 11th and later on this year in Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. Orange will launch the iPhone on July 11 Austria, Portugal and Switzerland, in France on July 17 and in the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Jordan, Luxembourg, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Orange's African markets later this year.

The geographical division in Europe is interesting. Mid-Europe and the Mediterranean are have been covered, but it looks like the UK and Ireland will have a separate deal as well as the Scandinavian countries. Although it looks like there is sales exclusivity for the telecom operators in large countries, for countries like Austria, Poland and Slovakia both operators can sport the iPhone. In The Netherlands T-Mobile will sell the iPhone, while incumbent telco KPN also wanted to sell the iPhone, despite the dislike of its boss, Ad Scheepbouwer.

The iPhone has been readied for the European mobile market, which differs drastically from the US market. Orange will use its network which is a combination of widespread EDGE, Wi-Fi, 3G and HSDPA networks. iPhone 3G combines all the revolutionary features of iPhone with 3G networking that is twice as fast* as the first generation iPhone, built-in GPS for expanded location based mobile services, and iPhone 2.0 software which includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and runs the hundreds of third party applications already built with the recently released iPhone SDK.

As a price 199 US dollar has been set. In present European currency this roughly would mean 120,00 euro. Question is of course, what kind of exchange rate the companies will choose. In some countries also the subsidising principle, driving down the costs of the device might work. The price, being so cheap, might work.

The roll-out will start from July 11 onwards. In Europe this will mean holiday season with Dutch and Germans are going to Spain, the Mediterranean coast of France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece in great numbers. Was this day picked purposely, so that the warehouses would not be empty in a day or two?

Will people buy it in Europe. The sale of the first version of the iPhone was not exactly a bomb, to put it mildly. So why should the Europeans fall for it now? Of course the iPhone 3G has been adapted to the European networks. The price has gone down dramatically. But will Apple be able to remove the impression that the first generation was not really super. The telecom operators T-Mobile and Orange will know soon after the roll-out. In the sale is not impressive after a few days, the telecom operators should keep an army of students, clad in telephone wear, at hand to scour and canvas the beaches.

Will I buy it? Not for the time being. I recently bought an HTC. Am I happy with it. No, but I am sick and tired of discovering all the procedures and the ways you have to work around features. Of course Apple will tell me that it has an intuitive interface. For the time being I am not ready for another device, regardless whether I can watch TV on it, listen to radio and music and read newspapers, magazines and movels. By the end of July I will phone up my friends on my HTC and do a survey on whether they have bought an iPhone or are going to buy one.

Update 20080614T-Mobile in The Netherlands expects many iPhone buyers. It says that 40.000 people requested the newsletter about iPhone in one week. The iPhone 3G will not deliver a percentage of the data traffic to Apple but a fixed fee.

Blog Posting Number: 1126


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

BPN 1125 Costly sms texting from abroad

The Dutch telecom watchdog OPTA has started another fight with the telecom companies operating in the Netherlands. The bone of contention is the price of sms texting messages sent from a European country to The Netherlands. This is way too high, the watchdog claims. It calls upon the telecom companies too lower the charges and threatens, that it will go to the European Commission (EC), if they do not conform to the call.

The whole affair reminds of the mobile telephone tariffs contention half a year ago. Having warned the telecom companies to lower their tariffs, the companies did not give in. The EC ordered the tariffs to remain under the ceiling of 58 eurocents per minute. In this way the Dutch saved 77 million euro in half a year. The volume of telephone calls increased with six percent.

The Dutch telecom watchdog is now after sms texting as the Dutch operators such as KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile apparently have raised their tariffs to compensate the lost revenues of the lowered mobile telephone tariffs. The average for and sms texting message to the home country in Europe is 35 eurocents, while the Dutch have to pay 58 eurocents on average for an sms texting message sent home.

Of course the operators deny the rise and use fallacies in order to justify the high tariff. With dry eyes Mr Bram Oudshoorn, spokes person for KPN (still loyal to KPN after all these years), looked into the television camera and explained that the number of Dutch people holidaying in Spain is a lot for Holland and they do send many sms texting messages. But for the Spanish company with which KPN has a bilateral agreement, this is only peanuts. That is why the Dutch pay more than for example Spanish people texting from The Netherlands. A nonsense argument as there are more Dutch holiday makers in Spain, than Spanish people working in The Netherlands or holidaying in the Low lands. He was lucky to find a non-critical journalist (and there are many in the field of technology); for I wonder how he would have explained the tariffs in Estland and Malta being under 20 eurocents for a sms texting message from a European country to Estland. But Mr Oudshoorn announced lower tariffs for summertime (most likely to be raised after that period).

It will be interesting to see whether the EC will interfere and put a ceiling to the tariffs. So the next battle area will be mobile internet. The tariff for this went down from 6,60 euro per 1MB to 5 euro. But this is still a high price. Some operators have started to put a flat fee in effect for consumers. Still the operators think from a production point of view and do not look at the marketing side of mobile internet. Even the basic lessons from history have not been learned. Setting a unit like 1 MB creates a taxi meter, something the veteran information services like Dialog and BRS did. Setting a flat fee creates an open market, new products and new sources of revenues.

Blog Posting Number: 1125


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

BPN 1124 Database of houses of prayer

Yesterday a new Dutch website was launched. Now is the launch of a website not always exciting, but the launch of this one was. For two reasons: a. the website is database about religious heritage; the website was launched in the church where I was an altar boy.

2008 is the year of year of religious heritage such as churches, monasteries, convents, but also synagogues and mosques. The website launched offers access to a database of 18.000 contemporary and past buildings for religious use. The database is founded on the collection of Jan Sonneveld, who started to make an inventory of these buildings. The database uses open software such as Google Earth for visual location information and Wikipedia. Information can be added by anyone, but the information will be checked by a group of editors, which takes care of the reliability of the database.

The website is intended for a large audience; there is also a closed section for policymakers. The database is intended to be the most complete, up-to-date and dynamic inventory with descriptions, photographs and graphics of the buildings still in use for religious services and buildings of which the destination has been changed. If you ask now people, even experts, how many churches, synagogues and mosques are in The Netherlands, you will get a guestimate. No one really knows.

And an inventory is needed. The Netherlands has undergone quite some changes in the religious area. In the seventies many Catholics turned their backs on the Roman Catholic church. The parishes became smaller and the churches got another destination or were demolished. But also other buildings for religious services such as synagogues were discontinued. On the other hand, many migrants from the Mediterranean area moved to The Netherlands and founded their prayer houses like mosques. The inventory will make clear how dramatic the situation of religious heritage really is. Churches have been converted into supermarkets. And I have seen a church (Goede Raad in the city of Utrecht; not in the wiki yet) being demolished despite its beautiful wall paintings.

The database was launched during a ceremony at the St Jozef Church in Arnhem. With some sentiment I looked at the photograph of the church where I was an altar boy; a beautiful, majestic church. It has now lost its religious destination, but will be converted into the home of a regional broadcasting station. I found a series of moody photographs with one on the left.

Blog Posting Number: 1124


Monday, June 09, 2008

BPN 1123 The rise of the eBook publisher

A bachelor graduate of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam produced a Bachelor Thesis on the influences of digital publishing on the traditional book publishing sector in The Netherlands. It is an interesting thesis, written in the English language by Nicole Neven. I had a chance of reading and digesting the 51 pages.

In this thesis Nicole Neven tested the theory about electronic publishing in The Netherlands. She starts from the position that there is a progressive development of digital publishing, that traditional publishers will take care of the electronic publishing themselves and that new parties will enter also. But in the two interviews she conducted, the interviewees do not agree with this position and argue that the development actually occurs in three phases.

1. In this phase, there are only print book publishers that produce large piles of printed books. In The Netherlands they store them at the Central Book House, a central warehouse, or in private warehouses before they will be distributed to the retail dealers selling the book. As an author it is very hard to get your book published because of the excess supply of writers. Publishing companies take a risk in choosing what books to publish.

2. In the next phase, new publishers arrive, producing only electronic books. Here the development of the eReader and other devices that read the eBook is important. The market for the eBook has to grow and the supply of eBooks has to increase parallel to this growth. This is the phase the book market in the Netherlands is in right now. An example of such an e-publisher is Pinion of the NDC/VBK Holding. In this phase the e-publisher has no contact with the authors themselves, and produces little or no new books as an eBook, only already existing books in printed form.

3. In this phase, the traditional publishers will take over the function and activities of the electronic publishers and become mixed publishers.. The publishers will start to produce new titles directly as eBooks. Besides the eBooks, they will supply Printing on Demand. Here books will only be printed when there is a consumer that wants to buy it, or has already paid for it. According to the expert the book store in the form that we know, will disappear. Apart from the numerous websites where eBooks can be purchased, there will appear eBook stores, where people can buy eBooks that are directly transmitted to their eReader. In these stores the possibility will still exist to print the books in the form of printing on demand. People will mainly read books from their eReader or cell phone. The paper book will never disappear, but it will certainly have a different function than it has now.

The figures in the research of Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) display an rise in the sale of eBooks. The electronic book spending will increase from €1 million in 2004 to €42 in 2011. The present figures for 2008 suggest according to PWC that the electronic book market has already a 3,24 per cent market share of the total book market in 2011. These figures are doubted in publishing circles. The market for eBooks might reach the 10 per cent market share of the total market in twenty to thirty years. (I personally doubt the PWC figures, as hey are mere deductions from PWC's global media study, IMHO. JB)

Nicole Neven offers traditional print publishers consolation, but saying that eBooks will not take over printed books in the next couple of years, maybe never. However she argues that the book publishers of professional information will have a less bright future ahead, unless they move over to eBooks.

The author also offers a suggestion to the publishers. Get reliable information about eBooks and collect sales figures of eBooks and position them over against the figures of the printed books. In this way publishers can decide whether or not they want to anticipate on this development.

Blog Posting Number: 1123

Tags: electronic publishing, eReader, eBook

Sunday, June 08, 2008

BPN 1122 Small, smaller, smallest

I have been working with my ASUS EEE for two weeks now. And I am discovering all kind of details. Bit by bit I discover how the Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) works. Internet by LAN was no problem. Internet by WiFi started to work fine, when my WiFi device got hooked up properly. And the first Skype session with the UMPC, linking to a relative, was a success. It has also given me the occasion to look back at my earlier mobile PCs.

My first portable PC was a Tandy-Zenith Model 100. For its time, 1983, it was great. It was a lightweight PC. Its specs were, according to the Wikipedia:
- Processor: Eight-bit Intel 80C85, CMOS, 2.4 MHz
- Mine had a 32K read-only memory, 32K static random-access memory.
- Display: Eight lines, forty characters LCD with 240 by 64 pixel addressable graphics. The screen was not backlit.
- Peripherals: The basic package included: Built-in 300 baud modem, parallel printer port, serial communication port (shared by internal modem), bar-code reader input, cassette audio tape, real-time clock.
- Dimensions: 300 by 215 mm by 50 mm, mass about 1.4 kilograms (3.1 lb) with batteries
- Power supply: Four penlight (AA) cells, or external power adapter 6V (>180 mA, tip negative configuration).
- The Model 100 was promoted as being able to run up to 20 hours and maintain memory up to 30 days on a set of four alkaline AA batteries.
Given the time frame the PC had some interesting aspects. The 1.4 kilograms was unknown in that time; lugables like the Osborne and KayPro were en vogue for early adaptors like consultants. In these days of Giga memories you would not believe that the machine had only 32K memory. Can you imagine that in 1985 I wrote the Online Handboek (a Dutch language pocket of 125 pages) on it; when I delivered it on diskette and on paper at the publisher, he had it retyped!

The real first UMPC for me was a Sony Vaio PCG-C1F, which I bought in 1999. Funny thing is that Sony called it a Notebook Computer. It was very portable, ad it had the dimensions of a lady’s purse. Just look at the specs:
- Processor: Intel Pentium MMX 266 Mhz
- Memory: 64MB, upgradeable to 128MB
- Hard disk: 4.3Gb
- Display: 8.9" TFT Ultra Wide XGA 1024x480
- Peripherals: modem 4 in 1 PC Card Modem
- Weight: 1100 grams
- Dimensions: 240mm x 37mm x 140 mm
- Power supply: PCGA-AC5E; PCGA-BP11
It was a fabulous UMPC: a real lightweight; had a good keyboard. With the screens I had problems; it was difficult to link it to a beamer (while this was the reason for buying it). It was also one of the first, perhaps the first one with a camera. I started to use this feature by photographing people present at meeting.

Now I am using the ASUS EEE (Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play). It is real UMPC, although some computer magazine still us the term sub notebooks (like the Sony Vaio). The specs:
- Type processor: Intel Celeron M
- RAM geheugen: 512MB
- Harde schijf: 4Gb
- Display: 800 x 480 pixels
- Intern modem
- Weight: 0,92 kg
- Dimensions: 4 x 22,5 x16,5 cm
- Webcam: built in
- Wifi
As I am text oriented, this PC is great. I can produce my blogs, transfer my pics get online via Land or Wifi. As a travelling PC, it suffices. So far I have not had any problems with Linux and the programs. The only small problem has occurred with exchanging files from USB sticks, which was a little bit laborious.

Blog Posting Number: 1122

Tags: ,

Saturday, June 07, 2008

BPN 1121 Covenant on Dutch domains

The vice minister for Economic Affairs and the foundation Internet domain registration Netherlands (SIDN) are underwriting a covenant regarding registration and administration of .nl domains.

Presently the foundation has registered more than 2,8 million nl. domains and is the fourth largest country domain in the world. In the Netherlands more than 80 per cent of all domains are .nl domains. The domains are registered and administered by the independent foundation SIDN.

So far the foundation has worked on the principle of self regulation. It has been at the basis of the explosive growth of internet in the Netherlands. The covenant between the government and the SIDN confirms this principle of self-regulation. In the covenant the principles of continuity and sovereignty of the nl. domains have been recorded. Other agreements have been recorded in order to keep the nl domain accessible for internet and e-mail under all circumstances. The covenant is the result of talks between the government and SIDN started in 2005.

SIDN has been under fire recently with the introduction of numeric URLs in the nl domain. A few ISPs had chalked code in order to pick up a large number of numeric URLs. Despite the fact that the handing out of the numeric URLs was on the basis first come, first serve it became clear that most of the numeric URLs were in the hands of a very few ISPs. In the aftermath, the few ISPs were asked to return most of the numeric URLs and they did, completely shocked by the public indignation of their greediness. The returned numeric URLs were handed out in a second round

Blog Posting Number: 1121

Tags: domain, URL,

Friday, June 06, 2008

BPN 1120 Downloading music made legal

Downloading music from the net could become legal if users paid for it through their ISP. This proposal comes from STIM, Swedish Performing Rights Society, a not-for-profit incorporated collecting society with 60,000 members, which looks after music rights. STIM are now inviting ISPs to work with them to make this vision a reality.

Sanctions and legal proceedings against file sharers cannot be the long-term fix for music creators missing out on royalties through the illegal sharing of music over the Internet. Instead STIM is inviting ISPs to work with us to develop a new type of Internet plan under which music downloading will be legal. This could be done by ISPs signing license agreements with STIM and other rights holders.

Until now the debate about file sharing and copyright has been conducted like an intensifying trench warfare between two irreconcilable camps. On the one side there are calls for continued ownership of artistic property on the net, increased control over the online exchange of music and other products, and a single-minded focus on the prosecution of illegal file sharing. While the other side mutters about an approaching police state and seems happy to toss out the copyright baby with the bathwater.

Obviously collecting societies laws that allow the effective prosecution of systematic criminal activity. Sweden needs to update ita legislation to European standard as it is seen behind the pack when it comes to having effective means of going after openly illegal activity online. Laws that state clearly what is and what is not allowed will always have an important place in shaping popular attitudes to copyright on artistic materials. But they will never be the whole solution.

The file sharing phenomenon, in which large networks of Internet users upload music and other files to be copied by others, exploits the full potential of Internet technology, making large volumes of music available for download anywhere in the world by quite simple means.

STIM wants to sit down and talk with ISPs about what can be done to offer users a way of paying through their Internet charges for the music streaming through the providers’ networks — a way of making their music surfing legal.

Typically it will mean increasing the ordinary Internet user’s monthly charge by an amount related to the overall use of music on the net. In return, they will be free to legally download music from the net for their own use.

STIM understands the providers’ objections to having what they perceive as a law enforcement role thrust upon them. But STIM believes that they will realise it is in their commercial interest to be able to offer services with added value over those they can offer today—services that will let customers use the Internet in a way that conforms to their own moral code and sense of fairness, without special action on their part.

STIM hopes to find one or two providers will take the lead with an “ethical” broadband offering. An obvious target group is parents worried about their Internet connection being used by teenage offspring for illegal file sharing. But in time STIM hope that ‘legal free Internet’ will become the new norm, offered as standard by ISPs to private customers.

In the fall, trials will be held in order to find out which MP# files are exchanged; these trials are based on checking ID3 codes in music files. Swedish ISPs have shown interest in the model. Tele2 is considering hiking the charges with a surcharge of 5 euro extra per month. This charge is based on research by Terry Fisher (see photograph) of the Berkman Center, part of Harvard Law School. He has calculated that a surcharge of six dollars a month would compensate 20 per cent of the music and movie revenues.

It looks like Sweden will supercede France which in 2006 was also thinking about this kind of measure, but never converted this intention in law and practice. Also in The Netherlands thre is still a discussion going on. Recently the NVPI, the music producers association, pleaded for regulation through ISPs, who should take action in the case of illegal downloading. NVPI would like to see the introduction of graduate response. Subscribers infringing on copyright should get a warning. If they despite warnings continue, the access should be limited to internet banking and e-mail for some weeks. If the subscriber continues illegal downloading after the full restoration of facilities,an ISP should be able to execute permanent measures.

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