Friday, December 20, 2013

BPN 1674: From trade literature to toilet paper

Although the sun is shining, it is today a sad day in Amsterdam. Today, the library of the Royal Tropical Institute will close. The last books - several thousand of titles: doublets, journals and written publications, mainly in English and Dutch - can be sorted and taken along. Then comes the old paper merchant who will takes the remains to recycle. The collection was already cruelly torn apart and components moved to other collections ranging from the prestigious Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt to the Knowledge and Documentation Center for Medical History in a small Dutch fishery village, Urk. That is the irrevocable end of the KIT Information & Library Services (ILS).

In the second half of the eighties of last century, I dealt with the ILS department of KIT. I was working at the newly founded Society for Information Services ( MIS ), which became active in 1986 and mainly worked in the market of electronic publishing. In their portfolio was CD-ROM. In 1987 the company produced the first test disc of the Legal Database Kluwer Datalex. Further, the company produced in 1988 several CD-ROMs amongst others KIT Abstracts for the Royal Tropical Institute, the CD-ROM version of the online database TROPAG & Rural (Tropical Agriculture) .

TROPAG is one of the oldest Dutch online databases with abstracts of official publications and so-called grey literature on tropical agriculture in Africa, Asia , the area of ​​the Pacific and Central and South America. The database was created from a magazine in which the summaries of articles from scientific journals were published. The texts were put in the graphic company Samsom Publishers. Here, in the second half of the seventies, the texts were already stored into a computer with a paper punch tape. Once the text was saved, there was a magnetic tape ready to be sent ​​by snailmail to host computers (servers, they are called now),  at that time the U.S. information services Dialog, SDC, and BRS. The database was included in the portfolio of the Dutch host organisation Samson Data Systems (SDS) for a short period (1981-1983).

However, online was costly and certainly for the developing countries. The telecom connections were also a major technical obstacle for those countries. Using the online database was not an overwhelming success. However, the advent of the CD-ROM in 1984 offered a different perspective for a text database. Although PCs with CD-ROM drives were not readily available in abundance in the second half of the eighties, the KIT ILS department, headed by Hans van Hartevelt, placed more CD-ROM players than there were available in the Netherlands from 1987 onwards. MID was commissioned to produce the text CD–ROM.. Since the CD-ROM production software was still in its infancy, the production and especially the mastering took longer than expected. But when the diffulties were overcome the CD - ROM went all over the world.

The TROPAG & Rural file still exists, but is now part of the CD-ROM portfolio of CAB International and available online with Wolters Kluwer daughter OVID. TROPAG & Rural will be a painful reminder of the rich stream of literature, while the last remaining books and magazines will be recycled to toilet paper.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

BPN 1673: 25 years open Internet via Amsterdam

On November 17, 2013 it will be exactly 25 years since the former Mathematisch Centrum (Mathematical Centre), now Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam was linked up to the NSFnet, the network of the U.S. National Science Foundation. This connection gave the Netherlands and Europe access to the open Internet. It was the beginning of today's Internet for scientific institutes and universities and later for businesses and consumers.

Internet pioneers Jaap Akkerhuis, Daniel Karrenberg, Teus Hagen, and Piet Beertema (CWI) at Piet Beertema's farewell party at CWI on the occassion of his retirement on 16 September 2004. Source: CWI.

Until that date, the traffic of the precursor of internet was conducted via Internet ARPANET, the U.S. military network. This network was developed from 1969 and was shaped in 1975 when Vincent Cerf and Bob Khan for the first time used the term Internet in a lecture in which they described the TCP/IP protocol. The network was not only used for military purposes, but also research institutes and universities, which were allied to scientific research for the government. Through this network the Mathematisch Centrum made its first contact in 1982. Thanks to this contact the staff of the Mathematical Centre in contact with the Internet developments. When in 1985 for the first time the URL with the was attributed to the American company Symbolics Inc., the staff, including the system manager Piet Beertema, looked out to get the suffix .nl in place. On April 25, 1986 The Netherlands was the first country to have a country suffix assigned. Piet Beertema became the first registrar of the .nl suffix. Not that it was a lot of work, as in the first two years only 87 URLs were issued.

The e-mail about the first open transatlantic Internet connection between CWI and the United States . Source: Piet Beertema.

In 1986, the academic network of the military network informed and in the network of the National Science Foundation, NSFnet, accommodated. In 1988 this network was independent, primarily aiming at academic institutions. And in the same year on Sunday, November 17th, it was the day that the Mathematisch Centrum was connected to NSFnet. At 14:30h The Netherlands was the first country in Europe connected to the open Internet and registrar Piet Beertema received an e-mail stating that the Mathematical Centre in Amsterdam was the first institution outside the US with official access to NSFnet.

The connection also meant that Europe had access to NSFnet through EUnet. With the connection not only The Netherlands got access, but also Europe got access to an academic computer network, which later evolved into the world and open Internet. This network was not checked by soldiers and military industry, but was open, which had consequences for future users, such as free use.

The link-up of the Mathematical Centre with NSFnet opened the way for internet traffic from The Netherlands and Europe. Even today a lot of internet traffic from Europe to NSFnet passes through the Amsterdam internet exchange (AMS-IE).

The CWI will commemorate this festive anniversary on Friday, November 22, 2013 at the Amsterdam Science Park. Here, a plaque will be unveiled at the place, where the Dutch and European Internet started 25 years ago.


Saturday, November 09, 2013

BPN 1672: Digital entertainment: immersive experiences, multiple revenue models

Every two years, the World Summit Awards showcase the local diversity and rich creativity of ICT use around the world. Gaming as a sector accounts for more revenues than advertising or the movie industry in many countries around the world.

Five winners of the WSA 2013 awards in the e-Entertainment and Games category were honoured at the WSA Conference in Sri Lanka recently. They presented their gaming experiences and shared some useful words of advice for aspiring game developers and digital entertainers.

EVE Online from Iceland is a spectacular, captivating gaming experience where hundreds of thousands of players compete within the same virtual cosmic universe for riches, power, glory and adventure. The setting is outer space where solar systems are being inhabited with people from a range of professions: traders, entrepreneurs, pirates and commanders!

Making View from Norway offers superbly exciting experiences of Formula 1 racing, blending 360 degree camera and interactive responses. The experience goes beyond panoramic views at the highest speeds: it opens up new possibilities for application in tourism, education and documentaries.

Aqua Lingua from Lithuania lets you ‘see what you hear’ by converting into pictures and works of art. Water surfaces are stirred by emanating sound patters, and then photographed – thus making the invisible visible. It also turns out to be a great service for a gift!

Kinetic Stories from Finland is a series of storybooks for kids that mix traditional storytelling with the latest developments in motion tracking and speech recognition technology. Children take part in the stories through their movements and voice, which are also captured in the online screen. Print and video content can be interleaved in the narrative, thus bringing books to life.

WSA - Courtesy – Philipp Benedikt/Alexander Mattersberger

Interactive dance from Italy helps create new dance forms by translating and mapping body movements into innovative musical composition. The product can be used individually or in groups, by professionals and amateurs. Kids can use the product’s interactive video gaming dance applications.

Project leaders and founders from these games offered some insightful tips for the developers and entrepreneurs in the audience, as summarised below.

1.Tap mega-narratives. The frontiers of space have captivated the human mind since time immemorial, and always make for a good backdrop for immersive games and cooperative exploration.

2.Leverage adjacent and complementary media. Sound can map onto images – and vice versa, leading to interesting modalities for entertainment and gaming.

3.Motion blends well into gaming. The use of sensors allows physical motions to be seamlessly mapped into virtual environments, and can be harnessed for everyone from kids to adults.

4.Gaming allows for multiple business models, lending itself well for sustainable revenue streams. These range from individual or family subscriptions to embedded ads in freemium models.

Friday, November 08, 2013

BPN 1671: ‘Micro-multinationals’ develop e-commerce models


One of the hottest segments of innovation in digital media has been e-commerce/e-business. Five winners of the prestigious World Summit Awards 2013 showed that innovators are pushing the frontiers of digital markets in emerging economies as well.

From payment and analytics to crowdsourcing and marketplaces, the diverse range of winners from around the world showcased their initiatives at the recent WSA conference in Sri Lanka, and also shed light on best practices for succeeding in the e-business space.

WSA - Courtesy – Philipp Benedikt/Alexander Mattersberger 
Springleap is a crowdsourced creative platform based in South Africa but with clients in the US and Europe as well. Global brands are using Springleap’s creative social media marketing campaigns to empower creatives and engage brand fans. The startup rewarded creatives with over $300,000 in the last year and placed them on magazines, sites and TV spots across the world.

Infoline from Ghana is a mobile and web service which connects consumers and businesses in emerging markets. Users of smartphones as well as basic phones can access and send messages to businesses; the data is mined for extraction of useful analytics for companies, which helps them understand and respond to their market segments more effectively.

Ponoko from New Zealand is a Web based marketplace for designers to make and sell products online. The ‘Personal Factory’ model helps them instantly verify, price and order prototypes and custom products. To date, Ponoko designers have produced over 300,000 custom products.

Conekta is a platform that allows businesses in Mexico to process online payments using both online and offline methods. Offline channels are generally disregarded by dominant payment solutions such as Paypal. Conekta is used for a range of transactions: selling physical products, taking donations, ecommerce offers, or enabling marketplaces for third parties.

TransferWise from Estonia is a smarter solution for international money transfers using P2P methods. Banks charge a lot for international money transfers but TransferWise brings the fee down to mid-market exchange rate. Customers pay a smaller, fully transparent service charge to access this facility.

The winners from these companies shared insights on the evolution and impacts of their business models, and offered useful tips for aspiring entrepreneurs in this space.

1. Keep an eye on regulatory changes. Mobile payment and international remittances are still subject to national jurisdictions, and changes in these regulations can alter the fortunes of digital payment providers.

2. Play in both spaces: smartphones and basic phones, especially in emerging economies. Basic SMS and voice services still have a useful shelf-life, but as smartphone penetration increases it will be possible to offer rich media apps and content as well.

3. Think micro-multinational. It is possible for startups, especially in tech and creative spaces, to operate simultaneously in multiple countries, leveraging various skillsets, pricepoints and timezones for effective project management and product delivery.

4. Tap the crowd but protect your brand. Leverage the power of creative crowds to offer speed and diversity in service to your clients, but ensure you have strict quality control and IPR compliance.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

BPN 1670: Digital news strategies for entrepreneurs

The Internet and mobile phones have become the biggest disruptive force in the field of mass media, and continue to spawn new models of journalism and new businesses for entrepreneurs. Best practices in urban and rural media organisations were exemplified by the five winners of the World Summit Awards 2013 in the category of e-Media and journalism.
The WSA awards are known for recognising and rewarding ‘smart content for smart people.’ The e-news winners this year reflected the people power of the Arab Spring, and also new models of enterprise storytelling and aggregated funding. This category is unique as compared to other award winners since some of the projects operate under severe conditions of risk, both personal and physical, from government and commercial censors.
Marsad is an online observatory of parliamentary member actions in Tunisia. It reports member presence, discussion, voting, actions, resolutions, electronic media coverage and people feadback. Drafts, budgets, laws and all discussed material and resolutions of the parliament are free for access. Marsad thus uses ICT to promote political journalism and serve democratic practices in Tunisia.
Masrawy is Egypt’s favourite news portal, with a special focus in covering political news. It provides political news content, gender coverage, Islamic advice services, sports content, classifieds ads, and services for the SME market. It has presented experts’ advice on Egypt’s political and social scenario after the Arab Spring. The portal serves as a watchdog for the Egyptian Society.
Teckler is a blog aggregator based in Brazil but with content sourced from around the world. The site enables contributors to make money through content created on their own in text, audio, photo and video. The pioneering Internet multinational company from Latin America features content in over a dozen languages and raises revenues through advertising, for which bloggers also get a share.
WHATCHADO from Austria is a combination of storytelling handbook and standardised format of short films on real-life job descriptions. It was initiated and founded by former classmates and longtime friends who wanted to share insights on people’s jobs. The startup has more than 20 people originating from 13 different countries.
Rural Visual Journalism Network is an innovative initiative from Bangaldesh where trained district correspondents use Apple i-Pod Touch technology to produce multimedia stories from rural areas. The stories focus on addressing specific issues faced by media and by rural citizens of Bangladesh.
Winners of these awards spoke at the recent WSA 2013 conference in Sri Lanka, and offered sobering as well as inspiring words of advice to journalistic entrepreneurs.
  1. Clearly define your code of conduct, and stick to it. It is fine to take positions and choose perspectives, but make them clear so that the audience understands where you are coming from. This helps positioning and then pitching to appropriate funders or advertisers.
  2. Aggregation models work well in a world of fragmented content. Search is one way to get related perspectives together; aggregation offers additional benefits through collective bargaining for advertising revenues.
  3. Leverage online media to make up for the shortcomings of mainstream media. Some issues are too controversial for mainstream media to cover, or are seen as not having enough commercial value – dig into these with broad and deep perspectives.
  4. View narratives from multiple perspectives to tap new revenue streams. The same content is of different value to different professions and organisations – see who would be interested in paying for your content, or would want to be paid to be featured.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

BPN 1669: Transform teaching into learning

Every two years, contestants from dozens of countries around the world compete to win the prestigious World Summit Awards for best e-Content. The awards are given in 10 categories and are rigorously judged by an international jury. The winners participate in an international conference where they present their projects and discuss their plans and impacts.

Aula 365

I was honoured to be a juror and moderator at the event, held recently in Sri Lanka. For the category of e-Learning and Science, here are my key takeaways from contributions of the winning entries, and recommendations for entrepreneurs who wish to make a mark in this category.

Science Learning Hub from New Zealand promotes student interest and engagement in science by providing contemporary, contextualised resources for school teachers from Years 2–10. It demonstrates the relevance of scientific research to our everyday lives, and links local science research organisations with science teachers. The project is funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and managed by the University of Waikato.

Opon Imo from Nigeria aptly means Tablet of Knowledge. The Government of Osun State has developed and deployed a technology based learning system delivered on 150,000 provisioned Android tablets. They will be distributed to all the pupils of senior secondary schools in the state. The stand-alone solution consists of a compelling self- paced series of off-line courses, conducted in an interactive manner and backed by a library of relevant e-books and a testing environment.

Ludwig from Austria is a new type of learning game on the topic of renewable energy. The game is based on the curriculum and targeted to adventurers aged 11 years and above. The game is framed as a search for energy sources in space colonies, in a race against time.

PresentationTube from Egypt offers a free video presentation recorder (for Windows) and an online network to help teachers and learners in Egypt produce, upload and share quality digital video content. Video presentations can be used in various on-campus and off-campus e-learning settings to provide more realistic support to learner, and create engagement.

Aula365 from Argentina is the biggest educational network in Ibero America, with more than 3 million children, parents and teachers that collaborate and learn with it. There are more than 4,000 educational resources created by specialists in each subject. Teachers and parents are also involved along with students in activities for critical thinking, creative thinking, and cooperative intelligence.
Aula365 was judged the overall winner, and the project leaders of the other entries also joined them in discussing the impacts and learnings from their initiatives.

Here are my recommendations for aspiring entrepreneurs in this space:
  1. This is the age of video, so leverage the full power of video in education to make the learning experience more engaging and less abstract.
  2. Connect different kinds of learning objects and formats. Different people have different learning styles and preferences, so spread your content across a range of channels such as video, presentations, whiteboards, pictures and chatboards.
  3. Rope in the experts in domain and pedagogy. The digital environment has spawned a wide range of models and theories of interactive, exploratory and cooperative learning. Bring in specialists from geography to gaming.
  4. Experiment with a range of business models. Freemium and government support are some examples used in the education sector.
  5. Emerging economies are in a good position to leapfrog in digital learning. There is not such a deep entrenched legacy of textbook publishers, so it is possible to make the leap directly into e-content via platforms such as tablets.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

BPN 1668: Entrepreneurs in e-Culture



Thanks to mobiles and social media, digital culture projects can rope in a wide range of audiences and contributors locally and globally. Five winners of e-content in the category of e-Culture and Tourism were recognised by the bi-annual World Summit Awards, held recently in Colombo.
Here are my key takeaways from the innovative projects, and recommendations from the winners of these projects who presented their findings to an audience of ICT innovators and creators.

Verkami is the leading crowdfunding platform in Spain for cultural and creative projects. Artists can get in touch with their public, build audiences and fund their projects. In two years and a half, more than 1,300 projects have been completed, thanks to contributions from 160,000 cultural consumers, raising more than 6.2 million Euros. The platform claims a sustained 70% success rate (3 out of 4 projects raise the funds they are looking for).

Enajori from India is the first online monthly bilingual magazine from the state of Assam. Online content includes local music, cinema, literature, wildlife and tourism, as well as e-novels. It is enabled for mobile users also. There is a children’s section and participatory components such as Photographer of the Month. The site’s book catalogue lists publications dating back to the year 1849. The site already draws an estimated 250,000 readers each month, after less than three years of launch.

Southeast European Culture Portal from Serbia was established in 2003 in Belgrade as an online platform for culture and art in Serbia and the region. The site has daily updated news about events, cultural policies, open calls, debates, Photo Galleries, Artists’ Gallery, blog, as well as profile presentations of artists and cultural institutions.

Gorilla Highlands from Uganda is an interactive electronic book about southwestern Uganda developed using Apple’s free iBooks Author software. The landscape and people are presented through text, videos, and an extensive audio phrasebook in two local languages. The focus is not just on the famed gorilla habitats but tourism, culture and employment in general. A free Gorilla Highlands paper booklet has also been published.

Jumièges 3D from France offers a 3D tablet-based experience to view existing and prior architect models of historical monuments such as the Abbey. Mobile augmented reality, on site or through a free app, drives the visitor into the glorious past of the Abbey through different views and points of interest. This can be extended to other countries and monuments as well.

Here are the key takeaways for creative entrepreneurs from the ensuing discussion after the above presentations- 
  1. The mainstream media focuses more on entertainment than culture – leaving the culture field wide open for innovators to use the breadth and depth of digital media and mobile tools.
  2. Creative teams can be assembled from across the globe, thanks to the power of the Net. For example, Uganad’s Gorilla Highlands project has team members in Solvenia, Germany, Ireland, UK and Uganda.
  3. For a sustainable business model, look for where the money is. For example, in cultural tourism, there may be more paying customers in the form of tour operators than government departments.
  4. Go local, go global. Thanks to the Internet, global diaspora can be tapped as audience, contributors and even sponsors, as the Assamese portal Enajori shows.
  5. Crowdfunding models work well even during hard economic times. Verkami’s contributions are specially relevant in Spain today where budget cuts are slashing cultural programs.
  6. Don’t ignore offline strategies. Though the online model has much allure and scale, interesting and deep connections can open up through offline interactions also, such as through meetups and conferences.
  7. Build a community of volunteers. Volunteers can often contribute as much (in some cases even more) than paid contributors for e-content. Learn how to engage and inspire volunteer teams.
Jumièges 3D was declared the overall winner.

Monday, November 04, 2013

BPN 1667: Social enterprises in healthcare

By Madanmohan Rao

Thanks to mobiles and social media, healthcare and environmental solutions are emerging in the consumer and citizen space, and not just in hospital enterprise IT and meteorological centres. Six winners of e-content in this category were recognized by the bi-annual World Summit Awards, held recently in Sri Lanka.

Here are my key takeaways from the project contributions, and recommendations from the winners of these projects who presented their findings to an audience of ICT innovators and entrepreneurs.

© Philipp Benedikt/Alexander Mattersberger
Mobile Technology for Community Health  from Ghana is part of service delivery for maternal health at Antenatal Care. It has two complementary applications: A Mobile-Midwife Application and a Nurse Application. Couples can both access MoTeCH messages via SMS (text) or voice in the local dialect or English. The service enables easy identification of both mothers and infants and saves time collating information to generate monthly reports, alerts and reminders.

Uepaa Swiss Alpine Technology from Switzerland is a mesh-networking app for alpine safety standards. The Uepaa app turns the smartphone of more than 25 million outdoor users into an alpine tracking, alerting and rescue device by using a wireless mesh communication technology developed by ETH Zürich.

Beatona is the Kuwait Official Environmental Portal, a “one-stop shop” for sharing authentic environmental information related to Kuwait in both Arabic and English. People of various ages can enrich their knowledge about the environment, and allows them to be part of the system by allowing them to contribute in improving the knowledge base through various online tools.

I-MOVE to Learn from China is a training game designed by physiotherapist. It has 5 mini-games to help children of ages 4-12 with motor delay and coordination problems. It uses Kinect for Windows sensor to detect body movements. Players have to use their body as a controller to challenge each level. Thus, students can have fun while they are doing training. The application is being developed on the iOS platforms for Apple devices and other platforms as well.

True-Kare from Portugal is an online service to simplify the life of people above the age of 65. It enables one person or institution to provide remote care to another person via mobiles and a Web portal, sharing information on medication and health indicators. In Portugal the service is being promoted by the main telecom operator and the main TV channel.

Here are the tips which these presenters offered to the audience of developers and entrepreneurs:

1. Include experts on your advisory teams and boards. Inter-disciplinary projects require a good mix of insights and knowledge from a range of domains.

2. Don’t use the Web and mobiles only to ‘push’ information to target audiences, but involve them also in contributing, ranking, rating and voting on information.

3. Pay attention to impacts: collect a range of quantitative and anecdotal outcomes.

4. Don’t ignore humble voice and SMS. In an era of hype and excitement about rich-media apps, there is still a lot of shelf-life for text and IVR as service channels.

5. Rope in operators as partners. Though mobile operators are not the mighty kings they once were as compared to app stores, they can still help deliver scale for a project.

6. Don’t look just at overall numbers of audience impacted, but also the depth of impact for each user. This is especially true in the case of healthcare projects, eg those which save or improve lives of the elderly.

7. Examine a range of business models for sustainability. A mix of subscription and hospital service bundling works well for e-healthcare.
Presentations of the projects can be seen on the site of the World Summit Award


Sunday, October 27, 2013

BPN 1666: World Summit Awards recognizes social innovators

© Philipp Benedikt/Alexander Mattersberger
On Saturday, October 26, 2013 the conference was closed and at night the award ceremony took place. All delegates moved by train to the beach esort Mount Lavina for this occassion. My coleague from India, Madanmohan Rao, wrote a blog posting about the winners and drew his conclusions.

Every two years, contestants from over 150 countries around the world compete to win the World Summit Awards for best e-Content. The awards are given in 10 categories and are rigorously judged by an international jury according to criteria such as meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

The winners are honoured at a gala and also participate in an international conference where they present their projects and discuss their plans and impacts. I was delighted to be a juror and moderator for the category of e-Inclusion and Empowerment. Here are my key takeaways from contributions of the winning entries, and recommendations for social entrepreneurs who wish to make a mark in this category.

Blindsquare from Finland is an augmented reality GPS application for the blind. It obtains information about the surrounding environment from Foursquare and Open Street Maps. Its algorithms enable it to determine the most relevant information, and then voice it out using high quality speech synthesis. For example, “What’s the most popular café within 200 meters radius?” or “How much longer before I get off my train?”

The Specialized Educational Portal from Romania is initiated by the Ministry of National Education. It services 14,000 students with special educational needs, and consists of an online environment to observe, discover, prove, verify and measure results of different experiments and simulations. The portal uses avatars to embody the roles of teachers, learners, peers and observers. from Slovakia was initiated by the civic association eSlovensko. It uses an animated environment with sheep as main characters to teach children about safer use of the Internet, mobile phones and new technologies. The project has developed 652 tools with over two million downloads in two years for products such as quizzes, ebooks, games, and wallpapers.

New Urban Mechanics of Boston and Philadelphia from the US is a multi-city civic innovation incubator and R&D network dedicated to improving the lives of city residents. It helps innovators connect with government through project proposals to improve urban civic life using.

TAM Hub from Saudi Arabia uses contests and crowdsourcing to help citizens identify pressing problems and then collectively put together solutions. The portal is used to link and expose entrepreneurs to contests and provide them with tips to clarify their ideas and projects. It allows the public to engage with entrepreneurs and express their opinions about the most liked ideas or projects. The initiative is expanding to five other Arab countries.

In the panel discussion at the conference, these social innovators had a range of useful lessons to share with other aspiring entrepreneurs:

1. The toughest moment for an entrepreneur is when you have a seed of an idea but no one believes it can become a tree. But don’t give up!

2. The best moment for those working in social enterprise is not money or prizes but when people thank you from the bottom of their heart for what you are doing, eg. a teacher’s best moment is when a parent of a differently abled child thanks you for teaching them.

3. Engage the entire ecosystem and not just the target audience, eg. the parents and friends of differently abled students.

4. Leverage the power of the crowd not just to solve problems but also understand the problem itself, frame it in different ways, and prioritise it with respect to other problems.

5. Use business models like syndication and licensing to spread your good work in social entrepreneurship. Partnership and alliance management strategies are key: choose partners who truly share the social values and ethical principles that you respect.

6. Don’t shun government: reach out to them and win them over as partners, because they can help truly scale your project in the long run.

The overall winner in this category was judged to be BlindSquare, a laudable achievement for a team which includes only app developer! If one app developer alone can achieve such excellence, imagine what millions of inspired app developers around the world can do!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

BPN 1665: WSA Global Congress Sri Lanka (1)

Harvesting fascinating fruit: What the WSA Global Congress in Sri Lanka has to offer

The Global Congress, featuring fascinating fruit from the tree that is the Internet, is getting closer and closer. It is time to celebrate the World Summit Award (WSA) and the World Summit Youth Award (WSYA)! On the 23rd of this month we jump right into the program, so we hope that our winners, experts and special guests already planned what to put in their suitcase: once we start the Congress in the tropics and begin to harvest the best e-content fruits, there will be long, but equally fascinating days for everyone who joins the journey to the island.

As a little appetizer, check out some of the highlights of the program of the Global Congress.

Wednesday, October 23: Young insiders and VIPs

Starting off with a bang: after a city tour through Colombo, provided by young Sri Lankans who know every inch of the town, we head for the Presidential Secretariat! His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, will open the event.

Thursday, October 24: Start your Harvest, Work and Win

The Global Congress is nothing for late risers: the harvest starts at 8 in the morning, when we begin with workshops for the 40 winners of the World Summit Award and the 18 winners of the Youth Award. Guided by experts like TEDx Ambassador Niki Ernst and "Father of the mobile ringtone" Ralph Simon, the winners will learn how to sell their e-content fruits in the most efficient way. Later on the same day: WSA winners present their products, Innovation sessions with ICT professionals, and a Business Matching World Café, moderated by the WSA Chairman Prof. Peter A. Bruck.

Friday, October 25: Innovation, Innovation! Learn what e-content fruit the Internet-Tree will produce in the future

Want to learn something about Social Entrepreneurship, the Knowledge Society and the future in ICT? In three more Innovation sessions, experts like Financial Advisor and Blogger David Shelters, Rita O'Sullivan, Country Director of the Asian Development Bank, and Tiit Paananen, Entrepeneur and former head of Skype speak about topics that really matter in this year and beyond 2013.

Saturday, October 26: Saving the best for the end
After mobile content conferences, a fishbowl session with young social entrepreneurs and a visit to Infotel Sri Lanka, it's time for the highlight of the Global Congress and the WSA-year 2013: the Winners Ceremony and Gala Dinner. After entering the special Gala Train, the guests will arrive at the Mount Lavinia Beach, celebrating on a stage built into the ocean. In the presence of national and international VIPs, the WSA and the WSYA winners will receive their awards, handed to them by high-level dignities. Also, the WSA will announce the 8 Global Champions of 2013 - the best of the best.

We surely are. Only a few days to go until the big harvest starts. Find out more about the event here!
Or download the full program here.


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Friday, October 04, 2013

BPN 1664: Dutch uni to build a computer, again (2)

The scientific activities in the field of computer science and computer construction were the source of commercial activities in the Netherlands from 1956 onwards.

After the completion of the ARMAC (1956) the Mathematical Centre decided to cease all computer building activities. The team involved however started to draw up plans based on the ARMAC to start a commercial company focusing on the manufacture of computers. But those plans needed funding. A financial partner was found in the Nillmij, the Netherlands Indië Life Insurance and Annuity Company, which realised the importance and potential of a Dutch computer industry realized and was prepared to be provide venture capital. The CEO of the insurance company, J. Engelfriet, had already taken steps to automation within the company and was convinced of a potential market for computer manufacturing in the Netherlands. Cooperation between the group of scientists from the Mathematical Centre and the insurance company led in 1956 to the creation of NV Electrologic, the first Dutch manufacturer of computers.

The development team initially consisted of A. van Wijngaarden, B. J. Loopstra and C. S. Scholten. Engelfriet was not just an investor, but was engaged in the company, particularly in the software department, which was located in the building of the Nillmij until 1965.

Their first computer X1 was presented in 1958 and was a commercial success. There were more than 30 machines sold at home and abroad. The X1 was regarded as one of the best scientific devices of its time. Five years later the X8 was announced. It was a faster machine and was again a commercial success. But then the company began to produce variations on the X8, by manufacturing lighter versions of the machine. Eventually, the development costs became too high and there was a lot of competition, mainly from American computer manufacturers such as IBM. Electrologic sought collaboration with the Dutch electronics company Philips from 1965, which took over the company in 1968 and integrated it into Philips-Electrologic. It meant the end for NV Electrologic and the X - Series, but also an end to the race that had been started by the Mathematical Centre and had lasted. 20 years

Dutch electronics manufacturer Philips was in the fifties a formidable company of national and international stature. It is therefore surprising, that Philips did not jump into the market of commercial computer manufacturers in the fifties. As reported in the first instalment, Philips Research Laboratory built two experimental computers: Peter (1958) and the PASCAL (Philips Awful Speedy CALculator; 1960). But the commercial side of Philips had a problem with computer manufacturing. The company was producing components for IBM computers. And because this was a profitable trade, Philips preferred not to become a competitor of IBM.

But in 1960 Philips also saw that a new and big market for computers was open in the field of scientific research, technology and administration. In that year, the electronics company created Philips Computer Industry (PCI), which started the production of its own computers. Following the acquisition of Electrologic Philips in 1968 the company changed the name from PCI into Philips Electrologic and got its own factory in Apeldoorn.

While the production of Electrologic computers was discontinued, Philips came in 1969 to the market with the P1000 computer series and its predecessors such as the P880 (see photograph). The first machines were sold to the Dutch PTT for the automation of its banking system. However, the delivery of several hundreds of machines was mainly achieved through the existing old-boys network and not by hard selling. In 1976 production was stopped.

Philips Electrologic had meanwhile been renamed into Philips Data Systems ( PDS ). This company began to concentrate on minicomputers and smaller systems. This eventually led to only two profitable years : 1984 and 1985.

Meanwhile, the first home computers and then the personal computers entered the market. Philips was in the home computer market actively with the Philips P2000 and later with the MSX. Following the example of the IBM PC Philips decided in 1986 to include PCs into the manufacturing, but was not successful, despite campaigns such as Headstart computers with bundled CD - ROMs, produced by the Rotterdam company AND. In 2003, the PC adventure for Philips ceased with closure of the Apeldoorn factory. The PC adventure Philips had not been convincing. From 1986  Philips began to burn money with the Philips CD-interactive (CD-i) adventure, which was commercialised from 1991 to 1996. Half a billion dollars were thrown at CD-i. Philips ambiguity can be summarized in the philosophy: you sit in front of the TV linked with a CD-I player in the living room, but behind your personal computer in your bedroom or study.

Besides the commercial manufacturers Electrologic and Philips, there was also a company in the Netherlands which only produced PCs: Holborn (Born in Holland). The hardware of the machine was designed by H.A. Polak and the terminal by Vos Industrial Designers. The terminal has been customised based on a MicroBee. The Holborn used the CP/M operating system

The company Holborn was only active from 1980 to 1983, when it went bankrupt. Probably only 200 units have been sold, mainly to small businesses for administrative and accounting purposes. For the nicely designed and ergonomic machine 30,000 guilders (about 14,000 euros ) had to be paid. Holborn lost the race as it had to compete with office machines like the IBM PC. The IBM PC was cheaper and rapidly gained dominance of its operating system DOS over CP/M

The Delft quantum computer
Overlooking the history of the Dutch manufacturing of computers, it seems that the same scenario will be played out. The computer construction is back at the university, in this case not in Amsterdam, but in Delft. The difference in scenario is that are involved from the beginning the scientific institutes and industry. In this way, the business spin-offs can be enjoyed by industry.

However, the question remains, why a university should start with the construction of the quantum computer. In the U.S. there are already commercial initiatives taken by companies such as IBM and Google. Why this Dutch initiative ? The construction of quantum computers is still in its infancy and in Delft there is a group of experts in quantum theory and nanotechnology, which are set to deliver, be it in 15 years. QuTech can now convert theory into practice.

Update September 4, 2015: Intel invests in QuTech 
Intel invests $ 50 million in QuTech, the research institute of TU Delft and TNO that focuses on the development of quantumcomputing. Intel will also support research efforts technical. Intel supplied an advanced 300mm wafer to QuTech, consisting of a combination of silicon and germanium. This research substrate will be used by the QuTech scientists to make qubits - the building blocks of quantum computing.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

BPN 1663: Dutch uni to build a computer, again (1)

Dutch scientists, led by the Technical University Delft, will start working on a supercomputer. The computer will be ready in fifteen years. It is a so-called quantum computer and it is a project of QuTech, an institute for innovation, funded for nine million a year, funded by the State, the TU Delft , the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research and business.

After more than 60 years a Dutch uni will start to build a computer in the Netherlands again. Between 1950 and 1980 computers were built at universities and by commercial companies in the Netherlands. Some of those computers are still in heritage collections, but not many were kept . In 2010 SCEN, the Computer Heritage Foundation Netherlands, published the National Register of Historic Computers (sorry, in Dutch).

University as a computer builder
Since 1952 scientists did not only study computers and computer principles, but they also began to develop them themselves. Universities and scientific institutions became computer builders.

The first computer in the Netherlands was ARRA I ( Automatic Relay Calculator Amsterdam ). It was built by the Mathematical Centre, part of the University of Amsterdam, these days known as CWI. It was a machine working with relays, switches operated by electromagnets. In practice, the machine was not exactly usable. At the presentation on June 21, 1952 in the presence of the Mayor of Amsterdam d' Ailly and the Minister for Education, Arts and Sciences F.J.Th. Rutten a demonstration of the device was planned generating a table of random numbers. This worked, but then the device gave up. The ARRA II, however, built in 1954 was a success. The computer contained radio tubes and transistors and a kernel memory . With this computer calculations were successfully carried out for the Fokker aircraft factory. The ARRA I nor the ARRA II have been preserved.

The year 1954 also marked the start of a second generation computer, ARMAC by the Mathematical Centre; in 1956 the computer was ready. New for this machine was that the software perspective taken by the developers. Starting point was the software design after which the hardware was selected. This computer made ​​use of transistors, a drum memory and a kernel memory. The ARMAC charged include for the Delta Works, the dike construction to guard the Netherlands from the sea. The computer was a success and seemed to have commercial potential. The ARMAC has not been preserved.

Another hotspot for computer building was the Technical University Delft. Computers were researched here and built. In 1952 Willem van der Poel developed the ARCO (nicknamed Testudo). In the following year he worked on the development of the PETRA, the first computer in the Netherlands with radio tubes instead of relays. In 1957 Van der Poel built the first ZEBRA , which worked on one half with radio tubes and the other half with transistors. The ZEBRA was successful. In fact it was fully transistorised and taken into production in Britain by Stantec. The ARCO has been preserved in the collections of the TU Delft; the PETRA , however, has not been preserved. The Stantec ZEBRA can also still be found in the collections of the TU Delft

Scientific institutions
Two research centers got involved in the building of computers: TNO and Philips Research Laboratory.
In 1955 the Dutch TNO, a scientific and technical consultancy for the government and business built also a computer, the VT , a technically advanced analogue computer. The aircraft builder Fokker used the computer to calculate aircraft movements and air flow and performed simulations with the computer. The VTH is considered the first highly advanced technical-scientific computer in the Netherlands. No copies of the VTH were built; luckily the VTH is part of the collections of the TU Delft.

In the fifties the electronics company Philips was not engaged in the construction of commercial computers. However, the Philips Research Laboratory (Natlab) built the computer PETER, which became operational in 1958. This one was followed by the PASCAL (Philips Awful Speedy CALculator), which was put into use in 1960 and proved to be much faster and more reliable than its predecessor. But a commercial version of the computer was a problem for Philips, because the company was producing computer components for IBM . And because this regular assignment brought in good money, Philips did not want to compete with IBM, but that changed after 1960.

By the end of the fifties the universities, particularly the University of Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology , were finished with building computers. The Mathematical Centre did not want to get engaged in a commercial adventure with the ARMAC, so the independent company Electrologic was founded in 1956. One year later IBM started marketing mainframes.

It is interesting to observe that a similar situation is arising around the quantum computer . There is no quantum computer yet. A lot of research still has to be done into the quantum doctrine, in the application of nano-materials and devices, and most of all in software. In the fifties it took universities  roughly a decade to develop computers at universities. The development of quantum computers is estimated at 15 years.