Sunday, March 24, 2013

BPN 1631: Research Trends Digital Media

Last Thursday it was the last guest lecture I presented to sophomore students Communication of the Applied University of Windesheim Flevoland in my hometown Almere (NL). The course was called Research on Trends in Communication, but it soon turned into Research on Trends in Digital Communication. The format of the guest lectures was: sitting in on a Powerpoint presentation, reading a relevant article, and writing five blog postings on the subjects treated. The guest lectures were in English, not in the Dutch language. The subjects were: Pre-internet, the disruptive technology of Internet, the creative industry, content and foresighting. One lecture was spent on searching the internet under the slogan: Formerly we believed in God, now in Google (Paul Claes). Social media was not explicitly on the list as we thought it more important to get the students blogging before going into micro-blogging.

Having explained the principles of foresighting with the Powerpoint presentation of my World Summit Award colleague Suzanne Stein, who works at the Canadian Film Centre, the students got the assignment to discover trends. Each of them was assigned a category of the World Summit Awards contests, WSA Global, WSA Mobile and WSYA, and write a blog posting about the trends. This turned out to be an interesting exercise as each student had at least some 50+ winners to study and analyse. The WSA sites, divided over three sites (,, can of course be used for more purposes in education. Besides the study of trends, they can also be used as research for potential projects. In the e-Learning category for example there are several examples of school curricula and in e-Culture there are several examples of promoting cultural places and museums.
Besides discovering trends and doing research on the winners, the winning projects are a source of inspiration for students and people in the trade.  And these three sites with 50+ winners are only a tip of the iceberg of submissions, which the WSA organisation has collected over the years. As all these submissions have passed judgement on the national level, it would be interesting to have access to all of them in one database. A conservative estimate will total 4000+ projects submitted. The World Summit Award database has proven to be an interesting hunting ground for trends to students and people working in new/digital media and communication.

For a specimen of the blogs produced, please have a look at the posting Trends in E-entertainment and games (link with permission by the author Denise Duijvenbode).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

BPN 1630: The Next Day

The singer David Bowie recently brought his latest record on the market. The title: The Next Day. David Bowie is getting old and eschatological, waiting for the next day, longing for the green grass at the other side of life, I guess.

But at the beginning of the eighties he was very forward, as I found out. I was working for the Dutch publishing company VNU in London. The company had just started a new subsidiary in the UK, specialising in computer publications. Besides printed magazines the company had the intention to start up databasepublishing. It bought a company in Bournmouth with reference books on hardware and software. These books were still produced in an old fashioned way. So new ways had to be developed to put them in a database and produce them more efficiently and eventually put them online. This was still a decade before the start of internet.

I was asked by the management to engage in this development. It meant frequent flights to London and many talks with pioneers in the database and online publishing field such as Mr Patrick Gibbons and David Worlock. They were also wrestling with setting up databases and marketing online services to people who had touched a computer, forget searching for information.

One day I was asked for dinner by a colleague. I was introduced to Don, an American freelancer, who had an assignment to find applications for a new e-mail system of ITT Dialcom. At that time e-mail and online databases were separated. If you wanted to move from e-mail to a database, you had to log on again. The ITT Dialcom system was new in two aspects: the e-mail system was store and forward and the e-mail system was configured back to back with a database system. Don was working on a TRS-80 Model 100, one of the first light weight portables. He was linking up subsidiaries of the worldwide conglomerate with e-mail and a management database for efficiency.

But I also discovered that he was exploring business systems for other enterprises, but he had also rock music bands as clients. He treated this information confidentially. But one day he let slip that one of his clients was David Bowie. In 1983 this singer was reaching a new peak in his popularity and commercial success with Let's Dance, with songs like Modern Love and China Girl. By 1984, Bowie went on the Serious Moonlight Tour. For this world tour Don had developed a report system from the preparation team, the roadies to the stage team with all kind of functionalities such as e-mail and spread sheet system. (Today people would say that system worked in a cloud, given the 32K internal memory of the TRS-80 Model 100). The tour lasted six months with a connected crew. And every time when the last note of the David Bowie concert had sounded, the management knew exactly the revenues of the particular concert and of the whole tour concert so far.

(The contact eventually also worked out for VNU London as in 1984 the company started to publish online the first daily newsletter in Europe, called IDB Online, a blog posting avant la lettre for the computer industry, on the ITT Dialcom system, used by the Telecom Gold service of British Telecom.)

Friday, March 08, 2013

BPN 1629: EVA continues

The European Virtual Academy (EVA) is running spring semester. The original European Virtual Academy (EVA) project funded by EU is over but the project goes on with three courses this spring. For next year the partners prepare a new bid to extend EVA to other fields of education and bring it on the next level. There are many European universities considering to join EVA.




Poster by Emilia Kwiatkowska, EVA-logo by
Alexandra Ostasheva. Both TAMK Media
Programme students

The courses of EVA spring semester are:

Image Interpretation
Babeş-Bolyai University (Romania)
This course is dedicated to the analysis and interpretation of images. Visual interpretations will be performed and the focus of the course is to develop examining skills for any type of images available in the visual culture (from classical paintings to digitally processed images).

Social Media in Communication and Community Building
Tampere University of Applied Sciences (Finland)
After completing the course the student knows how to use social networking, blog publishing, micro blogging services to broadcast and to communicate with targeted audiences. (S)he is also able to establish and moderate online discussion groups and wikis for knowledge and community building.

Interactive Movies
Hochschule Mittweida - University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
The course introduces students to the concept of interactive storytelling and digital narratives. For the purpose of this course the term “interactive movie” will refer to animated, filmed, video game-based and any other kind of movies following a main story but enabling user interaction. Interactive movies implement interactive dramaturgies and typically use technologies to allow users to influence the storylines.

All courses give 5 credits and run until end of May. The courses are open for students of member universities.
Announcement copied from
Eva is an initiative of partners who met in the Academic Network Conferences organised by the European Academy of Digital Media (EADiM). EADiM is proud of EVA and congratulates the consortium with the continuation.


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

BPN 1628: Why content is so important?

Tomorrow it is Thursday and I will have to do a presentation for the class of second year college students, preparing communication world. The title of the course is Research in Digital Media and tomorrow's subject is content. Preparing for this class I found a nice A4 article on the Facebook of my friend Tommi Pelkonen, who works for Frantic in Helsinki (Finland). His colleague Taina wrote an article on content.

Content and content strategy have been on people’s lips more and more for the past few years. Yet this thing called content is still rather overlooked in many projects. So, what is this content and what does it do?

Well, let’s face it: content is the reason why websites are created. There are no real websites without any content. Simply put, content is everything you have on the website: texts, images, sounds, videos – all of it. If you have a website with a purpose, there must be some content on it. But you probably already knew that, so what’s all the fuss about? Websites have content, so what. Well, the biggest issue isn’t the content per se, but the quality of that content. And boy, we have a lot to do with that.

When creating a website, you obviously need to have a reason for it. Either you want to sell something, let people know about you or your work or tell a good story – there’s always something to share with the world. And bang, there’s your content. But no, it doesn’t end there, because the way you present the content is equally important.

This is where it all begins. It just isn’t enough to create a pretty website and then dump the texts and images there as an afterthought. Imagine you’ve drawn a box on a paper and then try to fit in all you have to say. Having some trouble? Well no, if you only have a word or two in your mind, but most likely that is not the case. For this, there’s an easy solution: just write the text first and then create the box around it. As simple as that!

So, imagine how convenient it would be to have the content first and then create a website around it. No hassle needed. Unfortunately, in reality this still is quite idealistic, as projects tend to have strict deadlines and life just isn’t very simple and someone’s cat just died and so on. But, to make things easier and to create pretty and functional websites, it sure helps to at least think about the content before you start working on anything else and then keep it in mind throughout the whole process, so that there definitely is a place for every piece of information on the site and that there won’t be any empty or otherwise unnecessary pages or blocks.

What’s more, you should really pay attention to the fine details of your content, especially spelling, grammar and that it’s up to date. It may sound like nitpicking, but hey, the bottom line is that it’s the content people are coming to your site for and therefore it would be nice if the content were clear and current. When you think about an ad or a website that has a lot a typos or old info, does it seem professional and reliable? Well, to me at least it does not. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone with this. So, don’t forget to take that extra hour or two and check and double-check your content so that you can be absolutely sure that it’s correct and up to date before publishing it.

In the end, if you just think a little about your content before rushing into things (or, let us professionals do the thinking), you’ll probably save some time in the end – and save everyone’s nerves as well, as you don’t have to panic about how to cram all the content to your nice-looking but impractical website.

Tanina is a copywriter at Frantic. She likes reading romantic novels on the train, the smell of rain (but not the rain itself) and finding pretty things. She also believes that good cake can make any day feel a whole lot better.

Monday, March 04, 2013

BPN 1627: WSA 10+ anniversary

The WSIS Review 10+ years on, was at the same time an occasion for the World Summit Award organisation to look back to the time that Peter Bruck (right) and Anastasia Konstantinova (left) started up the World Summit Award from scratch. In less than one year they built up a network of 168 experts on the ground in 168 countries out of the 191 UN associated countries and solicited more than 700 entries for evaluation. Negotiations with the emirate of Dubai lead to a first jury session there and by December 2003 the first gala was held in Geneva (Genf) Switserland. With these events the World Summit Award was established. The first jury and the first winners had set the pace.

During the 10th anniversary three first time jury members were present: Osama Manza, the eminent expert of India (right with red head gear), Louise van Rooijen, the eminent expert of Australia(middle), and myself, Jak Boumans, eminent expert on behalf of The Netherlands picture). Louise van Rooijen just happened to be in Paris  for other reasons, but was happy to join in the anniversary celebrations.


Track record of the WORLD SUMMIT AWARD
-        Participation: 168 UN member states
-        Associate partner network: 130 members globally
-        Strategic partners 2012/2013: UNESCO, UNIDO, UN Global Alliance for ICT & Development (UN GAID), ISOC, Mobile Monday
-        Professional National awards: contests in over 50 countries
-        E-Content Summits: Vienna, Hong Kong
-        Road shows: Hong Kong
-        Workshops: Bahrain, Oman

Short history

Year: 2003
Entries: 446
Jury venue: Dubai (United Arab Emirates)
Gala: First session of the World ummit on the Information Society in Genève

Year: 2005
Entries: 743
Jury venue: Manama (Kingdom of Bahrain)
Gala: First session of the World ummit on the Information Society in Tunis (Tunesia)

Year: 2007
Entries: 626
Jury venue: Brijuni (Croatia)
Gala: Venice (Italy)

Year: 2009
Entries: 552
Jury venue: Delhi (India)
Gala: Monterrey (Mexico)

Year: 2011
Entries: 458
Jury venue: Hong Kong
Gala: Cairo

At the WSIS +10 the WSA took care of the following event and workshop

WSA GALA AND RECEPTION February 26th:  The World Summit Award was initiated in 2003 as Austrian WSIS (Follow Up) Initiative, in order to select best practice in e-Content from all UN Member States. For the WSIS+10 review meeting an international jury awarded the 8 Global WSIS+10 champions, out of the 200 WSA winners from the years 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. A Cocktail reception was hosted by WSA, Deutsche Telekom and the Permanent Delegation of Austria to UNESCO.
Workshop 1: YOUTH 4 ACTION: using internet and mobile for peace and development
By World Summit Youth Award, February 26th.
Using ICT to fight hunger and poverty, empower women or get education to all – these are the agendas and actions of young people who are winners of the World Summit Youth Award. The young people are creative technologists and social entrepreneurs, selected from over 100 UN member states. The session will showcase best-practice examples of using Internet and mobiles to put the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into action and demonstrate how young people are actually transforming the future with IT.

Workshop 2: MONEY FOR CONTENT: successful business conditions for quality content. By World Summit Award and Deutsche Telekom, February 27th.
The quality of a knowledge society depends on the quality of content and the ability of content producers to earn a living and run sustainable businesses. Public spending has limits in funding, user generation and crowd sourcing has limits in accountability and editorial refinement. What are the conditions for small and medium size business to succeed in the production of quality content and thus to contribute building blocks for the knowledge society?

Besides the WSA Global, other streams have developed: since 2005 the World Summit Youth Award and since 2010 the WSA Mobile.  The latest gala of the WSA-mobile Winners´ Event 2013 was in Abu Dhabi on February 03-05, 2013. The WSA Winners´ Event 2013 will take place in Sri Lanka on October 23-25, 2013.

The World Summit Award has demonstrated since 2003, what politicians have dreamt about. The WSA has showcased the progress from e-Government and Participation & Inclusion to e-Culture and e-Health. The WSA has not just been a travelling caravan, but, besides competitions, juries and galas, also the organiser of e-Content summits, conferences, road shows and workshops.  


Sunday, March 03, 2013

BPN 1626: Information Society after 10 years

The opening of the WSIS conference at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris was well attended. More than 1000 delegates were present at the opening statements and the keynote address, along with the translations teams. The first review session of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was on its way. The review is looking at the projects, which have been started up since the start of WSIS since 2003. One of the projects is the World Summit Award, which also celebrates its 10th anniversary.

It is a slow start-up with all kind of technical discomforts: no infra-red pointer and powerpoint page turner for the presenter and the connection with the key-note presenter was riddled with the howling of a Mexican dog (no offence to the Mexican delegation).

So many subjects passed during the conference such as knowledge society, environment, education, freedom of speech and health. These subjects are part of what is called the information society and they all pass the review in the conference. However the funny thing is that the term information society is not yet in discussion. Perhaps the term was not a bad one in 2003, but now it sounds so Gutenberg.

Information has in the meantime a connotation of analogue content being thrown at a target group. Editorial staffs of newspapers threw and still throw a lot of information at their readers every day, but reserved only space for two or three letters from the readers. This has now dramatically changed over the years by internet. Editorial staffs, but also citizens now publish news from a far and nearby through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. So you can not speak any more about information and information society. Another term should be thought up. Information has become a one-way street for information bits.

Now the society is using a two way street to exchange of digital content. So, what should be the term for this phenomenon now a days. There is a lot of talk of the Knowledge Society. But that is term is of 1962, followed by its later variation of Open Knowledge Society from 1969. Besides this term does not hint to anything digital. So what term? Digital Society is a  packaging term. Wired Society sounds technical. More terms can undoubtedly be thought up. But do they represent the two-way traffic in society? For the time being I prefer the term  Connected Society, one enhanced by technology.