Thursday, June 16, 2022

Growth Dutch new town Almere seen from the clouds

This book is about the new town Almere in The Netherlands. This city does not count its age in centuries, but in less than 50 years. The first eight families got keys to their cabin chalets in 1975 and the 400 first occupants received their keys to the constructed houses in 1976. It is a city that arose from the water, when in 1964 the construction of dykes began and in 1968 the polder Zuidelijk Flevoland was reclaimed. Almere is the newest city in the Netherlands since 1975 and became a municipality in 1984 and is now the eighth largest municipality in the Netherlands with 230,000 inhabitants.

Unique book 

The book Almere vanuit de wolken (Almere from the clouds) is a large and weighty book. The book contains more than 200 aerial photos in landscape A4 format and weighs almost 2 kilos. It is also a unique book, because the 200+ aerial photographs show the development of the new town Almere from 1964 to 2021. Publishing house Watermerk has made similar books of The Hague, Rotterdam and Dordrecht, but Almere can show its entire history in aerial photos.The book was created as a sequel to the exhibition Almere from Above, organised by the City Archive of Almere from August 2020 to September 2021, with aerial photographs of the development of the city, on display at the City Archive and at three other locations in the city. 

The exhibition showed a limited selection of aerial photos from the collection of the City Archive, from old black-and-white photos from the 1960s to recent colour shots. From these, a selection was made for Almere Boven, which together tell the story of the multi-kernel city and its enormous growth over the past 50 years.

The exhibition showed a limited selection of the 25,000 aerial photographs in the collection of the City Archive Almere. But the reactions to the exhibitions asked for more. That was the reason for Michel Langendijk, together with Bart Hofmeester of Aero Camera and Roel Dijkstra, to research material for a book. Michel Langendijk had been involved in the composition of Almere Boven and Bart Hofmeester (1921-2021), who had made aerial photographs of Almere since 1964. Roel Dijkstra manages the collection of Aero Camera since the death of Bart Hofmeester and he made the actual photos of 2020 and 2021. The book contains a foreword by one of the pioneer urban planner Brans Stassen. There is also a short introduction.

The photos do not form just a series of sequential historical photographs, but show the historical photograph with a current photograph, taken from the same point of view. For example, the eight mobile homes surrounded by a wasteland in Almere Haven are shown with photograph of the present buildings. This editorial formula is maintained throughout almost the entire book.


The book is a nice book for an Almere resident to leave on a coffee table when welcoming visitors, or to give as a present. But the book deserves a wider distribution.

For the early inhabitants of Almere, the book is not only interesting to leaf through and to search for their house (and/or former houses). I had the pleasure of looking for photographs of the Bivak in Almere Harbour with the very first Almere resident, a mobile home owner and police officer Wim Leeman.

(Insert) Mr Wim Leeman indicates where the eight mobile homes of the Bivak were situated; (left) the Bivak, (right) mobile offices.  

But the book can also be used by professionals in urban design and planning such as urban developers, urban planners and architects. For them the book presents the creation and rapid growth of a new town within half a century. The photographs show the development of the city kernels, the green spaces in the neighbourhoods and between the kernels, the infrastructure, the separation of residential areas and industrial estates, the bus lanes and the network of cycle paths. 

Almere from the clouds, compiled by Michel Langendijk, publisher Watermerk BV, Dutch language, EAN 9789078388302, 264 pages, 1853 grams, 39.95 euros


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Pioneering Dutch IRMA app points the way for new European digital identity

Users keep full control of their personal data

Waving flag of the European Union in front of the European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium

Earlier this month, the European Commission set out a framework for a European digital identity. The plan envisages an e-wallet for every European citizen, resident and business, enabling them to validate their identity and share all kinds of digitally authenticated documents. So that, whenever you need to show something like a driving licence and educational qualification – or demonstrate your medical status in a situation like the current pandemic – you'll be able to do so using the new system. The European Commission will provide the legal framework (based on eIDAS) and the technical standards for interoperability. Individual member states and commercial players will then ensure that, for example, a Dutch ID app works in France and a French citizen can prove their identity in the Netherlands. 

Various ID apps are under development around the EU and beyond. But, in IRMA, the Netherlands already has a working app that's ready for large-scale rollout now. IRMA does exactly what the Commission is suggesting the European Digital Identity should do. You could even say the Commission has completely embraced the philosophy underpinning the Dutch IRMA app.

Read the full article:

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The algorithmic beauty of plant

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 from 19 - 21 hours in DDAMA (Dutch Digital Art Museum Almere) opening of two new exhibitions that are related to the theme of the Floriade: The algorithmic beauty of plants and Glitched Lovescapes. In the Euro-tower (now Rabo) next to Almere CS, Landdrostdreef 124, 2nd floor, 1314 SK Almere (The Netherlands).

DDAMA has been around for more than five years and is like a young, ever-blossoming plant that has to survive without the care of the municipal parks department. Perhaps it is because of the rarity, the exotic, the newness, there are only a few in the world, that this young striking flower does not yet get the attention it deserves. We, Dutch, cling to our traditional tulips and daffodils or get palms and cacti from afar and have little eye for a spontaneously generated local new variety. Unknown makes unloved.

In the exhibition with the theme The algorithmic beauty of plants local artist Jan Coenen is represented with three works with the subject "growth" and with the theme of the Floriade, "growing green cities", in mind. Two of these works are projections of digital algorithms and the third is a combination of a watercolor of 4.5 by 1.5 meters with a video based on an algorithm. When visiting the Floriade at Almere do come and visit DDAMA.

Growth is change. Growth is becoming, not being 

People, flowers, plants, forests, cities and museums grow.

The artworks on display depict the laws of growth. One can see how simple mathematical formulas underlie the growth of plants, of nature, but also of cities. These mathematical models (fractals), like growth in nature, have the property of repeating endlessly within limits without being the same.

After centuries of development, during which man has freed himself from the whims and dangers of nature, there is now a growing realization that we are part of nature, that we should not spoil nature, that we should not continue to look on from a distance, but that we should merge back into it. The works are also about looking, about perceiving nature and art, about distance and involvement.

© 2022, Jan Coenen


Monday, April 11, 2022

Towards a Digital Culture in local and regional newspapers in Finland

The publishing sector has been struggling to reach a digital culture over the years. Especially the newspapers are in a transfer situation going from paper to a hybrid situation to digital first. Especially for local and regional newspapers this has been a battle.

Marja Heinonen, a Finnish consultant, has written a report on the route towards a digital culture in the Finnish regional newspaper Karjalainen from 2019 to 2021.


Regional and local media in Finland are fighting for survival alongside the rest of the media landscape. Two big questions for the media industry in 2022, both in Finland and globally, are a viable business model and a sensible way to organise in a digital environment. The latter is an essential part of the realisation of the former. Circulation of printed newspapers has declined almost without exception over the last 15 years. Vitality and growth will have to come from elsewhere. The key path chosen is the shift from print to digital media. Karjalainen is at the forefront of regional and local media in Finland, making a systematic and comprehensive shift towards digital media.

Karjalainen is a medium-sized regional newspaper that is number one in its region and has a strong brand in people's minds. In January 2021, the total number of sta was 47. This figure included contributing editors, photographers and archives. There were 33 writing journalists.

In 2018, Karjalainen decided to shift its focus to digital, i.e. to start making media strongly online. In 2018 it created its first digital strategy and systematically started changing its operations and organisational culture. This change was seen in Karjalainen as an ambitious and wide-ranging shift in approach and culture, not just small tweaks. The transition reached full speed in 2019. Deep change will only happen if the culture of the organisation is supportive of digital transformation.

One major step - and the core focus of this report - was taken in September 2020. Karjalainen’s top management started planning an organisational change in the newsroom - to build an organisation that supports better new digital doing. To push forward “digital first” thinking.

A new organisation was implemented in January 2021. The old structure was demolished. New teams and roles were created, print and digital were separated, and all positions were open for everyone to apply. The change process was based on inclusiveness, open interaction, a culture of experimentation, and responsibility-sharing.

In addition to the planned measures, in 2020, Karjalainen's digitalisation process was also influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, an external factor that shook the world globally.

This paper describes newspaper Karjalainen’s transition process in organisational reform, which took place 2021 and assesses how the reform was received in the newsroom. It also looks at how Karjalainen succeeded in its strategic project towards digitalisation the newsroom in 2019-2021.

The documentation benefits the entire local and regional press scene in Finland and abroad, as the experience gained from the Karjalainen case both inspires and helps to design practical solutions for the press' own digital implementations. This study has been funded by Media Industry Research Foundation of Finland (Media-alan tutkimussäätiö).

The report is available at Academia (registered access):