Saturday, June 30, 2007

8 GB in the phone

Sandisk is set to put 8 GB memory cards into the mobile phone arena later this year. That's enough storage for 5 hours of MPEG-4 video, presumably at a sort of You-tube quality. I am more excited about what it could mean for the quality of lets say 1 hour of high quality video shot on a mobile. If its in time for the Olympics next year, what will this mean to broadcasters who have paid millions for sports rights? Probably nothing for 2008...but by 2012...

This warning is not enough

BBC is putting a sort of disclaimer below its request for pixs (in this case of the attempted bombing of Glasgow airport this afternoon). I think it should warn people that it cannot accept responsibility for any injury caused in making the photos and define what it means by responsible behaviour. Many of the citizen photographers really think a message like this is a commission to take risks.

Why queue? Plenty of iPhones on shelves

No, it hasn't sold out. They made enough of the first generation phones. One day later, it is available at all Apple stores.

Saturday Night iPhone

Lots of parodies on the iPhone, and the Apple hype in particular. 2 billion songs huh? There is life without the iPhone, believe me.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Great Firewall of China

With just a year to go before the Olympics, I see that Reporters Without Borders has issued a reminder about how China continues to tighten the handcuffs around press freedom, censoring to the point of being paranoid. I know from contacts living in China that even this blog in English is on a black list apparently - must be the name of the blog or perhaps previous posts about why I think the Olypmics might fail (good job they were not held about now in Greece this year eh?). If you have ever been in Beijing in August you will know why I am not keen to head out there for sports in an oven. Dust storms mixed in with pollution. They may do something about the pollution levels for the period of the games. I wonder what they can do about the heat?

Now, a year before the opening ceremony, it is clear the Chinese government still sees the media and Internet as strategic sectors that cannot be left to the “hostile forces” denounced by President Hu Jintao. The departments of propaganda and public security and the cyber-police, all conservative bastions, implement censorship with scrupulous care.

At least 30 journalists and 50 Internet users are currently detained in China. Some of them since the 1980s. The government blocks access to thousands for news websites. It jams the Chinese, Tibetan and Uyghur-language programmes of 10 international radio stations on short and mediumwave. After focusing on websites and chat forums, the authorities are now concentrating on blogs and video-sharing sites. China’s blog services incorporate all the filters that block keywords considered “subversive” by the censors. The law severely punishes “divulging state secrets,” “subversion” and “defamation” - charges that are regularly used to silence the most outspoken critics. Although the rules for foreign journalists have been relaxed, it is still impossible for the international media to employ Chinese journalists or to move about freely in Tibet and Xinjiang.

The Chinese authorities promised the IOC and international community concrete improvements in human rights in order to win the 2008 Olympics for Beijing. But they simply changed their tone after being awarded the games. Some people hope that “the Olympic Games will help to improve the human right situation in China. I agree with RSF that all the signs are that the repression will get worse before it gets better. Knowing how old fashioned the IOC has behaved in the past with Internet rights, I cannot imagine them doing much to change this deplorable situation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

BBC iPLAYER launches July 27

Never mind about the i-phone, I am more interested in the iPlayer and whether it will bring the UK Internet networks to a halt with the traffic demands. Since it is summer, may be not yet. But Thompson said they're shifting 1200 TB of data a month out of the BBC, before the iPlayer launches....makes you wonder...this from their press release.

The BBC’s on-demand TV service, BBC iPlayer, is to launch on July 27th, it was announced today by Ashley Highfield, Director of Future Media & Technology.
“BBC iPlayer is a free catch-up service for UK licence fee payers,” said Highfield. “Your favourite programmes from all the BBC’s network TV channels will be available to download over the internet, and watch on your PC without advertising for up to a week after transmission.”

Jana Bennett, Director of BBC Vision, said: “This is a significant moment, as it heralds a new era when viewers will have the freedom to watch programmes from the BBC’s linear TV channels when they want. It’s a revolutionary service which offers audiences more value, because from now on they never have to miss out on their favourite programmes – or those that they didn’t previously have the opportunity to try.”

At launch, once viewers have accessed BBC iPlayer at and have downloaded a programme, they will have up to 30 days in which to watch it. Once watched, the programme file clears itself up by deleting itself. BBC iPlayer is far more than a standalone application. Later this year, it will become widely accessible across, as well as via links from YouTube and a number of other potential distribution partners (subject to the BBC Trust’s new syndication policy and Management’s guidelines). Users will be able to watch promotional clips of programmes, and link back to BBC iPlayer on, enabling them to download the full programme.
The BBC is in discussion with a wide range of potential distribution partners, including MSN,, AOL, Tiscali, Yahoo!, MySpace, Blinkx and Bebo.
"We are committed to making it as easy as possible to use BBC iPlayer.
Developing a version for Apple Macs and Microsoft Vista is absolutely on our critical path. We're also committed to making it available on the Television screen, which is why we are delighted to be working with Virgin Media towards a launch on cable later this year. We are hopeful that other TV platforms will follow soon after.
“Our vision is for BBC iPlayer to become a universal service available not just over the internet, but also on cable and other TV platforms, and eventually on mobiles and smart handheld devices,” said Highfield. “It underpins our Creative Future strategy, to maintain the BBC’s relevance among all audiences in the digital age.”
BBC iPlayer is currently in closed environment testing amongst some 15,000 people. It will go live to the general public in open Beta on July 27, allowing the number of users to increase over the summer in a controlled manner, before a full marketing launch in the autumn.
In time, extra features will be added to BBC iPlayer, such as streaming on demand (allowing users to watch a programme straight away), series stacking (which allows users to download episodes from selected series
retrospectively) and the highly successful BBC Radio Player.
At launch, BBC iPlayer will include a display settings toolkit for the hard-of-vision and sign language for the hard-of-hearing; subtitles and audio description will be rolled out in the coming months.

Technical development and delivery

BBC iPlayer has been created and developed by the BBC's Future Media & Technology Division in partnership with Siemens and Red Bee Media.

Red Bee Media is responsible for content ingest, transcoding and quality control. This happens through an automated workflow system, enabling programmes to be quickly re-purposed for BBC iPlayer. Red Bee Media also produces rich metadata tagged to each programme, enabling audiences to search for their favourite shows as well as discover new content.

Siemens is responsible for the delivery technical infrastructure, for applying the digital rights licence and for distributing media to end users via the peer to peer network. VeriSign working through Siemens has delivered the Kontiki Broadband Delivery Service software that enables users to install the BBC iPlayer application on their PC, download, store and play programmes on-demand.

BBC Future Media & Technology development teams, who also develop the website, have played a significant role in developing the product; from the search and browse facility, run on Autonomy, to the look and feel and functionality that end users experience on the website and within the application they have installed on their PCs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hans with his hands on wifi

Great to see a true broadcast legend Hans Hogendoorn joins the ranks of wifi radio users at his "retirement" party today. Like RNW, Hans reached the age of 60. Hans has radio, and especially sound design and production music in his blood. He's the voice for Dutch public broadcasting, including RNW's Dutch language service. Great set of pipes, sir! Can't believe he's going to stop just because he's of retirement age.

Tivoli Audio - Mixed feelings

According to the Slipperybrick blog, the US company of Tivoli Audio seems to be coming out of their shell some by breaking from their traditional, mostly-AM/FM radio products into integrating digital music and internet radio with two new devices coming to the market later this year. The two new network-enabled radios will be called the NetWorksGo, and the NetWorks Table Radio, which both look to be upgrades of existing products with the new networking capabilities added in.

Both radios will drop the AM tuner, retaining only the FM radio and add in the ability to stream in MP3, WMA and Real Audio internet radio to playback through the device with no computer required. They can also optionally connect to a networked computer or through a USB connection to play music from a PC or other device.

But here's the catch. The internet radio stations that the NetWorksGo and NetWorks Table Radio are able to “tune in” will be limited to a pre-selected list through Tivoli, but according to the company president more stations are easily added. A user needs only to send an email to Tivoli requesting a new station and if approved it will be added to the list. The radio owner then can update the radio’s firmware with a manual button press which will update the list with any newly-added stations.

Note the words "if approved" above. Is Tivoli going to play gatekeeper? (UPDATE- see response from Tivoli in comments) Imagine if you had to send an e-mail to your TV manufacturer if you wanted to watch free-to-air stations outside the standard package! This is a business model from the 1950's - perhaps to match the style of their radios. It is born to become victim of its own success...not as well thought out as the radios themselves. They sound great - although the recent models that are made in China have a more mass-produced finish to them, in my opinion.

Both radios connect to the web to grab the streams through an Ethernet cable or through Wi-Fi with the Networks Table Radio designed as stationary model. The NetWorksGo model can run off of six C-batteries and is more portable for taking from room to room or anywhere that is FM or Wi-Fi accessible.

No pricing is available yet for these new models and the images pictured here (credit and DoDevice) may not be the final design.

Monday, June 25, 2007

64 GB Flashdrive launches

We're one step closer to flashdrives being a serious alternative to hard disks, especially in laptops or in situations where dust and dirt are the enemy (like rural Africa). Samsung still want 1000 bucks for the beast though, but I am sure prices will fall. 4GB pen drives are a sixth the price they were a year ago - at least here in Holland.

Mighty Heart Failure?

New York Times is reporting that “A Mighty Heart” from Paramount Vantage has had a difficult opening in the USA. Starring Angelina Jolie as the widow of the slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, “A Mighty Heart” rode a tidal wave of publicity to the box office but so far brought in only $4 million on 1,353 screens, for $295,200 a screen.

The total raises questions about the studio’s decision to try to attract a serious-minded audience during the summer, when frothy material dominates. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed it builds,” said a Paramount Vantage spokesman.

I guess it might do better abroad, especially considering the current plight of Alan Johnston.

Monday, June 18, 2007

BBC Issues Guiding Principles of Impartiality

BBC has just issued what they term are the 12 guiding principles of impartiality. They are:

1. Impartiality is and should remain the hallmark of the BBC as the leading provider of information and entertainment in the United Kingdom, and as a pre-eminent broadcaster internationally. It is a legal requirement, but it should also be a source of pride.

2. Impartiality is an essential part of the BBC's contract with its audience, which owns and funds the BBC. Because of that, the audience itself will often be a factor in determining impartiality.

3. Impartiality must continue to be applied to matters of party political or industrial controversy. But in today's more diverse political, social and cultural landscape, it requires a wider and deeper application.

4. Impartiality involves breadth of view, and can be breached by omission. It is not necessarily to be found on the centre ground.

5. Impartiality is no excuse for insipid programming. It allows room for fair-minded, evidence-based judgments by senior journalists and documentary-makers, and for controversial, passionate and polemical arguments by contributors and writers.

6. Impartiality applies across all BBC platforms and all types of programme. No genre is exempt. But the way it is applied and assessed will vary in different genres.

7. Impartiality is most obviously at risk in areas of sharp public controversy. But there is a less visible risk, demanding particular vigilance, when programmes purport to reflect a consensus for "the common good", or become involved with campaigns.

8. Impartiality is often not easy. There is no template of wisdom which will eliminate fierce internal debate over difficult dilemmas. But the BBC's journalistic expertise is an invaluable resource for all departments to draw on.

9. Impartiality can often be affected by the stance and experience of programme-makers, who need constantly to examine and challenge their own assumptions.

10. Impartiality requires the BBC to examine its own institutional values, and to assess the effect they have on its audiences.

11. Impartiality is a process, about which the BBC should be honest and transparent with its audience: this should permit greater boldness in its programming decisions. But impartiality can never be fully achieved to everyone's satisfaction: the BBC should not be defensive about this but ready to acknowledge and correct significant breaches as and when they occur.

12. Impartiality is required of everyone involved in output. It applies as much to the most junior researcher as it does to the director-general. But editors and executive producers must give a strong lead to their teams. They must ensure that the impartiality process begins at the conception of a programme and lasts throughout production: if left until the approval stage, it is usually too late.

The report, From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel: Safeguarding Impartiality in the 21st Century, together with appendices including audience research and other background material, is available in full at

Endemol at Google: Web 3.0

Peter Bazalgette, Chief Creative Officer of Endemol, speaks about the opportunities created by the interconnectedness of media. He tackles what he describes as Internet 2.0 myths.

Commercial Terrestrial TV is declining: No, TV in the UK advertising is growing by 5% a year, and is expected to grow for the next 5 years.

Commercial Breaks are less effective. Advertising is actually getting closer to content than ever before. He takes the example of ABC, who got an 87% recall by putting ads at the start of their on-line content. Now they are connected more closely the content.

People don't want advertising sponsored free downloads. Yes they do. In 2005, Channel 4 offered Big Brother download in the UK as a paid downlaod subscription. Channel 4 only sold 25,000 downloads of BB. In 2006 they made it free, with an ad before it started. They "sold" 25 million downloads. People are willing to make a contract for their attention.

16-24 is deserting mainstream TV, but putting content into games is a huge audience that is full of opportunities.

On line betting is doing very well, like Deal or No Deal.

Endemol feels that being the Ringmaster in the circus of contributions. They use the user generated content and they remake them to Tv standards. The show is called Ten Day Take. It is not about winners and losers. It's about creating incremental value.

Keen on Web 2.0

Interesting video of a presentation by Author Andrew Keen where he discusses his book "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture" as part of the Authors@Google series. This event took place June 5, 2007 at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

Keen is a fierce defender of traditional media, especially quality newspapers like the Guardian. I think he's right that a lot of blogs are boring and do not have the resources to do the kind of research that certain mainstream media can do with teams. I would argue that there is much too much drag-and-drop journalism in many so called quality media organisations in Europe and that the trend is growing. I am astonished at the inaccuracies and oversimplifications in subject areas that I know quite a lot about. Therefore I read articles about areas I don't know with a healthy dose of scepticism. I keep articles on subjects that interest me so I can read them again in a different context. I find that helps keep an overview - distance in this case is a very good thing. I read blogs on the premise that they are a great source of opinions. Only over time do I begin to trust a blog as a source of fact. Keen is right that schools (certainly in the Netherlands) are failing to teach the kids how to find information and judge its authenticity. We're becoming lazy, so that rather than type in the URL of a site, its easier just to put a few words into Google and get them to find the site.

Keen has some important concerns about privacy towards the end of the presentation. Worth the time to watch. Thanks to Upstream for the tip.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

More of Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

. This is from last month (May 2007). Eric Schmidt's chat with Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, John Micklethwait, about Internet and media innovation and Google's changing role in the world. Taped during Google's Zeitgeist Europe on May 21, 2007. I think a lot more people in the international broadcasting business should be watching this trend.

BBC, the end of traditional control

Always interesting to hear what one of the world's largest public broadcasters is doing with the world's largest search engine. Mark Thompson, DG of the BBC, spoke recently at the Google Zeitgeist conference about sharing content on the Web and how BBC is changing with technology. There are two curves, one of which the BBC does control through its editorial selection process, the other growth curve is what the audience is up to, for which the BBC has no control. So the current thinking is to play with short-form content on You-tube and look at other ways to get high quality, long form content onto traditional devices like TV screens. Interesting question, about 4 minutes before the end, about the bandwidth issues BBC can expect when the i-Player really does take off next year. The prediction given is that 25% of the broadband bandwidth will be linked to rich content providers like the BBC. Personally, I think there will be hybrid systems for quite a while. It will be a long time before my cable company or ADSL can provide the kind of HD bandwidth I am getting now through satellite. The types of technologies like Joost and Babelgum are therefore very interesting as one way of tackling the bandwidth crunch.

Mark also mentions that 46 million people access BBC content from abroad per month and the total downloads are now running at 1200 Terabyte a month. That means Internet usage is approaching BBC World Service radio usage in some overseas markets, especially when international broadcasters measure their audiences as anyone who has listened "at least once a week".

Is Google a media company?

Marketing Facts pointed me in the direction of two interesting videos which are definitely worth watching. It seems there were two regional economic forums taking place this past week. One in South Africa, the other in California. The one in the US included a very interesting interview with Eric Schmidt, CEO Google done by Pat Mitchell, who President and CEO of the newly renamed Paley Center for Media. Schmidt talks about a number of issues, such as Viacom, the length of time cookies remain valid on your PC and privacy issues. Schmidt comes across as a really nice guy. But what is in place to keep Google a nice company in the future, especially when it is becoming so important to deciding who gets access to what information? There's already censorship in China. Google is not a content-production company, they say, although You-tube is certainly making a lot of money with content. It is not only a discussion about individual privacy, but also "public" access.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

In Praise of In Business

I really enjoy Peter Day's In Business series - both on Radio 4 and BBC WS, and I am so pleased it was one of the first shows to be podcast.

I do a lot of traveling and store these tales of change for listening in the plane and later reference. I particularly enjoyed the recent show on the Eden project and the Monkey Business school of management. I work with creative companies and my experience is that having those kind of rules like "you have to read two books a year outside your own field" works well. It improves your own social currency and it improves presentations in your own field. I'm not sure why Peter has any reservations for working for Tim Smit, or a company like that.

There are plenty of business shows out there that are very forgettable. That's because they are just assembled, mainly from press releases. Peter not only shares interesting content, but he puts it into an engaging context wrapped up with logicial, humourous narrative. Long may it continue.

Mobile Ticketing

Now this is interesting, especially if like me you have a number of parallel projects and want to keep track of tickets. Be nice if they could do this with airline tickets too.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Topup with mamamikes

Topup with mamamikes
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Brilliant concepts are emerging from Africa. Like people in the UK being able to transfer funds to mobile phones in Kenya. In this case it is safaricom, but others are also possible on the website mamamikes. The same sort of service is being offered by others trying to make ends meet in Zimbabwe. I am using such a service to pay correspondents in a radio project.

David Hatch - The broadcaster's broadcaster

I have always admired David Hatch and what he did to spark creativity in the BBC. He was truly an example of a manager who managed by walking around - but also saying thank you to creative people just at the right time. This extract from the Telegraph newspaper.

Sir David Hatch, who died on Wednesday aged 68, joined BBC Radio as a writer and performer on I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again and during the 1960s was the originator and producer of comedy shows such as Weekending, Just a Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue; he became controller of Radio 2, then Radio 4, before becoming overall head of BBC radio.

Hatch was the first radio controller to have endeared himself to staff by showing no indication that he regarded his postings at Broadcasting House as mere staging posts along the road to Television Centre. Very much a "hands-on" manager, he liked to walk the floors each day, looking in on presenters in the on-air studios. Terry Wogan, for one, rated him "the finest senior BBC executive I ever worked for".

Producers often found themselves bombarded with what they called "Hatchlets", timed notes reading "Heard your programme, why did you\u2026 ?" But he was also generous with his praise, not forgetting the technicians.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

On-Line Ads peaking in the US?

Lost Remote notes that the NY Times, who owns 30 websites like, and, saw an impressive 21.4 percent increase in online ad sales in the last year. But the growth in online ad sales is down slightly from year-ago growth rates, when the NYTimes reported 26.9 percent growth. The strongest growth for their online division comes from, where sales were up 32.6 percent to $7.4 million. The company cites display ads increased “primarily because of strength in the Internet, pharmaceutical and technology categories.” The interesting thing about these growth numbers is how they seem to prove the Borrell report that came out just 2 weeks ago and forecast slowing online ad sales growth. These sorts of revenues don't seem to be much compared with traditional radio and TV.

Monday, June 11, 2007

More on End of Analogue Shortwave

Better montage from Spanish TV showing the same event.

End of Analogue Shortwave

This is an old video (one year) showing the demolition of the shortwave transmitter site formerly operated by Radio Free Europe on the beach in Spain. Since then I have been collecting video to document the end of this era. I believe it is happening a lot faster than many broadcasters realize.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Tunein Update

Interesting to hear the updates from Erik de Zwaart from Tunein FM, which is a service from a start-up company called Mobilaria set up by former Radio 538 personell who are looking for alternative platforms to DAB. Digital Audio Broadcasting has been a total failure in the Netherlands. The Dutch government was too greedy and demanded huge fees for analogue FM licenses, focussing on short-term gain rather than a beauty contest that happened in the UK. As a result, the commercial stations have boycotted the switch to DAB saying its an 1980's technology which is not spectrum efficient. I think they're right.

Talking with Wanjo Temkov, the managing director of Tunein I learned that they have done deals with telecom providers for now, but what they are doing will work with Wifi, DVB-H, DAB+ or any other broadcast platform that might come along. The Dutch Shoutcast model it would seem. The technology works and sounds as good as the audio you hear from Sirius or XM. But you do need an "all-you-can-eat" data subscription and don't try it yet outside the Netherlands unless you want to pay through the nose in roaming charges. But it is surely a matter of time.

Mobile Monday

Yes, the boom is back in Amsterdam with the start of a regular monthly meeting about mobile technology. Remember First Tuesday? Kick off session today went well. With three presentations on mobile radio, mobile scanning (Dennis Hettema from Swedish company OP3) and a talk from Jyri Engeström who runs Jaiku, the Finnish equivalent of Twitter which now has some development going on in Eindhoven.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Copenhagen Airport Blues

Copenhagen Airport
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
This airport doesn't understand tax-free. Grabbed a bottle of Baileys clearly marked as "for all travellers" but the check-out lady wouldn't let me buy it. Bonkers

Postboxes Everywhere

Postboxes Everywhere
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
but just try to buy a stamp for a postcard! Not even the main post office has a stamp machine outside.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

One Laptop per Child Update

One Laptop Per Child
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks

On the second day of Reboot, Hakon Wium, the CEO of Opera Browser, took out a piece of kit that attracted more photographers than anything else. Its one of the beta versions of the One Laptop Per Child project, for which this Norwegian company has supplied software.

Meanwhile at a Harvard Law School cocktail party, Nicholas Negroponte gave a talk about One Laptop Per Child which contains a lot of updates. Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices shared the news in his blog

The truth is, I learn something new every time Negroponte talks about the project. Even before he began talking, it was interesting to discover that he’s come equipped with almost a dozen “B2″ prototype machines. They’re open and live on tables around the room, for people to play with - that’s a big improvement from the last time I played with the machine, when the machines were still being hand-built, were in scarce supply and you needed someone to walk you through the Sugar interface.

Negroponte starts by reminding us that OLPC is an education project, not a laptop project. He traces his work on the project to Seymour Papert and to the learning process students go through in learning Logo. Debugging, he argues, is as close as we can get to learning how to think… and it works for skills like spelling, as well as for programming.

Much of the focus of his presentation is on the failure of schools around the world. He makes it clear that the reason for OLPC is for low-income countries where schools may not have buildings or teachers, not just for middle-income countries. He talks about a Nigerian classroom where the XO laptop is being tested - enrollment in the first grade class has doubled, because students came out of the woodwork to get to use the machine.

Students enter schools in first grade with wide, curious eyes, Nicholas tells us. By fourth grade, they’re bored and no longer curious. “We’re inoculating against ignorance.” That’s why the project can’t be incremental - you have to inoculate whole countries, not just a school or a village.

The landscape has changed around the project, as Negroponte acknowledges. He takes a swipe at Intel’s Classmate project, pointing out that the machine has a 65w power supply, while the XO generally draws less than 2 watts. “If Libya gave every student a Classmate, they’d have to build new power plants.” Answering a question about whether the machine will run Windows - it will, and it wouldn’t be open if it didn’t, he argues - he points out that Windows now has a $3 edition, in part in reaction to the OLPC project. “We don’t have to be in the laptop business.” If other projects can put a laptop in every child’s hands, the project achieves its goal, even if the laptop is not the XO.

Despite the enthusiasm of countries like Rwanda, Libya and Uruguay, all of which are entertaining the idea of providing laptops to every schoolchild, no country has yet written a cheque to the project. That includes Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine and Thailand as well, all of whom Negroponte lists as first-stage adopters of the project. It’s a big cheque to write - nations are being asked to invest in the laptop one million at a time. That’s $176 million for the machines alone, at current pricing, plus money for distribution and Internet provision - the actual price tag could be closer to a $200 - 250 million investment. As the project scales up, the price drops - possibly as low as $100 per unit in 2009, possibly to $50 per unit in the next decade. Quanta, which manufactures the machine, is ready to scale to a million laptops per month by year’s end. That doesn’t sound like much, Negroponte tells us, but global laptop production is only 5 million a month.

In response to a question about whether laptops will be available in the US, Negroponte gives two answers. One is that there are some early discussions about making the laptop available in US schools. Also, it’s likely that end users will be able to purchase machines in a 1 for the price of 2 deal, where you can buy a machine, but subsidize one for students somewhere in the world. Negroponte makes it clear that OLPC won’t manage this project - they see it as too incremental - but they will allow it to happen and believe it will happen in the next 12 months.

Negroponte’s talk was fairly light on specs - two major changes that I noticed in his slides. The new generation of machines will using Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiPeFo4), a battery technology that is not yet in wide use, but has some characteristics which could be especially appropriate for the XO machine. Specifically, the batteries tend to deliver less heat than Lithium ion and are much more resistant to explosion if misused. It’s unclear whether they are easier to charge using human power than Lithium ion. Dr. Negroponte says that OLPC’s partners will be building a factory specifically to produce the LiPeFo4 batteries.

Flash memory costs have come down, however, and the machine currently features a gigabyte of flash RAM.

Negroponte closes with a story about the appearance of the machine, explaining why it’s green and white. The reason was Nigerian President Obasanjo’s enthusiastic embrace of the machine. After a cabinet meeting at Obasanjo’s villa, the President declared, “Professor Negroponte, I have one word for your project: enchanting.” Thrilled by the reception, Negroponte asked for the next prototype to be in the colors of the Nigerian flag - green and white.

I was listening to a radio show on a local station in Rwanda a couple of Sunday's ago and took part by e-mail (you can do this if you have a wifi radio I have found). The subject was education and the people in the studio, including people from the Ministry of Education also seemed positive about the project. What is definitely needed now is for one country to make a comittment.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Peering into the Box

Peering into the Box
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Plenty of space for the conversations at Reboot. Its held in the "kettlehalls" that used to supply heat and steam to the hospital near by.

OLPC side view

OLPC side view
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
I wonder how waterproof the laptop will be. The keyboard looks sturdy. But will those USB ports rust if moisture gets in?

Reboot 9 Copenhagen

Reboot 9 Copenhagen
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Reboot was sold-out. A really great meeting of the minds - about 400 of them. This was a main breakout session on Friday morning.

Opera Inside the OLPC

Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks

One Laptop for this Child

One Laptop for this Child
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
but only for a few moments....

Just Outside Conference

Just Outside Conference
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Ton Zijlstra's session went well