Thursday, May 28, 2009

BBC World Service kills off YourStory citizen participation

Your Story project - The End from BBC Your Story on Vimeo.

BBC World Service is building a reputation for killing off good ideas before they have had time to mature. I think this was the case last year when the used citizens to help redesign their website and it looks like the case now, especially when the cost to run this kind of scheme is peanuts. I have no connection with the BBC, just think that Nina Robinson needs a round of applause for the work she's done. Not sure the BBC technicians are doing Nina justice by uploading the message in the wrong aspect ratio and cutting her off after 1 minute.

Spring Cleaning Estonia

Amazed at how a small team can motivate an entire country to clean up a small country - Estonia, from thousands of tons of trash dumped in the forests. They produced the virtual garbage map which showed the extent of the problem. And they did it in a day! That was a year they are working in two other countries. Now this is an idea I hope will spread.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Video on Radio Decibel

Hans Knot passed on this link showing the relaunch of Radio Decibel in Amsterdam earlier this year. It's in Dutch, but its quite obvious this is a group of very passionate people who believe there's a need for music radio with personality. Many of the original founders of the pirate Radio Decibel are involved in this legal venture. I'm glad they captured the moment on video. So much of radio is being lost by poor record keeping.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lost in Schiphol?


Standing by the luggage belt to pick up my suitcase, the lady next to me looks at the screens above and then charges off to the KLM Ground Services desk almost in tears. I think she misread the Dutch message which says that all baggage has been unloaded, not that all baggage has been lost. The luggage from the flight arrived eventually...Schiphol is definitely slowing down these days.
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

filming in Prague


Thanks to a tip from Douglas Arellanes, I found a truly stunning spot to film the sunset over the old town of Prague. I'm in the Czech republic on business, but took Sunday off to interview people about 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

PINC truly terrific


There are too many conferences at the moment, but there are not enough of the calibre of PINC. Had a chance to meet with some truly inspiring people at a gathering in Zeist right in the heart of the Netherlands. PINC has been around for a decade, but I have only just discovered a world-class circle on my doorstep.
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Hilversum West

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Hilversum is rebuilding its ring road, so these are not parked cars. It is all just part of the gigantic queue to escape the media city. To be avoided at all costs!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Media Songs

Making a collection of songs about different aspects of new media. Beats Video Killed the Radio Star.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Rosling's Media Alert on Swine Flu

Hans Rosling, of Gapminder fame, is one of my personal heroes. He is able to give clear context to important stories and I believe the mainstream news media should pay far more attention to what they are doing. His latest video puts swine flu into a much more sane context than I am getting from traditional media. It would be great if some of the media monitoring organisations would also start measuring stories with the news/death ratio.

During the last 13 days, up to May 6 2009, WHO has confirmed that 25 countries are affected by the Swine flu and 31 persons have died from Swine flu. WHO data indicates that about 60 000 persons died from TB during the same period. By a rough comparison with the number of news reports found by Google news search, Hans Rosling calculates a News/Death ratio and issue an alert for a media hype on Swine flu and a neglect of tuberculosis

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Broadcast Asia Shuns Bloggers

Looks to me like the press department at Broadcast Asia in Singapore is living in a time warp....round about 1999. There is a clear definition of who they regard as "press"

Media registration is reserved only for editorial professionals (ie.reporters, editors, writers, publishers of trade publications and newspapers, as well as producers and presenters of broadcast and webcast media). Media registration is not opened to non-editorial staff of media groups, research analysts, bloggers and writers of company/corporate newsletters.

I think they seriously underestimate the influence that (group) bloggers are having on the broadcast industry. Entrance to the exhibition is free anyway, and that would be the only reason to head in that direction. The conference is just bizarre. It reflects an industry that has clearly lost its way in that part of the world.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Beyond Twitter & Facebook

Short interview with Alasdair J Munn, a third generation Zimbabwean who has founded a very interesting communications company together with his sister Clare. At the Africa Gathering in London in April 2009 he explained the work they're doing for both commercial and non-profit organisations to help them discover the power of social media tools. Completely void of the twitter hype, their research is showing major differences in the way different parts of Africa search for answers on the web and mobile. Not to be confused with the communicationsgroup which also does work for media organisations but is unconnected.

Alasdair J. Munn from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

GSMA Open Collaboration

Mobile operators and innovation are not two terms you'd put usually together. Most still operate their network as a walled garden. But there are some chinks of light, as highlighted by a talk I attended at Forum Oxford. I didn't realize that non-members of the mobile phone association GSMA could also get involved in collaborative projects.

You have to dig through their website to find it, but as Graham Trickey of GSMA explains, there are some interesting opportunities emerging.

GSMA Open Collaboration from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

Greasing the wheels of trade through local mobile payments

I continue to be very impressed with Simon Cavill of Mi-Pay Ltd. He is the strategy director of a company doing pioneering work in the mobile payments world in Africa. I caught up with him again at Forum Oxford at the end of April 2009 and asked him to give us an update on how the market is developing and the immediate challenges ahead - cash shortages in rural areas and keeping the system secure. As usual, Simon is open and passionate about what they're up to.

Mobile payments are happening all over the world, but especially in rural areas of Africa, where ATM machines are scarce and most people don't have a bank account. The mi-pay method focuses on the diaspora who are crucial to the economies of many African countries. Global aid is estimated at 60 billion dollars. The amount sent back to Africa through the diaspora network is ten-fold that figure - and 600 million may be an underestimate because this form of informal trade is difficult to measure.

Personally, I see mobile payments as being very important to ensure that correspondents working for radio and TV stations get paid for their work. I know that so much training in developing countries turns out to be a waste of time because those trained cannot make a career out of what they learned.

In the first interview, Simon explains how the system works and why it is growing so fast in developing countries.

Watch this...

Greasing the wheels of trade through local mobile payments from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

and then this update recorded late last month in forumoxford09.

More on Mobile Payments from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

Banks on the Frontline

Ken Banks is the brains behind a great free software programme called FrontlineSMS. In this interview he explains the problems it is solving. I think this is a superb software suite, especially for radio stations in Africa. I see that Ushahidi are using it all over the place as part of their production suite, as well as Google for research projects in East Africa. They have also been extremely clever with the branding...would have cost millions on the commercial world.

Frontline SMS \o/ from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

Music as a media strategy in Africa

I've always believed that NGO's and especially radio stations in Africa have not used the power of song to the fullest extent. Somehow in educational circles, dance, theatre and music are seen as much lower down to information leaflets or posters. David Mason was one of the speakers at the recent in London and he explained to me how his organsation has partnered with Sengalese singer Youssou N'Dour to make mashups to promote health and relevant technology. I hope that the results of the contest (which runs until May 12th) will be used in Africa as well as in documentaries about Africa.

IntraHealth Open Source Music Project from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

Ted Talk on the Flu Pandemic

This video from the TED conference is though it was recorded yesterday. It looks back to what we can learn from 1918. But it certainly has a very different take on what we're getting on the mainstream newsmedia. So are we ready? Not in the least. The number one side effect of TamiFlu is flu like symptoms. I wish that more journalists were asking these questions - and that broadcast sites kept their overview a little longer than a few days. The latest tracker is here at I'm starting to suspect this is simply a dress rehearsal for something much worse to come. The over-reaction of the Chinese government concerns me the most. It is unusual in the sense that they have had more time to prepare than the avian flu. But the ability of the scientists to communicate timely information to the general public is pretty poor in most countries.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Chlorophyll Calling

Royal webcast on my blog - Prince Charles has a message about the rainforests. all this reminds me of my father who spent a lifetime in plant genetics and still says that we need to guard the most powerful engine of the planet - chlorophyll.

"Help Twitter the Revolution in Moldova" protest outside the UN

Reminds me of the "Thank You BBC" banner during the student riots in Tianamen Sq in June 1989. Not impressed with the Twitter noise surrounding Mexican Flu.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Unwin on African ICT

Tim Unwin is well-known in UK ICT circles so it was great to see him support the London Africa Gathering back on April 25th. He's clear about what's going right and wrong - and that collaboration between people of different backgrounds is the only way forward. I particularly like his last point about African governments. Things would be so much more efficient if they had a clearer strategy.

Tim Unwin opens London Africa Gathering from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Behind - interview with Christine Maxwell from Jonathan Marks on Vimeo.

At Forum Oxford this year we were treated to a fascinating talk by Christine Maxwell. She's currently running a startup looking into mobile search, but her talk was about the Leonardo, an online network where Art, Science and Technology converge.

The heart of their work seems to be the journal Leonardo which was founded in 1968 in Paris by kinetic artist and astronautical pioneer Frank Malina. In the years before widespread use of the Internet, Malina created an international channel of communication between artists, with emphasis on the writings of artists who use science and developing technologies in their work. After the death of Frank Malina in 1981, and under the leadership of his son, Roger F. Malina, Leonardo moved to San Francisco, California, as the flagship journal of the newly founded nonprofit organization Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST). The organisation has grown along with its community and today is the leading organization for artists, scientists and others interested in the application of contemporary science and technology to the arts and music.

Christine is a former Trustee of the Internet Society and The Santa Fe Institute. She serves on the Advisory Board of Leonardo, and it was in this capacity that she gave the presentation in Oxford. There is a mine of fascinating information on the website, although navigation is a challenge. Clearly offline publishing of the journal is the main priority.