Thursday, August 25, 2005

Amsterdam New Media - Reflections

I went to two of the three public lectures held by the Amsterdam New Media Institute. After a period of no (serious) activity in Amsterdam, it looks like some initiatives are happening to get interesting conversations going again. On Monday night they held an excellent session on Mobile applications at the Amsterdam World Trade Center. The WTC is busy during the day - deserted after 6 pm....the conference room was comfortable, but the acoustics - and sound system - only fair at best.

The presentations on Monday were seen from two perspectives, European and Asian.

Madanmohan Rao (the program at the ANMI spelt his name wrong) from Bangalore is in inspiring speaker who really understands the applications that are going to make it - and the ideas that should simply remain just ideas. Euro Beinat, (yes he really is called Euro) of the Spatial Information Lab in Amsterdam also had some great examples of mobile applications that are being developed in the Netherlands, and which could be exploited world-wide. Could the Netherlands take a lead in developing this branch - a bit like the Endemol formats did with TV? Perhaps, but the companies concerned will need to rethink the way they market their ideas abroad. It was a pity that the publicity for the event was so last minute, reflected in the attendance figures - 30 for Monday, around 40 for the event on blogging on Tuesday (which I didn't attend). I don't believe the story that it was the weather that was the cause of the poor attendance.

Wednesday evening was better, with presentations by Talpa and KPN to a room of around 120. Talpa's presentation was disappointing because it was simply a classic vision of what is possible with the web. For commercial reasons Talpa is not letting anything go as to what they plan or their ambitions. If that is the case, perhaps it is better to say nothing at all than show us (free) graphs from the McKinsey Quarterly. Most people I spoke to afterwards were disappointed in what Edwin Tromp, Director Cross Media at Talpa had to say, - his response to questions afterwards was only a little bit more enlightening. It is clear Talpa Multimedia, for the time being, is focussing on the Netherlands with no ambition to do anything abroad. Makes sense, especially because in this sector there is no equivalent of MIP-TV (a conference to sell TV formats) for the sale of interactive/cross media formats. I see the EBU is taking some initatives there, but only for the public TV sector.

KPN's Michiel Buitenlaar, senior vice-president consumer division is a better speaker. His scientific background shows methodical thought and his dry no-nonsense sense of humour and down to earth approach is refreshing from a company which is seen by the public as "reliable but boring". Looks like KPN has abandoned earlier plans to make their own content, Buitenlaar repeating several times that KPN is a distributor. They have also realised that UMTS is not the way to distribute broadcast tv to will be DMB and/or DVB-H, if anything. The Netherlands could regain its role as a country where experiments are possible.

I agree with Buitenlaar's comments that there is tons of competitive infrastructure in the Netherlands, but very few creative applications. This is partly because the tools to be creative across several platforms are either too expensive, or too difficult for producers to operate. Way back in 1999, the "on the edge" work by small Dutch production companies, as well as VPRO and Endemol, positioned the Netherlands as 5 years ahead of most of Western Europe. But (endless) discussions about infrastructure have pushed the Netherlands 5 years behind countries such as Norway and the UK. The message that Holland has catching up to do has not got through to decion makers - and especially the risk takers. They are still living in 1999!

Yet, it is important that the Netherlands gets its content production right - and restores its reputation in the world as the "test bed for creative production". This country is not going to survive on its call-centre industry or banking/financial skills. I am amazed that most people are unaware of a significant brain drain that is happening within the entrepreneur/academic sector - just drive around the IT park in Amsterdam South (near the football stadium) or in Amstelveen to see that many of the leading foreigners have got the hell out. The fact that Sony moved its European headquarters to Berlin, or that some major international conferences are planning to go elsewhere than Amsterdam should be reason enough for alarm bells to be ringing at the Mayor's office.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


RADIO ST HELENA. I love the news page on Radio St Helena. The last time something happened of note was apparently May 29th.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Tunisa and WSIS

IFEX Campaigns

Looks like the WSIS in Tunis is going to be a diaster. No wonder there are no side-conferences planned like in Geneva two years ago. It is sheer nonsense talking about freedom of the press with all the restrictions there are in Tunisa at the moment.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Barcodes on TV for cameraphones

The links below are to a fascinating video report by Wireless Watch Japan's Gail Nakada.

Interactive television programming is walking out the door and onto mobile handsets pressuring Japanese TV broadcasters to adapt content and programming. Japanese Networks TBS and FujiTV are linking up with ColorZip Japan, a new server-based full color barcode technology. The barcode appears during a broadcast. You point your cameraphone at it. It calls up relevent information about the product and/or service.
Unlike typical black & white QR codes (think of it as bar code 3G), ColorCode was designed to scan from a comfortable distance even for low-resolution camera phones. In Japan, satellite TV music and shopping channels should be coming on line soon with plans to incorporate ColorCode into e-commerce. The travel industry has taken notice with campaigns readying to roll out as well.

Wireless Watch Japan spoke with ColorZip Japan CEO Christopher Craney, about how ColorCode is developing the Japanese market. Already in talks with telecom providers over having the code embedded onto new handsets, Chris discusses both corporate and individual marketing campaigns for this next generation bar code technology.


CBS in Search of Podcaster

I see CBS is advertising for a podcaster. Will also be interesting to see what sort of ratings KYOURADIO is making now that it has been running for a while. Something tells me the material is in such a jumbled format that it won't succeed in the long-term. I'm not learning anything new from this particular group of podcasters.

This Week in Tech, on the other hand, is brilliant.

Discovery video traffic claim

Lost Remote forwards the news that's Discovery video traffic claims served up a total of 1.2 million streams of Space Shuttle Discovery's re-entry and landing on Tuesday.

I see BBC News was also offering the same feed from NASA TV and wonder how many streams they put out? Great landing. Wish I understood what benefit the Shuttle program is to the advancement of science. Personally, I think the days of this program are well and truly over. It is time the US government gave this type of work over to the private sector in the form of a commission.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sadly, the weather in the past few days cannot compare with the sunset I shot on the 2nd of August. Looks warm in the shots I made...actually once the sun went down, the temperature dropped to 10C. (9.25 pm) Posted by Picasa

Progress on my high definition documentary, way out in the middle of nowhere - the Flevo polder. Mind you, with hundreds of windmills here - and tractors going by every few minutes, it is certainly NOT quiet. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 08, 2005

Explosives banned in Shanghai

This sign above the metro entrance in Shanghai is not a joke, nor is it a recent move to prevent the kind of events we saw in London. There are quite a lot of suicide bombings in China, but we don't get to hear about it. This story is an exception...

(sign says: No Carrying Combustibles and Explosives in Metro)

Thanks to John Robb's weblog, Global Guerilla's for pointing this out.

From BBC news

A man has detonated a home-made bomb on a bus in the Chinese city of Fuzhou, killing himself and injuring at least 31 others, state media has reported.
The bomber was a 42-year-old farmer suffering from terminal lung cancer, Xinhua news agency said. The blast is reported to have ripped the side of the bus apart, and shattered nearby shop windows. Home-made bomb attacks are relatively common in China, often carried out by people angry at the authorities.

The motive for Monday's attack is unclear, but it follows criticism by medical professionals that the costs of healthcare have risen beyond the means of many people living in rural areas. There were more than a thousand reported bombings last year. Most go unreported by the country's tightly-controlled state media.

Shifting the Goalposts in Shanghai

Outlook cloudy in Shanghai - mainly because of the smog...

I share the recent concern by the Paris based Reporters Without Borders about the heavy clampdown going on in China regarding the media (both new and traditional). Jamming of international broadcasters continues - it looks like the Chinese authorities are taking no chances in the run-up to the Olympics. As mentioned earlier, my concern is that the games in 2008 will be struck by a heatwave - it was 39 in Beijing just a few weeks ago and employees were sent home to conserve the energy costs.

On the other hand, the media market in China is expanding so fast, I am sure we can expect the Chinese to introduce their own standards for HD DVD, audio codecs in "MP3" players, perhaps even their own operating system. Why pay Western royalties? Despite stories that there has been a clampdown on illegal software, there is no problem to get both software and the manuals of most PC based software.

Andy Sennitt has a good commentary on the Media Network main websitePosted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 02, 2005