Sunday, September 30, 2007

Podcast of Hivos Picnic 07 Session

May be you were one of the 70 people who sat in the Small Boiler Room at Amsterdam Gasworks around 1400 hrs last Wednesday 26th? If so, you might want to listen to the podcast audio of the session with the presentations by Evgengy, Sami, (shown here) Jeroen
and Bektour. Enjoy.

Mac Backlash


Oct '07 at 10:21 AM

Apple's Mac vs. PC ads are redone and, this time, the Mac is the clueless guy.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Monks, Military and Maps

Excellent map from the Alternatibve ASEAN showing the location of the peaceful protests organised in the last 8 weeks in Burma. There is a great list of other news sources from Burma on Evgeny Morozov's blog see this entry:

Quiet Give-Away in the Gasworks

It is early Saturday afternoon. My son and I are watching a live video feed from Amsterdam coming from the Gasworks. Sir Richard Branson is on a stage talking about the Green Challenge in the build-up to a prize they will be giving away to the best finalist. Sir Richard is a great human being, but a very nervous, rambling public speaker. So rather than let him stumble, why don't they interview him instead? Other parts of the ceremony showed signs that there had not been much of a rehearsal beforehand - it had all the appearances of being thrown together at the last moment. Now, I could understand if the prize was a book token, but not when the Netherlands National Postcode Lottery is giving away half a million Euro to the best idea to save the planet. In the end, the prize went to Qurrent for developing boxes for the home that control devices in an environmentally friendly way.

The fact that all the information surrounding the live box indicates that the last transmission from Picnic was on Friday (yesterday) indicates they weren't really expected viewers from outside the Gasworks. Missed opportunity.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Co-founder Tudou in Amsterdam

This guy, Marc van der Chijs, is a Dutchman who has been living in Shanghai for the last 8 years. I met him at Picnic and he gave a short talk during the HIVOS session I moderated. Check out his blog, but also check his Twitter feed. He's the co-founder of the Chinese equivalent of Youtube, although I would argue that Tudou is probably bigger than Youtube by now (1.2 billion video downloads a month). What surprised me was that Chinese users spend around 40 minutes a session when using their site, much longer than the average Youtube user. Many owners of copyright material are actually approaching them to get their stuff distributed in China, since foreign series do not have wide distribution on Chinese TV stations. Brilliant guy. And modest about his success too.

Podcast New style

I've often wondered why the attempts to make audioblogging never worked using the mobile phone, especially as the quality of the microphone inside the phone is getting so much better. Vincent Everts introduced me to Gabcast this afternoon. He called a number and interviewed Viola van Alphen about her work as a Second Life specialist. Once complete the system posts the audio as a link on a blog of your choosing. Great for podcasting....not sure it would work for politicians. Though, it is certainly working in Burma right now.

At the Amsterdam Gasworks again

Spent the last couple of days dipping in and out of Picnic, mainly at the partner events. I'll watch the main conference at the weekend. Picnic has a very different feel to other conferences, partly because of the setting in a former gas works. The "boiler room" turn out to be cinemas...great for watching Powerpoint and films - less good for panel discussions because the lighting is all wrong. But great to meet some very interesting people.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Evgeny Morozov

Evgeny is a Belarussian, director for new media with Transitions Online in Prague, has a home address in Berlin but probably lives out of a suitcase. He gave one of the best overviews I have seen for a longtime about why governments are worried about the Internet and the power of bloggers in particular. Has a great blog too with more than just random thoughts.

I taped Evgeny's presentation at the HIVOS session in the boiler room 1, and that's now available here. It last 20 minutes and gives insight into why governments are worried about what their citizens are doing on the web.

The Dormitory Boys - Radio in My Head

Moderated a very interesting presentation today at Picnic07 by Jeroen de Kloet who finished up by playing a video of the famous Back Dorm Boys, two Chinese students who were especially popular in China for lipsyncing to Western songs and then posting the results on You-tube. I know it is around 2 years ago now, but still funny. I'll add Radio in My Head (above) to the collection of radio performances. The mistake they made was to go out and perform - the dorm performances were always better.

According to Wikipedia...

The two, Wei Wei (Traditional Chinese: 韋煒; Simplified Chinese: 韦炜, and in English: Vivi) and Huang Yi Xin (Traditional Chinese: 黃藝馨; Simplified Chinese: 黄艺馨), were sculpture majors at the Guangzhou Arts Institute.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Proof of the Pudding?

So would you use the web to make a free call to someone in North America, in return for automated software searching your conversation to post "relevant" ads on the screen? Knowing what most teenages talk about on the phone, I'm not sure the content delivered would get past the firewall. Huge issue of trust here. Do you trust the pudding's privacy clause? They may not record the calls but do they keep IP addresses - in other words, who called who?

First Mobile Revolution?

The Romanian revolution will probably go down in history as the first one orchestrated by television. 9/11 was perhaps the biggest incident captured on video cameras by amateurs. I wonder if what's going on in Burma now will be the best example of a revolution organised and reported thanks to the camera in a mobile phone? Fingers crossed that all this goes in the right direction. People are driven to take these enormous risks through sheer desparation. Nothing has got better in Burma for decades.

BBC Funding Debate

What to do when you're making too much? I'd argue that problem has faced domestic public broadcasting in the Netherlands for ages. Interesting item in the Guardian

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bill, Comedy Central & VOA

I still think that Jon Stewart does more to explain the US political scene to ordinary folk than the US government's Voice of America has ever done in its English language programmes. Why? Because its funny and adds personality. It has a high emotional value. You don't have to agree with the guy to feel part of a conversation.

Latest Critical Distance E-Zine released to Cyberspace

Yes, it is out there. The latest free Newsletter with musings about what I am up to. Download it from the Critical Distance Switchboard (where you can also enter your name for a free sub) or hit this spot directly.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


But this idea of an on-line film festival, with class, should do well. Seems they are expecting around 2000 entries.


Not sure if I understand Babelgum's slogan. Perhaps it works in Italian. But in English it makes them sound like a drugs company. The beta keeps crashing on my machine.

BBC WS Radio and TV

There seems to be a gradual trend for BBC World TV and BBC World Service Radio to divorce themselves from each other. If you look at you wouldn't know that BBC WS Radio existed unless you happen to press the radio tab at the top. Nothing in the text on the BBC World TV site passes you on to programmes on the radio with a similar genre. That wasn't the case a few years ago. That's a shame. I know they are funded from different sources, but do consumers care?

They could even try it out on a programme level first before getting too friendly on a network level. The Click! programme on BBC World and Digital Planet on BBC WS Radio might be a place to try "If you like this, then try this too".

I also wish BBC would consolidate its website announcements. Is it,, or what? Depends on the programme!

BBC Radio Logos

I see the Beeb is gradually working in a new set of logos for all its domestic radio networks. The last remake was around 7 years ago. The best overview of the history of these brand logos is here Guardian says the rebranding effort cost around 180,000 Euro. The change is needed to provide more consistent images on other platforms like MP3 players. Makes sense to me.

Challenged Conversation

Challenged Conversation
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
BBC World, Shell and Newsweek have a great competition which is coming to its conclusion right now (to be announced in the Hague on December 4th). But their website isn't doing justice to the idea. The forum is stuck with the wrong year logo (2006) and two posts from months ago. They should be spreading these ideas on Youtube and Facebook....not like this.

In the Hair Tonight

Great viral ad doing the rounds in the US

Saturday, September 22, 2007

BBC World Service Radio Re-Launch

Two days from now, on Monday 24th September, the BBC World Service launches a new sonic brand identity to its English Language networks. The new work is composed by David Lowe, best known for the BBC news music and for the hit song "Would You?" by Touch and Go. Not sure whether this a co-incidence, since BBC World TV did a bit of on-air rebranding this past week too.

As well as music beds for programming sequences and positioning idents, the new BBC World Service identity supports content delivered via FM partner stations that carry BBC programming and the service's range of podcasts. There is also a download-able ringtone for the most loyal listeners and additional work to support the 75th anniversary of the BBC World Service in December.

In a novel twist to a radio station's normal relationship with imaging companies, David was invited into the BBC by World Service promotions editor Steve Martin to work as a composer-in-residence.

Steve told "Today's news consumers treat the media as being very much on their own level and we wanted to acknowlege this in the new sound. So our new identity is designed to let the pace of our presenters' speech drive the flow of our output, rather than lock it in behind melodic roadblocks and pompous fanfares."

Some 40 million weekly listeners will hear the new image. Wonder what its all going to sound like! Will the themes for Newshour and other programmes be wiped clean? I hope they fix the promo problem - short, and often annoying promos that fill the 29 and 59 minute slots but often seem very out of place with the style of the rest of the network. "It's as easy as One, Two, MP3" is one of favourite promos I love to hate.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Harman International

Yikes, what a huge mess of brandnames and strategies. No wonder Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have decided to not move ahead with the proposed $8 billion private purchase of these guys.

Trading in Harman International shares (NYSE: HAR) was halted on the New York Stock Exchange mid Friday afternoon after the stock plunged on published reports of troubles for the acquisition. Trading then resumed later today, but the stock closed down more 24% to US$85 a share.

The company, co-founded by Sidney Harman in 1953, developed and marketed the first all-in-one home stereo receivers for the US in the 1960s. Currently the firm has more than 10,000 employees and is one of the largest suppliers of on-board video-audio entertainment systems for the automotive industry.

I must say that I am very disappointed in the overall performance of the nine-JBL speaker system in my Toyota Prius. The audio booms in the bass and screeches in the treble. It is a shame that the radio/CD system in the car is part of the dashboard or I would replace it tomorrow. Didn't live up to the performance of JBL speakers that I knew in the 80's and early 90's....otherwise the Prius is fine.

Broken Chair

This broken chair has been around for 10 years, though I don't believe it has been at its present spot at Place des Nations, Geneva for that long. It was original made for the 1997 international conference in Ottawa which banned the use of land mines, and this was a graphic commemoration of the victims of such weapons. I'm actually in the building across the road at the moment, discussing broadcasting in times of natural emergencies. But this is a pointed reminder that many problems in the world are man-made.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Internet People

It gets a bit worrying when you realise you have spent time in the last year watching the people mentioned in this great spoof.

Mystery WICC Geneva

There is a funny building next door to the EBU in Geneva which reminds me of James remember he worked for Universal Export. Well, on the board outside this house which is straight out of Walt Disney is a company called World Information Clearing Centre. Do they have a website? Apparently not - unless you can find it! So what are they really up to in there?

EBU Marketing 2.0 Seminar

At a very interesting seminar today on the future of marketing radio - especially as we're seeing major shifts in audience habits. I thought the radio people were sleeping at many public broadcasters. But at VRT, Belgium, DR in Denmark, and SR in Sweden that is definitely not the case.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Radio Ga Ga?

Certainly a different version than I remember. Prisoners in the Philippines apparently. Wonder what sparked that idea?

Monday, September 17, 2007

BBC World TV launches new dynamic junctions

BBC World, the BBC’s commercially funded 24-hour news and information channel, has at last jazzed up its automated ‘junction’ graphics.

Key features of the new ‘dynamic junctions’ include full frame promotions with localised transmission times and regionalised weather updates, plus new structure features with a ’next and later’ navigation tool, informing viewers of upcoming programmes and the latest news stories from the BBC’s online service.

Neil Caldicott, head of presentation for BBC World says, “The new ‘dynamic junctions’ are a sophisticated on-screen resource offering viewers targeted and bespoke information relevant to their time zone. Correspondent pieces from around the world and key programme clips from within the schedule will be given greater emphasis, coupled with clearer viewer navigation to items coming up on the BBC World schedule. The ‘dynamic junctions’ also tap into the wealth of data available from the BBC, providing the latest news, business and weather information, plus an up-to-the-second time check for cities around the world.”

Research uncovered that viewers found the existing system to be complicated and confusing. (I would add boring and often wrong - promoting a programme that was already running). The new look and feel has been designed to combat this, separating out the elements that were in the previous system and giving them room to breathe as stand-alone items. In addition, the regionalisation of the sequence has resulted in the ability to personalise the data on any of the channel’s six regional streams, making the information as relevant as possible to the viewer.

The ‘dynamic junctions’ have been created by Red Bee Media (formerly part of BBC TV) which worked with Pixel Power to develop and implement the automated graphics and branding system.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

No Apple (or any other fruit) news

I see that Engadget is offering an Apple (news) free RSS feed for those of us fed up of reading about products that are not (yet) available in Europe. Cute.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Radio Commercials on Youtube

Preparing for a conference on radio marketing next week and just did a scan to see what's on Youtube. Thousands of jingle collectors seem to have posted (mainly) audio clips with slides of logos. But some of the campaigns to promote radio are also up, like this great ad for Radio Donna in Brussels.

Found others?

TED Understands Content, Not Context

Just got a mail from the organisers of the TED conference series (brilliant) explaining they have posted a "powerful, 2-minute TED video has just been given star billing at YouTube.

The video heralds the launch of Pangea Day, called for by 2006 TED prize winner, Jehane Noujaim. For the next 24 hours, it is being featured on YouTube’s global home-page as well as all nine of YouTube’s international home-pages.

The project is taking off, and its ambition level is spectacular. On May 10, 2008 - Pangea Day - Jehane’s wish will come to fruition as sites in New York City, Rio, London, Dharamsala, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Kigali will be video-conferenced live to produce a 4-hour program of powerful films - supplemented by visionary speakers, and global musicians. The purpose: to use the power of film to promote better understanding of our common humanity. A global audience will watch through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.

I don't think this video works on a mobile phone or in the You-Tube size window. Its something that has real impact when you're in the cinema or see it on a large screen. TED is brilliant on content (check out the site). This time they need to tweak the context.

Conference Organizing Application

So what do you think of this?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Predicting the Future of Radio

Wierd to come across an interview I gave at IBC in 1997 it must have been when DAB looked like the answer for radio. My bit comes 3'15" minutes into the 5 minute piece.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sorting Paper

In the scramble to grab relevant stuff for future projects, I am sitting here with several boxes of brochures and magazines. It strikes me that so many companies are wasting thousands in printing material they don't understand themselves, illustrated by models who will never use their products. But there is hope....impressed by some of the DVD's. More later. Phew, I am glad the rat-race is over. Sorry, if I sound negative...there was good technology at IBC, but the setting is so tiring.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where are the IBC radios?

There was a special radio station at IBC 2007 this year (although I think it was a very well kept secret. It seems some free promotional radios that were supposed to be in boxes like this at the exhibition never arrived in Amsterdam. IBC tells me the podcasts of what was broadcast are available here. Don't look on the main IBC site, you'll never find it. Not sure if analogue radio is the best medium for this...IBC Daily news should get into VODcasting. But judge for yourself.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Mission Impossible

Can't park at the RAI Exhibition Centre. Security has hired bouncers to keep people out, cause they are full at 9 am in the morning. And people are angry at the sheer mess at IBC 2007 this year. Great content, terrible support from the RAI and the city of Amsterdam. They just don't care. Everyone is simply out to make a fast buck.

Sky Recruits

Sky TV is at IBC hoping to recruit people with HD production experience. That's why they are pushing their jobs site not their HD technology production.

Nice Simple Interface at a radio station

Flashman 2

German company of Mayah is showing off some new 3G capable recorders for radio journalists. At 2500 Euro, kinda on the pricey side. But rugged.

Hamburger 15 Euro

I kid you not. At the RAI "Beach" restaurant they want 15.50 Euro for a tasteless hamburger and a bit of salad. These guys are just milking the delegates dry.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Some light...

Felt better wandering around Halls 1 & 2 today and seeing some excellent restoration work being in a European project for both tape and record archives. Brilliant work that will save a lot of great stories from fading into the noise. Will post a video interview on You-Tube later in the week.

What message is Amsterdam trying to send?

So IBC celebrates its 40th anniversary by dishing out awards at the back of the Onyx lounge at IBC (not really designed for awards ceremonies, but still). CNN, BBC, ITN, RTL all take home prizes. It is sponsored by IAmsterdam, who unfortunately are unable to send anyone from the Mayor's office to attend. The sponsor's table is empty. Not invented here syndrome or what???

Even Greater Graphics

Great to see my friends at Vizrt (disclosure, I have consulted to them) with a really dynamic display of what's possible with touch sensitive HD screens. Definitely a new way of storytelling using real-time data.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

IArrogance at IBC

Having been to most IBC's since the days of Brighton, 2007 will go down on record as one of the worst in living memory. Amsterdam, and the RAI Congress Centre, is one big building site. You could imagine that since they are unable to offer a full service (especially when it comes to parking), that RAI might offer some compensation - like hotel deals or better service at the restaurants. Nope. The hotel prices are up again, so is parking, the food at the RAI is expensive (6 Euro for a chicken sandwich) and the taxis are ripping everyone off (so what's new).

I have heard plenty of comments that IBC should make good on their threat of a few years ago to try out other European cities and make Amsterdam come up with serious improvements. It is not just 8000 hotel extra rooms that are needed - it is a return to providing service! Amsterdam keeps boasting that IBC at 45,000 visitors is the biggest media event for the trade. Wrong. Barcelona with the mediaworld congress gets 60,000. And why does the IBC exhibition hate the congress so much - deliberately NO publicity for the congress at the exhibition. Why does IBC fail to see what's going wrong before their very eyes?

Another Year, Another IBC

Will post more photos soon, but currently whizzing around the corridors of IBC in Amsterdam. But I notice already a sort of analogue backlash - conventional media who show that the audience figures for radio and TV have not eroded that much in their country and are sitting back and congratulating themselves. Calm before the storm, I think..

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Another View of Linz

Went on a boat trip this afternoon with a unique bunch of people - mainly broadcast managers from Asia. Sailing down the Rhine and wandering around the beautiful town of Linz (on the Rhine - not the one in Austria) was something so completely different from a "normal" days work, we all had a feeling we were discovering something new.