Thursday, December 31, 2009
This is like a coffee table on steroids. For the past couple of months I have been involved in the development of modified Microsoft Surface tables for use as interactive video players in public spaces. Dutch Public Broadcasting, NPO, has really taken the concept a lot further than the original design and the reactions from the public have been fantastic. Thanks to Punkmedia for some of the shots in this video. If you ever need a cameraman to capture conversations, Henk-Jan comes highly recommended.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Sorry to see one of the largest (and newest) bookshops in the Norwich Chapelfield shopping complex has shut its doors and emptied the shelves. It has left a rather large gap! But the real estate prices must have been astronomical. As a new Kindle 2 user, I must confess that for run-of-mill novels and business books, I much prefer to get these electronically now.
It seems from an article in the Guardian I read on line this morning, while installing a new computer for my mother, that Borders in the UK went into administration last month, 12 years after opening in Britain. The group's 45 Borders and Books Etc stores have been dumpring remaining stock for some weeks (I remember seeing one near Victoria Station in London), but slashed prices by 90% on all remaining stock for the final day's sale.
The problem with these fire sales is that the great books go very quickly, and I seldom make fantastic discoveries - just because they're cheap doesn't mean the selection was particularly good.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Love this sign - seen in downtown Norwich, England just outside the pub next to St. Peter Mancroft church in the centre of the city. In town, mooching around the shops which are definitely much quieter this year than I can ever remember.
Monday, December 21, 2009
It never ceases to amaze me how Schiphol Airport and Dutch Railways seem to be totally incapable of planning for any kind of bad weather - and informing the public what decisions are made. Schiphol.nl can't handle the traffic to its site and trots out a poorly (half) translated website full of spelling mistakes and Dinglish - and honestly believes it's doing a good job. Er, no, it's actually a pretty lousy service, once again proving that communications with its "foreign" customers is well down their list of priorities. We're entering the second decade of the new Millennium and Internet is no longer an experiment. What would happen in any other kind of emergency??
As for the railways - you have to have second sight to know whether the trains will run tomorrow. Sadly, the website www.ns.nl has completely collapsed in a list of poorly worded excuses and NO up to date schedules AT ALL. Why can't the website and the mobile site convey the changes as a result of bad weather? It is because NS and the company providing the rails (ProRail) have absolutely no overview when things go just slightly wrong. So you can't trust the schedules at all. I also find it incredible that none of the warnings of "little or no service" can be found on the Dutch railways English language website. Stuff the adventure - I will follow the advice on the Prorail website, abandon public transport and take the car...the roads are fine. Thank God I didn't book a Eurotunnel/Eurostar experience. Those clowns have totally failed. When will Eurostar's Richard Brown apologise - and resign?
Monday, December 14, 2009
It seems Czech radio, worried about musicians claims from podcasts, has decreed that producers must pick music from an inhouse composer of incidental tunes rather than grabbing something from commercial recordings. I think they have totally underestimated their position as the guardian of Czech arts and culture. Why don't they organise a few "music free" days to knock some sense into the Czech copyright authorities? If they don't, Czech radio is going to become so bland no-one under 65 is going to listen to feature programmes.
Passing through Schiphol airport today I was struck by the fact that Accenture still has this giant advert up in the C-gate terminal. Bearing in mind Tiger Wood's infidelity, not to mention the car accident, I would be scrambling to get this embarrassment out of the way asap?
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
In fact LeWeb isn’t about the web itself. It’s about people using the web as a distribution tool for a great idea. Some of the ideas presented are purely to make money and, to me at least, seemed to be minute refinements in on-line marketing schemes or simply more efficient ways to sell something - increasingly that means applications for the mobile.
By far the most interesting of the 2300 participants were those who came to share content or research concepts. I spent most of Wednesday looking at the 12 start-ups that pitched for 5 minutes each and then took questions from the audience. Some of the best ideas had the rawest of presentations, and I agree with the judges that LeWeb could offer those selected a pre-pitch coaching. Techcrunch seems to do that in the States. But they didn’t seem to have tried it when asked to organize something similar in Paris. Especially because many people are not pitching in their first language, making a concise convincing elevator pitch needs more preparation than we saw.
I personally found the ideas showed by Wordy.com, Hyperwords.net and Mendeley.com to be those with the biggest potential. They didn’t have the slickest presentations, but they did have the better ideas. Thought the keynotes by Jack Dorsey (www.squareup.com) and social media researcher Danah Boyd (www.danah.org) were the strongest. The presentation by Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was passionate as well as thought provoking - she announced plans to raise awareness for the plight of kids education during the 2010 World Cup. http://www.join1goal.org/ . Rania is truly a connected queen.
I saw several broadcasters wandering around, but only two international broadcasters - CNN, Deutsche Welle and France24. DW was recruiting bloggers for its Best of Blogs award scheme 2010.
Gary Vaynerchuk made a second appearance at LeWeb, and as usual shared his passion for people and building a business in the 21st century. I really like the way Gary is authentic about what he believes in and enjoys working hard. He also asked the organisers to consider more interaction and less panels/keynote presentations.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Video streaming by Ustream
Friday, December 04, 2009
Nice story from the UK Radio Today website. Also interesting example of BBC content that is designed to be "stolen".
Radio voice-over artist Peter Dickson, who has recently become well known as the voice of the X-Factor on ITV1, is featured in a video on the BBC comedy website.
The video gives us a staged glimpse into Voiceover Man's house where he has to put up with his wife's moans about his career.
Peter has been voicing radio commercials and television programmes for decades, but it looks like his most recent work is throwing him back into the general media spotlight.
Friday, November 20, 2009
I have two recent incidents which make me trust the crowds much more than the civil service here in the Netherlands.
Travelling back on a KLM plane from Athens we arrive at Schiphol airport right in the middle of a thunderstorm. Schiphol decides it is too dangerous for its personnel to keep the gates open (lightning strikes, etc) and suspends operations. We taxi to a parking area and wait. The captain comes on to explain. Ten minutes later we start seeing other planes taxiing towards the terminal. Captain tells us they have priority at the gate, but that we have to wait until another plane leaves our position. People on the plane start to ask for information about connections. We're told there is no information at the moment, except that connections have probably also been delayed by the storm. People on the plane get out their blackberries and go to departure/arrival info on www.schiphol.nl and discover this information is not true. After another 25 minutes on the ground a very irate captain comes on to explain he's had aan argument with Schiphol and has been lied to. They have not given him priority at the gate and we're still waiting for our gate position to be cleared. After 1 and 5 minutes on the ground we finally start disembarking. No KLM or Schiphol personnel to meet the plane with connection information. Those who don't already know from the Schiphol website (which was working all the time), scramble to find monitors for more info.
Arrive in Amsterdam Central Station Wednesday morning to discover total chaos with the trams outside? Two trams, the numbers 2 and 13, look like they have "folded" into each other at the points on the left hand side of the station. Five traffic cops are shooing onlookers away. Couple of engineers looking into how to clear the obstruction with the minimum of damage. "All the trams that should be leaving from this side of the station are now leaving from other other side" is the message given by the officials. So the crowds move to the other side. Opposite all of this are the Amsterdam Traffic Offices where you go to get info and tickets. No-one from the staff can be bothered to come outside and explain to people what's going on, which track we can expect to find the right tram, or which halts are now unreachable because the tram routes have been changed slightly. I couldn't believe it, especially when I went into the information office and saw the staff just gazing out of the window. In this case it was a minor incident. But just think if this had been something more serious. Lack of information at times like these can be very dangerous indeed. My conclusion is that, for the moment at least, you get more information from the KGB than the GVB. It fits the image that Amsterdam is a fun and creative city but as this recent survey revealed, the city is rapidly losing respect when it comes to its position as a business centre. Logistics are a nightmare!
Friday, October 23, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
A few years back I visited his home on the island to meet him and his wife Sue. We started chatting about his great radio career and I decided this was material that we should share with others - so out came the camera. What I have posted here (in two parts) are sections of the interview recorded that afternoon, where John shared a lot of wisdom about what works and doesn't work in radio. Through the training work he did in later years, many students owe their careers to John. His wit, wisdom and authenticity was a great gift and I hope this video will inspire others as much as it inspired me. John was truly one of the Masters of the Media.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
UPC is running a huge ad campaign across Amsterdam, obviously written by PR people who hate technology terms. As a result, the ad is nonsense. Under certain circumstances you can get a download speed of 25 Megabit/sec for 25 Euros a month. This ad reads like you get 25 MB storage for 25 Euros, which would be a really lousy deal. And there is no fibre to the home...its fibre to a distribution point somewhere in the street. Does the average punter know anything about fibre optics? If they do, they would know that they meant 25 Mb/sec. Did the people in the bus stop know what was being offered? No. I asked them.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Microsoft has produced some pretty awful ads recently, but this one encouraging people to organise a Windows 7 Launch Party in October are nothing short of bizarre. It looks like a Tupperware party on steroids. I like Windows 7 which is a welcome relief to Vista, but this is NOT the way to get others enthused.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Wandered around the Picnic event in the West of Amsterdam this afternoon. It was rather quiet today - the crowds are coming tomorrow we're told. Attended a presentation on the current state of the Arab blogosphere hosted by Al Jazeera, but they were not taking questions from the audience. That will happen in a workshop tomorrow. In the exhibition hall were two guys playing music and with a big sign saying Radio Manuela. Yes, there were on the air. Did I want a music request or to be interviewed? I said no, I had a question. Were they really on 109 MHz FM? Yes, they said. It is a 400 watt transmitter and covers most of Amsterdam. But don't most radio sets stop their coverage at 108 MHz? Yes. So that means that although they are broadcasting, no-one can actually hear them unless they have a modified FM receiver. Er, yes. I was the first person in a long while to ask them that question. Their "station" is infact a piece of art. They operate it only at events, and then just because they get treated as royalty because they are from the "media". The fact that they are broadcasting (illegally) on a channel no-one can hear is their open secret. Hey, stop fussing about the technology and enjoy the music. As their sign says, Radio Manuela - keeping you young, sexy but not famous.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Nick is currently on leave from the New York Times development lab to write a book. To be titled "Byte, Snack, Meal" it is due to be published by Random House in May 2010. At the Rotterdam Eday, organised by Emerce Magazine, and hosted by Marc Canter (now living in Cleveland, OH), Nick gave us a compressed insight into what they're doing in difficult times. This department within NYT is certainly smart. They are looking at the influence the cloud is making on storytelling - and the role of sensors (as opposed to censors). More on Nick's website nickbilton.com
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I will be reporting in English from the Emerce Day in Rotterdam on September 17th. Part of the deal is that I tell others about the conference - and frankly I don't need any prompting to do so. The programme seems to be building into one of the best one-day events for a long time - a sort of Le Web, Picnic and TED rolled into one. Emerce is a monthly magazine that does a good job to dig through the business of the web with a lot of original research. They also have a vibrant on-line community too. Looking forward to seeing Douglas Rushkoff, Hans Rosling and Gary Vaynerchuk in particular. Douglas recently published a new book Life Inc which I bought on audible which I enjoyed and can recommend.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
From: webworld @ unesco.org
Sent: 18 August 2009 05:56
Subject: Your link has been rejected
We are sorry but the conference targets national and commercial broadcasters. We hope to have a live webcast of the event so please visit our website for more information. Very best,
that was submitted on 2009-08-14 has been rejected for one of the following reasons:
1. Unsuitable content.
2. Duplicate URL.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
Well I had questions as to why what they said in the e-mail bears no relation to what they are advertising on the website. But then I thought why bother? UNESCO doesn't understand emerging media at all and keeps proving it time and time again. This conference doesn't look as though its going to help anyone.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Not sure the Royal College of the Arts Industrial Design programme are really the first to use conductive body paint (carbon particles in a water soluble paint was around in the 70's) but the way they did this was certainly creative. The making of video is below.
More details on the paint at Bare Conductive, though apparently they are not selling the conconction.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Having tangled with customer service of various companies a couple of times, I have been tempted to get my own back through a campaign on Youtube. Remember the Kryptonite bike lock that could be opened with a ballpoint pen? But this recent video by Canadian singer Dave Carroll gained him an audience of over 4.9 million on Youtube, plus several networks like CNN and BBC doing interviews. Basically, United Airlines in Chiacago bust his guitar while in transit. What was worse, while they were sitting in the plane, the musicians could see the groundstaff outside the plane throwing their instruments around. United Airlines staff showed a total lack of interest. Dave tried for 9 months to get compensation. Then he gathered friends together to peform his song about United. The "making of" shows they had a lot of fun.
I’ve receive many “why the Mexicans” questions and the answer is simple. The music and feel of the song reminded me of a combination of old Marty Robbins and early Elvis tunes. Since “Fun In Acapulco” is my favourite Elvis movie, and in it he had a mariachi back-up band, I thought it’d be funny to have a mariachi group in this video. Because I didn’t have a budget for full mariachi outfits I simply bought sombreros and moustaches and the Amigos were born.
There were various stories last month that the song had caused a massive drop in United's share price. I think that was overstated - the whole airline industry is in a slump right now. But the mayhem this must have caused in the marketing and PR departments of United is priceless. Carroll has since put out a statement challenging United to compensate a charity of their choice rather than pay him the damages directly. I cannot believe why United hasn't just jumped at the opportunity to put things right. I guess the decision makers are out to lunch on this one. Song 2 and 3 have yet to air on Youtube.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I love these characters, made famous by French television I believe with their version of the Lion Sleeps Tonight. Just put "hippo and dog" into Youtube and you'll see how creative kids in the audience have downloaded and remixed the images to fit other songs in other languages like punjabi. I am surprised these characters haven't turned up in the Anglo Saxon world. They have been used to sell chocolate, but also teach children to clean their teeth.
Bit of fun to make it viral.
And one more which doesn't want to be embedded. So why haven't the original creators taken this to the next level?
Friday, August 07, 2009
Perusing the lime website in the Caribbean (lime is the new name for Cable & Wireless in the region, I saw this list of things to do after a hurricane has passed. Putting bleach into the water to sterlize it reminds me of the great development in water purifcation demonstrated by Michael Pritchard at TED a couple of weeks back. Personally, I'd alaways prefer to drink from Michael's Lifesaver flask than the bleached stuff.
Radio urgently needs a Google-like service, being able to find interesting audio in an i-Player like environment. Radio is still struggling with the point and dial interface. Most radio station websites are a joke - a schedule and a button to listen live. Millions are being spent on radio programmes which are only available when on the air and difficult if not impossible to find later. Far from being a cheap medium, in developed countries its becoming a very expensive way to share an idea.
Google's radio automation software business has been sold to the US company called WideOrbit. They are now owners of the Maestro and SS32 automation products. But this is a very crowded market in an industry that has very little money at all at the moment. Don't they get problems with people giving their products a wide orbit?
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
What do you do if you're trying to get a message into an area like Zimbabwe and the authorities won't grant you access to the local airwaves, either because of political reasons or because you are a minority group which doesn't qualify for attention by the state controlled media. One answer may be freedomphone, a piece of software that's being given away to encourage people to set up their own interactive voice response system. I see they are testing a beta version in Harare now. freedomfone.org has a blog which is worth following, and the main site in Zimbabwe is also active. kubatana.net/
Monday, July 27, 2009
I am not sure which came first - the t-shirt or the remark by Ken Robinson during his talk about ways to stimulate creativity. Still fresh even though it was recorded three years ago. But note how mind-bogglingly dull the BMW 'ad' which now follows it. It is everything which TED is not supposed to be. The ad ends with what sounds like a comment from the pr people that that was a "pretty good line". Er, no it wasn't.
Just read the following on the MTI blog, which, I recommend adding to your feedreader. If you opt for Mobile and you are somehow involved in the travel industry check out these recommendations from Lufthansa, which has eight years of experience in the mobile industry. I can only underline these findings from my own experience.
Lufthansa's Golden Rules of Mobile
1. Management support is essential for the implementation of mobile strategy and projects.
2. Mobile services are not simply a miniature version of the regular website. You should ensure that applications and usability are adjusted to fit the mobile users.
3. Existing processes for the implementation of mobile services must be adapted to fit the mobile handsets being used or rewritten altogether
4. The usability is the key to everything: fast and easy, optimized for different devices. Lufthansa stresses however, that not all devices available in the market should be optimized (for cost reasons). Smartphones or high-end devices (about 65% of people using the Lufthansa sites are users of the BlackBerry or iPhone) are now the focus of the developments.
5. Start with core functionality and then gradually add new features.
6. The end user must know that the service exists. Money should be set aside in marketing budgets for mobile marketing
7. Search engines are a complement to mobile marketing campaigns.
8. Use specialists and experts as consultants for the mobile strategy and the implementation of the services .
I should add to point 6. The marketing of new services or applications should be as cross-media as possible, and for an extended period and not purely during the campaign. Depending on the audience being targeted, Social Media Tools are also important. Just having a link to it on the company website or an application in App Store to advertise the service is not enough!
I would add that point number one is vital too. Unless top management have their heart in it, the mobile strategy is just a bad afterthought. It still suprises me that most airlines won't accept mobile checkin or that navigating the mobile site is so time consuming on a mobile browser that it's faster to look for web access somewhere.
I found this fascinating quote today:
The worst examples of subscription services are those that break the content up into free and paid. It's as if some content is worth more than other content. I think that is the wrong idea most of the time, and especially in news and news related content.avc.com, A VC, Jul 2009
You should read the whole article.
Been testing how some stations reply to input from listeners and viewers. Worst so far is NPR Radio in the US, which cannot read the links I sent in and makes it difficult for you to point out broken links without filling in a form that reminds me of the application form for a replacement passport. To cap it all, the message is sent from Insert Name.
The Google blogpost explains that most mobile devices in Africa only have voice and SMS capabilities, and so they are focusing their technological efforts in that continent on SMS. Last month they announced Google SMS, a suite of mobile applications which will allow people to access information, via SMS, on a diverse number of topics including health and agriculture tips, news, local weather, sports, and more. The suite also includes Google Trader, a SMS-based “marketplace” application that helps buyers and sellers find each other. People can find, "sell" or "buy" any type of product or service, from used cars and mobile phones to crops, livestock and jobs.
Google SMS Tips is an SMS-based query-and-answer service that enables a mobile phone user to have a web search-like experience. You enter a free form text query, and Google's algorithms restructure the query to identify keywords, search a database to identify relevant answers, and return the most relevant answer.
There's quite a fan group of people collecting and remixing BBC World News countdowns. They have taken the music from the new BBC Arabic version and montaged it on the English BBC World News countdown. But the original pictures on the new BBC Arabic countdown still look more stunning than anything I have seen in English or Persian. Looks like a million dollars. May be that's why fans have started remixing it.
Chinese TV seem to be launching an Arabic language channel too, although this is the quietest soft launch on the planet. I wonder whether it will be as slick, or whether people will want to remix CCTV?
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Don't look to technical blogs for coverage from this year's IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, Germany. The press accreditation reads like a passport application, requesting all kinds of references before they will let you in the press room with the other "journalists". Bloggers are definitely NOT wanted here only very traditional media. What on earth is the press department worried about? That they might get coverage by people who are passionate about a show that went into decline once it went annual. Truth is they won't make time to find out who are the influencers in the industry - and are totally trapped by their own routine. It takes a few seconds to check out the validity of a bloggers' claim. We remember when they were paying students in Berlin to turn up to the keynotes in a suit. Watching some of these CEO's struggle through a presentation which they didn't write is so last century. No wonder Apple has pulled out of these kinds of circuses.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Actually more interesting than the Tour de France itself. Something I said it chalked up somewhere in yellow. And will be washed away by the rain. Its the brainchild of a Pittsburg company called Deeplocal and the robot company Standardrobot. I like Standard Robot's one logo, one link website which broadcasts the message - don't bother us, we're building robots not websites.
Deeplocal spun out of a Carnegie Mellon University art and technology research lab, following more than three years of research into local and collaborative information collection, storage, and visualization. They seem to have been doing some interesting projects for the BBC too. “Beat The Boss,” a well-loved British television show, pits a team of three kids, “The Bright Sparks” against a team of three successful bosses, “The Big Shots,” and asks them to create a new product that would be marketed to kids. The winner is the group that creates the product that fares the best at youth judging. Pittsburgh’s favorite condiment company H. J. Heinz Company got into the act as the client for an episode in April 2009, and challenged the two teams to create a new sauce for Heinz. The video below is fascinating. Don't be put off by the unfortunate freeze frame below.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Cheap radio jingles from Milan. I am sure some of the jingle companies in Holland must cringe watching this short BBC documentary on last year's jingle package for Radio Scilly, the local station for the Isles of Scilly, off the UK Cornish Coast. They are Radio Scilly on St Mary's - 107.9 MHz. But that accent on the jingles makes it sound more like Radio Sicily. But listening to the station on line, it would seem their radio heart seems to be in the right place.
The Italian jingle factory that made them has less trouble with Spanish language jingles, though from the website you would think they speak Latin in Latin America. Wasn't US VP Dan Quayle the last person to get confused about this?