Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Next steps for me in 2011

Currently working on a new series of presentations researching into the integration of social media with traditional broadcasting. A lot of international media seems to be collapsing at the moment, but the ways of storytelling on emerging platforms has never been more exciting than now. Would like to work with more creative companies working on the next steps for storytelling... I also really enjoy organising break-out sessions (2-3 days) to come up with a media strategy for the next three years. Trying to do more of that. So what are your plans?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mobile Trends 2020

Met Rudy at Leweb10. What a nice guy. Lives in Barcelona.

Billion Euro Mystery in Hotel de Ville

I thought this year's LeWeb10 was the best fair for a longtime for start-ups and European entrpreneurs. Over 3000 people braved bad weather at the start of December to come to Les Docks in the north of Paris. The main event had the usual highs and lows. But overall they have really polished this into a first-class business event - and in just a few years as well. Forget CES or NAB in Las Vegas. The future belongs more to SxSW and LeWeb.

The highs for me: I thought the keynote by Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Renault S.A. and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd was the kind of leadership the motor trade definitely needs in the coming years. The need for individual mobility is not going away. We need to find more fuel efficient ways of doing this safely. Ghosn launched their new line of electric cars and they gave away the keys to one of their first models and promised delivery by LeWeb11. A great display by Renault/Nissan and a stand full of knowledgeable designers and technicians.

I was also fascinated by Tomoko Namba CEO of DeNA, one of the largest and most profitable mobile and social gaming companies in the world with presence in Japan, China and the United States. Namba founded DeNA in 1999 and entered the mobile market with Mobaoku which became the No.1 mobile auction site in Japan. Under Namba’s leadership, DeNA has thrived through the culmination of various dynamic business models, ultimately seen in the success of Mobage-town, the world’s fastest growing mobile social network service. What shocked me were the numbers: Mobage-town generates US$ 500M annual revenue with 60%-70% profit margin through the sale of virtual avatar related stuff, tie-up ads, banners, and game item billing, achieving an impressive 70% penetration rate among high teens in East Asia. I still find it amazing that so few entrepreneurs follow what's happening in East Asia.

At LeWeb, Namba said their share of the virtual market was now US$1.2 billion. I find that nothing short of astonishing. If only some of that could be used to find new ways of educating that target group rather than just entertaining them. Games together with

And the low-point? Michael Arrington interviewing Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Google. There is just no chemistry between the two and after teasing her with a few jibes, Mike launched into questions which we all knew she couldn't and wouldn't answer. Then she killed him with a smile and just launched in to the mobile demo Google had come to present with a colleague and that was that. I would love to know why Google only supports beta-testing programmes for Google Chrome OS in the US. If you're a University in Paris then it seems you can't sign-up. There was so much I want to learn from a European perspective. This photo from Flickr sums it up.

Finally, back to the mystery. On Wednesday night about 1500 people braved the Paris traffic to attend a reception hosted by the Deputy Mayor of Paris. According to the presentation last year, Paris is spending 1 billion Euro investing in start-ups and innovation in the capital area. So naturally, I was curious as to what they are doing. What happened was desperately disappointing. A crazy chef gave us a Powerpoint presentation from hell, with slides that were right out of Windows 95. Only when he had come to his conclusion did the bar re-open and some of the staff started handing out strange organic fruit mixes and helium balloons. After the initial amusement wore off, I sensed disappointment amongst those who had hoped that Paris would use the opportunity of so many tech-people in town to show off what innovation they were encouraging and financing - perhaps even a call to action like Renault-Nissan had done earlier in the day. No, we were invited to follow them on Twitter. So the mystery of what they are doing with 1 billion Euro of public money remains. Will they tell us - and also involve us? Or will we read about it on Wikileaks at some point in time?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

DR Congo Flashback

More discoveries.

This was a regular edition of Media Network which aired on my birthday in 1999. In this week we included an interview with Quentin Howard, then the boss at the UK Digital radio network Digital One. Interesting to hear how the debate about digital radio seems to have moved forward rather slowly since then - although there are far more receivers on the market than 11 years ago. The UK is now facing a first-mover challenge with so many DAB radios in the market. Countries like Australia that now adopting digital radio are leapfrogging to DAB+ which uses the codec that Quentin believed back then was not robust enough.

The programme also dipped into the archives to hear a profile on broadcasting in Congo compiled by Richard Ginbey. I find those off-air recordings conjure up a completely different world when radios like the one shown here were state of the art. It was the Sony ICF5900W - crystal controlled if I remember rightly.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Radio Christmas Review 1982

I have been fortunate to be able to listen again to a great series of programmes I was involved in. The station was Radio Netherlands, the programme Media Network. I still believe it was an early "FaceBook" bringing together teams of passionate people to discuss what was happening in media and technology at the time.

I picked this recording out of the archives because it has a nice capsule summary of the major media stories from 1982. The highlight was, of course, the Falklands-Malvinas "conflict". But it was also the last programme in which Wim van Amstel appeared as RNW Frequency Manager. It was certainly not the last time he was heard on the programme, though. Again it is striking to hear some of the predictions - and how they were spot on. The call with Arthur Cushen in New Zealand is rather like making contact with the moon. Cannot believe how fast time has flown. At the time of publishing this podcast, I was also sad to hear of the passing of BBC correspondent and broadcaster Brian Hanrahan, who famous line when broadcasting under censorship from the Falklands Fleet was brilliant. Unable to reveal how many British aircraft had been involved in the conflict, he reported that after one sortie he "counted them all out and I counted them all back."

Heartfelt Merry Christmas from Norwich

"Home" for Christmas. Couldn't actually get to this spot in Norwich city centre on this trip because of the snow. It's foggy and -7C outside there today. But wherever you're reading this, have a Happy and Festive time. Looking forward to getting back to work in these challenging times in a few days times. But for now a few days break.

Web Radio

Paris December 2010
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
There is still a lot of confusion out there about the economics of audio over the phone. I was recently in Paris for the great LeWeb10 conference and passed by ads for the Samsung Wave. First phone I have seen with a prominent menu option for webradio. That means you stream the audio via 3G rather than picking it up from FM or AM. I remember Nick Piggot of the project pointing out at IBC that if you were to stream the equivalent of a month's worth of FM/DAB listening by the average Brit, then the download would be about 2GB. That is just not going to scale, nor would I like to rely on a 3G network during a natural disaster. We had a case of that on 9 December when it decided to snow and Paris came to a standstill.

And if you're travelling abroad, as I was, I note that KPN was planning to charge me 5 Euro for a MB of data - so I would have had a monthly bill of 10,000 Euro if I had decided to use my phone as a radio.

I saw colleagues trying to buy local SIM cards, only to discover you needed a French credit card or that it took 48 hrs to activate the data account. In other words, web-radio is great as part of an audio solution. In areas with an uncapped fixed price data rate, it is fine. But the operators are rethinking what they mean by uncapped - I see examples where 250 MB is regarded as the max for fair use.

So it's a bit early to be dumping broadcast networks, although I think AM will go away quite fast. DRM has failed to attract the interest of the receiver manufacturers and the cost per listening on shortwave was decided when oil was 40 dollars a barrel. But FM and DAB+ are an important part of a hybrid mix for audio.

Web Radio on my Android
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tokyo Rose Returns to the Media Network Vintage Vault

One of my latest discoveries in digitizing a box of cassettes was a programme I made with Diana Janssen in 1998. I decided it was time to remake a documentary on Tokyo Rose in the light of new recordings and websites that were springing up. This was before Wikipedia of course. I think it interesting to contrast this story about Tokyo Rose (she was more than one person) with that of American actress Mildred Gillars who broadcast from Berlin to North America. I see that she is the subject of a new book by Richard Lucas called 'Axis Sally: The American Voice of Nazi Germany'. There are recordings of her in the US Library of Congress. The original programme is also on the vintage vault.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trinity Lighthouse Calling

Another vintage Media Network for you from 1999. In this edition of the show we were messing about in boats. For instance, Light Vessel 18, the former Trinity House lightship was nearly ready for her new role as a floating Radio Station to help celebrate the Royal National Lifeboat Institution's 175th anniversary. Radio Northsea International was planning to be heard over in the area of the English county of Essex and beyond starting on 3rd August 1999 on 190 metres medium wave, that is, 1575 kiloHertz. This revivial was only for the month of August.

This programme also updated the story about Quality Radio 1224 kHz and quashed the rumour that AFN was planning to close down its Frankfurt transmitter on AM. I also like the preview of the Funkausstellung 1999 from the late Bob Tomalski. He was brilliant - still sadly missed. And he was spot on in his predictions. The photo is taken in Lemmer, one of the harbours on the Ijsselmeer lake "

User Generated Content Paris Style?

Useful photo for a slide show next year. But I digress, back to work.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fort Radio Remembered

So who remembers the radio stations that operated from the Forts in the North Sea in the 1960's? They were trying to break the monopoly of the BBC but choosing to use abandoned WWII anti-aircraft defenses built in the North Sea rather than the ships used by Radio Veronica and Caroline. The answer is that plenty of people still remember those broadcast pioneers, as I discovered at the in the Casa400 hotel in Amsterdam on November 13th 2010. That lead to a request to dig up this show from August 13th 1998 in which we reviewed a new CD about the Forts, containing interviews from those involved. I see those CDs are still around - judging from the displays of offshore memorabilia. Skip through to 18'42 seconds to hear the bit in the programme below about forts.

This show also included a great opening from Jim Cutler hinting at the crowded shortwave bands. Rocus de Joode was in the frequency coordination meeting in KL. Frederick Noronha submitted a piece about community radio in India. It is a shame that it didn't take off as fast as the commercial FM. The programme ends with the review of the double CD about screaming Lord Sutch and his fort adventures.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Assuring your best confort at Gare du Nord, Paris

I think Google translate has been used to save a few Euro for Thalys. Really makes their marketing look stupid. I see that the database systems with Thalys and Dutch Railways NS don't talk to each other. Thalys can't find Paris-Nord when you book through NS Internationaal. But it can find Paris Nord. I wonder how many times that happens a day and why no-one does anything about it.

Wandering Near Les Invalides

Paris December 2010
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Few hours to kill before my train back to Amsterdam. Discovered a shop seeling great postcards from the days of the Great Exhibition. The world was a simpler but far more dangerous place then. I find it amazing with all the steam engines at the time that there were not more accidents. One of the postcards shows a time when an express train went through the buffers. Otherwise life looks rather pleasant - if you had money.

Radio France Downsizing?

Paris December 2010
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Don't understand why they downsized the logo on top of the Radio France building. The old one is clearly visible.