Saturday, December 31, 2011

Starting the Year in Reykjavik

In previous centuries, I have been known to mess around with the radio on New Years Eve, listening to stations in other countries herald in the New Year. But I note an increasing number of stations have stopped doing this, preferring to let pre-recorded greetings play out from their computer systems while they party themselves (presumably). Time to try something different.

So this year, while digitizing another batch of Media Network shows from the last century (which can be found here), I've been looking at various webcams with live pictures. So far, this is one of my favourite. Live pictures from Iceland, including a feed from the capital city.

Wherever you are, I wish you a Happy New Year for all of 2012. May the great ideas blossom.

Jonathan Marks
Critical Distance BV

Not often Apple is half price

I guess most people who were interested in the bio of Steve Jobs now have their copy. I see that newbie twitterer Rupert Murdoch (for it is he - although no-one is sure if he is tweeting himself) was clearly disappointed  in the biog.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where in the world?

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Just love the stuff in this shop window in Norwich, Eastern England. Wouldn't find it anywhere else in the world. Especially the spending money sign.....I know what she means!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy New Spelling Checker

Got four Christmas cards through the regular mail this year and hundreds of email greetings. I love the home made ones, even when they didn't make it through the spelling checker. I am convinced that the thoughts were genuine.

If you're celebrating, Season's Greetings. Whatever your belief, I think we can all do with a Happier New Year, especially in Euroland!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Clever way of recreating the magic of the Twin Towers

Great idea and plan for the Twin Towers memorial, from a artist who lives in Middelburg, Zeeland, in the South-Eastern part of the Netherlands.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tele2: Not sheep at all

Tele-2 promotes itself as being "cheap" or the black "cheap of the family" with its commercials in the Netherlands. Have never had to deal with them until then took over what was the one of the best hosting services in the Netherlands - Vuurwerk (Fireworks). Now, all they have done is send me a bill for an .org domain name for 50 Euro a year.

Having spotted this ridiculous figure when going through some admin, I then discovered that I can't cancel until October 12th next year. As with a modern teleco, you can only cancel in writing by sending a letter in the post or scanning a PDF. It's taken them a month to get back with a straight answer, so my conclusion is these guys are crap not cheap. I'd better not link to them in case others fall into the admin trap. There is some light - I hope that a new Dutch law effective December 1st makes this kind of silent extension of contracts illegal.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

PICNIC 2012 veers off in totally the wrong direction

Picnic used to be this kinda funky emerging-media festival, where geeks, advocacy groups, technology companies and other people from the creative sector got together to discuss the state of the world and what they were going to do to change it. The attraction for me was the variety - the fact that I got to meet people outside my own comfort zone and was stimulated to think differently.

But times changed and the atmosphere of fun and creativity escaped as fast as the government subsidy evaporated. This past year was a very mixed bag. A new, experimental, location in Amsterdam North docklands turned out to be a fresh approach to original location in the converted gasworks. It was about time it moved. But the new concept was extremely vulnerable to the weather. And this year the weather was rubbish for two of the three days. The event seems to favour volunteer bloggers who write about the event not about the issues. Event journalism isn't working, especially if you don't bother to research the topic before the speech. For most people, if you weren't there, you don't care. Compare the Picnic video of BMW talking about the electric car with the way Renault presented the same subject of mobility at LeWeb2011.

No contest.  I lugged a camera around for a while, then gave up when I saw there wasn't a quiet location on site where I could capture anything worthwhile. The wind outside was horrendous.

There were also strange partner events like the Green Challenge (who give away an obscene 500,000 Euro) and the Picnic Transmission Event Number 4 organised by Amsterdam Partners, AIM/Creative Amsterdam, City of Amsterdam, Chamber of Commerce Amsterdam and KennisKring Amsterdam. This bizarre event, which couldn't make up its mind which language to operate in, simply sent the message that if you wanted to be successful, forget Amsterdam, find cheap labour in Eastern Europe and then cuddle up to the US traditional media and techblogs. I was left dumbfounded at the end.

So what's new?

Just got the Picnic newsletter for Christmas and New Year 2012. Seems to me they're now heading off into the completely wrong direction, i.e. organising events for start-ups, an area in which they have absolutely no experience. The majority of the pitches I saw at Picnic 2011 were well below the international average. Those taking part weren't interested in preparing for the event...they had an idea, a Prezzi - Powerpoint, and no clue about how to turn this into a business. Those from the private sector had a point in saying that because of the lack of selection criteria, sections of Picnic have become a waste of public money.

So now there will be a Picnic Marketplace in Amsterdam April 12th and 13th 2012. It will be the place where "promising start ups and SMEs from the Netherlands, Europe and abroad will showcase their products and services and, along with event attendees, participate in matchmaking, business development and co-creation activities. Because it’s PICNIC, expect loads of fun, unexpected twists and surprising contributions from our partners".

Then on 25, 26, 27th April there is the Next Web Conference in Amsterdam which usually attracts around 1800 people to do exactly the same thing. And, if past experience is anything to go by, it will do it much better.

In the meantime we're seeing a mini explosion in organisations that believe they can coach start-ups and match them with investors - a couple are world-class, the majority are rubbish money-making machines. There is no middle ground.

So will the Picnic Marketplace manage to carve its own niche and shout above the masses? My bet is that it won't - in fact it hasn't got a hope in hell. They need to seriously examine the core successes of Picnic in the era around 2006/2007. But it may well be that with the collapse of the European financial markets, a different, smaller and more effective approach is needed. And that needs a content strategy that lasts longer than a couple of days in the spring. Picnic was fun when it had below in 2007.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gaydon resigns, but former PACE CEO leaves a clear vision

It hasn't been an easy year for PACE, the makers of set-top boxes. As Broadband TV News reported on December 14th, Pace has ended a torrid 12 months by replacing CEO Neil Gaydon with Mike Pulli, until now CEO of Pace Americas.

Pace has issued three profit warnings in 2011. In March it emerged that a US provider had delayed an order by 12 months into 2012, effectively skipping a generation of technology. Two months later the Japanese Tsunami led to problems within the supply chain. Most recently, floods at hard drive supplier Western Digital’s Bang Pa-In facility in Bangkok impacted supplies of personal video recorders. Plans were recently announced to merge the Pace Europe and Pace Networks businesses into a single unit.

Gaydon joined Pace in 1995 and established the company’s Americas operations in 1999, which have become an increasing part of the company’s revenues, and now represent US $1.7 billion of annual revenues.

I made an interview with Neil Gaydon at IBC 2011 in September 2011 when he was still Chief Executive Officer. I have no insight into the management style that Gaydon displayed inside the company. But having wandered all over several "consumer electronics" shows recently, I have a lot of respect for the way Gaydon explains the PACE vision for the connected home, what needs to happen next in the media Industry and how Pace plans to be one of the major players. He was also candid about what's the industry has not yet perfected but will need to do so in the coming 12 months. Gaydon may be gone, but the vision still seems to be sound, even if it is going to be a little delayed.

Panasonic AG-HPX250 P2 camcorder joins BBC approved shortlist for HD production | AV Interactive | Pro AV news, analysis and comment from Europe’s leading Audio Visual title | AV Magazine

Anyone with experience using this camera? Looking to ditch HDV, but haven't been happy with the replacements so far. I like the size (makes informal documentary making so much easier). But I am concerned about the longevity of the P2 platform.

Panasonic AG-HPX250 P2 camcorder joins BBC approved shortlist for HD production | AV Interactive | Pro AV news, analysis and comment from Europe’s leading Audio Visual title | AV Magazine:

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More Questions than Answers after Dutch Freedom for the Internet conference

Governments are truly awful storytellers. And this was brought home to me by watching a conference on "Internet Freedom" pumped into the Interwebs at the command of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you look at the website now, you'll see a short "event" video which captures what looks like a party atmosphere and the arrival and departure sequences of US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. It looks like something you'd see on Egyptian state TV two years ago - you know... "Important people were invited to hear other important people speak at a conference". Here are a few sound-bites they want you to hear. Then they all had drinks and went home." Truly awful event journalism which reveals nothing of what was really said or what the motions were for the "debate".

You're invited to download this earth-shattering story, which according to the metadata was recorded on New Years Day 2009. The Ministry also thought it a good idea to publish a list of attendees. The government website also has a few declarations on it, but doesn't give away the clue that the event was blogged on Facebook where the event has so far scored 812 likes. Looking at the official report, you'd swear that Eric Schmidt of Google must have sent in a video greeting because he doesn't figure at all in the conversation. Except that he WAS there, as evidenced by a video on YouTube which has been watched 13,300 times so far.

If you want to follow what Hillary said, in full, then you need to check the US State Department website because you can't embed that video. I frankly don't understand the second line in her remarks. "I want to thank my colleague and friend, Foreign Minister Rosenthal, a longtime friend, and co-conspirator from time to time, Eric Schmidt." Conspirator? Poor choice of words in such a setting.

You have to search the new Twitter with the hashtag #ifreedom to discover the best write up of the two day event, on the UK demworks blog. The official twitter account claims the conversation will continue until a follow-up conference in Nairobi, Kenya. One week after the conference, it doesn't look like that goal has been achieved as the conversation has stopped. And I note that the Google blog hints that they will be organising the next conference in Africa rather than the Dutch government.

Knowing that many human rights activists use Facebook for publicity and organising purposes, but deliberately keep sensitive conversations well away from this platform, it seems bizarre to be running the conversation thread almost exclusively on Facebook. And bearing in mind Google was helping to sponsor the whole show, why not Google+?

The conference signs off with the triumphant news that the Netherlands Foreign Ministry will spend up to 6 million Euro on supporting Internet Freedom Activities over the next few years. That really means 1 million a year spread over 6 years by the look of it. Compare that with the 25 Million dollars the Pentagon has openly devoted to busting through firewalls, another 10 million given to the Broadcasting Bureau of Governors by the US State Department, a whole bunch of initiatives being financed by other sections of the State Department (e.g. and you can see that the Netherlands effort isn't going to get very far. And all of this pales in comparison to the 125 million Euro set aside for an Internet Freedom Fund by the European Union.

As more and more mobile phones are used as the gateway to social media platforms, we're left with the bizarre situation that many of the interception and firewall filter technology being used by the "axis of evil" countries was developed in the West. It's been that way since the French companies sold high-power broadcast transmitters to Iran, so they could block Western broadcasts. Or the Brits selling satellite blocking technology to Kazakhstan last year.

There are some interesting things going on in this sector. But is it a coherent story? Not at all. Is the money being spent in an effective way? I fear not.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peculiar Radio Websites: Part 57

This website full of old English language radio recordings of Radio Pyongyang taken off shortwave must win the prize for one the most obscure collection of thoughts on the web. It's also ironic that there's advertising under the great leader ( surprised it's not for teeth whitener) and that the owner of the URL has decided to hide his or her identity. Should we be worried it's going to lead to the downfall of the Euro? No, we're doing a great job of doing that ourselves without any help from North Korea. Would love to know the web statistics. 4 a month? Three of those would have been mine checking to see if the site is still there. And the URL. Shouldn't it be a .gov rather than a .com?

Cleese on Creativity

Enjoyed revisiting this presentation about creativity from John Cleese. I seem to recall a similar point about creating creative workspaces, and isolating yourself for a set period of time, was part of the excellent videos the Monty Python team did in the 1980's for management training.

Although I know John Cleese tweets, I bet he doesn't when he's being creative to a deadline. I know it certainly doesn't work for me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Talking with African Start-up Investors

There seem to be an explosion in the number of organisations setting up to kick-start new business ventures or nurture business leadership. Those in London, Berlin and Silicon valley seem to get a lot of press. Having looked at various attempts in Amsterdam like Rockstart, Thnk, Founder Institute, the most interesting to date seems to be the Start-Up Bus. I am curious to see what media strategy they will develop. I see a lot of coverage of events, but most of this is simply logging what happened where and when. The aim seems to be to create a trailer for future events, rather than a report about lessons learned. I think the number of views on Vimeo and YouTube show that most people who didn't attend an event are interested in these "atmosphere" pieces, especially when it's all over.

Which is why I am currently working on a series of briefings for African entrepreneurs based on several workshops held by the VC4Africa organisation. They have been travelling to Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt, organising bootcamp workshops but also listening to the needs of locals. We've now started to compile the material into a series of briefings that can be used to trigger discussions in other tech hubs around the continent as well as in business schools.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Cracked Nutter iPod

All those old radios with horn speakers on the covers of the Radio Times reminded me that some are trying to revive the old designs for this century. I like the music - It's by Bob Bradley & Noel Dennis and it is called Cracked Nutter

Friday, December 02, 2011

Globalisation in the Loo

My room on the 10th floor of the George Hotel, Langham Place, London certainly reflects the radio heritage of the BBC building next door. There are framed copies of Radio Times covers in the bedroom and the schedule for World Radio 1928 is in the bathroom!.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Blue Hue Around BH

Staying in a hotel across the road from the Langham with a commanding view of the BBC and its spanking brand new extension with the blue hue after dark. You can find out more about the progress of the building from this link.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CNN Relaunch Focusses on Presenters

New campaign in Europe and Africa to remind viewers that CNN has intelligent presenters. Interesting to see where their posters are being put up.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Family Guy Listens to BBC World Service

This clip has been up on YouTube for a while, but perhaps because of the tagging I didn't find it immediately. Are they having a go at BBC World Service as relayed through some NPR stations?

Friday, November 25, 2011

TEDxAmsterdam is World Class this Year

I've been critical of recent TEDx events in the Netherlands - there are too many that are simply disguised business pitches or the content is just poorly produced and prepared.

But there are exceptions, and TEDxAmsterdam today has been really world class. It was also noticeable that the best presentations actually came from locals or people who have lived here for some time. They were able to connect culturally with the audience. They really took a risk by having a really long TEDx - more than 13 hours in total and over 20 speakers. Having helped to coach the TEDXAward winner Metfarm in telling a clearer story, I was curious whether the audience would stay for the last session after such a mentally intensive day. I shouldn't have worried. The theatre was packed and gave the Metfarm founder John Apesos not only a standing ovation, but practical offers offers of support in the coming 12 months. Complete coverage on the site.

Apple's Black Friday

Rather surprised that Apple hasn't got its act together in time to open its new Apple store in Amsterdam by the day after Thanksgiving. The black hoarding just opposite Leidseplein has been up there for months. The bargains this time were only on-line.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Media Network vintage shows - new season

Found another box of reel to reel tapes in the attic, this one dating from December 1992 when colleague Eric Beauchemin was just back from a visit to Zagreb in Croatia. The radio in that part of the Balkans played a crucial role in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. And CNN takes night-sensitive cameras to Somalia to watch the landings of US troops for an operation in the Horn Of Africa. How little has changed. Radio Czechoslovakia International was to be dissolved with the split of the country into Czech Republic and Slovakia and Radio Norway International ponders the future of its foreign service. Enjoy. More coming later in the week.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

VOA Mug still going strong

It would seem that President Obama has asked US government departments to cut down on the swag that they dish out to promote themselves (t-shirts, baseball caps, and the like). I see that Politico has been hunting for items like the one above, which I found in a cupboard in my kitchen. Has done pretty well bearing in mind its 15 years old. Other mugs in my collection have lasted longer than the company they were promoting...Netscape, ORF Austria, BBC 648 kHz. So what are we supposed to miss while worrying about over promotion of coffee mugs?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Now this is the way to teach.....

Amazed at the great video that Red Giant commissioned. What better way to show the effects that to string them all into a great short film. Great effects on a tiny budget.

Virtual and Artificial, but 58,000 Want Course -

Virtual and Artificial, but 58,000 Want Course -

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Dutch Creative Media Tour visits Salford but will they listen?

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is heading a two-day trade delegation to the UK at the moment. On Monday he dismissed recent comments in the Dutch press that the Netherlands is becoming very focussed on itself. The NRC Newspaper recently carried comments from several ambassadors in the Hague who drew similar conclusions.

"I think you are far too busy with yourselves," Germany’s ambassador Heinz-Peter Behr said, but adding  that Dutch eurosceptism could lead to an improvement in the way Europe functions.

"The Dutch may go abroad on holiday but the country itself is increasingly becoming closed to the rest of the world,’ said British ambassador to the Netherlands, Paul Arkwright. ‘And that can hurt its international reputation".

At a speech in Birmingham on Monday, Rutte pointed out that 70% of the Netherlands' wealth is earned from export services. The Dutch embassy in London chimed in with the statement that economic ties between the two countries are strong; annual Dutch exports to the UK amounts to €30bn, while the Dutch invest €94bn in the UK every year. The UK itself invests €60bn in the Netherlands annually. As such, the Netherlands and the UK are each other's second largest investors. Big numbers, although they can't have much to do with trade between the two countries in the creative sectors.

Comparison Complete

I've been watching the revitalisation and growth of the creative industries in London and Manchester, comparing it with Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Hilversum. The results compiled for clients of the Critical Distance Knowledge network make for fascinating reading. Both countries are banging gongs about their successes in an sector which is actually poorly defined and varies widely per country.

In the case of the Netherlands, the successes are mainly in architectural design and fashion, for the Netherlands TV business is going through very tough times. Dutch TV company Endemol, for instance, currently has debts of EUR 2.8 billion and is trying to secure a debt-for-equity swap with a buyer that would reduce the debt to around EUR500 million.

At the moment, Hilversum as a city seems to be going through a kind of creative collapse, as a result of a combination of draconian cuts to public service broadcasting combined with demands to consolidate the vast over complicated infrastructure. Part of the challenge is that the city itself hasn't set very high ambitions for itself. Many commercial production companies have already seen the writing on the wall and headed off for Amsterdam or further afield.

On Tuesday, Rutte will pay a brief visit to a joint Dutch-UK symposium taking place at the Lowry centre in Salford (above), just opposite the new BBC production complex. It's also home to several tech start-up groups that I have been tracking as well as commercial production in studios next door to the BBC.

I am very curious to know what the Dutch PM, and members of the delegation will take back with them. The Dutch are good at hosting media related conferences (IBC is the largest broadcast exhibition on the continent) but whereas the facilities are top-notch, the UK is 2-3 years ahead in thinking up and creating cross-media productions. The Dutch seem to be good in designing entertainment shows, but the UK scores much better in world class documentaries, transmedia and factual storytelling.

The embassies in both countries seem to put a lot of faith into the so called Apeldoorn dialogue, a closed meeting of young business leaders from both countries which alternates between the UK and the Netherlands. The next British-Dutch Dialogue Conference will be in Manchester next March. It will focus on the untapped potential of higher education institutions as incubators for future innovation and economic growth.

I personally trust both countries will publicize the outcome of these public-financed discussions, because just making a YouTube video about the event does very little to explain the significance of the dialogue to the rest of us. The video had 196 views when I last checked, which makes it a rather expensive way of sharing an idea. 

I also hope that Rutte and his delegation will take away ideas about how public broadcasting can become more accountable to the public, along the lines of the BBC Trust. For, judging by the Dutch government's actions to, in effect, reduce the number of Dutch public TV channels from 4 to 3 and muffling all foreign broadcasting efforts to a whisper, the UK can probably share more business ideas with the Netherlands, than the other way round.

As others have said, The Netherlands rapidly needs to open out to the world again. The news this morning that the 3rd quarter figures for the Dutch economy performed much worse than expected, shrinking by 0.3 %, should remove any shadow of a doubt that things need to be rethought. If not, the economy won't just be even worse next year, it could move into terminal decline. As a colleague in India said last month. The Media industry is like the sun. It's rising in the East and setting in the West.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Business News Radio

Been looking at the future of business news channels like BNR, since their programme shake up a few months back. Think they make great radio, but only so-so website.

RTV North Holland

Old slogan, but still works. RTV Holland, world famous in North Holland. For anyone who is curious....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanks for saying hello

Still amazed that nostalgia around radio programmes made in the 60', 70'. and 80's can still bring over 300 people to a hotel in Amsterdam each year to reminisce. It's the annual RadioDay. Today, Andy Sennitt and I had to honour to kick off the proceedings by sharing some thoughts about the Radio Netherlands Media Network programme and what we thought it had contributed to broadcasting history for the 20 years that it was on the "wireless". We concluded that the reasons for its success was that the programme understood and involved the audience in era when there was no Skype, no (fast) Internet, and a phonecall to another country cost Euros 3.50 a minute.  Great to see many friends of the show in Amsterdam, including Mike Barraclough, Ad Roland, Hans Hogendoorn, Dick Clees, Herbert Visser and Risto Vähäkainu. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

BBC World Service Auctioned Off

Could that be a Coles 4038 ribbon microphone I see before me? It's one of hundreds of bits of stuff up for sale as the BBC World Services auctions off its old studio equipment before it moves into Broadcasting House on Regent Street in March of next year. Not sure how old it is...I don't think wartime broadcasters used it. But maybe Dave Lee Travis or Noel Edmonds with a Jolly Good Show. Or perhaps Paddy Feeny, Colin Hamilton or John Tidmarsh?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Delft Creating History - This is the official site of the city of Delft for residents, tourists and business.

Delft gets a 6 out of 10 from me for the way it promotes itself abroad. Rather bland promo film could fit just about any European medium sized town. Reminds me of the factory videos that people made in the 1980's. Smooth disinterested voice and God-awful music. YouTube stats say everything.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Life's Too Short Promo

More and more targeted videos coming out of the UK for television programmes. First Amazon, now the Guardian. Clever.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street - Video

Misleading title for what is really a cool video...but hey, it gets the traffic. These still cameras are making terrific video. Still think Canon needs to work on the sound.

Productivity Future Vision (2011) - YouTube

Productivity Future Vision (2011) - YouTube: ""
some interesting ideas here but the stereotypical people make me wonder about the agency that made this. Black guys are always porters, the rich are always white. The Asians are non-descript smartly dressed.
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Big Innovation Centre | Events | Growing the Future: Universities Leading, Changing and Creating the Regional Economy

Big Innovation Centre | Events | Growing the Future: Universities Leading, Changing and Creating the Regional Economy:

Get the impression the UK Universities are light years ahead of their Dutch counterparts in promoting what they do abroad - and contributing to the educational industry. Big changes needed in the Netherlands if they want to become the Cultural Capital of Europe by 2020.

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Midnight Sun, Iceland - storyful

More examples of brilliance with relatively cheap equipment

MediaCorp : Digital Audio Broadcasting service to stop transmission

MediaCorp : Digital Audio Broadcasting service to stop transmission:

Singapore never had a content strategy for DAB - simply a distribution plan. And with FM coverage on the island being excellent, average listeners didn't hear the difference. I wonder why they pull it now though. Timing is either too early (for new hybrid services) or much too late.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Great colours today

Posted by Picasa don't have to go far to see some spectacular colours at the moment. Just open the window and look outside. Enjoying it while I can

Friday, October 28, 2011


Not sure that the great guys at Lytro have captured the essence of what's brilliant about this technology. They talk about "living pictures". What they have really done is make a stills camera where you can shoot now and focus later in post production. If you have ever tried photographing during a conference, then this will be a very useful device to try. Cheapest model is US$399  in early 2012. Not ready for video just yet...too much processing power would be needed at the moment.

Robert Scoble covered it at a rather noisy press launch.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Safely home from Istanbul

Posted by Picasa Bit weird to be wandering around the Hagia Sophia yesterday lunchtime. This is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. It's been around since 360 and until 1453, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople. It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having both been destroyed by rioters.

I asked the guide how it had managed to survive the frequent earthquakes Turkey experiences. She said it was indeed a miracle. Get back home to read that an earthquake hit Eastern Turkey this Sunday morning. Even though it was a long way away from Istanbul, it was a relief to be back North. I feel for those who have lost loved ones and property.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sourcefabric Symposium in Prague

Wonder who got to go to Prague today for the Sourcefabric symposium? Wish I could be there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Augmented Reality Needs a Reality Check

I wish the augmented reality developers would develop more things of practical use during disasters (like being able to see what a building looked like before an earthquake to help firemen decide where to try and enter a collapsed building). Instead, we get virtual traffic lights on one of the Dutch islands! It may be art, but is it an example of a technology offering leadership? This part of the mobile industry needs much more compelling stories to break through into mainstream.

Fotopedia 2.0

Just blown away by the amazing image quality of Fotopedia, which mashes up professional photos with data from wikipedia. The latest version is just stunning.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Censorship Worsening


Was at a recent conference in Prague, Forum 2000, which underlined that electronic press freedom, especially in Central Asia is going from bad to worse. There seems to be some easing of restrictions in Burma, though no-one is really sure why.
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More Vintage Media Network

Been posting again on the vintage site after finding some more programmes in the loft.

This one for instance

Of Ducks and Lice in Rotterdam

Kees Moeliker is a biologist and museum curator in Rotterdam. He's also a past winner of the Ig-nobel prize, research which at first makes you laugh and then makes you think. Amusing talk, though I didn't get the link with future leadership which was the theme of the TEDxRotterdam conference.

Film Fading to Black - Creative COW

Film Fading to Black - Creative COW: "Article Focus:
ARRI, Panavision and Aaton have all quietly ceased production of their film cameras to focus exclusively on the design and manufacture of digital cameras. Film? Fade to black"

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Morgan Practices What He Preaches

Interesting video about how to make a film using product placement from the Super Size Me producer. Getting mixed reviews I understand. But hell, it cost him nothing to produce.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

These Radio Guys Get It

The radio conferences I've been to recently haven't really worked. Many of the stations are just building shops on the wireless - there is none of the discussion about creative production that there used to be at the Radio Academy's Radio at the Edge. The suits just don't understand sound design - they want to show us charts rather than listen to great productions.

But all is not lost. Apparently I missed a treat in London in the middle of last month. I think the team behind Nextradio in London have found the tipping point for radio meetings. Charge a maximum of 99 pounds, and most people think it's worthwhile to fork that fee out themselves. Impressive line-up and a logicial briefing. I think it turned out to be better than a "TED for radio practitioners". Seems the Magic Circle is a great location for about 120 people if you're looking for a venue.

Giel Confused on the Future of Radio

I'm afraid, although Giel Beelen is a popular DJ in the Netherlands, and has done some great work fundraising for worthy causes, I didn't get the point of his talk at last Thursday's TedxRotterdam at all. He started by explaining that a lot of music stations play many of the same songs - and then the talk sort of collapsed into a list of record requests he's received for a special Internet radio station (read a MacBookPro connected to the web) that had been set up in the foyer of the theatre.

Global broadcasters need strategies to combat Internet censorship | News

Global broadcasters need strategies to combat Internet censorship | News: "“Casting a Wider Net shows that bypassing Internet censorship to deliver news content in restrictive communications environments involves far more than just supplying circumvention tools,”  said Ron Deibert, director of the centre and the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, a group that has designed effective circumvention tools. “Broadcasters need to devise a strategy for distributing content over the Internet with an understanding of the different challenges they will face in each of the target countries they are trying to reach.”

This conclusion is the result of work done by Karl Kathuria, the centre’s Visiting Fellow in Global Media, and a research team which analysed Internet news traffic in China and Iran.  They reviewed two years’ worth of traffic data from the BBC’s web content services, examined in-field testing data from an OpenNet Initiative study of Iranian and Chinese Internet censorship and Psiphon Inc.’s circumvention service delivery."

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Museum of Obsolete Objects - Radio

Apparently radio has been banished to the museum of obsolete objects when I wasn't looking. Of course, it hasn't but the radio industry does need to do more to understand how to integrate social media. Mind you I am glad some experiments were confined to the museum before they started - like the strange circular antenna used by Capital Radio.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

TEDxRotterdam 2011

TEDx events are mushrooming around the world, with more than 9000 videos having been posted at the TEDx corner on the website. That "x" means that someone else has been licensed by in the US to use the format and logo, but the interpretation of the event is very much up to the organisers. With 9000 videos up there, the overall quality is not what it used to be. I'm guessing that TED just uses it as a talent spotting shop.

This year's event in Rotterdam managed to pack 1500 final year students from the local (business) universities into the new Luxor theatre right next to the Erasmus bridge. I guess they did it in English because many of the students from abroad don't speak Dutch well enough to follow presentations in that language. But that meant that some of the local speakers had enormous difficulty formulating a clear TED-style message in English and only few really followed the theme of future leadership. We had stories of endurance, entrepreneurship, fun, and endeavour, but it wasn't clear what the students were supposed to take away. Money dominated many of the talks, the more you have the more successful you're seen to be in Rotterdam, at least. There was an attempt to make some of the students CEO for a day with local branches of international accounting firms. But the live interviews with them "on the job" didn't yield much more than they were enjoying the experience.

That said, the presentation at TEDxRotterdam by Finnish security expert Mikko Hypponen was excellent, being a clear wake-up call that we need a sort of Interpol for the web if on-line isn't going to collapse under the wait of cyber-crime. Although Mikko has a vested interest to say that, the recent hacking incidents into cloud services we thought we could trust to be safe is very disconcerting. In some areas where I work, cyber security has got very bad of late.