Friday, September 30, 2011

Out Standing in the Field

This is a log periodic shortwave broadcast antenna just opposite what used to be a major transmitting centre in Juelich. It would have rotated to beam signals to listeners in distant target areas. It's one of the few remaining pieces of evidence that radio signals put this town in North Rhine-Westphalia on the map. I can't imagine it will remain there for much longer.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Disappearing Transmitter Sites

Evidence of the era of shortwave broadcsting disappears fast. These two sets were taken in 2007 and in 2011 from roughly the same spot just north of Juelich, Germany not far from the Dutch border. At the time the towers were dismantled last year the new owner said that two would remain as a symbol of its radio past. I guess they had second thoughts. Only a few road signs, plus an abandoned log periodic antenna remain as evidence of one of the first transmitter sites used by Deutsche Welle, whose studios in those days were in Cologne. Wikipedia has photos too

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

TEDxAmsterdam Challenge 2011

Helped with the call to find ideas worth doing for this year's TEDx in Amsterdam on November 25th. I find TED is a brilliant collection of inspiring performances. The follow-up, though, is always more difficult. Curious to see what happens.

Maurice_Mikkers-1832.jpg by TEDxAmsterdam
Maurice_Mikkers-1832.jpg, a photo by TEDxAmsterdam on Flickr.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Things Apple is Worth More Than

Things Apple is Worth More Than:

'via Blog this'

Fry on Language

John Lewis Brilliance

Just love the way John Lewis in the UK use music to tell the story of electronics since the 1960's. I can watch them over and over again. If only libraries and museums were able to be this clever in their storytelling. I also like the way they release the directors cut and backstory on the making of. This was the original

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Al Jazeera's Wadah Khanfar on why he stepped down - YouTube

Spoke to Wadah several times at conferences. Found him to be a very inspiring journalist whose heart lies in investigative journalism of the highest order.

Very interesting to compare the two farewell interviews on Al Jazeera English and the Arabic channels. They are almost identical (Arabic was broadcast first) but in English we get the question “your replacement is a member of the Qatari ruling you think this is going to change something in Al Jazeera editorial policy?"

In the Arabic interview there is no reference to Khanfar`s successor and his ties with the ruling family, and no mention of the Royal family at all. Instead, the presenter in Arabic formulates another statement which is absent from the English version:

”Some people think that this is the start of an era where there will be more open discussion of different political point of views”. Is this a reference to the alleged ideological proximity of Khanfar and some others at AJ to the Muslim Brotherhood?

I am guessing his replacement Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani is interim. Although he has the managerial skills, he doesn't have journalism at his heart the same way Khanfar does. Whatever the case, it's good that Al Jazeera is out there and I am personally very curious as to the role they are about to play in East Africa and the Balkans. These are both areas where dialogue is desperately needed.

Al Jazeera's Wadah Khanfar on why he stepped down - YouTube: ""

'via Blog this'

‫ the resignation of the director Wadah Khanfar Jazeera network ‬ - YouTube:

'via Blog this'

Monday, September 19, 2011

Radio’s Passion Gap « Edison Research

Radio’s Passion Gap « Edison Research:

Great article that highlights the problem with a lot of music radio (that I have stopped listening to).

In short, it’s investment in innovation – either in technology or content – that is driving passion. Radio makes some of those investments, but not nearly enough. Instead, radio’s precious capital continues to be spent copying Pandora and Groupon. No one loves copycats. Yes, radio must make up the technology gap with its digital competition. And it can’t allow the “Daily Deal” to damage their local sales advantages. But the real gap – the most sinister gap of all – is the passion gap. Jukeboxes, simulcasts, automation, failure to invest in talent, 16-minutes of spots per hour and half-price races to the bottom will never make people love radio.

Dollars to Projects Tracker

Charity Water still gets my vote as the NGO that best understands how to use to social media for social good. They have raised $43 million dollars to date for clean water projects around the world. They have now launched Dollars to Projects, a mycharity:water feature that tracks online where every dollar raised is being used in the world. The new initiative allows donors to track their donations to specific projects and receive reports of where that money goes and how it has been used. The reports, which include Google Maps and photo galleries, detail exactly how the money was used, who the project affects and who else donated. The reports can be shared out to friends via social media channels. The organization has helped 2.06 million people in 19 countries via more than 250,000 donations in the past five years, according to founder and CEO Scott Harrison. However, said Harrison, that only accounts for around 1/500th of the global problem.

BBC World Service's Newshour Guest Presenter

Controversial choice of a guest presenter on BBC World Service next week. Line-up in the publicity blurb doesn't mention her rather disastrous time at the head of France 24. IMHO, Not in the same league as the other presenters.

BBC - Press Office - BBC World Service's Newshour: "Christine Ockrent, one of France's most respected journalists, the first woman to anchor the evening news on French TV, former editor of the weekly news magazine l'Express and of the flagship TV political programme France-Europe Express, will be in the presenter seat on Tuesday 27 September"

Harris Ships to Turkmenistan - of all places

Harris Corporation, the US international communications and information technology company, has secured significant orders from Turkmenistan TV, the state broadcaster in Turkmenistan for a very large end-to-end integrated Harris broadcast solution. The Harris products are shipping to meet the tight delivery and installation deadlines — as the station is due to go on air on 1st October 2011.

The PR release from Harris issued at IBC 2011 claims this order represents the largest project of its kind awarded to a single manufacturer in the broadcast arena in recent years. The orders, which were awarded earlier this year by Turkmenistan TV, comprises products that will furnish the company's all new TV-Tower facility in Ashgabat including the master control rooms, production studios, Outside Broadcast vehicles, as well as the playout and news centres. Harris products will also be used to launch Turkmenistan TV's first IPTV offering.

The TV-Tower project is a massive television complex that combines broadcasting, production, acquisition, post production and a variety of links facilities needed for transmitting a range of HD TV programmes. When complete, this will be one of the best examples of modern broadcast technology in a state-of-the-art television facility," said Emre Dagdeviren, general manager at Policom. 

Community stations not reporting local stories - Disappointing Report

Community stations not reporting local stories -

If community radio represented a deliberate attempt to extend the public sphere, then one has to say that the results of this survey by Wits Radio Academy have been very very disappointing in the area of news reporting. These local public spheres hold the promise of offering people in disadvantaged communities some news of events in their areas, events that do not easily feature on the agenda of larger mainstream, “outside” media. More, they could provide a source of information to the wider public, often cut off from the concerns of large sectors of the society."

Most look to be nothing but jukeboxes. I was really surprised that the campus stations made no effort at all to include local news. Too much trouble or no clear mandate?

BAFTA Brits to Watch

BAFTA Brits to Watch: "Nurturing talent is an essential part of BAFTA’s role in the creative industry"

I really wish there was more of this approach in the Netherlands. Part of the challenge is that the definition of creative industries is different. It means advertising, app design, games, architecture, TV entertainment and fashion in the Netherlands. It doesn't seem to mean creative factual content (anymore).

Mobile phone bonanza 'over'

Mobile phone bonanza 'over', despite demand in developing markets :

. Good article in the UK Guardian. Worrying if you're trying to put radio over a mobile phone network as some content providers believe is the future. er, not at this rate.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

US Media Consumption 2011

Created by: MBA Online

Interesting to compare these US figures with something I'm working on.

Is Netflix doomed? - Portfolio Insights by Brett Arends - MarketWatch

Is Netflix doomed? - Portfolio Insights by Brett Arends - MarketWatch:

Streaming is clearly the future in areas where broadband is fast enough for DVD quality. Realise I haven't bought a DVD in over a year. The "Free Record Shop" as one Dutch chain calls itself is heading the direction of Tower Records.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Berlin’s Tech Scene Offers Hope to Economy -

Berlin’s Tech Scene Offers Hope to Economy -

Really impressed by the some of the recent start-ups in Berlin which are not copies of Silicon Valley. Berlin seems to be doing more than Amsterdam in putting their start-ups into an international context.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The sun gave some spectacular skies on the way back from Picnic festival on the north side of Amsterdam today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

IBC-2011 Now dark for another year

Had an amazing 5 days recording some 5 hours of interviews at IBC 2011. I'm currently editing the material into interviews explaining the major changes coming to the connected home of the near future. I feel that IBC now stands for Integrated Back Channel, or Inspiring Broadband Content rather than International Broadcasting Convention. Broadcast is now only part of a much wider media environment. Whilst it remains important (and leading) for news, sports, current affairs and live events, we've now reached a point where on-demand for other types of factual content (e.g. documentaries) has become equally important. I was amazed at how many stands had dismissed 3D as a flash in the pan for broadcast/broadband, with most companies talking about their second screen offering instead. 

I am increasing disappointed with the printed trade press that cover IBC. It's almost all advertorial and rehashed press releases. IBC Daily News was shoved in your hands each morning. I used to keep it because there was some useful analysis. But now it's all PR spin which has already been sent to me. IBCTVNews is much of the same - it's TV to keep the stand-holders happy and it's classic example of an archived broadcast on the web with no metadata to help you find it again. And why would you want to embed it on another site? That would be stealing wouldn't it? So, after 5 days of frantic scrambling to get stuff on the cable system in Amsterdam hotels and on screens in the RAI, they pull the switch until 7 September 2012.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Ben Hammersley's Message in Hilversum

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I've been to several NPOX festivals in Hilversum, but this year, the fifth, was one of the best. It may also be the last. NPO is the Dutch Public Broadcasting organisation and is currently going through a crisis as it tries to downsize its budget in accordance with new government legislation. Of course, the first thing to collapse are most forms of creativity as apparent from the new public broadcasting autumn schedules. The number of cheap talk shows is frightening. Discussions are all about jobs and money, rather than how can the public broadcasters get closer to the people that pay for it all. The public. 

I've noted in this blog before that the new media law, drawn up by the NPO and the Dutch government clearly defines the relationships between the broadcasters and the government, but it makes programme makers in Hilversum even less responsible to the public. Whereas in the UK, there is a BBC Trust which conducts open consultations with the public (such as reviewing networks or programming), in the Netherlands it is assumed that the public is represented through the broadcasting societies, which are now, in effect, production companies with a political or religious colour/bias. The problem is that most of the Dutch population is not a member of these broadcasting societies and there is never any public discussion about the role public broadcasting should play. The current right of centre government clearly wants to reduce the influence of the public broadcasters in Dutch society, which it perceives as a being inherently biased towards the left. 

Which brings me back to NPOX. Held in a newly built theatre in Hilversum, it was more of a reality check rather than a festival. The thousands of freelancers in Hilversum are only beginning to realise that they are going to bear the brunt of the cutbacks. Effectively there is an exodus of talent leaving town for Amsterdam or further afield.

The keynote came from British tech journalist and war correspondent Ben Hammersley. He points out that a lot of confusion in broadcast and related industries is because those in power now were educated before 1989. Not only was that year a pivotal point when the Iron Curtain broke down, it was also the year that the Internet really went public. In 1989, CERN was the largest Internet node in Europe, and Tim Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the Internet. After that date, there was a fundamental change in the way people collaborate. They think as a network rather than in the heirachy of their predecessors. It explains why many of those managers in their 50's and 60's don't understand social media or how they are going to integrate these new platforms of expression into traditional radio and TV. Ben highlights a recent survey in the US which finds that 95% of under 25 year olds are using another device while consuming traditional radio and/or TV.

I like Ben's talk because towards the end he highlights what's needed - a new form of storytelling but also a different way of organising productions - more along the lines of the way Hollywood develops films. He explains that as editor at large of Wired they made a map of the area of London. It turned out that in Shoreditch there were more companies than people, simply because people were working on a project basis, bringing together the best talent for the job and then moving on when it was over. This approach is completely alien to the broadcast companies in Hilversum where the survival of the company and its heirachy through the subsidy model seems to be more important than the programmes that are produced. There are some exceptions, it's true, but I don't think it's going to be enough to fulfil Hilversum's ambition of being one of the creative capitals of Europe by the year 2020. Holland's commercial production industry certainly understands how to build cross-media services and integrate these into game shows. But when it comes to factual production - making content with a high public value, you can count the creative talent on the fingers of one hand

I asked Ben about this after his talk. You can find his response at around 44 minutes in.

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Rethinking Detroit compared to Amsterdam

Been looking at the future of niche publishing (where niche can still mean millions of people). I think it is better defined as media that is not afraid to focus and drill down beyond the PR hype and spin. It is also media that follow-ups. We're not there yet. I note that magazines like Forbes don't integrate their  video stories into articles. But I do like the way they compile collections of material into dossiers. I was particularly intrigued with the dossier they made on Detroit, because the city is about the size of Amsterdam now and facing similar challenges with innovation. Sounds like Detroit has a plan rather than just ambition.