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"

'via Blog this'

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.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Music to my Ears

Great tribute video to something which is so important but often neglected. Having my roots in radio, I really appreciate what Soundcloud is doing for great sound on demand. The player is brilliant.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dinglish Conclusions to Dutch Gaming Sector

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STT is a think tank within the Royal Dutch Institution for Engineers. There's a small team of post-doc students who manage studies into various topical technical subjects, backed by relevant sectors of Dutch Industry. In the past they have published some excellent studies, like the one last year on the future of technology in Africa (opens as a PDF). That one is a truly excellent overview of various technologies developing across Africa.

I discovered rather late in the day that they have been doing a two year study into the future of serious games, and went along to the final presentation on Friday October 7th at the PWC building on the South side of Amsterdam. I came away confused and less optimistic that the local industry here will ever coordinate its activities well enough to reach world-class levels. In Dutch government circles the gaming sector is held aloft as having a world-class reputation. But the presentations from the companies themselves was very low key. I got the impression that although they definitely have creative skills to get dreaming up ideas, most of the coding happens in Eastern Europe or in China these days. And since there is no risk capital  in Europe at the moment - those with ambition head off for the US in search of venture capital. This was the same message I heard at Picnic 2011 in Amsterdam and at other recent technology conferences. The Netherlands spends a tiny proportion of its GNP on research and that is showing in its ability to innovate, especially in the creative sector.

I wish the conference this past Friday on the future of serious games could have been a bit more playful in its execution. Although the report and overview is very thorough, it seems to be a strange mix of languages. I note that the presentations on the website are in English, though the rest of the report is in Dutch. Not sure why they mixed them up. May be a confusion as to who the report is meant to influence? Certainly not foreign investors.

The challenge now is that STT does not have a history of continuity. Having studied this sector, they move on  to something else entirely. You get great snapshots. But in this sector, the snapshots very quickly get out of date.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs on Journalism

Revisited Steve Jobs' comments about paid content and journalism in this excellent indepth interview at the All Things D conference in mid 2010.

Farewell Steve Jobs | Tom Munnecke's Eclectica

Farewell Steve Jobs | Tom Munnecke's Eclectica:

Very sad to read of the passing of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. These thoughts from Tom about the early days are a different, thoughtful take on other stories I've read today. The comments on BoingBoing were also a fitting reflection on a brief, intense and rich life.  I learned a lot from Steve about how to tell a powerful story, how to inspire. I'm grateful to his company for creating tools which help me help others in their brilliant storytelling. But most of all, I am grateful for the way he made it so much easier for us to think and do differently. Because you can't change the world without the creative tools to do the job.

Wonder if Apple will remake this ad using video montages in Steve's own words?

Monday, October 03, 2011 now defunct.

Well, well. Sanoma has shutted its German version of after it failed to make an impact on that market. Some good ideas, but the German publishing market is waking up and has much deeper pockets.

Amsterdam, 30 September 2011. Mehr als zwei Jahre nach dem Start von stoppt Sanoma Media Netherlands mit der Website, der iPhone und iPhone-App.

Eric Ariëns, Content-Publishing-Direktor von Sanoma Media Niederlande: "Trotz des unermüdlichen Einsatzes der Redaktion müssen wir feststellen, dass die Marke nicht unseren kommerziellen Erwartungen entspricht, und dass in kurzer Zeit auch keine Trendwende erwarten."

Die Website ist ab heute offline.

Wir danken Ihnen für Ihr Vertrauen.

Datenschutz und Kontakt"

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Innovation IS the key - so why can't we get on with it?

Interested to read an interview with the CEO of Philips, Frans van Houten, billed as as exclusive in the free Metro newspaper I read on the train. Philips is changing its focus to concentrate on products that improve our well-being, energy-efficiency and health-care. The interview contains a stark warning that many in the Netherlands have not yet realised that, without innovation, this part of the world is not going to begin to keep up with the rapid developments in Asia.

I must agree. Wandering around some innovation fairs in Amsterdam recently, I was truly astonished by the variable quality. There were some world-class ideas, it's true. But the majority were poor copies of ideas I have seen launched in the US, UK or Scandinavia, confirming the complaint that this part of Europe is good at copying ideas quickly in the hope they will be acquired when the other company wants to move into this part of the world. Sorry, but the Benelux is not big enough to ever make the idea profitable. When challenged with the name of the competing company, I either got a denial, sneered at or (worse-still) realised that they hadn't done a simple Google search or competitive analysis.

My biggest worry at the moment is how inward looking this part of Europe has become. Last month's Budget  speech made no reference to the rest of Europe. Yet, without foreign trade,  the Netherlands isn't going to retain any sphere of influence in the world. I realise we all have to tighten our belts. But shutting our eyes as well is simply plain crazy.   

Saturday, October 01, 2011

False Promises at my local Bus Shelter

My nearest bus-stop is giving the impression that Dubai is cheaper than it really is. The weekend rate at the Burj Al Arab hotel depicted in the poster is around 1.100 Euro a night, so when you fly by Dubai you're not going to be anywhere near this hotel or the water park next door. I agree that at 321 metres high it does dominate the Dubai coastline. And the evening choreographed light-show reminds me of Las Vegas. But you won't be getting much of all of this for 399 per person for 5 days. Arke does offer 3 nights in this famous hotel for 3520 Euro a person (including the flight).

Smart Cities

Been following the discussions around smart cities for a client and the idea that sensors in buildings will help make cities of the future more efficient. The reality check came to me while walkig through the Amstel metro station yesterday and seeing an operator rebooting a ticket machine. It's using Microsoft Windows 2000 as an operating system. If the city infrsatructure is using software that's from the last century, it's going to be light years before the infrastructure in Amsterdam can catch up with what's being discussed now, especially with what I think is the worst economic recession since the great depression.

Nostalic Radio Panel

I thought the "radio" panels in hotels had almost disappeared. But not (yet) at this hotel in Bonn. The bedside AV system looked like Mission Control. In fact it had been disconnected, so I guess they have just left it until the next round of refurbishment. All this has been replaced by the TV remote control. I noted some radio channels available on the hotel TV. Can't imagine anyone listening to radio in this way in this context.

New Media in Bonn

Stayed at a delightful hotel in the centre of Bonn a few days ago. Amazed at how the choice of channels has changed on the cable system in the hotel. There were dozens of German channels, followed by a complete bouquet of Arabic language channels, Al Jazeera English, BBC World News, RAI Italy - and that was it. No Dutch or Belgian channels at all any more, even though the border is not that far away.

Interesting to contrast this with new legislation being prepared in the Hague to force cable companies to increase the number of channels that HAVE to be put in the basic package of TV programmes on offer to subscribers. The Netherlands seems to be unique in requiring that the two Flemish public service channels are already part of the basic offering. Can't find examples of that elsewhere in the world (channels from a neighbouring country have guaranteed universal access in another). The two Belgian channels make up a a basic package of 15 channels at the moment. The minister will introduced a bill next month to make that 30 channels instead, including commercial channels from KPN, Canal Digital en Tele2.