Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Poikos Takes Vienna by Storm

Eleanor Watson wins Vienna with Poikos. (Some rights reserved. Photo by Heisenberg Media)
Great news from the Austrian capital. Startupbootcamp Alumnus Poikos picked up its second major award in a single month. I've been working closely with Eleanor on deconstructing and building their story over the last six months.

Mike Butcher of Techcrunch fills us in with the details.

The Pioneers Festival kicked off in Vienna this week and by the looks of the 2,300 attendees at the amazing Hofburg Imperial palace, the conference is shaping up to be a stand-out event in Europe, not least because it is enormously upbeat and positive. Something we need more of in Europe. With a palace as a setting, art installations and a Croatian-born electric super car in the foyer (the Rimac), this is quite a ‘European’ event. The location of Vienna also means it’s attracting a lot of German, Austrian, Central, Eastern and Southern European startups. Hell, they can drive or get a train here from just about anywhere in Europe.

Poikos a startup with a technology for imaging and measuring the body in 3D, was the overall winner in the startup competition, winning €25,000 in prize money. Klash won the audience choice. Helioz won second place and BeamApp won third place. 

Applause for Poikos in Vienna, Austria (Some rights reserved. Photo by Heisenberg Media)
Their winning pitch: Poikos is a computer vision systems house which has developed a revolutionary patent-‐pending technology for imaging and measuring the body in 3D, using consumer grade hardware such as smartphones, tablets and PCs. We are developing a platform for the delivery of our technology to partners within the fitness, entertainment, health and e-‐commerce sectors, for a range of amazing new capabilities across all industries. The processing is cloud-‐based, and we have worked with to ensure the scalability of our infrastructure. In terms of revenue, we charge app developers service and support charges on-‐going, commensurate with use. For corporate clients, we have an expected revenue-‐based licensing fee structure. We already have some of the largest e-‐commerce companies in Europe and beyond signed up to license our technology. We have massive interest from the bespoke apparel, and also health & lifestyle sectors.

Eleanor tweeted from Vienna. And we'd like to add congratulations from all your Startupbootcamp colleagues.

Radio Advertising Plummets in Holland

The Music Says Everything. Apparently not enough to make radio sustainable in the long run.
I have often expressed my concern in public and here on this blog that many people in radio in the Netherlands seem to be in denial. They cling on to analogue ways of doing things when the audience has moved on. I am so fed up of endless live magazine programmes and awareness campaigns that are all designed to play on your emotions. Those in this sector also seem to seriously underestimate that generations are growing up who need video to navigate through content. Finding great stuff these days means paging through segments, not delving into lists.

What happened to Factual Radio Formats?

Radio in the Netherlands is usually just associated by the public with music and light entertainment. The special interest programmes about technology have long since disappeared. There is no equivalent of BBC Radio 4's File on 4. Big investigative pieces, when they happen, have long since moved to TV. Yet File on 4 understands that they can often get the bottom of an issue faster because they have a microphone rather than a camera. Likewise, great factual series that are popular in the UK like More or Less, Peter Day's World of Business, or the factual comedies like The Museum of Curiosity (complements the brilliant Qi) are absent from the Dutch airwaves. In many cases it has nothing to do with budgets. It's just that the talent has vaporised, or doesn't understand how to build a cross-media career. We're obsessed by what presenters look like and earn, never what their actions contribute to important social discussions.

I noted some radio people laughing when this video popped up at a media conference a few months back. The trouble was they didn't see themselves in the video, only those who make magazines.

Now comes news that in the third quarter of this year, the radio sector has seen a 10.9 percent drop in advertising revenue, compared to the same period last year. The sector as a whole earned Euro 42 million in the quarter. This is according to the Radio Advies Bureau. Things are still confusing because public radio and TV carry advertising blocks, so radio advertising doesn't just affect the future viability of commercial radio networks. Will that wake up a public discussion about radio and its role the media landscape in this country?

The Elephant in the Radio Room

Public and commercial radio networks traditionally avoid talking about important issues. It always boils down to the bitter arguments about distribution and the lunacy of licensing in a world which no longer understand scarcity.

The Dutch government has made serious strategic mistakes in the past, in the hope of cashing in on spectrum fees. Spectrum was auctioned off to the highest bidder when a beauty contest was really what was needed. There are no forums where people talk about content development. Nothing like the great Radio At the Edge discussions they used to have in the UK, that later became the Next Radio Conference. Or the Earshot Creative Review (still one of the best podcasts about radio imaging on the planet).

Next Radio Conference 2012 in London. Nothing like it over here.
There are some people playing around with Dutch equivalents of Spotify. But I believe creative speech radio production is rapidly dying on this side of the North Sea.

That's partly a language challenge. You can't export radio programmes in Dutch because the medium doesn't lend itself to dubbing or subtitling. There is no equivalent of Cannes, where TV formats are bought and sold. There is also a challenge in that there is no clear path for the public about how digital radio will be delivered. DAB+ has a lot of advantages. Except that DAB+ technology is not being integrated into smartphones (challenges with the antenna), or iPads, or any other tablets out there. Radio in the Netherlands is stream of conciousness stuff, being dumped the second it was broadcast. There are moments of sheer brilliance. But you'd better be there to listen to it live. Because radio wasn't designed to be found after the broadcast. Radio producers have enormous difficulty building coherent collections of useful stuff. It is incredible that there are whole networks set up to broadcast old music. But taking interesting interviews from the past and using that as a catalyst for new discussions is usually regarded as a sign of failure.

There is no Radioplayer on the Dutch market that understands the context of what's being broadcast. Just a channel. The problem is I don't have the time to have this stuff running in the background in the hope of getting briefed.

So what could happen next?

So some networks will limp along until the money finally runs out. Things need to get worse before they have any prospect of getting better. And that will happen now that the new Dutch government has decided to keep a fund to stimulate experiments in the written press and wind-down the fund dedicated to innovation in electronic media. As things stand now, the Mediafonds (16 million Euro) will exit at the start of 2017. No logic in that decision at all. Pure politics.

May be someone in radio will launch a start-up to search for a new business model? By that time, radio is going to be a part of a hybrid media future anyway - not a discrete device. That's already the way FM has gone in India....most people listen to the FM radio (app) that's inside their mobile phone. The radio has already disappeared from the workplace. Try and buy an autoradio in the Netherlands to add DAB+ to your car. How long will it take for the discussion to get kickstarted? Frankly, I can't wait around any longer.

In the meantime, I'll be doing something else.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day After Tomorrow

Wonder if people have been watching The Day After Tomorrow while on their day off. The scenes in that movie have some eery connections with what has actually happened in the last two days on the US East Coast. But it also shows how poorly many of the US media cover these kinds of disasters. Especially when compared to countries like Australia who also have to deal with Bush fires as well as floods.

Actually getting a lot of info from the feeds from Jim Cutler, who been doing voiceover work from his home studio despite losing power and the Internet connection.

We're ok. Quick update. We got hit hard. We're fully working on generator and driving once an hour to a nearby hotspot that's working, for sending our work. Then repeat and drive again the next hour. Tons of trees down overnight in the dark. All 3 commercial internets taken out. A Couple of major NYC radio stations are off the air. Water in the NYC tunnels. Ground Zero memorial flooded. The sun just came out as I sit here in a parking lot at the internet hotspot. So things are looking up. We're working 100% and ok.

Remembering Greenville as Grimesland

I note that the US Broadcasting Board of Governors has been quick to point out that they continued to operate despite the ferocious storm that hit the East Coast this week.

The only active shortwave site remaining is in North Carolina. We used to call it Greenville. Because, at one time, they would sign off by identifying the transmitter site as such. Now, with the rededication of the site, back in May 2012, Greenville has become Grimesland.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

La Matinal, Radio Netherlands, Signs Off

A milestone in international broadcasting, as Radio Netherlands morning show for Latin America signs off for the last time. Jose Zepeda, who was one of the founders of the programme, explains the role it played, especially when satellite partnerships became possible after 1995. Have enormous respect for Jose, who must have travelled the Atlantic thousands of times in the last two decades. Delighted that his efforts, and those of the teams have been recognized in several Latin American cities. Really enjoyed working with him. For some reason the interview won't embed on other sites.Will always remember Jose with a mobile phone in his hand. Quite often he'd be talking to you and then suddenly be part of a news broadcast on a station in Mexico, Argentina or his native Chile.

MN.17.10.1996.Basque Underground Euskadi

This programme includes an appearance from Professor John Campbell. He was a professor of computing science at the University of London, but better known to Media Network listeners as a contributor on clandestine radio. When he popped through the Netherlands in 1996, we asked him about Radio Euskadi, the Voice of the Basque underground. It claimed to broadcast from the Pyrenees, but in fact came from a site in Venzuela. John is referring to the picture on their QSL verification card which had indeed been hurriedly montaged. Guess they didn't have Photoshop in those days.

Check out this episode!

MN.21.12.1995. American Forces Migrate East

This programme explored the idea of BVN-TV, Dutch language satellite television for Europe. We also looked at why more stations is the US have not moved into the expanded mediumwave band. We examine how the NOZEMA was planning to use lower bit rates for DAB. In the end, DAB never took off in the Netherlands so the research was superceded by events. There was a look at the IBOC alternative. The IBOC camp did not like the way the European's scheduled the Eureka 147 side by side tests. Voice of America is threatened with cutbacks. As AFN closes down it's operations in The Netherlands and Germany, so new stations are starting in the Balkans, Bosnia, Hungary and Uzbekistan. Victor is on the line from Sri Lanka with news about how to follow cricket on shortwave. Just love these early days of the world-wide web...Jim Cutler doing a full URL because browsers needed http:// or you got an error. 

Check out this episode!

Secret War Diaries Released - Operation Mincemeat

Thanks to Wired Magazine in the UK for the tip that an interesting set of 77 files that form part of secret wartime diaries has now been released. For the next month you can download them for free as a PDF. You have to select the title before you see the option to download. Be warned, the file is huge (236 MB), so I wouldn't download it via a mobile network. 

The Diary is that of Guy Liddell, Deputy Director General of the UK Security Service, June to November 1945. He recorded the immediate aftermath of the Second World War in his diary and the entries from this time include reference to Hitler's last days and death, Goering's interrogation report and the success of Operation Mincemeat. Liddell also recalls his reaction to the Nazi war crime trials which he believed the Russians would use for propaganda purposes: 'We are just being dragged down to the level of the travesties of justice that have been taking place in the USSR for the past 20 years.' The beginning of the Cold War era is marked by the defection of Konstantin Volkov, an NKGB officer stationed in the Soviet Embassy in Istanbul. 

Volkov, referred to in the diary as WOLKOFF, told handlers about two agents in the Foreign Office, and seven inside British intelligence, including the 'head of a section of the British counter-espionage service.' The diary also contains Liddell's reaction to Sir Findlater Stewart's 1945 report on the future of MI5. 

Been going through the manuscript to see if there are any references to clandestine broadcasting. Still fascinated by the black propaganda operations in Milton Bradley that were broadcast from a transmitter near Crowborough. If you share my interest, you may like to know that two episodes I made in 1993 are still on line.

If you want to download these episodes, you'll find Part One is Here and the concluding part is here

A complete list of the 284 episodes so far uploaded can be found in the iTunes store. 

RNW Classical - The Secret Radio Station that Refuses to Die

Radio Netherlands Music department built a classical online station to showcase its excellent recordings of amongst others the Netherlands Concertgebouw orchestra. And, along with the other radio service, it announced its demise in May 2012.

Actually it's still on the air.

Although they have removed the player from the Radio Netherlands website, the shoutcast stream is still playing away 24 hrs a day. It's weird to hear Jackie Spears announcing other networks that have long since signed off. Since they use a high sampling rate of 192 kb/sec, it sounds superb on my hif- set, assuming you like classical music. I see the stats on the Shoutcast site show 10 simultaneous listeners this Sunday afternoon. Here's the direct link to the stream while it lasts. But since the people who set it up have all now left the building in Hilversum, it will be some guy in IT who probably pulls the switch in the end.

Actually, the expertise that RNW built up in classical music recording was world-class. Here are some photos I made in 2001. They had to hang their own microphones in the space of 90 minutes. Engineer Rob Heerschop (pictured) still has some of the finest recording skills in Western Europe.

Hanging the Mikes in the Concertgebouw main concert hall

Royal Concertgebouw Concert Hall in the heart of Amsterdam

Radio in the 1970's

With the UK media totally fixated at the moment on the culture and behaviour at British radio and TV stations in the 1970's and 80's, its rather interesting to compare with old movies from the period. Like FM for instance, from 1978.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Low Bridge Laughs

Love this compilation taken from a camera monitoring a low bridge in Durham, North Carolina, USA. It gets hit about once a month by a truck or coach that hasn't bothered to head the warning signs. It is not an inch more than 11 feet 8 inches. That's not 12 feet! And it would cost millions to raise the bridge, so expect the crashes to continue. 

Radio Netherlands says goodbye to Personnel

This week was the final week for more than 250 employees at Radio Netherlands.  They held a final "borrel" (drinks reception) in the entrance hall of the building in the Witte Kruislaan 55, in Hilversum. A simple gathering without speeches, pomp and circumstance. Now after years of being open 24 hrs a day, the door closes on Holland's external broadcasting service, at least in the form that most of us knew it.

I still maintain that Radio Nederland Wereldomroep was actually one of the world's first social networks, even though the back channel was via letter (and phone from about 1981 onwards).

Below are the entries from 1948 in the book World Broadcasting, later called World Radio Handbook, published in Denmark.

Friday, October 26, 2012

MN.12.12.1996 Stock and Shares

Stocks and Shares Radio for Africa was one of the more unusual private shortwave ventures, dating back to 1996. And they got the prize for the most boring sign-on music.

Check out this episode!

MN.25.04.1991. Peter Skala

An interesting chat in this programme with Olrich Cip, who was still frequency manager for Radio Prague at the time of the interview. Recently did an interview with him in Prague on camera in which he explains a lot about the Prague spring and how they managed to keep Radio Free Prague going. But in 1991, it was still too soon to talk about those times...still too many fresh memories of ruthless security services in one of Europe's most beautiful cities. Olrich was the man behind Radio Prague's Monitor Club, appearing on air as Peter Skala. In 1991 there were already concerns that the new governments would cut back on the extensive use of shortwave that was seen in Warsaw Pact times. 

Check out this episode!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

South African Government Internet Radio - Prepare for Failure

Google maps takes me to this address of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in Pretoria

Journalist LOUISE FLANAGAN writing in the Star newspaper in South Africa breaks some very disappointing news. The South African government is going ahead with plans for a state-owned and controlled "internet radio station" which will be available through the web to listeners around the world. They are looking for radio experts to set it up and run it – following government instructions. From Louise's article....
“The established internet radio station will be fully owned and controlled by Dirco. Dirco will be responsible for providing programming and editorial guidelines,” said the tender, which closed last week.
Effectively, this makes it South African government propaganda. The Star asked the department to explain the need for this. 
“The station will be of a talk-show nature and will rely mainly, but not exclusively, on government-generated content. The station will also solicit various perspectives from independent foreign policy role-players, including analysts, for its programming,” said department spokesman Nelson Kgwete.
“Editorially, the station will provide a platform from which the South African government can communicate its foreign policy priorities and programme, including achievements and challenges, to a wide international audience. South Africa is an influential player in the African continent as well as across the emerging world. The formation of the station is in line with South Africa’s responsibilities and ambitions in the foreign policy front.”
Kgwete said the government already uses available radio platforms to communicate.
“We are merely creating a platform that will be available to us around the clock and involve all our missions across the world. The government is often accused of not communicating enough – this platform will bridge that gap,” he said.
The intention is to have a continuously broadcasting station and provide radio skills to Dirco staff.
Whoever runs the station will “be required to work with Dirco’s public diplomacy branch in the development, production and streaming of the radio programming”, said the bid document.
Broadcasts will be in English, and the target audience is just about anyone. 
So why is this disappointing? Because all the independent evidence from the recent past shows that governments, especially public diplomacy departments, make really lousy broadcasters. They are shouting into the Internet, when the world has moved on to conversations and debate. I'm sure someone will make money training these government officials to present. But it's doomed to fail because they have forgotten one thing - how will they be credible when they haven't defined the audience? One look at the government website gives you some idea of the exciting stuff we can expect.

Beware of repeating Dutch Mistakes

All this reminds me of the statement by the Dutch government last year that they thought they had far more effective tools to communicate Dutch foreign policy to the world than Radio Nederland Wereldomroep.

Thanks But No Thanks.

Rutte says the government can do its own image building...
In a press conference on Friday 17th June 2011, Prime Minister Rutte basically thanked Radio Netherlands for their efforts so far, but concluded that national image building abroad and calamity services are being done by others already. This form of public-financed publicity is a luxury the Netherlands can no longer afford, partly because it’s so difficult to independently measure its effectiveness.

Now, there were a lot of things wrong with Radio Netherlads towards the end, but credibility and editorial independence was never an issue. A glance at the Dutch government website reveals that the English language website runs office hours, usually a day behind what the Dutch language site is saying. Does anyone read this? May be we should put in a freedom of information request to find out the official figures and the cost per reader? The Netherlands used to have influence in foreign media well beyond the size of the country. But that's rapidly disappeared because now "we have the Internet". 
Just hope the South African government can be quickly persuaded that this is a really awful way to win respect, credibility and trust from listeners abroad. There are plenty of reports to show it will be disaster. Wonder what they will call it? How about Radio RSA? May be not. Perhaps history is repeating itself.

Radio RSA. The government radio station from the apartheid era

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Signs of the Times

Now this really IS interesting. A Kickstarter art project in highly commercial Los Angeles. UrbanAir transforms existing urban billboards to living, suspended bamboo gardens. Embedded with intelligent technology, UrbanAir transforms billboards into an open space in the urban skyline. It's really an evergreen artwork, symbol, and instrument for a green future. Whatever you think, it certainly gets the discussion going - something to talk about in the traffic jams below. And so it has already achieved its goal of being a catalyst for discussion. With your help, Urban Air will be towering above more Los Angeles freeways in the course of 2013. Like them on Facebookor dare to follow them on Twitter: Urban Air has been designed, engineered, and has already secured one billboard to carry their flagship project. Let's hope the idea grows as fast as the bamboo in California. 

I also saw a fascinating photo from Doc Searls today, who snapped this photo of an empty billboard on top of the Comfort Inn in Meriden, Connecticut. The site owner has scrapped the ad in favour of using the frame to host several mobile phone repeaters which generate more money than the ad would have done in its place. Reminds me of a Russian over the horizon radar station. 

So wouldn't it be great if these two ideas were combined, with the bamboo being a natural camouflage for the cell tower antennas? In my opinion a much better option than the fake plastic cellphone trees that some mobile operators are trying to sneak into neighbourhoods. Don't believe me? Check out the evidence

Because we don't need any more of these fake trees do we? Look at some of the other examples of Robert Voit's site.

Privacy versus Publicy Debate: the next 3 years

I'm currently experimenting with various online services to see what's the best way to organize an on-line discussion and capture it for later use (i.e. in a YouTube channel). I admire what TWIT.TV has built in Northern California. They make extensive use of Skype. But I don't understand why they don't make more use of the technology that sponsors them, GotoMeeting. Experimenting with my colleague and friend Gerd Leonhard, it appears that you can't record the HDVideo in GotoMeeting, only the presentations being shared. That means you need to mess around with other software packages like Screenflow to capture the conversation. There are challenges in syncing the sound later.

The next phase of the experiments in the Critical Distance MediaLab (for want of a better name) takes place on Friday October 26th. "Digital Vertigo" author Andrew Keen and Futurist Gerd Leonhard will debate the next three years of our networked society. And if you sign-up for their live session at 1600 hrs UTC (6 pm in Central Europe, 5 pm London), you can contribute your own questions, either in the chat or via your webcam. If you want to participate then sign-up now because space in the chat room is limited to 100. The live debate will be recorded and posted on YouTube for others to see.

Need to Prep up on these guys?

Andrew Keen at The Next Web Amsterdam, April 2012. 

Andrew Keen, is a British-American writer and entrepreneur, currently based in California. He is sometimes referred to as the Anti-Christ of Silicon Valley, often fiercely attacking social media, the 'cult of the amateur' (also the title of one of his books), crowd-sourcing and the so-called wisdom of the crowds. His latest book is called 'Digital Vertigo' and can be found here. I actually bought the Audible version because Andrew reads it himself.

Gerd Leonhard on a trip to Critical Distance HQ

Gerd Leonhard is a futurist, keynote speaker, author and CEO of TheFuturesAgency, based in Switzerland. He is a proponent of what he calls 'The Networked Society', the SoLoMo internet (social, local, mobile) and freemium business models. He foresees great opportunities in the global empowerment of creators and consumers powered by digital technology. His latest book is 'The future of Content" and can be found on Amazon.

What's going to happen this Friday?

Andrew and Gerd will present some of their key insights for approx. 10-15 minutes each, and will then debate the most crucial issues such as what privacy means in a connected world, whether 'the crowds' are actually being empowered or not, what the future role of social media will be, what the true meaning of a networked society is, and what the media landscape will look like, in the future.

Get ready for some serious sparring - which will also involve the participants, both via messages and chat as well as via audio intervention (audience members in the chat room will be invited to contribute by the moderator).

This seminar will be recorded - please be aware of this fact if you are invited to speak during the session. You can view some of the previous recordings here:

This session is limited to 100 people so please sign up early; most importantly please log-in at least 30 mins prior to the starting time.

More about Andrew:

Even More about Gerd
The Future of Business blog

Monday, October 22, 2012

MN.25.10.1984 London Pirates

Yes, this is a Media Network edition dating back to October 1984, which includes a double report from Roger Tidy and Bob Tomalski from London. At that time there were a nuge number of FM pirates, many of them operating out of semi-permanent locations in the tower blocks that dominate the skyline in North and South London. David Hermges reports on the disappearance of Austrian regional station Radio Tyrol on 6 MHz. Professor John Campbell has clandestine news from Tonga, started as pirate. Jim Young of WaveView explains a new type of low power television transmitter for 8000 pounds sterling. We talk to Dutch radio hams who are participating in one of the Friesland DX contexts. We also talked about the first test transmissions from the Flevo transmitter site. Victor Goonetilleke has bad news that the Maldives SW transmitter is off the air.

Check out this episode!

MN.01.11.1984 Helicopter at Flevo

This edition goes way back to the time in late October 1984 when they started testing the new Radio Netherlands transmitter site out on the Flevo polder near the town od Zeewolde. I got a chance to take a short helicopter ride as they put the transmitters on low power to measure the antenna radiation pattern. I'll never forget the ride because I learned later the German helicopter couldn't stop the rotors when we landed because the battery had failed and he needed to get back to Germany the same day. It's rather ironic to learn that in 2012, the entire Flevo transmitter site has been sold to the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. The facility will now be converted to operate in the ultility bands, acting as a back-up system to Dutch military abroad incase conventional satellite systems failed or are compromised. Bearing in mind Syria and Iran are both jamming satellite communications at the moment, I can understand why they take precautions. Of course they will need much lower power than the 4 500 kW transmitters used for Radio Netherlands broadcasts.

The programme also discusses the return of Wonderful Radio London International. We spoke with John England from Texas. Enjoy this flashback. Apologies for the line to Sri Lanka at the end - not one of the better links with Victor.

Check out this episode!

Rethinking Communities - Big Blue Thoughts

I'm currently curating what I believe to be some of the best discussions on YouTube about the next step for media. You quickly realize that every company is a media company, a term coined by Silicon Valley journalist Tom Foremski. We both share an interest in the world of startups and the shifting sands under the feet of traditional media. I note that his blog hasn't been updated in a while, - but it always take longer to implement the ideas.

I would argue that every company is now a media company – including many of the startups I am currently working with in Amsterdam. However, not every company knows how to share stories. In the case of broadcast media, the audience wants to participate as social media integrates with traditional media. But few broadcasters understand what the audiences are sharing with them, always going on the defensive and hiding behind big numbers as proof of their "success".  They are still in one-way push communications, especially the commercial broadcasters who have sold the audience to advertisers without asking the audience's permission.

Tom points to an excellent presentation by Jon Iwata, Senior VP Communications and Marketing at IBM at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism in March 2010. Don't let the date put you off. You could change it to October 2012 and everything still fits into place. Since Western Europe is at least two years behind Silicon Valley in it's thinking, reviewing this now makes a lot of sense. Please skip to around the 24 minute mark to cut out lengthy welcoming remarks.

Tom also did a profile of Jon Iwata in which he quotes from the speech in the video above. I believe it deserves re-reading - and then action. Just replace PR with the word broadcast, or start-up. 

"When you think about the PR profession -- what it'll look like 10 years from now - start not with PR but with the world at large; not with the decade, but the century," said Iwata, adding that a century from now, the world will look back on the early 20th century as a time when "civilization took a great leap forward," marked by "changes in what people know, changes in what people expect and ultimately changes in behaviour."
Though attempting to analyse such a period of change while simultaneously experiencing it continues to prove difficult, Iwata identified new disciplines in the corporate function, emerging from an environment characterized by transparency and readily available information. At the core of these emergent disciplines is a stress on behaviour management--a sense of corporate integrity permeated down to and communicated directly from the individual employee.
"Lincoln said character is like a tree, reputation is like its shadow," Iwata said. "Many believe their job is to manipulate the shadow rather than tend to the health of the tree. In this world of transparency and democratized media, it is increasingly difficult for organizations and individuals to lead double lives. There can be no image management without behaviour management.
"People care about the corporation behind the soft drink, or bank account, or computer - they do not divorce their opinions of that company from the company's products and services."
Iwata went on to suggest that the behaviour and subsequent image of a company goes far beyond the surface, indicating a need for the instilment of unique corporate values among all employees, as "they only matter if lived and applied consistently by everyone in the company."
According to Iwata, it is through the consistent maintenance of and adherence to a brand's values and promise that they are able to succeed in another emerging discipline--that of building constituencies. The idea of merely reaching an audience and achieving message penetration is not enough. "Pumping out information only adds to the noise and compounds the challenge of being heard... Value will come from offering perspective and useful information and providing a contribution to our audience's knowledge."
Citing Apple as a company that does this well, Iwata suggested, "They don't just advertise, they teach. They don't just sell, they create learning experiences in their stores. They want you to learn everything their product can do, so then you will teach others... In the process they recruit new and loyal customers that become advocates and evangelists."
Crafting and disseminating a valuable message and building this constituency is no longer, however, the task of solely communications professionals. Iwata described a third and final major shift as the development of the eminence of a company's workforce--training employees to act and communicate as experts who produce valuable information for the public and extend the power of the brand.
"2010 is the year that corps grapple with and ultimately accept that their employees are engaging with social media... But simply having your people on the net is not the differentiator. It's what they do once they get there."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Green Screen Excellence

The trick to doing a good parody is getting the lighting right. And these guys have become masters,

The Great TED(x) Parodies have Begun

As I have blogged before, TEDx needs to move forward to become part of TED.2.0. It has turned from a messy brand into a rather chaotic one. We're told there are now 17,000 videos on the TEDx part of the site. Does anyone have the time to curate this resource into something more sensible. Would we miss it if the entire library burned to the ground?

It’s all about curating a single event, and the conversation seems to stop immediately afterwards. Follow-up is extremely difficult. The ideas worth doing programme has collapsed. I believe part of the problem is that everything is done by volunteers and that it has become so dependent on sponsors who seem to have forgotten why all these conferences have sprung up. It needs a core of professionals and a clear list of what they will NOT try to achieve. The resources at are great – except for the reasoning WHY a TEDx conference should be held. It's sad, but it's going wrong....

Google, Flevo and the Military Future

Where the Internet Lives, is a new site featuring photographs by Connie Zhou inside the Google datacenters scattered around the world. These photos come from Belgium, Finland and the US. But I would presume there are other. Every time you search with Google, you're accessing data on one of these servers. 

There is the usual trophy of failed equipment (they say they destroy old drives on site in Belgium for security purposes) plus the pretty pictures of cables.

It reminds me of the inside of many shortwave transmitter facilities. Rows of cabinets humming away, lights to indicate things were working, and tubes everywhere. This was how the Flevoland transmitter site used to look like in the days of shortwave wireless 1985-2007. 

And there were the trophies of parts that had blown up while in service, some of those bits costing tens of thousands of Euros. Condensors would flash over with the high voltage and explode. Switches would arc and weld themselves together with the heat.

And then there were the older transmitter sites like BBC Far Eastern Relay station in Kranjii, Singapore which are still functioning today for as long as shortwave radio is needed.

The Future for Flevo

There now comes fascinating news that the old shortwave site that carried programmes of Radio Netherlands is not going to be dismantled after all. On October 16th 2012 everything was officially sold to the Netherlands Ministry of Defence for an undisclosed sum. 

Signing over from NOVEC to the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. That model in the background has been at the Flevo transmitter site since before it went on the air officially in 1985.

It will become a back-up HF communications centre, as other HF facilities in the Netherlands in Scheveningen and Ouddorp are dismantled because the lease on the land has expired and they are too close to built up areas. The site will be converted for its new purpose in the course of 2013. My guess is that low power tests have been going on there for years. The powers needed to communicate with the Dutch navy and troops abroad will be a fraction of the 500kW pumped out from the masts for over two decades. And no doubt they will use spread spectrum digital communication systems rather than analogue. Note that the system is a back-up to current satellite systems, so it won't be needed every day. Interesting that this news still hasn't been placed on the website of the previous owners, the NOVEC