Report of the EuroITV 2010 Conference in Tampere, Finland

Friday, June 18th, 2010

The 8th EuroITV Conference was held in Tampere, Finland on 9-11 June 2010. EuroITV is the leading conference on interactive television and video. Hosts of the conference were the Tampere University of Technology, the Helsinki University of Technology and the Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

This year’s theme “web.sharing.tv.content” created a space for a very broad range of topics, not only focussing on the television itself, but also on television content on the Internet, the mobile phone and crossovers between television and various other (social) media.

The first day of the conference was dedicated to tutorials, mainly about designing interactive television applications, and workshops about user experiences, the future of television and integrated, ambient television applications. The second and third day were filled with poster presentations, demonstrations and various sessions with a broad range of topics like personalization and recommendation systems, interactive applications and convergence and cross-media. These two days also included two keynotes by Marcos Gonzalez-Flower, Global Head of Media Consulting at Siemens UK and Jyri Huopaniemi, Director of the Nokia Research Center.

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision has made a substantial contribution to the conference with a short paper presentation about expert search by broadcast professionals, two demonstrations about television and the semantic web, and browsing archival video with advanced video retrieval and last but not least, the Golden Award (first prize) for Waisda? in the Grand Challenge Competition.

Some conference highlights:

Methods for User Studies of Interactive (TV) Technologies

This full day workshop was chaired by Dr. Paul Marrow from BT Innovative & Design, Dr. Lydia Meesters from Eindhoven University of Technology and Prof. Marianna Obrist from the ICT&S Center of the University Salzburg. As the title of the workshop already suggests, this workshop wasn’t just about user studies methodologies for television technologies, but also for interactive technologies in general. Measuring user experiences for any interactive application is a very complex form of research, which requires a very pragmatic and ‘open’ research attitude. This workshop focussed on the many approaches that are used for measuring different levels of user experience. Approximately 20 people joined this workshop, which are all researchers working for various companies and universities, and doing research on interactive applications.

The morning programme contained presentations from the workshop participants about the various approaches and practices in researching user experience. In the afternoon session, participants were asked to pose a number of research questions and problems. After clustering these into main themes, the participants split up in three groups, where one theme was discussed in more detail. The results of the discussions were documented in a poster and presented to the other groups. The main insight of this day was that user experience has to be measured by combining various research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, and that the various stages within the product development require different forms of testing with different user groups.

Session ITV Applications for Communities

This session was scheduled to contain four presentations: two on mobile video sharing and two on digital archiving. Unfortunately, the speaker of the presentation about user inspired digital archiving of cultural heritage wasn’t able to attend, so the focus was mainly drawn towards video on mobile devices.

Mobile Video Sharing: Documentation Tools for Working Communities – Antti Koivisto

Antti Koivisto from Tampere University of Technology presented the development and the infrastructure of MoViE, a mobile application that allows users to create short clips of their environment and upload these to a website where they can share, edit and remix the content Together with his colleagues from Tampere university, he did a first test with the prototype during a festival and although users liked the application a lot, there were some technical issues like a failing Internet connection that made the use of the prototype difficult at times. The test results were used to improve the MoViE application and they are currently working on a new version.

Troubleshooting and Creating Joined Experience: Festival Personnel Engaging in Mobile Video – Anna Haverinen

This talk by Anna Haverinen from the University of Turku reported the results of the first MoViE tests from a user perspective. As a virtual anthropologist, she analysed the kind of content the test subjects created during the test. Eight festival employees acted as test subjects and were asked to shoot and upload videos during the festival. She discovered a great difference between the remarks that people made about the application and the actual use of it. For instance, some people for instance indicated that a commenting tool was very helpful and easy, without actually using it in practice.

Expert Search for Radio and Television: a Case Study amongst Dutch Broadcast Professionals – Wietske van den Heuvel

This talk was given by Wietske van den Heuvel from Sound and Vision. The presentation highlighted the results from a study in which eight broadcast professionals from various broadcasting companies were observed while performing searches with the online search system of Sound and Vision. The research focussed on the question if the task affects the professionals’ search strategy. Three kinds of factors were researched: difference in searching for radio or television content, difference in length (shots versus entire programs) and the influence of time restraints. Results from the study show there is no difference between the search strategies that are used during the performance of the tasks. People always use the same strategy, despite their information need.

The EuroITV 2010 Grand Challenge Competition

The Grand Challenge Competition honours the creation of interactive video content, applications, and services that enhance the television and video viewing experience. The entries are judged by an international jury of interactive media experts and the best entry is awarded with a prize of € 3,000. Three entries were nominated before the start of the conference:

  1. Smart Video Buddy: an application that analyses video streams and automatically detects semantic concepts, which are used to create links to related content.
  2. Smeet: one of the fastest growing online 3D world and chat community for entertainment and social viewing on the Internet.
  3. Waisda?: a video labeling game by Sound and Vision and KRO Broadcasting. The labels or ‘tags’added by Waisda? players can be used as time-related metadata, which improves the findability of the content.

The awards ceremony took place during the first keynote session on June 10, where Waisda? was named as the Grand Challenge winner. The nominated applications were also demonstrated during the rest of the conference day.

Demonstrations

The programme included various interesting demonstrations, two of which were given by Johan Oomen from Sound and Vision. The first demonstration concerned Video Active and EUscreen . Both projects provide free online access to Europe’s television heritage. Video Active ended in August 2009 and EUscreen started as its follow-up project in October 2009. Both projects are funded within the eContentplus programme of the European Commision. EUscreen will contain over 30,000 items and is one of the main audiovisual aggregators for Europeana. The EUscreen portal will be online in January 2011. The second demonstration showed the project Hollands Glorie op Pinkpop, which ended in February 2010. The project is a cooperation between Sound and Vision, Videodock, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Twente. By using automatic concept detection and speech recognition, videos of pop concerts and interviews with the musicians are searchable on individual shot level. Videos from the pop festival Pinkpop were used for this public demo website. Users could also give feedback on the level of retrieval and indicate if the concept detection was right or wrong. This feedback will be used to improve the concept detection technology.

Further reading

Read the full conference programme here
Conference report by CTOi Consulting

 

International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation

Friday, August 15th, 2008

The Netherlands: pioneer in digital preservation cultural heritage

The Library of Congress has recently issued a joint report on digital preservation and copyright. This authoritative report was compiled by the National Digital Information and Infrastructure Preservation Program, and in cooperation with partners in Australia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. SURFfoundation is responsible for the Dutch contribution.

The report, International Study on the Impact of Copyright Law on Digital Preservation, notes that digital works are ephemeral, and unless preservation efforts are begun soon after they are created, they will be lost to future generations. The report found that although copyright and related laws are not the only obstacle to digital preservation, there is no question that those laws present significant challenges.

Recommendations are provided for legislative reform and other solutions to ensure that libraries, archives and other preservation institutions can manage copyrighted digital information in a manner consistent with national and international laws.  Specific recommendations include structuring national copyright laws to provide exceptions for preservation institutions to proactively preserve at risk copyrighted material in digital form, subject to measures appropriate to protect the legitimate interests of right holders.

The Dutch contribution to the report takes inventory of current digital preservation efforts in the Netherlands. It also looks at the way in which the Netherlands regulates the preservation of and access to digital materials: through agreements between cultural institutions and entitled parties, which ensure that 20th-century works will remain publicly available. Higher education institutions in the Netherlands, collaborating within SURF, have indicated that they want clarity about preserving and providing access to cultural resources.

The recommendations for reforming Dutch legislation also focus on works from collections in museums, archives and libraries. These works need to be digitized for preservation. A secure network would have to ensure access to these digitized works.

For the Netherlands, the report is particularly important in view of the leading international position which the National Library of the Netherlands has achieved with its e-depository. The Library is often quoted as ‘an example of good practice’.

The importance of the report is underlined by Dr. Wim van Drimmelen, Director of the National Library. In an article in the Dutch newspaper ‘NRC Handelsblad’ of 17 April 2008, the National Library argued for removing the legal obstacles to digitizing 20th-century library collections. In addition, Van Drimmelen argues that clear regulation and legislation in this area is also of paramount importance for new, digitally born documents since their accessibility is under greater threat than that of traditional information carriers.

According to the report, copyright laws should permit preservation institutions to preserve copyrighted works in accordance with international best practices for digital preservation, including making copies for administrative and technical purposes; migrating works into different formats in response to technological developments and changing standards; and maintaining redundant copies among preservation institutions and legally authorized third party preservation repositories to protect against catastrophic loss.

The report further recommends that copyright exceptions for digital preservation should not be conditioned on the category (such as literature or music) or format (such as compact disc or website) of the work.

The Images for the Future project is mentioned at page 48.

Download the report ‘International Study on the Impact of Copyright law on Digital Preservation’

Source: www.surffoundation.nl

 

Peter Kaufman: The Economics of Film and Video Distribution in the Digital Age

Friday, April 11th, 2008

In the opening keynote for ‘Economies of the Commons’, Peter Kaufman put forth one of the main concerns which will be addressed throughout the congress. In a highly digitalized information society, copyright is in some ways much more a burden and much less a safeguard, especially regarding the dispersal of cultural heritage, public knowledge and content. And so we should reconsider the current state of copyright.

ec-peterkaufman.jpg

Films, television programs, music and all other sorts of media content are made rapidly available through peer-to-peer networks. According to studies, music distributed through iTunes can be downloaded for free (although illegally) in an average of 8 minutes after its release, Kaufman said. In this age content becomes available for anyone, at any time, an in the immediate future at any place, as media carriers keep expanding the possibilities and storage capacity.

The consumer evolves into a producer and distributor. He distributes existing content, but he can also use digital content to recreate new content and thus also create culture. Rather than trying to stop this phenomenon by applying copyright acts, Kaufman suggested that we should embrace these possibilities and use them to our advantage when disclosing culture heritage and public knowledge.

This is already happening by initiatives in both public and private sectors. Several institutions in the public sector outside of America give way to start thinking about collaboration and the creation of platforms which help to distribute content through the proper, accessible channels. Even within America, and indeed throughout the world, private initiatives have made it clear which type of models could be used to distribute this kind of content.

After the keynote some interesting points were raised in a brief Q & A session. Topics of these questions were among others the scarcity of media in the pending future, the role of traditional, local media and the zoning of online media content. These questions could not yet be fully answered, as some were food for future thought while others would be most likely addressed at other panels throughout the congress.

 

Uncommon Businessmodels

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

FreeWith the introduction of internet the traditional business model for spreading information has been challenged. Whereas before the largest part of the efforts and the investments where spent on the distribution side (printing, storing, selling and fulfillment) the internet (aka The Large Copying Machine) has facilitated easy and cheap distribution. Scientific publishers, who traditionally operated in a closed environment where they sold packages of journals and books through an annual license to libraries, are now (often forced by the community) turning their business model upside down. In this model authors are paying for the publication service in exchange for posting in so-called ‘open access‘ journals, where access is free at the point of use (also read Jan Velterop’s blog The Parachute). In this particular case it looks like a suitable business model has been found, as this model takes advantage of the power of the internet and leads to a greater return on investment for authors (visibility) while securing revenues for the service providers (publishers).

The music and film industry are facing similar issues but have yet to find a grip on the situation; the content is more often than not available for free through peer to peer networks therefore a large part of the incentive to go to a shop and buy a cd or film has vanished. As we are digitizing vast amounts of audio-visual cultural heritage we are facing the same questions: what models can be developed that fulfill the need for broad accessibility for the public while securing a solid return on investment for owners of the material (authors, producers, directors, etc).

Some, like Chris Anderson in his soon to be released new book’ Free’ build an entire economic theory based on the notion that free’ will be the leading model for media due to the vanishing marginal costs of distribution via the internet. The new model that rises from the ashes will be a model where the content or service is free, at least for the user. Google of course is a great example of a company that has turned ‘free’ to it’s advantage; the service is free to users while advertisers are the paying customers. At the core a beautiful system as the more you use the service the more revenue it generates for the service provider. Keeping the attention of the viewer is key in the ‘economy of abundance’, so you better make sure the service you develop is so appealing that users get hooked on it. In fact, if this becomes the case, there may be an opportunity to upsell them from freeloaders to paying customers by adding a an additional layer of services or privileges. This freemium model (term coined by venture capitalist Fred Wilson) has quickly become the leading model for web 2.0 companies like Flicrk and Linkedin. Interesting fact is that the rule of thumb is that the 1% of paying users supports the rest.

The crux of developing business models in this economy of abundance, where content is free, seems to be to tap into values that people are willing to pay for. And those values may not be the same as in the old days where content was king. Kevin Kelly calls them ‘generatives’:

‘’A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold.” Think ‘trust’ or ‘personalisation’. In his blog ‘Better than free’ Kevin distiguishes eight of them.

So how does this translate to our audiovisual digitization adventure? Will the specific characteristics of cultural heritage lend itself to open content models like advertisements (google just released a beta service of video advertisements: Adsense for Video ), Freemium services or even community supported businessmodels?

We are hosting a workshop on this topic during the Economies of the Commons conference on saturday April 12 2008 in Amsterdam to investigate the options.

 

Film on Demand

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Last week a report outlining the economic importance of the film industry in Holland was officially presented to government representative Boris van der Ham. The report, commissioned by Filmwereld , an association of filmmakers, theaters, rental stores and other distribution channels, shows a clear but grim picture: in 2005 the film industry lost over 10% (82 million Euro) in revenue through illegally downloaded films. With the report, the association asks for governmental support to help fight the infringement of copyrights. While downloading films is not a crime in Holland, uploading is. Most P2P networks work on the principle that you have to open up your computer for uploading if you want to download, effectively making you a willful accomplice. The Dutch government has alreeds indicated in November that it shares the indicated concerns and that it will investigate the matter (see article in NRC).

While the claims on copyright infringements are legitimate, the whole debate brings back memories of what happened in the music industry, no more than a couple of years ago. A similar sales pattern indicated a clear change in the habbits of consumers. But instead of taking this change for a fact and adapting to this new reality, captains of industry nervously checked their balance sheets and focussed all their attention on legal actions. What followed is history. Traditional powerhouses lost their dominant positions while new players came up with legal alternatives that worked. By july this year Apple announced it had sold more than 3 billion songs, or an average of 87 thousand an hour since it opened in 2003. Granted, this development has not been able to put a complete halt to declining sales in the music industry and illegal downloading and sharing of music still exists. but the point is, there is a legal alternative that allows more music to be available to more people than ever before.

Improved bandwidth is now opening up doors to a similar situation in the film industry. I can find practical any film I want for free on the internet and I can watch it the same evening, if I have the stamina to endure the lousy audio quality, Spanish subtitles and my guilty consciousness…

So instead of focusing our attention exclusively on the illegal side of downloading we should applaud the fact that there is so much demand for the material and provide this hungry audience with some decent legal alternatives. Of course Itunes will be a big player on the VOD scene and so will others that cater blockbusters to large audiences. It will be harder to find distributors of arthouse films that can only exist at the very end of the Long Tail. Nevertheless there are interesting experiments going on that we will watch closely like the Spanish endeavor Filmotech. This VOD site brings spanish film affectionados high quality film through a platform operated by the spanish filmproducers themselves. The Norwegian Film Institute already launched it’s VOD outlet www.filmakivet.no in the fall of 2004. It’s mission is to ‘preserve, make available, and promote Norwegian films’ through the creation of a high quality distribution channel.

So yes, as content providers we should protect the rights of the creator and enforce our copyright laws. But it is in their best interest as well that we should provide serious alternatives to illegal downloading. And the alternative is to provide the highest quality formats in an easy to use environment with lots of added value services such as recommenders and ratings. I for one would be very happy to pay say 4 euro to be able to watch Cidade de Deus in a decent 2k version with readable english subtitles.

 

Open up the goldmine in the UK

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

“The cultural heritage community sits on a goldmine of images, texts, sounds, films, video, data and metadata of immense interest to wide variety of of specific sectors and the general public.” With that statement Jordan S. Hatcher and Eduserv open the Snapshot study on the use of open content licenses in the UK cultural heritage sector. 107 Cultural heritage organisations participated in the UK-wide survey. Some remarkable results include:

The vast majority of respondents are actively making content available online. Only four organisations do not make content available online.
Text and images are the most likely types of content to be made available online.
The decision to make content available online often seems to be made without any formal analysis of the impacts that may have.
Approximately ten percent of all respondents use Creative Commons or Creative Archive licences for (part of) their content. Another ten percent are thinking about using open content licenses in near future.
Fourty organisations that make available at least one type of content online have no copyright policy on their website.

The survey also shows that there is a potential for growth of the number of organisations that use open content licenses. Two findings in the UK survey that strike me as pressing issues for Images for the Future are the lack of analysis of the use and impact of online content, and the relatively large number of organisations that are almost completely ignorant of open content licensing. The latter issue is a matter of informing and teaching about copyright law. The former hints to the mind shift that cultural heritage organisations need. Most of them appear eager to advocate sharing (and re-use) of content. However, the question to what end content should be shared often remains unanswered.

The report is published under a Creative Commons-Attribution license and can be downloaded here.