Archive for November, 2007

Dutch create more online content than the European average

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

Tipped by a post on the weblog I discovered that research conducted by the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) this November showed that the Dutch not only spend more time online and less on watching television, but also that we watch more online video and behave more like prosumers on the internet than the average European.

Some conclusions on media use in the Netherlands
EIAA conducted research in Europe and interviewed 500 people in the Netherlands. A few interesting conclusions:

  • internet penetration in Holland is the biggest in Europe; 81% uses internet weekley, 80% via broadband
  • the Dutch surf 5,6 days average a week
  • a quarter we can find on fora
  • 40% of the Dutch using internet visit social networking sites
  • 26% of the 16-24 year olds spend more time on surfing the internet that watching television
  • since 2006 the amount of 55 plus people and women using the internet rose by 11%
  • the Dutch blog: the amount of people blogging rose by 30% since 2006

Interestingly but not very new, the research shows that there is a clear shift from the traditional media consumption of watching television to watching online in the Netherlands. The amount of Dutch internet users that watch at least once a month online television programmes, films or videoclips rose between 2006 with 133%. 42% watches less TV, 20% listens less radio and 23% reads less often a paper. The shift is a fact.

Building personal archives
Not only do the Dutch ‘passively’ watch video on the internet, the research also concludes that the Dutch are the most active prosumers of Europe. 40% of the Dutch creates online content, whereas the European average is 18%. However this research doesn’t show whether this development is growing fast, you can guess that this will be big in the near future. Camera’s are getting cheaper every day, it becomes regular to have a mobile phone with a camera in it and easy to put it somewhere on the web.

So, everybody can create content when, where and where ever he or she likes. And we do! A collegue of mine just had a baby. In one month you could find more audiovisual content on the web about his life than about mine, and I already exist for 26 years. Research conducted by Ruigrok Netpanel for the Next Web about Web 2.0 in the Netherlands showed that now already 50% of the Dutch people share their photo’s online; and 16% does this with video content.

Personal versus institutional archives?
It seems like there is a tension between the core bussiness of Images for the Future, actually digitizing our audiovisual heritage of the past, and the broad social movement we see in the growth of User Generated Content and thus personal archives. How does this interfere? Or, how can this succesfully come together? How can we unite the world of the archives and the world of the private collections? In Holland there is a project which is trying to open up personal archives; audiovisual material right out of your parents dusty ceiling, this project is called Images of our Past. Why not combine theses personal stories with the official stories which are nationally archived?

Some institutions are already experimenting with this idea. A few Dutch broadcasters already announced plans on working with user generated content platforms. SBS will create it’s own platform like the German ProSieben Sat1 does with Myvideo; NPO will work together with popular social networking site Hyves. These are interesting cases which will show what can be possible and what will be desirible.


Freebase: the semantic web application

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Another Wikidia-style online encyclopedia has seen the light. But Freebase is something new. Its creator, the company Metaweb is setting out to create a vast public database intended to read by computers rather than people. Users still play an important rule in Freebase. They set the types of relations between pieces of information. People add metadata instead of data. In this way, information will be structured to make it possible for software to define relationships and even meaning. In the words of TechCrunch’ Micheal Arrington: This is cool unless its get consciousness and kills us all.

How does it work?
Freebase logo When logged in (registration is open for the public since november), you can add information on companies, movies, places, restaurants etc, just as in Wikipedia. But you not only enter the data, but also add the types of the information. For example, we choose to add a company to the database. When I entered Knowledgeland and told Freebase it’s a company, a new template with a lot of predefined structure came up, because Metaweb has defined a whole set of additional data that is typically associated with a company. I can choose to enter the empty fields such as employees. When I then click on the name of the employee, it’s relation with the company and it’s type is automatically established. Employees become persons, places become locations etc. And all these new topics come with their own predefined fields. Searching has become a lot more intuitive because you can use the same fields for narrowing down the results. A search string such as ‘show me all the companies in Amsterdam’ is done with two clicks.

Open for everyone
Freebase has already sucked in data from Wikipedia and other sources, and user can fill in their data too. Currently Freebase counts almost 3 million topics. More than 1200 relationships in the form of types have been established between these topics within 68 domains. Just as with Google, developers can extract information from Freebase and add it to their web applications. The information users add is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution License or Public Domain. Because the information is structured, other web applications can use Freebase to display its information in new ways.

Freebase is interesting not only for its collective intelligence. The workflow of entering metadata is highly intuitive and can function as a blueprint for crowdsourcing purposes. Archives don’t need to worry about the types of relations, users create them on the fly.

Perhaps Freebase marks the start of a new era in gathering information. Perhaps not. But one thing is sure: Freebase in potential the Google killer for harvesting collective intelligence.

Introduction to Freebase (screencast)

Related posts
- Freebase @ Techcrunch
- Tim O’Reilly about Freebase


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.


Open Social

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

Your social network is quickly opening up to all kinds of new business oportuntities. Last week Google unveiled a new set of application program interfaces (APIs) that allow third party programmers to build widgets that take advantage of personal data and profile conections on a social network site. In other words, applications will be connected to your Linkedin network so that, for example, people you know will be able to see which books you read or which airline you prefer. The initiative dubbed Open Social was marked ‘open’ because developers don’t have to create completely new applications for each site (read more about this on ZD news). This allows one single application to tap into not only the network of Linkedin but also into the networks of say Hyves , Plaxo and friendster, indeed connecting your knowledge and tastes with the millions. Interesting showcase is Shelfari that let’s you create a virtual bookshelf of the books you are reading that you can share with your network(s).

This opens up a whole new ballgame for all the digital heritage files we are in the process of digitizing: Open Social may allow you in the future to build a whole library of film footage and art collections you want to recommend to friends or colleagues; Tapping into the right networks may also allow much more efficient sharing of information about photographs that that nobody knew existed anymore. Who knows, adding metadata might become a favorite social activity of our children and grandchildren.


Games motivate students with a concentration problem

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Small scale research conducted by Cherifa Hendriks (Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen) shows that the effects of games are positive on students with concentration problems. Should education follow the rules of game?

GameFlow is a case study about the effects of games on children with concentration problems in higher education. The research focuses on a group of 13 students – middle-level vocational education – in the age of 13-14 year, some having concentratiom problems. Hendriks tested 4 different educational situations: playing games, working on an assignment about games, a gamemaker training and designing and building a game.

Higher concentration
Hendriks found out that the overall concentration of the group was much higher than expected from the group. They were hard to distract and only stopped their game when game over: “the pupils seemed to have reached a certain level of flow” as Hendriks nicely describes. Very unexpected, the assignment GameMaker training showed the highest average time-on-task score: 89%.

The group without any concentration problems scored as expected high on every task. And, surprisingly every single individual with concentration deficits scored higher than average on every task, “something that seems extremely difficult, if not impossible, for children with concentration deficits”, says Hendriks who is also a teacher.

Meet individual needs
Hendriks states that she learned that meaningful learning arrangements that meets individual needs and preferences are even more essential to get children activated and motivated that she thought. Although a small scale research, I think this is a very important conclusion that we have to keep in mind coming up with new educational services.


Kennisnet ICT op school

You can find an English article on this project here.

Also take a look at some theory on “flow theory” in relation to games and other media.


Internet adoption in EU highest in Netherlands

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Today comScore released the results of a study into the online habits of European internet audiences. The Netherlands are running in front! We have the highest internet adoption.

The European region recorded its largest ever Internet audience in September with a 5-percent year over year growth, reaching 226.7 million unique visitors age 15 or older.

Internet adoption was highest in the Netherlands, where 82 percent of the country’s population age 15 or older was online in September. After the Netherlands, adoption rates were highest in the Nordic region, where the Internet was accessed by 73 percent of the total population of Sweden, 72 percent of Denmark and Norway, and 66 percent of the Finnish population.On average, internet users in Sweden viewed more pages than any other European country – 3,844 pages per visitor. The country also spent the second longest average period of time on the internet in September at 30.1 hours per visitor. In the Netherlands people viewed 3,051 pages per visitor and spend 26,3 hours on the internet in September.

That’s an average of 1,9 page per minute for the Netherlands. So, when we develop new online services, we have to keep in mind people go fast!


Tagging as research tool

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

Research shows that people are getting more active on the internet as ‘prosumers’. This challenges traditional market research in a profound way. How to get rich data from your consumers in a digital world? New methods are developed to do user research. Ruigrok Netpanel runs an interesting pilot where participants can tag products.

If we believe Ruigrok, tagging is not only a way to organise your information, it can also be a powerful tool to get feedback from consumers or prosumers (producers cum consumers) on your products. Today Marja Ruigrok presented their first demo of a ‘tagging research tool’ at the 2007 Marketing Information Event.

Do reseach where your public is at!

According to research Ruigrok conducted, we can find 83% of the Dutch society on the internet; 49% is 2-3 hours online per dy; 1 out of 10 has a weblog, mostly for fun; 51% is co-creating on the internet of which uploading photo’s is the most popular. An important motive for people to do this is that they participate in a creative process. Not very surprising the biggest group active in co-creation are young people under 35.

So, co-creation is an important tool to get a dialogue with your consumer, especially the ones under 35. Ruigrok also calls it research 2.0. It includes that:

  • research is no longer a one way street but a 2-way street
  • respondents are now to be called participants
  • researh is getting more qualitative
  • consumers want to be taken serious; if they are willing to participate in your research, you have to make sure that those few minutes are fun
  • new techniques will enable participants to interact with the researchers in a new way


Inspired by 2.0 application Fleck, Ruigrok decided to do a pilot with tagging. The idea is simple, participants can tag for example websites by placing colored tags and comment on it. This can be done alone or in a group process, moderated by a researcher.

A first pilot showed that the data was comparable with their more traditional quantative and qualitative methods. MindMe/MyMind, as one of the participants of the workshop suggested as name for the new research tool, showed that this method could get open response, quick feedback, easy to analyze, visual attractive and fun for the participants.

One of the challenges for the Images for the Future team is how to develop services together with the public it is meant for. This shows that people want to participate & co-create. But, if they do it has to be fun, an experience itself. Only than you will have full attention and feedback.

Research by Ruigrok (Dutch)

Presentation web2.0 @ NextWeb by Ruigrok


Education in bits and pieces

Monday, November 5th, 2007

ODE stands for Online Distribution Engine. It aims to be a store where educators can buy little bits of digital content and put them back together any way they like, a proces dubbed ‘Mash up teaching’. This idea has it’s roots in the music business where sampling has become a complete new industry. Slice up the content until you get to the core ingrediënts, an acapella vocal line for example. Now look on your shelf for other ingrediënts that will spice up your recipe, a nice fast drum beat for example. Put them together and by ‘mashing them up’ you have created a new piece of content. Not very different in fact from the way science has been functioning since the age of the Enlightenment. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants as Sir Isaac Newton already said centuries ago.

The question is how this rather refreshing principle will work out in the world of education. This is an environment where changes have been notoriously slow to take root. Where the current generation of young children that have in fact been ‘born digital’ spend their free time between msm, gameconsoles and their pc but receive their education primarily through old fashioned books and whiteboards. So are teachers ready to put their destiny in their own hands and create their own teaching materiaal? The people at ODE world, a wholy owned subsidiary of Hartcourt/Pearson certainly believe they will. Their Beta platform will be ready for launch in the spring of 2008, ready to conquer the UK education market. All they need now is high quality content and a targetted audience willing to make micro-payments for the material of their choice. It is the quality of the content and their ease of use for teaching purposes that will make the difference. That much we did learn from successful ventures in the music industry such as iTunes. For education, the proof will be in the pudding.