Tag Archives: ideas

My 2010 predictions for Fontanel (in Dutch)

The leading Dutch design weblog Fontanel asked me (and some other guys I really admire) to write down our thoughts for 2010.

The article is in Dutch. For the English readers you can try to read it using Google Translate.

screenshot Fontanel

In 2010 vermengt internet zich nog meer met apparaten, apparaten die weer aangesloten zijn op diensten. Het web grijpt op deze manier veel dieper in op ons dagelijkse leven, op het gebied van gezondheid, productiviteit, afspraken en vermaak. 2010 is het jaar van het omnipresente internet.

Mobiel
Internet op mobiel is geëvolueerd tot een markt die qua veelzijdigheid inmiddels ver voorbij de ringtonemarkt is. Op de mobiele markt is de technologische race – even – voorbij en is er ruimte voor verdieping. Wat kun je nu eigenlijk met GPS, bewegingssensoren en internet. Met welke diensten maakt je iemands leven beter én wat maakt je als bedrijf interessant in een markt met honderdduizend applicaties waarbij er per persoon slechts enkele dagelijks gebruikt worden.

Slimme apparaten
Technologische vooruitgang en prijs werken naar elkaar toe. Dit heeft inmiddels een punt bereikt waarop je RFID in speelgoed kunt stoppen, WiFi in een weegschaal, of een draadloze energiemeter in je meterkast. Informatie voegt waarde toe. Hoe meer informatie je kunt maken hoe meer waarde je toe voegt aan het product dat je (al) verkoopt. Nike+ maakt de schoenen niet beter, wel de loopervaring. Hoe? Door informatie op te slaan en te duiden.

Acceptatie AR
Augmented reality is geland in 2009. Mede dankzij het Nederlandse Layar heeft de techniek een gezicht gekregen en zit Nederland in de voorhoede. Augmented reality is van zijn science fiction imago af en tastbaar geworden. Dit maakt het eenvoudiger voor mensen om er toepassingen mee te bedenken. In 2010 is augmented reality de hypefase voorbij en zullen we nog heel erg veel nieuwe praktische toepassingen gaan zien.

Privacy
Paradoxaal genoeg zijn we zelf het grootste gevaar voor onze privacy. Via Location Based Services (LBS) gaan we steeds meer informatie over onszelf geven. Waar we zijn, wat we er van vinden en met wie we er zijn. In 2010 zullen er diensten komen die uit de veelheid van verschillende sociale netwerken heldere analyses kunnen maken en deze informatie perspectief kunnen geven. Wat betekenen al jouw sociale activiteiten in tijd? Naast scepsis, zal uiteindelijk het voordeel winnen want zo’n dienst kan door efficiency en patronen ons dagelijks leven verbeteren. Informatie is waarde.

Informatie
2010 is het jaar van de interface designers en informatiespecialisten. Als je weet hoe je extra waarde aan informatie kunt maken en zinvol kunt ontsluiten maak je relevante diensten. De creatieve sector zal zich steeds vaker in een positie zien dat ze in plaats van campagnes functionele diensten aan het ontwikkelen zijn.

Lees ook wat Victor D. Ponten, Luis Mendo en Marcel Kampman schreven.

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Thoughts about the near future of news distribution based on some trends

Thoughts about how and what will change in news distribution in the next 10 years, by extrapolating some movements that are happening right now.

Let me know how you think about this, and please correct me if you think my assumptions are wrong.

1. Display advertising revenues will keep fading.
Banner supported is not a sustainable business model for news websites. Pageview prices are declining, inventory goes up and banner blindness is very real. News “engagement” is shifting to social networks.

At the same time brands are looking for brand experiences involving customers. They are building their own or public platforms to connect with customers. Display advertising is not adding enough value, even when it’s cheap.

NGO’s are practicing, funding or hosting journalism. They not only hire journalists they are hosting and distributing the stories themselves.

2. Television will take revenge.
With internet enabled television sets, the tv becomes a more interesting medium. There is always something to watch. Social layers will make live events more interesting. Especially news and sports events. Television interfaces need to change. We need new interface thinking for televisions. We need what the iPhone interface did to the mobile interface design thinking of all mobile phones.

3. Mobile becomes the #1 internet device.
Phone users outnumber computer users. Technology fits in phones and the lifecycle of a phone is shorter compared to a computer. The phone is a personal device, most computers aren’t. It’s the #1 communication device and this makes it the best device to share news. Todays modern mobile phone can do most things a computer could do in 2007.

4. Serendipity redefined.
Serendipity was something that belonged to newspapers and magazines. Serendipity was about the stories you found by accident in newspapers and magazines, small surprises. The web brought a new kind of serendipity, you found stuff by browsing. Social networks enhanced this experience. You find stuff because of your network. The “new” serendipity isn’t captured in media, it’s in the people. This is serendipity on a completely new level, it’s personal.

5. Databases become public
I don’t want to go into a discussion of when or if we ever will get a semantic web. What you can see is that more information becomes public and it is more structured. When databases go public more people can combine information to make new information, more people can practice database journalism.

6. Information availability and accessibility explodes
The web is still growing and it will probably never stop. As interfaces, global coverage and search evolve more people get easy access to all of this information. More information is a good thing, all you need is good filters. Those filters can be computers or human.

7. The real time web, we are all continuously connected.
Continuously connected, sharing more and more personal information. Maybe for safety, for fun or for voyeurism. Sharing creates online existence. Everything you do is information, combine this with point 5 and 6.

8. News agencies will no longer lead the discussion
They will keep losing the signaling function, because everyone is a (re)broadcaster in his or her own network. And they will find it difficult to control, lead or own the discussion. Discussions become fluid, you can start them, but you can’t own or host them.

Conclusive thoughts:
News is and will be a more social experience.

Your (social) network will be important to help you make order out of information chaos.

News outlets will act like hubs for people sharing the same ideas.

The media- or informationlandscape polarizes, like magazines. More media will engage on the same level, making them working great together or strong competitors.

Information will be free. All you have to do is connect the dots instead of creating them.

News will be about guiding and analyzing, almost like a curator. If you’re a good curator, you add value.

Curators are often people.

The news eco system will be much more decentralized, making it stronger.

The system how news distribution works right now is just not made for the media of tomorrow. The traditional ecosystem for news will be disrupted.

The new eco system will inform us better.

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What Twitter could look like

Some sketches I made a while ago to illustrate what I think a web-based twitter client could look like. I really like the Tweetdeck application, because it integrates lists in the most obvious way, showing all the posts like a dashboard. I think the basics of Tweetdeck could be very well made into a web-based dashboard.

What it would look like in your browser
Twitter Dashboard design concept (screenshot)
Bigger image [+]

The entire page
Twitter Dashboard design concept
Bigger image [+]

Photographs and other media links should be displayed inline. Like Twitstat does.

Reply and retweet should be inline as well.

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Iterative progression, iterative culture

It’s been a while since I have posted something on Hypernarrative.com. The next weeks I’ll try to pick it up again and write about why the experimental news system EN.nl stalled and where it stalled, and what I learned from it. And I will write about some new private projects I’ve been working on in the last months.

Ideas
In a very interesting piece called World Building web artist Jonathan Harris is comparing online experiences with fast food culture. I can very much relate to what he writes and reading his essay-like story is definitely worth some your time.

City ideas have to do with a particular moment in time, a scene, a movement, other people’s work, what critics say, or what’s happening in the zeitgeist. City ideas tend to be slick, sexy, smart, and savvy, like the people who live in cities. City ideas are often incremental improvements—small steps forward, usually in response to what your neighbor is doing or what you just read in the paper. City ideas, like cities, are fashionable. But fashions change quickly, so city ideas live and die on short cycles.

The opposite of city ideas are “natural ideas”, which account for the big leaps forward and often appear to come from nowhere. These ideas come from nature, solitude, and meditation. They’re less concerned with how the world is, and more with how the world could and should be.

The development of and on the web is mostly iterative. We make small steps fast, and as a result our creative focus narrows, making bigger steps less likely. It’s also happening in our communication. Open communication like Twitter lowers the barriers to talk to someone, not only are the costs near zero, the social barrier is also very low. I can ask you something. And even easier, I can directly respond to something you share.

Open source software and the thrive to continuous communication with customers makes product development public and iterative. As a results it connects better to demands and minimizes risks.

Iterative culture
I don’t judge this culture. I don’t think you can. It’s the effect of a time. I don’t think you can judge it right or wrong, it’s a fact, something that’s happening right here, right now.

Personally I like the iterative structure the web is in. I also feel it’s blocking me from taking bigger steps. It’s difficult to take some distance from something that’s always moving.

If you do take some distance and ask yourself how will this be in five or ten years you will get a pretty clear focus and you will be able to think in leaps instead of iterative steps.

For me, my best and personal most successful and satisfying projects are those where I took some distance and time to research.

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Four fallacies about monetizing news online

The off- and online news markets around the world are under pressure. Newsmedia and press agencies feel the urge to find money, fast. As a result news companies are looking at alternatives to make more online revenues.

Although the money is needed the solutions aren’t always solutions. Ideas I’ve heard so far.
1. Find a model to pay for referral (for example charge Google)
2. Fight copyright infringement more actively (or pay for linking/embedding)
3. Charge your customers
4. Find some way to keep exclusive content exclusive.

These are all fallacies and in my opinion, and easy to deconstruct.

1. Pay for referral (for example charge Google)
Google directs a big portion of the online traffic. Probably not forever, but they are controlling it right now. Their business is to help people from point a to b without noise. This is key to Google. If they add noise or become less relevant a competitor will eventually take over their position.

There is no reason to pay. I think Google is good for almost 30/50% of the traffic to newspaper websites. And even more to some sections. News websites benefit from Google traffic.

If Google wants to be #1 the news provider, they can buy or create a press agency. Google is probably one of the few companies that can generate enough traffic to support the total costs of a press agency with online advertising.

A while ago I argued that online news is a freelance job in a network instead of a job in a company. You might like to read it, it relates to this subject.

Unlike paper hierarchy is less important online. Personal relevancy is much more important. For example. I read a few articles on the website of the New York Times almost every day. I almost never use the navigation or start at the homepage. I’m referred to the articles from blogs, search engines and social networks like Times People and Facebook. I love the NY Times. I don’t really care about the homepage or navigation structure.

Newsmedia should find hierarchy in design on the front-end for a large group of users. In the background they should put online as much information (enriched with metadata) as possible. New relevancy is not in owning the information. It is in what you can do with it. The web has no destinations, only stops.

2. Fight copyright infringement
Sure, people should respect fair use. And companies that aggregate and resell your complete data set should be stopped. This isn’t the biggest problem. Those companies that are mass copying your content are easier to find. The smaller infringements are readers with blogs, the long tail. Those readers are your fans. Just let them friendly know that what they do is not fair use, and suggest what they should do. They often don’t even realize what they are doing and if you just tell them you’re making friends (readers) for life.

3. Charge your customers
You have to make sure your content is worth it. What makes the thing you make more valuable compared to what your competitors do for free? People trust the brand and are willing to pay for derivations on the web. They might not want to pay for the things you offer on a daily base. Your brand or community creates value and this is value you can monetize. The brand of a newspaper is trust and openness. Find things that are close to your brand and with this you can make money. For example Nike is about the running experience. And they sell a lot of stuff around this experience, including shoes. If your newspaper is good in certain subjects, for example healthcare. Why not start a health insurance, the web makes it easy to do so. Or start a bank. The banking business could use some trust. Make sure the things you do live up to your brand standards.

Is this still transparent journalism? I think it can be, I don’t know. As long as you give access to all the numbers and all of your information, if you make yourself controllable. If you create a community and if you keep close to your brand it can be very transparent. In the long run your brand is about the truth and transparency. You can only benefit if you will always respect this.

4. Find some way to keep exclusive content exclusive.
You can’t. The web is for sharing. The only thing to keep something exclusive is to charge people for it. That’s why there is no real online business model for mass information, like news. The news will get out anyway, because people will tell it and someone will amplify the story or make a summary.

There is something the web is very good in and that’s in creating communities. Newsmedia should realize that you shouldn’t do research on your own attic. Share the information. Create a process instead of creating a moment. In a live storytelling environment the process is much more relevant and interesting. It also generates authority and creates an expert role. In a process the product (or publication moment) is less important. It’s about what’s going on. Share data with your readers and setup communities to discuss and analyze.

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