Categories
Game culture Projects

The 2008 Eclectro vote gadget

What was the best dance song of 2008?
This is the third year we are organizing an election using the vote widget to determine what’s the best record. We use a simple system where you have to choose the best out of two. This is the easiest choice to make. In the database there are 100 records. You get random pairs. The voting system is a system that’s (for internet standards) pretty much protected against fraud, since you never know what records or combination you will get.

Local results
This year we are taking the voting a step further. If you embed the widget on your social network or website you can see how people vote on your website. For example, this is what tunes the visitors of wilbertbaan.nl like. You can compare the results against the global results.

Styling
We also made it possible to adjust the width, with this option you make sure the gadget always fits perfectly to the design of your blog. We used OpenSocial to connect the gadget to Hyves, the largest social network in the Netherlands. With one click you can add the widget to your Hyves profile.

What’s so special about widgets and gadgets
Widgets and gadgets have something special. They can act like a website without being a website. Sure, they need a central database to store information, but they are completely viral. Once you drop the gadget into a social network it can easily spread if people can directly (re)share your gadget.

With gadgets in a lot of personal networks you enter the long tail of users. People might have small networks and will maybe only make thirty votes. But if the gadget has a large user base this long-tail of installations could represent an enormous amount of votes. You distribute the voting interface, but not the election.

This afternoon someone told me about a company that’s making a business out of using empty gadget space. If a gadget is used (for example a Christmas gadget) the gadget often remains on the profile, but isn’t removed. This company creates gadgets and once they are no longer used, they use the inventory as advertising space/network. This is a completely new business, and although social networks will not like it, it’s a very smart idea. Use networks, to create your own network.

Disclaimer: Eclectro is a non-profit blog, we just do it for the love of music and love for the people making music, we will never sell gadgetspace ;)

Eclectro loves …
The gadget on Hyves
We couldn’t have made a gadget this advanced just by ourselves. I really want to thank the guys at Freshheads for helping us with the code, flash and database structure (did you know they turned an old office-vault into a dj-booth/club). And also special thanks to the gadgetguys at Open & Sociaal, for connecting the gadget to Hyves and OpenSocial.

Categories
Featured Journalism

What will happen to news publishers? A guess based on what’s happening right now

The financial crisis speeds up the newspapershift. Media diverges. Newspapers become television, television becomes a press agency. And everything becomes the web. Probably not a single news websites makes enough revenue to employ the same amount of journalists traditional media like newspapers and television employ. The result is a shift. Not in demand, in distribution. What will happen, and how will this shift change organizations?

Here are some ideas and thoughts that I think make sense. Please help me sharpen this concept, or point me at my fallacies. It would be interesting to have a discussion about this.

Infinite
It all starts with information. Information is and will be infinite accessible everywhere. All smart devices will be connected. This is different to old media where the medium was not infinite and thus choices and timeframes were necessary.

In a connected culture information is directly online accessible, mass media and press functions less as a generator and more as a directional and filter service.

In a connected culture distributed services like Google and Facebook are the new mass media. To reach a mass audience you need to distribute your content through these new mass media. If old media no longer controls the medium it will change our organizations, how newspapers work and what kind of people will be working at newspapers or directional services.

Online you need more websites or less people. Link or syndicate the information that is already out there and focus on the value you can add.

The new rules of information?
I think the expertise journalists have is valuable. The traditional structure of a newspaper is restraining them from using their full online potential. Here is a paradox, because you need the traditional structure to publish a newspaper.

The newspaper is a middle man, this is where you already see a shift. Press agencies have become influential distributers on the live web, and consumers have become influential fire starters. To adapt to the new rules of information (everyone is a publisher), a newspaper should shift up or down the chain. Become a networked company or focus.

To be profitable in a hyperlinked economy you not only need to distribute your information, you should also distribute your costs.

What could the newspaper of the future look like?
Newspapers are in a race. I don’t believe paper is sacred. And I see no real advantages in paper compared to modern media. Even when e-readers become mainstream we probably want books and maybe magazines on these devices, we don’t want newspapers. We want something tailored to the medium. We want news as it happens. News is not a book, it is all about now, about relevancy, about why and what is happening. This consuming pattern is irreversible.

A modern news organization might not have that many people on the payroll. Journalism could become primarily a freelance job. Everything a journalist does can be done virtual. Journalists don’t have to work together in the same building at the same time. News very rarely happens in the building of a news organization, news happens somewhere else or is made by investigating. Being a reporter is a networked job. Your value is in your knowledge and your personal offline and online network. A journalist should feel at home in a networked culture.

If this shift happens journalists will work primarily on a free marketplace, like photographers. They will connect through online organizations (agencies) or virtual marketplaces that connect distribution channels (newspapers, search engines, social networks) and journalists.

These organizations act like press agencies distributing articles or information to all outlets. You can subscribe to specific feeds of information, buy articles, ask for research, or set assignments. If we can have public funded journalism, we can also have research or stories payed by media portals. If you want exclusive news or research the price will be higher. If you’re a very good and trustworthy journalist your value will be higher.

The focus of a news publisher is how they sort information and on what news topics they focus. What news publishers can add to the knowledge and information that is already out there is focus and a filter. This focus and filter is their revenue model, the rest is a mix of syndicated, linked and original information.

Like a group blog. You can’t pay the salary of a hundred bloggers to write content, but you can make money with a group blog. You need to invest your money smart and use it for those things that really set you apart from others. Use money to create unique value that defines your brand.

News is free
I think news (defined as what’s happening right now) will always be free for the consumer. This doesn’t mean news has no value. For end-users it will be free. News will always atract people. By presenting, sorting, linking and packaging the news websites, search engines and networks can make money that funds new journalism and drives new traffic.

Where Attention Flows, Money Follows.

This blog post was also published on the online journalism blog, there are some interesting comments you might like.

Categories
Experiments Featured Live Web Music Online Identity Projects

The Eclectro Last.fm Lovewall installation (video)


Eclectro Last.fm Lovewall (interactive bluetooth installation) from Wilbert Baan on Vimeo.

Yesterday we had the first Eclectro party. As written in the last post I was working on a bluetooth/last.fm application. And it worked :)

The Eclectro Last.fm lovewall is an interactive installation that uses bluetooth to scan for mobile phones. Visitors are asked to change the bluetooth name of their phone into their Last.fm username.

A laptop scans the room using the open source Roomware software. It connects to random visitors and searches the Last.fm database for similarity. It then shows the similarity on a big screen by showing the profiles. A percentage and five artists both have in common.

Review
The installation worked well and I got a lot of very positive feedback by enthusiastic visitors. A few things I learned.

  • It is possible to have a zero percent match but still have artists in common.
  • Similar artists are often Gorillaz, U2, Muse, Air.
  • It is very easy to join, people see something happen and they think it’s too difficult to join. If you tell them that all it takes is changing the bluetooth name of their mobile phone they are really surprised.
  • Explain, explain, explain.
  • People like seeing their avatars on a screen. Only showing avatars would probably make a successful application by itself.
  • Make the screen dark. I used grey photographs and still the brightness of the beamer lightened up the entire place.
  • The internet connection at public places is almost always difficult (unstable/low signal).

The interface with testdata (working demo)

Open in new window

And the photographs

Last.fm + Roomware installation
on Flickr

Last.fm + Roomware installation
on Flickr

Opbouwen
on Flickr

Poster Eclectro loves Last.fm bluetooth friendfinder
on Flickr

Zaal
on Flickr

Standby3
on Flickr

Starborough test de dj-tafel
on Flickr

Categories
Experiments Interactive Storytelling Live Web Mobile Projects The Social Web

Mashing up the first Eclectro party, bluetooth, meeting new people and your Last.fm profile

concept eclectro bluetooth kit

This saturday we have the first Eclectro party in De Unie in Rotterdam (which itself is pretty amazing). It’s the first offline event for something (a group of people blogging) that until saturday does only exist online.

To Eclectrofy this evening we started thinking about doing something extra with the location. How can we make the place visually and interactive exciting as well. Without making it too difficult to use or showing computers.

This reminded me about the Roomware project

The Roomware Project is an open-source framework for interactive spaces. It allows developers of multiple origins to enhance any venue or event using technologies such as BlueTooth and RFID.

What I’m making for this saturday
Basically Roomware turns my Mac into a server that is able to read bluetooth names and convert this data into xml. We will ask people at the party to change the bluetooth name of their mobile phone into the username of their Last.fm account. With these Last.fm names an application searches the Last.fm API and extracts data about two random visitors and tell them how much Last.fm similarity they have and which artists they have in common.

Meet new people
The project autorepeats and makes new random matches with names of people that are actually in the room. The results are projected on a screen. Showing public information about people is a gimmick, but it might encourage visitors to meet new people.

Things to do before this saturday

All the technology works. What’s left is finding a beamer, finishing the design and the timing of the interface. The application doesn’t need much time to load, but I’m thinking about adding finctional timing to make it more exiting to watch.

For example first show one player. Show the second player a few seconds later. And finally show the bar (hearth) that indicates the percentages. And maybe add some hidden messages when people have 0 or 100% Last.fm similarity.

Eclectro presents Kettel (live)
The third man (live), Gastón Arévalo (live) & Starborough (dj-set)
November 15th, De Unie, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Entrance € 8,- (order tickets)

De Unie

I will make a video of the system in action for hypernarrative. You can also visit the party this saturday to play with it youself. We can have a beer :)

More drafts
draft

draft

Categories
Experiments Featured Journalism Live Web Projects

Analyzed what Twitter votes (graphic)

Based on Twitterpoll by Erik Borra I made this visualization. The animation is created form filtering tweets on content. If someone says he or she voted for Obama or McCain this information is stored and turned into numbers. This creates an election poll based on tweets.

You can say Twitter is pretty much in favor of Obama. To update the results refresh the page.

A point goes to Obama if the regular expression /vote.*?obama/i succeeds, it goes to McCain if the regular expression /vote.*mccain/i succeeds, else it is undecided / unrecognized.

The animations that led to this animation
1. https://www.wilbertbaan.nl/wordpress/2008/11/02/i-voted-storytelling-with-public-databases/
2. https://www.wilbertbaan.nl/wordpress/2008/11/03/we-say-twittertalk/

Categories
Experiments Journalism Live Web Projects

We Say, twittertalk

A second version of the first experiment. In this window you can sort Twitter messages on certain words. Try to work with two words or use the more obvious words like McCain / Obama if you want to use more words. Otherwise you won’t get any results.

Another great polling service
Erik Borra created a polling service based on what people say on Twitter. With the service you get results on what people say they voted on Twitter. I’m trying to make a bar graph for this.

Categories
Experiments Interactive Storytelling Journalism Live Web Projects

I voted, storytelling with public databases

I’m a big fan of public databases, the live web and storytelling. I think they all give new opportunities for interactive and online storytelling. Twitter itself a very interesting database. Because it tells you what is going on and the API is very good.

About “I voted”
The next days American citizens will vote for either McCain or Obama. My guess is a lot of Twitter users will say on Twitter when, and on who they voted. This Flash application uses Twitter Search to see who voted on who. The animation automatically updates with the most recent tweet.

Queries
For this animation I use search.twitter.com (used to be summize.com)
The query: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%22i+voted%22+%2B+McCain+OR+Obama+-twitvote

Categories
Featured Interface design Journalism Social Classification

The Notification Homepage

My Facebook Homepage

This blog post was written for, and published on the Online Journalism Blog.

The last year has seen social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn updating the design of the homepage to turn it more into a notification page: the homepage as a place where you can see what your friends are doing. Your virtual center of the network.

These updates let you know what your friends are up to, but they also let you know what your friends like or share. The social networks often work as recommendation networks as well.

New technology, new business
Google added relevancy and order to hyperlinks and is very useful for the active searcher: someone who’s looking for something. Social networks add relevancy to hyperlinks you’re not searching for. The networks provide you with new information and new articles recommended by virtual friends.

Both are in a business that was traditionally the business of a news provider. Google gives you insight and background information. Social Networks keep you up-to-date and recommend information.

Does this design shift also affect the future design of news websites?
The average news website probably publishes around a hundred articles every 24 hours. We can’t and don’t want to read all the articles a news website publishes. We need filtering mechanisms.

News websites add hierarchy to the news by presenting the most important things first. But this is a mass hierarchy. It’s not personal. The sorting is based on what the news website thinks will interest most people. And this works very well for the most important news.

The news website is a large pile of stories. Is this still in the best interest for a reader? His or her most valuable asset is time. Sure there is some news you need to know about, but you get to know about the important facts through your social networks as well.

And if you know the facts you can learn more by hitting the search button. The news website is still a database with a single entry, the frontpage. This makes it vulnerable in a distributed environment.

Distributed environment
The future of information presentation (at least for the long tail of information) will probably be user-centered. Mobile devices are extremely user-centered. Successful access points like interfaces and devices provide readers with the most relevant information.

Time is our most valuable asset and the reduction of noise is a serious proposition for any new service. News itself is relevant, there is no question about this, but how do you deliver your content in a distributed environment?

Type of environments
There are different environments.

1. Get your content on other platforms through syndication or API’s. The problem is monetization, although you could distribute the news and link back to your website with hyperlinks in the text that link to more in-depth coverage.

2. Your content on your platform with a personalized presentation based on your own network or an external (social) network.

3. The current form of presentation where your content is on your platform presented in your hierarchy.

What can you do as a news website to be more relevant? Should news websites learn from the design of social networks and move to a more user centered approach? The New York Times is already doing this with Times People and with EN.nl (the project I work on) we created a personal selection based on your reading habbits.

Your Thoughts
What design elements that originated in social networks do you think could very well be applied to the basics or every major news homepage? Or what are the arguments not to implement this kind of functionality?

– Share articles with your friends
– See on what articles your friends commented
– See what your friends are reading
– See what news is happening close to your friends
– See news topics your friends subscribed to
– Discuss an article only with your friends

Categories
Featured Interactive Storytelling Journalism Live Web

The Live Web is Always Right, Until Proven Wrong

Fire in the Amsterdam Town Hall - Jan van de Heyden
Painting: Jan van de Heyden – inventor of the fire hose – Fire Amsterdam Town Hall 1690 (translated link)

Two major financial losses have we seen in the last two months. Not because of the credit crunch, but because everything in this digital world is connected.

On the web new information is true until proven false. This is something you might like, or not. It is not a choice, it’s the fact of a connected medium that gives everyone a voice. We have to find ways to work with it. And we are just starting to find out the effects of this dense and very well connected network that is continues searching for the next big thing… And the network is trigger happy.

About those losses
Ten billion dollar in total. Last month an old article about United Airlines re-appeared in Google News because of a date failure. News spread across the web in no time. Traders started selling shares, loss $1 billion.

Last week a wrong story about Steve Jobs having a hearth attack made it to CNN iReport. News spread across the web very fast and Apple stock plunged. Instant decrease in value: $9 billion.

Both stories started an online fire that could only be stopped by checking the story. But, when there is smoke in the air, the whole town is already alerted. You can’t hide it. All you can do is report facts as soon as possible.

In a dense societies, like the web, and cities in the seventeenth century. The high speed spreading of information is crucial. If there was a fire in your neighborhood. It didn’t really matter that much if it small or big, you would wanted to know about it. Since all houses were close to each other and stopping a fire was difficult. Alert first, check later.

The web is not paper
Reporting fragments of information is what the web is good at. We still use it as if it is a piece of paper. We publish hypertext, but we won’t alter it, like paper. We give web pages unique addresses, like paper. After all these years we still treat hypertext like paper.

Wikipedia
Wikipedia doesn’t. This is what makes Wikipedia more an internet product instead of a print product. Wikipedia is alive, it uses fixed urls and the content changes all the time. Everything can be altered and deleted. Hypertext is alive. Wikipedia is – like the web – a continues and endless process.

Open Source Journalism
The live web poses not directly new problems for journalism, but it requires more speed and a different way of working. It will eventually require a different approach. Journalists will have to be live reporters. They don’t decide if it will be news or not. They will decide if something will stay news or not.

As a reporter you can’t ignore the smoke in your town. Everyone wants to know what’s going on and it’s the job of the journalist to figure this out, as fast as possible. And the best way to do this is by using the collective wisdom and make his or her knowledge and process public. The open source journalist will be a better informed journalist.

And about the truth?
We will see many more of these short-time information failures in the future and those will probably also lead to large financial losses. We have to find a way to live with it. The journalist that works on the web will be more active as a firefighter instead of a fire starter.

Categories
Featured Interface design Usability

The underestimated value of marching backwards into the future

For an interaction designer not using the potential of a medium is horrible. There is this new medium with new a paradigm, new possibilities and you are using it the same way as the old medium. Let’s call it a transition period. McLuhan called it marching backwards into the future.

The value of the transition
For a designer there is nothing to gain in the transition period. It’s pretty frustrating to design the same old things on a new platform. We love using the new challenges a new medium gives us. And early adopters love designs and applications made for new media too.

And despite this there is incredible value in the transition. All thanks to the mental model. People are used in using something. And especially with digital media they have a mental model that tells them where they can find whatever they want. This is important when there is a new medium. They don’t understand the new medium, yet. But they do know how to navigate through your information as long it is structured the way it was on the old medium. And a large group of users will like it. See it as a beacon.

Examples

From paper to web
The newspaper where I work has this online image (pdf) based version. That looks exactly like the printed version, only online. From a web design perspective the interaction design is horrible. But it works for most users, since they have the mental model of the paper version. They know where to find what they are looking for. And this makes it easy to produce, and valuable for a large group of customers.

From television to web to iPhone
Dutch teletext is a very popular news service on television. TheY transported it to the web into an interface that doesn’t really make sense for the medium. And it was also transported to widgets and the iPhone. Creating a large group of very satisfied users.

From web to iPhone
The popular Dutch newswebsite Nu.nl is transporting the news website to the mobile sphere. Their readers except a similar experience on the iPhone as on the website.

From books to the Kindle
The Amazon Kindle and other eReader-devices are bringing the experience of reading books to the digital world. With a strong focus on recreating the same reading experience on this new device. In first instance they are neglecting (in communicating) the possibilities of these new devices that range from using hypernarrative structures, non-linear storytelling to importing the friends from your social network as characters in a book.

Why transporting the mental model to a new medium?
You slowly convert the mass from one medium to the other. It is often cheap to do and you will create a very popular service. It also gives you extra time and freedom to make something that is tailored to the medium. You earn some extra money and you are still connected with your users on the new medium.

Just some thoughts
How long can you stretch this? And would it for example make sense to convert the newspaper (paper version) to a pdf and make it viewable on your iPhone? Most readers will have the mental model of the paper version in mind and reading and browsing pdf-files on the iPhone gives a pretty good user experience.

Does it also work the other way around? For example the news website Nu.nl started on the web, can they transport the mental model used on the website to paper as well?

Do you have examples of successful companies that transported their content from one medium to another without altering the interface or way it works too much?