Notes Projects

Crowdsourcing this years election for the best dance track

This is the fifth year we’re making lists and the fourth year of the Eclectro election widget. The widget is grown up and out of development by now. It has proven itself year after year. Last year we collected almost 70.000 votes.

This year we asked the readers of Eclectro on Twitter, Facebook and the blog to submit tracks. And people submitted. We’ve got over 300 dance tracks produced in 2009, with only space for a selection of 100.

We asked some experts to look at the list to make sure we’ve got all important releases. All this was done using Google Docs. People searched audio files, checked if the files really were produced in 2009 and linked to images. Tasks were distributed and within a week from making the decision to do an election this year it’s here. And all of this was done without a single meeting. Amazing.

To everyone who helped, thanks. Feel free to share the widget and vote as much as you want.

Video of the voting widget in action

Journalism Live Web Notes

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.

Experiments Interface design Live Web Projects

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)
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The entire page
Twitter Dashboard design concept
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Photographs and other media links should be displayed inline. Like Twitstat does.

Reply and retweet should be inline as well.

The Social Web

Iterative progression, iterative culture

It’s been a while since I have posted something on The next weeks I’ll try to pick it up again and write about why the experimental news system 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.

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.


Newsletters I like

Despite RSS, Twitter feeds and Facebook fanpages, newsletter are still pretty nice. Below are some of my favorite newsletters. Please add your favorites in the comments.


My favorite newsletter about art, design and architecture.

About: art
Every: twice-monthly

Gvenk Daily (Dutch)
Every morning Dutch developer Gerard van Enk makes a daily tech update on Twitter. You should definitely follow @gvenkdaily (it’s in Dutch, but most links are English. You can also subscribe to the updates via e-mail.

About: technology news
Every: day

“Springwise and its network of 8,000 spotters scan the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds. Time to start the next big thing!”

Springwise always surprises you.

About: great ideas
Every: week

“Weekly roundup of design news and competitions from the #1 portal for design related information.”

A collection of design related news links nicely ordered by field of interest.

About: design, architecture
Every: week

Flavorpill Daily Dose
“Flavorpill’s Daily Dose is a jolt of cultural inspiration, delivered fresh to your inbox every weekday morning to help jump-start your day. Our mission is simple: to provide a quick look at what’s new in music, print, art, film, and online, by offering worthwhile culture to explore right from your screen.”

About: a daily dose of arts, music and culture
Every: day

Photography tips and tricks. It’s a real feelgood website/newsletter about what you can do with photography.

About: photography
Every: twice-a-week

“Sandbox is a trusted global network where extraordinary young achievers under 30 come together. It’s an inspiring meeting place where a selection of young thinkers and doers connect, exchange ideas and talk about innovation.”

It’s not really a newsletter kind of newsletter, because the newsletter is also about updates to Sandbox, but the content is really good.

About: updates on the Sandbox Network and inspirational links
Every: month

Share your favorite newsletters
Leave it the comments, send me a tweet or e-mail me at


In search of a new economic model. Two interesting videos

In the videos below Umar Haque and Douglas Rushkoff are both talking about a shift in how we consume and produce. Fueled by the financial crises there seems to be a growing focus on models that don’t extract value during the proces. The search for models where everyone benefits.

We see this in different fields. Michael Braungart and William McDonough propose in their book Cradle to Cradle a model where waste equeals food. And that we should create processes that are sustainable by itself or even add value on all sides of the proces (documentary).

Lev Manovich talks in his presentations about how a global collective culture gives us the same ideas at the same time. And that it’s almost impossible to have an unique idea, because we build so much on eachothers knowledge in this new connected culture. Working togother is the new ethos.

There is also a shift in advertising agencies. Agencies like Anomaly London and Nothing Amsterdam become creative partners. They Become part of the proces and add more sustainable value instead of extracting it.

Thinking about new models that try to add value. Nice things to wrap your head around. Enjoy.

Douglas Rushkoff is making a lot of interesting videos to promote his book Life Inc.

Life Inc. The Movie from Douglas Rushkoff on Vimeo.

Umar Haque recorded at the Constructive Capitalism conference

Umair Haque @ Daytona Sessions vol. 2 – Constructive Capitalism from Daytona Sessions on Vimeo.

Via (TiD)

Journalism Live Web The Social Web

What a news organization looks like in a social media driven web

Social media is becoming a very influential referrer. Website like Facebook and Twitter generate growing amounts of traffic websites. They work best for the live web (news) and for memes. And they are in the race to become serious competition for Google in getting the right people on the right page.

Social media (Twitter/Facebook) is the new Google (making the web more useful with its service). It doesn’t care about page rank. It cares about what people think and how trustworthy and influential people are.

Google and Twitter are very different in a number of ways.


  1. Longer URL, the longer the better
  2. Getting bigger websites to link to your website
  3. Know and find
  4. Authenticity
  5. Ranking content
  6. Optimization
  7. The best of time


  1. Short URL, an URL is waste of space
  2. Getting influential online people to talk about your website
  3. Follow and discover
  4. Creativity
  5. Ranking people
  6. Lobbying
  7. The best of now

What does this mean for news reporting?
The major news websites and publication systems weren’t really designed for SEO. They are still catching up, far behind the current technological state blogs are in.

While media and journalist are still blaming Google the second disrupting innovation for their Industry is already taking place. And this time they won’t be able to blaim a company.

What about the editors? Google was about systems, about technology. The current wave of social media is about people. Are the news editors – the current and a new generation – ready?

The link
A news organization in a social media environment doesn’t have to create content, it creates context around links. It directs you. That’s the function of a news organization. Guide you as a customer to the best information you can find. Sometimes this mean (re)writing a summary or story, other times it means linking to other good stuff.

It’s also about value. If you – as a content creator – are not adding much to what’s already out there you can’t expect to have a sustainable business model. If you don’t add much, you won’t get much.

The link is the most important asset of the web. It is for Google and it is for Twitter. In a social media driven web it’s not about the content the link directs to. It’s about who presents the link. Linking builds trust. You have to earn this trust by linking to things that add value for your audience.

Jay Rosen, professor at NYU on the ethic of the link

Interface design Mobile Projects

Content as Software

I recently worked on a large mobile project for the Volkskrant. The project contained mobile websites and numerous applications for different devices, including iPhone apps (iTunes link).

The Volkskrant on iPhone

Content as Software
I learned about the term content as software from Gerd Leonard. Not only does it sound very interesting, it’s also a very exiting development that follows from a series of events. A move from RSS, followed by widgets, API’s and standardization in platforms.

These new platforms like Adobe Air or the iPhone development platform make developing applications easier and accessible to a new and broader groups of developers.

On the other side software is being replaced by the – todays very powerful – browsers. Google is working hard to replace Microsoft Office functionality with Google Docs, and adding even more (web) functionality like working remotely together on documents.

A computer without internet connection is half the fun, or to most people useless. The computer as a communication device needs the web as much as it needs power. Todays software needs the web.

Should a media company make software?
Content as Software. Should media companies deliver content as software? We decided to with the Volkskrant iPhone application because we think an application gives a better user experience and is more effective on the iPhone platform compared to a mobile website. The New York Times released a desktop application based on Adobe Air. The content in the application isn’t unique, the presentation is.

A great advantage of distributing software for publishers is that it gives control to some extend. For example the Times Reader has free and subscription only articles in the same application. The “free” user experience is good, but they will try to persuade you to become a subscriber.

So, should a media company make software?
I don’t know. Just because we now can as easily develop software as we can develop websites doesn’t mean we should. From a pure logic perspective it doesn’t add much value to the content. It’s still the same content. From an emotional perspective it does add extra value to the experience, it’s a nice package. And that’s something you shouldn’t underestimate. An application is also more persistent, it’s always there on your startup screen, desktop or in your dock.

The best thing with content as software is to just try it. Like you would try with a website. Release soon and often. Todays software is like the web.

The Volkskrant on iPhone
Screenshots of the Volkskrant iPhone news application

Times Reader
Screenshot of Times Reader Desktop application

Music Projects

A bluetooth animation installation for clubs

For the Urban Explorers festival I used Roomware to make a new installation. My friend Ronnie made the animations and I connected the animations to Roomware.

Bluetooth animated pixel dancers installation from Wilbert Baan on Vimeo.

The Roomware server scans the venue for bluetooth devices. Each new device detected showed a new animation on the screen. When someone left the room (for example to go the bathroom) the character on the screen left the stage.

Eclectro installatie in Bibelot op Urban Explorers 2009 from Renier Eclectro on Vimeo.

Interactive Video Journalism Live Web Mobile Projects

The Urban Explorers 2009 video interface

The Urban Explorers video interface (live report) from Wilbert Baan on Vimeo.

For the music and art festival Urban Explorers festival I made a special video interface. During the festival reporters uploaded video with their mobile phones. The video was categorized on artists, venues and makers based on the video title. The project used the Blip API.

Give it a try.

Video interface for the Urban Explorers festival 2009

The report was done by reporters. I was supposed to be a reporter as well, but missed the festival because of the birth of Benjamin.

The process of building the interface can be found here.