Label Cloud

donderdag 18 december 2008


Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams' Wikinomics, how mass collaboration changes everything tells us how the internet and the digital culture is changing how we are interacting with each other, with the world, and how we are doing business. It is the natural follow-up to their The Digital Economy.

The basic premises of the book is that in thanks to the web 2.0 era the possibility to share information has encouraged a growing number of people to work together and to make better use of worldwide supply-chains. The large, established corporations have not always responded well to this, and most of them are not quite ready yet to change their business models. The authors however encourage companies to become what they call an "enterprise 2.0". The main attributes of such an enterprise are being open, peering, sharing, acting globally.

Being open implies being transparent (to a certain level) towards the world. On the one hand this means that you do not hide skeletons in your closet, on the other hand the authors state that opening up part of your system (which is not core business) can be beneficial. The common example of the latter is the opening up of applications and infrastructures by Amazon, Google and Facebook (but also the outsourcing of innovations by P&G).

Peering concerns working together in an open-source fashion to incrementally improve a given product. IBM has been able to extract considerable innovations from investing in the Linux community.

Sharing information and resources speeds up the process of innovation. The tricky part here is to share important information which do not count as trade secrets. In the beginning of the book, the example is given of a gold mining company in Canada, which couldn't find an important source of gold. Tests had shown that their must be a vast gold vein somewhere on their grounds, but their top geologists couldn't track it down. In the gold mining industry it is considered not done to share geological data. This is exactly what they did, and soon enough the new gold reserve was found thanks to the help of a huge amount of external contributors.

Acting globally is not deciding as a company what you will be doing and then doing this globally. Collaboration should be done on a global scale. Involve all the players in your supply chain. Share the gains and losses, and develop the product together.

All of this doesn't just happen by itself. It needs to be managed properly and done for the right reasons at the right time. Just opening up all your knowledge for the sake of opening up is not the answer either. Coca-cola can share the way they produce large quantities of cola, but they don't need to tell the details of their secret formula. Work together where it is beneficial, share information where possible and keep the secrets of your core business to yourself.

Tapscott and Williams flesh out their basic idea by detailing the components and prerequisites for the creation of an enterprise 2.0, to which they add a large amount of examples in the business world. All in all they make a convincing case. Part of what they are describing is already happening, part might be on its way. What is sure is that the information revolution and globalization is changing our world. The old business models are slowly outliving their usefulness in their current forms. The path sketched in wikinomics (although I'm not really a fan of the word) seems reasonable and well thought out. Only history will tell if it will all play out like that, but I for one hope it will. A culture, and a business, based on an open mentality can only make us evolve faster as a species. In a way capitalism, with the aid of the internet, has succeeded in creating the building blocks for a more egalitarian society in a way that communism never has.

vrijdag 5 december 2008

NISO guidelines for building good digital collections 2.0

The NISO Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections "provides an overview of some of the major components and activities involved in the creation of good digital collections and provides a framework for identifying, organizing, and applying existing knowledge and resources to support the development of sound local practices for creating and managing good digital collections. It is intended for two audiences: cultural heritage organizations planning projects to create digital collections, and funding organizations that want to encourage the development of good digital collections."

It is now editable by anyone who has an account. "With the third edition of the Framework, we open the document up for ongoing contributions from the community of librarians, archivists, curators, and other information professionals. We encourage you to contribute your own ideas and experiences, suggest resources, and evaluate those that have been suggested."

woensdag 3 december 2008

Zoetrope: historical browsing

Interesting new publication and tool from the University of Washington:

"Zoetrope: Interacting with the Ephemeral Web
Eytan Adar, Mira Dontcheva, James Fogarty, Daniel S. Weld

The Web is ephemeral. Pages change frequently, and it is nearly impossible to find data or follow a link after the underlying page evolves. We present Zoetrope, a system that enables interaction with the historical Web (pages, links, and embedded data) that would otherwise be lost to time. Using a number of novel interactions, the temporal Web can be manipulated, queried, and analyzed from the context of familar pages. Zoetrope is based on a set of operators for manipulating content streams. We describe these primitives and the associated indexing strategies for handling temporal Web data. They form the basis of Zoetrope and enable our construction of new temporal interactions and visualizations."

donderdag 20 november 2008

Grazzhoppa's DJ Bigband: Around the world in 80 beats

DJ Grazzhoppa is back with his Bigband. The latest incarnation contains 11 DJ's, a horn section and two singers. On the 19th the new show was presented at the KVS (the Royal Flemish Theatre) in Brussels. At first I was a bit apprehensive, because the previous show wasn't all that. Every track they did had a build-up, layer per layer, and then just stopped instead of going somewhere. They weren't really songs, but more a basic backbone to what might become an actual song. This time around though the songs were there. I was actually impressed. There were some classic "let's drop a beat and a scratch" moments, but the interplay between the dj's, the horns and the singers worked remarkably well. The previous to last song, called Anywhere but here, even gave me goose bumps, it was that amazing. They still need to get rid of some sloppy execution here and there, but with touring I'm sure that will disappear. In short, if they're in your area, go and see that shit! In the meantime, go to their homepage for some music and videos.

"around the world in 80 beats" live snippets from grazzhoppa on Vimeo.

dinsdag 11 november 2008

Gza presents Liquid Swords

Last night's concert was more than I hoped for. Gza played his seminal album Liquid Swords at the AB. Hardcore beats from the early Wu-Tang period. The best record he has ever made. It's a bit strange to hear every track from a record live, but even if you know what the next track will be it still remains too good when it drops. After he did all those songs, he followed up with some new stuff, but also with some of the old like clan in da front, crash your crew, Triumph and even ODB's Shimmy shimmy ya. As a support the amazing Killah Priest was there. Unfortunately the latter didn't do Tai chi, but ya can't have it all I guess.

This is the third time I've seen Gza, and each time he sucked ass. Too drunk to stand up straight, he didn't finish any of his sentences while rapping over a DAT tape. Luckily Dreddy Krueger was there to make the shows acceptable. This time however, he was sober, and spot on. The best Gza show to date, with nothing (or as good as) but dope ass beats. The only let down, was the fact he refused to do an encore. Killah Priest did something which resembled half a song and then just stopped. What can you do? Rappers are mostly amateurs when it comes to being professional musicians. I'm very happy with the Liquid Swords experience, and I hope other hip-hoppers will do follow his lead. Imagine Nas doing Illmatic, KRS doing Return of the boom bap or his self titled album, Gang Starr doing Step in the arena, Jeru doing The sun rises in the East, Black Moon doing Enta da stage, ... One can only hope.

Here's a video from a show two days earlier:

vrijdag 7 november 2008

Five Peace Band

Last tuesday Chick Corea and John McLaughlin were incredible. The are now on tour in Europe with the Five Peace Band, which is made up of three (as McLaughlin put it, in excellent French) heavy-weights in the world of Jazz: Kenny Garrett on sax, Christian McBride on bass and the incredible Vinnie Colaiuta on drums.

Chick Corea started his career with the likes of Herbie Mann and Stan Getz, before replacing Herbie Hancock as Miles Davis' pianist (appearing amongst others on Bitches Brew). After leaving Davis he formed the fusion band Return to Forever, with Stanley Clarke, Bill Conners and Lenny White. After the break up in the late 70ies he played in a variety of settings before forming the Elektric Band in the mid 80ies, which included the amazing drummer Dave Weckl. In the 21st century he's still releasing strong (solo) records, which are jazz and fusion oriented.

John McLaughlin is another virtuoso who featured on the classic Bitches Brew record. He was the leader of the Mahvishnu Orchestra and was a member of the incredible Lifetime, both classic examples of the fusion era.

The show was an absolute tour de force. At times soft, at times hard as fuck. But with a craftsmanship to be reckoned with. The songs were a mixture of some new and some old tracks, blended with a lot of improvisation. What more can you ask? Admittedly there were two or three minor moments where it was probably more fun for the musicians than for the listeners. But these moments didn't last too long. Herbie Hancock was also there. He was invited at the end of the show to play an improv track which was absolutely amazing. They may be getting a bit older, but these guys have not lost their energy. Absolutely amazing.

dinsdag 28 oktober 2008

Skoda Jazz

After Belga and Audi, Skoda has taken on the role of music promotor with the Skoda Jazz festival (22 september -13 december 2008). A number of dope artists have already done their thing (Herbaliser, Seun Kuti, Omara Portuondo, Jeff Neve, Amon Tobin, Horace Andy), but there is more greatness to come. My pick for the next few weeks:

  • Nov 4: Chick Corea & John McLaughlin: Five Peace Band: what can I say? These guys played on Miles Davis' Bitches Brew record, followed by succesful groups (Return to Forever, Mahavisnu Orchestra) and solo careers. (Koningin Elisabeth zaal, Antwerp)
  • Nov 4: Pierre Anckaert Trio: excellent Belgian jazz (Garage 29, Brussels)
  • 5 Nov: Herbie Hancock Sextet: no introduction necessary, remember Headhunters, Maiden Voyage and Rockit to name but a few (Koningin Elisabeth zaal, Antwerp)
  • Nov 14: John Scofield & the Piety Street Band (+Philip Catherine): bebop guitarist extraordinaire, earned his stripes with the likes of Miles Davis, Bill Frissel, Bill Lasswell, Chet Baker, Charles Mingus, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, etc. (Motives for Jazz Festival, Genk)
  • Nov 16: Guru's Jazzmatazz ft. MC Solaar: Legendary MC of Gangstarr, the first to extensively experiment with the mix of jazz and hip-hop together with France's first MC to get worldwide recognition. He's coming with DJ Doo Wop and some musicians. Nuff said (Arenburgschouwburg, Antwerp)
  • Nov 23: Chucho Valdés: founder of Irakere, he brings a blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, funk, rock and whatever strikes his fancy (Bozar, Brussels)

maandag 20 oktober 2008

Toots the Jazz Master

Congratulations to Toots Thielemans (86), Belgium's (Europe's?) finest jazz musician. He received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) award. He is now an official Jazz Master (the first European to receive the award). And well deserved it is. Noone who has seen him live, remains untouched by this giant's virtuosity and emotion-laden technique.

Jazz Middelheim (Antwerp) 2008

zaterdag 11 oktober 2008

Good Omens

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman's Good Omens tells the story of the coming of the End Times. The Anti-Christ is born and soon the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Famine, War, Pollution (Pestilence retired in 1936 after the discovery of penicillin) and Death, will be here to start off the Great War between Heaven and Hell. The problem is that the Angel Aziraphale (who used to have a fiery sword of justified vengeance, but thosee humans looked so cold) and the demon Crowley (who hisses slightly when he talks and had something to do with an apple and a tree) like the Earth the way it is. So, these unlikely long-time friends try to stop it from happening. The child who they think is the Son of Satan, is however a normal human. Due to a mix-up at birth, involving babbling satanist nuns, the Anti-Christ ends up growing up as a relatively normal child in Lower Tadfield, England. And so the race against time begins ...

The book was written when Terry Pratchett's star was starting to rise and Neil Gaiman was working on the Sandman graphic novels. Since then, the book has acquired somewhat of a cult status. Luckily I didn't know all of this when I started reading it. I've been a fan of Pratchett's work since a friend of mine introduced me to the Colour of Magic while studying (ahem) at the university. I only knew Neil Gaiman by name (I had heard of Sandman and American Gods), but I think I will become a fan of his work as well. Although there are some typical Pratchettisms in there, it is most definitely not a Discworld novel. The book has its own pace and character. What is very clear is that the combination of styles works very well.

Good Omens makes fun of the way people act towards one another and the planet (and a little bit of religion). The ending is so wonderfully naïve as to give you hope. But, although the story in itself is very nice, the most interesting part is the depiction of the characters. The story betrays a deep insight into people's motivations, hopes and frustrations. Definitely a must read. And now, to the bookstore to buy American Gods and some more Discworlds.

maandag 6 oktober 2008


About four years ago my mom introduced Hammy and me to two beautiful little kittens, a black female with white socks and a mixed male. We saw them and were lost. They got a little bigger and now they're four years old.

Unfortunately one of them got sick recently and we were forced to let him go. Needless to say that was not a very pleasant experience. The female has been a bit lonely since then. Miaowing incessantly, asking for a lot of attention. So we got her little friend.

I present to you, four months old Zorro!

woensdag 3 september 2008

Universal Declaration of Archives (draft)

The International Council on Archives (ICA) is preparing a Universal Declaration of Archives. It should be endorsed at the Annual General Meeting held in Malta in 2009.


Archives record decisions, actions and memories. Archives are a unique and irreplaceable heritage passed from one generation to another. Archives are managed from creation to preserve their value and meaning.

They are authoritative sources of information underpinning accountable and transparent administrative actions. They play an essential role in the development of societies by safeguarding and contributing to individual and community memory. Open access to archives enriches our knowledge of human society, promotes democracy, protects citizens'rights and enhances the quality of life.

To this effect, we recognize

a.. the unique quality of archives as authentic evidence of administrative, cultural and intellectual activities and as a reflection of the evolution of societies;
a.. the vital necessity of archives for supporting business efficiency, accountability and transparency, for protecting citizens rights, for establishing individual and collective memory, for understanding the past, and for documenting the present to guide future actions;
a.. the diversity of archives in recording every area of human activity;
a.. the multiplicity of formats in which archives are created including paper, electronic, audio visual and other types;
a.. the role of archivists as trained professionals with initial and continuing education, serving their societies by supporting the creation of records and by selecting, maintaining and making these records available for use;
a.. the collective responsibility of all - citizens, public administrators and decision-makers, owners or holders of public or private archives, and archivists and other information specialists - in the management of archives.

We therefore undertake to work together in order that

• appropriate national archival policies and laws are adopted and enforced;
• the management of archives is valued and carried outcompetently by all bodies, private or public, which create and use archives in the course of conducting their business;
• adequate resources are allocated to support the propermanagement of archives;
• archives are managed and preserved in ways that ensure theirauthenticity, reliability, integrity and usability;
• archives are made accessible to everyone, while respecting the pertinent laws and the rights of individuals, creators, owners and users;
• archives are used to contribute to the promotion of responsible citizenship.

maandag 11 augustus 2008

Mac & Hayes R.I.P.

In one week the world has had to mourn the less of two great entertainers. Bernie Mac has died at the age of 50. Isaac Hayes left us at 65. Both too young to go. Thank you for the laughs and thank you for the music.

vrijdag 8 augustus 2008

Cooper & Chalfant's Subway Art & Style Wars

Subway Art is thé classic book about NYC graffiti that has influenced generations of graffiti artists and hip-hop lovers alike. Inside you'll find the masterpieces by the Kings of the Line, Dondi ( R.I.P. ), Blade, Lee, Kase, Seen, Lady Pink and a host of others. I just spotted on the blog of the Brussels hip-hop crew and record label Souterrain that there is an e-version. Actually there are several. The one you can find underneath stays close to the paper format, and can be read in an easy viewing page flipper. There is another version in a Scribd file (pdf kinda format), which kan be found here. For the actual reading the latter is a bit more clear, but also slower to load.

This book can't be seen apart from the classic documentary Style Wars, so I included that one too for your viewing pleasure.

Link if you want to watch full screen.

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme

Freestyle: the Art of Rhyme is a documentary about that real shit. Watch and enjoy.

dinsdag 5 augustus 2008

Discworld: Moist von Lipwig books

In Going Postal Terry Pratchett has introduced the character Moist von Lipwig into the Discworld universe. Lipwig is a petty con artist who, at the 'request' of Lord Vetinari, the absolute ruler (Patrician) of the city of Ankh-Morpork, has taken on the daunting task of getting the city's run-down post office going again. To accomplish this, he uses his sense of showmanship to launch a number of initiatives. One of these is the invention and production of paper stamps. These can be bought here by the way. There is also a fan page and a dedicated forum. Inevitably he comes into conflict with the clacks (Discworld version of the telegraph) company the Grand Trump, which is run by shrewd and cruel businessmen (most notably the chairman Reacher Gilt). With his flamboyant style and daredevil attitude Lipwig, as Postmaster General, gets the job done.

At the beginning of the second book in the series, Making money, Lipwig has turned the post office into a smoothly operating machine. He is also betrothed to the love interest of the previous book, Adora Belle Dearheart, the cynical, chain-smoking, tough mama, employee and advocate of the Golem Trust Fund. The crimes of the past have been forgotten, he's got himself a woman, he's even become somewhat of a respected citizen. He's got everything a man could wish for ... and he's bored. Vetinari alleviates this problem by introducing him to Topsy Lavish, the elderly chairwoman of the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork and the Royal Mint. The next day she dies. She has left the majority of the shares and the chairmanship to her dog Mr. Fusspot, who is placed in the care of Lipwig. Cosmo Lavish, an incredibly ambitious member of the family is not very happy with this choice and tries to undermine Lipwig's efforts to make the Bank a respected institution again. As the story unfolds Lipwig once again proves to be innovative. He creates paper money (picture) and ends up replacing the gold standard by ... something else (wouldn't wan to ruin the fun).

The basic backbone of the larger story is more or less the same as the first books of the City Watch series. The main character is down and out. Out of necessity he picks himself up and becomes a useful member of society. Then he gets bored, but luckily a new challenge presents itself. If a third book will appear, Lipwig will probably get married in that one. That being said, this new series is different in the portrayal of characters. The con man with his devious ways, the obsessive postal employee Stanley and the absolutely mad Cosmo Lavish, make both books very enjoyable reads. As always, Pratchett portrays a deep insight into the Western world in general and human psychology in particular. Long time fans will definitely not be disappointed. For those who are not familiar with the Discworld, this would make a good introduction. The story's focus is less on magic than usual, while the themes are universal in nature, making it enjoyable to people who aren't really into fantasy.

woensdag 30 juli 2008

Forbidden Ensemble: Porno soundtracks

Three known Flemish artists are the musicians behind the Forbidden Ensemble. They have composed a soundtrack to seventies porn movies in true retro style, with excellent titles like We Have to Take Some Measurements First, Sonny darling I'm having a shower and I want to have the master bedroom decorated first. And best of all, the entire album can be downloaded for free. Go to their website and have a listen. You will not be disappointed. In their own words: "This music sounds like a combination of Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof and the Emanuelle sequels of adult movies. Feisty and furious with a sugarcoat of sensuality. This is the first volume of their ventures, played on real instruments and treated to have the authentic sleazy sound of the 70's."

Check out the promo video:

P*rno Soundtracks Volume 1 - Sonny Darling, I'm Having a Shower Now from on Vimeo.

maandag 28 juli 2008

On The Go: Repeat offender

Legendary graffiti tape from back in the day. 'Nuff said.

Digital reading with Kindle

I recently heard about the Amazon Kindle e-book reader. The article I read about boosted the ease of use and, most importantly, the ease of reading thanks to a paperlike quality of the screen. I was really excited about all this and wanted to have one. I'm an old school book lover. I just love having a paper copy, flipping the pages, rummaging through the bins in bookstores. However, I also read quite a lot of papers on the internet, mostly in pdf format which I don't intend to buy. Printing all of these would become expensive and would not be very friendly to the environment. So, an e-reader would come in handy. I wanted to write a post about how nice it would be to own a Kindle for that particular purpose. And then I did a quick check up on the internet. Instead of going the open source route, Amazon has opted for DRM proprietary software (read: Big Brother). The only non locked-in formats the device will support is html and txt, which can only be converted by mail at 10 cents a pop. Too bad, it seemed like a good idea. Yes, it's easy to buy books from their store, but if I want to buy a book I'll buy the paper version. My studies in records management have taught me one thing: digital media cannot be trusted, pc's crash, get corrupted by viruses, formats get outdated. My books are paper, my music is vinyl. MP3's and e-books are the things you find as torrent files to back up the other formats. Which reminds me, I really need to make hard copies of my pictures.

I hope Amazon will see the light in the future, or that some other company will. Apparently, the screen is really all that. So the product in itself seems amazing. But it's best to wait a little bit longer until the 2.0 release (and for the price to go down). In the meantime, here are some reviews: Paul Thurrott's in depth review, the Kindle Swindle, Gizmodo's Real Life Review, Wired's (Sony) Reader vs. Kindle, Technology Evangelist's video about the design features.

dinsdag 22 juli 2008

Gent Jazz 19 August 2008

I thought that I wouldn't be able to see any of the great live shows in Belgium this summer. Until further notice I'm working on my master thesis. And it still needs quite some work. But, Friday my dad asked me if I wanted to go to Gent Jazz. And since all work and no play makes me go crazy, I (reluctantly) agreed. And I'm glad I did. We missed the first band, Brazzaville, but that couldn't dampen the spirit.

When we arrived, Marcus Miller was in the middle of the song Jean-Pierre, which is one of my favorite Miles Davis tracks. Let's take a step back first. I saw Miller live the first (and up until now the only) time about ten years ago in Maastricht. He played before the incredible Buckshot LeFonque (legendary fusion project of Branford Marsalis and DJ Premier). I was there for the latter, but when Miller got on stage he just blew me away. Smooth and soft when he needs to be, but most of all what an energy and power! Immediately afterwards I bought the album Tales. So, I was very happy with the opportunity to see the man once more. He has worked with several great musicians, such as Earl Klugh, Grover Washington Jr. and Bob James. After them he teamed up with Miles Davis for several years and recorder a number of albums with him. I didn't know he wrote Tutu, which was the last song he played. As you might expect everything he played was with virtuosity. Kudos also to the 20 year old saxophone player he had with him. He also had a DJ Logic with him, although I fail to see the logic in bringing that DJ (get it? oh I crack myself up sometimes, ahum ...). You've got these very talented musicians doing incredible things ... and a sucka dj who did nothing more than some stabs, slow-ass chirps and fades. Besides that I really enjoyed the funky blend Miller is so good at.

I had heard of the Neville Brothers, I knew a couple of songs (not by name), but I didn't really know their music. Boy, was I in for a surprise! Funky as hell, mixing up everything in a way only people from New Orleans can. They played a rumba version of Ain't no sunshine, a funk version of It don't mean a thing, a soul version of The bayou to name but a few. A beautiful mix of original material and covers in all styles they could think of. On a side note, I was very surprised to see the physical appearance that accompanied the lead singer. The guy is massive, big muscular arms with tattoos on both of them, balhead with a tattoo of a bird on his face; and then this fragile, sensitive voice. Anyway, the Neville Brothers rock!

Words can only say that much, here's some music:

Marcus Miller

The Neville Brothers

vrijdag 18 juli 2008

Te of Piglet

The Te of Piglet (or Virtue of the Small) is the companion book to the Tao of Pooh. Once again A. A. Milne's characters are being used to illustrate principles from the Taoist philosophy. The elements he described in his previous book are explained in more detail: Owl is the epitome of knowledge without wisdom, Rabbit is the clever person who worries about appearances, Tigger represents impulsiveness without taking the time to do things right, and Eeyores are people who always complain instead of seeing the silver lining. Piglet is used as an example of the Virtue of the Small. He's A Very Tiny Animal who might not do great deeds, but he does come through in a pinch. He's portrayed as the only one of the 100 Acre Woods friends who evolves as a person. Instead of lamenting about his smallness, he does what needs to be done when necessary.

Benjamin Hoff's portrayal of Pooh and his friends starts of well enough. However, a few pages into every chapter he starts complaining about how the Western world (although he seems to equate the US with the West as a whole) is doing things wrong. Because of this, parts of the book feel as a petulant rant. At times he even comes off as bitter. This is in contrast with the ending, where he claims belief in the coming of an esoteric better world (very much like The Last Battle of Narnia and The Silmarillion) based on a back-to-nature philosophy in which all of nature lives in perfect harmony.

All in all I would suggest to read the Tao of Pooh (which is absolutely brilliant) and leave this one be. If you really want to read both, do so in one go. Don't leave too much time between them. This way, IMHO, it's easier to appreciate the good parts of the Te of Piglet while skipping the once that aren't really up to par.

donderdag 10 juli 2008

Dawkin's militant atheism

Richard Dawkins is the man who introduced us to the concept of the meme ( a self replicating unit of culture) in his renowned book the Selfish Gene. Since then he has written a score of books on evolutionary biology in an understandable language. He is also a staunch critic of creationism (including its current American version intelligent design). During his TED speech he urges all atheists to stand up against the mixture of politics and religion, since the only place in the world were Church/Mosque/Temple/Whatever and State are still strictly kept separate is Western Europe (and Turkey). This kind of subject has the danger of either becoming tedious or ridiculous. Dawkins is neither of these. He talks eloquently and, above all, he's very funny (as well as being right).

(Original page here.)

dinsdag 8 juli 2008

Karen Armstrong's TED Prize Wish

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is as an annual conference which brings together a host of internationally renowned thinkers on a large range of topics. The idea is to spread ideas because the organizers "believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other." The best talks are distributed freely online.

The yearly TED Prize grants several prize winners' "One Wish to Change the World, by leveraging the help of their community. They receive monetary and organizational support for their work to be undertaken. Underneath you can find Karen Armstrong's wish.

Karen Armstrong has written 20 books about comparative religion. The main tenet of her argument is that all religions basically say the same thing by placing great importance on compassion. I've only read The Great Transformation up until now, but that book has got me hooked on her writing. In it she describes the historical roots, together with their history of ideas, of the main current religions. It's nothing short of an amazing piece of scholarship. The next two works on my list are The Bible: a biography and The Battle for God: Fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

(If the video loads too slow, here's the original page.)

woensdag 2 juli 2008

Simple explanation of Web 3.0

We have hardly digested the Web 2.0 social revolution an people are already talking about Web 3.0 or the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web is made up of a number of different technologies with enough abreviations to scare most people away from the concept. Freek Bijl, a Dutch internet strategy advisor has given a simple presentation explaining Web 3.0 for dummies.

Part I: the basics

Part II: techniques

agglom has aggregated these two presentations with other slideshows and videos, and links, under the header "Web 3.0 - meaningless or future - what do you think about?"

dinsdag 1 juli 2008

Bloody Good Samaritan

The other day I was waiting for the tram, when a lady holding a baby asks me in Dutch if the next one is going to the Brussels Midi train station. She, the baby, and her daughter were going to Antwerp. From where we were it's faster to go either to the North of Central station. Since I was going to Central I told them to follow me. So, the next tram arrived and we got on it. After which they more or less ignored me. Fine, you don't have to make small talk if you don't want to but in general people say at least a few words if someone's helping them. Anyway, to get to the centre you first take the tram till Montgomery and there you change for the metro. We arrived at Montgomery. I told them to get off and to follow me once more, which they reluctantly did. I lead them to the right metro stop. Then, I explained that next they will have to take the next metro, get off at Central Station, mount the stairs, go through the long hallway and go to track n° 5. This seemed to me quite precise. I sensed they didn't want to talk anymore so I backed off. The next metro came, I told to get on and I got on myself. They didn't move. From inside the metro I motioned to them to move before it was too late. The daughter waved at me with this strange look on her face which seemed to say "ok strange man go away now". After the doors closed and the metro was moving again I just stood there perplexed. I mean, I could not have been any clearer. They probably just stayed put for the next hour or so, waiting for the train to Antwerp. If they were lucky they found someone else who spoke Dutch to explain to them the same thing I already said. They totally ruined my good deed of the day. Fucking tourists.

woensdag 18 juni 2008

Festivals in Belgium

The festival season is approaching once more. Here are my picks for 2008:

Couleur Café: 27-29 June at the Tour & Taxis site in Brussels.
* Friday
- MC Solaar
- Orishas
- Erykah Badu
* Saturday
- Omar Perry
- Juan Formell y Los Van Van
* Sunday
- Baloji
- Psy 4 de la Rime
- Massilia Sound System
- le Peuple de l'Herbe

Gent Jazz: 10-13 and 17-20 July in Gent
*Thursday 10/07
- Herbie Hancock
* Sunday 13/07
- Bert Joris Quintet
- Saxophone Summit (Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman)
- Wayne Shorter Quartet
* Thurday 17/07
- Buscemi Big Band
- Herbaliser
- Erykah Badu
* Friday 18/07
- Roberto Fonseca
- Omara Portuondo
- Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club
* Saturday 19/07
- Brazzaville
- Marcus Miller feat. DJ Logic
- The Neville Brothers

Cactus Festival: 11-13 July in Brugge
* Friday
- Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
- Brooklyn Funk Essentials
* Saturday
- Saul Williams
- Cinematic Orchestra
- Arno
* Sunday
- Bootsy Collins & the Hardest Working Band

Les Ardentes: 10-14 July in Liège
* Thursday
- Cypress Hill
- Laurent Garnier
* Sunday
- Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators (also on 12/07 in KortrijkCongee)

Dour: 17 - 20 July (near Mons)
* Thursday
- Birdy Nam Nam
- Birdy HardERS (Birdy Nam Nam vs Party HardERS) & Special Guest Busy P.
* Friday
- Ice Cube
- Wu-Tang Clan
- Roni Size/ Reprazent
- Richie Hawtin
- Flat Earth Society Meets Jimi Tenor
- The Bug could be good
* Saturday
- The Herbaliser
- DJ Krush
- Mr Scruff
- Black Moon
- Lefto
* Sunday
- DJ Q-Bert
- Beat Torrent (perhaps)
- Akro (with live band)
- Svinkels (perhaps)

Feest in't Park: 22-24 August in Oudenaarde.
* Friday
- DJ Food & DK
- Discobar Galaxie
- le Peuple de l'Herbe
- Jerboa 'Au Cinema'
* Saturday
- Hooverphonic
- The Roots
- Red D & Lady Linn
* Saturday
- Beenieman
- Arno
- George Clinton with Parliament/Funkadelic

Grotere kaart weergeven

vrijdag 13 juni 2008


Archivopedia is a wiki project for, you guessed it, information regarding everything about archives. Check out the presentation.

donderdag 12 juni 2008

Brainiac - Looking At Breasts Experiment

What we do in the name of science:

Tao of Pooh

About a year and a half ago I saw the title of this book by a writer I had never heard about. But what a title: The Tao of Pooh. Cute, yet intriguing. Since then I wanted to buy it, but I never did. I already own enough books I still need to get through, and the few times I checked in the local English bookstore they would have had to order it so I didn't bother. Last week however I was showing the bookshop Sterling Books to a friend of mine, without the intent of buying anything, and the book was in. Naturally, I couldn't resist. And I'm very I glad I couldn't.

In the Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff explains the basic concepts of Taoism with the character of Winnie-the-Pooh as the perfect example of its principles in action. Pooh exemplifies the idea of the Uncarved Block, or P'u. "The essence of the Uncarved Block is that things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed." Essentially it means that we should listen more to our Inner Nature and see things as they are instead of how we want them to be. This in contrast with Owl who lets his knowledge get in the way for the sake of keeping up an image of wisdom, Eeyore who lets it get in the way of enjoying life, and Rabbit who uses it to sound Clever. The other concept that is touched upon is that of Wu Wei, or Effortless Action (lit. non action or not doing). This means doing things in a natural way, knowing when to act and when not. The traditional metaphor is that of water flowing. A stream of water will not try to move a rock in its path, but will flow around.

As an introduction to Taoism this book is very nice. It explains all the basic concepts in an easy to read and understand way. Using the Pooh characters as metaphors works very well. It's easy to imagine Pooh as a practitioner of Wu Wei and seeing things for what they are in his simplicity. I'm almost convinced that A.A. Milne was a Taoist philosopher without realizing it. Moreover, my interest in Taoism is now aroused. I've always had this feeling that it's an interesting philosophy, but living in a Western society you never really get in touch with it. So, there is much more to find out. First, we'll read the follow-up though, The Te of Piglet.

woensdag 28 mei 2008

vrijdag 23 mei 2008

Cult of the amateur

In The Cult of the Amateur. How today's internet is killing our culture and assaulting our economy Andrew Keen has written an anti-web 2.0 polemic. The title, as well as the basic idea of the book, comes from Nicholas Carr's post The amorality of Web 2.0. The premise is that the democratization of the internet is a Great Seduction (incidentally also the title of Keen's blog), in that it's promising what it can't deliver, i.e. the new digital economy will free us from historical structures and injustices, in particular mainstream media. The democratized media ideally does way with intermediaries, making the offered information more truthful and efficient. Keen asserts that this is not the case.

Summary. What he calls the Noble Amateur is being glorified by web 2.0 proponents, and in many cases are glorifying themselves. The new media has made it extremely easy to publish one's own opinions and artistic endeavors. The result of the ubiquitous blog, video- and music sharing sites is an enormous flood of amateur productions. It is already impossible to read every book that has been published, listen to all the music on the market or see all the movies. Do we need to wade through all the, mediocre at best, amateur art as well, Keen asks. The same goes for amateur journalism. In most cases he considers them opinionated without being actually knowledgeable, basing their thoughts on the work of others. This in contrast with real journalists who have experience and the financial backing (thus access to resources) of their employers. The result is a flattening of our culture, and a media that is more vulnerable to corruption. That is why we need cultural gatekeepers in a formalized, official and transparent way. The new elite of the internet is now anonymous. Algorithms have become more important than humans. On sites like Digg and Reddit, top ranking news items are based on popularity. So, if an item gets more diggs, the item becomes important. Systems like that can be gamed. Citing Pareto, Keen states that all systems are dominated by 20% of the people that shape 80% of the content. So wisdom-of-the-crowd sites are being shaped by twentysomethings. Related to this, he warns for is the flattening of paid and unpaid content. In traditional media it is clear what is information and what is a commercial. On sites like YouTube it is now easy to insert commercial messages that look like it has been produced by amateurs. By gaining anonymity, we're losing context.

For our economy, the problem with the web 2.0 culture, is the concept of the free lunch. People are reading free news on blogs and other sites, sharing mp3's, videos and books, and give nothing in return. Traditional media loses money, but no new revenue is being created to sustain the economy. If we don't watch out, record companies will no longer be able to support artists, news agencies will have to cut down on decent journalism, publishing only faits divers, and Hollywood will crumble. And what do we get in return? Wikipedia with its badly written prose and sometimes gross factual errors, MySpace mediocrity and YouTube amateurism.

This is not the biggest danger. In the chapter "1984 2.0" Keen explains the problem with search engines. Sites like Google are aggregating enormous amounts of personal information. Up until now, there exist no laws detailing what exactly can be done with that information or how long it may be stored. In this way we're giving up our right to privacy.

This more or less summarizes the book. A more extensive explanation is given by Andrew Keen himself during a presentation at Google (Authors@Google):

Review. After reading Weinberger's pro web 2.0 books I thought it seemed like a good idea to see what the other side of the medal looks like. Keen gives a warning against the all too rosy view of how the internet looks like now. Checks and balances are duly needed to avoid too much abuse of people. In the last chapter he proposes a few solutions, which make sense. One of them is, own up. Sign information with your own name. In that respect, the information in online encyclopedias can get better. The newly founded Citizendium is being cited. This is a wiki like Wikipedia, with the difference that editors need to use their own name. Another adjustment is the importance of experts. When a discussion should arise about nuclear fission, the word of a Ph.D. in nuclear physics will carry more weight than that of a 13 year old high school student. Joseph Reagle pointed out in his blog that in Wikipedia editing is in fact checked for relevance and accuracy (as wel as Lessig, see further). The discussion Keen refers to, is portrayed as a war between an expert and an amateur in which the amateur won. This is however not the case. Apparently the expert was being reprimanded for editing without explanations, while the amateur was banned for a moment in time from editing at all. For a more details, see the original post.

Keen warns for the danger in the data searchengines gather. Google knows more about everyone than any institution ever before. Nobody knows what they do with the data gathered from searches and there are no laws controlling it. He's got a point there. Some form of legislation might not be too bad. The European Union is now taking some first steps. Privacy officials are conerned that searchengines keep their data for too long and propose to destroy them after six months. Although it's good that some rules will probably follow, I'd rather they didn't destroy the data. I'm convinced there are possibilities of doing some very interesting historical and sociological research can be done with the gather information. It would be a better idea to hand it over to a digital repository (archives) under the control of the EU.

In the chapter "moral disorder" he talks about the dangers of sexual predators trying to seduce children on social networking sites, and the growing addiction to porn and online gambling. In his "solutions" he hits the nail on the head. It's up to the parents to instill proper values in their children. Yes there are perverts out there. But out there means the real world too. Teach your children well and the problem won't become one.

That being said, the book feels more like a cleaned up rant than anything else. It's not always clear what Keen is against. He's defending main stream media, because they can provide us with decent material based on their size. On the other hand, he's against companies like Google because they're becoming too big. He blames web 2.0 for destroying the music industry and other media. The fact that record companies are losing money can not be attributed only to the fact that music can be shared. And if it can, then I would like to see the research that supports the direct link he's trying to convince us of. Although I don't have a thorough economical background, even I feel that he's lumping arguments together. But don't take my word on it. Andrew Lessig, the founder of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society and CEO of the Creative Commons project, criticized the sloppy reasonings and economic explanations on his blog. He wonders how it is possible that all the factual errors present in the book could have gotten past the rigorous editing process that Keen claims is inherent to mainstream media (as opposed to the internet). "And then it hit me: Keen is our generation's greatest self-parodist. His book is not a criticism of the Internet. Like the article in Nature comparing Wikipedia and Britannica, the real argument of Keen's book is that traditional media and publishing is just as bad as the worst of the Internet. Here's a book -- Keen's -- that has passed through all the rigor of modern American publishing, yet which is perhaps as reliable as your average blog post: No doubt interesting, sometimes well written, lots of times ridiculously over the top -- but also riddled with errors. Keen's obvious point is to show those with a blind faith in the traditional system that it can be just as bad as the worst of the Internet. Indeed, one might say even worse, since the Internet doesn't primp itself with the pretense that its words are promised to be true."It bothered him to the point that he made a wiki about the book, The Keen Reader. He explains the several fallacies in Keen's work. His economical views on how internet businesses work are a bit shortsighted, lacking a basic understanding of economics.

Further more, Keen places an undying trust in the Experts of this world. Everybody's opinion counts equally on the internet, while the value of those who know more or are more creative is being ignored. Therefore we need cultural gatekeepers. And who is going to decide who will be those Keepers of the Gate? The concept of a truly transparent organization which elects its members democratically is very beautiful, but how long will that last? Such an organization would only slow the pace of knowledge sharing down. The internet was able to develop so quickly because of the lack of gatekeepers. Don't mess it up by installing them now. And let's not forget that mainstream media isn't all that wonderful. Do we need another Britney Spears or 50 Cent? And Big News isn't always that neutral either. It is well known that Fox News is pro-Republican, just like we know in Belgium that the newspaper De Morgen is somewhat pro-socialist and the magazine Knack is republican (the European meaning of the word, for the Republic, against the monarchy). Most importantly, all the mediocre music, videos, amateur news and whatnot is of fleeting interest. They'll get their 15 seconds of fame, and will dissapear again. Quality eventually floats to the top. Mr. Keen does not want to wade through all those MySpaces and YouTubes. Well other people do. And for those who don't, there are other ways of finding good things. Personally, it helps me more to read on a forum or a blog music reviews by people who consistently write good reviews than by reading professional magazines. The magazine might have a better understanding of the exact musical references, but the blogger will tell me if that shit is dope. And that's all I need to know. After which I'll try to figure out for myself if I like it or not.

The internet is having a profound impact on the way we live our lives. It's also a young technology. People are still adjusting to what it is like to be a 'netizen'. Yes, bad things come from that, such as Second Life addictions, but there are also TV addicts. Keen says that on the internet people only visit those sites with likeminded individuals, reinforcing their beliefs. And the difference with your local bible study group is ...? We're talking basic psychology here. You hear a piece of information. Then you try to incorporate it your mental model of the world. Conflicting information gets filtered out, compatible info stays. Meaning: like attracts like. Traditional media are supposed to give us a more general understanding of the world, by producing balanced information. The fault in this reasoning is that everybody is interested in the world. People who are find their information in regular newspapers but also on the internet. Those who are not, don't. The same goes for being critical on the internet. People who are critical in general remain so online, those who are gullible do not. I wonder if people are not even more critical online since it is well known that everybody can publish anything they like.

The internet has opened up a world of possibilities. People like Keen would like to close them again. Yes there is a lot of amateurism out there which cannot compete in some respects to official media outlets, but there are also very good amateurs who are worth listening to (besides a number of experts writing blogs). I want to be able to choose between both of them, instead of someone else making that choice for me. The book is interesting in the sense that it provides some counterweight to some of the all too positive web 2.0 proponents. But more than that it cannot be said to be.

vrijdag 16 mei 2008

Baloji's Hotel Impala

Starflam's Baloji has dropped his first solo album a while back, called Hôtel Impala (volume 1). Since buying it a week or two ago I've been listening to it over and over again. To anybody who likes Hip Hop, cop that shit! Overall the beats are good, the rhymes are tight, what more do you want? The sound is not like that nineties ish we like, but it sure as hell isn't like that protools synth crap we've been hearing for the last couple of years either. If anything, Hôtel Impala sounds personal and committed. For a more detailed overview of the album, here's an interview with the man himself.

Tout ceci ne vous rendra pas le Congo

De l'autre côté de la mère

Interview (with English subs)

dinsdag 6 mei 2008

Baby loves Hip Hop

"Hall of fame hip-hop producer Prince Paul teams up with some of rap music’s most celebrated mcs to create a prehistoric, preschool musical masterpiece. Part book on tape (narrated by Grammy winning poet Ursula Rucker), part Broadway show (The story was just optioned by Pablo Piccasso!) the cd takes kids (and parents) on a musical journey that tells the story of 5 best dino friends that come together to teach key life lessons and have fun."

The Dino 5 consists of DJ Stegosaurus (Prince Paul), MC T-Rex (Chali 2Na of Jurassic 5), Tracy Triceratops (Ladybug of Digable Planets), Teo Pterodactyl (Scratch of the Roots), and Billy Brontosaurus (Wordsworth of eMC).

Nice one. 'Cos I'm sure Babies love Hip Hop too.

maandag 28 april 2008

He's a muthafuckin' puppet!

A movie called Black Devil Doll. "Suck my puppet dick, bitch." Hahahahaha!!!! Check the hilarious trailer. Definetely NSFW. "If the thought of a wayward white woman having sexual relations with a demonic jive ass black puppet offends you, DO NOT SEE Black Devil Doll." "And if you think you're ready for him, think again bitch."

zaterdag 26 april 2008

The colour of magic

Sky One has already made a movie adaption of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather. This Easter they have released the man's first novel, the colour of magic. And once again it looks good. I'll be watching it soon.

You can see a trailer on the official site. The two parts can be seen here and here. Enjoy!

P.S.: if you missed the Hogfather: click.

donderdag 10 april 2008

Egg suicides

Send me your stereotypes

The only things most people in the West know about the Arab world is what we hear on the news. Since the images we get are not all that positive it's easy to think in stereotypes. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan wants to open up a dialogue via her personal YouTube Channel. Until the 28th of August (World Youth Day) she'll be accepting questions about the Arab world, asking everyone to Send me your stereotypes. I'm curious about the result.

woensdag 2 april 2008

Everything is miscellaneous

David Weinberger's Everything is miscellaneous, the power of the new digital disorder offers a refreshing view on the way we organize our world and order information, and on the importance of knowledge. Historically he divides these efforts into the first, second and third order of order. The first order of order comprises the physical world. It is the way we organize our personal things, our house, a store, factories, etc. The second order tries to make knowledge accessible: classifications, taxonomies, encyclopedia, card catalogs etc. In the third order (which has the same object as the second) miscellaneousness rules.

The second order of order has been guided by the limitations of the physical world. No two things can be in the same place at the same time. Conversely, no one thing can be at two places at the same time (although quantum physics has cast somewhat of a shadow over that idea). In the same way, the organization of world views had to be thought out on paper. A certain item, a concept, can only be placed in one spot on the page. In the third order, these limitations no longer exist. Within the digital realm every concept can be at different places at any given time and knowledge can take on the form we choose to see at any given time.

The opening chapters of the book give an historical overview of the way we have been classifying the world, starting with the Aristotelian idea that there is a natural order of things and that knowledge should be divided according to this "natural formation, where the joint is, not breaking any part as a bad carver might" (Plato). This has resulted in tree-structures, where everything has its place and is a part of a broader or narrower class of categories. The problem is that the world is more complex than that. Besides, the way unified trees are structured depends on the way the person who has conceived it sees the world. The classical example is Melvin Dewey's Decimal Classification system (DDC). The choices he has made, honorable as they were, were obviously historically, personally and culturally biased. Nevertheless, the traditional classification methods have their virtues. In his own style, Weinberger explains what they are about, how they work and how they came about, in chronological order (from Plato over faceted classification to taxonomies, over ontologies to the semantic web), together with their virtues and shortcomings.

The newest member of this family is the folksonomy. A folksonomy is derived from the words 'folk' and 'taxonomy' (not to be confused with folk taxonomy). It describes methods of collaborative tagging. The classic examples are the sites and Flickr, but there are many more who utilize the same principle (eg. CiteUlike, LibraryThing, Connotea, BibSonomy, Technorati, Digg, Reddit). On these sites you can tag (add keywords) to the content you're saving to your account. These tags, together with the content you saved, are visible to the rest of the community who can use them to find interesting information. Folksonomies are more flexible than classical categorization schemes since anyone can add any type of keyword they'd like. The disadvantage is that anyone can add any keyword they'd like. Folksonomies provide a bottom-up approach, which enables finding items more intuitively because they are stated in a language that everybody speaks. On the other hand they can hide objects for the same reason because of problems with homonymy, synonymy, typos and the use of idiosyncratic tags.

The major innovation of the digital age however, lies in the fact that concepts (and its related content) no longer need to be in one specific place. As Weinberger puts it, in tree-like structures every leaf hangs from a particular branch. Now, a leaf can hang from many branches at the same time. He states that messiness can be seen as a virtue, since you only 'clean up' when you need to according to your preference of the moment. As an example he cites the online shop Amazon. A shop which arranges itself in different ways every time you visit it, in a view suited to what you're looking for at the time.

David Weinberger has a very positive view on the way technology is changing the way we think. This latest information revolution is providing us with new possibilities. He feels that we are reverting to a more natural way of gathering and disseminating knowledge: through conversation. And he's right. The more connected we get, the faster our knowledge base will grow as a species. Taxonomies provide you with a view of how information is related and how knowledge should be divided, according to the author of the taxonomy in question. Now, everybody can create his view. We have to watch out though that we don't revert to what Jaron Lanier calls digital maoism. It is not the 'hive mind' that will set us free, but the collective work of individuals. Sharing information, heightens our general knowledge. Working towards a consensus where everybody is happy with the outcome is an illusion however.

Only a small percentage of people actually are concerned with all of the above, but if only 1% of the world's population plays an active part, the rest can still make use of what these 6.8 million people have done. Of course, not everything is digital. We have to live in the physical world. An online shop can rearrange itself every time you visit it, in the real world there are some different constraints. This is especially true for archives, where finding a piece of information is not the only issue. In order to understand what you have found, you need to be able to place it into context. The structure of the inventory (taxonomy) will, ideally, provide you with the structure of the archive(s) in its original and/or functional state. This structure depends on the choices the archivist has made, so it's subjective to a certain extent. When done well however, these choices can give you an insight about the relevance of the document to the research you are conducting.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the digital realm is enabling us to get connected, make our work more efficient, erode certain traditional power structures. Weinberger depicts somewhat of a digital utopia which sounds very appealing. How it will evolve, only time will tell. I'm sure not everybody will agree with his stance, but the least you can say is that Everything is miscellaneous provides us with something to think about.

To keep the discussion going, Weinberger has set up a website.

Here's a summary by the man himself (in case the embedded video doesn't work, you can watch it here):

donderdag 27 maart 2008

Cluetrain Manifesto

The Cluetrain Manifesto started out as the website Four men (Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger), who only knew each other in the third degree, ended up having a conversation one day in 1999 about why the media coverage was all wrong about the internet and why business in general didn't get what it is all about. At one point one of them quoted an acquaintance from a big company that was in trouble: "The cluetrain stopped here four times a day for ten years and no one ever took delivery." The website went live in March 1999 and started a discussion about the relation between business and its customers via the internet.

The manifesto consists of 95 theses put forward as a call to action for all businesses to become a part of the networked world. The similarity with Martin Luther's 95 Theses on the Power of Indulgences is obvious. In 1517 Luther nailed his manifesto to the door of the Church of Wittenberg in reaction against what he perceived to be wrong with the Catholic Church at the time, unwillingly starting the protestant revolt. In the same spirit, the authors wanted to express their thoughts on what was/is wrong with business-as-usual.

The essential idea behind the website, and later the book (online and in print), is that markets are conversations. Back in the day when the 'market' was actually a physical place where you went to, people were discussing wares and news. The items for sale were a product of someone's labor and/or craftsmanship. This all changed with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Labor became compartmentalized and a new elite came to the forefront. Mass production gave rise to mass markets and eventually to mass marketing. Companies evolved into monolithic entities defending their secrets like a fort. The result of all of this, is that 'business' became psychologically separated from 'people'. Markets are divided into demographic targets on which common denominator advertising is unleashed. This has worked well in an environment where the media outlets can be controlled, i.e. newspapers, magazines, TV ads. And then came the internet. People are getting more and more connected over the boundaries of the physical world. If a marketing campaign tells you that the product in question is the best thing that has happened to mankind since the invention of speech, you will go on the internet to find out how much of the marketing BS is really true. The point that the authors are trying to make, is that businesses should talk to people again, admit that they make mistakes sometimes and then fix'em. If you let your employees get connected, amongst themselves and with the rest of the world, their overall knowledge will increase and thus that of the company itself. The internet is not TV with a pay button. Be honest. Break down the walls of Fort Business.

The message that Cluetrain brings, sounds very appealing. They have a valid point. A lot of companies still use websites that look very good, but hide what you're actually looking for. If the answer to a question cannot be found in a FAQ, try to find another way of contacting anyone (although admittedly, American websites are usually more filled up with flashy BS than European ones). When the company itself fails to deliver information you will go online and find it for yourself. The big divide here is a question of philosophy, which we can also find in the open source vs. proprietary software discussions. The first group basically believes in the power of people and propagates a positive view of humankind, while the latter sees customers as a necessary evil, made up mostly of thieves and freeriders. The record industry is losing money because of illegal downloads, but at the same time myspace is creating new celebrities. A company that has understood the power of a community is Ninja Tune Records. They have an active forum, filled with music lovers and avid followers of the label. People cry that downloading is killing music. It's not. It's killing record companies. Just like new energy sources have killed the coal industry in Belgium. Life changes. If you want to stay with the program, do what successful companies have done. Change your business model and use what the world offers you.

Since the publication of the manifesto a lot has changed, and other things have remained the same. Online advertising still looks very much like typical mass media advertising. It's a bit different with games, since it is good place for product placement. On the other hand, within some businesses, the problem of connecting people within a company has been alleviated somewhat through a proper ICT alignment and the use of knowledge management systems like really useful intranets and groupware. Still, a great deal of work needs to be done and, more importantly, mentalities have to change. No doubt this will happen over time. Today, technology changes very fast and the way we are living with it. This however is only physical. Mentally, people change a lot slower. The internet as we know it, only exists for about 15 years. Historically speaking it's still a baby. We are experiencing a revolution. Not of the kill-the-king-long-live-the-new-leader variety, but a revolution nonetheless: the fourth information revolution (not to be mistaken with the concept that states we're evolving from industrial to more service jobs). The first one was the invention of speech, the second writing and the third book printing. During the previous one, the European continent (with the invention of the mechanical press by Gutenberg during the 15th century; the Chinese were well before us) was characterized not only by a more rapid way of dispersing ideas, but also by better roads and safer means, thus quicker, of travel. The same thing has been happening since the fifties of the previous century: holidays for the working class, affordable cars, TV, telephones, computer science, the internet and cheap airplane tickets. And the end is not near for some time to come. Conversely, all of this is mainly true for the Western world. The poorer countries (as well as digital illiterates in general) will need to find a way to bridge the digital divide. Non-democratic countries have been able to censor and monitor the digital world. Utopia is not around the corner. But, then again, it never was.

Essentially, the manifesto has a positive view on the world and how it's changing. The object was to get people to think about our changing world. As I said, mentalities need to change and that takes time, but also awareness. Right now, most people who are working are 'digital immigrants'. We have learned how to work with computers at a later age, while 'digital natives' are growing up with it. There is no telling how they will affect the rules of business.