Annewil Neervens

New Media Blog

PICNIC 08 – All Media September 25, 2008

Filed under: Blog,New Media,Opinion — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

I went to PICNIC 08 today, a three day conference on media technology, entertainment, art and science at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, where I attended the presentation All Media on which I wrote the following review.

Today’s themes in the E-Art Dome – presented by Virtueel Platform – are ecology, online life/social networking and mobility. The second presentation of the day is All Media, by Mieke Gerritzen and Koert van Mensvoort, which definitely fits those descriptions. Koert van Mensvoort starts off his presentation with a video of a bird making incredible sounds, some sounding not unlike a car alarm. He stresses that this video ‘is not media art, it’s an actual bird’. Next, is ‘the biggest visual power show’, an intellectual show that’s posed as a visionary statement, where the next nature is presented. Meaning that nature is increasingly controlled by man. Van Mensvoort calls this ‘a culturally emerged nature.’

Van Mensvoort says that our relation with nature is changing. Nature and culture are increasingly blending. He illustrates this with a few examples, like a picture he took on a nature walk of an odd looking tree, that actually turned out to be a cell phone antenne disguised as a pine tree. Or the fact that some people buy land from farmers and make this land look like it would have looked two thousand years ago. Nature becomes culture, and it’s also becoming progressively more of a product.

Later on in the presentation Van Mensvoort brings up several concepts like biomimic marketing and visualization. He claims that scientists these days are doing a lot of interesting things, like creating non-allergic cats or ‘victimless meat’ (meat grown in lab dishes). We are reshaping nature for commercial objectives. We are creating our own mix between nature and culture.

Van Mensvoort: ‘The born and the made are fusing. The born were already there, the made is what we are creating. We’re all messed up on our concepts nowadays.’



Does the DailyMe dissolve our social glue? September 21, 2008

Filed under: Blog,Commercial,Journalism,New Media,Opinion — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

The term ‘Daily Me’ was first coined in 1995 by author and MIT Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte. Law professor Cass Sunstein took up this notion in his book published in 2001 (he also wrote about it in the updated version 2.0 published last year) on which he wrote: ‘It is some time in the future. Technology has greatly increased people’s ability to “filter” what they want to read, see, and hear. General interest newspapers and magazines are largely a thing of the past. The same is true of broadcasters. The idea of choosing “channel 4” or instead “channel 7” seems positively quaint. With the aid of a television or computer screen, and the Internet, you are able to design your own newspapers and magazines. Having dispensed with broadcasters, you can choose your own video programming, with movies, game shows, sports, shopping, and news of your choice. You mix and match.’ He decribed this utopian vision as a very possible threat to democracy and asks out loud if we really want these kind of applications.

Just four years later, in 2005, this idea of a Daily Me became reality when internet entrepeneur Eduardo Hauser founded, a website that allows users to choose and sort their own content. They state: ‘DailyMe is changing the way news is read and delivered with its advanced news experience that meets the needs of modern-day consumers by combining the best of journalism, technology, and community. DailyMe is a news provider and content platform that allows you to customize, personalize, aggregate, share, and interact with the news, blogs, columns and stories that interest you. At, users have access to three views of the news – editorialized, personalized and socialized.’



Microsoft ad #2

Filed under: Blog,Broadcasting,Commercial,New Media — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

This second Microsoft commercial starring Jerry Seinfeld may even be stranger than the first one. I found a very positive review about the whole campaign, which you can read here. Although I don’t agree with the author completely, he does make a good point when he says: ‘Much like Seinfeld’s television show, the new ads really are about nothing.’

I’m very curious to see what you all think about it.


Book Review: 2.0 September 14, 2008

Filed under: Blog,New Media,Opinion — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

After the book (2001), law professor Cass Sunstein now provides us with an updated version by the name of 2.0.

As we look at the table of contents, not much seems to be changed except for the inclusion of two new chapters: Blogs (chapter 8 ) and (chapter 10).

The back flap of 2.0 states that with this book ‘Sunstein thoroughly rethinks the critical relationship between democracy and the Internet in a world where partisan Web logs have emerged as significant forces in politics and where cyber-jihadists have embraced the Internet to thwart democracy and spread violence’.

Sunstein does this primarily by focusing on fragmentation and (group) polarization on the Internet. He gives the example of ‘The Daily Me’, a futuristic vision where people are able to create and customize their own newspapers and magazines – and more importantly, where they can choose their own content. As Sunstein vividly illustrates:

‘You need not come across topics and views that you have not sought out. Without any difficulty, you are able to see exactly what you want to see, no more and no less. You can easily find out what “people like you” tend to like and dislike. You avoid what they dislike. You take a close look at what they like.’

He talks about ‘filtering’ the intake of content. And stresses that this utopian vision in fact poses a real threat to democracy, where people show no interest in other topics or opinions and shield themselves off from opposing views.

Group polarization can even lead to extremism and violence for it is easier for like-minded people to only communicate with one another – and thereby likely to shift to more extreme points of view. 2.0 also discusses government regulation on the Internet and says that we need it, because without it the Internet is likely to fall prey to invaders and cyberterrorists. As he writes: ‘The owners of websites, no less than the owners of everything else, benefit by government regulation; and without it, they would not really be owners at all’.

Sunstein has written 2.0 in a clear way, that is easy to read. He has a tendency of repeating a lot of his views and illustrations, which really isn’t necessary and makes for a tiresome and aggravating read every now and again. That said, this book raises interesting and illuminating ideas and questions on how we behave on the Internet and what possible consequences this may have.

Sunstein, Cass R. 2.0. Princeton, PA: Princeton University Press, 2007.

This book review is also posted on the Masters of Media blog.


The Greenness of Blackle September 12, 2008

Filed under: Blog,New Media,Opinion,Personal — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

I was introduced to Blackle today. I had never heard of it before (which made me feel a little bit clueless), but it’s a search engine that apparently saves energy because the screen is almost entirely black. And black pixel screens need less energy to load than white pixel screens. EcoIron even posted a blog last year on how this ‘Black Google’ would save 750 megawatt-hours a year.

Although it is powered by Google Custom Search, it is not owned by Google. So it doesn’t have a lot of Google’s features – like the ‘in cache’ or ‘similar pages’ options. Also, a random Blackle search doesn’t find as much links as a Google search normally would. Still, I think it’s a good effort to making the world a little more environmentally conscious and wasting a little less. So I guess that Blackle is actually really Green. 🙂

For those interested, there’s also a Wikipedia entry on Blackle and a Dutch Blackle version.


Microsoft vs. Shoes? September 5, 2008

Filed under: Blog,Broadcasting,Commercial,Personal — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

So the Microsoft commercial starring Jerry Seinfeld was added on YouTube yesterday. I just saw it, and don’t really know what to make of it. Could someone please explain the hidden metaphores?


The end of newspapers? Old news… September 4, 2008

Filed under: Blog,Journalism,New Media,Newspaper,Old Media,Opinion — Annewil Neervens @ 20:53 p09

Dutch media blog Frankwatching posted a blog yesterday written (in Dutch) by graphic designer Floor Drees, with an intriguing headline, I translated as ‘The newspaper will never be gone. That is…’. In this post she states that there is a future for hard copy newspapers, if Birgit Donker (editor in chief at NRC Handelsblad) does something about the (current) relationship between on line and offline media.

A couple of things struck me while reading this post; one is that this ‘conclusion’ sounds a bit like old news to me. Hasn’t this been brought up again and again over the past few years? Second, is that she basically suggests a crossmedial way of working with on line and offline media; which of course is also old news.