Blockchain “(r)evolution” – in academia? 

Today, 6th of December, TU Delft hosted the Blockchangers Tech Deep Dive, an event for software developers interested in meeting developers from leading blockchain platforms: Mattereum, Bitcoin, BigchainDB, Hyperledger, IBM, Microsoft, IOTA and Parity.

Most of us heard of Bitcoin and probably of blockchain. What is the difference?

Blockchain is a technology that seems to be a leap change in the business models of the  “digital relationship” as we’re witnessing now. But it is much more than an optimisation of the online interactions in the context of new technologies. It is a proof of evolution of our society, from a centralised system thinking towards a distributed one and the benefits of the change can go beyond imagination. The Next Web explains that the businesses or institutions will keep a role in the constitution of the distributed system, but the system itself is autonomous by definition and powered by its own members [1].

Bitcoin is a digital currency that exists (only) on a specialised blockchain. It is not the only one. See in Business Insider a comparison between todays important cryptocurrencies [2].


Concept & implications
The online interaction let aside, this is not a new concept: it was discovered in remote places, applied locally, in small isolated communities (see video below – [3]), being in place for hundreds of years. The concept is about authority belonging to an entire community instead of its concentration into one entity (a person, a company, an institution – as we know it now).

YouTube Preview Image
Because of this, there are consequences
– at the level of trust, as we don’t have to look for credentials of only one person or institution. We reach a zone of comfort with trusting an entire community and, the greater the community, the more secure will be any transaction inside that community, the higher the trust.
– on the freedom of information: the knowledge becomes available to everyone in community, at the same time, in a public community/network ledger.

Read more details about the technology at the end of the article.

There are already many applications. If you’ll search online, you’ll get already businesses specialised in data storage like MaidSafe or Filecoin, hubs like Blockchain Hub, social platforms Akasha, search engines BitClave that operate on the blockchain technology, as well as applications or experiments of universities, like Blockcerts, from MIT.

Why is blockchain interesting for academia? 
For more reasons! First, as the Blockchain for Science – a think tank and hub –  puts it in their mission statement: because it will “Open up Science and knowledge creation by means of the blockchain (r)evolution”. The flow of knowledge will obviously change in a decentralised system, everyone will benefit from free and reproducible data, the innovation power of such a friction-free information system can increase many-fold.


Lambert Heller from TIB [4] makes the case of the”crucial advantages” of the use by education and research institutions of the new business model of blockchain technology with “smart contracts” for scientific archiving. He envisions the possibility for the universities to participate in networks with blockchain technology by contributing with server capacity or by winning, buying/selling cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, the funding agencies or governmental institutions – as stakeholders – could provide a crypto-currency for the specific network. He sees the possibility for research institutions to make their own blockchain network and discusses the extent to which these networks can be open or closed to the public and why.
In the actual context of the accountability of the institutions to the society, the exposure of the “smart contracts” to the public scrutiny weights as an advantage for the institution success.

Another idea, coming from the director of the Knowledge Media Institute from UK’s Open University, specialised in distance learning, is to make a public ledger of validated academic qualifications with high impact on the recruitment of the graduates. But the biggest impact would be the “cut out of the middleman in distance learning: the university”. That would be, in his words, “the university of one”. This is already happening – he says, but the added value of the technology to this model would be in the added trust. Times Higher Education cites: “Everyone in the system can check what a student has learned – which certificates they have accumulated – rather than having to rely on a particular institution to store these data” [5]. This model implies, in my understanding, self-made curricula to get a self-made specialisation, while the technology provides all the necessary certifications for everyone to see.

Early adopters of the technology, the MIT’s Media Lab, introduced Blockcerts, a standard for creating, issuing, viewing and verifying blockchain-based certificates. This year, in July, they started issuing “tamper-proof” Digital Diploma’s  that are registered in the bitcoin network.

TU Delft counts as well as an early adopter, with its 10 years old Delft Blockchain Lab, part of the Dutch Blockchain Coallition.  And, like all early adopters, they already have results: one success, in the beginning of this year, was the development of an mortgage marketplace based on blockchain technology. Their declared goal was to “re-invent trust and money” [6]. Delft BlockchainLab is the host of the Tech Deep Dive event mentioned in the beginning of this article.

One last thought: beginning October, an “archeology coin” named Kapu was launched for Archeology. It has great impact on archiving and in the cultural heritage protection [7]. Does this mean that we could expect for every field and type of data a new digital currency to be invented? How will this be adopted by the universities?

Who knows? The future will tell.
In any case, brace for impact: there is no escape from this technology!

Further reading…

Blockchain technology
There are in fact three technologies that made the blockchain possible. None of them are new, but their combination is [8]. These technologies are:

  1. the private/public key cryptography,
  2. a P2P network with a shared ledger and
  3. a protocol (that requires the existence of an incentive “to service the network’s transactions, record-keeping and security“). 

The key cryptography takes care of the identification of an individual with a private and a public key.

Any transactions made between two persons is recorded in a data block containing the digital signature, the time and the information related to the transaction. A chain of transactions recorded at different times is at the origin of the name of this technology: a blockchain (see figures below).









 The transactions range from simple to complex, like contracts that execute themselves – known as “smart contracts”. “Smart contracts help you exchange money, property, shares, or anything of value in a transparent, conflict-free way while avoiding the services of a middleman.” [9].

These transactions are recorded by the entire network at the same time, so every node in the network receives the same reliable information.

The reliability comes from the network protocol, that takes care of the authorisation of a transaction. That happens by the execution of a mathematical problem that is called “proof of work” [4]. This proof of work is a code that runs simultaneously on more computers, doing what it’s known as “mining” a new block. The one computer that solves first the problem, authorises a new block in the chain and gets an incentive: a bitcoin (BTC – in the bitcoin network) or an ethereum (ETH – in the Ethereum network) or any other coin in any other network where such a technology functions.

For a better understanding, follow this 17 minutes demo of MIT experts on how blockchain works.
YouTube Preview Image

[1] How blockchain can build communities completely free of hierarchy, TheNextWeb,, published on Sep. 2017, accessed on Nov. 2017
[2] How Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other major cryptocurrencies compare to one another, Business Insider,, published on Sep. 2017, accessed on Dec. 2017
[3] Bitcoin, blockchain, and the future of money, Quartz,, Quartz, published on Oct. 2017, accessed on Oct. 2017
[4] Provision of scientific objects using smart contracts on a blockchain – how and why?, Lambert HellerTIB Blog,, published on July 2017, accessed on Nov. 2017
[5] What blockchain technology could mean for universities, TimesHigherEducation,, published on 31 Aug. 2017, accessed on Dec. 2017
[6] TU Delft Blockchain Lab,, accessed on Dec. 2017
[7] Archeology and Blockchain: a social science data revolution?, The Guardian,, published on Oct. 2017, accessed on Dec. 2017
[8] How does blocktechnology work?, Coindesk, accessed on Nov. 2017
[9] Smart Contracts: The Blockchain Technology That Will Replace Lawyers, Blockgeeks,, accessed on Nov. 2017

The battle between fake and factual news

“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom”, said Edward Osborne Wilson, an American entomologist and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. [1] While we are being overwhelmed by information on a daily basis, the spread of false or manipulated information is dominating media and conversations. Misinformation is everywhere and it is hard to ignore. But what is fake news, and how can we recognise and tackle it?

Fake news
According to Denise-Marie Ordway from Journalist’s Resource of Harvard Kennedy School describes it as “a term that can mean different things, depending on the context. News satire is often called fake news as are parodies.” And also “…., conspiracy theories, …, hoaxes”. [2]
Paul Chadwick from The Guardian, “Defining fake news will help us expose it.” He points out, as he describes, a “draft definition of fake news”, as following:
Fake news means fictions deliberately fabricated and presented as non-fiction with the intent to mislead recipients into treating fiction as fact or into doubting verifiable fact.” [3]

 Pixabayfig1: photo from Pixabay
LiAnna Davis, deputy director of the Wiki Education Foundation, states that “Wikipedia has been dealing with fake news since it started 16 years ago.” [4] But as a reliable source on this topic, Wikipedia defines fake news as: “Deliberate misinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media. Fake news is written and published with the intent to mislead in order to gain financially or politically, often with sensationalist, exaggerated, or patently false headlines that grab attention.” [5]

While fake news and its significant impact is increasing, many preserve confidence in their own ability to detect misinformation. According to Pew Research Center “It is difficult to measure the precise extent to which people actually see news that has been completely fabricated – given that news consumers could see but not recognize made-up news stories as well as mistake factual stories for false ones.” [6] (see fig 2)

fig2: Source: PEW Research Center

The necessity of truth
Patrick Engleman, a high school chemistry teacher, states in an interview with nprEd: “You can’t trust everything you hear. In a time when access to information is easier than ever.” [7] In the same article, Susan Yoon, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, suggests teachers to give students the tools to think like a scientist: “Teach them to gather evidence, check sources, deduce, hypothesize and synthesize results. Hopefully, then, they will come to the truth on their own.” [7] According to The Guardian’s chief revenue officer Hamish Nicklin, “The world needs the truth now more than ever. In a world where the most important people in the planet are using fake news to undermine the values so many of us hold so dear, it has never been so important that we have a strong and vibrant media, and remember that facts and truth are sacred.” [8]
Even companies like Lush (cosmetics) are also concerned with the significant impact of fake news. According to writer Annabelle Letten from Lush, “Both the BBC and The Guardian have dedicated teams made up of developers, filmographers and journalists to ensure the stories they cover are fully researched and thought-provoking.” [8]

Solutions: Library’s crucial part
It is crucial for education institutions and libraries to provide guidance and tools in order to recognise and separate fake news from authentic factual news. Many academic libraries in the worldwide (most of them in the US and UK) have created Library Guides (or LibGuides) around this subject, such as Harvard, Cornell, NYU, UC at Berkeley and Penn State. [9]

As Eric Novotny from Penn State’s University Libraries points out: “Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not.” [10]

Significantly, Berkeley Library of the University of California has not only provided researchers and students a list of fake news websites, but has also pointed out the effects of fake news and has summed up solutions for detecting fake news. [11] (see fig3)

5 way to spot fake news
fig3: Source Berkeley Library
Harvard Library has provided a list on Fact-Checking Sites and Plug-Ins. [12] Many university libraries in the US (Cornel [13], Illinois [14], CPP [15], Yale [16]) and UK(Cambridge [17]) have organised workshops in order to highlight this problem.

Finally, Journalist’s Resource [2] adds: “Some other resources that may be helpful are the Poynter Institute’s tips on debunking fake news stories [18] and the First Draft Partner Network, a global collaboration of newsrooms, social media platforms and fact-checking organizations that were launched in September 2016 to battle fake news.” [19]

[1] Wikipedia. [online]: E. O. Wilson
[2] D.-M. Ordway. [Online]: fake news conspiracy theories journalism research
[3] P. Chadwick. [Online]: defining fake news will help us expose it.
[4] A. Kamentz. [Online]: the earth is flat check wikipedia.
[5] Wikipedia. [Online]: fake news.
[6] A. M. J. H. Michel Barthel. [Online]: many americans believe fake news is sowing confusion.
[7] A. Wolfman-Arent. [Online]: the ongoing battle between science teachers and fake news.
[8] A. Letten. [Online]: what fake news and how do-we tackle it.
[9] LibGuides Community. [Online]: LibGuides Community.
[10] E. Novotny. [Online]: fake news.
[11] University of California,Berkeley Library. [Online]: fake news.
[12] Harvard Library. [Online]: fake.
[13] Fake news workshop cornell [Online]: fake news workshop.
[14] Fake news workshop illinois [Online]: fake news workshop.
[15] Fake news workshop CPP [Online]: fake news workshop.
[16] Fighting fake news workshop [Online]: Fighting fake news workshop.
[17] PhD clinic workshop [Online]: PhD clinic workshop.
[18] A. Mantzarlis. [Online]: 6 tips to debunk fake news stories by yourself.
[19] First Draft news. [Online]: draftnews.

Smart Campus, voor het gemak

Verleden jaar werd de TUDelft Library vereerd met Deens bezoek, waarbij Lars Binau vertelde over de Smart Library als onderdeel van de Smart Campus van DTU (Technical University of Denmark) [1].

Onderdeel van dit project is het gebruikt van sensoren die in de lampen zijn ingebouwd, wat natuurlijk heel slim is. Lampen zijn doorgaans overal aanwezig waar mensen zijn en er is stroom.

Het prettige van sensoren is dat er zoveel mee gemeten kan worden. Er zijn klimaatsensoren voor het bepalen van bijvoorbeeld de temperatuur en luchtvochtigheid, maar ook sensoren die het geluidsniveau meten of de aanwezigheid van mensen.
Met de verzamelde gegevens is de logische volgende stap om iets met die gegevens te doen. Lampen en airco’s kunnen bijvoorbeeld worden aangestuurd, afhankelijk of er mensen zijn, waarbij ook de voorkeur van die groep mensen een factor kan zijn voor de werking.

Een lamp of airco zelf kan ook weer sensoren hebben om door te geven of het apparaat wel goed werkt.
Door gegevens van apparaten met elkaar te combineren, zoals van een airco met de aanwezigheid van mensen, kom je al snel uit op een samenspel van verbonden apparaten en dan komt de term IoT (Internet of Things)[2] om de hoek kijken.

Naast gemak voor mensen leveren al die sensoren veel gegevens op waar bedrijven graag op inspelen.
Een bedrijf [3] heeft plannen om gegevens vanuit een stofzuigerrobot, over de indeling van een huis, te verkopen. Een ander bedrijf [4] heeft een aardige verzameling artikelen geschreven over gebouwbeheer en AI (Artificial Intelligence)[5].

Diverse mensen zijn bezorgd over deze ontwikkelingen en Elon Musk, bekend van onder andere de Tesla, heeft dan ook een oproep gedaan aan de politiek om regelgeving rond AI te maken [6], voordat het te laat is.
Er zal sowieso steeds meer regelgeving komen vanuit de overheid; ook een Smart Campus zal een manier moeten vinden om optimaal gemak voor studenten en werknemers te bieden, zonder privacy aan te tasten.

[1], 31-7-2017
[2], 31-7-2017
[3], 31-7-2017
[4], 31-7-2017
[5], 31-7-2017
[6], 31-7-2017


Citizen science of crowdsourcing

Nadat de wetenschap institutionaliseerde in de 19e eeuw ontstond er een scheiding tussen ‘de wetenschapper’ en ‘de burger’. De twee leefden in zeer gescheiden werelden en hadden weinig met elkaar te maken. Oorspronkelijk werd wetenschap echter juist door burgers beoefend: hoe zit dat met die maan en die zon? Kom, laat ik eens wat op een kleitablet noteren. De laatste tijd is er een tendens gaande om burgers wederom te laten participeren. Met de ontwikkelingen op digitaal gebied wordt het steeds makkelijker om actief mensen te betrekken bij onderzoek.

Tijdens het KNAW-symposium op 16 juni 2016 over citizen science werd de website Iedereen Wetenschapper gelanceerd en gesproken over (de voors en tegens van) citizen science. Een ander aandachtspunt, dat hieronder behandeld wordt, was het verschil tussen crowdsourcing en citizen science.


Hoewel er nog geen eenduidige definitie is, wordt gesproken van crowdsourcing als groepen mensen vrijwillig een bijdrage leveren bij het uitvoeren van (wetenschappelijk) werk, [1] bijvoorbeeld voor het verzamelen van gegevens.

Voordat de term crowdsourcing werd gebruikt waren er al projecten waarbij onderzoekers door burgers werden geholpen bij het verzamelen van data. Bekend is, dat onderzoekers van  het Meertens instituut [2] op huisbezoek gingen, om gegevens te verzamelen over bijvoorbeeld dialecten.
Een andere vorm van crowdsourcing is mensen inschakelen om gegevens te analyseren. Een voorbeeld hiervan is het Milky Way Project [3] waarin objecten in de ruimte worden geanalyseerd aan de hand van gedetailleerde afbeeldingen.
In beide gevallen is de onderzoeker is verantwoordelijk voor een wetenschappelijke opzet en afhandeling.
Bij een crowdsourcing project voor wetenschappelijke doeleinden zijn protocollen en controles nodig en dat blijkt ook bij het project Ja, ik wil. Hier moesten oude ondertrouwakten via gestandaardiseerde invoervelden getranscribeerd worden, waarna de transcripties nog eens extra gecontroleerd werden.
De ontwikkelingen op digitaal gebied maken het steeds makkelijker om actief mensen te betrekken bij onderzoek. Dat zie je bij dit soort analyse-projecten, en bij de jaarlijkse griepmeting en tuinvogeltelling, waarbij data wordt geleverd.

Citizen science

Weer een andere vorm van crowdsourcing wordt citizen science genoemd.
Een voorstel tot een definitie is te vinden op[4] Hierin wordt gesteld dat citizen science ‘een actieve en doordachte bijdrage is van het publiek aan wetenschappelijk onderzoek’.
Ook hier blijft de onderzoeker eindverantwoordelijk voor het onderzoeksproces en de verwerking van gegevens. Een voorbeeld van citizen science waarbij van deelnemers iets meer wordt verwacht dan alleen het aanleveren of verwerken van gegevens is eTeRNA ([5] Deelnemers aan dit spel om RNA moleculen te ontwerpen kunnen gezamenlijk aan wetenschappelijke artikelen werken.

Wat is het nou?

Citizen science is volgens de gevolgde redenering een specifieke vorm van crowdsourcing, dus het woordje of kan worden doorgestreept.

Of gaat het verder dan dat.
Het definitievoorstel voor de term citizen science lijkt door de praktijk te zijn ingehaald. Op de gelanceerde website Iedereen Wetenschapper wordt aan burgers een bijdrage gevraagd in de vorm van data-levering en data-analyse. De oorspronkelijke crowdsourcing versmelt hiermee tot citizen science.

De verwachting is dat steeds meer onderzoekers, ook aan de TU Delft, projecten zullen opzetten, waarbij de bijdrage van burgers wordt gevraagd.
De ervaringen met citizen science zoals op het symposium gedeeld, laten zien dat onderzoekers bij een eigen project goede ondersteuning kunnen gebruiken. De Library kan hier mogelijk een rol spelen. Naast opslag en beschikbaar maken van wetenschappelijke gegevens, wat al gebeurt via 3tudatacentrum, kan de Library voorlichting geven aan onderzoekers en deelnemers over citizen science projecten. Voor ondersteuning, educatie en het uitwisselen van ervaringen zou de Library, zowel digitaal als fysiek, diensten kunnen aanbieden.


TNW Europe (part 5), Building a World Class Design Team


The 11th annual TNW Conference Europe took place on May 26 & 27 in Amsterdam. Described, as “The most intimate technology festival on the planet” by CNBC, over the years TNW Conference has become one of the leading technology events in the world. It’s organized by Dutch based online media company The Next Web and brings promising startups, investors, technology gurus, innovators and entrepreneurs together. It’s a great place to share their thoughts about the future of technology, marketing, talk about design or for networking, to get inspired or to boost your imagination.

UnknownAndy Budd talked about the importance of design and the challenges to achieve good design.
Good design is difficult to achieve and even harder to replicate. It gives you an advantage against your competitors. Company founders generally think that they understand the value of the design, but in the reality the user experience is poor. There are 2 factors for this mismatch.

  1. People believe that style and design is the same thing.
  2. Start-up’s doesn’t understand the value of design. Before they reach market fit- the time or the budget is already speeded.


These are Andy Budd’s nine tips on how to build a world-class design team:

  1. Commit to a vision designers can get behind
  2. Hire great design leaders
  3. Demonstrate this vision through exemplar projects
  4. Put customer needs at the heart of the process
  5. Weave design into the fabric of the business
  6. Create a culture of collaboration
  7. Invest in quality
  8. Grow your team from the inside
  9. Operationalize design

Curious? or you want to see in-debt explanation of Andy Budd’s nine tips?
You can watch now the whole presentation on YouTube

P.S. Speaking about good design, you should definitely check the very beautiful storytelling platform for exploring The Wellcome Trust’s eclectic collection of medical and historical artefacts made by Clearleft.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 16.44.11
Digital Stories: Wellcome collection

Also very interesting: A step-by-step | The design process of this storytelling platform.

Clear left Design Stories

Photo credit:TNW

TNW Europe (part 4), Future UI as Professional Superpower

The 11th annual TNW Conference Europe took place on May 26 & 27 in Amsterdam. Described, as “The most intimate technology festival on the planet” by CNBC, over the years TNW Conference has become one of the leading technology events in the world. It’s organized by Dutch based online media company The Next Web and brings promising startups, investors, technology gurus, innovators and entrepreneurs together. It’s a great place to share their thoughts about the future of technology, marketing, talk about design or for networking, to get inspired or to boost your imagination.

763a135d-eafa-41a1-9392-fe99b493e41bJohn Underkoffler, founder and CEO of Oblong Industries talked about the new UI (User Interface) as professional power-the future of workspace technology. He is actually the guy who designed the futuristic and advanced UI for the film Minority Report 14years ago (!)

For the last 30 years, the UI (user interface) has changed a little. We live in computational world that becomes more and more complex.
UI is all you have; UI is the computer, because without UI you can’t control the CPU or GPU of your computer.

John Underkoffler shared with us his “Eight easy pieces”, his vision for the future of UI.

  1. Let’s explode the displays- what will happen if every set of pixels wasn’t bound by the physical rectangle?
  2. G –speak – Minority Report alike system without the visual effects
  3. Distributed (everything) – extend the UI of the edge of one screen to the next one if they are close enough. Expect border free UI’s
  4. Bidirectional glyphs – get more expressive with the UI elements. We need to know where we are, what the machine thinks we are doing and where we might go.
  5. Cinema as input/output device – cinematic heresy or the future of editing? A metaphor for how powerful UI should make you in the context of all your digital data.
  6. Cognition at architectural scale – see more through the right scale. Build computers small or big, as we need!
  7. Time to reinterpret – Minority report reinterpreted. With a proper UI a team of collaborators can achieve much more, work faster and better.
  8. Make UI an exoskeleton, an extension of the human will.

Oblong built a system called Mezzanine that uses all eight principles mentioned above. Mezzanine changes how people work together by making the workspace more collaborative, easily sharable and scalable.


“We want to build systems based on principles of humanity that can enhance your attention, amplify human meaning and get out what people are best at which is making new things and building the world the way it ought to be.”

The whole presentation is now also available on YouTube
Photo credit:TNW, Oblong

TNW Europe (part 3), Building with creative confidence


The 11th annual TNW Conference Europe took place on May 26 & 27 in Amsterdam. Described, as “The most intimate technology festival on the planet” by CNBC, over the years TNW Conference has become one of the leading technology events in the world. It’s organized by Dutch based online media company The Next Web and brings promising startups, investors, technology gurus, innovators and entrepreneurs together. It’s a great place to share their thoughts about the future of technology, marketing, talk about design or for networking, to get inspired or to boost your imagination.


facebooknewJulie Zhuo from Facebook talked about how to build new products and services with creative confidence. That can be a real challenge even for big company like Facebook.

There is no book with instruction how to build the perfect product but they’ve learned a lot from their successes and failures.

Facebook developed a simple framework consisting of 3 questions, which they use for reviewing new products.

The first question is:

  1. What people problem are we trying to solve?
    To answer this we need a people problem statement but coming up with a good one is not that easy. The good people problem statement must be:
  • Human, simple, straight forward;
  • Solutions free; – to avoid bias
  • It’s shouldn’t be about us (Facebook) winning.
  • Gets at the why;
  • Functional, emotional, social.
  1. How do we know this is a real problem?
    What evidence do we have? Is it worthwhile to solve?
  1. How do we know if we solved the problem?
    Define measurable goals and metrics.

Julie shares interesting inside fact: There are posters on the walls in Facebook HQ that says, “Nothing at Facebook is somebody else’s problem”

“It reminds us that if something doesn’t work well, we can’t wait. We must take action to develop solution to fix that problem.” said Julie Zhuo.

The whole presentation is now also available on YouTube
Photo credit:TNW

TNW Europe (part 1), Trend-driven innovation







The 11th annual TNW Conference Europe took place on May 26 & 27 in Amsterdam. Described, as “The most intimate technology festival on the planet” by CNBC, over the years TNW Conference has become one of the leading technology events in the world. It’s organized by Dutch based online media company The Next Web and brings promising startups, investors, technology gurus, innovators and entrepreneurs together. It’s a great place to share their thoughts about the future of technology, marketing, talk about design or for networking, to get inspired or to boost your imagination.

tw-logoOne of the first speakers was David Mattin from and he gave an interesting presentation about trend-driven innovation and how to turn overwhelm into opportunity.

Nowadays we are overwhelmed, with the fast pace of upcoming new innovations, new services and products, it’s difficult to keep-up because they are arriving on daily or even hourly basis. These innovations and new services create new customer expectations and they are the drive behind the expectation economy. Good example for that is a newcomer like Uber who change the customer expectation in the taxi business (cabs arrive within 10 minutes).

As innovators, the important question that we must ask ourselves is:
“What will our customers want next?”

But how to do that?

  1. Asking people what they want is limited. They don’t know what they need until you show it tot them.
  2. Find out by watching them is too expensive and time consuming
  3. By analyzing consumer data – good for validation and enhancing but not for breakthrough innovation.

The real answer is:
“Stop looking at customers and start looking at successful businesses and the expectations they create”, said Mattin.

“It’s about the new expectations that this innovations create and when this expectation spread across borders, market, demographics then we are seeing a trend in action. Watching that happening is what Trend watching actually is.
“Trends emerge as innovators address people’s basic human needs and wants in novel ways”

A few examples that can lead us to a new trend:

  1. Stockholmståg – Algorithm anticipates train delays hours before they occur and the emerging trend is Beneficial intelligence – consumers will embrace digital services that make truly smart decisions for them.
  2. REI outdoor retailer – On Black Friday, a day of shopping frenzy in the US, REI outdoor retailer pays employees to take a day off to spend… outdoors (with heavy social media coverage #OptOutside) and encourages its customers to do the same.
    The emerging trend is Insider Trading – the right internal culture becomes an external asset.
  3. Renrenxiang – restaurant replaces staff with messaging app. The emerging trend is Informal info – effective information is informal information.

What if some of these innovations fail? Asked Mattin next.
It’s not about success or failure; it ‘s again about customer expectations.

For example: There are 3 new mobile phones, which have a great new features – the first is very secure, the second is highly recyclable and the third interchangeable. Only by seeing them, these phones will create new customer expectations, and companies like Apple and Samsung know that and are already innovating to meet those expectations.

The big wave of innovations and services can be really overwhelming, so if you look at those innovations though the lens of new customer expectations, the more innovation you see the more empowered you are to discover your own trends and soon that becomes habit, new way of seeing the world. The next step is to apply those trends, and if you can do that then you are really a trend-driven innovator concludes Mattin.

The whole presentation is now also available on YouTube.

Wat je nu echt moet weten over Snapchat

Ik wist dat het bestond, natuurlijk. Maar opeens was het overal: Snapchat in nieuwbrieven, blogposts, op het OCLC congres, in de krant, in gesprekken. Meestal samen met Instagram genoemd in de context van “the next big thing” op het gebied van social media. Instagram kennen we inmiddels wel, al is het maar van de “vette” foto’s die tegenwoordig op de monitor bij de personeelsingang voorbij komen. Snapchat is hot & happening, dus een onderzoekje waard.

snapchat logos

Met Snapchat kan je foto’s of video’s van max 10 seconden naar één specifiek contact of naar al jouw volgers sturen. Je kan de beelden bewerken door er op te tekenen of er teksten en emoticons of stickers aan toe te voegen. Je kan ook foto’s en video’s bundelen in een verhaal (story). Wat maakt Snapchat uniek? De Snaps (stories, foto’s en video’s) die je stuurt worden na het bekijken gewist. Hebben de ontvangers of volgers de Snaps 24 uur na het publiceren nog steeds niet gezien? Pech. Na 24 uur verdwijnen je creaties in de cyber-prullenbak. En dat is eigenlijk best wel fijn, want dan ben jij al weer wat anders interessants aan het doen waar je over kan snapchatten. Naast het chatten met beelden, kan je ook “gewoon” met tekst chatten met je volgers zoals je bij WhatsApp doet.

Wat Snapchat naast het vluchtige karakter nog meer zo populair maakt, is dat je de foto’s en video’s in de app maakt, dus zonder de mogelijkheid gebruik te maken van editing tools, mooimakerij of professionele apparatuur. Het gaat bij Snapchat niet zoals bij Instagram om het mooie plaatje, maar om het moment. De tekenstift en stickers nodigen uit om jouw creativiteit te botvieren op een laagdrempelige manier: het mag er uit zien als een kleutertekening (maar het hoeft niet, je kan zelfs echte Snapchat-kunstenaars volgen!).

Inmiddels bestaat Snapchat al een jaar of vijf en na een tijdje vooral populair te zijn geweest onder jongeren, beginnen nu de marketingmachines van bedrijven en organisaties en ja, ook hogescholen en universiteiten (HvA en UT) met Snapchat om hun doelgroep te bereiken. Je kan ook het NOS journaal, Ajax, CNN, Rihanna, Lil’ Kleine en waarschijnlijk je neefje van 12 volgen. Inmiddels hebben meer dan 2 miljoen Nederlanders een account. Ik nu ook.

Mijn eigen ervaring? Snapchat kijkt – met toestemming – wie van jouw contacten ook een Snapchat account heeft. In mijn geval waren dat mijn tiener neefjes en nichtjes, jonge meiden van modern-jazz les en één collega. Ik heb wat crea-foto’s de wereld in geslingerd, maar moet duidelijk nog even wennen. Is er iemand in de Library die een Snapchat-experimentje met mij wil aangaan?

Geraadpleegde bronnen:

Crowdfunding for academia

Every university wants to encourage the entrepreneurship of its students and at the same time, increase its visibility through their output. One new way is via the social supporting models of crowdfunding (financial support from an online community) and the crowdsourcing (support with services, ideas or content from an online community). Both were a hype in 2013 but they stayed around and they were adopted by universities around the world or by non-profit organisations as valuable alternative tools for the benefit of academia.

How does this parallel fund raising track works for universities now?

In USA, the University of Oregon took an active role in hosting a website, DuckFunder, for crowdfunding their students projects. is crowdfunding scientific research with a team behind the scenes that examines and approves an experiment before going public.

In UK there is an non-profit organisation, Hubbub, created for students, hosting a crowdfunding website for academia, colleges and schools. They defined the Sponsors and the Creators. The Creators (at least 16 years old) offer generic small rewards to the Sponsors – the “friends of the university” – to help the process of crowdfunding and get them involved in the projects of their interest. (Learn more)

In the Nederlands, University of Maastricht is busy with offering support to its students who want to find resources to realise their ideas. Both their crowdfunding and crowdsourcing projects can be found on their page on the Pifworld (Pay It Forward World).

University of Groningen supports its researchers and students via two websites made by/with the “social enterprise” Kentaa, who says it’s working with 9 of 13 Dutch universities to help raise funds for academic research projects. There one can find the webpages of Erasmus University Rotterdam, Wageningen UR, Radboud University and Twente University.

At TU Delft, somehow the students managed to (crowd)fund their projects via different and elsewhere available platforms. Among their initiatives, the following got a well deserved attention:

  • the Ocean Cleanup by Bojan Slat completed a fundraiser in 2014 that used the ABN AMRO platform SEEDS.
  • the Leg Bank for Colombia via the 1%Club platform – completed in 2014
  • Nuna 8 closed in the summer of 2015, via Zonnepanelendelen platform, crowdfunding specifically for systems based on sun energy.
    A picture of each sponsor was placed on the Nuna 8 solar car, which ended up winning the World Solar Challenge 2015 in Australia.
  • the EcoRunner – the hydrogen powered vehicle, still fighting to raise money on Indiegogo

What if we, as a library, step in as well to support our own gifted entrepreneur students? We could give them the channel they need for getting help with funds and resources from people who care in exchange for bringing TU Delft in the news with their great ideas.

Trends 2016: Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

With all the technological developments from the last year IamWIRE says that if 2015 was the year of the sensors (products), 2016 will be the year of user experiences due to the release of high tech devices in the consumer market. They are referring to three of the most important technological developments that will emerge as trends for this year: Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

  • Looking back at the last year’s developments in Virtual Reality, we saw in 2015 the headsets Gear VR, Oculus VR and Google Jump platform appear, the last one with the 16 GoPro camera’s that can create 360 degrees videos, a new type of content, now already popular on YouTube.

    All of them open new possibilities for Virtual Reality new experiences in gaming, training, and simulations. In the beginning of this year is scheduled the launch of Oculus Rift (already here for a price of $599), Sony’s PlayStation VR and HTC – Vive headset with VR technology. According to TrendForce, the expectations are as far as 43mil. users this year with 14 mil. VR devices to be sold, most of them to be used in gaming. Quirk’s is talking about Virtual Reality as of a democratising technology, but warns that its adoption by the industries and consumers will go far beyond 2016. It predicts that the economical sectors that are mostly based on experience – like tourism and health care – will adopt this technology faster than others.

  • In 2015 the investments in Augmented Reality went up to $700mil. (1). Its timeline didn’t begin with Google Glass (launched in 2013 and stopped in 2015), but it was surely considered well ahead of its time. The next generation, Google Glass 2 is expected in May 2016 (2). What else did Google do in 2015? They backed-up a startup company, Magic Leap, that raised a huge amount of investments for its 3D mapping system integrating real objects with interactive graphical “objects” (3). Let the race begin!

    In the spring of 2016 are announced as well the Microsoft’s HoloLens and ASUS’s AR headset.
    There is no promise yet for the consumer market, but everyone expects a serious name taking a stand in AR: Apple. Its interest in AR became visible through its moves (in acquiring in 2015 three AR companies) that suggest a long term goal. Latest news: Apple just hired beginning 2016 a top tech specialist in AR/VR (4).

Continue reading