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I’m gonna move to Canada, yeah I made up my mind. My favourite (Belgian) singer of the moment, Milow, is singing about big dreams. About making up his mind. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes I didn’t and sometimes I did.

This week I have made up my mind: I’m not moving to Canada, but I decided to work somewhere else.  Big deal?, you might think. Well, being the project manager of HasseltLokaal was my first job, so it was a big deal to make my decision.  Especially since it involved much more than one might think.

Since I was 10, I have been interviewing people in the neighbourhood and selling my self-made newspapers afterwards, convinced to be a journalist one day. I studied languages and journalism, and got to work at the newspaper Het Belang van Limburg, among others on the HasseltLokaal project. So goal achieved. But now I had to realise (and that took me quite some time) that this big dream wouldn’t make me happy anymore. I want to move on in project management.

And thus from next week onwards, I will be the brand new community manager at Citylive, working with test users on the one hand and the Citylive marketing team on the other. I’m really looking forward to this, although I’ll miss my job, the citizen reporters and my colleagues big time. Luckily, they’re never far away thanks to the internet 🙂

The B(loga)wards are back in town. Which means that bloggers and their sympathizers can vote for their favourite Belgian blog.

In the (temporary) voting list there are three citizen reporters of HasseltLokaal and of course that’s something to be proud of:

1. Tineke. I think I know her more than 3 years right now. She shoots delicious pictures and writes about daily life.  And for the English speaking readers: she writes in English, so you don’t have to release any translation programme on the blog. Hurray 😉

2. Roger. He has recently started arts class and keeps us up to date about his progress by showing pictures of the sculptures and paintings he makes.  His blog is also in English.

3. Eef. She writes rather poetical posts about daily life (in Dutch). Her blog love started not lang after she joined HasseltLokaal.

Since you can vote for three blogs, I have made the choice very easy for you (there is no choice ;-). Just surf to the Bwards website and do what you have to do! Thank you 🙂

The story of our New Year’s cake

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Happy New Year 🙂 Two weeks ago we received a gorgeous cake at HasseltLokaal. And who was it from? Well, it came from a man who works at the hotel schoof of Hasselt and is a volunteer for the sports club Initia Hasselt. He wanted to thank us for the exposure the school and the club got thanks to HasseltLokaal. Grrrrrreat 🙂

At the Kortom conference on the 18th of December I told the attendees exactly this. Clubs, schools and other organisations never really had a platform to post their events and announcements on. The events are usually too small to appear in a newspaper. That’s why some of them put news about their organisation on their websites, but nobody unless members or sympathisers, visits this website. Now 30.000 unique visitors a month can see interesting club and school news on HasseltLokaal.

Which results in yummie cakes 🙂 A citizen reporter told me this week that the handball Club Initia Hasselt got new supporters thanks to HasseltLokaal. How great is that!

The bid for a tweet and a news show in your living room

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By the way, the tweet of Bart De Waele, about which I told you in a former post, has finally led to a bid of 400 euros!! The brand interaction company These Days advertised for a new job site of theirs. Not a bad idea, since Bart’s followers on Twitter are all (or should all be) very interactive, digidynamic, innovative,…people. Bart himself calls his 3000st post ‘the most expensive tweet ever’ and he is probably right 🙂

Bart is not the only in action on Ebay for the charity project Music for Life (organised by Radio station Studio Brussel). The public news channel is even giving away a ‘news show in your living room’ to the highest bidder on Ebay. Right now, the highest bid is 3.296 euro!

Meetings aren’t always that interesting. So sometimes I start looking around to find more entertaining things in the room. That’s how I discovered that the fake red flower in the office of my former boss had made friends with a funny cactus. Seemed as if they had a much more vivid conversation than I had at any case 😉

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A moment later, I felt the vibes and made a drawing of Mr Cactus and Mss Flower in love.

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Love on the workfloor, and how beautiful it can be. I promise I’m not always like that 😉

So therefore some more serious stuff:

-the second HasseltLokaal magazine has been dropped in the post boxes of the people of Hasselt. The pdf of the magazine can be seen soon via the website of HasseltLokaal. We’ve done some minor changes and will again ask inhabitants and local traders what they think of an initiative like this. The results will be used for local projects at our company.

-tonight we have a christmas party with the 30 citizen reporters of Hasselt. This is one of our ways to thank them for their voluntary contributions. Everybody has to bring a present that hasn’t cost any money. In other words, you can look for something you don’t need anymore or you make something very creative. Mine will be a combination of the two, and that’s all I say about it 🙂

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Throw your story on the pile, that’s what the Stadsreporter vzw (the organisation behind HasseltLokaal) and the students of Communication and Multimedia Design had in mind.

Out of this idea, students made in no time the website Nu of Ooit (Now or ever). Two days in a row, the people of Hasselt could visit the students in a bar and tell or type a story. Any story. While typing or telling, words coming from other stories appear on the screen, and they should help the story teller to be inspired, create new story lines,…

I loved the idea and typed in a story. Because of the word ‘a capella choir’ that appeared on the screen, I was inspired to tell the story of me in the school choir. And then of course the memories kept coming. I felt that everybody was quite excited about the project, people love telling stories. If you want to share your story too, just go to the Nu of Ooit website.

This project was a short term experiment. If you have any ideas on how to improve it, or want to let us know how you feel about projects like this, don’t hesitate and let me know 🙂 (via the reactions or via dorienaerts@gmail.com). Thanx 🙂

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The citizen reporters of HasseltLokaal were asked a while ago to be test users of the research project i-City in Hasselt. Therefore, they received a PDA together with ten other groups and 500 individual test users.  On the PDA they can consult a so-called mobile services platform i-City has created. Firms and organisations can put new projects or applications on the mobile platform and the test users are then asked to experiment with it. Afterwards, they fill out evaluations forms or are invited for debates about their experiences.

To be honest, I don’t use the i-City platform that much, above all because there aren’t that many (working) hotspots in the city centre of Hasselt.  But sometimes, I have tested quite some interesting applications. Recently, I have been asked to give in my favourite book topics (for the curious ones: German books and works on psychology). Everytime the library in Hasselt receives new books on those topics I get a message and can make a reservation. So when I’m in town, I can immediately go to the library to get the brand new book 🙂

On the 4th of December, the citizen reporters will gather to talk about their PDA experiences. They will also get a presentation of a brand new ‘City Services Platform’. You can find the information about it on the website of i-City, but for the moment the article is only available in Dutch. I wonder what the citizen reporters will have to say about the platform. I can tell that they have been using the platform a lot more than I did. Especially because HasseltLokaal is available on it and like that they can show off with their great articles and pictures everywhere they are 😉

Anyway, it’s quite something for the citizen reporters to have those PDA’s. As volunteers, they are not paid for the many efforts they put in HasseltLokaal.  And as a matter of fact, everybody wins: i-City because they can experiment thanks to the test users, the organisation behind the citizen reporters because they have a way to reward the efforts of the citizen journalists and the reporters themselves since they are the proud owner of a PDA. Yes sir.

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Tomorrow the Flemish minister president Kris Peeters is visiting our company Concentra. He will talk about the project ‘Vlaanderen in actie’, with which he wants to win the future of Flanders. Therefore he counts among others on the talents, the creativity and the innovative skills of the Flemish people, the excellent position of Flanders (in the middle of Western Europe) and the flexible Flemish government.  That’s at least what I read in the summary of the plan.

Our company will have some time to present innovative projects we are working on and my project HasseltLokaal is one of them. That’s why I am preparing a presentation right now. I will emphasize that HasseltLokaal brings people, clubs and schools together on a virtual platform and as such increaes social cohesion.

I will also mention that we’ve been working together with research groups from universities, other companies and the city of Hasselt, which makes the project quite unique. It is something I hear and read a lot (also in the Vlaanderen in actie plan): universities, companies and governments should cooperate a lot more instead of staying safely on their own islands. 

As a matter of fact, I also had a discussion about it at the Brussels Girl Geek Dinner with Ann Laenen of K&L. We concluded that lots of undertaking people in Flanders are very frustrated about the huge gap between those three entities. Innovation is hard like that, innovators have to climb a lot of mountains before the can achieve ‘something’.

Nevertheless, an interdisciplinary approach helps everybody. It’s something I see within the i-City project, in which the government, companies and young undertaking people meet. I’ve seen people building bridges there and as such making money – together. I do know that there’s a lot of potential in Flanders and that there are so many great ideas that maybe one day can be put in a business model. So the sooner there is a ‘team flanders’ the better, I suppose.

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A warm appeal to vote for my website HasseltLokaal at the CMS Awards, which awards prizes to the best European websites each year.  When you click on the button ‘Click here to register your vote’, you have 5 categories. HasseltLokaal is a candidate in the third category (content). Mark our website, give in your emailaddress. Et voila, that’s it. Thank you!!!!!

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Like I told in the former entry, the running event Dwars door Hasselt is very special to HasseltLokaal. For several reasons.

First of all, it was the first event for the citizen reporters. In October 2005, the first citizen reporters were present at Dwars door Hasselt, making pictures of the athletes and the public. The content was put on our provisional website (we even didn’t have our website and used a wiki :-)) and on a mobile platform some volunteers of the i-City project had set up for the occasion. We shared a tent with them and had a great time, even though we had to get up at 5 am to make sure the wireless networks and other technical stuff were ok. At our tent, particpants could consult their times on the PDA’s i-City had provided and they could see the arrival live on a television screen together with the pictures the citizen reporters had made. So at Dwars door Hasselt, we ‘outed’ ourselves for the first time 🙂

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Secondly, we always try to do something new at Dwars door Hasselt. This year, we offically launched our new campaign. Citizen reporters and promotion girls have been walking around with frames all day, to literally frame the public and the participants. It became a great success. We usually have about 1.200 unique visitors a day. Right now (5:00 pm), already 1.500 unique visitors clicked on the photo album to look for their picture.

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And thirdly, Dwars door Hasselt was also a bit special to me. Because I lost a bet, I had to run my 3 kilometres in the outfit of a football team I don’t really like. Luckily, the sports event is not really about best times but about fun. In other words, there were people with much crazier outfits so that I wasn’t attracking that much attention 🙂

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Finally some words about my own project, HasseltLokaal. There’s actually a lot going on this week. And it all starts TOMORROW, yes 🙂

First of all we are discovering the challenges and oppurtunities of ‘reverse printing’: making a print edition of an online platform.  The 11th and the 12th of October, the first HasseltLokaal magazine will be dropped in every mail box in Hasselt (30.000). Twenty articles of the citizen reporters have been selected from the website and will ‘shine’ in it. A golden jubilee, tree frogs in Hasselt nature park, happy people in the hospital, companies of Hasselt doing sports,…It is all covered within the magazine. Moreover, 20 local traders have put their ads in it. On the picture, you see citizen reporter Ulrike with the magazine.

Main goal is to find out whether the people of Hasselt are interested in local news and whether traders want to pay for ads in hyperlocal magazines. Therefore, an inquiry is set up. The experiment will be repeated in November. Afterwards we hope to have gathered enough information about the possibilities of (hyperlocal) reverse printing. We can research this thanks to a subsidy of the Flemish government.

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Secondly, there is a new promotion campaign for HasseltLokaal. Our marketing guy Engin (on the picture) has worked out a very original idea with frames. On several events in Hasselt, people can have their photographs taken in very small, larger or extra large frames. Afterwards, their pictures are displayed on our website. Like this, we literally and figuratively want to frame the people of Hasselt. Tomorrow will be our take off, at the Students Take-Off. On Sunday the 14th of October, we will be at the running competition Dwars door Hasselt, to which I will come back in a later entry because it is a very important event to us. Finally, at the 20th and 21st of October, our frames will be displayed, carried, and hopefully used a lot during the famous drinking weekend in Hasselt: de Jeneverfeesten. Check out the pictures from tomorrow on at the photo album of HasseltLokaal.

With this campaign, we want to entice people living, studying and working in Hasselt to our platform and we want to work on our visibility in the ‘offline world’. The magazine will contribute to that goal as well. People who won’t notice HasseltLokaal the next few days in Hasselt, must in other words be a little blind.

To be honest, it is quite something that’s going on, so I’ll keep you up-to-date.

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