Post title

I started writing my BSc Thesis
My first international training camp
WaterQant case study - Part 2 AUBC
Instatera launch - The app explained
WaterQant case study - Part 1 introduction and Donate-a-book
AUBC Autumn Sale
Social media addiction
Privacy and information sharing
Rise of the online creators
Social persuasion
Online activism
Your overwhelming friendlist
SNS user profile impression
Self presentation online - Beme
Interactivity in social networks
The beauty of university Rowing
New website, new beginning

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University course
Work
Rowing

I started writing my BSc Thesis #University course  |   27/02/2017

"Creating an online tool that aims to make knowledge contained in academic articles easily accessible to the general public", this will be the title of my bachelor thesis. The last semester of my three year bachelor study Information Sciences at the 'Vrije Universiteit' is partly devoted to doing research and writing a thesis.

This thesis marks the end of my Bachelor's programme in Informatie, Multimedia & Management (Information Sciences). During this project, i am required to produce an independent piece of work that addresses a topic of choice within the domain of Information Sciences. I will design and complete a research project from beginning to end; this includes both theoretical and empirical work.

The objective of the Bachelor Project IMM is to gain skills required to perform a research project. In this course, i will define a research question and develop a research design. I will describe my findings in a research paper and present the work in a poster presentation and an oral presentation.

I am really excited about this last big project, with this project we students get a lot of freedom and the sky is the limit. It is also possible to apply the theoretical knowledge that i have gained in the past 2,5 years in practise.

The assignment that i will be working on is about macro research in micro papers. A more detailed decription about this is that scientific publications are written by academics for academics. They are long, detailed and use a language and terminology that aims for precisions instead of readability. While academic readers do not mind, outsiders and in particular practitioners are not inspired to make the effort to read them. This hinders the potential impact that scientific research can have, should practitioners know about it.

To address this problem we want to create a web portal that gathers the “essential” information about scientific publications, in a short, compact and readable format that a layperson can understand and appreciate. 

The solution we are working on is designing and developing a website that aims at simplicity. It will be structured according to a taxonomy of the essential information gathered from scientific papers.

Again, i am really excited to start working on this project and hope to share more information soon.


My first international training camp #Rowing  |   10/2/2017

My first international training camp

To escape the dutch winter with all its ice, wind and cold a couple of crews from my student rowing club, including the crew that i am part of decided to fly to Spain for a week of rowing in pleasant weather. On Saturday we traveled from Amsterdam to Banyoles in Spain. The city of Banyoles is located next to the lake where during the Olympic games of '92 the rowing tournament was organized.

We stayed in an house that was located not more a hundred meters from the place where we could enter the water with our boats. The house where we stayed served three meals each day that are all adapted to match with the diet of a rower.

The only thing that we had to do was following the following cycle: sleep - eat - row - repeat. We trained two times each day, with the first training at 10am and the second training at 4pm. Breakfast, lunch and diner was served at 8am, 1pm and 7pm, perfectly between our training sessions. This created a environment that allowed us invest 100% of our time and energy in the training session's for a whole week.

During this week we made incredible progress with our rowing technique and the functioning of our crew as a whole. It was one of the most fun and productive weeks i've had in my career as a rower.

Now it is important that we take the lessons learned here in Banyoles back to Amsterdam and build further on them. We made a lot of progress but we are certainly not there yet. In order to complete our goals for this season, it is essential that we keep improving and practicing.


WaterQant case study - Part 2 AUBC #Work  |   1/2/2017

WaterQant case study - Part 2 AUBC

The Amsterdam University Boat Club is a fashion brand that i co-created in November 2015 together with a friend from my rowing club in Amsterdam. In the beginning the venture was just an experiment for us. We asked ourselfs the question if it would be possible not just to sell a physical product but rather sell a 'membership' or an 'experience' and give the buyer a free piece of clothing with it.

In the end this question resulted in a company with an online shop and a completely automated ordering process. In the first year we sold just a little under a hundred products. In this article i want to share some of my thought on the success of this idea and the lessons that we have learned along the way.

The first weeks we started with a lot of brainstorming on how to set all the wheels in motion for this idea. The first step of our plan was to sell leisure clothing for all the student rowers living in Amsterdam. For this experiment we wanted to find a niche marked in order to create an exclusive image. This exclusive image was needed to sell our 'membership' or 'experience' and not just the product.

After we had set up our supply chain with finding the right supplier, getting the web shop up and running and various photo shoots with some recognizable men and women in the Amsterdam rowing scene, we needed to launch and start selling.

Our goal was to create something exclusive, something everybody wanted to have and wanted to be seen with. The owners of an AUBC product needed to be proud of it. To achieve this level of exclusiveness the idea we had was not just to simply get the web shop online and waiting for the first customer to buy one of our products, we wanted to do something special and something that was more in line with our idea of high exclusiveness.

With the whole brand still kept quiet for the outside world we selected 20 influential people for various rowing clubs in Amsterdam and invited them to be part of an exclusive group.

The result of the pilot with 20 people was really good. Within one week everyone from all rowing clubs in Amsterdam had seen someone with one of our sweaters and the web shop started getting traction. A couple of weeks later we saw people we've never met wearing our clothing on the university campus, that was a moment that i felt a little proud of our work.

Although the sales in the web shop started flowing in we did not really got it viral. The growth in sales stayed linear and we could not manage to scale up.

A combination of this slow growth together with our studies demanding more time and the rowing season coming to it's peak we got stuck in some kind of summer break with AUBC and we did not manage to pick it back up again until the autumn of 2016.

During the summer holiday i was thinking about a way to sell the remaining stock and got the idea to start an Authumn sale. To my surprise this autumn sale became very successful in terms of revenue and brand recognition. With only a handfull of facebook posts and a discount in the web shop i managed to sell the remaining stock to the last item. I was surprised to see that still so many people knew the brand we had created nearly a year before.

This brings us to the situation that AUBC is now in. The web shop is sold out, around one hundred people are the proud owners of our product and the brand awareness remains high among the target audience. This idle state where the brand is currently in gives me freedom to create new products but also saves me time because in this moment AUBC does not require my time and energy.

From the beginning up until now i've learned a lot from this venture and it also brought me a lot of fun running it. I hope to report back in the future with new idea's and results from AUBC.


Instatera launch - The app explained #Work  |   6/11/2016

Instatera launch - The app explained

Introduction to lightweight rowing

Just like in some other sports, the sport of rowing was a lightweight and an open weight class. The open weight class is accessible for rowers of all weight and the lightweight class has some restrictions. The restrictions in the lightweight class are not very complicated. The most important to remember is the crew average, for men this average has to be 70 kg or less and for women this average has to be 57kg or less. The second rule is that there also is an individual max weight, for men this is 72,5 kg and for women this is 59 kg. As you can imagine calculating the average crew weight for an eight or a four can become quite complicated to do from memory. My own experience is that this can cause stress-full situations moments before the weigh in of the regatta. Although this is not a very complex calculation there was no tool available to quickly calculate the crew average and eliminate miscalculations that can occur when you are calculating from memory.


What does Instatera do?

Instatera can be used to quickly check the average weight for all types of lightweight crews. The one thing the user has to do is fill in the individual weights and instatera will respond with a message whether or not the crew has passed the weigh in. The app will tell you by what margin the crew has passed or failed and this can be used by the rowers to know if they have margin to eat or drink something. The main goal of instatera is to eliminate last minute stress by the crew before the weigh in.


Use the app

Instatera can be found on the domain www.instatera.xyz.


WaterQant case study - Part 1 introduction and Donate-a-book #Work  |   2/11/2016

WaterQant case study - Part 1 introduction and Donate-a-book

Introduction
It all began exactly one year ago. It was the first week of november 2015 when i (Mathijs) first met with Pedram. We both where rowers at the same club in Amsterdam, that is how we’ve met each other. While both studying at the VU university my background was more in IT and computer science and Pedram had more experience in business and consulting. In our first meetings we quickly found out that our skills and work ethics matched quite good. In the following weeks we came up with a lot of different ideas and we wanted to create a platform from which we could build and launch these ideas.

All our ideas started as a shared folder in Google Drive and most of the time we were just brainstorming about a topic that had our shared interest and we would try to find a way to create business model and application around this idea. The Drive folder then would soon grow with various documents and files like: meeting notes, prototype designs, code for the alpha version of an application, contact information of s and many many excel sheets.

First venture: Donate a book
One of the first examples is our project www.donate-a-book.com, the idea behind this website was to create a platform build up of two parts. First there was the ‘donating’ side of the website, this was a place with the goal to get people to donate books that they are not using anymore, like e.g. old study books or just a simple novel. These books then would be collected and stored in coöperation with the green offices of the universities in the Netherlands. Soon after that they were distributed across the refugee shelters all over the country. So that the people in these shelters and camps could keep studying and reading while waiting for more information about their asylum request in our country.

The problem we were trying to solve with donate-a-book.com was that we saw that the number of refugees in the Netherlands was growing vary rapidly, this was mostly due to the civil war in Syria. The media portrayed these people very negatively and this was something that we could not stand. Among these refugees where well educated man and woman who had given up everything to flee their country and keep their family safe. Now these people were sitting in refugee camps and waiting all day. Among these people where boys and girls of our age who probably went to college or university in their home country and could now do nothing. The idea of this reminded us of our wealth and luck here in the Netherlands and we could not sit still without working on this project. We wanted to build this distribution network and give the refugees more access to information that in the end would not only benefit them personally but also benefit the whole country with high educated professionals when these people are given asylum.

What is next?
This was the first part of a longer series about the ventures of WaterQant. In the next part i will tell the story about our biggest venture: AUBC. This is a fashion brand that produces leisure clothing for rowers.


AUBC Autumn Sale #Work  |   13/10/2016

AUBC Autumn Sale

De dagen zijn korter, het is steeds kouder buiten en de bomen verliezen hun bladeren. De herfst is weer begonnen. Na een zomer lang in luchtige kleding rondgelopen te hebben is het nu echt weer tijd om je kledingkast in de duiken en op zoek te gaan naar die truien, lange broeken en dikke sokken die je maanden geleden ver weg hebt gestopt. Je komt erachter dat je eigenlijk nog wel een nieuwe sweater kunt gebruiken.

AUBC-sweaters zijn je beste vriend(in) om te zorgen dat je deze herfst niet in de kou hoeft te staan. Vele mensen zijn je voorgegaan en zijn allemaal euforisch over onze heerlijk warme sweaters. Ze houden je warm tijdens koudste herfst dagen.

Nu begrijpen we heel goed dat studenten niet de meest welvarende groep van onze samenleving zijn en daar willen we jullie graag tegemoet in komen, vandaag starten we de officiële ‘AUBC Autumn Sale’. Met kortingen van meer dan 33% kun je deze truien niet meer laten liggen! (Deze korting is uiteraard ook geldig voor niet studenten)

Haast je daarom meteen naar onze webshop en bestel die heerlijk warme trui. Er is een beperkte voorraad dus wees er snel bij!

Webshop >>> https://www.aubc.nl


Social media addiction #University course  |   14/10/2016

Addiction to social media is occurring more and more. Some people can not go through with a singe day of offline living. We have created habits for our self that involve a lot of interaction with social media. For example, what are you doing when you are waiting in line at the register of a supermarket? Probably checking your Facebook timeline. We all do this. I think the subject of addiction in social media is almost as important as the issue of privacy discussed in my previous blogpost. Social media is a big part of our lives and we interact with more people online than offline nowadays.

 

As discussed in previous blogpost, people use their social networking profiles as glorifying mirror of their life. If they compare their own life with those of others this often lowers self-esteem and happiness. This is also part of the addiction, the constantly comparing of your peers online. 20 years ago this was barely possible because it was not very much possible to easily glorify your life and compare it to other people. The rise of social networking sites makes this much easier and this has to raise questions by us as users on how to solve this growing problem.


Privacy and information sharing #University course  |   11/10/2016

Johnson (2010)[1] talks about the changed privacy settings on Facebook’s users profile. The company ’s decision is controversial because it suddenly changed all the privacy settings for its users. In an  interview with the company’s founder and CEO Zuckerberg told a journalist that in the beginning a lot of people asked him “why would I want to put any information on the internet at all?”. If you look at peoples social profiles nowadays this has changed a lot. We put all kinds of information on our profiles, from our birthday to the books and TV shows we like. But on the contrary the company that we give all this information to is very closed and private. A dutch tv show host talks about the inaccessibility of the company Facebook in the latest episode of his show [2]. In this episode he is trying to make contact with a spokesman of Facebook and he finds out that there is none. He says that the company that we give all our information to and that is our main source of information today is very closed and can not give accountability for the decisions they make. 

 

Personally this worries me a lot, a company that is becoming more and more of an information monopoly in our lives is very closed and does not explain how and why it makes the decisions that eventually will lead up to the content we see on our timelines. Privacy is becoming less important with the rise of all the social media networks but in my honest opinion i think we as a generation need to be more aware of our online privacy

 

References


Rise of the online creators #University course  |   07/10/2016

For this lecture i read the two papers that where assigned on BlackBoard. I found the paper of Henning-Thurau et al. (2010) very interesting. This paper matched my interest in digital media and the shift from old media to the new media. 

 

One example for this shift is the way we watch video. No more then five years ago we would perceive all of our information through television if it was video. But today the percentage of all the video that we watch on television has declined. The main platforms where people watch video today are Facebook and Youtube. These platforms allow for consumers to also be producers. The time that television makers and tv stations decided what you where watching at what time and on what day is over with the rise of Facebook and Youtube. 

 

There are appearing more and more so called ‘creators’ on these platforms. These are individuals who make content that is watched by millions. All you need today in order to reach these millions of people is a video camera and a Youtube of Facebook profile. 

 

Personally i think this is a very good development in the media landscape that we live in. It empowers the freedom of speech and eliminates the abuse of power by big corporations that previously made all the content.

 

References

[1] Henning-Thurau et al. (2010) 

 


Social persuasion #University course  |   30/09/2016

Out of the two pieces of literature of this week i found the paper of Cialdini surprisingly interesting. In this blogpost i like to discus that paper and give my own opinion on the subject. The paper is about the art of persuasion in business. It talks about the six principles of social persuasion: Liking, Reciprocity, Social Proof, Consistency, Authority and Scarcity. [1] When these principles are combined it is possible to persuade your subordinates as a manager to deliver better work for you.

I often have a hard time to fully focus on reading a scientific paper but with this one it was different. I really enjoyed this one and it gave me material to think about. If we transfer these techniques to the world of social media we can conclude that the art of persuasion is very important. As a social media admin of some company’s account it is your job to persuade people to buy of use the business’s goods. Most of the people nowadays use social media more than they read the newspapers or watch television. The conversion of user traffic from social media to a company’s goods is becoming more and more important.

References
[1] Cialdini (2001)


Online activism #University course  |   30/09/2016

Platforms like Facebook have reshaped the way protesters communicate with each other in times of crisis. Tufekci and Wilson [1] wrote a paper about the protest in Egypt’s Tahrir Square and studied the social media behavour. One of the core pillars of social networks and the internet is freedom of speech en equality. Old middle eastern regimes are not prepared for these open minded platforms within their reign. Now protesters and civilians can post content about all the things that are going on in their countries that have not been show to the outside world before. Some years ago this sparkled revolutions in a lot of arab countries and this phenomenon was called the arab spring.

The key to success for protesters using these platforms was the the rapid exchange of information. For instance when a small group of protesters saw a lot of police coming from a street some blocks away from the main square the could warn everyone on this main square and all the people could respond to this information. Using these rapid information exchange methods the protesters always where one step ahead of the authorities. So you can say that the social networking sites like twitter and facebook literally have changed some countries and gave a lot of people a better life.

References
[1] Tufekci & Wilson (2012)


Your overwhelming friendlist #University course  |   23/09/2016

Studies say that a person can have no more than 150 real ‘friends’. But as we all know the majority of people on social networking sites like Facebook often have over 300 friends. Within a facebook friend list there are different types of interpersonal relations. We have a group of close family friends, friends from college, friends from your sports club and some friends who we’ve met on a summer holiday 4 years ago. But the strange thing is that all of these friends see the same status updates we post on our wall. In order to keep healthy interpersonal relations something maybe has to change about this. Burke (2011) states that users of e.g. Facebook can be divided in two groups. The ones who regularly post content and the ones who only passively consume content. For the latter group, the ones who passively consume content on the site draw value from their connections when they have a lower social fluency.

I personally think that it is importent to regularly (like twice per year) scroll through your friendlist and evaluate for yourself who your friends are. If this does not happen, you friendslist becomes to cluttered and updates you post have less meaning. When you’ve made sure that your online friends are also your real friends than you can confidently post the content that you really want to share. This improves the quality of your profile and the quality of the content posted on Facebook in general.


SNS user profile impression #University course  |   16/09/2016

Following up on my previous blogpost, one of the papers for todays lecture (Ellison et al. 2012) talks about the discrepancies between a users online and offline life. Today i will take a more in depth look to how the different types of generated content influence the impression of a user in a social networking site. The paper of Utz concludes that “that people use the cues provided on SNS, and that they use different cues when different dimensions have to be judged” [1]. As i discussed before a developer of a social networking site has a lot of power in determining how people will use the medium. The creators of e.g. Snapchat and Beme only let the users create content in the moment. In contrast the creators of e.g. Facebook encourage users to upload content after the activity took place. Also the way users curate their profile differs a lot.

I’ve seen trends in profile curation on Instagram and Twitter, on these two different platforms i’ve discovered some interesting facts. Users on instagram will often delete old post and only show a selection of pictures. The opposite happens on twitter where users will almost never go back on their profile to delete posts from a couple months ago. The way users interact with their profile and conent is very different across these platforms. On Instagram user value the impression other people have over their profile a lot more.

References
[1] Utz (2010)
[2] Ellison et al. (2012)


Self presentation online - Beme #University course  |   16/09/2016

Self presentation online is something that is personally find quite interesting and is a populair topic among researchers. [2] We humans tend to create a perfect and spotless version of ourself on our social networking profiles. But with mediums like Facebook and Instagram this is almost impossible not to do. People want to impress other people and show off all the fun stuff they are doing. These social networking sites allow users to curate and edit their content extensively. Users can apply filters and effects to cover up reality and show off to e.g. their colleges of classmates.

However there are new social networking sites that force users to share more real content in the moment. I have two examples, snapchat and beme. The former one also lets users edit and curate their content but forces them to share something in the moment instead of uploading content afterwards. The latter is a relative small and new platform but is gives a solution to the self presentation problem that is growing online. Beme [1] lets users share short video shots (just like snapchat) but users do not have the ability to view or edit their content after it was shot. You press a button and the camera makes a video and instantly shares it to your followers. This concept is very good i think and i hope that is will transform the way we use our social networking sites.

The conclusion about self presentation online is probably that the medium will take an important role in how users will present themselves.

Resources
[1] Beme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mixsze6uJPg
[2] Hogan (2010)


Interactivity in social networks #University course  |   13/09/2016

When we talk about interactivity it is often about communication. Within communicating there are three important elements: source, medium and message. The paper i’ve read takes an in depth look at these three elements and discusses the psychological effect of interactivity in social media.

The term interactivity may sound a bit vague and in the context of this paper it means something like what Rafeali [1] is talking about: it is defined responsiveness of the medium towards the user. Personally i think this is a good description of interactivity, when you are interacting with people over Social networking sites you do not want the medium standing in the way of expressing your message. When the medium is fully responsive the communication towards the receiver becomes fairly easy for the source.

Finally the paper i’ve read [2] states why it is so important that we need to understand the psychological effects of interactivity”The authors state the it is critical for a society that is becoming saturated with interactive digital media that we need to learn more about this. I personally think this is an important subject as i’ve seen by myself that more and more kids grow up with these interactive social networks. This is unique and they are the first generations that will have access to these platforms. As a society we need to evaluate and discuss the effects of this development.

References
[1] 9. Rafaeli, S. Interactivity: From new media to communication. In R. P. Hawkins, J. M. Wiemann & S. Pingree (Eds.), Advancing communication science: Merging mass and interpersonal processes (pp. 110-134). Sage, Newbury Park, CA, 1988.

[2] https://ai2-s2-pdfs.s3.amazonaws.com/cfd0/51b80b3ef2b19e2eb5871f52302d6c54c53d.pdf


The beauty of university Rowing #Rowing  |   09/09/2016

The beauty of university Rowing

There is something remarkable about the combination of rowing and academics. Ask a rower how they manage to study and train and they will tell you that the two complement each other. Studies demand focus of the mind and athletics demand focus of the body, the two harmonize together to create the ultimate profile: a university rower. Some might argue that one takes away from the other, not allowing a person to fully devote their attention to either. But, just as in rowing, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and university rowing adds to the wholeness of the student.

Rowing is a sport that honors the desire for competitive arousal. Some sports have found fairness in the chaos of moments, others in the blaze of brilliance. But in rowing it is found in exactitude and the coherence of the crew. Mastering the sport means beating hours and hours on your craft in order to virtue the perfect swing. However, out of this early practice comes that transcending harmony in which the sum of the crew becomes more than its parts.

It can sometimes be difficult because rowing is very time consuming, but it definitely motivates me to set a schedule for myself everyday of what I need to get done to stay on top of my work. With such a dense training schedule it is necessary to also create a structured way to finish all your academic work. The structure of rowing translates to structure in your academic life.

The skills necessary to being a successful university rower- dedication, determination, teamwork, balance, time-management - are highly sought after skills in the job market For some, university opens the door to rowing opportunities. For others, it enables them to continue with their rowing experience and for a few it affords them with the chance to go to university. Being a student and a rower helps shape and influence the lives of young students. It comes at an important stage in life, often a time of exploration, of new experiences and of learning. There is little doubt that it is difficult and it is known to be time consuming, but it offers so much more than it takes away.

Rowing has transformed and defined my lifestyle beyond any sort of college experience. Besides the euphoria of victory, rowing has also reminded me how to lose. The need for dedication and passion in a sport that is rarely gratifying cannot be understated, and it has developed into a hunger for success.


New website, new beginning #Work  |   12/07/2016

New website, new beginning

My personal background
Since 2012 i have been building websites, in the beginning mostly for my self but later on also websites for other customers. Then when i was in my 5th year of high school i partnered up with a friend to start a serious business in webdesign, that time i just turned 17 years old. In first year of our partnership this was a huge succes, we acquired more projects then we could finish and we learned a lot on how to manage these software project. One and a half year later when we both graduated high school and started our university studies in different cities our partnership slowly faded away, we didn't have the opportunity to have weekly meetings and work on our projects and all the activities in our business started to come to a stop.

Acquiring new skills
Around the same moment that our business was slowing down i started my university studies in Amsterdam. Here i came in touch with some interesting people. I learning a lot of new skills and could put them directly into practice. This first year in university was an exiting time and my knowledge on creating stuff online expanded rapidly. I was determent to acquire as much the skills and experience needed to become a single-man company: design, UX, front-end and back-end, i wanted to know it all.

What is next?
I think i learned a lot the last years and it is now time to take the next step. With this new beginning i will start building mathijs.online to a professional company that can support all types of projects in the online domain. I am looking forward to be presenting new results and help my customers in the best way i can.

Social media
With all the different channels of social media, i like to focus on using only one. Since i’ve lots of experience with all the major mediums i can comprise them and outweigh the pros and the cons of each platform. My personal favorite medium is twitter, i like this SNS because it is fast and displays the information you want to see. I can follow profiles of people that i think are interesting and communicate with them about various subjects. You can reach a wide audience and is has less clutter than e.g. Facebook.

Mathijs.