Previous month:
February 2006
Next month:
April 2006

The tooth trolls have arrived London

Cultural imperialism comes in many different forms: today Norwegian tooth trolls Karius and Baktus will be let loose in London in an attempt to get East End kids to get their toothbrushes out more often. Creations of Norwegian author Thorbjorn Egner, Karius and Baktus live in poor Jack's mouth where they continuously plot to create as much damage as possible. Little Troll Productions is staging “Karius and Baktus"at the Hackney Empire today and tomorrow.

You know you're in Norway when...

... you try to sign up for broadband, but are told it takes FIVE weeks before you are guaranteed to be up and running. You get somewhat puzzled as you thought Norway was part of the fast world and seem to remember to have read somewhere that Norway is one of the world's most connected countries, but you shrug and get yourself a mobile broadband instead. You're up and running in a whiff, but soon discover that, surprise...

...your internet supplier doesn't have a support line. That is, they have a support line for their mobile phones, but for the broadband they're selling you have to call the mobile phone support who will notify the in-house techies who might contact you the following day if your call is logged as extremely urgent, or in a couple of weeks if it's logged as not quite so urgent. So you'd better play safe and make sure you've got another internet connection at hand, I mean , it's not as if you can call any of your editors and tell them they will have to waive their deadlines until your internet-supplier decides to contact you to restore your connection... Not to mention how stuck you get if your connection stops working outside office hours... a far cry from that fast world you thought Norway was part of, but at least there is one area where the country is both fast and efficient:

... exchange of sensitive information like ID numbers and credit- and tax information between state and commercial organisations is rampant. Everyone is linked up to the central state register, and you find companies obtaining credit ratings of you without you ever having asked for credit, nor consented to the company obtaining this information. You have to use your national insurance number to log on to your online bank, and your online bank code to log on to your account with the mobile phone operator, making Norway a paradise for cunning computer hackers...

... your average 15-year old has only the latest editions of mobile phones, PCs, iPods and anything technical that you, as a communications professional, can only dream of. This might be one explanation why your mobile broadband provider doesn't have a stand-by support line: surely most Norwegians are wealthy enough to have more than one internet connection...

....the people who serve you in shops, gas stations and supermarkets are likely to have graduate, if not post-graduate degrees, and your tube driver is probably studying for a Phd. Yet you find politicians, perhaps suffering from the delusion that we still live in the bygone industrial society, insisting that "Norway's problem is not lack of jobs, but lack of workforce", ignoring the blatant mismatch between Norway's highly educated workforce and the bulk of unskilled jobs available. You have heard Norway's former finance minister talk of how it's Norway's highly skilled workforce that sustains the country's international competitiveness, but find yourself wondering if Norwegians should not be more grateful that they don't speak Norwegian in India 

Bloggers as journ papparazi

As a side note to the discussion of bloggers acting as journalists: Gawker, the New York celebrity gossip blog, has put its Gawker Stalker feature, also hailed as a pioneering example of citizen journalism, into map form. It works on the formula that zealous readers report sightings of celebrities around Manhatten, of course drawing a lot of flag from celebrities and their publicists over how this puts them in danger from all the nutters out there... read more about the arguments in the FT, or check it out for yourself at GawkerStalker.

Of course, on Bloggers Blog I found a much better name for these dutiful citizens: Blogarazzi

Blogging News

The Media Guardian says companies have awakened to the potential marketing value the blogosphere can add to their PR-strategy: How big business barged in on the bloggers. My friend and blog prophet Adriana has been telling me for years and years that this invetably would happen, so I guess this is just evidence of her predictive powers.

Reporters at Washington City Paper are demanding pay for group blogs: An interesting insight in what happens when newspapers now are trying to implement blogging in their daily news coverage.

Judith Miller, the New York times journalist who served 85 days in jail to protect her source in the Valerie Plame case blames bloggers for undermining her authority and poisoning her relationship with her colleagues at the Times, according to Slate.

Dangerous Mondays

Last Monday I only got a black screen and an error message when I turned on my laptop. Stuck without a PC for weeks I could see myself missing all my deadlines, loosing all future contracts, my livelihood, friends in faraway places... well, I steadied myself and called the computer support line. They of course said it had to be a software problem, which would not be covered by my warranty, but were kind enough to direct me to the appropriate computer hospital. I struggled and blundered my way there through biting cold and snow, and spent a nervous hour in the waiting room to at least see if they could recover my files (and bankrupt me in the process). Luckily, it was the hard disk that was ill after all, which saved me from bankruptcy, but I still lost most of last week to prolonged visits to computer hospital and reinstalling everything on my brand new hard disk. So if I've been less than communicative lately, this is why... There's something about me and Mondays: two weeks ago I got on the wrong train to Brussels Airport and missed my flight; one week ago my computer crashed; today I have decided to just catch up on my reading and enjoy the sunny winter day from my veranda.    

Norwegian bloggers and the cartoon wars

While lunching with an old friend of mine in Pimlico, London, the other week, he expressed curiosity about how Norwegian bloggers dealt with the infamous cartoon wars. Here’s a peak at the most recent developments:

“If the threats against the president of the Norwegian journalists union, Per E. Kokkvold, had become more serious, more of the country’s newspapers would have published the Mohammed cartoons to spread the risk of repercussions,” the general secretary of the Norwegian Editors Society, Nils E. Øy, told the audience at a debate in the press club in Oslo Wednesday.

As it was, only the editor of an obscure Christian magazine published the cartoons, and was forced to go undercover with 24/7 police protection. “It’s incredible how far the media is prepared to go to protect one of their own,” Vampus, Norway’s best blogger according to a poll in one of Norway’s biggest tabloids and an ardent campaigner for free speech, commented dryly.

If mainstream media abstained from publishing the cartoon that depicted Mohammed as suicide bomber, a lot of Norwegian bloggers certainly did. The most prominent was Vampus. Unfortunately Vampus writes in Norwegian, but here are two in English: Ghost of Goldwater and Instant Opinion.

All roads lead to Rome, but none out of Brussels

On Monday morning I found myself standing in the middle of scenic Belgian countryside: the only sounds to be heard were those of cows mooing. The problem with this idyllic scene was that I was supposed to have been on Brussels airport, checking in for my flight back to Oslo, and trains are not too frequent in the Belgian boondocks. I eventually arrived the airport three minutes after my plane took off. Needless to say, I got to know Brussels airport much better than I have ever desired that day, before I eventually was able to board my newly bought return trip. There’s this old saying about getting up on the wrong foot, now how about getting on the wrong train? I can certainly think of better ways to start your week…

The irony of it was that two days earlier, two of my travel companions missed their flight back to Stockholm as the bus they boarded to Charleroi got stuck on the bus station. My friend who lured me to Brussels in the first place was due to fly to Columbia, Missouri, one hour after me, but got held up for a day in Amsterdam as her flight was overbooked. 

These obstacles led me to do explore a bit more about this city we all found it so difficult to get out of. According to Wikipedia “The name Brussels comes from the old Dutch Bruocsella, Brucsella or Broekzele, which means "marsh (bruoc, bruc or broek) home (sella or zele)" or "home in the marsh",” which makes totally sense to me.  One day I might look back on my close escape from marsh city and smile…