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Schibsted merger approved

Schibsted's plans to create a giant newspaper group that will see Schibsted-owned national Aftenposten 'merged' with regional newspapers Faedrelandsvennen, Stavanger Aftenblad and Bergens Tidende was approved against all odds on Tuesday.

Norway's media authority, Medietilsynet, ruled against the merger last summer, arguing that Schibsted's dominant online position, and the relative size and influence of the newspapers involved, would give the merged company, Media Norway, a much too dominant position in the Norwegian newspaper market, but on Tuesday this decision was overturned by a complaint's commission.

The new 'merged' newspaper group will further strengthen Schibsted's already dominant position in the country's newspaper market and will have all sorts of interesting implications. In a debate last March, the chair of the debate asked Birger Magnus, a Schibsted exec, if the new construction would not mean much greater reliance on syndication, and if that wouldn't mean reduced staffing and a situation where you had only one journalist to cover each subject across many titles. "You have to do that, but you have to do it in a clever way," said Magnus.

The four newspapers already have an agreement in place which allows them to recirculate each others staff-produced articles and are working to implement a similar agreement for the freelance-articles they commission.

It is however unclear if Media Norway will compensate the freelancers properly for the fact that they might see their articles used in all the Media Norway newspapers. One Schibsted editor told me that there was nothing in the freelance rates that said freelancers should be compensated on the basis of increased circulation. This prompted one of our readers at to ask if this meant readers would now get all the Media Norway newspapers for the price of one.

So interesting times ahead. The country's culture minister has already pledged to work harder to get a new, broader media law, that would also take into account the ownership share of the online news market, in place.

Lost my voice in Lincoln

Well, that's not quite accurate (it just rhymes better): I almost lost my voice somewhere between that delayed flight from Copenhagen, which didn't quite get me back home by midnight on Friday, and arriving London early Monday morning. But I've never been happier to land in England, as you've got over-the-counter medicine that works here (as opposed to Norway where everything you need to get thru the day with a flu, sore throat or just nasty cold, is either on prescription or not to be had):


So by the time I arrived Lincoln on Monday I wasn't feeling too bad. I gave a talk on blogging at the Uni there, together with the Press Gazette's eminent student blogger, Dave Lee, which was quite fun (at least I enjoyed it), but towards the end of my talk my voice just grew fainter and fainter (and even more husky than what it usually is). Still, good evening, and a nice dinner in the barge you can see just across the road here (by this time I was really starting to feel that I'd been up since 4am though, but luckily my hotel was just across the road, where the photo is shot from):


This morning I had a very brief tour of Lincoln Castle and Cathedral:



In the latter, they also keep an original copy of Magna Carta, hence the name of the pub across the road:


It's not new media MSM is failing at: it's social media

In his post on how Local news is changing - but not fast enough, Paul Bradshaw effectively and poignantly pinpoints what mainstream media is struggling to catch up with.

To me, the quote below, is the perefect illustration that this is not new media - to my my mind, new media is just digitalised old media - but social media. And essentially, the latter is not so much about the tools as about the mindset. This is also one of my hobby horses: I believe, as I've said before, that all journalists today work at the intersection of social media and mainstream media (MSM), and these are the skills needed to maneuver this territory successfully (the 'uneven' distribution of these skills, as well as management's failure to grasp how essential these are, is, leaving aside the financial aspect, to a large extent why MSM is struggling online):

...there are hundreds of journalists who need re-educating and training in everything from video and podcasting to social networking, managing databases, and online etiquette.

And they all have newspapers to get out.

Because “Web-first” is still a strategy in publishing only - not in journalism and storytelling. For most journalists - and even more editors - the web is still a ‘channel’, not a place. It’s somewhere to put stuff - that’s why video took off so quickly: it was something everyone could understand. They’d seen it on the telly.

What needs to be made clear is that the internet makes news a service, not a product; that every action of a journalist online - commenting, blogging, networking, twittering, posting to YouTube - is an act of distribution, and because they’re not doing those things, great stories aren’t being read as much as they should, or told as well as they could...

On the pros and cons of social striptease

Here's two excellent and through-provoking arguments on how social media changes the rules of engagement (yes, I know, I talk about this again and again, but this touches on another aspect of it).

"It's a Transparent Society, So Get Naked", says Ben Casnocha, arguing that baring your soul online has become so widespread that it's those preferring to stay 'fully clothed' who are the odd ones out, while a_spod, in yet another excellent comment, raises some interesting concerns about privacy.

I found myself agreeing with both. I guess, for those who believe that the planets govern our every move (scroll down to Libra), that would be the obvious explanation, but seriously, I catch myself taking new media reporters who don't blog less seriously (why won't you show us who you are? blogs are such a great way to find out who you are and what makes you tick) while at the same time I'm uneasy about how the electronic footprints we leave behind on the web may be used by third parties, be it companies or government.

Anyway, here's a taste of the two arguments, follow the links to the full posts above.

Ben Casnocha: Teens and adults today are choosing to publicize where they live, what they believe in, what their friends are like. On the Internet, it's easier than ever to disclose yourself. Yet we always hear the same thing from concerned parents and employers: What's happening to privacy?!

....Look, it's true that transparency has its costs. Down the road, today's teens may regret posting those drunk pictures and gratuitous blog entries. But since 97 percent of teens and tweens say they belong to a social network, everybody will have a screw-up or two from their adolescence. This creates what some call "Mutually Assured Embarrassment": If you smear me with that post I wrote at age 15, I'll spread photos of you sucking on a beer bong.

And transparency isn't all-or-nothing. Today's networks have detailed privacy settings you control. As blogger Jeff Jarvis has put it, "Publicness is good so long as we decide how public we want to be." Like it or not, the transparent society is here.

Most of my friends are out on the Web, where we tell the world who we are and what we think. Those who are still fully clothed shouldn't be surprised if folks start asking, "What are you trying to hide?"

a_spod: My experience of social networking is it feels like having a party with a few fellow bacchanalia only to discover those elegant full-length mirrors are in fact two-way mirrors. Maybe somebody pointed this out, but they didn't say the windows opened onto a high street where market researchers and social trainspotters busily jot down every detail of our conversations.

But for those of us who are socially isolated, living in small provincial towns, grafting away at dead-end jobs, or just unable to access intelligent media types by shouting across the newsroom, it’s a price we have to pay. Unplugged living is rather dull. So we check in our tinfoil balaclavas at the door and start stripping, because making friends and having semi-intimate conversations require you expose yourself to the lurking hordes.

And for any blogger skulking at the other end of a link, who thinks they've got the balance about right: worry about tomorrow... who knows which of our assumptions will be shattered by tomorrow's world; a "textual analysis" tool that allows searchers to find other pages by "the same author" would blow the gaff on anonymous comments; GPS, face recognition, or something completely left of field – use your imagination. What would screw you? Now go have nightmares. The net won't remain fixed like this.

Total Eclipse

I'm not going to stay awake to watch this wonder tonight, nor do I currently have the photo equipment to do it justice if I had, but here's a great composition of the phases of a Total Lunar Eclipse from Fort Ephemara's Flickr-stream (published under a creative commons license):


It reminds me of the total solar eclipse in August 1999. We had descended on Cornwall together with a bunch of crazy Americans and found ourselves surrrounded by a rather eclectic mix of people, some of whom were expecting to see Nostradamus' prophecy that the world would end on that day fulfilled. It didn't of course, neither did we see the actual eclipse. Bad weather, you know, the world just went pitch black and this guy in the photo didn't get those shots he dreamed to get with his 1000mm lense (despite some women nearby doing 'weather work' to remove the clouds with their thoughts). Bizarre but memorable day (picture by Charles Olson):


Have you been un-Twinglied?

It seems we have a new measure for media bias: Did someone just remove the Twingly link to the blog post in which you commented on one of the news site's articles?

In the old days we spoke of all those issues that simply fell off the agenda, or the issues leftists felt was wrongly represented in right-wing media and vice versa. Access to the editorial pages of mainstream media was for the select few. Now that several newspapers have started linking up blogreactions to their news articles with services like Twingly, broadcasting your views on mainstream media coverage - not only on your blog, but also to the journalists or columnists responible for that coverage - is easier than ever.

Or not? Swedish thinker Johan Norberg claims on his blog (in Swedish) that Dagens Nyheter (DN) first removed all the Twingly links to an article by Andreas Malm which Norberg blogged about and linked to, then put them up again but omitted the link to Norberg's blog post, in which he defends himself against Malm's claims. Malm levies pretty serious allegations against Norberg, an ardent defender of globalisation best known internationally for his book "In defense of global capitalism", naming Norberg as a contributor to some kind of Islamophobic hell if I read him correctly.

When I talked to DN's online editor, Charlotta Friborg, before Christmas, my impression was that they only removed Twingly links to blatantly racist comments. I can think of several 'derogatory' names to call Mr. Norberg, some of which I know he'd welcome (I know him from more than ten years back), but racist is certainly not one of them (neither is Islamophobe).

Update 20/2: More on this debate on untwinglying, or Twingly censorship, whichever you prefer, here from Dagens Media (in Swedish)

Weighed and found Wanting? Un-Twingliable?


(I snapped this picture at a market, which name I've forgotten, in NewcastleGateshead)

Today's question: Maybe it's journalism itself that is the problem?

Now, here's a big, heavy question to grapple with early a Saturday morning (at least it's early to me, Saturdays are just about the only day of the week I don't get up at the break of dawn or earlier):

As we examine what journalism should look like in the 21st Century, we should also look hard at just how professional supposed professional journalism is. Today I heard a CEO of a large insurance firm talk about the day his company eliminated 200 jobs — 200 out of 40,000. He talked about how he prepared his employees for the media onslaught he knew was coming, with anchors bellowing and headlines screaming about the downturn of the company’s fortunes. These weren’t even layoffs, but merely the elimination of unfilled positions.

There is something wrong with a journalism that can’t honestly put the context of events in an accurate light, but must play up the most sensational angle. We all know the CEO’s story is not an isolated incident, and it isn’t merely a TV-journalism condition, but something endemic to present-day journalism, print and broadcast.

If our readers so easily recognize that what we do isn’t trustworthy for its accuracy both in fact and spirit, then how can we expect to retain them as readers?

Read Howard Owens' full post here (via Adrian Monck). Owens' question reminded me of this excellent quote from Cluetrain, and I'm sure Steve Borris would have one or two things to say about the adverse effects of this 'professionalism'.

Influence on the Web is all about connectivity

It's been months since I revisited the value of linking out, so it was great to stumble across this post by Publishing 2.0 (via Martin Stabe), which contained too many eloquent lines on the power of the hyperlink to include them all on My favourite parts:

The reason Google’s search results often contain more blogs than traditional media content is that blogs were the first to harness the power of the link. Blogs linked to other blogs, while traditional media brands remained disconnected silos. Savvy web users — many college age or early 20s — pooled their links on Digg and developed the power to drive server-crashing volumes of traffic, forcing traditional media sites, who still lack such influence, to plaster themselves with Digg This buttons...

...Journalists and PR professionals, the influence brokers of traditional media, have lost a huge degree of influence on the web in large part because they don’t link to anything. While traditional media brands are still powerful channels on the web, they are losing influence everyday to the link-driven web network — journalists and PR professionals can no longer depend on controlling these former monopoly channels to exert influence online.

Whenever I give talks to traditional publishers who have been afraid to link to other sites because it will “send people away” instead of keeping them trapped in the publisher’s own content, my now standard response is to say that there’s a site that does nothing but link to other sites — all it does is send people away. And yet remarkably, people keep coming back. So much so, that this strategy has translated into $10 billion+ in advertising revenue. (Yes, Google of course).........

Danish news site starts linking to blogreactions

On Tuesday this week,, the news site of one of Denmark's leading newspapers, started using Twingly to show blog links to the sites' articles (I covered the news here, in Norwegian. More about Politiken's reasons for doing so here, in Danish).

As it happened, this was one day before the newspaper decided to republish pictures of one of the controversial Mohammed cartoons, and I had honestly forgotten about this when I blogged about it, but as the links started coming in I got a chance to investigate the effects of linking up blogs in this way further (I blogged about Norwegian and Swedish news sites' experiences with using Twingly here). I'd expected a lot more bloggers to link to the Politiken-article with the cartoon, but so far Twingly only shows five blog links.

Effects and causes
I got quite a bit of traffic from the link though, more than what I got from links from e.g. Financial Times or Washington Post, but less than what you'd get from many bloggers with a big following linking to you – but I think that has something to do with the topic being so controversial.

Not that I'm too fussed about traffic, I'd take 10 blog readers who are genuinely interested in what I write about over 1000 random readers any old day, but I'm curious about the effects of linking up bloggers this way. The people I talked to at the Norwegian and Swedish sites (Dagbladet, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Nyheter) who'd used Twingly for some time said it created more loyal readers rather than more traffic, and also that it provided valuable feedback for the journalists.

Bridge to the blogosphere
Or, for a more poetic description of the dynamics at work: "Dagbladet's use of Twingly helps to build bridges. It opens up a communication channel to the blogosphere. It's interesting for me as a blogger because it gives me exposure, but it ought to be interesting for the journalism as well because you get other perspectives," Eirik Newth said in a debate I covered recently.

Which reminds me, to get even more poetic, of a line from a poem, Landscape by Norwegian poet Aase-Marie Nesse (my translation): "We are all islands, in an abruptly deep, pacific ocean – but the word is a bridge".

I'm sure there is a great metaphore to be made here about how newspapers have become too insular, cut themselves off from the world or something, but I'm too tired to try to make it (suggestions welcome). A more cynical way to look at it is that linking up bloggers is an attempt to regain lost influence, seeing that power and influence on the web is all about connectivity (link via Martin Stabe), but I'm getting too flippant here, been up since before the break of dawn, so think I'd better get some sleep....

Bonnier's robust full-year results overshadowed by editor's death

Yesterday, Bonnier's announcement of its full-year results for 2007, earnings had improved by roughly £7,6m (9bn SEK) to roughly £24,5m (29bn SEK), was so brief that journalists complained about the lack of more numbers. But the full-year results were soon forgotten when one of the media company's editors died unexpectedly.

Shortly after Jonas Bonnier, the family-owned media group's CEO, commended Dagens Nyheter's and Sydsvenskan's solid financial results, Peter Melin, the editor-in-chief of the latter, a regional newspaper for the south of Sweden, suffered a fatal heart attack while at work.

Colleagues of the highly regarded editor, aged 59, were in a state of shock, and other Swedish journalists and editors were quick publish their condolences and praise for Melin.

First and foremostly, he was a listening editor, wrote Martin Jönsson, business editor of Svenska Dagbladet; "I have rarely felt as safe and looked after as a writer as with him," wrote Andreas Ekström, a journalist with Sydsvenskan, describing Melin as an editor who married sound knowledge of the law with courage, good judgement and experience. Jonas Bonnier told Kvällsposten "it felt terribly unreal" and offerd his condolences to the Melin's family, others praised Melin as a champion of press ethics.

Ekstra Bladet agrees to pay Kaupthing substantial libel damages

The peculiar case of the Icelandic bank who brought a libel suit against a Danish tabloid in London was finally settled today.

Icelandic bank Kaupthing said in a press release that Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet had agreed to pay the bank "very substantial damages", and cover "reasonable legal costs", in an settlement reached between the two parties. Ekstra Bladet has also apologised for the series of articles deemed to be libellous, which appeared, among other things, to accuse Kaupthing of tax evasion, and agreed to carry an apology on its news site for a month.

Bent Falbert, editor-in-chief of Ekstra Bladet, has been fighting to reach an out-of-court-settlement with Kaupthing from the beginning as he was frightened of the staggering costs of fighting a libel case in England.

Today, Berlingske quotes Falbert saying: ”I want to encourage my colleagues in the media industry to be very careful with translating articles to English. A small newspaper might end up folding if it is to pay the legal expenses for such a trial."

But translating articles to English or not is not the key issue here. "A claim could just as easily have been brought against Ekstra Bladet in London if news stories written in Danish were accessed by Danish speakers here," Nigel Hanson wrote in Press Gazette just after the case surfaced.

"According to law, a statement is libellous where it is read," David Carr, a lawyer who's advised bloggers on libel issues, told me when I talked to him about the threat of libel tourism. The story of how Norwegian financial daily Dagens Næringsliv was sued for libel in London some ten years ago, on the basis of how copies of the paper could be bought in London, is a good example of how this may be interpreted.

Update 15/2: according to Berlingske 'sources on Iceland' say Ekstra Bladet was forced to pay roughly £100.000 in damages to Kaupthing. The bank's legal expenses are understood to have been £50.000 - £70.000.

Danish newspapers reprint Mohammed cartoon

Today several Danish newspapers carry pictures of a controversial Mohammed cartoon, depicting the prophet as a suicide bomber, in sympathy with cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.

Many editors were shocked when a plot to murder Westergaard, for drawing caricatures satirising Mohammed, was unveiled yesterday. Editors at Politiken and Berlingske Tidende - along with Jyllands-Posten who first printed the cartoons in 2005 - pledged to reprint the most famous cartoon today.

'We have to send a clear and unambiguous signal to all who might get the same crazy idea as those who wanted to attack Kurt Westergaard. We have to make clear that in Denmark we don't accept that freedom of speech is locked up by religious zealots or held hostage to religious fanaticism,' Lisbeth Knudsen, editor-in-chief of Berlingske, told Jyllands-Posten (my translation).

The threat of law suit
She said Berlingske would reprint the cartoon as an illustration to a news story. That is much the same use of the cartoon that Ezra Levant, the publisher of Western Standard, was brought in front of the Alberta Human Rights Commission in Canada to defend. Columnist Mark Steyn has also had similar human rights complaints brought against him recently, on the basis of his writing.

In mid-January, The American Spectator published a story on what the writer, Booke M. Goldstein, a practising attorney, thought amounted to nothing less than legal jihad, listing a number of cases where publications had been brought to court or threatened with libel suits for offending or libelling Muslim dignity or dogmas. Among those cases were all the law suits against the now deceased Orianna Fallaci, and the more than 30 publishers and authors Khalid bin Mahfouz, a Saudi-Arabian billionaire, has threatened to sue in British courts.

Since first publishing the Mohammed cartoons, Jyllands-Posten have fought off several law suits from various Muslim organisations

(I've written more on these libel threats here and here, in Norwegian)

How the media would handle the end of the world

From a comment thread on Steven Smith's News is a Conversation blog:

Wall Street Journal: Dow Jones Plummets as World Ends
National Enquirer: Britney Parties While Millions Die
Rolling Stone: The Grateful Dead Reunion Tour
Sports Illustrated: Game Over
Playboy: Girls of the Apocalypse
Redbook: Lose 10 Pounds by Judgment Day with Our New "Armageddon" Diet!
TV Guide: Death and Damnation -- Nielson Ratings Soar!
Discover Magazine: How will the extinction of all life as we know it affect the way we view the cosmos?

Spokane Journal of Business: World Ends, Local Housing Market Unaffected
KREM News: Earth T-Boned by Giant Asteroid
KXLY News: Sound-Off Question - Could Armageddon have been prevented if our kids had spent more classroom time on the Bible and less on the WASL?
KHQ News: The World Is Ending -- Coffee's on Us!
Spokesman-Review: Life on Earth Ends, More Newsroom Cuts Possible

Do follow this link for a few more newspaper jokes...

Trends: Citizen journalism, or how to get your readers to do more of your reporting

Some see it as cheap or free labour lowering the standards of journalism; others as a vital tool to reengage a disengaged audience, levelling the playing field in the process.

Citizen journalism may have been a bit off the mainstream radar in Norway's online media town in 2007. Or perhaps other news sites were just watching and waiting to see how ABC Nyheter, who became the first Norwegian commercial news site to nurture citizen journalism as part of its site , fared. Perhaps they were even silently cooking together their own plans.

Opinion or news?
ABC Nyheter's citizen section turned into a lively hub with many diverse voices and perspectives, some covering parts of the world or stories completely off the radar of mainstream media, such as elections in Albania or Chile. But overall, the site found that most of the articles submitted in the citizen journalism section was opinion rather than reporting, and even when given the option to file submissions either as a 'citizen article' or 'opinion piece', people chose the former while submitting the latter. As a result of this, ABC Nyheter is currently looking at new forms of editorial control and incentives they hope will deliver more actual 'citizen reporting' in addition to 'citizen opinion'.

A local notice board?
At the back end of 2007, Edda Media, Mecom's Norwegian branch, soft-launched its 'citizen journalism project', or 'the readers' newspaper' as the company often refers to it. It may even be misleading to apply the term 'citizen journalism' to this portal, meant to feature as a subsite to local and regional news sites, where readers are encouraged to share pictures and stories from the local area with other readers.

So far, keeping in mind that very little has been done on the marketing side, these portals have mostly attracted birthday greetings, pictures and notices from local event organisers. This prompted one of Journalisten's readers (I believe we were the first national news site to write about this project) to question if this was not more of a local notice board than a journalistic project, and, as such, just another clever way for a media company to make do with fewer journalists.

I posed this question to the online editor of Fredrikstads Blad, one of the newspapers trying out this solution, but he vehemently denied this and said this was just "one of many services on our site, meant to be a supplement, an additional service for our readers, not a substitute for journalism," and that he felt it added value to the news site overall.

Reader testing
The concept was launched while still in a beta-version, and to my knowledge it's still in beta, to get reader feedback while perfecting the portal. Among the early testers of the portal and its functionalities were regional newspapers Budstikka (where Edda is a minority shareholder), Drammens Tidende and Fredrikstads Blad, but the plan is to roll this out to all Edda newspapers eventually (Edda Media is mainly comprised of regional and local newspapers).

In the future, when all the testing is finished, the newspapers taking part in the pilot project hope their readers will upload reports from local sports events, interviews in text or video with local champions etc, that can also be used in the news section of the news sites, either as stand-alone features, or as part of a news story.

Origo, is a similar concept, which I've seen used by one or two newspapers associated with regional and local newspaper chain A-pressen, but I must admit I don't know a lot about this portal.

iNorden is another child of 2007. It's a completely non-commercial citizen journalism project, mostly written by bloggers, aiming to become pan-Nordic. Read more about the venture here.

For more background on the companies I mention in this post, check out this overview.

Favourite quotes this week

On The McCanns' debate:
Greenslade: "I'm unsure what will emerge from a debate tonight about the media coverage of Madeleine McCann's disappearance. But, given the cast list on a rather crowded panel, it does promise to offer heat, if not light."

Greenslade on the following day: "I feared that last night's debate on 'The McCanns and the media'... would generate more heat than light. In fact, it generated neither"

On Facebook:
Neil McIntosh (responding to Tom Hodginkinson's piece in The Guardian on how Facebook is a libertarian, neo-conservative, Hobbesian conspiracy built on how man is driven by mimetic desires): "He points to lots of bloggers quitting the site because of privacy concerns, which always seems a little odd to me - putting personal details on Facebook (or your blog) and then complaining about a loss of privacy is like a stripper complaining about being spotted nude."

A rather unusual food weekend

You might even call it an adventurous food weekend. Challenging is another word that springs to mind, it certainly wasn't boring.

On Friday, I attended a birthday bash for a friend of mine, and was served this for dinner.

Hence, I felt a bit queasy on Saturday, the memory of looking at last night's dinner fresh in mind, but when I attended the birthday party of an ex-boss, who turned 29 (for the eight year in a row or so), one of the main courses on the menu was êntrecote with a sauce of chocolate and basil, and curiosity got the better of me. I ended up sharing it with three other girls as a starter (the dish was as 'unfocused' as the picture. I like chilli and dark chocolate used to spice up some dishes, like chilli con carne, but chocolate married with basil? Nah... )


For main course, I shared this with another friend, much safer: salmon and halibut in a lemon-based cream sauce adorned with crayfish and moules (the fish was a bit overcooked, but otherwise nice composition:


Would you eat this?

For the benefit of squeamish readers I've posted a smaller picture, click on it if you want a bigger version.

What do you do if say, you're a foreign businessman who happen find yourself invited out to dinner by your Norwegian business contacts in Bergen in December, or, as in my case, you attend a birthday bash and all the guests are served a half sheep's head, like on the picture, each?


In this case, most of the birthday guests, other than me, were family. The ten-year-old chick, who'd grown up in Voss (on the West Coast of Norway), happily chewed the eye, and declared the tongue nothing less than a delicacy, which meant the two twenty-something men at the table (you know, male pride and all of that) felt they couldn't bulk out and let a ten-year-old girl reveal them to be squeamish.

In other words, a very memorable evening where I felt myself transposed back to the time of the Vikings. (Incidentally, I have a piece in the February issue of the Viking Magazine, but it's about Norwegians and Skiing). Many people praise themselves lucky that this traditional dish usually comes with generous amounts of beer and aquavit.

I was also reminded of this excellent commercial from HSBC.

Eating sheep's head is actually a long honoured tradition on the West Coast of Norway: there, it is considered a delicacy, and many families can't quite picture Christmas without it (there's never been a tradition for stuffed turkey in this country, and in the West Country another big Christmas tradition, other than sheep's head, is eating Lutefisk (cod in lye) ). Both of these traditions were born out of necessity: the first shortage of food, the second the need to preserve the food while e.g. transporting it (in the good old days, before modern preservatives or freezing technology was invented, drying the fish and then soaking it in soap must have seemed like a good way to extend the food's sell-by-date). But, as time goes by, what was once born out of necessity, tend to become tradition, and at some point a rather expensive delicacy (I wonder what the poor man's Christmas dinner is in this country, Pizza Grandiosa??).

Which brings me back to my original question, how would you feel being served this at some formal function?

Soft blagging

Okay, I made what I guess you could call a Freudian slip when I started this post, I wrote an a rather than an o: blagging. Now that's a way to look at blogging, the former is certainly a long treasured skill for journalists.

But the point I was planning to get at was quite different: I was at home with a serious bout of something on Wednesday, felt ever so sorry for myself, and thought, to lighten up a bit, I'd just do a bit of soft blogging (I attended a debate recently where I learned that youngsters use 'facebooksofting' as a way to relax after a strenuous day, so I though why not do some soft blogging). In the end, these lines on soft blogging fell victim to the perfectionist in me, and my blogging plans this week were all put a bit on hold until (first) I felt better, and (second) I got through my deadlines and social obligations, by which time I had built up quite a need for soft blag.. eh... blogging, so be warned: a bit of that coming up now...

... actually, perhaps the perfectionist got the better of me again, or perhaps the strong cultural conditioning in this country, which I discussed with an American friend only last night, finally caught up with me. In either case I ended up just bragging...

SMS loans and bloggers = new risk area for tax authority

For the Swedish Tax authority, that is. Apparently they will enlighten us as to exactly how bloggers and SMS loans pose a new risk when they present the first year results from an e-commerce project today. They will also present their findings from 'control areas' such as pornography, poker games and new online market places such as Blocket and Tradera, suggesting that the problem they have been surveying might have something to do with control - or lack thereof (more over at Media Culpa).

Update 2/2 from Media Culpa: Tax authorities spider the web in search of fraud