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Wanted: Journalist of the future

Are you dreaming of traveling? Do you want to write long feature stories? Do you enjoy writing comprehensive profile interviews? Are you interested in writing about international politics? Do you think printed newspapers are more exciting than the web? Then you don't need to apply for a job at Varden.

We are looking for a competent journalist for our newly created central news hub. You have to understand what readers are interested in; have good journalistic instincts and comprehensive local knowledge. High speed, a good attitude and an understanding of new media is a must.

Ad for a job in Norwegian regional newspaper Varden at (hastily translated by me).


Using the social web: an introduction to distributed conversations and the benefits of beat blogging

If you've followed this blog for a while you will have heard me muse on many of these issues before, but these are my notes, in a more coherent form than I had them jotted down, for the talk I gave on Saturday, which was just to set the stage for our seminar on using the social web.

I opened the talk by showing Day of the Long Tail, as it's still one of the best flicks I know for depicting the new media landscape, which I believe presents us both with opportunities and challenges.


Now, I certainly don't believe that getting on the blogging bandwagon is the (only) answer to mainstream media's many challenges, or that all journalists necessarily should blog, but I do think that journalists ignore the social web, and the many tools it offers to do better journalism more effectively, at their peril, simply because other people easily will out compete us at our own game by using these tools - and inability, or lack of will, to use these tools will effectivley will render us impotent and irrelevant in this brave new media world of ours.

Tuning into the virtual pub

It used to be that what was said in the pub stayed in the pub unless some intermediary, such as a journalist, reported it, or someone tipped off a news desk. Today we don't need any such intermediaries, anyone who's there can blog or tweet about it, upload video and photos to say You Tube and Flickr etc. The upside of that development is that I, due to permalinks being searchable, can sit in my office chair and tap into thousands of virtual conversations, even monitor every time people write soup online, or perhaps more conducive for my trade, News Corp. Better still, I can set up agents that do this for me - rather than employ stringers to go to all of these real-life pubs. This development also enables me to effectively "shout" across great distances, such as the Atlantic, for help, and get an answer within minutes or hours if I'm lucky.


This way, as a beat blogger and journalist, I can tap into peoples conversations about a company I follow in all the various countries it operates, and sample the private notes of an influential academic and the latest Whitehall gossip and banter at the same time; track multiple conversations and keep in touch with friends and contacts all over the world, again: without leaving my office chair. None of this constitutes journalism per see, but it's a marvellous starting point for broader, more informed reporting.

Listen to the blog buzz

One example of a story monitoring keywords and companies threw up is this on Mecom trying to buy a group of regionalpapers in Southern France. It started as blog buzz, then El Pais ran a story on it, but I believe I was the first to cover this story outside of France. I worked for Propaganda at the time, so ran a story there first, then blogged it linking up some of the buzz around the story, as Propaganda doesn't encourage its journalists to link.

Using RSS to monitor what is being said online about companies and keywords in this way is great for throwing up story leads and increasing your source pool. As journalists we often end up talking to the same heads all the time, this is one way to cast your net wider.

By linking up blog buzz, as in this example, I also invite or alert people to the conversation, as most bloggers monitor the conversations around their blogs by way of Technorati, Alexa or similar. Twingly, which more and more Scandinavian news sites use, a paid-for-service which links up all the blog posts linking to each of the site's articles, is another way of doing this.

Follow your beat online

So if you're a beat reporter covering say music: track keywords such as the big music companies, band names etc - if you don't know which music bloggers to follow, tracking keywords might also throw up the most interesting blogs on your beat - follow music bloggers - and over time you'll also learn who to trust, what's their biases etc. I've written a guide to evaluating your online sources here, which I believe isn't that different from evaluating real life sources (in Norwegian)

This will also enable your publication to work closer with the various communities it serves and become more relevant and important to those communities as a result of this. If your work is online, it will also enable your site to become part of a broader distributed conversation; which again will create opportunities to increase traffic and revenues through better distribution, increased credibility and more targeted, or rather relevant, marketing

On distributed conversations

If I attempt to explain, to myself as much as anybody else, how blogging and reading blogs is useful, if not invaluable, to me as a journalist, or as a human being for that matter, it comes down to distributed conversations. Or, to use Doc Searls' more powerful metaphors: snowballs and fires.

In the framework of my blog it works like this: I write about a company like Mecom in Norway and another blogger adds a German or Polish perspective, another tips me off about a story I might find interesting in my comment field. Or I write about a law I find worrying - in this instance a new French law banning non-journalists from filming acts of violence - another blogger picks up on the thread, in this case Dave Winer (other side of the Atlantic) and asks a hard question or two, a third does a video interview to clarify the situation and adds some very valuable thoughts on what impact the law might have on regimes in Africa, and another cool person analyses the law in a comment (follow-up here).

ZuckermanAndLoicInterview copy

'This is where snowballs and fires come in. The story of the French law I blogged about an example of snowballing. Famous blog fires: Kathy Sierra, Dell Hell etc.

Now, I'm not going to go into how to deal with blog fires or potential blog fires here, but in essence it's worth keeping in mind that the Web is a conversation. Join in: adopt a relaxed, conversational tone. Admit your mistakes. The beauty of engaging in online conversations successfully is that you don't have to be trained to do it; it's a type of communication you already know. And whether or not you're good at it has nothing to do with communication skills, but with respect for others and with some good manners (I'm paraphrasing Adriana Lukas here).

My favourite example of how to defuse critic effectively in the online environment: the brilliant parody on virtual world Second Life, Get a First Life, and how the company behind Second Life, Linden Labs, dealt with an invitation to submit a cease and desist letter.

GetAFirstLife copy

Now, that's a quick introduction to how tapping into the social web can be useful for journalists, but we've been so lucky as to get Colin Meek, who's much more technically advanced than me, to give us a crash course in using Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools for in-depth and investigative research (check Colin's slides here). Then Heidi will show us how mainstream media's efforts to enlist readers to take part in creating journalism went - what worked and what didn't. We conclude with a debate: should media care about conversations on platforms other than their own?

On the topic of using the social web, Carsten Pihl also alerted me to this post (in Norwegian) on what journalists miss just by keeping an eye on media folks' conversations on Twitter.

Using the social web, Oslo 25/10 - live notes

Happy to see so many find there way to #socialweb so early a Saturday morning (see previous post for twitter feed). Note to self: don't put yourself up for the opening talk for seminar you're also organisning next to working full-time as a journalist.

As expected, kicked off 10:30, took some extra time to fix web connection etc, as always, but everything seems to be working and had planned for 30min of fumbling at the start so we're on schedule. Must be my most rambling talk ever, but will sum up neatly, and add lots of links, here later.

Using Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 tools for investigative and in-depth research

Colin Meek: Web 2.0 tools fantastic tools for journalists to monitor their beat, especially Not like Facebook where you can only network with people who'll accept you as friends, with delicious you can follow all people whose bookmarks you like. You effectively create a network of experts who monitor your beat for you (see Colin's slides on this here)

Furl: archives copies of entire page, delicious saves links, furl saves entire pages. 

Track breaking news with Twitter. People often twitter about events as they happen or straight after, remarkable tool. California wildfires a breakthrough for twitter coverage of events. Covered this here

# developed as way of tracking an issue on twitter. Twine and Twemes add additional functionality.

As a reporter you should really use all of these tools to help monitor your beat

Colin: I'm getting fed up with all this fuss about information overload. What's the fuss? Yes, there's information overload, deal with it. If you feel overwhelmed you're not using RSS - and if using RSS you haven't set your filters properly.

Search social networks

Use advanced Google operaters to refine your Google searches. Use Google to search socialnetworks such as Beebo: site:Bebo inurl:memberid inurl:Bebo (see Colin's slides on this here)

When using advanced operators you have to think differently, have to think like the documents you are trying to find, do what some call forensic surfing. Big privacy issues connected to all the info you can find using these search techniques, but we can do it because we are professional journalists, can use this information responsibly - but big concerns related to this.

The Semantic Web

"Social media sites are like data silos" said John Breslin  when Colin interviewed him for . Semantic web about linking up different clouds of information, has profound implications for journalists. Practical consequences of semantic web: can search Twitter, Facebook, Technorati, Bebo etc simultaneously. Will be like a snowball, once people get used to this, will come to expect it and think what's the use of say twitter if it doesn't allow you to do this.

Twine makes searching much easier, just released from beta

(Note to self: this is why I'm uncomfortable with the new Typepad composer, have to set it up differently. Of course I should have started typing in Html mode, not Rich text as I did without thinking. Now its adding all sorts of errant formatting, like addional spaces, I have to go over and fix afterwards.)

Semantic Radar is a free Firefox plugin to alert you when you come across a website where the metadata underpinning the semantic web exists. Headup another application that layers useful information on top of the page you're using.

Indice and SWSE search engines worth knowing about, but need to be semantic web expert to use them really efficiently. Don't know of anyone using this for search yet, but think it will come. Open Calais another interesting application, a smart way to tag (or keyword) your archive in a way that makes sense to the web (developed by Reuters). Search Monkey is Yahoo's foray into the semantic web. These kind of sites and the technology underpinning it is something we'll see more and more of, but the privacy issues connected to it are huge. Do people know that some of their information may end up on the semantic web, say if they choose the wrong privacy function on Facebook? Journalists need to keep talking about the implications of this (See Colin's slides on the semantic web and journalists here)

Anders Brenna to Colin: isn't one of the biggest problems that media is so far behind on everything that's happening, so behind the curve? Colin agrees completely, says: What sets journalists apart from citizen journalists and bloggers is a certain skillset: like investigative skills, training in ethics etc, that's what sets journos apart. I believe this is what can save the newspaper industry and something the industry should invest more in.

See also Ingeborg's comprehensive bilingual notes from the first half of the seminar here.

Okay, that's the first half covered in brief. My brief notes from the second half, in Norwegian, are here. 

Social media in a time of life crisis

Can social media play a role in a time of life crisis? The answer is a resounding yes, says blogger who abruptly lost his 35-year-old wife and was comforted by the massive show of support from Twitter- and Facebook friends.

I've been meaning to blog about this issue for quite some time now, but I didn't want to treat the subject in a haphazard manner, and the right words seemed to escape me. The particular life crisis digital developer Mads Kristensen describes is a very dramatic and harrowing one. However, it is my experience that social media can be of great help even in what, compared to Mads' story, are quite minor troubles as well, but first anexcerpt from the mentioned post:

Ten days ago my wife suddenly suffered from cardiac arrest in the middle of the night. I called 911 and did, what I could to help here, but it was to no avail. She was taken to hospital and put in an intensive care unit without regaining consciousness.

I was of course in shock. But I got the word out on Twitter. And in a matter of what seemed like a few minutes the first messages of sympathy started to come my way through Twitter and on Facebook, to which I have tied in my Twitter account... It helped me on a personal level... It helped to reach out... My wife sadly died on Saturday October 4. She was 35...  (full post here).

Mads' experience of how reaching out through the social web like this was of great comfort makes perfect sense to me, and I've heard many tales of other bloggers who've found a lot of support from their readers in difficult times. Their troubles have been very different ones though, and I don't want to mix things up by dwelling on the details, but rather just say that: yes, there seems to be a lot of evidence around that this can be of great support, be cathartic even.

Some would of course argue that it's a dangerous thing, something that people may come to regret at a later stage, sharing toomuch of their lives like that, especially when they are going through such upsetting times - I've treated a rather different aspect of this here - but I think times are changing, the culture is changing, and part of what Ben Casnocha

On a personal note, even without the soul-baring, I've often found that when I've been depressed about such things as, well... taxes, the weather, and oh well, taxes... when I've felt like I've been fighting windmills and other impossible obstacles; even wished I had it in me to sit down and give up... social media has been of great comfort.

One minute I've been lost in dark thoughts over some trivial or not so trivial issue, then someone left a funny comment on my blog - forcing me to laugh, forcing me out of whatever dark mood I was in - or I discovered someone blogged about something I wrote, giving it a great new spin and taking it in a direction I had not forseen, or I read a funny tweet or see some heart-warming pictures on Flickr from friends in far-away places... the world becomes so much smaller this way....

Somehow you're more connected than ever: both with people you've never met but feel you "know" through their blogs, and with friends who live in the same city but you just wouldn't be able to check in with so often if it wasn't for Twitter, blogs, and social networking sites...

Tim O'Reilly on Andrew Keen at the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin

Here's a great video clip from a conference I wish I'd found the time and opportunity to attend this week, the Web 2.0 Expo in Berlin:

However, I expect to find lots of people have blogged brilliant stuff from the event when I get a moment or two to catch up with all the posts I've been running out of time to look at in my newsreader. In the meantime, I've skimmed through Adam's excellent blog coverage from the conference here and here - which the clip above is taken from.

I couldn't resist sharing this clip as I've spent, perhaps wasted, quite some time debuking Keen's arguments, notably in The Road to Hell is paved with amateur contributios, Keen, Leigh and the Appeal to Authority and Keen's misguided cult of the professional (the latter is, by the way, very relevant to some of the things I'll be talking about this weekend).

Journalists ignore the social web at their peril: here's how to fix it (Oslo, 25/10)

No, I'm not leading up to rant, the time for that is passed, rather I'm going to invite bloggers, journalists - and everyone interested - to share in whatever competitive advantage I get from tapping into the social web

Better still, I've put together a seminar on using the social web for Saturday, together with a few other partners. The seminar is open to everyone (registration and program here, more background here, in Norwegian. This is a non-profit event, but we've had to take a small participation fee, 250 NOK to cover our costs. The fee includes lunch, coffee and, of course, wi-fi). Keynote speakers are:

Colin Meek, who'll tell us how to  'Get the most out of web 2.0 and web 3.0 tools for in-depth and investigative research'



and Heidi Nordby Lunde (aka Vampus) who'll give us an insight into mainstream media's weird and wonderful attempts - some successful, some not - to enlist readers to help them report on events, under the banner "Citizen journalism is dead! Long live Citizen journalism!"

I'll kick off the seminar with a talk on how I benefit from using the social web, or "the virtual pub", as a journalist and blogger, giving an introduction to how the web's distributed conversations can be used for research purposes, to increase your audience and improve your reputation (yes, this is just to set the scene, an introduction to using the social web). However, we've also been so lucky as to get someone much more technically advanced than me to share of his expertise, namely Colin Meek, who's worked on investigative and in-depth research projects for over 15 years as a journalist and policy analyst

"Web 2.0 and web 3.0 resources shift internet research to another level. In many ways the future of the internet is through 'networking'and 'semantic' technology. Using web 2.0 and web 3.0 isn't just about getting better results more quickly. If you invest a little time you can harness these powerful new search tools to more accurately follow trends and key words, breaking news, and find new ways to monitor your beats through 'networks' of other users," Colin says.

Now, the Norwegians among you will probably know that Heidi, voted Norway's best political blogger for her personal blog, is the citizen journalism editor at ABC Nyheter, the first commercial news site in Norway to feature a mix of citizen- and traditional journalism. Her talk will look at how mainstream media's efforts to enlist readers and attract so-called user generated content really went.

We conclude the seminar with a debate on whether there are benefits to be had for mainstream media from engaging in conversations on platforms other than their own - such as on the sites of their competitors, on blogs or social networking sites - or if it's just a waste of journalists' precious time. Helge Ögrim, editor-in-chief of, and blogger George Gooding kick off this debate with short intros, but we'll run this session more as an "un-conference" than a panel debate, as we expect a good mix of journalists, bloggers, editors, citizen-journalists, online developers etc with strong opinions in the audience.

Now, I say "Journalists ignore the social web at their peril" in the headline simply because, armed with a blog, someone who knows how to harness the social web can easily out compete journalists at their own game. I've optimistically hired a big venue, so I don't really think room will be an issue, but it would be great to know if you're planning to show up so we can order enough coffee, food etc. Time and place: Saturday 25/10, 10am to 4pm, Håndverkeren, Oslo, more info (in Norwegian) here.

Follow the seminar on twitter: #socialweb , technorati tag: swOslo

How blogging changes the way journalists work

So it's official: blogging does change journalists. It takes these swaggering, macho creatures, unencumbered by community ties, political or moral persuasions, friendships or other obligations and affiliations which might compromise a journalist's independence, and makes them... eh... ...human...

This might of course be taken as evidence that the naysayers were right all the time, and blogging is indeed corrupting everything that is sacred about our trade....

I'm being a bit flippant here, but Paul Bradshaw's findings on how blogging has changed the journalism of reporters who blog makes for interesting reading. 

In June, he distributed an online survey to find out how journalists with blogs felt their work had been affected by the technology. 200 blogging journalists from 30 different countries,including myself, responded.

" The responses paint an interesting picture: in generating ideas and leads, in gathering information, in news production and post-publication, and most of all in the relationship with the audience, the networked, iterative and conversational nature of the blog format is changing how many journalists work in a number of ways," says Paul in his first blog post on the findings. He's published the findings bit by bit, in what I believe will be seven posts in total, you can find all the posts that has been published so far here. Enjoy.

Social currency anno 2008

"Newspapers have already lost one of their key selling points: Social currency. In 2008, all meaningful political discourse — the essential element of social currency — takes place on the Web."

Dan at Xark in "10 reasons why newspapers won't reinvent news", via Mindy McAdams, who on this particular point says: "If you think he’s exaggerating, then I think you are — sorry to break it to you — one of those people who still hasn’t figured out online. It’s getting a bit late for that now"

Freesheet merger on Iceland

Baugur-backed Frettabladid is to merge with Posthusid Arvakri, the company responsible for Morgunbladid, it emerged this weekend.

"Under the deal, Frettabladid (see Wikipedia for proper Icelandic spelling) will become the freely distributed sister paper of Morgunbladid, and 24 Stundir (the current holder of that title) will be merged into Morgunbladid itself, which is a paid-for newspaper. The deal will mean the loss of dozens of jobs. The reason given is the dramatic shift in the market with a slump in advertising sales and record prices of printing paper," reports, which has the full news story (my Norwegian report of yesterday is here).

To say that another Baugur-backed freesheet bites the dust, might be an exaggeration, but it does look like the end of Baugur's ambitious newspaper adventure. After all, Frettabladid - the "quality" door-to-door distributed freesheet read by some 70 per cent of the Icelandics each day - was supposed to be the media business model of the future, a concept that would turn the world's newspaper industry upside down when Dagsbrun, with Baugur as its main investor, launched it internationally - with Denmark as the first stop.

The news of Frettabladid's arrival in Denmark caused nothing short of a full-blown freesheet war, with a number of new freesheets rushed out to fend off the new Icelandic competition. It was August 2006, the Icelandics had announced their ambitious plans many months before their new baby saw daylight, so early in fact that all their main competitiors all had new freesheets on the street  before Nyhedsavisen finally started publishing 6 October 2006.

I'm digressing of course; we all know how the Nyhedsavisen saga ended last month. But the project was so ambitious, some would say so overtly ambitious, that the end of the saga seems grim. The freesheet was called reckless, immoral even, by its competitors, seeing how it brought down advertisement rates and earnings for other newspaper companies. Its ambitions, and the atagonism they sparked, almost seem like a classic tale of hubris and nemesis, something that has the making of a proper Greek tragedy. But back, to Frettabladid

It was launched in 2001, drawing inspiration from free publications on the continent. At first it wavered, and one year after its inception it had to file for bankruptcy. But only a few days after the bankruptcy it was announced that a group of investors had bought the publishing rights and publication was promptly resumed.

Initially the identity of the new investors was kept secret but in face of heavy criticism and speculation, it was revealed that Baugur Group, a leading retailer and one of the most powerful Icelandic companies, was among the biggest new shareholders. The exact proportion of its shares was however still kept secret as well as other details about the ownership. The fact that Baugur had acquired shares in Fréttabladid proved to be a highly contentious issue and the criticism was fuelled by the apparent secrecy surrounding the deal (as has been the case with so many of Baugur's deals).

Now the concern at the Saga Island is that the new merger will mean an end to media diversity as it effectively creates a newspaper monopoly (see for more

Schibsted waxes biblical: extends IPO postponement for seven years

It seems Schibsted is not one to put its money on a quick economic recovery, at least not if we're to judge from the announcement the media company made this week recommendending the IPO of Media Norge is postponed.

It should take place within seven years after the merger between Schibsted's national Aftenposten and regionals Faedrelandsvennen, Bergens Tidende and Stavanger Aftenblad is carried out, when market conditions are more suitable, said the company.

The recommendation is 'based on how in terms of good and bad cycles, seven lean years tend to follow seven fat years, and in that lies a decision to postpone listing the company on the stock exchange for seven years', Jan Einar Greve, chairman of regional newspaper Bergens Tidende, told Dagens Naeringsliv (article not online).

Of course, some say this cycle - seven lean years followed by seven fat years followed by... - has been running since the Old Testament (Genesis 37-455.) Paul Fifield, for one, repeats this belief in a talk on recessions as a marketing opportunity , which rings true with my flimsy memory of that part of the Bible too. It doesn't quite match my recollection of the last decade however, but that's a different matter. I'm sure there are great biblical sayings for erring on the side of prudence as well, even though they escape me right here and now.

The Credit Crunch Song, and how to tell you're in a recession

As a blogger and journalist I must admit, as I've mentioned before, I fluctuate between Attention Deficit Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Order (to use Arianna Huffington's brilliant description of the two), and the scat... butterfly mind of the latter can't quite pinpoint when I started waiting for the recession to kick in.

Certainly, the slide in media shares - first fairly gentle at the backend of last year, then quite dramatic at the start of this - property and job markets contracting one by one (US, Spain, Denmark - to name some markets I follow) had something to do with it.

In short: I thought I'd see the footprints of the ghost of recession in the financial reports of media companies much sooner than I did - bearing in mind the cyclical nature of our trade.

And now that the financial markets really are in turmoil, I guess the good news is that we're not in a recession yet, or at least we have to whiz out our crystal balls to justify saying that we are.

As Daniel said the other day (and I can't say how delighted I am that he is back blogging - I mean, he could have given up on his life ambitions, given in, gone mad, explanations are plentiful and frightening when someone just goes quiet - that's not bearish of me to think so, is it? ) there are a few basic rules journalists do need to adhere to in today's market (which, despite all the doom and gloom, is a bull market for financial news), one of the most fundamental being keeping in mind the very definition of a recession.

Speaking of which, Charles Arthur's Ten signs you're in a recession is another recommended read which goes to show we're not quite there yet, it could be - and many will probably inject "will get" here - worse (If you check out that post, don't miss the comments, many of them superb).

Which, after 300 or so words, brings me back to the inspiration for writing this post, The Credit Crunch Song (via Loise Bolotin on twitter):

Once again bloggers cover the editors' grand meeting

Last year, I put together a team of bloggers who live blogged the Norwegian Editor's Association's Spring Conference.

But after the event, the blog we set up for the Association, (translates as was largely abandoned - a fact I bemoaned when I set out for this year's Spring Conference - until today, that is:

For the autumn conference, the bloggers are back, and I imagine the new bunch of bloggers already hammering away on their keyboards by now. Two of them have even started blogging ahead of the event, covering such issues as The Media and its experts, The New Journalism and Hunting for the advertiser's gold.

So if you're fluent in Scandinavian languages this might be a blog worth tuning into today and tomorrow. The last time we did this we had an open identity the editors could use to join the live blogging, but I believe only one person dared use that, and then only to make two-three offhand comments about boring speakers. This year Geir Arne Bore, editor-in-chief of Drammens Tidende (DT) asks on his personal blog why the editors don't blog themselves, and why they are not the ones to share their reflections from the conference via their own blogs....

You also can follow Bore and others twittering from the conference ( #Nored )

Is this the future of public service media?

Could it be that the future of public service media is a kind of platform, rather than the current crop of public service entities - which are all essentially channels?

The question is posed by Steve Bowbrick, recently appointed blogger-in-residence by BBC. For the next six months he'll be exploring how to make the broadcaster's site more open, as well as work on the Common Platform project (via - which in certain ways is reminiscent of some of the stuff the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) is working on. Here's Bowbrick:

So what I’m talking about is building a big, generous, accommodating public platform that runs code and community and content - making life easier for creators and communities in Britain. A kind of giant shared computer that exposes useful assets like public data, educational content, archives and library catalogues, health data and democratic and community tools…

The whole range of useful and enabling content and services that comes from state providers like the BBC, the Ordnance Survey and the Public Records Office and also the good stuff that comes from the commercial and third sectors. A national public service platform like this would be a public good, a freely accessible toolset, meeting place and notice-board. People would use it to tell stories about all the big issues: the drama about free content and software, health service reform, access to public data, surveillance and health records, copyright, immigration, educational standards, content ratings for kids’ media, community access, capacity building for excluded groups and all the rest.

The reason this reminded me of some of the stuff NRK is working on was two or threefold.


First, I read it just after reading a piece in Dagens Naerinsgliv about the controversy over Yr. no - the successful weather portal NRK has created based on data from the public Norwegian Metereorologial Institute. It is controversial because the weather site has been such a big success in terms of online traffic that commercial competitors have whispered in hushed, and not so hushed tones, about unfair advantages. Nonthesame, this kind of "consumer portals", based on data from public institutions, is something Norway's public broadcaster only intends to do more of.


"We are working to develop more services with other public institutions in the same vein to make information more available, based on our public mandate," the head of NRKs online division, Bjarne Andre Myklebust, told me in an earlier interview (Norwegian link). “I believe all public broadcasters more and more think along the lines that it is a competitive advantage that they can deliver content without charging it for it,” he said in another interview (English link).


The question is whether this is I an unfair competitive advantage, as many of NRKs competitors think, and perhaps whether we need this particular form of "public good" in a world where both information and the means to publish and/or broadcast it are more available than ever before? I'd welcome your thoughts.


This "public good" approach does however remind me of when I worked for NRK Drama, and a person called the division to make an appointment for borrowing some film cameras because "NRK, being a public broadcaster, did make all its equipment available to the public, didn't it?"  After all, this person said, she was paying for this particular public service via her NRK-license and needed the equipment to make a documentary...

Painting the sky


Korntin Bay yesterday evening (photoshopped version: the original was pretty, but not quite so pink)


Korntin Bay tonight (slightly photoshopped)

The original photo of Korntin tonight: the ambience was eerie, but beautiful.

Why all these landscapes? Leaving for Oslo tomorrow afternoon, so no more walks by the sea for a while. Not that I've spent my time by the seaside thus, just some nice strolls after work...