Citizen Media Watch

september 18th, 2007

Traditional media steps out on YouTube

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Swedish state television (SVT) now has a YouTube channel. Previously Norway’s state tv has established itself on YouTube too, along with the BBC, writes Martin Jönsson. Jönsson calls it a fumbling effort on SVT’s behalf, though. He writes (my translation):

It is of course too early to write a review, other than that it’s a good thing that SVT has understood that they can’t dictate the viewers’ options, but need a more open attitude. Most importantly, SVT needs to understand that they can’t have a YouTube channel that works as a branch of the press department, with trailers of upcoming shows only. There is a need for an active editor: someone who can find the gems in the daily production and publish them.
If they don’t do that, the viewers will do it themselves, and then the point of the channel is lost for SVT.

I’m inclined to agree. This first effort is a start, but it doesn’t take them a very long way. Yet I can’t even imagine how this step is perceived in the concrete bunker in which the SVT is housed. To many people there I’m sure it’s a revolution, and I suspect they are not all happy about it. Old organizations are usually not the fastest movers.

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september 14th, 2007

Mixed feelings among users as Swedish version of MySpace launches

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

MySpace Sweden release party at Mosebacke

Yesterday MySpace held a big party in Stockholm to celebrate their launch of the Swedish version of the site. Along with a bunch of Swedish bands, LA stand up commedian Pablo Francisco did a gig which was much appreciated by the crowd of Swedish MySpace users and their friends.
Not all users were thrilled about the site being in Swedish though. One person who had journalism as an interest got it translated into belly dancing. And parts of the site still seem like they’re translated by babelfish.
– We’re working on continual updates to make the site more useful, MySpace’s Jonas Lindberg Nyvang told my colleague Arna.
Also, like Hans Kullin noted, the timing of the release was rather bad, since the site was down for maintenance yesterday.Natali, 19, one of the MySpace users we talked to at Mosebacke.
Nevertheless, a large number of fans had made their way to Mosebacke in Stockholm.
Some users we talked to preferred the site to be in English, saying they got on it to improve their English in the first place, and to meet people from all over the world. Others, however, thought it was about time to get a Swedish edition.
– My English is quite bad, so this is a good thing, said Natali, 19.

Pablo Francisco, the lead act at the party, is one of the many artists with a MySpace profile. We got an interview with him about using sites like MySpace for building a career.
– People put my act on the internet, which is a beautiful thing, because the internet is more exciting and more fun to be around than television now. Because you can actually communicate with the stars, get advice and be friends with them, he said.
Check out the video clip from the interview below.

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september 10th, 2007

Swedish blog aims at becoming a local The Onion

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

Doug LanskyDoug Lansky is the guy behind Sweden’s first real attempt at a clone of the Onion, named Faktumé. He’s an American travel writer and lecturer living in Stockholm with his Swedish wife and three kids.
I asked Doug about satire writing for Swedes, among other things.

This is the original interview which I translated and edited into this article on

What brings you to Sweden?
– You could probably figure it out with one guess… the weather in November. No, naturally it was a Swedish woman. We met in 1991 while we were both tågluffare (interrailers). I’ve been visiting Sweden off and on since then, but have only lived here the last six years. Now I feel more at home in Sweden in many ways than I do in the US.

Are you still working as a travel writer?
– Yes. That and giving lectures about travel (with National Geographic Adventure Magazine) is my main income. Lately, I’ve been writing a lot for The Guardian. Before that I was writing a column in Scanorama for three years and writing/editing the rest of the travel section. Plus, I write books and various freelance magazine and newspaper pieces, including some political satire for Esquire Magazine.

Why do you think nobody’s used the Onion’s formula in Sweden?
– Hard to say. So many things have worked well in both the US and Sweden – The Simpsons, Abba, Seinfeld, Ikea, On the internet side, Tjuvlyssnat was successfully taken from ”Overheard in New York.” Producing original material is considerably more demanding, though, and writing humor is one of the most challenging formats. Spermaharen was close to The Onion’s formula. It had a little more absurd humor than The Onion and was less news oriented. Grönköpings Veckobladet feels – in my eyes, anyway – quite dry and seems to be aiming at an older audience.

Is writing satire for Swedes different from doing it for Americans, you think?
– The basic approach is similar, I think. But you have to have a sense of the nuances of a culture to pull it off. I’ve learned loads living here, but it’s a work in progress. However, having a full grip on the culture is a work in progress for Swedes as well. So the more people you have to discuss with, the better. Fortunately, I have some Swedish friends (and a wife) who seem to enjoy this. It’s nice to throw in some silliness now and then, but when satire works best, it highlights a nugget of truth and presents it in a new and entertaining light. I like this example in The Onion: ”Bush Vows To Eliminate U.S. Dependence On Oil By 4920.”

What reactions have you got so far on Faktumé?
– So far the comments have been overwhelmingly good. The main complaint is that I’m not putting up five postings per day. At the moment, it’s just a labor of love. Still need to pay the bills. And spend time with my kids. So I can’t devote my entire day to this. I could put up a few entries a day, but I’m trying to concentrate on quality.

How come you don’t allow comments or trackbacks on the blog posts?
– I’ve seen on other sites that people sometimes use such comment areas as places to promote racism, sell penis enlargement services, offer to transfer millions of Euros from Nigerian banks and other things that probably shouldn’t be there. I just don’t have the time to go through and monitor all the comments. Also, for what it’s worth, The Onion has managed without comments as well.

Who else is writing the blog? I take it you write the English section and your Swedish friends write the Swedish versions?
– Something like that. There’s a bit of secrecy at this point (one friend, for example, works in Rosenbad and wishes to remain anonymous). Typically, it gets written in Swenglish by me, then translated by my wife or friends. We discuss the word choice and storyline and they point out any cultural reference opportunities I may have missed. Then I translate it back into English for the English version. No matter what language you write it in, it’s always good to show it around for some feedback, put it down for a little while and return to it with fresh eyes.

Perhaps irrelevant to Faktumé, but what are the most amusing signs you’ve found in Sweden? (Doug is the editor of
– Haven’t had any great ones from Sweden (mostly signs with the word ”fart”). Swedes have mastered English a bit too well. Even better than Americans, who seem to mess up the signs quite often.

Anything else you’d like to add about the blog or your exeriences with this project?
– Humor is the last thing you grasp when learning a foreign language. One of the most frustrating things about being a foreigner is to be in a room full of laughing people and be the only one who doesn’t understand the jokes. I’ve lived outside the US since 1991in many countries and know this frustration all too well. Even though most speak perfect English here, there’s very little humor (if any) translated into English. So for the tens of thousands of English speakers in Sweden, this may offer a unique window.

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september 5th, 2007

André is a Geek Movie Director – and with 1000 fan club members, he'll get a tattoo to prove it

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

André HedetoftA young Swedish guy is setting an example for how upcoming film directors could work online. André Hedetoft is going to make a low-budget superhero internet series, and he’s using blogs and social networking sites to get the funding and the buzz needed to get going.
A couple of months ago, André posted a challenge on YouTube. He said that he’s started a fan-club for himself. If a thousand people would join he would not only start the production of his internet series ”The Extraordinaries”, but also get a tattoo with the words ”Geek movie director”.
Yesterday André got his member no. 1000, and I got a chat with him about his future. This interview is also available in Swedish on Bloggvärldsbloggen.

Congratulations André!
– Thanks! Never in my life did I think 1000 people who support me and are genuinely interested to know more about my projects would sign up. But at the same time I knew I would never give up.
How are you going to celebrate?
– By tattooing Geek Movie Director on myself, for real! Also I’ll make a special video for members only.
Tell me more about the tattoo. Where will you put it?
– It will be my life-long promise to one day become the obvious geek movie director. I’ll place it somewhere visible, probably on my arm.
What’s your background? What got you into film-making?
– It started when I was born 7 weeks early, in an elevator. I spent a lot of time sick in bed while growing up. There I fell in love with story-telling through the superheroes in comic magazines. Then, when I saw Jurassic Park at age 11, scared and squeezed in between my parents, I knew I wanted to become a movie director. To take people places, to make them experience emotions and adventures they might not experience in their daily life.
What does the term Geek movie director mean to you?
– For me it’s about combining my love for nerd culture with film-making. Examples of ”Geek Movies” would be Star Wars, The Matrix, Spiderman and 300.
In which ways do you consider yourself ground-breaking in your movie-making?
– I’m not really trying to break new ground, it’s more about finding new ways to realising my dreams through my creativity. The internet has opened up a way for me to distribute and finance my films. That’s why I’m going to make a superhero series that will be viewed for free, world-wide, through YouTube, Facebook and Dvoted.
Stills from the Extraordinaries teaserWhat will Extraordinaires be about?
– ”Extraordinaries!” is about normal people without super-powers, who become the super-heroes of our time through extraordinary actions. A superhero tale you can really relate to!
You’ve said that the series will be created together with people you meet on Facebook. How will that work? So if I chat with you on Facebook, you might put me in the series? 🙂
– Definitely! The internet has opened the doors to a whole new way of making film. ”Extraordinaries!” is a low-budget project, and it will be created together with people from around the world in front of and behind the camera. If you join my fan-club at or befriend me on Facebook, anything could happen!
When will the first episode be online?
– Production starts today, and the first episode will be out in January. Though you can already follow the pre-productioon through weekly production diaries online.
Finally, what do you wish for the most at the moment?
– Sponsors for my production diaries, so that we can really make a series to blow people off their chairs!

Read more about André and his projects on his blog. Also check out the Extraordinaries teaser below.

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september 3rd, 2007

Lack of interoperability in social networking sites

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

I’ve created a separate gmail account for signing up to social networking and social media sites. I thought it was a smart move, since they generate quite a few messages. Though now I find myself checking that account as much as I check my regular account, which only doubles the work. The flood of messages from sites like Facebook, MySpace, Jaiku, Orkut (yes, I’ve still got an account), Trig, etc. can be annoying, and at the same time you don’t want to miss out on the action.

Through Robin Hamman’s blog I found an interesting article about the lack of interoperability on social networking sites. Michael Geist writes in the Star that this undermines the networks’ usefulness.

The irony of the current generation of online social networks is that although their premise is leveraging the Internet to connect people, their own lack of interconnectedness stifles their potential.

Geist also points to the regionality of social networking sites, even the international ones. He has a list with some examples, for instance Orkut’s appeal to people in Brasil and India.

A number of initiatives are working towards greater interoperability, though. Some examples:

An effort towards a single, decentralized identification system for social media sites. Requires sites to offer OpenID sign-on. Among sites offering OpenID identification are AOL, LiveJournal, Ma.gnolia, Wikitravel and others.
While security issues have been raised, OpenID remains an interesting project.

The Liberty Alliance
Presented as a ”standards organization with a global membership that provides a holistic approach to identity”, the Liberty Alliance are defining standards for open identity, writing guidelines for privacy management etc.

Members work closely together to:

* Build open standard-based specifications for federated identity and identity-based Web services.
* Drive global identity theft solutions.
* Provide interoperability testing.
* Offer a formal certification program for products utilizing Liberty specifications.
* Establish best practices, rules, liabilities, and business guidelines.
* Collaborate with other standards bodies, privacy advocates, and government
policy groups.
* Address end user privacy and confidentiality issues.

Project Higgins
An open source project, Project Higgins has code contributions from IBM, Novell and Parity Communications. The goal of the project is to ”give people more control over their personal online information”.

”Higgins is an open source software project that is developing an extensible, platform-independent, identity protocol-independent, software framework to support existing and new applications that give users more convenience, privacy and control over their identity information.”

Geist again:

Some services may believe that it is in their economic interest to stick to a walled garden approach; however, given the global divisions within the social networking world, the mix of language, user preferences and network effects, it is unlikely that one or two services will capture the global marketplace.

I found this interesting in the wake of the Facebook debate.

PS. I’ve been on a more or less unintentional break from this blog. Most likely I’m back, though don’t expect daily postings. DS.


september 2007
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