Open-sourced bar codes for crafts-people?

Ulla-Maaria MutanenHere in Helsinki I met up with Ulla-Maaria Mutanen, Researcher, at the University of Helsinki. She has some fascinating ideas about the “Long Tail“.

Calling Chinese bloggers

Pissed off that Google is censoring results? Then start typing badly. Blogger Paul Boutin found that image searches for Tiananmen throw up innocuous images of fountains and temples. But type in Tianenmen, or some other close mispelling and you see tanks and protesters… With any luck Google will be able to argue that it doesn’t have to control or censor mispellings. Well, I hope it takes that line, but these days you never know…

What makes Scandinavians tick?

Why have small countries like Finland and Scandinavia produced such global power house like Ikea, Nokia, Ericsson and Volvo?

I think it’s down tot he national character that is prevalent in these Nordic countries. Both Swedes and Finns tend to be quiet, modest people (at least compared to Brits and Yanks, who seem loud and egotistical by comparison). Let’s face it, if you live in a climate which is dark and cold most of the year, you don’t really feel like being loud and outrageous. In the past, just surviving the winter months would have been tough enough. And when the community has to pull together just to survive there is not much time for grandstanding or rampant individualism. So the Nordic national character developed in this way – both respecting the stillness and power of a cold natural world, while keeping the community together. In fact there is quite a famous Swedish comedy called “Together” which pokes fun that this concept. This community feeling means that both Swedes and Finns don’t like to stand out from the crowd. You can see it in the way they dress. Sure, people are fashionable, but, as one Swede said to me, you don’t want to be “too” over dressed or too plainly dressed. You need to be “in the middle” (which is literally a Swedish phrase to describe their national character).

Estonia is Scandinavia’s tiger economy

WiFi on every street corner (most of it free). Technical excellence at local technology universities. A young and hungry population. Widespread e-banking and even e-voting. A reputation for producing the talent that coded Skype. Estonia is powering ahead as a technology hub, and not just because it’s wages are lower than comparatively expensive Sweden and Finland.

Sweden’s secret addiction to tax (Scandinavia trip)

Meeting Cecilia Stegö Chilò of the Timbro thinktank was an experience. A former journalist, she is a passionate believer in the future of Sweden as a liberalised economy. The problem, she says, is that in a globalised world, the Nordic “social model” of high taxation, expensive public services won’t work, and nor will it create the jobs Sweden’s young people will need in the next few years.

A boat trip to Tallinn

I wandered back to the hotel, through Helsinki’s dark, icy streets. Past the brutish contrasts of the heavy, carved stone of Central Station, looking like a set piece from a Gothic Batman movie, and the blinking illuminated signs on the side of the angular glass office buildings.

Bowbrick will be pleased

Steve Bowbrick, former co-founder of Webmedia, the seminal web agency of mid- 90s Internet-crazed London, will no doubt be delighted to learn that there is now a “Webmedia” in Estonia, according to the New York Times. I guess it’s no coincidence that the new tech boom has moved over to former Soviet Union countries and emerging economies like India. Webmedia London, RIP. Webmedia Estonia, may you live long and prosper…

Mobile Communities core to Mobile 2.0

It’s been a long day of interviews sand I’ve got an appointment with some ZZZs. However, suffice it to say that after meeting with a bunch of mobile firms here in Helsinki today, I’m going to say one word: Communities.

Catching up with blogging. Not. (Scandinavia trip)

I have been trying to catch up with blogging, but with a hectic schedule, limited access to decent Wi-Fi (make that decent and affordable Wi-Fi), not to mention sub-zero temperatures – it’s getting tricky.

Sweden’s dark secret (Scandinavia trip)

Meeting Cecilia Stegö Chilò of the Timbro thinktank was an experience. A former journalist, she is a passionate believer in the future of Sweden as a liberalised economy. The problem, she says, is that in a globalised world, the Nordic “social model” of high taxation, expensive public services won’t work, and nor will it create the jobs Sweden’s young people will need in the next few years.