Our claim to fame in the Wild World of the Web is Skype, usability, and Lego Mindstorms. One of the inventors of Skype (using VoIP technology), Janus Friis is Danish. The usability guru Jacob Nielsen is also Danish, and Lego is based in Denmark. It is part of the Danish nationalism not to be nationalist but we are very proud when a Dane make to the world scene. It might be because we are such a small country. For those of you who have never heard about Denmark before it is a small country in the Northern part of Europe with a population of 5.4 million which is 1.1 percent of the EU population.
98% of the population can access broadband, and according to OECD Denmark is the leading country in the world in relation to broadband penetration.
Just like in United States Google (one in English and one in Danish), YouTube, and Windows Live are popular Websites, but Facebook (number 5) is more popular than MySpace (number 14). Of the top 10 Websites only three sites are Danish. The social networking site for teenagers Arto (7), the public TV and radio broadcast station Danmark’s Radio (8), and the tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet (10).
For years, I have been wondering why blogging was not such a big thing in Denmark. New trends cross over, but it seemed to me that blogging, especially corporate and political blogging, took forever to take off. Apparently, the Danish political culture is less “conductive to the openness required in a successful blog” (Naked Conversations, 2006, p.115). Following the current US presidential election on TV, blogs, in papers, and from time to time in town hall meetings, I have experienced a vivid and emotional American political culture where individuals are not afraid of expressing thoughts about political issues. I think it is especially the emotional debate that I am not used to.
Living abroad for almost two years now, I have only followed the news and trends in the communications industry in headlines. I asked my female network Nina B a few months ago what blogs they are reading – and no one responded. I guess they were all busy – because seeing the boom in the Danish blogosphere means that they have to read blogs like here, here or here (Sorry they are in Danish. They are about politics and blogging). A few weeks ago blog number 100,000 was registered.
The big blogging thing last year was a boom in political blogging. The Prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and most of the party leaders blogged during the three-week-campaign. Interestingly, some of the politicians do not think they have to blog between elections. The leader of the Social Democrats, Helle Thorning-Schmidt did not blog for two months but she started blogging again after a communications expert criticized her in Politiken (one of the leading newspapers in Denmark).
During the campaing the prime minister invited voters to join him running around the lakes in Copenhagen. 500 people joined him. Another political leader – Naser Khader used twitter, but it did not make a big difference because his campaign was a flop.
The Danish government has a goal of becoming a digital administration by 2012 making it a lot easier for the citizens to access the relevant authorities. Furthermore, it is the ambition that all written communication between citizens or private companies and the public sector will be digital. The Ministry of Finance and The National IT- and Telecom Agency are working to provide better, more cohesive and efficient digital services on http://www.borger.dk. They are working on version 2 right now including a “My Page” where the user can access personal data and digital letters. Furthermore, more services and information will be available at the same site: income taxes, job search services, social security benefits, car registration, application for building permission, declaration to police, public libraries, enrolment for higher education, announcement of moving, and health-related services. Finally, the government got it! The idea is good – but I guess it is hard to implement it across various government levels. However, to become a Web 2.0 administration they have to work harder of the tools facilitating political conversations. The online debate is more or less non-existent.
Netbanking has nothing to do with Web 2.0. But I just want to mention it briefly because I was in chock when I moved to the US and I had to use checks. I had never written a check in order to pay a bill. I had just used my Net Bank. Danish banks were frontrunners in developing a secure net banking system. Already before net banking Denmark had a similar system called giro where each company had an identification number and each bill had an identification number which made the system secure