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Media landscape in Sweden: no holding back, it’s *all* going online

Now that I’m part of the shiny Media2.0 Workgroup, my head’s telling me I ought to start writing about media once again.

And what better way to start than with a number of stories from Sweden about significant shifts towards focusing popular media online.

The first piece of news, via TechDirt, is that the worlds oldest newspaper, Sweden’s Post och Inrikes Tidningar, has decided to only publish online from now on.

Technically the PoIT (as it is apparently better known as) is more of an ‘announcement’ than ‘features’ orientated publication, and is described by Wikipedia as:

“the national newspaper and gazette of Sweden, and the country’s official notification body for announcements like bankruptcy declarations or auctions”

There are a number of facets that make this story interesting.

The historical significance obviously gives this a curious angle. First published in 1645, one has to ask whether reverting to online-only still affords PoIT ‘newspaper status‘, and if not, whether it will maintain the world’s oldest newspaper?

But perhaps the more important aspect of the switch is that PoIT has a strong advertising base. One can only assume that most of these announcements, whilst maybe statutory, are paid for and as such this move will demonstrate a willingness for the mainstream masses to not pay for online advertising of goods but also notices such as deaths, births, and whatever else it is that the newspaper is used for.

It also shows an acceptance of ‘online’ being a bonafide method of giving statutory notice of events such as bankruptcy, etc.

All of this continues to demonstrate how technologically progressive Sweden really is. There’s a lot of talk right now about Sweden opening an embassy in Second Life, but there are many other examples of the degree to which Swede’s embrace technology.

Even the Swedish annual budget is now famously carried to parliament by the Swedish Chancellor on USB memory stick rather than in a red briefcase like we do in the UK.

Sofia (my wife) is a Swedish national and she was recently telling me about an eye-opening native documentary she had watched about the culture of Sweden on the world stage. Apparently Swedes embrace technology because they are insecure of their small population and do not want to be left behind. Paradoxically, their acute insecurity of being left behind actually puts them out in front of the rest of us.

And an interesting side note to all this was that Sofia was watching this documentary via SVT’s (Swedish national broadcaster) official video-on-demand website, which makes most of it’s programming available for anyone to watch.

Not only was she able to view the program outside of Sweden, here in San Francisco, but it was available in a high bitrate and the whole series was available in one go. This last point is known as ‘series stacking’, an important emerging concept in the online video experience which in the UK has been ruled as anti-competitive for the BBC to offer by the broadcast regulator OFCOM.

It fascinates me that one government body tries everything it can to stop such emerging behavior as series stacking and yet another encourages it’s national broadcaster to put ‘everything online’.

Anyone looking for true emerging media behavior, both from an industry and consumer perspective, would be well served paying close attention to Sweden.

Published in Media2.0 News Thoughts and Rants


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