The Swedish Model – Or The Importance of being “Lagom”

Lagom is the ticket to successful integration in Sweden

Where else in the world can friend and foe in business and politics exchange their views in an inclusive, open and collaborative setting where everyone equally gets their say, and audiences engage and contribute – and criticise. Disciplined. Cilivized. Respectful. – Getting together on an island to debate everything from ethics to politics. This was Almedalen Week July 2016

Who gets to lead? Whoever shouts the loudest?

Watching the rallies from the US presidential elections always makes me wonder what happened to politics being the voice of the people. There really isn’t much room for debate or separate opinions. It is all about who shouts the loudest, who creates the best TV broadcast friendly setting with American flags, banners or sound bites on signs lifted high by a religiously enchanted audience. They all agree at a rally. Of course they do – they are handpicked to do so, I assume. And the sound bites are carefully crafted, and really not anybody’s opinion. I learned that from the documentary The War Room  on Bill Clinton’s election campaign.

ST. LOUIS, UNITED STATES: Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. St. Louis was the last stop on the Clinton-Gore campaign's bus tour. The crowd was estimated at 40,000. (Photo credit should read TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton (L) waves to supporters as he holds the hand of his wife Hillary, 22 July, 1992 after speaking at a rally. (Photo TIM CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Feministisk Initiativ

Gudrun Schyman, leader of the Swedish Feminist Party, at a meeting in Almedalen rebuking the speech given by Prime Minister Löfven earlier – with facts, arguments and civility (Photo by the author)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Almedalen on the Swedish island of Gotland, at this annual gathering of everybody who is anybody (and a few nobodies like me) in Swedish society, it appears we all agree despite disagreeing strongly.

It’s just that nobody is shouting. If you do, your message simply won’t be respected. You can say things with emphasis, you can criticize, you can argue, you can disagree. But you let your opponent finish their sentence, you do not raise your voice or shout insults. Everybody is allowed to be there. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. They are not your mortal enemy, they are just different.

It’s called diversity. It’s called freedom of speech. It’s just lagom.

There is no translation for the word lagom – it is a state of mind, a way to view life and human interactions. And relationships. And the weather. What is lagom?

Picture1An urban myth claims that the amount of mead in a viking drinking cup being passed around a group of warriors must be “lagom” – as in be enough for the entire team. “Lag” means team in Swedish. Pass it around the entire team for everyone to have a sip.

 

 

Raised to be lagom

The Swedish Board of School Education  states that in 2015, 94% of all children aged 4-5 attended municipal kindergarden/daycare. If you dive deeper, you realize that an impressive 88.4% of all children living in Sweden with immigrant parents attended these kindergardens. And they are all brought up with the concept of lagom as a way of life and human interaction. This is integration at it’s best.

On a lighter note, here’s a nice review of the differences between a Swedish boyfriend brought up along those principles, and what you could experience with others.

And it’s not a new phenomenon – it’s an integral part of the Swedish welfare state where the decade long focus on gender equality in the home and in the workplace has meant that generations of Swedes today setting the tone and the agenda in business, politics and academia were brought up to be lagom. Brought up to be considerate, attentive and inclusive.

It’s not that easy to be lagom

I am an immigrant myself, coming from Germany, then Denmark and now Sweden. And these are three entirely different cultures in terms of human interaction and behaviour. I will never really be part of this tribe; my values may be to be both considerate, attentive and inclusive – but I am certainly not lagom.

It’s an acquired trait, you restrain yourself from voicing disagreement, you avoid standing out in confrontative situations and you must not take the last cookie on the platter. I can do neither.

But I often meet immigrants and children of immigrants who are mastering the skill and have become part of the tribe in a way I may never be. Amazingly enough, being lagom also meant that when I joined Refugees Welcome Stockholm at Almedalen last week to quietly, orderly walk around in my pink vest, I was stopped by locals and organisations and thanked for our efforts.

Our purpose there was not to shout – it was to remind politicians, opinion makers and media of the fact that these people need help, not rejection.Karin

Karin, a police volonteer from the hectic days of autumn 2015 at the Stockholm Central Train Station stopped me in my pink vest to thank Refugees Welcome Stockholm for continuing our efforts

 

 

 

 

Rosa Stationen – A Refugees Welcome Stockholm integration project

35,000 people came to the Almedalen Week this year in July. That is as many people as Refugees Welcome Stockholm (RWS) received and assisted during the influx of refugees in the autumn months of 2015.

In the autumn and winter of 2015, local Stockholmers, passers by, volonteers from help organisations, young and old rallied at the Stockholm Central Train station to help these people not just with the bare necessities of life but into a new and meaningful existence. It takes a lot more than food, shelter and clothing.

Read more about some of their fates here:  When disruption becomes tangible – stories from a train station. Europe September 2015.

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RWS created Rosa Stationen  a meeting place, where the volunteers who were persevering at the train station, continue their involvement by exemplifying and teaching refugees how a Swede respects and values you and your opinion.

It’s not really a survival technique for refugees – being lagom

Sometimes it is difficult to convey to these people, because the trauma and the fact that they survived their perilous journeys and made it this far, is not because they were lagom in anything.

It’s more likely that they had to be fierce, persistent, loud. It is very plausible that these qualities, which ensured their survival, are also the ones who can obstruct a successful integration. A Swede brought up on these ideals has difficulties interacting with and understanding behaviour as “un-lagom” as this. Being “un-lagom” myself, I can relate.

The focus of the newly arrived is on finding jobs to learn the “Swedish Way” which is so much more than learning the language. It will be a long journey for them, but many of the volunteers at RWS have made similar journeys themselves, as children or more recently as young adults.

And they are the most successful, most warmhearted, most outstanding human beings I have ever met. Despite being just lagom.

  • If you would like to learn more about the Refugees Welcome Stockholm integration activities, take a look at the Refugees Welcome Stockholm Website , follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group
  • The next big project is #GeBarnenAndrum (Create a Safe Haven for the children). You can volunteer or support the effort with a donation

It is through the children we ensure the future and they are the ones who need a safe haven the most.

 

 

 

Make your Market Data Speak – and become a sales hero

Let’s all agree: Marketing is a strategic and mission critical function in any business. But unfortunately, this is rarely recognized. To prove your value as a marketer, show that your marketing investment supports the business.

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The ongoing discussion about ROI and metrics is sidelining the key issue: It’s no longer enough to measure number of leads generated in push-campaigns, you need to measure engagement and generate quality behavioral data. Marketing contributes to business strategy and growth. And you – the marketing professional – can become a hero for the sales organization by turning the data into valuable insights.

What we as modern marketers need to do is to focus on the business and how marketing can be even more successful through collecting the right data to work smarter and engage the right audience. For me, it’s always been about the data. And luckily for me – it’s available from just about everywhere. Marketers need to take the front seat in the digital era and learn why and how data driven decisions make a difference for marketing impact.

“Customers today expect—and demand—a seamless and relevant experience,” says Teradata. “They have grown accustomed to marketers’ knowledge of their preferences and anticipation of their needs. Fractured or conflicting messages from a brand make marketers seem unorganized and annoy customers, sometimes even driving them away.”

The topic of data and marketing is making it’s way into the board room, and decision makers require market and customer centric data to guide them.

Johanna Lindskog Lindell, a Swedish data strategist and PR professional, explains:

“Just like your company, your customers leave a digital trace. Customers expect you to know and understand their interests and preferences. With each interaction between you and your customers, they become more and more open and transparent exposing their behaviour and interests. Make use of these insights so that they can become the building blocks of your business.”

Easier said than done

In his blog in June, 2015 Jonathan Buckley of Qubole provides some useful insight on what it takes to create a datadriven culture in the enterprise, emphasising the need for both visionaries, tools and accountability in the process. But not all of us are sitting at the big round table, and for marketing to take a seat where visions turn into strategy, there is a both bottoms up and top down approach.

Johanna is a major influencer in the Swedish PR-world. In her regular blog on Resumé, published by Bonnier Business Media (in Swedish) she elaborates on how to build a datadriven strategy that keeps you out of trouble and gets you closer to the board room when decisions are made:

  1. Consolidate your data

Combine the data available in your organisation to drive strategic decisions, understand your customers and the perception of your brand. To strengthen your brand, you need to understand your position in the market…

  1. Listen

Success depends on how well you identify and understand your customers by letting their data speak to you. It’s not just about your brand and what you want to communicate. By listening you will understand what type of problems people want to solve, and what interests them. These insights are invaluable for your business.

Johanna

  1. Develop strategic campaigns

By listening you will gain insights and understand what drives your customers, what their engagement is about and how they perceive your brand. Using this data you can create strategic activities which can be applied to your entire organisation.

  1. Optimise and improve, try and try again!

Optimise your campaigns as you go by interpreting the information shared by your customers, and stay focused on customer driven marketing. Most companies and most people want to see metrics after a certain time period. I prefer comparing data with yesterday’s data. Mostly to see how well I have succeeded, what I can optimise and what I can improve.

What’s a petabyte?

So what is datadriven marketing? It is the creation of value that supports business objectives and your strategy. And it’s really quite mind boggling, how much data we as marketers have access to.

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In less than five years from today, experts predict that our annual data creation will reach nearly 45 trillion gigabytes, that’s 45 million petabytes. The human brain is estimated to store the equivalent of 2.5 petabytes of binary data. 2.5 versus 45 million petabytes.

You could also say that the available data in the world is more than what is stored in the brains of the entire population of – say – The Netherlands.

With all this data available to individuals, corporations, and governments, you will benefit hugely if you build your marketing strategy and execution on data.

When data is leveraged brilliantly, it can reveal highly useful patterns and trends. And you will find things to improve, not just in marketing but in other business functions as well.

 

 

 

 

Success is about balancing data, art and poetry

Some people – including many marketers – think data is dull and boring. I don’t. Data has poetry when you know how to look. To let it speak to you is  pure art; it will help you develop a successful datadriven strategy.

Nonsense

 

For a while now I have been struggling with definitions and perspectives on the enigma of datadriven marketing. There are so many different skills involved – and so many departmental functions that hold a stake. To understand the confusion, you might like to read my previous post What is Datadriven Marketing Even the dictionaries, let alone the stakeholdes themselves, are struggling with the term. From a marketing perspective, however, there is a clear purpose:

Datadriven marketing means capturing and analyzing data from the abundance of available transactions and interactions between you, your company and your market – and turning them into meaningful conversations that engage your audience.

big-data-cartoon-100000-warehouses

Click here for more of these excellent cartoons.

 

Datadriven marketing is pretty straightforward

“This is what works: being clear about a Call to Action, knowing your audience, crafting content that’s got a story to it, measuring and analysing results and adjusting based on the data.” (Jim Rosenberg, Chief Communications Officer at Accion)

There are some key words in this statement which have evolved into separate – and rather hyped – marketing disciplines:

  • Know your audience – the hype word here is personalisation
  • Content with storytelling – the hype word is Content is King
  • Measuring and analysing results – the hype word is Business Intelligence

What perplexes me is that each of these components seem to be addressed separately depending on what is the hottest trend on the various expert forums and conferences aimed at marketers. Add the #InternetOfThings to the mix and it gets even more disassociated from the real business purpose of marketing.

Getting personal

What if marketers listened to their data before they applied it to a mailing list with names, company size and job title? Personal contact information provided over completed online forms tends to be incorrect, flimsy and incomplete. Often it is  contaminated in the mailing application by duplicates and record matching, and the risk of antagonizing the recipient is real.

Personalisation should not be about getting the name and job title right, it should be about getting personal to the extent that the timing, the message and the format is relevant to the person receiving the communication.

Get aligned – or perish

What if marketers worked their way backwards from the business objectives to the content that was needed and embraced by the sales organisation to achieve them?

Studies show that despite “Content is King”, many sales teams do not fully utilize these carefully drafted assets:

Only 9 percent of content created in enterprise marketing departments is viewed more than five times by the sales department, according to Docurated’s latest State of Sales Enablement report.

Apart from an apparent lack of strategy around content creation, marketing and sales teams are not communicating and appear to be creating content in silos. Read more here.

How to turn metrics and analyses into actionable insights

The good news is that organizations are collecting and creating more data, but they also have better analytics tools and techniques available. The bad news is that there can be too much of a good thing. Paul Blasé from PriceWaterhouseCoopers explains it like this:

“For example, they (…the senior management…) can debate, ‘well why did the market grow at this rate when I assumed [it would grow] at this rate; or why did this competitor gain share versus me, when I assumed the opposite would happen because I dropped my price? It’s about combining the intuition and the experience with the science of data analytics together to help an executive team make better decisions, and that’s where we’re seeing traction.”

The challenge is to allow the poetry to enter the discussion – expressed by Blasé as combining intuition with experience. Because what characterises these questions is that executives tend to address historical data with lagging indicators and based on KPIs and other metrics they defined not from insights they need, but from data that is available to them within the scope of the reporting and analytics tools that they currently use.

The Harvard Business Review conducted an interesting study among graduates who were in positions where the focus was on researching competitive intelligence. And concluded that only half of the companies actually use the competitive intelligence that they collect.

Why? Because when decisions are made, he or she who shouts the loudest, normally defines the game. So if data is collected and interpreted only to reconfirm an assumption or justify a strategy already defined, or if the actual data provides insights that are countering the loudest shouter, management may end up making some very bad decisions. But you can turn it around – if you listen and understand what the data tells you, successful decisions will help your business and your career. One of the examples from the Harvard Business Review study is from a pharmaceutical company that used the data to make business related decisions:

A common theme across industries was the smart reallocation of resources. One analyst told us that their company had stopped development on a project that was consuming lots of local resources after the analysis indicated it wouldn’t be effective. They then re-applied those resources to an area with true growth potential — that area is now starting to take off. In a different company, an analysis led to the cancellation of an extremely high-risk R&D program. (Benjamin Gilad, Leonard M. Fuld, Harvard Business Review Jan 28, 2016)

Read more about why organizations struggle to get data cultures right in this article by David Weldon from Information Management.

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From chaos to order

In the second half of this video  the SBI (Sales Benchmark Index) Revenue Growth Maturity Model defines the evolutionary flow from data strategy chaos to order:

  1. Chaos – the organisation has a corporate data strategy but it is not translated into a functional direction.
  2. Defined – there is both a corporate and functional strategy, but they are not implemented.
  3. Implemented – now, the strategies for both corporate and functions are implemented but remain separate entities and not aligned.
  4. Managed – now we have aligned the strategies to run the organisation with a defined goal and actionable insights
  5. Predictable – aligned both internally within the organisation and including and integrating external data sources from the market.

According to SBI, 51% of US companies are still at level 1 – in a chaotic environment where strategy is neither communicated nor aligned with the business.

That is the pitfall that digital marketers must avoid – the disalignment of business objectives and marketing strategy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data whispering presidential elections

It’s interesting to find the correlations between social media data and unexpected results during major elections. The power of the crowd is growing.

I found an amazing data whisperer, Stephens-Davidowitz aka @seththoughts on Twitter – a NY Times opinion writer and former Google Scientist. And he alerted me to the real scoop of yesterday’s New Hampshire caucus:

The interesting part is not the fact that one or the other candidate is trending – it is the timing and context that makes it so remarkable. 

People appeared to be considering John Kasich and investigating what he stands for, only when the first primary result in the little town of Dixville Notch showed Kasich beating Donald Trump 3-2. New Hampshire residents started googling him. A lot. Take a look:

 

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If you click on the link to the Google Trends comparison @seththoughts prepared when he started to notice the correlations, there is a clear spike where Google Searches on John Kasich increased dramatically right after the reports of the surprise win in the first result came in. It happened between 7 pm and 8.30 pm.

Can you predict election results with social media?

Of course, it’s never straight forward. This interesting paper by a group of computer scientists at Wellesley College ON THE PREDICTABILITY OF THE U.S. ELECTIONS THROUGH SEARCH VOLUME ACTIVITY concludes that Google Trends was not a good predictor of the outcome of the 2008 and 2010 elections. But the limitation of only focusing on one parameter – in this case Google Searches out of context and time – was clear to them even then:

Nevertheless, if there is a widespread belief among the journalists that G-trends have such a predictive power, it may not be long before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, influencing voters’ decisions: reassuring and exciting some, while discouraging others from voting in pursuit of a lost battle.

Perhaps that is what happened on the night, when John Kasich became a plausible contester (and perhaps by many an alternative they had been hoping for) when he won the first published result from the tiny town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire over Donald Trump.

Make the data speak – listen and engage when it really matters

Opinion polls seem to have a strong influence on how politicians formulate their campaigns and whether or not they believe they can win.

But with social media, there is a source much more reliable than disturbing phone calls during family dinners.

What candidates might consider, is to steer away from listening only to news anchors and sponsored social media posts and to engage with the crowd itself. In Iowa, Bernie Sanders’ campaigners went door knocking – the next step is to transform the knowledge gained into actionable political strategy. Whether the knowledge is collected in door-to-door conversations or social media conversations is less important than how it is incorporated to keep it relevant and appealing on the day it happens.

Because as the example of New Hampshire has shown, it’s all about timing.

Pros and Cons from other research:

 

 

 

How to win presidential elections with a digital strategy

“If the Democratic party were a body, Bernie Sanders would be the heart and Hillary Clinton the brain”

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition – and initially, nobody expected Barack Obama to have a real chance – even more so to get re-elected for a second term. What was his secret? It was being both the brains and the heart.

His method was using data to gain insight into what people care about and address that issue at each and every rally right there and then. When the issue was burning the most.

For us non-US observers it is worth remembering that the key to winning the candidacy as well as the election is not necessarily winning the votes of those who walk to the ballots. It’s about engaging those who wouldn’t.

A datadriven digital strategy

A datadriven strategy enables you to identify the issues that engage your audience.

For his first term election campaign, Obama succeeded in engaging a generation – the generation of social media which was just about to take off at the time.

RomneyObama

He was the first major political candidate to understand the power of sentiments and the power of the voice of the people outside the established channels such as television and news anchors.

By 2012 for the re-election he – or his team of advisors – had understood the power of using data to refine the message and making it timely.

The power of the crowd

As I am writing this article, the final numbers for Iowa have not yet come in, but it is a 50-50 race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In social media, Bernie Sanders has won (according to this Reuters analysis.)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders raises a fist as he speaks at his caucus night rally Des Moines

Bernie Sanders raises a fist as he speaks at his caucus night rally Des Moines. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Sanders was mentioned 77,000 times versus Clinton’s 55,000 times (Brandwatch) and gained 15,699 new Facebook followers on the one day. Clinton’s Facebook page only came third with 6,210 new followers that day, trailing Donald Trump’s 10,704.

As in all data, one must not jump to easy conclusions and take the number at it’s face value. There can be many different reasons why someone chooses to like a Facebook page – you could be liking an opponent to observe and learn, or to troll and create a disturbance. The second level of such an analysis should therefore always be a sentiment analysis and catalogueing the social media influence of these new followers to be able to conclude credibly whether this will impact a future election result.

 

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But one thing is certain – you could easily turn the intelligence gathered from this analysis into a practical campaign such as Obama did. One example is given below where the objective was to engage would-be supporters who just had not registered to vote with BigData combined with TV advertisement.

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I can’t wait to read more analyses on how the candidates fare by making their data speak. May the best data whisperer win.

 

More interesting links to the impact of social media on US elections:

 

 

 

When disruption becomes tangible – stories from a train station. Europe September 2015.

Because these stories must be told. Again and again.

Making Sense of Technology

This blog is about digital disruption.  A disruption  is a major disturbance, something that changes your plans or interrupts some event or process.

Right now, our comfortable reality is being disrupted – brutally, dramatically. This blog entry is not what I normally write about, but it is important. Here are some destinies from Stockholm Central Station.

My respect for the personal integrity of these refugees arriving to train stations across Europe, struggling to find a way to continue their journey, stopped me from bringing out the camera despite those countless moments that would have been powerful images.

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They say, a picture can say more than a thousand words.

I have no pictures for this story, so I will paint them with my words.

Picture No. 1

Remarkably, hundreds of refugees pass us during our day at the station, but nearly the only littering/garbage left behind are some cigarette stubs, probably…

View original post 1,200 more words

Your website is your business

Remember the early days? When companies were proud to announce that they, too, were “on the internet”? When all they did was digitalise their corporate brochure and added an info@ email address. Which sometimes even wasn’t clickable.

Unfortunately, despite all the technology, all the amazing professional designers and developers, there are still far too many websites who do not engage and add value. (At this point, I could add a “wall of shame” to this blog entry, but that is not a nice thing to do. I am sure, if you are one of them, you know it by now.)

Speed is the new currency of business

Your ignition key is your website if you want to keep up – and speed up – your act. Modern marketers develop content and interactions based on websites and landing pages where all customer interactions, and thus all the useful data you need in the sales follow up, is tracked, monitored and converted into actionable insights and next steps.

If you do not understand how to act and react fast and to the point, chances are you and your business will be disrupted by someone who does.

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Stay on target. Keep the content valuable, up to date, and avoid click baiting your audience to capture their information – and then leave them dissatisfied with the quality of the information they committed their personal details to get access to.

And whenever you create a website, think about what you – yourself – would look for and where you would look. Or better, if you have the time and the budget, engage with an agency that specialises in user interfaces and website navigation.

Be honest and transparent

Recently, I crossed the Oresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö for a quick Christmas family visit. The lovely young agent in the toll booth offered me 50% off my total fee for two crossings, if I saved the discount code on the receipts and logged into their website within 28 days to claim my discount. Pretty straightforward.

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But I never found out how to do it! Because after navigating around the website, checking all the tabs, using the search function, using the FAQ section – there was no mention of this possibility. I gave up twice. Then, finally, on the last day of the offer I gave it a last try. And I realised that the offer was directly connected to purchasing a BroBizz – loyalty program where frequent travelers across the bridge get 50% off their normal fee. But I live very far away, and would normally not go via this route.

Not only did the website make it impossible for me to find what I was looking for, because search functions and FAQs did not include this offer = not up to date. They also were not completely transparent about the main objective of this special offer campaign: to get more BroBizzers.

Be up to date

So, whenever you create a campaign that is driven through your website – make sure the content, layout, call to actions and data management is up to date and synchronized. And that your employees are properly briefed about the campaign objectives and how it works.

You lose consumer respect much faster than you can ever regain it. For someone like the company operating the Oresunds Bridge, the website IS their business. It’s the only channel they have to interact with and add value for their customers and potential customers. With more than 20,000 vehicles passing over the bridge daily according to www.orestat.se there is a lot of potential.

Be social

And your business is social. For inspiration, take a look at www.waze.com – also in the business of facilitating traffic. With this little app, GPS navigation has been seriously disrupted. Users want more than just maps, they want to know where the traffic buildup is right now, where the speed traps, the accidents, the roadkills are at the very moment they are heading in that direction – and what their route options are if they want to avoid them. And while they are at it, they can be social, collect points, rise levels (I am a Waze Warrior and striving to become a Ninja). Google Maps is losing ground as we all outsmart traffic together.

Wikepedia explains, and has more details:

Waze (pronounced ways), formerly “Freemap”, is a GPS-based geographical navigation application program for smartphones with GPS support and display screens which provides turn-by-turn information and user-submitted travel times and route details, downloading location-dependent information over mobile networks.

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And in the past month, Waze even had a special Star Wars theme, where C3PO was giving me the directions, and I could collect points by driving on roads where no-one had gone before and thus add to the quality of the maps available to all. Collecting little Tie Fighters. Sadly, this little game is over now.

Happy New Year!

A big thanks to @holman – read his article on what developers were facing when creating websites in the 90s. Those who tried to go beyond digitalising the corporate brochures.