Debating #FBrape on DR2 Deadline



Last night I was in a panel with 2 savvy people, Anna Ebbesen and Timme Bisgaard, talking about #FBrape on the Danish national television station DR2 Deadline. We discussed Facebook's lack of proper action, until they felt the pain of loosing their "paying customer". This is not about feminism, this is about humanism. No species on this earth has deserved to be humiliated in the way we have seen with the #FBrape memes. I am glad Facebook finally reacted, but it was to late, and the timing made their motives questionable - after 16 advertisers withdrew their ads. We have come some way on equal rights, but there is still a long way before women are equal in our rhetoric, and in the kind of hatred that has been tolerated for years, as we have seen in this case.

All we have as users and brands online is trust, and Facebook lost some of that on this case. I hope they will do what they can to restore it in the future, based on the right intentions. I hope we as societies, friends and families, makes sure our daughters wont face a future where misogyny continues to be a part of their social inheritance.

More articles about the case

Use The Social Web As The Foundation Of Your Business

Once in a while and so far in every edition, I have the privilege of contributing with articles and digital trends to the price winning Danish magazine Scenario. In the spring I suggested that they should interview Lane Becker, a brilliant mind and a wonderful character. Lane is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of several successful companies hereunder, Adaptive Path and Get Satisfaction. That suggestions ended with me doing the article and the result can now be read in the latest edition of the Scenario Magazine.

Appetizer: Lane Becker studied art history and dreamed of a professorship, but became a web pioneer in Silicon Valley. He has resided in this epicentre for communication technology since 1994. It was he and others around him who defined the “blog”, and were behind the development of Google Analytics, Adaptive Path and AJAX (JavaScript), which generates the simultaneous suggestions we get when we put things into Google’s search box. SCENARIO’s Natasha Friis Saxberg met Becker for a talk about Silicon Valley’s wholly unique entrepreneurship ethos, which he now sees spreading to the rest of the world....

Read the rest of the appetizer article at Scenario Magazine.

My Ada Lovelace Contribution - a Tribute to Queen Rania.

Queen Rania on Twitter I had the great privilege of experiencing Queen Rania at LeWeb10 talking about her cause and passion - helping children get access to an education.

Not only does she do a magnificent job, she also has a talent for communicating offline and especially online. She is a role model to other public profiles, using their social position to make a difference in society. But she is also an inspiration to the common multitude, showing how passion burns through the media and how altruism is a responsibility we all should undertake.

An amazing cause, an extraordinary effort and an admirable woman!

More links to Queen Rania online. Facebook YouTube Flickr

More women in tech - why?


Being a woman in tech, men will outnumber you at most occasion, and the big question is why are there so few women in tech? I attended Geek´n Rolla on April 21, where there was a panel discussion on the matter, and it really engaged the audience.

Some of the reasons mentioned for the lack of women were:

  • Women that work in the tech industry identify themselves with their niche, ex. working with PR instead of working in tech with PR.
  • It starts in the early stage of girls education, they are not encouraged to work within tech.
  • Startups are driven by developers, and since there are so few female developers, it affects the imbalance.
  • Women choose family over 70 hour work weeks.
  • Women are not risk willing.
  • Women do not have flair for tech.

Apart from physical abilities, we are capable of the same, so do we find the answers within society, culture, education and social (unconscious) behavior?

The tech industry reflects society, also in this matter. Besides tech, it is also within management, the percentage of board members, the level of wages etc. Some countries have implemented gender quotes to focus on equality, while most countries are just talking about the challenge. As some guys stated - is positive discrimination the way to create balance? Shouldn´t the criteria be a persons skills rather than gender, race, age or appearance? And why do we necessarily want more women in tech. These opinions helped warm up the following discussion.

The word, “balance” indicates an optimal state, and don´t we want to achieve that in our industry? It is not just a matter of equality for women in tech, it is equality in every sense, and the loss of innovation based on multiplicity. Balance also improves a working environment, and a manifold perspective is important in the work we create. Some research even states that having female leaders positively affects the financial results in a company.

But are there any upside to the lack of equality? Well for one you are not lightly to be caught wearing the same dress, but besides that if you are good (and of course you are) and have the ability to present your project, you will have the benefit of standing out. But in my opinion the upside for the individual does not equal the downside for the industry, so we still have to rely on change.

In Denmark we experience that women are becoming the majority on higher educations, they are focused on their studies and take equality for granted. Based on that development I am optimistic about a future balance. But until we reach the point where it is an absolutely matter of course meeting a female CEO, board chairman or President, we must start with our own self-image and stand out as role models for the future generation.

Sharing is learning

When we are online it is all about sharing and participating. This is not our natural offline behavior, but we change attitude in the digital sphere - most of us anyway. And the amazing thing is that it is contagious. We trust, we share, we participate and so does everyone else, meaning that you can get almost any question instantly answered by complete strangers.  When we share, we give others the opportunity to take advantage of our knowledge and experience, making it evolve in the minds of other individuals. This is basically what a mentorship and Mentory is all about. 

So why have a mentor relation when it can be done sporadic on Google.

As a protégé you set a goal with your mentorship. And while having the relation, you are able to ask specific questions, reflect on the answers and try it out. After trying, new questions rice, and here comes the benefit of asking a mentor that know your case and background. 

We all have mentors, formal, informal, unconsciously and in different areas in life. Some inspire us with our carrier and on our dreams while others strength us as individuals. 

And what is more giving than giving? Receiving a grateful, moved or happy email or expression on a persons face, when what we did made a difference - it makes our effort worth while. Most mentors reap the gift of supporting their protégé through the different phases from questioning, frustration, trying and finally achieving. Only made possible from the fact that we shared!

Mentorship 2.0 - Open versus closed

In the analogue world mentorship relations are often initiated by a physical meeting and if continued it is a quite anti-social and confidential conversation between the protégé and mentor.  Creating Mentory made us question if the analogue process is the best way to run your mentorship. As a believer in sharing, participating and being open, I see the opportunity of evolving the mentorship towards this idealism. Which gave birth to the idea of Journster (spin-off to be revealed in details later).

When choosing your mentor or protégé, you judge based on chemistry, the goal and expectations. Some times you do choose wrong, finding it difficult to know what went wrong in the process. Was it the goal, the mentor or protégé response or your own ability to act upon the input. 

Making the mentorship and your goal open while broadcasting your questions, gives you instead multiple and varied answers to choose and act from. Remembering of course to pass on the experience you got based on the answers, to benefit others and continuing the sharing circle.

The challenge is barriers. Are we willing to reveal deeper goals, show our insecurity and lack of knowledge? In that case you can decide to close your mentorship, after validating the person(s) based on the broadcast response. 

The nature of an open mentorship may be based on skills, rather than chemistry and presence that defines the closed and analogue relation.

What type of mentorship would you choose? 

3 elements of behavior on successful social sites

What make users spend so much time on social sites? What do we get in return and why are we so much more open online? I am probably not the only one asking these questions.  My observation is that 3 elements motivate us:

Curiosity. Have you ever spent time exploring profiles of strangers? It is somehow a core instinct - we just cannot help looking through the profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. Which must be the answer to why (mainly women) buy gossip magazines. 

Profiling is the answer to why we don't mind sharing pictures and thoughts that we probably would not share with strangers in offline life. Suddenly we are able to show a side of our self, and in that way promote our personality across circles.

Recognition. Some believe we are driven by money, power and/or recognition. Recognition is exactly what we get when we suddenly have +200 friends or followers. Being followed or invited gives us status in the community. By the end of the day we just want to fit in, having a purpose in life and get recognized for our contribution. We are suddenly able to benchmark our popularity among friends, colleagues and people we dig. 

So how can your start-up benefit from this? 

Exposing your users with pictures, tags, short descriptions gives fellow users a teaser for reading more - driven by curiosity.

With an ocean of spectators we have the opportunity to stand out, revealing our self in new ways. So give your users the ability to profile them self as individuals, thinkers, believers and helpers to the community.

Most of us (if not all) needs recognition and that is why this element is so vital, encouraging us to spent hours participating on the community, sharing information and networking. So make sure your users contribution gets recognized by the community.

Obviously these elements cannot stand alone, you still need a dynamic and brilliant service, but if you do not support natural behavior, you might become a bit lonely on your community. I pay attention to these factors on Mentory and our other services, trying to hit that perfect balance.

I believe this is also the fault of many Inter/Intranets. Organizations are puzzled why their employees or customers are not generating content, knowledge sharing and participating.  Try to ask - what is in it for them?

Mentory phase 2 - Spin-off

We launched Mentory on February 2. 2009. It was a really exciting day, and the positive response and help from our fellow tweeters was astonishing - thank you all! But launching also means full steam on bug fixing, improvements and further development based on all the user feedback.We decided to take a day out and work on the matchmaking process of a mentorship - the vital part of Mentory.

We experienced that we were drawn in two directions. 1 - developing a process that matches an offline mentorship. 2 - developing a process that supports online behavior i.e. redefining the mentorship. We want to support both, so we are enhancing the online process, integrating Mentory with other services, using API´s and then dada... we got a really neat idea since it is generic and supports the ideology of our other start-up concepts (the service former known as - Jacobs brainchild).

Since we apparently are first movers I will only reveal a few details. We move towards semantic web, we observe synchronicity but yet we build and use services in a silo. This is basically what we want to change. In the futile search of a name, we discovered that one of our other start-ups, had the name we needed, so we took it -

For now we will improve Mentory in it´s first version, integrate video communication and then we will work on this new service to optimize the mentorship matchmaking.

We expect to launch it on Mentory within 2 months - so if you are up to become a beta tester please signup on

The potential of microblogging in organizations

Being a frequent user of twitter, jaiku, friendfeed etc. I often think about the great organizational potential of microblogging. But talking to people that works in organizations, made me realise that this phenomenon is not yet mainstream. A lot of people do not know what the fuzz is all about, and what is the difference between weblogs, microblogging and lifestream? These questions encouraged me to write this white paper to cover the trend including my thoughts about organizational opportunity. 

I have worked in big organizations for almost a decade, and I have a deep interest in knowledge sharing. So I hope my paper can inspire some decision makers to consider this technology in their Internet strategy.

But here it is - blogging about microblogging


September 5th 2008 I decided to quit my job as CEO at Socialsquare for various reasons. Although it was difficult to pull the brake and leave a team of wonderful people, the instant feeling of relief and happiness proved it was the right decision.

Closing one door opens another. My husband Jacob Friis Saxberg and I have always worked with ideas for web startups. We have tried to launch them while having full time jobs, but this was not the road to success I can reveal. So after returning from a 4 months trip to Thailand with our kids back in 2007, we got this crazy idea to sell everything, cut expenses and move into our summerhouse in the north of Denmark - Skagen, to focus completely on our startups. We took the first steps in January 2008 but we cancelled the plans because I joined Socialsquare instead.

It did not take us long to resume our plans - to create simple & successful web startups - while dedicating ourselves to our two wonderful toddlers.

We have calculated the risk, if we don´t succeed we will have a dept but our whole life to pay it back, knowing that we tried and we had an unforgettable time with our kids. If we succeed - and we will - the sky is the limit. So what ever happens for the next 2 years it is a win-win. 

Also I have decided to enter my second matrimony with Jacob, joining Webcom ApS as a co-owner. Jacob founded Webcom in 1996, and has made online services for a decade including (sold to IDG Denmark in 2002). With our complementary skills - we are a perfect match. The strategy is created and so are the todos.

Look out for our firstborn in February 2009 - it is coming to a browser near you!

Pattern of random

I have noticed the pattern of random, sounds contradictory? Yet - if I have a meeting with a special agenda ore something certain is in my interest, I am pretty sure that an article pops into my inbox, or I meet a past colleague on the train who works within that area of interest  - and so on.

Some might say it is the power of focus, but is it so predictable that we can map it, fit it into a pattern, and connect individuals with the same traces, so the masses gives you the answers…. Far out?

Maybe - but I am using lifestream at twitter to tell what’s cooking in my kitchen, the words in my e-mails might show some weight, my search on Google- and so on, that should be sufficient enough to send some pings out on cyberspace, and what are the chance of a random temporary soul mate…


Less is more?

I really like this motto. But is less more? when i play tennis it is, when i use google search it is, when I look at beautiful architecture and design i must agree. But when it comes to personal service this motto is no longer appropriate. When I shop on the Internet, i am stunned with the excellent service I receive as a customer. Compared to my local post office or bakery shop witch I have boycotted several time, the Internet businesses are aware that this is a key factor for getting customers and making them stay. And once I receive excellent service I will be a faithful customer and spread the word, so the motto here must be "To much is never enough".

The death of “out of office reply”

I am in a meeting so I will not be able to read your mail the next 2 hours. This is an example of time consuming information overload, probably with the best intentions. But I am not interested in spending time on reading that you're not available. Instead write me when you are, and if I really want to know what you are doing, write it on twitter, jaiku, facebook etc. I believe that its time to declare the out of office reply for dead. Its time to give information quality not quantity. And if everything goes wrong I bet you still have a phone. So next time you receive an "out of office reply" bend your head and have 1 minutes peace. So the next time I get a reply I will feel excited when I am reading your answer, instead of the disappointment of time loss.

Social networking

The world is getting smaller, we tend to say. What about the Internet? From being one big mass of users around the world, social networking tools now helps us get in touch with exactly the people that match our interest. The potential is overwhelming. Differences such as nationality, race, religion etc. no longer keeps us apart, now similarity gets us together.

International conference about open standards

It was a cold Friday in January, I was invited to a conference at Christianborg (the danish goverment). The topic was Open Standards. Among the attendees was members of goverment parties, municipality representatives, Harvard, Oracle, IBM, SUN and Novell. The only one missing was Microsoft, witch was a loss from my point of view as a Microsoft specialist.

The first person on the stand was Jeff Kaplan from Harvard, founder and director of the Open ePolicy Group He started with this story from the Tsumani december 2004.

“A thirty-foot-high wall of water – a tsunami – slams into the famed resort islands off Thailand’s southern coast. In one tragic moment, thousands of lives are lost, and thousands more are missing. In the race to identify victims and assist survivors, Thailand’s government hits its own wall. Responding agencies and non-governmental groups are unable to share information vital to the rescue effort. Each uses different data and document formats. Relief is slowed; coordination is complicated. The need for common, open standards for disaster management was never more stark or compelling. The Royal Government of Thailand responded by creating a common website for registering missing persons and making open file formats in particular an immediate national priority.”

This is of cource a very big disaster, but the same could happen anywhere in a smaller range, if different authorities need to communicate. This could be the fire department, police, transport companies, hospitals etc. that needed to collaborate. Would they be able to share data within time limits? It’s a very good example of the need of this discussion, and also the reason why a lot of people nationally (Denmark) and internationally are working for some common standards. Some of Jeff Kaplans recommendations was to demand the following:

- Collaboration

- Mandatory interoperability

- Technology and brand neutral

- Open data formats.

And he continued with, Open means access, transparency, collaborative. It is easy to say “we are open” and there is a lot of standards, this doesn’t make them open. Some standards are cost-intensive, does that appeal with the general idea of being “open”? If you want to spread a standard and make sure that it is used by as many as possible, the price will affect this criteria.

Then Kim Østrup from IBM was on the stand. He started talking while he twisted a screw and a bolt together. This metaphor was to show the similarity with open standards. It worked for me, I was already imagining my own frustration if I had to try 10 different screwdrivers before my new chair was assembled, not to mention how difficult it would be to build a house. A bunch of different craftsmen working with different tools and screws. Any way I bought it, and listened very carefully. He recommended the Danish software standards booklet published by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation,

His opinion was that the use of standards was a political decision. Some of the concrete choices he mentioned should be File formats ODF (Open document format) and W3C standards.

Oracle said: We compete on our methods not our standards.

Then there was a discussion panel with the suppliers, mentioned above. They got some of these questions:

Q: The largest obstacles for implementing standards?

A: KMD (a Danish IT company witch is a large supplier to the public sector)

A: The parties and the government must do more.

Q: Hvad should the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, do for Open Standards?

A: Educate, execute and define policies.

Other comments:

- We will need to invest in the spreading of Open Standards, until then we decrease the opportunity of innovation.

- We make policies for security, development etc. but we don’t se companies defining Open Standard policies – yet.

- The increased dialog and need of Open Standard is the first sign of a paradigm change on the area.

- The price that we are paying for being a part of a monopole (i.e. Microsoft) forces us to look at generic methods.

- Compete on implementing standards, not how many.

- Especially open tendering will have the advantage of Open Standard.

- OIO has a top 20 list with standards

- Include Open Standards in your companies architectural principals.

Sun Microsystems, Susy Struble:

- Business Innovation is accelerated by the Global Internet.

- Look at the issue as a chocolate chip cookie recipe. The Interface (API, protocols, schemas etc.) is the recipe. Implementation is the cookie.

- There are many possible implementations that support the same interface.

- If you control the Interface you won’t need the implementation. I.e. if you control the Interface you’ve got the real power.

The comments referred to above, was just some of the very interesting point of views that were mentioned this day. One thing I unfortunately experienced was that none of the vendors took responsibility of starting implementing standards for real in their organizations. And with Microsofts influence on the market, collaboration is a necessity. Under these circumstances there probably will be a need for a governmental decision. Until then dear vendors (and Microsoft) please collaborate with your customers, so they will start demanding standardization.

I will end this blog with a sentence from the day.

He who does not move, does not feel his chains…..