Even if you barely know your Def Leppard from your Deep Purple, you won’t be surprised by the obvious point of this map: Scandinavia is the world capital of heavy metal music. Leaders of the pack are Finland and Sweden, coloured with the hottest shade of red. With 2,825 metal bands listed in the Encyclopaedia Metallum, the figure for Finland works out to 54.3 bands per 100,000 Finns (for a total of 5.2 million inhabitants ). Second is Sweden, with a whopping 3,398 band entries. For 9.1 million Swedes, that amounts to 37.3 metal bands per 100,000 inhabitants.
The next-hottest shade of red is coloured in by Norway  and Iceland. The Icelandic situation is interesting: with only 71 bands listed, the country seems not particulary metal-oriented. But the total population of the North Atlantic island is a mere 313,000. Which produces a result of 22.6 metal bands per 100,000 inhabitants. That’s almost the double, relatively speaking, of Denmark, which has a score of 12.9 (708 metal bands for 5.5 million Danes)
We confirmed our band for the Monki Gras evening party earlier. Not heavy metal, more punky that that. But The Franklys surely rock. How many tech conferences have all girl post punk bands, reindeer on the menu, and talks by top notch nordic developers about concepts like Lagom (“just enough” and the cloud) and talkoot (coming together communally to get the job done). You should come.
Very happy to report that the inestimable Neil W S Murray, founder of The Nordic Web, journal of record for all things Northern is joining us at Monki Gras this year as a media and analysis partner. When it comes to tracking Nordic influences on the Web I am just a dilettante, whereas for Neil it’s a full time passion.
Neil will be presenting at Monki Gras, giving a feel for the current burst of Nordic startups activity, with plenty of data and insight. We’re pleased to welcome him into the fold.
His weekly newsletter tracks what’s going on in startups in the Nordics, and you should sign up here.
Soon after I started putting together the agenda for Monkigras 2015 I heard about the new Sweden Sans typeface, designed by MAC Rhino Fonts, as part of a project by the design agency Söderhavet to deliver a new unified brand identity for Sweden. Geeks generally love typography and great design, so I naturally had to ask Stefan Hattenbach, the typeface designer to talk at Monki Gras this year, given our theme. What I didn’t expect was that he would persuade Söderhavet to come along as well, to give us the full picture of the project, exposing the design process.
The brief – Sweden’s government asked us to develop a new identity for the country, to be used when communicating on behalf of Sweden. Our brief was to replace the many fragmented organizational identities of Swedish ministries, agencies and corporations with one integrated visual brand identity system, to unambiguously represent Sweden in the world.
The process – During the design process, we grappled with many questions, including: Which symbols best represent a country? How do we design a unified identity for use in extremely divergent contexts and on wildly different scales? Which parts of an identity should always be used, and which parts only in the right context? And how do we clarify when an organization is speaking on behalf of Sweden?
If you’re interested in the cultural role of design, at scale, you really don’t want to miss this talk. As ever at Monki Gras we’re as much about design, culture and craft as we are about code.
No surprises really. Finland is a very advanced country when it comes to Internet use, but also building infrastructure to support it. This is why Monki Gras has a Nordic theme this year. You should come.
In putting together this conference i always knew I would find some great prior art. This 2012 post by Sarayu Srinivasan caught my eye for obvious reasons.
As a venture capitalist, I naturally spend large amounts of time thinking about business and technology models and their evolution and propagation. I also happen to be interested in culture and history. In the course of my reflections, I noticed a curious trend among many technology businesses that either materialized directly out of the Scandinavian region or were created by entrepreneurs of Scandinavian origin that had had exposure to their cultures in a meaningful way, even if they no longer lived in the region.
This trend consisted of a particular flavor of tech innovation, what I call “equitable technologies.” These are technologies that level social, technological, and commercial playing fields by decentralizing control and redistributing it to individuals. The businesses built on this innovation were articulated in many forms and industries but at their core operated on these same principles of distributed decentralization.
The underlying technologies making up this trend all echoed some of the same spirit of the early Internet: they began (and aimed to stay) free of charge; they were universally accessible and shared; they were driven and built by the larger community; were easily improved upon; and they were deeply divisive to existing businesses and models, weakening entire traditional industries as they gained momentum.
The fact that this technology phenomenon seemed to manifest itself in Scandanavia is not a coincidence. Nordic innovators and inventors were culturally predisposed to develop such technologies
“In the Bay Area, I saw the same thing that’s endemic of the area. There’s a clear best way to do things, pretty much everyone is aware of it, and that’s what everyone does. Thanks to the heavy startup presence, there’s much less inertia in terms of existing cultures or infrastructure, so changes are easier. When you’ve got a next-door neighbor doing something amazing, it’s very hard to resist the peer pressure and the local culture, so everyone’s doing The Right Thing™. Very similar things hold true in the open-source world, where neighbors may be virtual but they’re still highly visible.
In Austin, it was an entirely different story. I saw yet another example of how the rest of the IT world, at least in this country, lives. I’ve seen it in places like Minnesota, Maine, and Oregon. It’s a world where trendy software vendors and startups don’t represent any meaningful part of the tech community, where businesses mostly don’t yet realize that software is eating the world.”
San Francisco is able to have a Right Way because everyone knows each other. There are events every night of the week and everyone is socialising and hacking together. Craft is shared in bars, coder dojos, and startup spaces. This intensity of network is one of the reasons so many entrepreneurs around the world want to go to SF – its still the best place in the world to learn about building web sites at scale. But things are changing, as we code more, and the future becomes more evenly distributed.
I want to get under the skin of these issues at Monki Gras 2014.