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Monki Gras Day 2 – #NordicWomen

At Monki Gras, we celebrated the Nordics concept of talkoot, working together to achieve a common goal by being an active member in the local community.

Since the early 1900’s, International Women’s Day has focussed a spotlight on women’s achievements globally, and reminds us of inequities still to be redressed. This year, IWD is on 8th March, coming quick on the heels of Valentine’s Day, which celebrates love the world over. In these crazy times, a little bit of love and common understanding sure can go a long way.

We want to thank our fabulous female speakers who shared with us their insights, passions, dedication, stories and backgrounds, while encouraging us to speak out more, care more, do more.

Monki Gras thanks our #NordicWomen – we all learned alot from you.

PS You can contribute and follow IWD here: #MakeItHappen.

Saffron Governor was our organiser and curator of all the delicious fare consumed at Monki Gras. With care and precision combined with sheer bloody-mindedness, she scoured the city for exciting, delicious and quality food. Nothing but the best for Monki Gras delegates!
We knew Helena Bengtsson was going to be good; after all, she is the winner of the Stora Journalistpriset, Sweden’s Great Journalism Award, for her work on, a website profiling every candidate in that season’s Swedish elections. She inspired us to be tough, no-nonsense, and to fight for the truth – even if it gets very, very ugly.
Reetta Heiskanen reminded us that our children are the future. She leads a programme which sparks a love of technology education in schoolchildren, and encouraged all of us to help ignite it with our local kids. We all want what’s best for our children, and Reetta is ensuring they are ready to lead us and contribute positively to the IT industry.
Anke Holst is on a journey of self-discovery. She seeks to understand her identity on a deeper level, gifting everyone around her with an immense sense of calm. She also ran a knitting circle at Monki Gras – that’s a first!
Marietta Le is an expert in using the Freedom of Information Act to pursue the truth, open up competitive barriers, and ensure transparency in business. She pushed us to never give up on finding the truth, and to use the tools you have to hand to make things happen.
A banker-turned-developer-turned Member of Parliament, Elina Leopmaki has been there and done that. Her Twitter feed is full of fearless commentary, frequently pointing out the truth behind the headlines. She knows when to speak out, and is knowledgeable enough to make her contemporaries quiver when her fierce eye points towards them. She definitely has a Take No Prisoners approach (and we like that!).
Our relationship with Linda Sandvik began when she attended Monki Gras 2013, and we were delighted to welcome her to the stage this year. She’s a straight shooter with a great sense of humour who tells it like it is. She champions tirelessly to raise the profile of women in tech, and we are proud that she chose Monki Gras to deliver a stellar presentation this year. And, if you can help answer her question about the expense of women’s razors, we are sure she would appreciate that.

Monki Gras Day 1 – Lagom Achieved

So, as usual, Day 1 was epic. We learned how the people of the Nordic region carefully balance reliability with independence from some truly amazing speakers. With a strong focus on open source and data journalism, we all smartened up quite a bit.

We also ate some damn fine food and drank some unbelievably delicious beer and Aquavit.

There’s been quite a bit of Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Finnish and Norwegian terminology learned too!

But don’t take our word for it.

From the keyboards of some of our fantastic delegates, here’s a wrap-up.

On Smoke, Craft & Culture: Monki Gras Features Hansen and Lydersen

You know why we do this – we love the small, the perfectly-formed, the unique and the excellent.

This year, we’re celebrating the unique culture of The Nordics, home of the number one restaurant in the world, Noma, which encapsulates the beauty, simplicity, efficiency and elegance of this region.

We want to share the concepts and the tastes of this region, and to that end, we’ve lined up some incredible food lovingly made by specialist craft suppliers.

Meet Ole Hansen, whose family has been smoking salmon since 1923. He now runs the family smokehouse in Stoke Newington, staying true to 4 generations of Hansen and Lydersen craft, producing salmon according to the long-standing traditions that have made his family’s success for more than 80 years.

Ole believes in relentless research and an artisanal approach. So do we. Check out his video here – he sets the stage for Monki Gras 2015 perfectly.

Nordics Win at Heavy Metal, not just software


From bigthink

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 [2]). 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 [3] 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.

The Nordic Web joins us


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.

Creating a New Visual Identity for Sweden – a Monki Gras talk

sverige logos2

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.

Get your tickets for Monki Gras here.

Cloud Computing in Finland – way ahead in the EU

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.

The Secret Scandinavian Ingredient That Makes Their Tech Good For The World

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

Food for thought!