As a network evangelist fascinated by social media, I was delighted when invited to the premiere of “Us Now” in Oslo. My invitation came through Facebook and most of my friends Twittered about it. The film was introduced by the Director Ivo Gormley who was present for the debate afterwards with the theme: ‘Can we all govern and which consequences does a social medium have for Norwegian government, corporations and organizations?’ or as shown on the screen: ‘Welcome to Facebook Democracy’ (I had my Nokia N82 on hand to capture some of the moments of course – click to bigify!):

Us Now premiere in Oslo Norway #1 Us Now premiere in Oslo Norway #2

‘Us Now’ is a documentary film project about the power of mass collaboration, the government and the Internet. The film weaves together the perceptions of leading thinkers on the power of the web, with the overriding suggestion that people gain a sense of satisfaction from active participation rather than symbolic representation in decision-making processes. As a Web 2.0 project, the material generated during the project is available on their website and culminate in this hour long documentary we saw. Here is a peek from YouTube:

During the debate afterwards, some from the audience asked why it wasn’t fully available on YouTube yet, and it looked like Mr. Ivo Gormley was a bit ‘embarrassed’ when he said; ‘I hope it will be soon’ :-)

One ‘story’ in the film was about ‘Couch Surfing’, a vast online network whose members share their homes with ‘strangers’. I felt familiar with the idea right away as I was thinking of how many wonderful people I know all around the globe in the Blogsphere and how many of them I have met already – and will in the future!

Another was about Jack Howe in his student flat in Colchester picking the team for Ebbsfleet United’s FA Trophy Semi-Final match against Aldershot:

Us Now premiere in Oslo Norway #3
Ebbsfleet United playing in the film captured with my Nokia N82.

Around the world 35,000 other fans are doing the same thing, because together, they own and manage the football club. If distributed networks of people can run complex organisations such as football clubs, what else can they do?

After watching the movie, there was this panel debate:
Us Now premiere in Oslo Norway #4

On the stage from let to right: Lillian Olsen, CEO of Halogen Ltd. – Bård Vegar Solhjell, The Norwegian Minister of Education – Jan Omdahl, press commentator at Dagbladet and Heidi Nordby Lunde, a famous Norwegian blogger at VamPus and a politician.

To me there is no question whether the internet and social media is a tool for mass or grass root collaborations. I often say ‘Blogging connecting People’ and even more; ‘Empowering People‘ all over the world (well, at least as far as internet is spread!). The question is more how and in what area of our globalised life is affected and how it will influence the society and politics of the future.
Some facts about Norway say a lot: Of just under 5 million Norwegians, over four million are online and 1.5 million on Facebook. 2500 members in a Facebook-group have changed the topping on Norway’s favourite frozen pizza, while another group organised a massive candle lit march in support of the victims of the Gazastrip. Is there a limit to what can be achieved? I think we can do much more than just scratch the surface or topping if you like. What do you think?


  1. I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you, but as you know I had a meeting at school. Glad you got to fill me in!! I think you got a lot out of it, you seemed pretty inspired to me!

    I’m happy to fill you and my other readers in – Inspiring adventures this like this ought to be shared in communities like Blogsphere you know!

  2. How interesting Renny! Thanks for sharing.

    Your welcome Caroline. Sharing is part of the empowering you know!

  3. Hello Friend.. Interesting post.. Nice blog.. Do keep up the good work.. Will drop by your site often.. Do find time to visit mine and post your comments.. take care mate.. Cheers!!!

    Hi goldensparks – great to see you and thanks for the compliments which for me is an encouragement to keep on. Welcome back any time and I’ll visit yours of course!!

  4. Glad to hear your inspiring workshops here and there,Renny!Thanks for sharing.

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend. :)

    Your welcome Ghee – wishing you the same :)

  5. You know, just this morning I was on Facebook and I found an old friend from my High School days. This man made me laugh all the time when I was in High School and the memory of his friendship made that time in my life free and youthful. Not so serious. I was thrilled to find him again.
    Yes, blogging, bringing friends old and new together….what a wonderful thing.
    I hope that you have your Blogging Convention in Oslo. I will come if you do, and I will even speak at the event.
    Blogging for me, has been such a gift.
    Love to you and Diane.

    Great example – does not have to be serious all the time you know.
    I still want to have this gathering next year and are working on it. Thanks for signing up for a speak!
    Love to you and Jack!

  6. Wow this would be a fascinating workshop to go to! :) So very cool!

    If you get the chance in your neighbourhood, take it!

  7. I read (in a newspaper!) about the project/meeting and I tend to agree with some of what you write, but not all. The net can be a tool for democracy within the limits of access to the net, but also within the limit of knowledge of how to use it and how it uses you. It is nor a one-way street. By definition it is interactive. That means that you can be manipulated as well as manipulate.

    The success of the “Grandiosa without paprika” group shows the power. Now just imagine that used for quite other, not so innocent purposes.

    A great tool (I used it before the www-day) in information retrieval and distribution, but it does not remove ones own responsibility to sit back and think a bit before pressing “Enter”.

    I agree upon the necessity of digital competence too, but at least it diversify power more than now. Manipulation is always a problem, but I think (or maybe more hope) that mass control will balance it.
    ‘You can fool some people some the time, but not all people all of the time’, you know.
    Thoughtfulness might comes with experience – or not?

    • True.

      One of the big problems as I (and very many others) see it, is the lack of source-criticism among many net users. They forget that anyone can write about anything on their own sites without any restrictions whatsoever. Organisations can write there opinions as proven facts, when they are only statements. There are many serious sites with proper quality control of their publishing, but how to find them and how to recognize them. Not many practice peer-review.

      There is a huge educational effort ahead.

      • I do agree of course, but when talking about social media the virtuosity of opinions is a strength too. It’s less about facts and more about making an arena for ideas and believes.

  8. Sounds like an interesting conference. I like stuff like that.

    I think they’ve been in Toronto lately too – surprised you wasn’t there :-)

  9. Many interesting facts, opinions and insights in this post – as well as the comments.

    I sometimes feel like the use of those social networks tools are a bit exaggerated, even though I use them very much myself!

    It’s like a fancy trend. Will it stay? I’m not sure. Maybe in other shapes. It depends if something else even more interesting will show up – we’re fast to abandon things nowadays too…

    Blogging and social networking is connecting people yes, but the tools for it is not important, it’s about people connecting to people.

    Then the power factor or business users comes into it,making it much more complicated and that is increasing right now, which your post is another example of.

    So far the majority just have been doing it for the fun, but now the marketing & business section is in full swing to march in to.

    There is a danger that they’ll push away private persons and that would be a pity.

    Other than that, it’s always good when people are collaborating :-)

    I do agree; some interesting and insightful comments here which enriches the subject – thanks for your contribution!
    Exaggerated in some way – underestimated in others I think. They won’t stay, but develop, evolve and transform of course, and so will the use and the users. Like you said; Less and less focus on the tool and more about the use and I think in the mass prospective, it then will be more powerful.
    I follow you in your reflection about corporates and ‘professionals’ entering the arena, but less on their terms only any more I think. At least now, the ‘amateurs’ have the same tools, but might lack skills to use it – but for how long? I don’t think they could push away ‘private’ persons any more.

  10. 5 millions Norwegians and over 4 millions on line!!! Wouha! I’m very impressed! I imagine the consequences in a society. All the connections, the interactions between people together, between the different powers politics, media, ….and the people. the participative democracy is in the air now.

    Yea, actually the internet penetration in Norway is fairly high and of course it influence the society and you can talk about empowering the mass. The question, as others are mentioning too, is how this power will be used.

  11. Fascinating! No wonder you liked it!

    I´m impressed with Norwegian´s presence on the web. What a connected country!

    I must admit, I was a bit surprised too.

  12. My dear friend,
    I do think you have pin poinets something important in this post (just refer to some of the comments).

    I do observe it’s a must for many people to join the Web 2.0 world. Without having a plan. Just to be there and say to their friends how many Facebook etc Friends they do have.
    I’m not convienced Facebook friend is what I in real life woul have called a friend.
    With other words: For me it’s a differnce between cyber friends and real friends.
    But by all means, and this is very important:
    You find really good friends via honest bloggers. It’s a history from an individual you can read and find interesting or not. Persons you can meet in real and have a great time together with. Just by reading that persons everyday life blog and what interests and travels they prefere.

    Have a great Sunday my dear friend and give big hugs to Dianne and the Boys.
    T and A in Southern Oslo

    mellom oss: Ser ut til at jeg kan finne en dag til uken. En solskinnsdag, og så kan vi lage en blog om det;))

    I know its kind of a hype, but it might be a part of significant changes too – at least it takes the definition into a new dimension. I think I ‘know’ some of my ‘cyber friends’ better than my ‘real friends’ – especially in Blogsphere – and vice versa. Besides; I met my wife on the net and we’ve become quite good friends :-)
    That’s why I keep on saying: Blogging connect People‘ you know.

    Wish you a good one too and hugs to your lovely wife!

  13. I think it’s very interesting and it’s also interesting with all of the ideas that come up when people meet. The interaction seems to be more stimulating to me.

    I knew you would like it too ET and I do agree; the interaction is very stimulating.

  14. Wow, those are impressive numbers! Which would mean, virtually all adults are online.

    Well, most adults I think, but a lot of young people too you know.

  15. I can’t imagine life without internet after having it for a decade now.Interesting stuff you have there renny! I know a Mom from our playgroup who’s into couch surfing.Must be very interesting experience to exchange houses to strangers from other countries.

    Wishing you & your family well. Regards

    I do agree, I opened my first account in ’94 and would go nuts if I wasn’t online!
    I will go into couch surfing too – do you have a sofa available? ;-)
    Wishing you and yours the same!

  16. I’m sorry to say I’d never heard of couch surfing before now. I must investigate further.

    The interactions between people are what I love about the internet. Like most of the rest of you, I’ve “met” so many wonderful individuals, each with their own style and character. Different backgrounds, different viewpoints.

    I’m only just tentatively putting my toes into using Twitter, and I’m not really sure it’s for me. I don’t quite know what I’m doing, if the truth be told! :) But I’ll persist for a while and see how it goes. I like the idea of being able to meet even more people.

  17. Excellent post, my friend! We’re on the same page! But we always kinda knew that! :-)

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