tisdag 9 oktober 2007

Long time no blogging

So I haven´t really been in the blogosphere for a long time. I guess moving across the globe, adopting to jetleg, writing a zillion stories (on paper) that I was behind with, arranging a party on my beloved brothers 50th birthday, jetting off to Paris, getting the kids back in school, seeing all wonderful friends and family and adapting to reading Swedish news took its energy.
It's rather fun getting back to my rather schizofren "normal" worklife - where an ordinary week spans from writing on the upcoming election in the US to suicide statistics in Sweden to biomimics to design-solutions for souvenirs. I notice, however, that I have a different perspective after my stay in the US. I keep my innovation glasses on and I also look at work (and life) somewhat different. I'm less stressed, I think more before I say yes to a project. I also notice that everyone I talk to in the media-world in Stockholm is trying to figure out the future media landscape - its tools, products and content. From that perspective my knowledge from the US is really valuable... I look forward to using it in life here.

fredag 17 augusti 2007

Circles of News

Now, as I'm about to wrap up my fellowship at PodTech (thank you all great members of the PodTech Family!!), I've had some time to think about the circles of news. It's interesting to see how the principle of nearness still is of great importance - in this world of online video, webb 2.0 and wireless globalisation. In Silicon Valley, tech-news make the biggest headlines and attracts a great number of bloggers. Why? Because they're close to the tech-companies and labs. They can have lunch together with the people/companies they cover, hang out - meet in natural circumstances and have common references to traffic, the weather and a cool new restaurant.
It's also natural that The New York Times has a good take on international politics. They're only a few blocks away from the UN and several great universities.
I find it interesting to see how easy it is to get absorbed by one circle - when you thought that you belonged to another. In the morning I find myself fighting over the biz & tech-section of San Jose Mercury News (I know I'm old-fashioned but I like to read on paper...) just because I recognize the companies and have another relationship to them after some time here.
Personal relations will always play an important role - both to producers and consumers of media. And for me personally, I'll keep looking out for news from Silicon Valley while back in Stockholm...

måndag 6 augusti 2007

Make it Green

I keep doing stories on Green Design. It's a great subject from many perspectives - politics, technology, sustainability, economy - plus its funky, fun and (often) beautiful.
Reflecting over sustainability is important on so many levels. Over the weekend, while pausing from our act of playing tourists, we watched Arctic Tale with the children. It's a beautiful and scary documentary-based film on what global warming and melting ice does to the life of polar bears among others.
Before the film a trailer for Leonardo diCaprio's environmental documentary The 11th Hour was shown. It's opening here in the US on August 17th. I was thrilled to see that a big part of the trailer actually focused on green design - check it out yourself.
My latest PodTech-piece is on Y2E2, a new green building that is in the making at Stanford university.

fredag 3 augusti 2007

All comments welcome

My excellent and very smart friend Jeremiah Owyang just pointed out to me that he couldn't comment on this blog since he doesn't have a blogspot-account. That was until a few seconds ago. I have now successfully changed the settings, I hope, allowing anyone to comment...
One of the things I've learned here in Silicon Valley (specially from Jeremiah)is the importance of sharing and two way communication, both when it comes to business, media and marketing. Jeremiah is Director of Corporate Media Strategy at PodTech.net and an expert on social media, read more about it on his great blog here. Like most big trends from the US, social media will hit Sweden on a large and corporate scale some time soon. I plan to learn as much as I can and report on it.

I am sailing...

Last weekend one of our dreams came through, we went sailing in the Monterey Bay with Darrold, a great friend from PodTech. The boat and the sea were beautiful, the sun came out, we saw sea lions and otters - and I puked three times. It's really difficult claiming to be a viking when you get sea sick that easily. Especially when your daughter lies in the cabin, reading, without getting the slightest shade of green.
The fact that we took the kids to the big tivoli at the boardwalk at Santa Cruz afterwards is an act of true parental love. I was pale and had shaky knees, but yet I went on this frightening merry-go-round with them... (and almost throw up a fourth time)
Besides from the sea sickness, sailing is a good metaphor for the last few weeks here. They just fly by. The girls play with Emma, A works on his blog on the digital tv transition in the US and I keep doing my work Green Design. In a way its like we've always lived here. But we also know that we only have a month left and that now is the time to enjoy this beautiful part of the world. Tomorrow we're gonna play tourists in San Francisco with the girls - go on cable cars, play in the park and check out the old victorian house Haas Lillientaal.

torsdag 26 juli 2007

Harmony and room service...

Hard working parents really need to go away and spend time by themselves sometimes - it is so fantastic! Last Friday A and I checked in to this Japanese four star hotel in San Fransisco. The view was superb, the bed was soft, the tub was nice and room service had excellent sushi. We spent a whole weekend holding hands, talking (without beeing interrupted), strolling around the Fillmore-area, having coffee breaks and actually remembering why we got married. I strongly recommend it! Thank you Emma for taking so great care of the kids (of course it was fantastic finally seeing them on Sunday)!

måndag 16 juli 2007

Living in Warmth

EVERY relative and friend I talk to in Sweden complain about the weather. They tell me it's raining cats and dogs and that half the country - more or less - is under water. Here in California climate change shows another face. Wildfire after wildfire is starting (some of them close to our house) and the temperature is seldom below 25 degrees. Personally I love it (except for the fires), its so nice to not worry about rain jackets or thick sweaters and to always have a bit of a tan. But climate change is real and we all need to think about living more sustainable. Recently I wrote about the heat and the fires in the US for TT. I interviewed climatologists who told me that California has not received as little rain as this past year since 1877. To people here it's an every day habit to sort garbage and conserve water. Many stores in San Francisco are banning the plastic bag and make people use tote bags instead. Organic food is huge, look at Wholefoods.
I think that change begins with small steps in our every day life. If we all care a little more we will create a better world. Environmental changes have often started as a grassrooth movement. Science is already far ahead and the politicians will follow... Meanwhile try not to drink coffee from paper cups. It's actually a part of a tree :)

Getting going with the Green

Horray. I'm getting my own Green Design-channel at PodTech. That's fun and exciting - and a lot of work. I'll be covering the areas were green and design converge, meaning industrial design, architecture, cool gadgets and sustainable fashion. To me this brings together the best of two worlds - marrying beautiful or mind-blowing or provocative thoughts on design with awareness and meaningfulness on a larger scale. Right now we're working on putting together a blog for the channel, I write copy and try to produce new episodes at the same time...
Here's an interview with designer Lotta Jansdotter, who's now based in New York, on the issue of sustainability.

fredag 6 juli 2007

People against Dirty

So I've been thinking about how to apply the innovation-concept to my areas of journalism (politics, economics, trends and design) while at PodTech here in the Bay-area. Some time ago I decided to make a green show on design, i e where sustainability and design converge. In a way design is very much an innovation-process. And - for most of the time - design is visual too. The first piece is about a company in San Francisco called Method. They make biodegradable cleaning products, soaps and detergents (all based on green chemistry). But the products are beautiful, they come in bottles by award-winning industrial designer Karim Rashid. I really like this trendy, funky and yet idealistic and responsible company that combines some of the best things in the world. Watch the video here.

måndag 2 juli 2007

On motherhood and evil wasps

Saturday we finally had a small birthday party for Sun (Happy 7 - love you!). Everything started off well with picnic in the garden, Swedish "pancake-tarte" and the great game "putting the tail on the pig" i e the kids try to draw a tail on a painted pig when blindfolded (dont ever try it, it makes you seasick). Before the grand finale of fishing candy in the kitchen fishpond (with a stick made out of a broom) we were to engage in some good, old sack-hopping.
That was when the wasp saw his chance and stung me in the foot.
It really, really hurt. And that was when motherhood really kicked in. I saw myself trying to be a good sport, cheering the sack-hoppers from the side-bench while desperately trying to put melted aspirin on my swollen foot... You have no idea how irritating kids can seem when you have a triangle of pain in your foot.
It made me think of a few years ago, when I was correspondent for TT in New York and had to cover a live press conference on TV with George Bush on the Iraq-war. I have a picture of me sitting on the floor in front of the TV, typing like a mad-woman on the computer. On my back hangs Sun, like a rug-sack, trying to bite me in the ear. I wonder what Swedish unions would have said about that work-environment - or the working conditions of many parents... (although we smile ourselves through it since we LOVE our small princes and princesses so much).

PS. For those of you following Suns blog, it has a new address sunbjers.wordpress.com

fredag 22 juni 2007

Happy Midsummer

Happy Midsummer!! Sitting at my cubicle at work thinking nostalgic about the long and fair nights, potatos and sour cream, vodka and folkmusic. It is true that you become extra Swedish when living abroad. However I find it rather difficult to explain this traditions to my dear collegues - it sounds excentric when you describe how everyone abandons the office to have picnic on a field, dance around a maypool, put flowers in their hair AND pretend that they are small frogs (without ears and tails)...
But tomorrow we're going to a big Swedish midsummer celebration here in California together with Emma, our beloved nanny, who just arrived!

måndag 18 juni 2007

The importance of Dreaming

Some time ago I interviewed Max Samuels, a friend and a great personal coach, when he passed through San Francisco.
When we meet, Max and I always have great conversations on life, havingness (i e appreciating what you have) and the importance of having a dream. Since I'm now at PodTech I also spoke with him about the wild mind of the entrepreneur.
In these days I seem to constantly be reminded about the importance of dreaming - I guess life is trying to say something...

måndag 11 juni 2007

Is Palo Alto really America?

Palo Alto and Menlo Park where I live and work are the sweetest little towns. Trees filled with small lamps on the main avenue, sofisticated restaurants, professor bungalows, cool art shops, several yoga studios, nice coffee shops and - of course - TWO Apple stores (Steve Jobs lives kind of close) . They make Wisteria Lane seem barbaric. It´s a very nice and balanced quality of life.
But in a way, it doesn´t feel like America. Where´s the melting pot and the energy that comes from mixing different people from different levels with lots of willpower? Its all very established. Even the begging man (one of two I´ve seen in the whole city) outside Wholefoods is rather well dressed, polite and talks about the weather.
Maybe this is what you get when you mix brains (many of them coming out of Stanford university) with money and entrepreneurship (this is the heart of Silicon Valley) with liberalism (its still California), sunshine and extremly beautiful nature. It´s great in many ways, but I kind of miss the type of passion you notice on the streets of NY or even Washington. Maybe I just haven´t looked enough...
This weekend however, we went to Big Sur with Leo and Nicola, who was visiting. Talk about passion. High, powerfull Redwood-trees and dramatic cliffs steeping down to the sea and rather genuine lodges. I hope to be able to sneek away for a weekend there soon!

lördag 2 juni 2007

Geeks in progress

During this four day trip to Washington DC and New York I have recieved the sweetest e-mails from my soon to be seven years old daughter Sun. I can see that she´s been struggeling with the spelling, but she manages to say exactly what she wants. It goes right into my heart.
At home in Palo Alto she throws herself on the computor whenever she has a chance. She has not been in school during our time here - but she has managed to figure out how to e-mail and how to play all the games at PBS Kids (in english) on her own. We sometimes smile at her and call her "Geek in progress". On a more serious level, this gives a whole differend perspective on the 100 dollar computor. Making sure that cheap but workable computors reaches kids in development countries (soon!) is more than important for future education, peace, democracy and dreams.
Love to you Sun (read her blog here).

New York, New York

Sitting in the JFK airport about to leave for SF, feeling absolutly uplifted after having spent three days here. I dont think I´ll ever get over my love to New York. It´s something with the energy in the city, the fact that people and events are simply so much - well - more. People are more creative, smarter, richer, crazier, more excentric, bigger, smaller, more passionate etc than any where else. I could watch New Yorkers for ever - the chic women, the arty girls, the business people in power suits, the dogs... I know its dirty and ugly but I even love the smells and the noice and I actually think it is beautiful.

I was here on a study trip with my fellow Stanfordians. We have visited magazines Spectrum and Fortune as well as Bloomberg. It was really interesting. What strikes me is the fact that few of the bigger magazines have any strategies for new media and their future online life (something I also noticed last summer when I visited Vanity Fair and New York Times Magazine among others). "If I knew that I wouldn´t be working here," was the answer from the editor of Fortune International...
On the other hand, I liked the fact that she stressed the storytelling part - that her magazine is about telling strong stories - and that she revieled that she sometimes uses her intuition in combinaion with observations of people when she tracks down a trend. I do the same when working with Tendens, a series of articles on trends, in Stockholm for TT Spektra.
Bloomberg was felt like something type-casted from the future of media. No walls only transparent glass. Busy, busy. Hi-tech. However they dont really have a strategy for innovation coverage...

On a personal level I got to have lunch with my dear friend Paul (who is one of few native New Yorkers and who knows how to play the saxophone) and to go to dinner and barhopping with his lovely girlfriend Giselle (I felt like 21 when standing on a roof top bar with a cosmopolitan and NY the skyline in front of me...). I also got to do some shopping (strong colours coming now), some strolling, have a great dinner at NY hang out Indochine with the fellows and a group of NY-based journalists, spend the night at my hard working reporter-friend Gunilla's house in Harlem and to go to mysore yoga at a beautiful studio called Yoga Sutra. Today I´ve interviewed a great Swedish designer called Lotta Jansdotter. Visiting her studio in Brooklyn was inspiring and made me think of the importance of having beauty and esthetics in the objects we use in our everyday life.

söndag 20 maj 2007

Online publishing and skylines

So finally my paper on The newsroom of tomorrow is online - you can read it here. And my encounter with ex-Terminator and governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt is live and kicking at Podtech.net - here (it's ruff and raw but we thought it was better to get it out fast that beautiful...).
It's always nice to publish things. In the old days it used to mean you could not do any more changes and that the piece was - well - done. I try to live by that lesson, to let go of things when I publish - although with the internet it's difficult (since you can make changes over and over again). Very often the first thing you write is as good as something you've spent hours and hours on (but again - not always - so there are no rules).
On a whole other subject: American cities are most beautiful at night and at distance, when you actually see the skyline. Crossing the looong Oakland-bridge towards San Francisco the other night was breathtaking, especially while listening to As favorite radio channel smooth jazz :) I'll never lose my love for big cities and the energy in them.

onsdag 16 maj 2007

Conversations with O

My fine and very beloved father finally came to visit. When he got off the plane he had a bit of a beard and was groggy from the jetleg, but now - a few days into the visit - he is his very own self (going on about very large and very small things at the same time, always with a list of things to do or to buy in his hand...). The first weekend we took him around Palo Alto, to the PowWow-festival at Stanford (oh yes - hundrads of indians dancing and drumming). We also went through the magical mountains of the peninsula to the beautiful driftwood-beach.
My dad, or O (we call him O since his name is Omar), has been a journalist with Svenska Dagbladet for more than 40 years. Sitting there at the beach he started telling me about how difficult it was to deliver texts from the six day-war in Israel, due to censorship all his conversations with the newspaper had to be in English. Today he told us about the reality of covering the nuclear mealtdown at Harrisburgh in 1978 - when you got different versions of the "thruth" from every official you talked to.
His stories gave me some perspective on the journalistic work I do - having all modern tools in the world, transfering media over the globe in seconds, having access to information and people through the webb. It's always good to have a larger picture. And its also good to remember that most of the time nothing beats the human story.
I keep telling O he should write a book, but he says that he likes to be lazy and that he prefers to play with our kids. For now I'm thinking about giving him a blog - then he can´t get away...
The ongoing week is intense. I've shoot a few podcasts (desperatly trying to get some space in the editing-studio), gone to a seminare on the future of news-media (that didn´t provide any bright visions), prepared for the innovation journalism-conference, done research on design and covered Swedish prime minister Reindfeldts meeting with ex-Terminator and govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Sacramento for TT. I´ve also seen some lovely friends and had nice dinners with O and the family.
Things I have not done that I want to do: Drink wine in the garden with A when the kids are sleeping. Paint with the girls. Bake bread. Write to people I love. Spend more time with our fabolous roomie Leo. Put up our new lamp. Hike with the family. See the Vivien Westwood-exibition at the De Young-museum. Discover San Fransisco. Paint my toe-nails.
Theres always a tomorrow - but the challange is to capture the essence of now.

tisdag 8 maj 2007

Smile - You´re writing a paper

So I had to write a paper for my session at the international conference on Innovation Journalism. I thought I picked something easy when I decided to write a case study on PodTech where I do my fellowship.
I was wrong.
To understand a Silicon Valley start-up with all its levels of new technology, new media products, new business models, new ethics is - eh - not easy. The paper has followed me in my dreams and kept me buzy every night for over a week now. But I think it is getting ready, I´ll link to it as soon as it is up.
I´ve also discovered that working in Silicon Valley a lot follows this principle: "You wanna learn how to swim? Sure I´ll push you into the Atlantic". I´ve struggled to get a (very small) video-piece, an interview I did with the US ambassador to Sweden Michael Wood on clean tech, done and up. In the end I had to figure out how to edit the piece myself. Its very, very ruff but you can look at it here.
People at PodTech still are extremly nice, I just need to learn how to navigate I guess.
We´ve also done som nice things this last week - we hung with friends at their pool, had coffe at my favorite café in Palo Alto, visited a breathtaking beach - and I went shopping in San Fransisco with a friend from work. I must confess I ended up with three pair of shoes - only to balance the tech-world.

tisdag 1 maj 2007

The issue of air condition

The weather is starting to get really nice - outside. Inside, at my office, its rather freezing. I dont think I´ll ever adjust to the American way of using air condition. The whole point of living in a nice climate is to enjoy the warmth - or am I wrong?
Our afternoons/evenings now go like this: A and the children come to pick me up at the office. I come out, wrapped in a big scarf or a sweater, freezing. The sit all relaxed in their t-shirts after having spent a sunny day in the park or at the beach. I immediatly throw myself on the buttons in the car, trying to adjust the aircondition down. They scream at me not to, because they´re all warm.
I guess I have to find my inner thermostat.

måndag 30 april 2007

Living among hummingbirds

Yesterday, in the car on our way back from a beautiful picnic at San Gregorio State Beach, I asked my daughter Sun if she wanted to send a message to her friend Indra. I had just gotten a text-message from her mom (Hi Annika!) and I was about to answer it. "Tell her everything is great," Sun said. "We have bugs and hummingbirds and the sun and everything is green".
Her answer referred to what we were seeing at that very specific time and it made me think of the importance of staying in the present, here and now. That was also the theme of an yoga-class I had taken the same morning, so I figured life was trying to say something.
The days before had been really intense (but fun) and I found that my mind was constantly drifting, thinking about the paper I had to writer for the innovation journalism-conference or what I actually should be covering at PodTech or how we should manage our life here so both A and I got the best out of it...
I decided to learn from Sun and watch the beautiful hills and the lush forrest we were going through. And I decided to learn from Ida who slept the sweetest nap in the car (I wish I could just close my eyes and doze off some times....

måndag 23 april 2007

Flashes from Sweden

Just got a flash from TT, my newsagency. The strike among construction-workers in Sweden has been halted, in the last minute. It feels strange reading about Swedish domestic policies when the stars are shining and the garden is full of mandarines. The previous flash today, on the death of Boris Jeltsin, was easier to relate to because it was big news here too... I guess I´m adopting my media-habits to where I am. Right now I tend to spend a lot of time at techmeme.com (on tech-issues) and memorandum.com (on politics) when I dont slip away to style.com (for the daily dose of fashion)...

Yoga and lipgloss - how to balance the tech-world

So we finally went on the Golden Gate bridge (beautiful!). And we hung out at a café in Mission in San Fransisco. And we shopped for Buddhas and lucky cats in Chinatown. Meaning - we´ve had a weekend (without putting together Ikea-furniture or looking for bargains at Best Buy) and we´ve actually visited the big city.
However, writing about it makes it sound more romantic than it actually was. It rained the whole day, we spent lots of time on the freeway and the kids got tired of walking. I got tired of having wrong shoes (ballerinas are not good for rainy walks) and A got hungry. Traveling with kids is rewarding and fantastic but it also makes you feel like you are a service-institution...
We´ve also been very social this weekend - we´ve seen friends for dinner twice, we´ve seen friends in cozy Mill Valley north of the city and tonight our neighbours had a coctail with desserts to introduce us to the street. Everyone seems to have something to do with what I´m doing here. They´re either at Stanford or in the mediabusiness or at some interesting company in the valley. One is a scientist and an expert on climate change (that I´m suppose to cover...).
Work is still fun, read more about it here. However, it´s very tech-oriented. This morning I told my nice cubicle-neighbour that I need lot´s of yoga and to shop for lipgloss often in order to balance it. My other college showed me that she actually keeps Harpers Bazaar at her desk for that reason. And a third college revieled that she loves shopping, we talked about doing some on a lunch soon. So, I guess it all levels out. Also, I love the athmosphere at work and its fun, challanging and interesting to write in English.
Yesterday Sun (6 years) said that she thinks that Americans are smart with kids because they make fun things to brush your teeth with (she's got an electrical Cinderella - hua, I know...) and they hide answers to a riddle within the ice cream, so you actually finish your portion. Maybe she´s right.

onsdag 18 april 2007

My first blog ever...

Hej from Silicon Valley!
Today I started working at podtech.net in Palo Alto as a fellow from the innovation journalism-program at Stanford university. My first assignment was to write a summary on what other bloggers wrote on Yahoos first quarterly result this year (that later was posted on my dear boss John Furriers blog...).
I have never, ever blogged before! And I´m used to writing in Swedish with lots of å, ä and ö:s. Anyway - I did my best and realised I had to make a personal blog as well (never let your professional life go ahead of your personal...). Here it is.
I´m Tina Magnergård Bjers, a 36-years old native Swede with a passion for storytelling. I came to Silicon Valley six days ago with my two beautiful daughters Ida and Sun and my dear husband A (love!). Together with our viking-roomie Leo we live in a small house full of Ikea-furniture up in the hills. We´re dying to get rid of our jetleg (the kids wake up in the middle of the night wanting to make puzzles and eat pizza) and discover the area.
At home in Sweden I´m a journalist with Swedens National newsagency TT. I mostly cover politics and economics and I also do a series of articles on trends and design. In 2003 I was TT:s acting correspondent in New York. When I dont work I like to be twisted on the yogamat - in Palo Alto I´ve so far discovered Yoga Source.

A few reflections on life in northern California:
-most people actually do wear fleece and I´m starting to understand why. The weather is really unpredictable (however, everyone is nicely tanned)...
-people are incredably friendly. On our second day on the street we were invited to a bithdayparty for neighbour Ilaria who just turned 3. It was a great day at Lemos farm with cake, ponyrides and hungry goats (!). And our landlords have given our kids lots of things to play with. And our neighbors gave us a sofa and some chairs. And my collegues are incredably nice.
-It´s easier being a vegetarian than in New York and you´re not considered strange.
-People laugh a lot. They use the words "fun" and "play" when they describe what they do - even if its serious academic research (like Mondays Media X-conference at Stanford).

PS. Curious about the name Bubble and Faith? It was a project I started (that never took off) with my dear friends Maria and Helena back in Stockholm. We wanted to start an internet-based shop for fashion- and designinterested mothers like ourselfs. In the end we decided to focus on other things but I love the name Bubble (representing that sparkling feeling you want to have in life) and Faith (what everything actually is based on).