Swiss Bloggers: Want To Go To OrangeCinema (ZH, BE, BS)? [en]

[fr] OrangeCinema! C'est dans les villes de Zurich, Berne, et Bâle -- et dans le cadre de mon mandat "blogueurs" avec Orange, on a monté une opération sympa pour blogueurs cinéphiles. Si vous connaissez des blogueurs dans ces villes qui pourraient être tentés par devenir "blogueur officiel" durant OrangeCinema ("all-access pass", billets gratuits, et plein d'autres trucs sympas) faites-leur passer ce billet!

As you may know, I’m currently working with Orange to assist and advise them in the field of blogger relations. This means that we work on cool offers/programmes for bloggers.

Our first pilot was around Caprices Festival — a music festival in Crans: we offered a press pass and other perks to a couple of bloggers so they could attend the whole festival for free. We’re really happy with the way it turned out, and we’re now focusing on OrangeCinema, which takes place over the summer in the Swiss German cities of Zürich, Bern, and Basel.


Clearly I should be writing this post in German, as this is an offer mainly for Swiss-German bloggers, but my German sucks terribly and I wouldn’t want to inflict it on my dear readers.

If you’re an established film-loving blogger or podcaster, and you’d jump at the chance to receive an all-access pass to OrangeCinema and blog about it like crazy, check out the form below and apply to be an Official OrangeCinema Blogger.


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Somesso – Frans van der Reep: From survival of the fittest to survival of the most cooperative [en]

[fr] Notes de la présentation de Frans van der Reep à la conférence Somesso.

steph-note: oops, he’s speaking German. Phew, switching to English :-) — these are my scribbled notes, inevitably imprecise, of Frans van der Reep’s keynote at the Somesso conference.

We have to invest in our ability to observe, see, understand. Frameworks have shifted.

Geography class, flying over countries with our eyes closed. If we turn the map by 45 degrees, our knowledge disappears. Similar to being invited to the blackboard in front of the classroom. The ego also comes in, not accepting that you don’t have the answer. People try to get an answer, so they don’t ask questions where they don’t have an answer.

This map-shifting is what corporations are going through now regarding the internet.

We need people who are capable of shifting and optimising their viewpoints, and who are willing to experience new viewpoints => we need new frameworks.

These frameworks (some of them) are what Frans will present in this speech.

Somesso 10

We’re going from top-down to bottom-up, and from push to pull.

Change is coming so rapidly.

A year doesn’t have any commercial meaning. It’s long. => we go from marketing to sales. Example of a company who have no marketing, they just put clothes in shops, leave them 3 weeks and see what sells (remove or add).

Social media makes everyone a salesperson, whether you like it or not. => what are you good at? what’s your personal value? what’s your business? It’s always been like that, but the internet is pushing it to the front of the scene.

Old, top-down, push:

  • European Ruling
  • Top-down ICT Planning
  • Marketing
  • Politics
  • Innovation planning

New, bottom-up, pull:

  • private initiatives
  • prototyping
  • sales
  • referendum
  • linux/wiki/csn

We don’t want courts of justice to be bottom right in the box, or it will be lynching in the marketplace. But they’re coming down a bit.

Somesso 11

Next slide: 4 ways of organising a company.

Two axes: simple => complex and dynamic => static environment.

If you look at companies, management and control is not necessarily worse an option, but it should be used where it is a solution to a problem. One way => all ways (top right, where the social media stuff is — complex and dynamic).

9% of companies are one-person companies in the Netherlands.

Different worlds, to be used when it makes sense. eg. journalists are in the “all-ways” world, but printing and distribution in the “one way”. No value in putting a company only in the one-way world.

Somesso 12

If you don’t adopt the internet as a tool to create transparency, it’s far too expensive to& (?)

Accept multiple viewpoints.

Somesso 13

simple/one-way: camouflage (corporations)
complex/dynamic: stand up (what the internet encourages you to do, what the 1-person company forces you to do)

Somesso 14

Seen from another angle: on the left, the maintainer, who focuses on what is known. On the right, the entrepreneur, who focuses on what is not known. Shared practice vs. Next practice, and Right practice (control, hold grip) vs. Best practice (enlarge quantity).

Where companies stand in this graph.

Somesso 15

Teams, clans, clubs&

Somesso 16

Moving from survival of the fittest to survival of the most cooperative => develop the talent to spot talent is the most important thing to do.

Somesso 17

One size fits all doesn’t work.

Be transparent, consequent and clear in your intentions. Cooperation is a personal decision.

Comment from the floor: all this is very relevant to the current US presidential election.

Frans: the Middle Ages are a very good model to understand what is going on. Tribes, guilds, torturing and the plague are back& There is a huge power vacuum, in which the Al Qaedas fit in, that’s the political problem we have.

Charles de Neef: seems quite challenging for corporations to move into that top right square, but some big corporations have shown success in adopting the top right mindset/tools.

steph-note: no wifi (at least not working), and timing seems tight — we’ll see how it goes. I count about 50 people in the room.

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Blogging in Internal Communications [en]

[fr] Notes de la conférence que j'ai donnée aujourd'hui à Zürich sur les blogs dans la communication interne.

First of all, let me thank all present for their participation, and Nils ([Enzaim Communications]( in particular for making this happen. I also appreciated having [Stefan Bucher]( amongst the audience — it’s particularly nice when fellow bloggers show up, share their experience, and to top it all tell me my talk was interesting to them, too. Thanks!

Two months ago I gave a talk titled [“How Blogging Brings Dialogue to Corporate Communications”]( This one is quite similar, but focused on internal communications.

As I explained, the dynamics involved are very similar. It’s about having conversations, whether it’s behind the firewall or outside on the big bad internet — about engaging with people (employees, customers, colleagues) rather than talking *at* them.

Although the talk I prepared was very similar (with some added stuff specific to internal communications), it did of course turn out rather different. Different people, different questions. I like it (particularly with small audiences) when instead of giving a lecture-like talk, there are lots of questions and I am derailed from what I had planned.

That’s a bit what blogging is about, isn’t it? Having a dialogue. So, when the setting permits it, I try to do the same thing with my talks. My impression is that people get more out of them that way. (Do feel free to correct me if you think I’m mistaken.)

You should probably go and have a look at [the notes from my previous talk](, as I’m not going to rewrite everything here. I’ll just concentrate on what seems to me was the important additional stuff we talked about. If you were there and want to add things to what I’m writing here, please feel free to leave a comment. I’d be very happy if you did.

If you look at the slides, they’re very similar in the beginning, aside from slides 9-10-11 in which I try to clarify the difference between blog and wiki, as I was told confusion was common.


Content on blogs is organised based on the time they were written. From an editorial point of view, blogs also put the author(s) forward. He has a very different status from the commentators, who are guests on his blog.


Wikis, on the other hand, are organised solely through the links created between the various pages. The focus is on the documentation produced rather than on who produced it. The various author voices tend to merge into a uniform community voice.

Both blogs and wikis are part of the larger class of tools one can name “social media”. These are the online tools which help us publish information in a way that connects us to other people, and encourages us to engage in conversations and relationships with them. You’ll also come upon the expression “social software” used with roughly the same meaning (though the emphasis is in this way more on the technology than on its usage). “Social tools” can be considered a wider category including all technology that explicitly connects its users to one another. (I have to say, though, that many people — I included — will sometimes use these terms interchangeably.)

Short version: it’s “social media” that is important in this discussion, more than “just blogging”. I’m talking of “blogging” inasmuch as it is a popular incarnation of social media.

We spent quite some time commenting the [blog examples]() I showed. These are of course examples of blogging externally, because unfortunately, it’s kind of hard to find examples of internal blogging on the internet ;-).

There are a lot of “damage control” or “crisis” examples, because blogging is a good tool to use in this kind of situation where real communication is required.

Here are a few quotes I read out. First, the beginning of the open letter to Palm on Engadget:

> Dear Palm,

> Man, what a crazy year, right? We know things haven’t really been going your way lately, but we want you to know that we haven’t given up on you, even though it might seem like the only smartphone anyone wants to talk about these days is the iPhone. It can be hard to remember right now, but you used to be a company we looked to for innovation. You guys got handhelds right when everyone else, including Apple, was struggling to figure it out. And it was the little things that made those early Palm Pilots great — you could tell that someone had gone to a lot of trouble to think about what made for a great mobile experience, like how many (or rather, few) steps it took to perform common tasks.

> The problem is that lately we haven’t seen anything too impressive out of you guys. Sure, over the past few years the Treo has emerged as a cornerstone of the smartphone market, but you’ve let the platform stagnate while nearly everyone (especially Microsoft and HTC, Symbian and Nokia, RIM, and Apple) has steadily improved their offerings. So we’ve thrown together a few ideas for how Palm can get back in the game and (hopefully) come out with a phone that people can care about. (And we’re not talking about the Centro / Gandolf.) Read on.

Dear Palm: It’s time for an intervention

And two days later, the response of the Palm CEO, Ed Colligan

> Dear Peter, Ryan and Joshua:

> Thank you for the very thoughtful post about Palm. I really appreciate the fact that you guys and others care enough to take the time to write such a comprehensive list of actions. I forwarded it to our entire executive staff and many others at Palm have read it. Although I can’t say I agree with every point, many are right on. We are attacking almost every challenge you noted, so stay tuned. Let’s remember that it is very early in the evolution of the smartphone and there is enormous opportunity for us to innovate. We have only just begun to fight!

> Thank you for taking the time to write. I really do take your comments to heart and I know the team at Palm is totally committed to delivering the best mobile computing solutions in the world.

Ed Colligan

Not bad, huh? This is the kind of openness people want to see more of.

> Corporate types will always be concerned about negative comments, which is a valid concern; however, if you’ve got a product or service that’s worth blogging about, your fans should be coming out to support you — which they have, in Yahoo!’s case. Also, by allowing full comments, and better yet, responding to some of them, you gain a valuable sense of integrity and, as loathe as I am to type these words, “street cred” — that you just can’t buy.

> Negative comments are the price you’ve got to pay for having a Real Blog, and companies that have them deserve to be recognized. It shows that they believe in their own business, and they respect their customers enough to allow them to have a public opinion on their business.

Yahoo’s Blog Takes Its Blogging Lumps, Like a Real Blog Should

We talked a lot about negative comments and what to do about them (they can actually turn out to be a good thing if you respond to them openly and honestly). We also talked about ghost-writing (don’t!) and human relationships in general. Things that are true for offline relationships, I find, are also true for online ones you can establish through blogging: if somebody is willing to recognise they made a mistake, for example, or acknowledge that you are upset about something, it goes a long way. Same is true on blogs.

Here’s a link to [the corporate blogging 101]( I mentioned in passing and I said I would point you to.

I also skipped a bit quickly through the Do/Don’t lists, so here they are again:


  • eat your own dog-food
  • trust your bloggers
  • read other blogs
  • be part of the community
  • use a feed-reader
  • link! even to competition, negative stuff
  • be human
  • learn the culture
  • use an existing blogging tool
  • discuss problems
  • define what is really confidential
  • give existing in-house bloggers a role (evangelists! learn from them!)
  • tag, ping, use the “kit” and other social tools


  • try to control
  • use a ghost-writer or outsource blogging
  • “roll your own” tool
  • ignore established blogging conventions, they’re there for a reason
  • copy-paste print material in posts
  • use corpspeak
  • force people to blog
  • write happy-clappy stuff
  • write blog posts or comments as if they were e-mails (starting with Hi… and ending with a signature)
  • be faceless (signing with the name of the company instead of the person)

Employees know (and so do internal communications people) that the best sources of information are usually one’s direct boss and… the cafeteria. If you think about it, your boss is probably one of the main people you actually have real conversations with. You don’t often have a real conversation with the CEO — but you probably have regular briefings with your boss. Hopefully, you have something resembling a human relationship with her/him.

The cafeteria or the corridors are the informal networking spaces of company life. And often, these informal relationships can actually be more useful to your work than the hierarchy. “Networks subvert hierarchies”, says the [Cluetrain](

Well, in a company in which employees can blog, subscribe to their feeds and leave comments on each other’s blogs, the online space can become a kind of “virtual cafeteria” — only in the public eye. This might sound scary to some. But you’re not preventing people from having conversations in the cafeteria, are you? By having these conversations online, in a “public” space (which may still be behind the firewall), you can help them be more efficient if they’re positive, and debunk them more easily if they’re rumors.

RSS is an important technology to be aware of. It’s the one that allows people to subscribe to blogs, comments, or other sources of news. In a company where employees can have their own blogs, they’ll need to learn to use an aggregator, which will enable them to create their own news channel. One can expect an employee to know best exactly what sources of information to follow or people to stay in touch with to get her work done.

People who work remotely, who are on different sites, different silos, or who simply have different working hours can all benefit from the online cafeteria.

A few key checkpoints, if you’re thinking of introducing blogs in your company (“are we ready?” style). 5 prerequisites:

– the management/CEO/company needs to **care** about their employees. Blogging won’t work well in an “abusive” relationship.
– be willing to **engage** in real, honest **dialogue**, also about problematic issues (difficult, but often the most rewarding, as with normal human relationships)
– blogging takes **time**, so it should be counted in as part of people’s workload/job
– accept and understand that communication **cannot be controlled**
– understand that blogging is not just a technology/tool, that it is mainly a **culture/strategy**

5 ingredients to “make it work”:

– **training**. Don’t assume blogging comes naturally to people. We “natural bloggers” are the exception, not the rule. The technology is cheap — put money in the training, so people have a chance to really “get” the culture.
– **eat your own dog food**. If you want to get people in your company blogging, do it yourself, too.
– blogging is a grassroots phenomenon (bottom-up), so **enable** it (top-down), knowing you can’t “make” people blog. Create a blog-friendly environment.
– **read** blogs and comments. This can easily be 50% of the workload involved in “blogging”
– speak like a **human** being.

There… that’s about it. Did we talk about anything else important that I missed?

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BlogCamp: Multilingual Blogging Session [en]

[fr] Mise par écrit des notes de préparation pour ma présentation hier au sujet des blogs multilingues, lors du BlogCamp à Zürich. En deux mots: il faut des gens pour faire le pont entre les îles linguistiques sur internet, et la façon dont sont conçus nos outils n'encourage pas les gens à être multingues sur leurs blogs. C'est pourtant à mon avis la formule la plus viable pour avoir de bons ponts.

I presented a session about multilingual blogging at [BlogCamp]( yesterday in Zürich. Thanks to all of you who attended (particularly as I was [competing]( with [Xing’s Nicolas Berg](!) and wrote about the session ([Bruno]( of course, [Sarah](, [Sandra](, [Maira](, [Jens-Rainer](, [Waltraut](, [Jokerine](, [Antoine](*…let me know if I need to add you here*), and to [Greg]( in particular for [filming the session](

Although I’m rather used to [giving talks](, this was the first time my audience was a bloggy-geek crowd, so it was particularly exciting for me. I prepared my talk on the train between Lausanne and Bern, and unfortunately prepared way too many notes (I’m used to talking with next to no notes), so I got a bit confused at times during my presentation — and, of course, left stuff out. Here’s a rough transcript of [what I prepared]( Oh, and don’t forget to look at this [photo of my cat Bagha]( from time to time to get the whole “experience”.

Steph giving her talk.
Photo by Henning

**Talk notes**

In the beginning there was the Big Bang. Space, time and matter came to exist. (Physicists in the audience, please forgive me for this.) We know it might end with a Big Crunch. Internet looks a bit like this Big Crunch, because it gets rid of space. With the right link to click on, the right URI, anybody can be anywhere at any time.

However, we often perceive the internet as a kind of “space”, or at least as having some sort of organisation or structure that we tend to translate into spatial terms or sensations. One way in which the internet is organised (and if you’re a good 2.0 person you’re acutely aware of this) is **communities**.

Communities are like gravity wells: people tend to stay “in” them. It very easy to be completely oblivious to what is going on in other communities. Barrier to entry: culture. Language is part of a culture, and even worse, it’s the vehicle for communication.

What is going on in the other languageospheres? I know almost nothing of what’s going on in the German-speaking blogosphere. The borders on the internet are linguistic. How do we travel? There is no digital equivalent of walking around town in a foreign country without understanding a word people say. **Note: cultural divides are a general problem — I’m trying to focus here on one of the components of the cultural divide: language.**

Who speaks more than one language? In the audience, (almost) everyone. This is doubly not surprising:

– Switzerland is a multilingual country
– this is the “online” crowd (cosmopolitan, highly educated, English-speaking — though English is not a national language here)

Two episodes that made me aware of how strong language barriers can be online, and how important it is to encourage people to bridge the language barriers:

– [launching]( []( because at the time of the [browser upgrade initiative]( I [realised]( “Look at all those English language links I pointed my poor French readers to.”) that many French-speaking people didn’t have access to all the material that was available in Anglophonia, because they just didn’t understand English well enough;
– the very different feelings bloggers had about [Loïc Le Meur]( when he first started being active in the blogosphere, depending on if they were French- or English-speaking, particularly around the time of the [Ublog story](

A few questions I asked the audience (mini-survey):

– who reads blogs in more than one language? (nearly everyone)
– who blogs in more than one language?
– who has different blogs for different languages?
– who has one blog with translated content in both languages? (two courageous people)
– who has one blog with posts in various languages, mixed? (half a dozen people if my memory serves me right)
– who feels they act as a bridge between languages?

So, let’s have a look at a few multilingual blogging issues (from the perspective of a biased bilingual person). Despite the large number of people out there who are comfortable writing in more than one language (and the even larger number who are more or less comfortable reading in more than one language), and the importance of bridging cultural/linguistic gaps, blogging tools still assume you are going to be blogging in **one language** (even though it is now accepted that this language may not be English).

What strategies are there for using more than one language on a blog, or being a good bridge? Concentrate first on strategy and then worry about technical issues. Usage is our best hope to make tool development evolve, here.

*A. Two (or more) separate blogs*

– not truly “multilingual blogging”, it’s “monolingual blogging” twice
– caters well to monolingual audiences
– not so hot for multilingual audiences: must follow multiple blogs, with unpredictable duplication of content

*B. Total translation*

– a lot of work! goes against the “low activation energy for publiction” thing that makes blogging work (=> less blogging)
– good for multilingual and monolingual audiences
– technical issues with non-monolingual page (a web page is assumed to be in a single language…)

*C. Machine translation!*

– getting rid of the “effort” that makes B. fail as a large-scale solution, but retaining the benefiits!
– problem: machine translation sucks
– too imprecise, we don’t want *more* misunderstanding

*D. A single blog, more than one language (my solution)*

– easy for the blogger, who just chooses the language to blog in depending on mood, bridge requirements, etc.
– good for the right multilingual audience
– technical issues with non-monolingual pages
– how do you take care of monolingual audiences? provide a summary in the non-post language

“Monolingual” audiences are often not 100% monolingual. If the number of people who are perfectly comfortable writing in more than one language is indeed rather small, many people have some “understanding” skills in languages other than their mother tongue. Important to reach out to these skills.

For example, I’ve studied German at school, but I’m not comfortable enough with it to read German-language blogs. However, if I know that a particular post is going to be really interesting to me, I might go through the trouble of reading it, maybe with the help of some machine translation, or by asking a German-speaking friend.

A summary of the post in the language it is not written in can help the reader decide if it’s worth the trouble. Writing in a simple language will help non-native speakers understand. Making sure the number of typos and grammar mistakes are minimal will help machine translation be helpful. And machine translation, though it is often comical, can help one get the gist of what the post is about.

Even if the reader is totally helpless with the language at hand, the summary will help him know what he’s missing. Less frustrating. And if it’s too frustrating, then might give motivation to hunt down a native speaker or do what’s required to understand what the post is about.

Other bridging ideas:

– translation networks (translate a post or two a month from other bloggers in the network, into your native language)
– translation portal (“news of the world” with editorial and translation work done) — check out [Blogamundo](

Problem I see: bloggers aren’t translators. Bloggers like writing about their own ideas, they’re creative people. Translating is boring — and a difficult task.

Some more techy thoughts:

– use the lang= attribute, particularly when mixing languages on a web page (and maybe someday tools will start parsing that)
– CSS selectors to make different languages look different (FR=pink, EN=blue for example)
– language needs to be a post (or even post element) attribute in blogging tools
– WordPress plugins: language picker [Polyglot]( and [Basic Bilingual](
– excerpt in another language: what status in RSS/atom? Part of the post content or not? Can RSS/atom deal with more than one language in a feed, or do they assume “monolingualism”?
– [indicating the language of the destination page a link points to](

**Extra reading**

The nice thing about having a blog is that you can dive back into time and watch your thinking evolve or take place. Here is a collection of posts which gravitate around language issues (in a “multilingual” sense). The [Languages/Linguistics category]( is a bit wider than that, however.

Blogging in more than one language:

– [Writing]( — translation is just too much work; bilingual desires, but daunted by the workload
– [Bilingual?]( — the day (four months after its birth) this weblog became officially bilingual
– [Multilingue!]( — how to indicate the language of a link target using CSS
– [Life and Trials of a Multilingual Weblog]( — written after some discussions on the topic at [BlogTalk 2.0](
– [Basic Bilingual Plugin]( for WordPress
– [Thinking About Tags]( (and languages)
– [Requirements for a Multilingual WordPress Plugin](
– [Multilingual Proposals (Reboot, BlogCamp)](

About the importance of language, etc.:

– [Multilingual Dragon](
– [SwissBlogs Needs Your Help]( — [SwissBlogs](, oldest Swiss blog directory (and multilingual already), call for help. *(I mentioned during my session that I would not comment on any ideas about Switzerland needing a “national blog directory” of any type… part of the story here if you want to dig.)*
– [SpiroLattic Resurrection]( — some background on a short-lived multilingual wiki experiment
– [Vous parlez de blogosphère suisse?]( — a tag proposal to try and give the fragmented “Swiss blogosphere” some cohesion
– [About the Swiss Blog Awards (SBAW)](
– [English Only: Barrier to Adoption](
– [Not All Switzerland Speaks German, Dammit!](

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First Day in Vienna [en]

A first uneventful day in Vienna. Ethernet at the Hotel Atlas, too much walking, an expensive orange juice and a nice girl on the train.

So here I am, in Hotel Atlas, with free ethernet, a non-feather pillow, a bathtub, and already a few more books to add to my collection.

BlogTalk will start on Monday, so I have the week-end before me to do some exploring. I’m open to suggestions, still!

My first day here has been pretty uneventful (barring “rain” from the “events” category). I’ll just make three notes.

Firstly, if you go to have breakfast at Café Westend, just opposite the station, and the waiter asks you if you would like some orange juice, be prepared to pay as much for it as for the whole breakfast (approx. 5’€, perfectly reasonable for the breakfast, perfectly overpriced for the orange juice — even though it is freshly pressed). I made the mistake of thinking it was included, and was nastily shocked when I got the bill.

Second, I tend to walk way beyond my limits of tiredness. I just don’t stop. It’s so annoying. All the more now, as I actually catch myself doing it, but still can’t stop. I really have to find a way to avoid walking myself to death this week-end.

Third and last, I made a friend on the train to Zürich — fate had me sit right opposite Andrea, who lives in Geneva and was also making her way to Vienna. We’re meeting again tonight, with her (very nice and local-now-expat’) boyfriend.

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