Welcome to a book that we hope you will write together with us!
We—Mats Svegfors, Director General and Cilla Benkö Deputy Director General of Swedish Radio —had thought we would write a traditional book about media development. We soon discovered—as did Lars Johannesson with whom we are working on this project—that there is both too much and too little knowledge about media and media use. The task of exposing today’s situation and understanding what it is that ultimately determines future advances gets lost amid the wealth of information produced all over the world about media use, media economy and media technology. And one of the tools needed for the task—a theory of media for sorting and systematizing the knowledge—doesn’t exist. How do we, in this day and age, manage such an analysis under uncertain conditions? Well, we utilize the very chaotic media reality that we’re looking at.
Rather than writing this big book about just what the relationship is between media and media development by ourselves, we want to engage others who are also interested in the same issues. We post our text on sverigesradio.se and invite all to a serious exchange of views about media development. The working name has thus far been “blogbook”. But interactive book writing should probably be called something else. What? Yes, well, that’s a good question.
The main idea behind writing a nonfiction work is to describe relationships. The main idea behind our project is to provoke reflection and opposition. The worst that can happen after having published a traditional book is that reviewers write that the author has totally misunderstood important elements of the discussion. The best that can happen in digital projects is that those responding say just that sort of thing: you guys have completely overlooked this relationship here or that theory perspective there.
The thought behind it is to seriously take advantage of the possibilities offered by digital technology to clarify and animate the subject. Maybe this might turn out to be the first real book on media development where the in text argument automatically takes the reader further on to relevant audio and visuals.
Will this eventually become a traditional book? Possibly, but that depends on responses and experiences. What’s most important—the product or the process? Undoubtedly, it’s the process.
From our point of view, the point of departure is what’s happening, and what should be happening, with public service radio in Sweden a little bit further down the road. Ultimately, the government and the Swedish House of Parliament make the decision. But a parliamentary majority doesn’t make a decision out of thin air. Public service radio is one part of the larger media network.
Every third Swede between 9 and 79 years of age—that is, more than two and a half million Swedes—listen to Swedish Radio in the morning. Close to a million of these read their morning paper as well. For consumers, media is a package deal. And even if radio reigns alone during the afternoon hours—every fifth Swede listens to the radio in the afternoon while other media consumption is so low as to be practically immeasurable—it’s television that takes over after 7 pm. Those who haven’t listened to radio during the morning or afternoon are more than likely to watch television in the evening.
We who are writing this have our radio perspective, but it’s practically impossible to understand the meaning of radio separate from the overall media society. That’s why these texts are just as much about other media as they are about radio. And that’s why we first endeavor to understand the overall media society. After all, there is no “radio society” and there never will be.
Is there a reason for you to engage in our project? Yes, we think so. We who have written this text carry the ultimate responsibility for Swedish Radio, one of the world’s strongest radio companies. The project is a central part of our work with the future of radio. What we write here expresses our understanding of reality and our view-in-progress of the coming years’ development. Those who contribute here, contribute to the fundamental analysis of Swedish Radio’s development.
Our simple thought is to successively work the new opinions we receive into the texts we post here. This is the way we’ve imagined we’ll be able to manage such a recalcitrant and unsurveyable state of knowledge. Even if we don’t utilize Wikipedia’s system, we have been inspired by Wikipedia, which is probably in general the most conceptually interesting new service available on the Internet.
We will gradually clarify what we have added and who has contributed to this project, unless the contributor expressly states he or she should not be identified. The only requirement that we have in order to receive comments is that they are not given anonymously. We want names and contact information. The editor is .