Looking back on 7.5 years at aftonbladet.se

Today is the 10 year jubilee of aftonbladet.se, Sweden’s largest and most successful news site, and my employer for 7.5 years.
Already the board of the paper edition have been here and sung “Happy birthday” to us, 10 year t-shirts have been handed out, and this afternoon we’ll have birthday cakes.
In the evening we’re off for 10-kamp at Gröna Lund, then dinner at Ulla Winbladh. Should be nice, as long as the rain keeps away. The forecast doesn’t look promising.

Last night I went through some old reload posts, trying to sum up _my_ years at aftonbladet.se. This is not the official version of events – that you can find here, but some moments I think are worth remembering.

February 1997. The first livecast from Rockbjörnen. Crammed into the Ernst Rolf loge at Circus, a small gang of hard working new media staff are making Nordic internet history. It’s the first live webcast, and technology – xing streamworks, a big loud machine – is failing. The livecast is delayed by one hour.
Afterwards, aftonbladet.se’s Jens Frejrud says “The technical solution worked well. The cast started one hour late, but then it ran like clockwork”.
Less mentioned in the media were the whiskies backstage and the two blondes from Gävle renamed Lili & Sussie by the technical crew.
The webchats with Gyllene Tider and E-type went well, and I discussed Pagespinner and wysiwyg editors with an interested Gyllene member.

January 1, 1998 Getting my permanent employment at aftonbladet.se.

Early ’98 Jared-mania at aftonbladet.se. The small application playing a silly song is on repeat, and me, Kajsa and Knutas are having a laugh.

Spring of ´98 Working on the redesign of aftonbladet.se. A huge project that took most of the spring, and a lot of long nights. Since all the pages were hand coded back then it was a major task to change the layout. On the night of the change I worked for two days and nights. Exhausting but interesting work.

May 20, 1998. Going to Orrefors’ 100 year anniversary celebrations to watch the king and queen walk around, and then attend Ulf & Kicke’s banquet. Or, working with Ulf and Kicke in general – then Aftonbladet’s very gay, very excentric food and celebrity connaiseurs. In those day it wasn’t a problem working 25 consecutive hours.

June 1998 Karlshamn Rock Festival in Norje, part of the Summer Tour of that year. I went there with Bella Stenberg and Johan Söderlund, among others, and did a lot of filming for web tv. Met Dee Snider and Lemmy, and managed to sneak away and watch the last bit of Alice Cooper’s show. On the tour Aftonbladet had it’s own trailer for the first time, where people could come and chat, and where we arranged some smaller gigs with Black Ingvars and Clawfinger. We stayed at Scandic together with some Hells Angels tough guys.

September 1998 Chat with Göran Persson, who pays us a visit, bringing a big crew.

Fall of ´98 Working as a developer in the StoryServer code language, and doing a bit of tcl. It was really nice to sit at the technicians’ desk with Tony, Peter and Henrik. I created the first snabbfråga, a poll function that’s become quite popular.

October 5 1998 The first meeting with Bob Cauthorn, Otto Sjöberg’s guru who at the time ran the Tuscon-based Arizona Star. It was a very inspiring meeting. “We are the rebel forces, you have to believe that in your soul”, he said.

October 30, 1998 Covering the discoteque fire in Gothenburg, where so many young people were killed. I got the call at 03.15 in the morning, rushed to work to pick up the camera and then off to Arlanda for the first available plane down there. A lot of rumours circulating, people gathering outside the building where you still felt the smell of the smoke. Lots of candles lit and flowers everywhere. We decided against interviewing any of the mourners, and I made a short sequence where I tried to give a portrait of the grief without going in close on people’s faces. I think it worked well.
One really gripping moment was at the press conference where I interviewed Gothenburg’s strong man, Göran Jonsson, and when I asked him how he was coping he couldn’t keep the tears away.

November 16, 1998 An expert panel are to answer the readers’ of the IT supplement’s questions. They are all men. In the same issue, Jens Frejrud who’s the editor of the supplement writes an editorial about there not being any women in the it business. This makes a lot of people furious, and a debate about men only trusting men to do a good job takes place. This debate was one of the things that inspired Petra Jankov to put together OPK’s list of a 1000 competent women in the it industry in October 1999.

December 22, 1998 A very eventful year was ended in style at Gondolen, the best Xmas dinner so far.

May 1999 Aftonbladet.se’s servers are moved from Globen to Alingsås. The desicion to outsource the server maintenance came after webmaster Tony Douch got fed up with getting support calls in the middle of the night and when he was on vacation.
Some technical problems in the beginning, but I think we all agreed it was much better this way.

June 13, 1999 I work the night shift, covering the election to the European union. Despite manual updates we managed to beat the other major sites’ coverage.

June 3, 1999 Westlife, then the supporting act for Boyzone’s tour, came to aftonbladet.se to chat, and I was to moderate the chat. It turned out to be a hard task, since the young men gathered around me instead of the computer where the questions were shown, so that they could see all the questions i _didn’t_ let through.

Autumn of ’99 I started working as a project manager for the mobile services, which in essence meant wap and handheld computers. It was an interesting job, but a frustrating one, since the technology wasn’t fully developed yet, and as a news provider Aftonbladet was at the hands of the operators.

August 25, 1999 Aftonbladet.se celebrated 5 years online. The jubilee site is still available here.

August 1999 A severe hard-drive crash erases all my work and some private projects as well.

September 29, 1999 A live web tv chat with Roxette, at Kamera’s office. Together with AmO at Kamera I had worked on the presentation of the chat and the controls for the web tv screen. It was total chaos when the chat was supposed to start, but we got it running eventually.

September 1999 Aftonbladet New Media is separated from the main Aftonbladet and turned into a company of its own. This was at a time when the it boom was in full bloom.

October 15-17 1999 Off to Telecom ´99 in Geneva, a trip arranged by Dataföreningen which I convinced my boss I ought to join. Telia’s wap bar is worth mentioning, as well as the five course banquet at Laussane Palace in Laussane.

November 5, 1999 Aftonbladet.se wins Stora Internetpriset. Dag and I misses our chance to go to the price ceremony since the extra tickets we fixed were put in a lottery which we were the only ones who didn’t win in. Unfair.

December 9, 1999 I won the internal Aftonbladet league of Fond-SM, and got a festive dinner for two at Operaterrassen.

Winter 1999/2000 I got to go to a lot of breakfast seminars at Operaterrassen and Berns. Nice.

December 1, 1999 I was the only outsider at Mackmeckarna’s first ever wap course, held by Nano Torres.

January 12, 2000 The king and queen of Sweden visits Aftonbladet, and Micke Andersson shows them how the web pages are created.

January 13-15, 2000 Work conference in Åre. Very eventful, but I wasn’t well. I think I’ll skip the rest of the info.

April 14, 2000 I talk at a seminar at the Dagsvara conference at Hasseludden. I was nervous and powerpoint just isn’t my thing, but it went okay.

May 2000 The new pink sport edition is released, and some pink details are introduced on the sports section of the site as well.

August 2000 The whole department went on a conference trip to France. Le Manoir de Gressy was a lovely country estate outside Paris. We started off at the pool and had a couple of days of intense work, intense partying and intense conflicts, when S. raised the question of how people weren’t feeling well because of the work situation on the last day of the conference.

September 1, 2000 Celebrations at work since we reached the new all-time high – 100 000 page views of a single article.

December 29, 2000 My application to work part-time (40 percent) over the next semester is approved. I was supposed to study but it didn’t work out, so instead I did some private projects and rested from years of working too much. My work consists of being editor for the IT section.

February 2001 I start writing a surf diary for the IT section. Also I contact interesting internet profiles who appear as guest columnists. Stefan Hallgren, Eva Persson and Mikael Pawlo are a few examples.

June 2001 Back to working full time.

Late October 2001 A mail is sent out on the internal Aftonbladet mailinglist, the subject reading “Save Morris”. A cat is to be killed if nobody wants to take care of him. Lotta runs to the rescue, and he’s been living with me since.

October 10, 2002 An email is sent to my email address, containing a threat to be forwarded to the CEO of SAS: “I’ve been asked to inform you that small explosives have been installed in the cockpits of 3 SAS flights.”, and then some details about where to send the 20 million dollars they were demanding. I contacted the police, and helped them as much as I could in tracking the sender down. Aftonbladet decided not to write about it, since it would only mean running the possible terrorist’s errands. Unfortunately someone leaked to Expressen and the ran the story. Some flights were cancelled because of the threat, but they never put any explosives in the planes.

2002 A year without any major events, it seems, when looking back at it. A year of struggle and cutbacks.

January 2003 Conference at Johannesberg’s castle near Gottröra. Great cakes! Peter and I challenged the bosses in pool, but we lost since I did the 8 prematurely. Up ’til then things were going well. Some late night arguments when the bar was closed, someone trying to break into the pool room to continue the party there.

March-June 2003 Working as an editor during the Iraqi war was an interesting experience. It felt like the job got a new meaning when major events were happening all the time. 12 hour days was something we had to get used to.

2003-2004 Working more and more with flash graphics. The economy is picking up.

lotta

Web veteran, journalist, blogger since 1998, loves creativity and originality, photography and her family. [More]

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