Texts/Letter to the Mayor of Karlskrona from a Karlskrona2 Citizen
Marit Hakkala, Karlskrona 2 user, 2001
Letter to the Mayor of Karlskrona from a Karlskrona2 Citizen

Personal Reflections and Suggestions for Measures to Activate the Karlskrona2 Project

Dear Sir

My name is Marit and I am in a minority in Karlskrona2. There are not many immigrants with a background similar to mine: I am a woman and live together with my husband and child. At any rate I haven’t met any others so far. But that doesn’t bother me, on the contrary, because if K2 were filled with mothers around the age of 35 the project would have lost its main advantage, that is, the possibility of meeting and getting to know new people from different backgrounds and of different ages. 

Every town and every person should have the chance to wander around in a virtual world, colliding with other people that you can then have all sorts of conversations or discussions with. It is fascinating to see how social structures are formed as new immigrants are integrated, how they develop between the people that actively inhabit K2 and leave their mark on it.

I would like to try to give you a picture of the spirit that pervades this project and that makes it so interesting that you, too, will wish you could take part in it. It’s like a pioneering spirit, a love of exploration, a wonderful curiosity that leads to ideas and situations that you would never have thought possible. It can involve your feelings too, good and bad alike. Every time a new person arrives and is integrated into the group that already lives there, the whole situation changes. This leads to a kind of network, a network of social contacts. 

When I logged in the first time, K2 was a grey place with a lot of visitors generally getting lost in it, not knowing what it was actually supposed to be or what it was for. But simply knowing that this was uncharted territory made me massively keen to explore it and to find some meaning in the whole thing. The result of that was that I kept logging on to K2 and soon I had got to know some people that I found interesting. Together we created a social structure and a part of K2 which we called Eastvillage. I didn’t play a particularly large part in building Eastvillage but I did do a lot when it came to establishing a social structure in K2. I feel that a social structure is extremely important. Because that can create an atmosphere where new immigrants feel welcome and are shown around by some of the others who have already been there for a while. You can get help building things, you can find out about activities and new objects. The integration of new and old immigrants works best when the roles that you can choose are clearly allocated. Which also means that each person also accepts a certain responsibility for introducing others and for doing their best to see that they also come back time after time, just as each of us was introduced by other immigrants. 

K2 is a project where freedom reigns. This freedom lies partly in the fact that new immigrants can choose for themselves how and what they want to build. But in a sense there are limits to this freedom because there is a superior avatar who can expunge improper or racist objects. The whole procedure is very democratic, specifically because it is based on the notion of freedom. There is a Council which meets in the evening every two weeks. But some immigrants feel that the democratic system is not running well enough. They say that it is difficult to get information and that there is a chance that some people may exert undue influence. But my response to that is simply to say that K2 did not come as a ready-made package, but that it was constructed over the summer and the autumn by all the people that had ideas and suggestions for it. And that only works if you do it like these immigrants do, that is to say, by discussing any deficiencies one might have noticed, and then trying to work together on the development and modification of the democratic process and its overall cohesion. K2 – is its immigrants. Without immigrants it would just be an empty stage and of no further value. 

A part of this development process was the launching of the web paper Eastnews. I would like it to contain all the information that matters to the immigrants or to visitors to K2. It should contain background information on projects (in Swedish), information about SUPERFLEX, a presentation on Karlskrona, interviews, tips, articles by immigrants and help on how to proceed in a whole variety of situations, e.g. if one wants to build something. I feel that these articles don’t necessarily have to be about K2 itself. The criterion should be that the author is either an immigrant or a tourist in K2. The idea is to tempt people to explore K2 and awaken their interest in possibly immigrating themselves. There are all sorts of activities that could help to increase the number of immigrants. I could put together a list of these ideas and later draw the connection between these ideas and the course of events. 

This suggestion is made in the hope that when this project has carved out a place for itself as a community and our IT laws have had an effect on the whole town, that K2 would have its own unmistakable IT profile in Sweden. The construction and development of a virtual Karlskrona would be perfectly suited to that, after all what town has such a perfect background and a completely newly created atmosphere? 

Centre: When you log in to K2 you find yourself in a cold, sterile centre. These days people are totally stressed out and need a moment to catch their breath, before they can properly take in information and what is happening. I think that we lose a lot of visitors because of our featureless centre. There are two ways that this problem could be solved. Firstly the centre could have a new lay-out. The buildings that are there just now should stay of course, but since there are interesting organisations and enterprises in these buildings in Karlskrona, there should be access to these buildings in K2 and the possibility of using them. There should also be help with building new objects so as to be more appealing to new users. 

But the option that I would prefer and which I think would fit in well with the spirit of K2, would be a centre purely for information, without advertising or buildings. This is where changes would have to be made. Information presented in the centre could encourage people to wander around more in K2, perhaps inspiring them to immigrate or at least to log in again.

People’s interest could be aroused by videos, readings, questionnaires, participation in the democratic process where opinions are conveyed via forms or websites. All the information presented in the centre should tempt people to visit other places in K2 where you could read more about a particular theme or come across new things that might interest one. 

The Karlskrona Community Council should have its own building where you would have access to links and information about everything that is happening in Karlskrona. This could be put together from existing material, but the Community’s own website should have a new lay-out, one suited to a town with the IT that Karlskrona has. 

HE College: “Research activities at the College are notable for their commitment to IT and close collaboration with business and society. while the main emphasis is as yet on technology, IT is an ever-expanding area of research, also in the Humanities. The Humanities and a comprehensive inter-disciplinary approach are paramount in the College’s activities.” Thus the mission statement of the Blekinge Tekniska Högskola.

The College could raise its profile by putting up a building of its own in K2, providing information as well as a venue for films and discussions. If they wanted, students and teachers could meet to discuss group projects and other questions. Information could be available on courses and any other relevant matters.

 Another idea would be to set up a college in K2 itself. 

 Information centre: an infohouse would be a great idea.

 The involvement of the media for educational purposes: they could present films, photos and other ideas in the infohouse. The media could be offered guided tours of K2 and they could be asked to think how this virtual world could be developed and at the same time how it could help to promote their own projects. The same could be done for the College: a house with different rooms for presenting video-clips, images and links to existing websites. 

There could be an internet cafe in the house, where people could log in to K2, as well as a TV screen showing the centre, where you could follow conversations that are happening in particular places. For example, where everyone starts. All the people who smoke stay there and have to be informed as to whether others can follow their conversations. 

Societies: An approach could be made to different societies offering them a guided tour through K2 plus information on the project. They could be invited to build something and to put out information in K2 on their society. A society could present itself with a music or video clip. 

A new music society has been set up in Karlskrona. It is called Elwerket. The object of Elwerket is to work with ‘alternative’ electronic music and electronic art and to put on evening performances of electronic compositions. 

Our evenings take place in ‘Porslinan’ in Karlskrona, and we hope that we will also be able to organise something in Ronneby. 

The core group in Elwerket consists of students from the college in Karlskrona/Ronneby. The idea of founding a society like Elwerket came from Electrovalvet in Trollhättan and Code2 in VästerÂs.

Culture: There are cultural initiative aplenty in Blekinge that could be involved in this project. They could all use K2 if there were a reasonably large house for cultural events where everyone would have the chance to present their work. In Blekinge there is already a cultural network that could simply be extended to K2. The people already working in that network could also be offered a guided tour; subsequently discussions could be held with them about ideas and developments. 

These are just some of the ideas and thoughts that I have about the K2 project and which I would like to take further. I hope that they may contribute to the thinking around the project and its future development.

Yours sincerely

Marit Hakkala


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