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Dagens Nyheter, one of the most interesting swedish news outlets, today dropped a yard or so in my enjoyment meter. The reason? A Big Uncovering Article in the cultural/debate section on a mailing list and the atrocities committed on this list. Subsequently, a lot of noise has been heard in the swedish blogosphere, and one staffer at Dagens Nyheter has been let go for actually being a posting member of the mailing list.

The list in question, Elit, has been running for decades and I've heard about it from a good friend of mine who regularily posts science news, analyses and neuroscience there since people actually enjoy reading what he writes. The list is very much closed, invitation only, keep your mouth shut about the postings, and here's an outlet for you to rant and gossip. And its existence is really not very secret.

Anyway, today, one of the higher headlines on the webpaper of Dagens Nyheter was dedicated to the article uncovering the existence of the list, and wherein the reporter - who had gotten hold of 6 months or so of list archives - started going through the various turns of phrase, the outrageous wordings, and the famous participants of this "secret club" and "sect". The whole thing quickly grows preposterous when it becomes abundantly clear that the author hasn't seen internet-based or even text-based communities before - he refers to discussions about lurkers as penalities and indignated discussions about leaks (remember, most of the celebrities on the list post there "safe" in the knowledge that what they write won't be publicized) as mobbing and fascistical trends.

Now, the owner of the list, Alexander Bard, is quite a mouthful. He can be very annoying or provocative when he styles himself or formulates his thoughts. And the quotes in the article are partially not really what you would want to have publicized. IMNSHO, though, this DOESN'T matter.

What I say in my LJ differs from what I say in the IRC-chats I sit in, differs from what I tell my colleagues at work, differs from what I tell my old, old friends, differs from what I tell my parents, differs from what I tell my SO, differs from what I rant about when I'm upset, differs from what I tell annoying newbies in the math-y fora I'm active. They have developed a sociolect on this mailing list that serves as vent for high-profile swedish celebrities. Fine! Let them write about pedophilia and how fat some high-profile journalist looks - I REALLY DON'T CARE! You'll find similar talk in saunas or at girl's nights out all over Sweden.

It annoys me, however, to no end that my favourite newspaper shows such a complete lack of understanding of the medium they are analysing and stamp across what, in end-effect, is my own media and perceived freedom of expression dependent on the closure of the fora, in a VERY cheap bid for publicity. Stop it already!

Update: And now various chief officers for various governmental or other organs in Sweden are being quoted saying that they won't tolerate membership in this particular mailinglist from their staff. So, now you can be sacked in Sweden for being on the wrong mailing lists. (one reporter/professional blogger already has been...) Dontcha just love this country?


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