It was November, Internet Days 2015 and just days after the terror attacks in Paris. And despite all of our speaker gifts being packed and ready to go in the taxi to the airport with Hilary Mason, Dan Sinker, Evgenij Morozov, Ethan Zuckerman, Nnenna Nwakanma and Kathryn Parsons, almost all of them took our advice and left Sweden without them. It felt safer to send them through the mail (or so we thought).
This year’s Internet Days has just opened its pre-registration and I have just started thinking about this year’s speaker gifts. This, despite the fact that all of last year’s gifts are still at a police station in Uddevalla, nowhere near their actual owners.
For those who have forgotten how last year’s speaker gifts (clocks) looked, my blog post about these is still up.
Stuck in West Sweden
This all seems to have started with the Swedish Customs office, who got cold feet when the clocks passed through. The packages were returned with the remark “this cannot be sent by mail.” But for some strange reason, the return ended up in the municipality of Uddevalla.
The security manager there called me some days after the packages had gone and informed me of this. I apologized, told him what the packages contained and promised to get back with him as soon as I understood what went wrong. The packages should simply have been sent back to me so that I could have made another attempt with the mail.
The security manager then sent the packages straight to the police. I found out about this a week later when I called to hear where the packages had gone. And despite the fact that I called the commissioner of the Uddevalla Police all spring, our clocks still have not made their way home. Apparently some sort of investigation is ongoing and I’m not even sure I won’t go to jail for this.
In retrospect, I realize that this has an uncanny resemblance to the story of Ahmed. But when I wrote my blog post last year I never could have imagined that something like this could happen in Sweden.
For however well-made the clocks the children built, the most important lesson here is that these children are growing up in a society where technology has to look like an iPhone. And if it doesn’t, there’s a risk the police may show up. This means, for example, that if my son learns to solder and build strange and fun gadgets at home, there is also a large risk that someone might believe he is a terrorist.
Now, among others, Dagens Nyheter has noticed the case and we are crossing our fingers that the clocks will be returned. However, I still have no idea how to get the packages to the speakers. One thing is certain though, this time I will cover them with big red stickers declaring “NOT A BOMB”.
Watch a video showing how we made the clocks: