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So today the internet went on strike – for good reason. Stupid politicians are trying to censor the internet in the name of protection against piracy (not the pirates who kill people off the coast of Africa, but the geeks with glasses who download illegal files in the basement). Not only is the attempted legislation of SOPA and PIPA stupid because of the potential for abuse of censorship, but it also opens the very scary possibility of having trade wars online, where US companies ask to have global competitors blocked or banned, and vice versa.

So we all agree that SOPA and PIPA are bad, they suck and they should go away.

But I still have a bad taste in my mouth about some of the protests, to the point of agreeing with Paul Carr when he says that it’s silly of Wikipedia to go dark to protest about local US legislation. The reason is simple: SOPA is far from the first legislation implementing DNS-blocking globally (this has even been removed from SOPA). Where were Wikipedia and Google when seven European countries implemented similar legislation? Now the Americans will of course say, silly European – why don’t you get your own companies to protest? But here’s the problem: for a protest to have any kind of effect, it would need to include companies that consumers use every day, and they are – at least on the surface – American right now. Unfortunately, SAP, Spotify and Just-Eat haven’t done much to combat European censorship, and even if they did, I’m afraid it would not make many dents in Fortress Europe when it comes to censorship and DNS blocking.

That’s why Google and Wikipedia suck, because even if they are US-based, they should realise that they have a global reach and responsibility. Don’t get me wrong; I’m very happy that they are doing something: I just wish they had done more, and earlier. We will not gain a free internet just by winning the fight in the US, and that is why it’s hypocrisy when Wikipedia goes black when the US implements SOPA, but didn’t do so when Denmark started blocking foreign betting sites. It is especially dangerous behaviour for a site that is being relied on by users from around the whole world to be neutral: today’s move has shown that these sites are, first and foremost, US organisations.

Nevertheless, we have to start somewhere, and the lack of action previously should not stop us from doing something now. I just wish that these organisation would step up again when censorship is enacted in Germany, Denmark or China, or we will lose Wikipedia for real, because we won’t trust its neutrality.

Personally, I will start by bringing this topic to the table when I meet Neelie Kroes, the EU Vice-President and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda in two weeks’ time as part of a young advisors panel.

That said, happy internet strike day!

Recently Michael Arrington wrote a very open blog post about being fat and wanting to do something about it, which really struck me. He was inspired by the scientific approach of one of the characters in Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, who uses a treadmill while working. The post struck me not just because of Arrington’s honesty about his own challenges, but also because I remember reading the book and having exactly the same reaction. This was really smart, and finally the blog post stuck me, because I’m fat—and, worse than that, I’m fat and smart.

Most people assume being smart and fat are opposites; in fact, you often hear overweight associated with stupidity, which makes it an even bigger taboo to talk about. I’m not fat because I’m stupid; I’m fat because I obsess about things to an extreme degree. In fact, I’m anything but stupid, having started three companies since I was 19, becoming the youngest ever Head of Division in the Danish Government – responsible for the Danish IT infrastructure when I was 30 – and later starting Tradeshift and taking it from 3 to 67 people in under two years. I should by now have proved that I’m anything but stupid; but I obsess, and that can be a problem.

When I do something, I do it to the exclusion of everything else in my life: the only thing in focus is the project – the goal. That is what makes me a great, but also quite uncompromising, person to be around; I just keep trying, keep attacking, keep finding a way to succeed with whatever I’m doing. The only rule is that it has to pique my interest; if it doesn’t, I will never, ever obsess about it and will rarely succeed. If I do obsess, well, then I succeed—every time. Unfortunately, my body has never been one of those things: it has, more than anything, been a victim of my other obsession with trying to change the world (like a lot of other people, family and so on) unfortunately overweight is seen as a sign of low intelligence in most societies today and I have often seen people judge me by my size before they know me, in fact one of the small joys I have is the advantage you can get just because people instinctively think that fat = stupid. That should of course not be understood as me wanting to be fat or that I don’t care about the negative consequences, it’s just that when I obsess about a something I shut everything else out.

That kind of obsession is great when you are trying to build a company—maybe even a requirement: you need to be able to focus to the exclusion of everything else or you will have a very hard time succeeding against the odds. So what to do? For me, the revelation came with the same book that inspired Arrington, but in a different way: for me, it was about the feedback loops. In Tradeshift, one of the things I obsess about is our data; we have data dashboards creating very visual feedback loops on how we are doing, and suddenly, after reading Reamde, I was curious: could I do the same thing for my body? After all, the body is an organic thing, which unfortunately is not built with a set of Bluetooth sensors, but I started researching what was possible today (and, yes, started to obsess a little bit).

Within a week, I found that there were gadgets that could wirelessly monitor and measure my weight, steps, blood pressure and sleep, and finally I needed a way to monitor what I ate. For that I picked WeightWatchers after reading a Wired article about the science behind points. In other words, I suddenly had complete data tracking on everything I did, and it instantly changed my behavior. I can’t wait to get up and exercise in the morning to see if there is an effect on my blood pressure or weight, and I’m curious as to how altering my diet will affect my BMI; and suddenly I can monitor this in near real time.

This made me think… I suspect we are on the verge of a revolution. These tools seem to be only the beginning: What if food could report wirelessly its exact composition in the supermarket? What if we could monitor every aspect of our health 24/7? I know a lot of stuff is already going on in this field, and it’s not my area of expertise, but my instinct tells me that this could be an even bigger revolution than the transformation that tech has made to information and knowledge over the last 10 years, all fuelled by the ability to have computers everywhere in the form of smartphones.

Anyway, if nothing else, next time you see a fat guy or girl, don’t think ‘stupid’; they might just be focusing their energy another way than you are.


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