The History of Norwaves

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By Morten Flate Paulsen

NorWaves and NorWeave were established in 1993 by students and faculty at NKI. The initial aim of the services was to use e-mail for distribution of information about Norway and for facilitation of communication between friends of Norway around the world.

The services have always been provided by volunteers. However, in 1994, Norwaves received a NOK 3,000 Goodwill Grant from ANSA (Association of Norwegian Students Abroad) and a NOK 5,000 grant from Nordmannsforbundet. In June 1995, the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave NKI a NOK 20.000 grant for the operation of Norwaves.

The Norwaves idea was conceived when I lived in Pennsylvania from 1990-92 and realized how little news I received about Norway and how much I appreciated the little I got. So, when I returned to Norway in 1993, I contacted Karin Bruun and Ragnvald Berggrav at the Norinform press office who agreed to provide Norwaves with news from Norway in English. The NKI Internet College ( provided computer resources and students for the project.

The first issue of Norwaves was published in January 1993. After that, a current issue was distributed as e-mail almost every week until November 1998. A typical issue included ten pages of news from the previous week. All these issues are available and searchable in the Norwaves Archive.

The 23 first issues were published by Andre Kristiansen, Jan Erik Hermansen, Rune Østebrød, and Per Ståle Straumsheim. These four NKI students had successfully completed their challenging project assignment--to establish an international electronic newsletter that presents news from Norway in English. They did an excellent job installing Listserv, the software used for e-mail distribution, and establishing the Norwaves distribution list. Further, they established the news service and operated it for the first twenty issues. They also attracted nearly three hundred subscribers from about 25 countries. Later, after one year of operation, Norwaves was distributed to about 1000 people in more than 25 countries.

Norwaves received many requests from subscribers who wanted a discussion forum. So, we established NorWeave as a moderated forum for Norwegians and friends of Norway in September 1993 as a supplementary service to Norwaves. The network, which had several hundred subscribers, was established to provide mutual help and support as well as to share information of interest to the Norwegian community. Norweave was first moderated by Kathleen Fletcher, later by Thor Larsen, both of them volunteers living in the US.

From Volume 2, issue 1 to Volume 6 issue 31, The Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided most of the news presented in Norwaves. We received the same news on a computer disk via landmail that was distributed to the Norwegian embassies via fax. The six first issues in volume 2 were published in Norwegian.

Some of the issues in Volume 3 were provided by the Norwegian Embassy in Washington. In Volume 5, issue 3, Paula Ford wrote this in her Guest Editorial:

"This issue of _News of Norway_ (Volume 52, number 1) has been provided to readers of Norwaves by its acting editor, Lotte Glad. She forwarded the newsletter on disk to Paula Ford, who uploaded it and sent it to Morten Flate Paulsen, who forwarded it to Norwaves readers. Isn't technology wonderful? In the near future, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, DC, expects to be connected to the Internet, so the newsletter will hopefully be sent directly to Norwaves without passing through central Pennsylvania."
In August 1995, the editor established the Norwaves web-pages with back issues of Norwaves and links to some useful sources of information. These web-pages were available until April 2000, when the editor reintroduced as a portal aiming at presenting information about Norway in many languages.

As a conclusion to this short history of Norwaves, I have quoted volume 2, number 47, in which the Editor wrote the following status description:

"In 1994, the number of direct subscribers to Norwaves increased from approximately 500 to more than 1,000. A few of these are redistribution lists and archives. In my opinion, Norwaves could have several thousand subscribers if more potential readers knew about the service. The publication is, however, not well known in Norway and I am surprised how hard it is to get any publicity on Weave&Waves when other Internet issues are omnipresent in the media. I am accordingly disappointed by the lackluster interest displayed by Norwegian agencies and organizations that rely on international relations.

The 1994 issues have been snail-mailed as disk files from the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to NKI for formatting and distribution. Even though this might seem old-fashioned to you, I am very pleased with this service.

In March 1994, probably as the first electronic journal in Norway, Norwaves was assigned an ISSN number. In addition, the National Library "Nasjonalbibliotekavdelinga i Rana" has chosen Norwaves as the first electronic journal to be archived according to the Act of June 9, 1989 "Lov om avleveringsplikt for allment tilgjengelige dokumenter". As a result of this, all issues of Norwaves should shortly be available in a full- text database that is searchable via Internet.

Norwaves is still operated by volunteers. Our 1993 application for financial support from the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs was turned down. So far, we have not received any reply to our May 6, 1994 application. We have, however, received a kr 3,000 Goodwill Grant from ANSA (Association of Norwegian Students Abroad) and a kr 5,000 grant from Nordmannsforbundet. We really appreciate the support from these organizations and interpret it as a recognition of the importance of our work. The money is, however, not enough to pay for the operation of our services, so any additional support is most welcome.

We receive weekly requests from people who would like to receive news in Norwegian as well as in English. My answer is: Yes, we could probably quite easily distribute a Norwegian version - if we had the necessary financial support. This is a topical issue in the current Norwegian debate on whether a language that is withering online could become extinct.

In my opinion, Norwaves is a valuable resource for English teachers in Norwegian schools. Stortingsmelding 24 on Information Technology in Education aims at providing all primary and secondary schools in Norway with Internet access. So far, only an estimated 80 schools are online, but the number will increase rapidly as a result of the Information Technology Plan which is due from the Ministry of Education (KUF)in April 1995.

In November, Thor Larsen succeeded Kathleen Fletcher as moderator of Norweave. Kathleen did an excellent job and I very much enjoyed working with her. Because of her devoted effort and the personal networks she nourished behind the scenes, the quality of the list excelled and the number of subscribers increased to more than 600. Kathleen, I wish you all the best in the future.

In volume 2, number 36, Kathleen distributed one issue of News of Norway, the monthly newsletter produced by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C."


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