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iKjeld.com was born in 2000. The “i” stands for “I” as in “me, myself”, but also internet, information, intelligence. As the internet evolved, iKjeld went through several drastic transformations. When iKjeld first started, you could actually visit pretty much all the web sites about Japan. Those days are long gone, compelling me to rethink iKjeld’s reasons for being. What should this site accomplish and why? What kind of contents should iKjeld offer? I sat down for a long think and jotted down a short manifesto.
The Internet has dramatically increased the ability to find and share information. The enormous volume of information now available by simply typing a few words in a search engine and clicking relevant links is way beyond what we can possibly digest.
This overabundance of information, however, has not brought more depth and understanding. The average news item is shorter and shallower than ever, and the sheer number of sources makes it impossible to know which ones are reliable and trustworthy.
This trend appears especially clear in regards to Japan. Many large news organizations have pulled back their Japan correspondents and now depend on sources which exist solely for the sake of profit. They push short attention grabbing items of the latest news over longer insightful articles that create understanding and assist in discovering long-term trends.
At the same time there is a very large number of people who live in Japan, both native-born and from abroad, prolifically publishing articles, photographs and video clips in blogs, social networking sites and other ways. In a very disturbing way, there is both silence and noise at the very same time.
In order to be relevant and useful, iKjeld therefore aims to:
1. tell well-researched authentic stories that transcend the usual stereotypes.
2. tell these stories directly from the source whenever feasible.
3. make use of visuals that enlighten, and enhance the written word.
4. reach a public that may not have otherwise access to this information.
5. provide reliable resources to allow further independent research.
6. organize this information in such a way that it visualizes the whole.
iKjeld aims to accomplish these goals by:
1. writing original stories accompanied with visuals (photos, video clips, other).
2. introducing (passages from) relevant publications (books, sites, blogs, other).
3. relaying personal impressions and observations from assignments.
4. listening harder and looking deeper.
On many occasions, good information will make a difference for the people involved. Through my coverage of the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan for example, enormous funds were donated. These funds directly assisted the people who needed them most. I know, because I assisted in getting some of the aid funded by my photos to the people in need.
I am a curious optimist. I want to understand why people, including myself, do certain things, and how things come about. Understanding, if well-implemented, can prevent some of the disastrous mistakes we make. It can also lead to ideas that improve life. On earth, or just yours.
Usually, insights gained from your own observations weigh much more heavily than those from serious treatises. Thanks to my collection of thousands of vintage photographs of Japan I finally truly comprehend how the automobile has destroyed our neighborhoods, cities and living environment in general. Until then it was an abstract idea.
Often, I find, it is the small things that matter most. Don’t expect many deep philosophical musings on iKjeld, or hard political analysis. That is for other people to practice; I prefer to keep things pure and simple. In general I’d rather talk with a mother than a prime minister, a “man on the street” instead of a celebrity.
I have created iKjeld because I believe there are more people like this… If you are one of them, I hope you will join me on this journey of discovery.