Thursday, August 03, 2006

Latvia portal opens, blogsite develops


A new portal, www.latvia.lv partly funded by European Union regional development funds, was officially opened on August 3. The site consists mainly of links to Latvian ministries, municipalities and other sites containing a wide range of information about Latvia, Latvian history, society, media, regions, tourism, etc. etc. The site, sponsored by, let's call it the e-government Ministry (it has some god-awful tongue -twisting name both in Latvian and official English) and put together with the help of the Latvian Institute, will continue to add links as time goes on. The whole thing cost LVL 808 000 so far (unless I am mixing up figures) and will cost an additional LVL 57 000 to upgrade so that people can log in with their e-signature cards. The first ones have been produced and given to all members of the Cabinet of Ministers. Ordinary citizens will be able to order their e-signature smart cards after the signature becomes legally binding on September 1. Each user will also be able to personalize a "workspace" with links to just the e-government services he or she may need.
The e-signature card, by the way, has a happy version of some South Park character, see above.
While at the portal presentation, a lady noted to me that her portal www.vietas.lv also contained lots of information, was commercially financed and apparently didn't cost as much as half a dozen Hummers. While she asserted that it always popped up on Google, vietas isn't what comes to mind when you are looking for Latvia, especially as a foreigner planning one's first trip to the Balkans now that the wars are over :) :).

Meanwhile, my other blogsite, the Latvian language blogs.24x7.lv is turning into (your name or nick) blogiem.lv (which means "for blogs".lv). The site is energetically run and maintained by a young Latvian IT specialist, Kristaps Kaupe. His IT skills are good (though he could borrow some simplified linking and quoting icons instead of presuming everyone speaks HTML :) ) and he writes some geeky stuff in Latvian. Kristaps political views, however, are , in my opinion, pretty much loonazoid, a word I made up to suggest, well, pretty strange. The thing is that if you read Latvian and check out the blogs, they seem to have attracted both his geeky and loonazoid friends and acquaintances. So there are folks discussing arcane IT stuff as well as simply utterly weird stuff called BUNGLE GUZZLE ZUNGLE or something like that, where the dude never writes more than two enigmatic sentences. But, according to Kristap's counter, this one is often in the top five....ZIGGLE BUGGLE NOOGLE....
Anyway, I think of myself as a hipster who kept a lot of 60s attitude, but maybe I am missing some wavelengths here, or the drugs have moved on to new spaces and places.. 8/.
The serious point being, we are seeing a blossoming of all kinds of subcultures in what is a real Latvian blogosphere, not only blogiem.lv, but other sites, and there is a significant shift of attention (of which we can only give around 16 hours per day) to these new user generated content sites and communities.

7 comments:

Reinis Traidās said...

Umm, yeah, blogiem.lv seems decent... if it had any design and layout AT ALL. As much as I love simplicity, these huge chunks of text just need some err color... life!

Juris Kaža said...

I think the problem is that Kristaps is spending a lot of effort on keeping all kinds of bad stuff from (spampings and all that) from getting in the back door and paying too little attention to the user front end. Why not a simple link button like Blogger.com has? I have not experimented with any of the pre-existing layouts he has for fear of f**king up my own blog, but some of the styles others have are not bad.

Jurģis Ķiršakmens said...

latvija.lv - so 90ties...

reinis traidās said...

I dig latvija.lv on the other hand. The design is nice, simple, but well layed out, readable and with sort of small cartoonish feel to it. There are a few fugly (fat+ugly) and misplaced tables that would appear to come from a webdesigner that has been in a come for that last 8 years, but the overall look is quite pleasing.

Reinis Traidās said...

Grammar! Layed out = "laid out" and "coma" instead of "come".

Bleveland said...

Just arrived in Latvia a few days ago and this morning we were connected to the World Wide Web. That's one less thing to worry about even though I am connected through the l**Zzzzers at Internet Pasaule (the owner of the apartment we rent has I-Pasaule)... well Pasaule (means world doesn't it?)... they are really living in the past since my connection speed for al web addresses outside the Republic, let’s call it "the world", is limited to stone age levels (256 Kbps). On the other hand every web server in Latvia that I access goes with a breathtaking 4 Mbps :-D Fair is fair, it works flawlessly for more than 12 hours.
Anyway I took up my Pocket Loox 720, a PDA equipped with WiFi, and logged on to my own access point. I was amazed how easy it was to navigate on latvija.lv (using Opera for Windows Mobile). That is of course due to the already mentioned somewhat nostalgic layout style, but it surely has its advantages. It amazes me even more that this latvija.lv project had to cost as much as it already did and even more will do, but I guess some people got very happy about that and who am I to deny them the pursuit of happiness :-))

karlis said...

A very interesting and critical opinion on latvia.lv by Mr. Laacz whom I consider one of the best IT related bloggers in Latvia. Sorry non-latvians, its in latvian.
http://laacz.lv/blog/2006/08/11/mazliet-par-latvijalv/
Something just smells so wrong with this project....