Malcolm Manness

Malcolm is my co-writing partner from Oregon, USA, half of the year he lives in Colombia.

Malcolm Manness has written complicated, tech texts in English together with me, Åsa Stenström, since the beginning of 2017. I trust him to always help me, also with short notice.

I make the interviews and write the first draft. Then Malcolm checks the language and the tech facts. We send the texts many times over the Atlantic ocean before both of us are content with the result.

It’s a really interesting writing process. It makes my work fun and in the end, I’m proud of the results we deliver and to have Malcolm as my writing partner.

I asked him to answer a couple of questions about himself for this blog:

Some facts about you: Who are you? Background, interests?

Well, I was born and raised in New York City.

I was always interested in storytelling as my father would tell us stories at bedtime, some of them made up on the spot. In 1973 I moved to Oregon. I worked in the woods for about five years in a forestry workers cooperative, planting trees and fighting forest fires. I have planted over 500,000 little trees in my career.

After this time, I returned to my studies and completed a Bachelor of Arts and Master in Computer Science. For almost twenty years I worked in the industry as a developer, software Quality Assurance engineer, and technical writer. Finally, I decided to turn my attention fully to writing fiction and photography.

I now live in Colombia half the year and the other half in Portland, Oregon – home to some of the world’s best microbrew beer.

As a sideline, I was writing for a couple of investment blogs, where Åsa took notice of me. One day I got a note: would I like to do English language editing for her? We have been working together since then. I have been pleased that we get along so well.

Why do you think our work is appreciated? What’s the secret?

One reason we get along so well is that we both have a desire for excellence in our products, and are willing to work diligently to achieve it, refining text many times if necessary. Additionally, we both are familiar with technical issues. I believe this is seen by the client who also shares our goals. So the secret lies on both ends of the job.

The jobs you have done so far is about tech. Are there other subjects you find interesting to write about?

Well, I would love to write about photography. And of course, I have my fiction writing. These two art forms give me great satisfaction.

Why should someone ask us to write a text for them?

I think that we make an excellent team. Åsa works closely with the customer to get the details and write the core material. Then I help, but not just with English grammar. My knowledge of tech allows me to see some errors or to explain in a deeper fashion. (Even though I studied software engineering, I took a couple of hardware classes, including Integrated Circuit chip design, so I have an understanding of electronics down to the gate level.)

Finally, what’s happening in your life right now?

Right now I devote most of my time to photography and fiction. I am trying to find a publisher for my mytho-fantasy novel The Songbook of Suomi. It’s based on Finnish mythology (The Kalevala). I spent five years researching to write it.

I am also working on my photography. I recently finished my new gallery of around 1200 best photos. In the past, I have exhibited in three countries, and now am adding a fourth as I will have four photos in a rotating exhibit by the local art museum where I live in Colombia.

And, of course, I hope to continue collaborating with Åsa Stenström.

Malcolm’s short-short story blog

Malcolm’s main photography gallery

Short facts

  • California
  • Length
  • Area
  • Population
  • Density
  • California
  • 1.240 km
  • 423.970 km2
  • 40 million
  • 88,9 people per km2
  • Sweden
  • 1.572 km
  • 447.435 km2
  • 10 million
  • 22,7 people per km2

When people from the USA go to Sweden, they often notice that most of the Swedes can communicate in English. That’s because we learn English from an early age in school and we consume much popular culture from both the USA and England: music, tv series, and movies. One thing that separates us from many other countries is that we keep the original language and have subtitles in Swedish when we watch tv series or movies from other countries. That’s part of the reason to why Swedes, in general, know English.

Since we consume a lot of your culture, it’s natural that we in Sweden feel close to the USA in many ways. We laugh at many of your jokes. We read the news about your president, school shootings, and wildfires. We wear similar clothes.

Sweden is good at IT: Minecraft, Skype, and Spotify are three examples, but there are many more. Many IT entrepreneurs dream of going to the USA and more specific: Silicon Valley in California.

There are big differences too. For every Swede that considers getting a job in the USA, it’s a new and probably rather weird experience to realize that there’s no such a thing as free healthcare, five weeks vacation or 18 months of parental leave. We live in a society that takes more responsibility for its citizens.

We went to California in March–April this year. We were curious about what it would be like for real. Lots of what we experienced were very similar to what we are used to in Sweden, while other things surprised us.

Bigger roads

Every road has lanes in California! Also, it’s not just two lanes in each direction, it’s very often four lanes, sometimes even more. Of course, we have roads with lanes in Sweden too, but our roads are in general smaller. When we had to cross a street by foot in Millbrae, and there were four lanes in each direction, it felt like running against the clock, ”would we make it before the traffic lights turned green?”. I mean, when we go to Stockholm, which is the biggest city in Sweden, we feel safer as pedestrians. In Sweden, you find the roads with many lanes in areas more separated from where the pedestrians are.

Also, the Swedish traffic signs are better from a pedagogy point of view. It’s easier to understand and follow the Swedish signs. We did understand the traffic signs in California, and we got better at it from practicing, but when we came back to Sweden and drove on the big roads in Stockholm, we noticed the difference even more.

Drought and wildfires

Even if California is warmer than Sweden, we share the problems with drought and wildfires. California’s situation is worse than the situation in Sweden, but the issues are real also in Sweden.

2017 was the first year when the lack of groundwater started to become an acute problem in Sweden, and it got worse during 2018 because we got so little rain. This summer the farmers couldn’t get feedstuff for their animals. The queues to the slaughterhouses are longer than ever. The crop on their acres is poor. I remember reading about the farmers in California and their problems with water supply, and now we have similar problems in Sweden.

With the drought comes more wildfires. At one point, in July, we had about 100 fires going on in Sweden at the same time, which is a new phenomenon for us.

When we drove between Sonoma and Santa Rosa in early April, we saw some of the burnt areas. At first, I noticed that some of the mountains had another color, could it be after the fires? Then we came closer and passed through areas were the black remainings of trees and bushes were on both sides of the roads. When we reached Santa Rosa we passed one ward after another were all the houses were gone. Empty. Nothing. It made a significant impact. We didn’t know what to say; it was so sad to watch.

I thought a lot of that while the wildfires were active in Sweden. It’s one thing to see the forests burn down, that’s bad enough, but when the fires reach the houses where people live, it becomes much more horrifying.

Since we live on the island of Gotland, we are even more vulnerable than the rest of Sweden. We had a big wildfire in 1992, and no one wants to relive that experience.

Gotland is made up from limestone, which means that our bedrock is full of cracks so that the water runs through very quickly. We have to get better at keeping the water on Gotland. Another way is to desalinate seawater. Since 2017 we have one desalination plant at the east of Gotland, next year an even bigger desalination plant at the south-west will start to deliver fresh water in June.

Eating out

Yes, you have many fast food chains in California, but we have quite a few in Sweden as well. One thing that I noticed and appreciated is that you also have quality franchise chains which are not so common in Sweden. One example is Mary’s Pizza Shack. I thought it was a genuine original restaurant that we visited in Santa Rosa, and the Italian food was delicious. Then I found out that there are many Mary’s Pizza Shacks… Another example of a quality franchise is the Mendocino Farms Sandwich Markets: so tasty, fresh sandwiches, made of locally produced ingredients. Great concept! We had lunch at the Mendocino Farms in San José.

We ate some great meals in California, the best ones in Santa Rosa. At the same time, food culture is very similar in California and Sweden. For example, the food served at Bird & The Bottle in Santa Rosa was much like the food we get at Amarillo in Visby, Gotland.

Something that was tricky was the American way to add a tip. In Sweden we tip as something extra, to show that we are pleased with the serving staff, but it’s okay not to tip. The staff will get paid even if we don’t tip. To know that the employees depend on the tip, like in the USA, creates a more stressful relation to the payment.

I was also a bit uncomfortable with the custom to give us the bill as soon as we have said that we are pleased and want no more to be served. In Sweden, the staff is more discrete and won’t push you to leave the place once you finished your meal, as I think they did on the restaurants in California that we visited. Except that, the servants were very friendly and polite.

Make the bed

We stayed at four different places, one private house, three hotels. I never found out the bed-making logic. We make our beds the IKEA way. One sheet at the bottom, then a blanket or a cover inside a duvet cover – the kind that is like a bag. That is how they do it at Swedish hotels as well. In California, every place seems to have their own, individual way of making the bed.


When you stay at a Swedish hotel, the breakfast buffet is generous. You get all kinds of yogurt, granola, cornflakes, and müsli. Knackebrot, freshly baked bread loaves, and bread rolls. Smoked ham, smoked turkey, salami, a couple of cheeses. Boiled eggs, bacon, small sausages and fried potatoes. You get coffee and handful choices of tea, often loose leaf tea.

At the hotels we stayed in California, it was more like one kind of bread, fruit yogurt, marmalade, Philadelphia cheese and maybe some smoked ham. I think every place offered the possibility to make waffles. Coffee and tea bags.

In general, it’s easier to choose a healthy breakfast in Sweden.


No, Roine and I don’t surf, but it might surprise you to know that we see surfers on the beaches of Gotland. They become a more common sight for every year. We had windsurfers already in the 70’s, and it was quite popular. Lately, we see more of wave surfers, kite surfers, SUP and even surfboards with a small motor.

The most fanatic wave surfers look for the big waves that we get during the winter storms. Hardcore surfing.

Also, we see that the surfing culture in California inspires restaurants and bars on or close to our beaches.

Apple released the first iPad in April 2010. The response was lukewarm compared to when the world saw the first iPhone. What was this new thing, a big iPhone? What’s the point of that? It seems like this suspicious attitude is kept alive, even though the iPad is found to be useful by many.

Microsoft came up with their ”iPad killer,” the Surface which is like a laptop touchscreen hybrid. Some people praised that solution, ”finally a way to combine keyboard office work with a touchscreen” and they smiled towards Apple’s iPad because it was just a touchscreen. (Though, the Surface has not been a success)

I never understood that way of thinking. To think like that you have to believe that working is similar to using a keyboard and Microsoft Office programs. That is so narrow-minded! Work consists of so much more than just writing texts, creating spreadsheets or projector presentations.

Many use iPad in their work

The interesting question is: how can we make use of the iPad’s touch screen in the best ways? It turns out that many find smart ways to use the iPad. I have seen many small shops that use an iPad and iZettle as their cashier function. I have seen those who work for the fiber company when they walk in the terrain to find out where they shall lay the fiber cable by using maps on an iPad. I also know about excavator operators that use maps on iPad to check out their position as well as taking photos with the iPad to document the jobs they do.

The interesting question is: how can we make use of the iPad’s touch screen in the best ways? It turns out that many find smart ways to use the iPad. I have seen many small shops that use an iPad and iZettle as their cashier function. I have seen those who work for the fiber company when they walk in the terrain to find out where they shall lay the fiber cable by using maps on an iPad. I also know about excavator operators that use maps on iPad to check out their position as well as taking photos with the iPad to document the jobs they do.

It seems like if the iPad is excellent in those situations. I bet there are much more ways to use the iPad that I do not know.

Big screen – even more fun to use!

I got my first iPad in autumn 2010, and my latest iPad is an iPad Pro that I bought last year. I love my iPads and especially my iPad Pro. I use my iPads for reading books, reports, and magazines. I think it is great that I can mark a word and easy check what it means in the inbuilt dictionary. I also like that, depending on which app I use, I can highlight words, write notes in handwriting or type, and adjust the size of the letters.

What I love the most is to draw and paint on my iPad, and when the big iPad Pro came, it increased the quality level. When I use the Apple Pencil together with my iPad Pro, I can draw with precision, and the result has high resolution so that I can use the images professionally in print works or when I design shoes and bags, which is my hobby.

When I got my iPad Pro 12,9″ the screen size was a lot bigger than my other iPads. On the one hand, that means that it takes up more space when I go to a meeting or travel, on the other hand, that has never been a problem. However, the bigger size could, of course, be an issue for some people and one of the advantages with the smaller iPads is that they are so small that they fit into even tiny bags.

On the upside, the bigger screen means that it became a lot easier to work with details when I draw and paint. When I read standard documents in A4 size, it is almost as reading the printed paper version. The big screen also invites others to take part of what the screen shows – it now makes sense to lay it out on the table during a meeting with a few persons because now the screen is big enough to see it even from a small distance. This feature is convenient when I, for example, create mind maps on a meeting.

The office programs, what about them?

I prefer to use Apple’s programs: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, but I also have Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, though I only use them when a job requires it. I advise everyone to use Apple’s apps because they come with so many benefits compared to using Microsoft’s apps; everything that is Apple works so smartly together.

One example is that when you use Pages on the iPad, your documents will be stored in iCloud. If you use Microsoft Word, the documents will be stored in OneDrive. I have used both of those cloud solutions, and iCloud is a lot more reliable in my opinion. I have also asked others about OneDrive, and it seems like they also find OneDrive less reliable and a bit harder to use. I could write more about why you should use Apple’s apps, but that will be enough for a whole other blog post.

A great workmate

What I want you to know, is that an iPad is a great workmate in so many ways and the benefits are not that you can work with texts on it, it is all the other great, fun and useful things you can do with it. Those things that you cannot do, or cannot do as easily, on your computer.


Nowadays most people are aware of the need to work with your brand, but how do you do that? Guy Kawasaki is a man who has worked a lot with branding. This slideshow is a simple overview of how to work with your brand. Nothing strange, just simple cleverness. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than this when Guy explains.

He tells a little bit more about each slide on Linkedin.

I learned to known about Guy Kawasaki during the late 80’s since I am an Apple fan and for a period Guy was Apple’s Chief Evangelist. I have read his book The Macintosh Way which is about that time and it caused many smiles of recognition, since I was part of that history as being one of many Apple users. If you want to read the book it’s available as a free pdf.


Later I read the book Enchantment which is about how to enchant your customers. Something that I like about Guy is that his message is never about forcing one’s offer upon people, on the contrary, the goal is to make people so excited that they really long to buy what you offer. I like when people come to buy with their own free will.

I’m impressed by his constantly kind attitude. I have written e-mails to him a couple of times and he has answered most of them. He even answers in a way that proves he has read what I wrote. How many celebrities do that?

In conclusion of this blog tribute I give you a TED speech with Guy, The Art of Innovation. Enjoy!

I saw this excellent video at Mitch Jackson’s  blog Trial Lawyer Communication Tips for EVERYONE! Thank you Mitch!

Jay Bear says so many clever and clear things about social media in this video. I really wish that a lot of people should watch it. There are so much to learn. For example, ”if you sell, then you get a customer for today – if you help, then you get a customer for life”.

Jay also talks about his job as a speaker and a coach. He says some smart things about that too!


Jag såg den här fantastiska videon på Mitch Jacksons blogg Trial Lawyer Communication Tips for EVERYONE! Tack Mitch!

Jay Bear säger så många kloka och tydliga saker om sociala medier i den här videon. Jag önskar verkligen att många ska titta på den. Det finns så mycket att lära. Till exempel, ”om du säljer, då får du en kund idag – om du hjälper, då får du en kund för livet”.

Jay pratar också om sitt jobb som talare och coach. Han säger några smarta saker om det också!

Videon är på engelska, men eftersom Jay är så tydlig i sitt sätt att prata att det är ganska enkelt att hänga med även om du tycker engelska är jobbigt.

Doctor Eric Bender runs Bender Optometric Group in Tustin, Orange County, California. His old homepage focused a lot on technique and medical pictures. We have introduced a new way to communicate which is built on the idea of using pictures with ”happy customers” that will make presumtive customers feel good.

Åsa created the visual idea and she also did the copy. The great photos is shot by Gary Bender, Eric’s dad, who is a professional photographer.

We got the job through our cooperative partner and project leader for this job, Niklas Myhr. He is professor in social media and international marketing at Chapman University. He’s coaching Eric in how to use social media, blogging and to handle the website.

Niklas and Åsa are about to launch a book about social media very soon. The first edition will be in Swedish.

  • Contact: Dr Eric Bender
  • Project leader and text editing: Niklas Myhr
  • Visual idea and copy: Åsa Stenström
  • Web designer: Roine Andersson
  • Photo: Gary Bender, Tustin California

Jony Ive says one of the best things ever about design in this video.

– I think one of the things that you get a sense of, is the degree of care. How much did this group of people care to make this and make it right? And they didn’t just do it for themselves, it’s in service for the people that are gonna use and buy the product.

– Part of the human condition is that we sense care. Sometimes it’s easier to realize that you sense carelessness.

This is brilliant and it explains a lot about why some of us react strongly to bad design. When you work with graphic design you meet all kinds of reactions to design. We meet people that say that they ”don’t want any design” on their website or print work, like if it would be possible to not have any design on something? Even if you write some words with a pen on a paper, it gives a visual impression and tells us something about the person who wrote it and the situation.

I find it offending when some companies have bad design on their websites or print work and the reason is what Jony Ive said: I sense their carelessness.

Of course, even if you care, you might don’t have the resources to show how much you care, but even if you don’t have the money to hire for example, eh, Jony Ive, you can still care enough to show style on the level you’re operating from. Some companies manage to show a lot of care in how they design small things in non expensive ways.

Other companies have buck loads of money and should be able to show how much they care about their customers, but they still don’t get it. In stead they show other things, like how smart they are or that they have managed to add yet another feature to a product that never has and never will be designed in a way that makes people feel that they care about their customers.

One problem is that I think some people think of bad design as caring, because they believe that good design is expensive and therefor, they think that a company that cares about their customers, should never ever use good design, because if they do, they spend their money in useless luxury. Which is a paradox.

Then we get to the next thing about design: it goes hand in hand with function. The best design is so well thought out that you don’t think much about it when you use it. It just works and it makes your life easier.

When a company don’t care to create good design it might show that they don’t spend their money on the luxury of design, but what in fact happens is often, possibly always, that their website is difficult to use, people get mad because they can’t figure out how the company’s products work or they simply don’t work… and over all what comes out from that kind of companies is not crisp and clear. Sometimes you can’t even understand what it’s all about because of bad design.

Design is a lot like choosing the words you use to express something. If you care about your message, then you should also care about the words you choose. You sense carelessness even more when someone combines bad design with bad language or misspelled words. It’s all part of the visual signals that we pick up in order to understand how to evaluate everything we get exposed to.

Now I have to read the book about Jony Ive that I have bought, but not yet found the time to read…

When I coach someone and when I help companies to develop a marketing plan I often try to get them to mirror themselves in someone or something that is alike, because when you do that it suddenly gets more obvious who you are and what your values are. Features that are hard to recognize because they otherwise are so natural. We call it ”home blind” in Swedish. You don’t see yourself with an outsider’s eyes.

Therefore I have read the blog written by the students from Business in Scandinavia (Chapman University, Orange County, California) with delight and interest. They have written about their journey to Scandinavia, including Gotland. I have picked a couple of interesting examples, but if you search on their blog you will find more thoughts worth to consider.

Yuka Tomita writes about ”Humble Volvo”:

”Throughout the day it became clear just how much Volvo adhered to doing business the “Scandinavian Way”. When asked questions as to how Volvo compared to competitors or whether the company made superior vehicles, the response was along the lines of we’ll show you what we do, and you can make the judgment for yourself. There was no bashing of the competition, or inflation of their activities and products. In all public presentations, there was more of a simple relation of their competencies and innovations, which all gear towards improving the driving experience.”

In Sweden we often say to each other that we have to get better on selling ourselves, dare to brag a bit more, highlight ourselves and sometimes we even say that we need to become a bit more ”American”. Then Yuko comes to Sweden and emphasize humbleness as a positive quality among Scandinavian companies. Maybe it’s because she’s from Japan and for so many years we have heard that the Japanese and the Swedish culture have a lot in common? But, what if humbleness is something that might impress on the Americans? That the Swedish way to be humble is an advantage and not a disadvantage when we meet people from cultures where they are used to bragging? Just because ”everyone” in a country behaves in a certain way it doesn’t mean that everyone living in that culture likes the way it’s done.

Jay Woraratanadharm writes about ”Survival through Adaption”:

”In a rapidly evolving world of technology, people nowadays are doing more things on the go and utilizing their mobile devices more than ever. The result of Nordea’s new strategy namely in the form of continued profits will be unveiled in the future but I believe that they are making the right change in doing so. When we walked around the Scandinavian countries, we noted that public transportation is everywhere. People are not as likely to stop at a physical store in order to conduct their transactions or even perform inquiries.”

Jay connects the Swedish public transportations with the idea that it makes it more necessary to get solutions for internet banking and bank-apps in their smartphones. I never thought like that. Well, I have thought that people who travel by public transportations probably use their smartphones a lot, but to think that the transportations makes it’s less possible to stop here and there to ran errends, like going to the bank, that thought was new to me. But, when I read his thoughts about that, I also start to wonder if public transportations makes Swedes better at developing apps for smartphones?

Scott Shaffstall writes about ”Green Tech? Try Green Culture”:

”These countries and cultures are not perfect. But this, to us, is a somewhat smarter world, a somewhat better world. It is a world that many around the globe could learn from. As business students, we too often focus on profits and on… profits. But if you cannot look your fellow man in the eye and be proud of what you do, if you cannot look around your cities and wilds and see that your grandchildren will enjoy the same splendors that you have… then how are you really profiting at all?”

Scott and Jeff was exploring the prevalence of green tech during their journey in Scandinavia and discovered that it’s more about a Scandinavian culture colored by a green way to think. This makes me proud! I think that most of us who lives here thinks more about what doesn’t work and how we can make it better and forget to be proud over the things that we already have performed. We are actually quite good at thinking green in Sweden and it’s possible that we are even a little bit better here on the island of Gotland!

Jessica Price writes about ”Scandinavia Adventure: Endless Summer Daylight and Meat and Potatoes”:

”The passageways were dark and the steps were thin and there was rarely any light. What was unique about this experience was that there were no rules or regulations. Staff members weren’t even on hand. Rather, there was a small sign that said “Climbing these passageways is at your own risk.” How awesome, we had the freedom to explore! It was eye-opening to me and it was a little weird not having someone watch over me. I felt like a kid again! I noticed that throughout Scandinavia there was a freedom to explore.”

Jessica explored the old part of Visby on her own and got delighted when she found out that she could climb in church ruins without anyone watching over her. She thinks that people and companies in US are afraid to give that freedom to visitors because they are afraid to get sued, but here in Sweden we trust that she can take care of herself. My heart gets warm when I read her story.

Read more about their experience of Sweden in their blog! You will find a lot of interesting thoughts.

Det är vi som är Stenströms Information & Marknadsföring

Kappelshamn, Gotland, Sverige, Europa och Världen

070-7414615 •
Åsa Stenström

Åsa Stenström

070-7414615 •
Roine Andersson

Roine Andersson

070-7278393 •