Aapo’s selected works

Please note that only a small fraction of Aapo's projects can be shown here in public.

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Light a Candle

Sytytä kynttilä

What I faced

  • In 2000 I visited Leipzig and read about the Peaceful Revolution. The East German revolution and rejoining West Germany was achieved through a series of peaceful protests against the authoritarian regime of East Germany.
  • I had an idea for a site where visitors could light a virtual candle, either to support a cause or to remember their loved ones.
  • I searched for a site like this, but found none.

What I did

  • I decided to create a site myself.
  • Just lighting a candle proved not to be enough. There must be a way for people to type what they’re lighting the candle for. This makes the candle mean much more to the visitors. It seems many people have a need to publish their candle. All this happened way before social media became mainstream.
  • This kind of site must be done with good taste, very little if any advertising and paying respect to the visitor’s grief.
  • The site was designed to be in Finnish only. This is because peoples’ candles are often related to public events in each country, and it requires some knowledge on that country’s culture and events to be able to evaluate whether or not a candle is suitable for publishing. I did not have the resources to do this in other countries except Finland.
  • Initially the candles were published immediately. This worked surprisingly well. But then someone lit a candle to the death of a popular pop singer. However, this singer was not dead. The next day this ‘death’ was on the front page of a big newspaper. After this event I started reviewing all candles and come up with a couple of simple rules for lighting candles.
  • I wanted a way to light candles without requiring my approval. Most of the candles are lit for events in the media, such as school shootings or big accidents. I added a way to light a candle to support someone else’s candle. These candles do not require my approval and they became very popular very quickly.
  • In 2010 I moved the page to its own domain, www.sytytakynttila.fi. ‘Sytytä kynttilä’ is Finnish and means ‘Light a Candle’.

What came of it

  • The site has been up for 17 years (July 2017). Some events, such as school shootings, have received over 10 000 candles.
  • The site has been in the news about 10 times, a topic of two PhD studies and receives a spike of users whenever something targic happens in Finland.

Current status

  • Up and running.