Saturday, June 30, 2001

I don't know where my brain was when we discussed reality TV. This is the ultimate reality TV, and the format og Big Brother is taken from here and dramatized, to be a little more exiting than watching jenni live her life in full view of the world.
OJR Tools of the Trade: Content Management for the Masses
This is what the future for the media look like:
Hybridization is underway that blurs the line between high-end publishing systems and what can be had for cheap to nothing.

This is why it doesn't pay to publish online yet, and it's what the net-news-net-works need to consider: it's possible to communicate the content you like at a much lower price than your big neighbour, and equally available, if perhaps not as elegantly designed and presented. The future will lie in efficient search-engines, recirculation through linking, hybridisation and composite media. Online, the user will be hunting for content unlimited by the edges of the paper.
It's been a slow week work-wise. Good thing i have the interviews to work with. listening to the voice on the recorder
Hello Jonathan!

Wednesday, June 27, 2001
It's opened, Jill's journal... or rather, the number of the online magazine LocalMotives or which Jill has been co-editor. Some articles in Norwegian, some in English, want to take a look?

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

This quote has annoyed me for a couple of days: I think that Joyce and Gutenberg were both artists, but only Gutenberg was an engineer, Joyce was a writer. However, I have a problem with the definition of engineer, would you consider a programmer an engineer? I consider a programmer - a programmer, and a type of writer, one who writes programs.

This is the annoying quote:
You couldn't see it at the time, but Joyce was a highly skilled technician, tinkering around with the book-machine, making it do things it had never done before. His contemporaries saw him as an artist (or a pornographer, depending on who you talked to), but from our vantage point, he could just as easily be a programmer, writing for the printing press platform. Joyce wrote software for hardware originally conjured up by Gutenberg. (cut by me) Gutenberg built a machine that Joyce souped up with some innovative programming, and Joyce hollered out a variation on a theme originally penned by Gutenberg himself. They were both artists. They were both engineers. (1997:2-3)

from: Johnson, Steven (1997): Interface Culture; How New Technology Transforms the Way we Create and Communicate, Basic Books, San Fransisco
NETTAVISEN DATASPILL: Quake er ikke realistisk
Somebody have discovered it: Quake isn't realistic. The world is a safer place now.

Monday, June 25, 2001

Sometimes I read articles which just annoy me. This morning I read three of them in a row, all in the same journal: Syn og Segn, an old and important Norwegian Culture Magazine. The topic was "Digital intimacy." I had tea and read articles, and soon I had learned that I chat online because it constitutes me as a subject and a human being, that the need for updates is what's killing journalism when it gets online, and this according to the author is a totally new thing, never happened until net journalism (hey, I thought radio journalism was about continuos updates, and radio is a pretty old medium by now), and last - that Artificial Intelligence research aims at recreating the visions of The Matrix, where we will be plugged in to converse with "the rational man" developed in MITs labs. I particularly liked the last argument: it's about as valid as medicine having Frankenstein's monster as the ultimate goal. Which they might have, of course, what do I know about the secret conspiracies in the medical field?

The URL for Syn & Segn is - for some reason it won't connect today

Friday, June 22, 2001

OK, I'll take the time to celebrate my luck, and instead of forcing myself to write an other three pages while my head hurts, my shoulders tense and make my hands hurt and the sun shines totally neglected, I'll go rest the parts that need it, and use all that lovely sunshine for something sensible, like worshipping it!
I am such a lucky girl! OK, so I am not a girl, I am a woman grown. But today the sun is shining, my husband didn't protest when I called him at 4 am to pick me up after the department had celebrated/mourned the end of an other semester, I just learned that I get my leave from the department for finishing my Ph.D. extended with four months (yes, I will keep my paycheck in the period) and I just got a big nice chunk back on the taxes instead of paying the almost 30 000 Nkr they wanted from me. Yep, I feel lucky!

Thursday, June 21, 2001

University Business -- March 2000
an other article on the phenomena, this in English.

I guess I should feel outraged. I am struggling to take a real degree, and people are getting the same recognition I may get, through paying from 500 - 2000$. I am not. There's too much value put in a piece of paper, and too little in real knowledge and ability. If people are able to fake the competence of a Doctorate, then perhaps somebody should have a long hard look at what kind of jobs require Ph.Ds.
In the series of internet hoaxes: there are fake universities out there! This Swedish page reveals some of those bluffs, the page is in Sweedish, but a lot of the links lead to English pages.
The fact that I don't really need a wearable computer doesn't mean I can't want one!
GameSpot: QotW: What Makes an Online Game Successful?
According to their own poll it's all about "Fun gameplay". Not fancy graphics, not compelling stories - gameplay beats it all. This is why King's Quest II is still considered the classic, why Tetris hypnotises its users still, and why simulated board-games actually have a future on computers. They are fun and easy to play. Almost too simple to be true, right?
The Webby Awards: People's Voice
Do you like the fact that blogger is a free service and allows you and me indiscriminately our own voice online? Vote for them for the webby-award!

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Huizinga and Caillois are playing their disagreements out in my head, while Brian Sutton-Smith leans back and comments, with a more familiar late 20th century voice on the rhetorics of the imaginary and the lower play functions of fantasy or phantasmagoria, a patchwork of philosophy where the common pattern is play, poked at and focused on in his The Ambiguity of Play.
New Players, New Games I found this link on Lisbeth's site, and she found it somewhere else.... yep, it's all about - no, not stealing, sharing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

some information on building MUDs
Heartless Bitches International
Just a link for those of my friends who feel like they belong... and for anybody else who like satire, irony and sarcasm with a feminist twist.
Hypertext Poetry and Fiction
Technology and Utopia
Electronic Communities Syllabus in Business studies. Interesting angle for me.
Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies
Sounds useful!
I just learned that my work on computer games (the norwegian book which preceeded the one I am writing now) has been referred to by Glen Cameron in the more recent edition of Public Relations: strategies and tactics. That's neat! Reminds me that my work can be useful for more than just finishing and relieving stress.
There's an odd little quirk to blogger these days which makes it impossible to read some blogspot hosted blogs using netscape 4.7*. Using Internet Explorer or other versions of Netscape doesn't get you kicked past the page you're looking for, using 4.7* gets you kicked on to a page which can't be found.

Odd. I think it must be the influence of the Empire - they need to strike on other areas to maintain their control of the Et'Thalior court now that the players are deserting the gaming site. (To me, that's as good an explanation as anything else which might actually be wrong).
I looked in on Lisbeth's blog today. Sometimes I wonder if there is a difference between personal and academic. In presentation there is a difference between what is work and what is private. I do not wish to give in to the development of the tyranny of intimacy as Sennet describes it, where the front stage is pushed back until it contains the private sphere.

However, I do believe that the production of knowledge is very personal. Our minds, hearts and even, yes, bodies, are involved in the process. It's why it is so easy to feel like you love the one who shares your interests, who really understands your academic progress. If you are unhappy, it will show in your language, in your conclusions, while your satisfaction and happiness might very well ruin your ability to think critically.

I don't think this is good or bad, I think it just is part of being a scholar. It's not a career, it's a life - something which the Norwegian State knows how to take advantage of, that's reflected on my pay-check.

Monday, June 18, 2001

two interesting links:
resources on MUDs and particularly MOOs
an article from january this year on MUDs and online gaming in Gamespy.
Aarinfel is struggling to stay open until the administrators have reviewed and redone the theme, and in the mean time three of the main creators of Aarinfel are creating Azhad, modelled on the original Aarinfel idea of a game of politics rather than high fantasy. Azhad is supposed to open July 9th.

Aarinfel is a frustrating experience now, no administrators to see to the daily running of the game: no backgrounds approved, no new players losing their newbie status, no plotlines approved, no favour points given for exellent role-play - the world is frozen in a situation where there can be no change, and as such the players have no influence - no power over their situation - or agency I guess Janet Murray would say.

Knowing this, Azhad is discreetely recruiting the oldest and/or best players. Logging on to Azhad is like going three-four years back in time. Not all the original people are there, but quite a bit I haven't seen for the better part of a year. It's like figuring out where your old friends have all drifted off to hang out. Odd.
Back at the office after a surprisingly sunny week-end. I am distracted by some very physical space, there is nothing virtual about it at all. Friday we learn if we get to buy the house we have made a bid for. If so, the summer will be spent selling two apartments and making the third space (not Soja and Thirdspace) livable before winter closes us in again. That's what's on my mind this Monday morning. Time to get my head in writing mode, though.

Friday, June 15, 2001

It's back up and lovelier than ever - but it doesn't agree with netscape 4.72 - or at least not the version on my machine.
This Norwegian journal has links to some articles on new media and the public sphere. Habermas, anybody?
Endelig anarki - men det blir dyrt!
the Norwegian game Anarchy Online is here! I have to finish this writing and get back to the important stuff - like playing...
Back from Selje, and tasting how it feels to be planning for the next semester. It was a frustrating experience not to write, but an interesting experience to discover that the seven years I worked at building a Public Information Education were not wasted, and I still know what I am want to do with that education and why. I also realised/remembered how tired I was when I got on leave. I remember wanting to hide from those wonderful people I will be working with. A break makes all the difference.

I'll be making a blog for the education though. We keep having these informal discussions and ideas about topics which can develop into anything: themes for student papers on all levels from 3-page papers to 100 page dissertations - and because we're just four people all up to our necks in teaching, administration and research, nothing comes of them. Better to put them out there and see if somebody else might want to use them - or disagree with us and attempt to disprove them.

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

This fall I am officially no longer on leave, and I will teach again at the Department of Media Studies at Volda College. That's why I am off today and tomorrow, to plan the next semester. Wish me luck and many intelligent and self-reliant students.
I had forgotten I loved my topic this much! I am writing of the aesthetics of games, and to do that I have to write something about the fantasy genre. That's always been a pet project of mine, and now I get to use it for the computer games.

The point is: these games exist not in a social and cultural vacum, but as part of a larger cultural sphere. They can't be described isolated, and they don't grow out of the ancient fairy-tale archetypes. Tolkien might have drawn heavily on that - in this millenium we have an industry to produce fantasy archetypes for us.
Noah Wardrip-Fruin
I just checked his page - I loved today's picture of him, he looks like an eccentric inventer/engineer from last century.
Noah tells me he has adjusted the Impermanence Agent, and he's right, it doesn't pop up on top of my desktop as often as it used to. Because of the lag I get when using it as a proxy in the late afternoons Norwegian time, when the US is awake and working, I make it a morning thing, using it to (distract) inspire me through the early day quiet in a college where all the students have gone home.

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Jill at times reflects on why people blog. She is the one who got me into this, and when I didn't give up after the first couple of tries, as so many others, I keep returning to the why.

Lisbeth was interviewed about it in a Danish newspaper, and at one level I agree with her reply. I write to be part of a community of researchers, part of an ongoing dialogue. As a Media scholar working among other things with the public sphere and theories of democracy and publicity, I can pull out Habermas and say that blogs are the new voices in the free public discussions, supplanting the café as the site of the rational argument. I think this is true, and I think that is why I and so many others go on blogging, why we write and share everything from links to opinions.

I also have selfish reasons for blogging. I think better when I write. Sometimes, I need to get rid of thoughts, and then I write them down so that I can go on. When I was 16 I wrote down the names of the boys I was in love with. If it was one I happened to hate I would burn the note afterwards, and feel like I had some kind of closure. Now, when I am in love with a thought, I can write it down. That lets me examine it when it doesn't expect me to look at it. I can sneak up on it at a time when my head is busy with something else, and I can surprise it in a different context. This will let me see my newfound love, the virginate idea, in a different light, and I can see its flaws and weaknesses, as well as its beauty. And I can move on, let the ones which are not worthy of being taken home live on somewhere outside my head.

No, I don't think I write only my bad ideas here. But some ideas just don't fit with what I have to think, write and do today. Later perhaps I will return and woo the idea again. If it has been a little tease in the mean time, and found a new home with one who can appreciate it more - well, there are more thoughts streaming from my fingers and into the blog.

Monday, June 11, 2001

In 1998 I was a participant of a role-play game for a week, living in a tent and wearing costumes I had made myself, eating food made over an open fire and praising myself lucky that I was allowed to use a modern sleeping-bag.

At that time, Espen asked if I thought he could come to watch. I told him that there wouldn't be much to watch for outsiders, and that they didn't really permit any passive audience. Today I finally was able to write down why, how role-play games are different from traditional performances - and why I still think they are performances where there is an audience, even if they are not "twice-lived behavior" as Richard Schechner calls it.
According to a poll done by Women's Own and quoted by Dagbladet, one of twelve women would be willing to sacrifice a bodypart - a limb - to have the perfect body. Now isn't that an interesting statement of a total lack of logic?
Klastrup's Cataclysms
An other angel to my rescue, Lisbeth has the Caillois-book as well, and can mail it sooner than Ragnhild, who e-mailed me from Tsjekkia. I might actually get on with this chapter this week, and almost keep my schedule!
Noah's impermanence agent keeps peeking up at my screen, the images constantly changing and catching my attention, mingling what I look at with the story. This is interesting and evocative. For somebody like me who write as much as I do while online, it's really annoying though. I constantly have to click the screen to get back to my writing and get that agent away from what I am doing. I wonder if there's a trick to using it I haven't caught on to yet

read my blog, and offered to help me get the Caillois-text. Thank you, you just gave me back the faith in the web, as well as made my day! (not to mention the wonders you did to my week!)
Blogger is doing it again.
I just wrote a long post about the week with Hilde, Janne and Els, and user-oriented research on computer-mediated content, and Blogger just sent it off into nowhere - lost, without trace. Why does it never behave like that if I copy the text before I hit post?

Sunday, June 10, 2001

Interactive Telecommunications Program
This looks like an interesting site, with an emphasis on the user. After having spent the last week with The Lom School of Digital Media Research I am delighted to find that there is an entire Center at NYU dedicated to user-oriented teaching, creation and research.

Saturday, June 09, 2001

Friday started as a horrible day. I was to talk to my supervisor, and get a few things done first, in a hurry.... and I was late to town. One of the things I should do was deliver a book: Roger Caillois: Man, play, and Games which Hilde had picked up at the library for me. I wanted to re-register it in my name, sweet and law-abiding as I am. The book is a classic of the work I am doing, and I was in the middle of using it. It's been sold out for years, and it won't be republished until October, and I needed it right NOW, because it belongs in this chapter which has to be done in two weeks!

The reward for being good was however to be told that: "no, that book is reserved for an other." I COULD have just brought the book with me to Volda, copied it and returned it, and they'd never have known I did something illegal, but I wanted to re-register it and do thing formally, saving them the cost of mailing it to Volda, even. But no, the reward for being good was being told that I couldn't keep the book the time it was registered for even, since I was stupid enough to give it into the hands of the librarian. I was almost crying in front of the counter.

I went to their computers to order the book through the Norwegian Library Network (Which I now realised I should have done in the first place), and to Amazon to try to buy the book. That's when the cell-phone rang. It belongs to my husband and I never wear it - only for this trip so he can reach me. And of course, since I was in a library I ran out of there immediately. It was my supervisor, telling me he was late - that's when I remembered I had left my backpack with all my keys, money, cards, disks, notebooks and safecopies of the PhD thesis inside, so I ran in to pick it up. That lead to me facing three angry librarians all yelling at me to GET OUT OF THERE with the cellphone! I wasn't even able to apologize, I just ran.... but I grabbed the backpack first.

It was hell. And I still need the book. Luckily I know that Volda College has the sweetest and nicest librarians in the world, or I would have never dared to enter a Library ever again.

Wednesday, June 06, 2001

I am in Bergen, spending the week with three other women and PhD candidates, all of whom are working with computers in some context. The three others, Hilde Corneliussen, Janne Bromseth and Els Rommes are all relating their work to gender, an angle I am aware of, but not making explicit in my research. It's wonderfully creative and interesting, and I hope I will return from this with my mind filled witht thoughts and ideas to inspire and assist me through the efforts of finishing the thesis. I certainly need that.

Friday, June 01, 2001

The Mud Connector
You got the itch to Mud, the urge to Quest? This link takes you to where you can reach your goal.
A good link on how players online think a good game should look, Raph's page. Thanks for slipping me the link, Adam.