Tuesday, December 30, 2008

About research blogging

This autumn there was a slight stir in the Norwegian blog arena, as the forskning.no, the web site associated with the Norwegian Research Council, started a blogg with invited guest bloggers. Jill criticised the style and approach, while I said "yes please, and can I bring some friends?" when I was approached and asked if I wanted to blog for them.

It's the "bring some friends" part I am the most happy about, and it's also starting to spread on the blog. At first we (Ragnhild Trondstad, Kristine Jørgensen and me) were the only ones who blogged under a common name - spillforskerne, "the game researchers." Now there are more groups popping up, such as the sports researchers and the welfare researchers.

At the beginning, the blogs were an odd mix of too long and too heavy articles which could just as well have been printed in a journal, and too light articles which looked like "sex-in-the-city-goes-to-university." Now, a few months into the project, most of the bloggers have learned. Today's blogger is a typical and very good example. He's the dean of the medical faculty in Trondheim, but just before Christmas he slipped on the ice, fell, and broke 4 ribs. This leads to reflection on his field - medicine. A personal experience combines with his expertise to a process of contemplation and reflection which leads to sharing with others.

While this is not exactly blogging about ongoing research, it definitely communicates research. He links to other people's research, he puts it into a larger context, and he personalises it through sharing his thought process. By doing this he also describes how integrated research and reflection is in the life of researchers. He opens up to the process. Instead of spending his time dwelling on his considerable pain, he searches for a distraction through his job. Most researchers recognize this feeling. It's why we work until we get repetitive stress injuries, until we burn out, or until we are numbed with pains from the neck to the butt.

Also, he answers the question "when do you get time to work?" We get time to work all the time. Most of the researchers who publish regularly, who search for new projects and are active in their fields display a deep and abiding interest in the field, and can work while having a conversation with their children, going for a walk, or reconvalescing after accidents.

Of course, this means that we never really get to work. When you have the job pulling at you constantly, you're also constantly interrupted. The child does not want to listen to your lecture, your partner needs to talk about his own things while walking, the painkillers takes away your ability to really focus. Not to mention the distractions during the work hours. Students, lectures, meetings, colleagues, phones, assessments, reviews, deadlines, budgets, equipment - where are the ivory towers when we need one?

All of this is very nicely displayed on forskning.no. The system used for blogging is still not the best, and the approval process is comparably slow. But it has a good balance between the personal and the professional, it presents the people behind the research, and it's the most popular page on an already quite popular website.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It's the week before Christmas

Everything is slowly falling into place. The subject for which I am responsible this spring is taking shape. I have a few interesting dates for lectures and other public appearances in place. I am for instance scheduled to be part of Faltin Karlsen's defense in January. There are a couple of great people coming here to talk to the students. The book is finally out of my hands, and with the publisher, not to return here until in March, when the publishing date is.

I will be insanely busy during the Christmas week, but it will be good busy. I have to write a first draft for an article on e-learning and games, and for this I am planning to follow up the topic of theorycrafting and crowdsourcing. This means I have to read up on literature on how to be a better gamer, and test the theories out in World of Warcraft. Oh, the sacrifices we do for research. It all falls into the cross-over community topic I started to look into for the IR 9.0 conference in October 08, and aims at more work on collaborations and participation using multiple platforms. More about that later, I hope.

A lot of the work I am doing on games is now slowly falling into place with the work I have been doing on social software and the social web. Patterns are emerging in ways that makes it a lot easier to, for instance and rather unexpectedly makes it easier to lecture on Public Relations - which I am now doing regularly again after a break while in Umeå. I have always been in love with the process of seeing connections, caught in the web of knowledge as I am.

Now it's finally stopepd raining, after a week. The storm has relented, and I am optimistic about people coming home for Christmas. I'll be celebrating in one of the few spots the family controls which is still free from internet access: my mother's house, where I grew up with the most beautiful view I have ever lived with. It will be busy, messy, loud and not peaceful at all. But it will be a very different kind of mess, and I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I am currently in Ulsteinvik, half an hour away from Volda, but I could just as well have been on another planet for the distance from daily demands. The information education with our connections have left those mundane demands behind, in order to think and plan. This year we're looking at information technology, the Public Information/PR business, and the educaiton, and have a couple of guests.

Eirik Langås visited from Making Waves to talk about their practice and give examples of their online design projects. Right now I am listening to Pattie Belle Hastings, who is talking about teaching interactive media.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Less women than 25 years ago

According to New York Times there are less women in computing - or at least in the educations - than 25 years ago. And it's not just about building the right game to use to draw them in.


It's December 1st, and the kids have started hinting at what they want for Christmas. In that spirit, I have been trying to figure out what I want.

New umbrella.
I just went to Oslo and was dressed for cold, but ended in rain, with no umbrella. Home I checked the family store of umbrellas. We have loads of them, but only one or two that actually work, and none of the broken ones are worth repairing. So, a new umbrella, one with patterns and colour, strong enough to endure wind, but small enough to fit in the computer backpack.

Alice B. Toklas cookbook.
I got one years ago from one of my sisters, and I loved it. So did one of my friends, and she loved it so much it never returned. I'd really prefer to have the missing one back, but the recently published Norwegian translation would be good too. And no, I have never tried the brownies.

A red purse.
I have found the perfect shoes (despite not being able to search Copenhagen for them in October) for the Christmas parties this year, and now what I lack is a purse to match. As age progresses, I find that I need somewhere to put my reading glasses when I go out! So it has to be just big enough for a pair of glasses, some cards, cash, keys and a cellphone, and a deep, rich red. Yep, I have seen some already, but I just can't bring myself to paying 6-7000 kroner for something I'll use 5 times. Then I'd rather save the money for a lap-top for when I work at home, a semi-portable one that would be perfect in front of the television - but not really on the road. I'd use that probably about 340 days a year.

And that's where it stops. Somehow, my desire for more objects into my life has become quite limited. Sure, I'll be happy for presents, and there are things that make my life easier. I am starting to accumulate shopping bags, for instance - little nylon ones that lie peacefully in the pocket until I go shopping and say a slightly smug "no thank you" to the disposable plastic bags. Now, one may ask if it's better to have several nylon bags than plastic, but I have seen it work: bringing a bag keeps the content of the plastic-bag drawer down.

And that brings me to what I really want for Christmas. I need to unclutter my life. It feels like I just accumulate, rather than throw away. So if you have a brilliant de-clutterer...