Thursday, May 28, 2009

Etiquette and netiquette

As new tools are available to us, we need to learn new ways to use them. It seems like cell-phones and text messages is the new "issue" in manners at the moment. The article in NY Times is a very good example of how we need to develop new ways to integrate the new technology in our lives.

At our table, texting is no problem. Not that it never happens, but if you receive and send a text message at the table with our family, you're expected to share the contents. It becomes part of the family conversation. Often the sent messages are communally authored, or the person may receive the response from somebody else than they wrote to. That's a pretty efficient way to limit the texting, whoever does it. Sometimes it's nice too. Discussing the most recent cute picture of my daughter's kitten or the urgent issues at work are both typical dinner-time conversation topics anyway.

So yeah, I am more in the Danah Boyd camp here, where technology is integrated in the rituals of everyday life, rather than one of those with tech-free zones and blackberry-free hours.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Just to hang out

Like so many others, I have a facebook account. No shock there, hmm? Also, I play games on it! No shock there either, I guess! The facebook games are small and fun, but most of the time I find that I play them for the same reason I play a hand of cards or participate in the yearly winter games at the department (last day before christmas). I play because I want to connect with the people I play with.

And so I send and receive flowers, I read and do quizzes, I buy and sell friends, I bite and get bitten, and I have a little dragon that occasionally tries to help her friends. Poor little thing, robbed of all gold and dignity, but she still tries!

It's quite amusing, really. This is perhaps the oldest use of games in existance - playing in order to enjoy connecting with others - and it is still a revelation to discover that we do it in yet another medium.

Monday, May 25, 2009

End of spring term

Just to let you all know, you who think teachers don't work when you don't see them: We do. So when you all have dropped off your papers and gone off to get a summer job and wait for the grades, we work day and night to get everything done within the deadlines. And if you feel the grades are published slowly, it's not because we're not working. We are reading like maniacs, right up to the moment you learn about your grades.

And then we do some more assessments, and start planning next term, so you have something to think we're dodging next year, too.

Yeah, I know, a touch bitter here, but after yet another student claiming that "a little bit more work can't kill you", it feels like yes, actually, a little bit more work is exactly what would kill me right now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


And thanks to Alex Halavais for linking to this article, which finally made me feel understood.

Games Convention Online

Despite the title, this is a convention over online games, not an online convention. Yeah, it confused me at first.

It's a grandly planned conference over online games in Europe, taking place in Leipzig. Despite having travelled extensively in Germany at one point, I never went to Leipzig, and checking the map I realised why. Most of my travels in Germany happened in the late 70-ies, early 80-ies, and my only trip into the then East-Germany happened in 1981, with a trip to Berlin, East-Berlin and Potsdam.

This is an extremely interesting part of Europe, which I have neglected visiting since travelling with children made it harder to jump on a train and roll through Europe for days on end, stopping at random places to sleep whereever there'd be a cheap hostel. Now the children travel quicker, lighter and easier than me, being the age I was when I was exploring Europe by the railway, and I am worried about not having booked hotels in advance. Who'd have thought the map of Europe would change so much, just in the time it takes a child to be born and grow into an adult?

Anyway, this isn't about Europe, it's about games. At the same time I wonder, can it not be about Europe? Or about Asia, Africa, Oceania, Australia or America, for that matter - it's all about culture, change, humanity and society.

I'll be talking in this session:
„Nutzung & Potenzial“:
In diesem Themenblock der Konferenz bilden die Nutzungsgewohnheiten, -präferenzen und -folgen auf Spielerseite sowie die damit einhergehenden Erwartungen, Chancen, Herausforderungen und Risiken den Schwerpunkt. Faktoren, die die Angebotsauswahl und Spielenutzung beeinflussen, sind ebenso relevante Themenbereiche wie aktuelle Nutzungsmodi, Genrepräferenzen, tatsächliche und potentielle Vergemeinschaftungspotenziale und Spielzeiten. Damit einhergehend sind auch Fragen exzessiver Spielenutzung zu thematisieren. Zu beachten sind die Potenziale von Online Games und Mobile Games etwa für Sozialisation und Berufsfeldkompetenzen

However, when I can, I'll sneak over to this session:
„Gesellschaft & Politik“:
Im dritten Stream sollen die gesellschaftlichen Auswirkungen der steigenden Nutzung von Online und Mobile Games im Zentrum stehen. Welche Debatten in welcher Form in der Öffentlichkeit geführt, und welche Risiken und Möglichkeiten den Spielen zugeschrieben werden, können eine differenzierte Sichtweise auf das Phänomen erlauben.

Auch die regulatorischen Herausforderungen, die sich aus den Spielinhalten und -formen, der aktuellen Technologie, der Vereinbarkeit von Erlösmodellen mit dem Verbraucherschutz und den veränderten Rollen der Akteure sowie den sozialen Komponenten der Angebote ergeben, werden hier Thema sein. Zudem sollen die bisherigen Reaktionen von Gesetzgeber, Regulierungsbehörden und Politik diskutiert werden.

And if you want to see the topics in English, you'll find the program here. Me, I am taking this opportunity to start brushing up my German. It used to be much better than my English - before those two young adults were born.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Slowed shock

12 days ago my mother died. When I learned of her death, I sat there, expecting a jolt of some kind. Nothing happened. Then I started taking action. Apart from the persons who found her, two of the wonderful neighbourhood ladies who looked in on her after they started worrying, I was the first to get the message. I had to talk to a lot of people very fast, then figure out what to do about the practical issues surrounding a death.

It's not something you can rehearse. It's not something I had researched. Even now, when it's all done, I shy away from it. I don't want to remember the details of what I needed to deal with.

My mind is very busy shying away from topics right now. It knows there is this big minefield, and stepping into it needs to be done carefully. I loved my mother, but I was also incredibly angry with her. Much of that anger was justified, but now I can let it go.

All of this takes time, my mind tells my brain. The brain wants to get on with things. I have always had an impatient brain. But the mind has a - well - can a mind have a mind of its own? Not really, huh? Anyway - I want to move on, but since I am moving through this mindfield of issues that slip into the past with each step, everything is slowed down.

And that's actually what I was getting to today. Just takes some time to get there.

So, this post is to tell people who wonder why I am extremely passive and out-of-the-loop that no, I am not that passive, I have this mindfield I need to walk through. I am ok. Just slow.

(And yes, at first it was a typo. But sometimes my fingers are smarter than me. It is a minefield of the mind.)

Friday, May 01, 2009

The sense of the absurd

Sometimes, truths can only be spoken through the impossible, the absurd, ridiculous and surreal. For my funeral, I would like all to act like dadaists. Don't even try to make sense, and please, put the established objects to new use. And if you feel you need to throw something in some grave, don't use flowers. Throw seeds.