Sunday, November 30, 2003

In character and out of character
I have been over at Terra Nova today, seeing what the dedicated writers there are coming up with while I am busy looking at other stuff than games. A few interesting discussions were brewing. I posted a reply on one, but I think I want to expand on that reply, so I am doing that here.

The topic was "facism is fun", and it was discussing the idea that players want influence, but facism may be a fun thing in a game. This looks like a contradiction, but I don't think it is. First, the discussion and my immediate reply at Terra Nova:

The thing the experienced roleplayers I played with in Dragon Realms tried to make sure everybody understood was that DR was a GAME. It is not reality, and it shouldn't be mistaken for this.

Now there might be a difference between a game and an online world/community, but I think it would not be healthy if we mistake the community of minds with the community of geography.

Within a community of minds, fascism can be fun! Not because I think a dictatorship is a better way of ruling a country, but because I would enjoy the challenge. I don't think I would be the kind of brave hero to go up against a real dictator - I would not try to assassinate Franco or even Hitler. While I hope I would dare to do My best to undermine them, I am a very mediocre revolutionary, I fear. But in an online community, or in a game, I could try my hand as a part of the opposition.

It might get me kicked by the immortals or administrators, and so what? I can just go through a different server with a different IP address, make a new character and try out a new strategy. I don't need to fear for my children, I don't need to worry that our doors will be kicked in at midnight and my husband shot in front of my eyes to show me the error of my ways. I may get a few nasty emails and perhaps somebody will hack my connection and plant a virus if I have been REALLY bad, but there will be no breaking of bones, no burning house, not even a little Berufsverbot.

I think the connection between In Character and Out Of Character is something we need to remember both as players, participants, administrators and researchers. It limits both what we can do, what we can learn, and what effects game strategies has. It also opens up for the exact same things, just with a different value, a different meaning of the same things in the flesh world.

And yes, in role-playing games, you need evil. "The bad guy" should be accepted, respected and then enjoyed. There's nothing like a good adversary in a game!

Once I had posted that, I realised that both the initial debaters might be right. I wish to have influence while I play, freedom to do what I like online, and to be able to change the systems that surround me. I don't want to be somebody elses pawn and nothing but that. This may translate to democracy, but I think that may be the wrong metaphor. Because I don't really want to have influence on somebody elses rules. When I play a game, I want to understand, use, come up against and perhaps find the flaws in and thus crack somebody elses rules. The freedom to exert my influence and my rights is part of the rules. A game where the rules imply a dictatorship can be really fun because playing it gives so much room for subversion. A game where the rule is "do what ever you like" does not give me anything to do that makes it worth while. Where is the joy of being the head of an underground army to liberate the world from the evil clan of hedgehogs, if the hedgehogs can be removed by simple popular vote and don't fight back?

However: within the rules, I want freedom. I am in the game because I know, among other things, that as long as I am following the rules, I can do anything! If there is no rule against it, it is not wrong. Of course, game culture can imply unwritten or uncoded rules, but that is part of the experience, and you quickly learn what is considered right and wrong - and then you have learned an other level on which to play the game. What bothers me is if new rules are added at the whim of the immortals. That is when a player loses the freedom vital to playing, and the experience becomes frustrating. This is also the type of immortal intervention you find players protesting against - either actively, by organised protests, or passively, by leaving.

So the question is, really, at what level did the two talk about democracy and facism? Seems like I should have stayed a week longer in New York, and attended State of Play. The department would have fallen apart and turned towards anarchy though, if I had stayed away longer, further neglecting my customary position as the dean's left hand, the real architect behind the power....

(OK, I have to point out that I slipped into gaming mode and not professor mode at the end there. It wouldn't have been anything as fun as anarchy, just more of the same bureaucratic boredom.)

Friday, November 28, 2003

Youths and multimedia practice
At Oslo University College, department of journalism, information and librarian studies, I found the doctorate thesis of Helge Ridderstrøm. He is an associate professor here, and has written a study called "På vei til multimediale skrivepraksiser. Ungdommers tekster på Verdensveven i didaktisk perspektiv" or "Multi media writing practice: World Wide Web texts of youths in a didactic perspective." It is about young people's (13-17 years old) home pages, and it discusses style, use and meaning. It is a BIG piece of work, and definitely for people with special interests, but being one of those I was quite happy both to find the dissertation and to meet the man.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Testing, testing...
An other little online toy, by way of Dennis, who is a mastermind...

INTP - "Architect". Greatest precision in thought and language. Can readily discern contradictions and inconsistencies. The world exists primarily to be understood. 3.3% of total population.
Take Free Myers-Briggs Personality Test

More about the INTP personality type.

And the test and typology is at least a hypertext, I am pretty certain it is an ergodic cybertext as well, as with I Ching. I guess a horoscope may be a cybertext as well, but not to the reader who reads a magazine: to the astrologer, who reads the star-charts!
The love of tools
Bourdieu, Pierre: Photography, a Middle-brow Art: "There is an emotional attachment to a camera: I love my Leica both physically and emotionally." (1990:139)

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Blogger Spotting
Over the last two days I have met Dr. Jill, Dr. Klastrup, Dr. Corneliussen, Jon Hoem, Candidate Jopp, Thomas the Librarian and The Real Jesper Juul. Dennis is right, the defense was followed closely in certain parts of the blogosphere.
Quick report; Back from Bergen
I can't report any outrageous behaviour from last nights defense dinner. When I left Dr. Jill was euphoric, but still well behaved, radiant with her own brilliance. Yes, finishing a Ph.D. IS a special moment, a wonderful feat, and I become increasingly convinced that it needs to be celebrated with family, friends, colleagues, supervisors and dignitaries present. Last night was Jill's day, and we were all touched by her energy and joy.

And she deserved a celebration, the two days leading up to it had been sufficiently rough.

The trial lecture was well designed, and Jill is a warm and personal lecturer. That did however clash a little with the genre "trial lecture". While the audience may perk up at the occasional story, her presentation was stronger, more involved and more to the point when she remembered to glance at her prepared papers. She also tended to refer a little much to her dissertation, and lost sight of the relationships between avatars and hypertexts, examplifying more than elaborating. These things were however minor flaws, the lecture was well designed, warmly presented and a perfect occasion for admirers of Jill's light style to spend a pleasant hour in her company.

For the defense, Jill chose a daring combination of different shades of green. She can carry it off, but perhaps it didn't lend her the aggression she could have needed in order to seize the opponents by their well-prepared and well-educated necks? The opponents were gentle, giving their questions the shape of invitations, and in the first session Jill rose wonderfully to the occasion after some initial hesitation. We had the pleasure of watching two sharp, strong women in academic sparring as she and Marie-Laure Ryan explored the layers of depiction and texts. The audience left for the break throbbing with the energy of the exchange, happy and eager for round two.

In the second session some of that energy had somehow left our heroine. Bjørn Sørensen picked a central concept and asked for a clarification, but it turned into one of those moments when all you can say is: "Oh, thank you for elaborating on that, I have nothing to add." Those are part of a defense too, and they should be, or the opponent would not have done his job. Bjørn is a kind and caring man with no need to dwell any further on that, and he moved on, rapidly towards a solution.

The outcome - we don't REALLY know that yet. But after the comittee has signed the papers, I don't think they are going to tear that piece of paper up and send Jill a letter saying it was all a sham. So although the formally correct title is Dr. Designata at the moment, Dr. Jill slips easily off the keyboard and tastes almost familiar on the tongue, the sounds mixing like champagne and caviar.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Email dysfunction
More trouble with the college email. The mail is delayed, and the delay is so severe at times that snailmail seems a better option. This morning two of my colleagues received an email from me concerning something we fixed yesterday. It was three days delayed (and no longer valid). If I had walked down to town and posted a letter it would have arrived earlier. Students who come for supervision and mail their work the day before arrive three hours before their emails. Colleagues at other colleges and universities call me when I don't reply to emails which clearly are urgent. I would like to blame spam and spam filters, but apparently that isn't all the truth. The gist of this is: If you don't get a reply to an email to me, it is probably because it hasn't reached me. If it is really urgent - find some other medium.
Possible Torill sightings next week
It will be possible to catch a glimpse of me running past, a tired-looking middle aged woman with a too heavy backpack and glasses that need to be replaced, in these locations:

Institute of media studies, University of Bergen, seminar for staff and graduate students, Monday 22nd.
Sydneshaugen skole, at Jill's trial lecture Monday 22nd.
Sydneshaugen skole, at Jill's doctoral defense, Tuesday 23rd.
Oslo University College, at the NOLUG meeting, Friday 28th.

This is the last time I leave Volda before Christmas, I suspect, as the week after is when the exams and the grading starts for real here. It feels a little good, really. I know what I will be doing until Christmas and beyond: grading and planning the next semester. I am definitely not out of work.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Not to do...
Jill linked to this page, and I have to admit, I almost failed to see the humour, as I have done quite a few of them during similar situations:

1."Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for the singing of our National Anthem." - well, not for the anthem, but they all rise for the candidate!
4.Describe parts of your thesis using interpretive dance. - Not dance, exactly, but how about a swordfight?
11.Have bodyguards outside the room to "discourage" certain professors from sitting in. - Oh yes, and they were in the auditorium too, ready to jump in and attack in case of an unpleasant question.
37.Fashion show. - Isn't that what is is, really? At least with us vain Norwegian female scholars.
44.Black tie only.
49.Defense by proxy. - the opposition were so kind, that is how it felt!
56.Do a "show and tell".
57.Food fight. - see swordfight
58.Challenge a professor to a duel. Slapping him with a glove is optional. - that's what it is all about!
112.Invite the homeless. - EVERYBODY were invited

And this is something I should have thought of:
138.Have everyone bring wine glasses. When they clink the glasses with a spoon, you have to kiss your thesis. Or your advisor.
Orange energy
I opened this grey envelope from the University of Bergen, and what did I find? A thesis! Thanks Jill, I will make sure to prepare a LOT of questions Ex Auditoria for you!
Geocaching and bookcrossing
An other email (hey, people read this!), this time from Ray Davis at Bellona Times, who suggests that what I describe as a game might be a better description for Geocaching. Perhaps so, as geocaching really is a game, a game of finding something in a remote location, leaving your name and getting a little reward.

There is a sport in Norway that works like that: Cross country running and orientation (?) - people running about in the forest, carrying maps and little cards. They have to hit every point on their map as quickly as possible, there is no track, they have to find the remote and hidden stashes, and then they punch a hole in their card: each point they have to find has a different pattern.

The family version of this takes more time and is spread over a wider area: it is possible to find two or three - or just one - post for each trip into an area, you don't run, but walk, and you spend the entire season searching to find as many posts as possible. And then there is the totally informal version of geocaching: at most cairns in Norway there is a box or a plastic tube hidden, with a notebook and a pen or pencil. When you reach the cairn or perhaps the word "varde" means beacon, you admire the view until you have caught your breath (they are always at a peak) and then search this notebook out to leave your name in it.

But this is a different game from the bookcrossing game. Bookcrossing is also about creating a character for yourself through your choice of books, it is about disseminating a specialised kind of information, and about sharing the surplus of your bookshelf. To many bookcrossing may not be perceived as a game, but as Ray suggested they think of themselves as to be teaching, or to be book reviewers or book lenders.

Me, I am fascinated by the quest. Sadly, Volda holds no bookcrossers, or I would be watching that site obsessively. Knowing people around here, we might get a combination of geocaching and bookcrossing: plastic bags of books left at remote, barely accessible peaks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Say cheese on the cellphone
My colleague Erling Sivertsen has written this article, printed in Bergens Tidende Tuesday. It is on the expansion of cellphone photography, and how photography becomes both more private and spontaneous and at the same time more public and more widely dispersed. Norwegian only, but it is one of the best articles I have seen Erling write in quite a while and actually one of the best articles on mobile photography so far, so for those of you who manage to struggle through the text it is definitely worth it.
Games and selfish pleasures
As I came to work this morning, I found a nice friendly email containing a blog post somebody had not been able to track back here. It linked to the "Read and release" post below, and concerned books and games. I have written and asked for the link to this post, I expect it will show up when the sun (?) reaches the other side of the planet.

This email did set me to thinking a little further on the bookcrossing game, and since the post was in the email, I will quote from it without the link:

But Torill's point for her posting was that in a comment within the bookcrossing website someone had registered 1500 unread books-which turned the whole idea into a game of competition rather than one of reading more and sharing. All this just makes me realize that no matter how far we come in innovative media, social awareness of the ecology and love for our fellowman, there always is what I have come to call the "radar-anti-radar-radar" theory. If you come up with a good idea, someone will find a way to personally benefit from even the most altruistic of intentions.

This is an assumption that giving books away through bookcrossing is an altruistic act. I would say that no, it isn't! When you leave or send away a book through something like it is not charity or love of fellow man. If that is the goal, buy good books to your local library, anonymously. It is in a way a chain letter without the threats. You pass something off to random people and expect to have them cooperate with your needs and desires. You expect them to satisfy your curiosity and build your self esteem through positive feedback to what many of the bookcrossing community think of as "random acts of kindness". Remember that what some people think of as kindness may by others be considered littering, for instance. This doesn't mean that participating is bad: it is fun, others think it is fun, and if the people who find the books don't want to participate they can either keep the book or throw it out, no harm done!

There is very little pressure for participation on the next finder/reader, something expressed in the low amount of books that are registered as "caught". Even if half of the books a bookcrosser leaves randomly are thrown out as litter, from what I can see less than 10% (and that is a generous guess) are registered as caught by random readers, leaving 40% of the books, a large chunk, residing on bookshelves or being passed around outside of the bookcrossing tracking system.

All games have their powerplayers though, and so with bookcrossing. The quote from the community section was probably from one of those. I do not know enough about the real powerplayers to be able to tell. However, all of USA has about 15000 books currently "in the wild", so if an American citizen has released 1500, he or she has released 10% of all bookcrossing books currently not caught/registered in the states. I would say that qualifies for powerplayer status. So this person likes the game more than the reading of books. That doesn't make it more or less selfish an act than what the less aggressive players do. It is just a more specialised way of playing, with a different kind of reward.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Would you prefer to write Norwegian, but can't find the computing terms in anything but English? This should help: Lita dataordliste. You can probably use the different Norwegian dictionaries as well.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Read and release
I have been fascinated by the concept of for a long time. The idea of diminishing the mountain of books without letting the books go completely is very seductive. I have after all spent time with them, touched and paid attention to them for hours, some for days. It is hard to just let them go, and an ID that lets me trace their travels is just my things.

However: Today I was reading entries in the community section, when this comment leapt out at me:

I don't buy books for myself anymore, just for bookcrossing. Now the problem is that, as I'm registering them, I'm thinking, "Oh wow, I've just *got* to read this!"

This is written by a person who has registered more than 1500 books! The rest of the post indicates that the main goal is not so much to read books as to get a high score on the release list. Does this mean that bookcrossing is a game? I can see that it would be. You have those who release and those who hunt. There is definitely an element of quest on both sides, the quest for a nice place to leave a book and the quest for a book out there. The participants have different strategies to make their books be noted, and you can buy or make specialised equipment. There are rules you need to adhere to, and there is an arena that is defined through the release notes - where the place where you leave the book is defined as a bookcrossing zone. The actual reading of the book becomes secondary, if what you do is play this game of catch and release.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Games and intellectual property
Just a quick link to point to GTA's post on Gamer's right to the stories of their characters.

Considering that several of the players I interviewed from the MUDs were testing out plots, character concepts and ideas in the games, this is perhaps a much needed confirmation of the contribution of the players as active participants, not just consumers.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Much as I love using opera, the last months I have found myself relying increasingly on Internet Explorer. This is mainly because Opera 6.x didn't deal with the webmail or with blogger, so I would have to open up IE anyway.

I have just upgraded to Opera 7.0, and it looks like it works. I have checked the different web mail boxes, I have tested the different forms and the websites that tend to get corrupted, and it all looks good. If that trend keeps up, I now have a version of Opera that works! The user interface of opera is so much better than IE that it almost makes me exited. Now, to finish the registration process and lose those stupid ads...

Friday, November 14, 2003

Ilinx Question
I had a lecture on computer games today, perhaps the most intimate in years: Me and three students at the animation education here in Volda. Talking about games I found myself guessing, as I tend to do, at Caillois' category: Ilinx.

I know what Caillois says about it:
Ilinx. The last kind of game includes those which are based on the pursuit of vertigo and which consists of an attempt to momentarily destroy the stability of perception and inflict a kind of voluptous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind. In cases, it is a question of surrendering to kind of spasm, seizure, or shock which destroys reality with sovereign brusqueness. (Caillois 1979:23)

What I do not know is what is a good example for the students to this. What computer game destroys reality with a sovereign shock and not through slow seduction?
An other Brooklyn based photolog, Satan's Laundromat. By way of Anne.

It's cold, the streets are slick and slippery and it is getting darker in the mornings here in Volda. Our house is large and comfortable, nothing like the small, dark and cold apartment I lived in the last three weeks. I love the house, its inhabitants and the view, but I still miss Brooklyn. Or rather: I miss walking out the door and be within a five minute walk of what we consider really exotic businesses, such as nail-parlours, cleaners, laundromats, delis, car services, funeral homes or Starbucks. I guess I would like that on Manhattan too. Or in Paris, London, Berlin (yes, Berlin would be good), Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Rome, Vienna, Amsterdam...

Thursday, November 13, 2003

It is an odd hybrid, a mixture of styles and of stones. Resting above a wide and slow river on the hill of an overwhelmingly populated city it thrones in detached solitude surrounded by trees, tall, arched bridges leading away from it. It is so carefully contrieved, so thoughtfully positioned in order to make place for highways, busses and security systems. The Cloisters attempts to be a medieval fortress/cloister in New York.

We walked through the stone rooms one slow afternoon. The elegant arches that should have led into halls where pillars soared towards the sky opened into flat, confusing rooms. Supports for pillars and vaults rested useless on the wall. Walled in and covered atriums were fenced with a mixture of pillars, stones from different quarries and in different styles - not the organic mix of a row of pillars growing together over time, but the confusing mix of styles close in time but separate geographically, suddenly put together. And the portals and doorways. Each room had a multitude of exits, little stairs going up or down, and lit from stained glass windows in yet an other style.

It was a walk through a fairytale medieval. This was the middle ages not as they would be lived in, but as they are written about or reproduced. Walking through the rooms I realised why they felt so familiar despite the disassociation with the medieval churches and castles of Europe. These were the medieval castles of fantasy. In fantasy literature and computer games there is always a convenient doorway, there is always a glaring gargoyle, there is always a forgotten relief or a beautiful tapestry in a small hall. And there are few fireplaces and even fewer nightpots or pits, toilets in the third floor with free fall into the moat - not to mention a total lack of disrepair. The best part was the gardens, where herbs were wilting as they should in October and old fashioned apples were ripe and falling from almost bare branches.

Yes, it is pretty: lovely pieces of art, singular paintings, treasures of gold, silver and precious stones and elegant manuscripts. And when we left the museum and walked through the park to the subway I noticed, amused, that we had chosen to walk through an area where a remarkable amount of single men were casually strolling or waiting under bridges, close to little paths off into the bushes or just leaning in striking poses against the wall. Somehow their carefully casual presence in the middle of an unkept park in office hours a common working day seemed much more natural and right to me than the contrieved past I had just left.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Girls and games
are a good mix
Salmagundi News
This poor game has been ignored while I have been defending my thesis and waiting for my hands to heal. I logged in today, and it is still there, waiting for me to get back to working on it. I haven't dared checking the notes yet. Not too many of them though. There is a lot I can do while waiting to see if I can find the other builders and immortals, like putting back together the wiki that was ripped apart as we parted ways with our first mud host.

I am however starting to feel like doing it again: that thrill of imagining worlds and arranging for conflicts to come. Just feeling that I have that desire to create makes me feel relieved, as if I am somehow healing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Bartle Nova
At Terra Nova they just welcomed a new writer: Richard Bartle! An other reason to add it to your blogroll if it isn't already there!
I ruthlessly ripped off Jill's list of books to her library, but I had already ordered some of those books for Volda. Still I will just pass on most of that list to my favourite librarian. I think everybody should have a library close by, a library to love.

However, much as I love the librarians at the library here in Volda, not many come up against the librarian of my childhood. I was this wild, undisciplined child who never really knew about the books I read, so when I found this book with the interesting cover called "Two Towers" I borrowed it and the next one, "Return of the King". The librarian warned me it was number two and three in a series, and I really should read number one first. I still borrowed the two books though. That night, when I came home from band practice, there it was, book number one, "Fellowship of the ring." The librarian had grabbed the book the moment it was turned back in by the last reader, registered it in my name and taken it to my parent's house.

It was the first hint that people valued the reading of books, and the reading of books in a certain order. It was also the first time an adult had encouraged me to read a book since I had learned to read. And it was the first time I understood the power of librarians. Since then I have worshipped them.
I just finished the last of two lectures today, and it's still not 24 hours since I arrived home. Luckily I had most of the material I needed for these two lectures and prepared them before I left for my little vacation, but it was still rough. I guess I am starting to become a rather hardened lecturer though. I was able to speak over four different topics to four different audiences in three very different places in four days in USA. Then back home to these two lectures (one only postponed since yesterday, this fall break was planned!) and a little rest before I am off to Bergen for Jill's defense (Which will be a splendid, triumphant affair!) and to speak at the department of media studies in Bergen on games (They are using my title in the announcement. That really tickles me!) - then home to change planes and off to Oslo, for a lecture on blogging.

I am exhausted today, but this is fun too. I find that I am more confident in my own work and my own knowledge, and that this makes me a better speaker. I have more examples, a deeper understanding of complex issues than I did five years ago, and am more able to recognize problematic and complicated apects of theories and texts. In other words: I have learned. Five years of intensive reading, writing and studying has taught me something. Surprise, huh?

Monday, November 10, 2003

Rules for Sjur
A Norwegian blogger with more than a touch of irony, Sjur makes his own Rules for blogging. They are (short and translated version):

I can never talk enough about Foucault.

I must never have a commentary field.

Remember to carry through with the anarchist eliticism.

Remember to use heavy artillery while hunting sparrows.

Be inconsistent.

Oh, and his blog shows up on the windows line with "Because I am smarter than you". All in Norwegian, though.
Too close for comfort
Sometimes, words come too close for comfort. Especially words written and spoken by people who know too much. They become threatening, and remind us of how we have exposed ourselves, made us vulnerable to the ones who happen to be close.

Information is power, and we wish to control it ourselves. This is why it is so hard for humans to open up, and why it is so important for some, like us, the bloggers, to control the information about ourselves. And so we write it out carefully, veiled hints, unspoken comments, little pointers to what we may wish to indicate, but not release to the world.

How much of this information can we really control? Nothing, really. Once our words are in the public domain, they can be linked to, quoted, used and combined without our consent and control. To write and publish is exposure, even if it all we expose is fiction or academic articles. An inventive reader can find anything they like in any text. We know that, it is how many of us make a living! We read, cross-check, hyperlink, quote and refer, and find traces of love-stories in a novel, but also unhappy break-ups in academic texts, or personal obsession in a career.

When we do this to others, we get scholarships for our work. When others do it to us, we feel violated.
The Prom
Goodness! What shall I wear? Jill asks as she is invited to the Prom. Then she invites me, and I am happy and flattered, but unable to figure out what the prom really is.

And today isn't a day I feel like partying. I should have been warned before I left New York really. I spent half an hour on the 200 meters from the security check to the gate on Newark, and they were calling me to the gate before I was through the line. Then in Oslo the plane was late, I came at the back of an endless line for the passport control, and finally the luggage was delayed. So, of course, I didn't make it to the corresponding flight to Volda. Now I am at the airport in Oslo, stuck until 4 pm. I had to buy a new ticket - I had been too cheap as I planned for NYC, and the ticket couldn't be changed. And then, to top it up, I am informed that I have 25 kilo overweight and have to pay half again for the luggage. No, this is not a day for partying.

Instead I hope it is a day for getting work done. I have two lectures in Volda tomorrow, and I have the notes for them right here, on this disk next to the computer. I hope. That would mean that all I need to do is to make a few little connection, floppydrive to wire to computer... But my hands are tired and clumsy, and all I really want is to lie down and sleep. Still, I force my eyes to stay open, determined to utilise the four hours of internet access I just bought at the wireless network here at the airport.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

I was there, really
Just in case more people think my travels are a sophisticated hype, I really did give a lecture at Quinnipiac University and I really did meet Cyborg Mommy and you know, she doesn't have silver latex hair! (although I saw traces of that personae scattered about the house) She is however a very warm caring person with a lot of different interests and at a perfect age! A very good experience!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Blogtalk 2004
I said yes to be part of this, possibly caught by surprise! Since I am still vacationing/travelling/guest lecturing I am a little in the blue about exactly what I will be doing about this, but it looks like it might get interesting!
The secret is out now
I have not blogged my itinerary this time, because Dennis G. Jerz wanted me to surprise his students with my presence here at Seton Hill, creating a scenario where the students would suddenly be confronted with the flesh and blood reality of someone who might be just an other figment of his mind. There was even some questions in class as to if there really was a Norwegian blogger waiting to speak to them, or if this blog was all a fake and Dennis got some woman come in and impersonate me. It might have been!

After New Haven and the visit with Pattie Belle Hastings, I managed to get a nap in New York between 10 pm and 4.15 am - which is when my NYC connection got up to prepare breakfast for both of us before heading for Pennsylvania Station. The train left at 07.05 and I was in Greensburg eight hours later, tired, aching and WAY too warm for November!

The trip was worth it though - I love travelling on trains, and I got to see landscapes I would otherwise never have passed through, only over. Seton Hill is such an idyllic little university, and Dennis is a perfect gentleman - meeting me on the train station with a care package and a lot of enthusiasm. The classes were nice - polite students, even with a touch of enthusiasm! The first class might have been only moderately interested in what I had to say, but they were polite and well-behaved, and sometimes that is all a poor guest lecturer can ask. The second class was smaller and about writing for the internet - and a lot more enthusiastic about what I might have to say. Or just even more polite!

Anyway, it's been great, and when I get a way to edit the pictures on this machine (I AM getting photoshop installed once I am home) there will be pictures to prove that - well, perhaps not that I was really here, but that I took the time to somehow procure or manipulate the pictures in order to convince the world that I may have been here. Tomorrow - Baltimore!

Monday, November 03, 2003

I click through the pictures from yesterday, from the New York marathon, and I discover something that somehow feels almost significant. The first runners hardly touch the ground, they seem to hover inches over the ground, light and graceful, like dancers. Then the further behind the runners, the more of them are touching the ground, one foot, both, still in motion but no longer flying low. At the far back they never leave Terra Firma, not dragging their feet, no, never that, but slowed down as gravity ties them to the grey asphalt. It is like my childhood, when I would dream that my feet did not touch the ground and I would fly.
OK, I am hard at work in the library at Quinnipiac University, feet up, leaning back in a large comfortable leather chair, wirelessly connected to the world. This is the way it should always be. I need to introduce the library in Volda to the pleasure of overstuffed chairs!

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Bryant Park
Feeling extremely cool as my beloved lap top (yes, I have deep feelings for my lap-top, lowly PC as it is and not one of those sleek macs most Norwegian academics sport) here in Bryant Park in NYC. The hot-spot is in the north west corner, and on a warm day like today, 18 degrees Celcius in the shadow, this is a place I could get used to visiting. I'd not mind taking my work out here, chatting with students on the net, reading email, writing drafts and plans while there are people all about me. I like the life, the sounds of the living, the movement and the light, and have always liked the large reading-halls of the University over the loneliness of a solitary room. But now the time is drawing near, I am on my way to New Haven to see Cyborg Mommy in the flesh, and I need to get to Central Station.

They come quickly or they come slowly, they shout and wave or they just focus on movement and breathing. But they all run past the subway station in 85th street, which is where I was waiting just to see, again, the incredible sight of thousands running the New York Marathon.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Yes, I noticed that last night was Halloween. It was an amazingly warm night, perfect for skimpy costumes, and the night was crowded with sexy vampires and their helpless victims. We managed to get to the parade in Greenwich Village early enough for a good spot this year, and the reward was a fun hour of watching wild creativity and bizarre monsters dance before a happy, eager crowd.

The Catch
Today's quick little fishing trip on the net caught me quite a few notable little treasures. First: Nieman Reports magazine: Online Issues. I found this magazine, in PDF format, by way of Clippings. Things magazine is worth a look - a lovely rambling portal rife with links. And then there is the muse, kristina the doktorate student who thinks about blogs, wikis and what not: infomusings blog.