Friday, July 30, 2004

Blogging from Boston
A very good article from the Washington Post tech column Filter, Bloggers type it like it is in Boston. The article contains a long, long list of links, and has the qualities of a really good blogpost: researched, contextualised and with personal opinions.

Free registration needed. I have no idea how long until they archive it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Games and health
Remember Dance Dance Revolution and weight loss? Seems like there is another game out there, Yourself|fitness. Is it just me, or does the personal trainer resemble Lara Croft?

Game found by way of an article in
Reading at risk
The Reading at Risk (pdf) report from the American organisation National Endowment for the Arts describes the decline of literary reading in the United states.

The report has already been exstensively blogged, but I want to point to two responses. Matthew G. Kirschenbaum drafts a response to the report on behalf of the Electronic literature organisation. This is a polite and levelheaded response, pointing out that reading on the screen is reading, too, and that literacy is not necessarily declining just because the reading shifts from the traditional paperbound novel and onto the screen.

A more knee-jerk response is Mia Consalvo's reading of the report, but this is a response I fully sympathise with: Reading is down, let's blame video games. Gaming is being blamed as a too simple solution to the problem of "entertainment".

I would like to know how many of the people who write reports like that
1) read electronic literature
2) play computer games
3) use the computer for keeping up with news
4) use the computer to chat and network

One little thing the report does mention, and this also comes up in their press release:

Contrary to the overall decline in literary reading, the number of people doing creative writing increased by 30 percent, from 11 million in 1982 to more than 14 million in 2002. However, the number of people who reported having taken a creative writing class or lesson decreased by 2.2 million during the same time period.

This indicates that the role of the reader is indeed changing. Perhaps Barthes was more of a visionary than he thought, when he envisioned the death of the author, and we are heading towards a society of participants, as I keep mentioning.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Norwegian Fetish Divas
A website named Fetish Divas, owned by women working in different areas of the erotic/pornographic industry, has commented on an article in the Norwegian women's magazine KK - Kvinner og Klær.

The article, in Norwegian, but scanned and linked to from here, basically makes the women behind FetishDivas and several established porn magazines stand out as stupid bimbos, according to the site. The female editors of pornographic magazines can hardly be stupid, it isn't like this is a job that only requires a pretty smile. And Anniken, photographer and fetish diva site owner, writes an angry mail to KK.

Years ago I noted that the computer gives women more power over the publication of their nude pictures. At one hand, of course, you have to remember that the net means a picture of you can be published over and over again in a million different contexts. At the same time I have met several women who have their own pornsites where they do all the work of publishing and photography as a group, and who share the costs and of course, the money. No pimp between them and their audience.

Now the net gives voice to the women in the established business. A place to talk back as persons, not just as stereotypes caught in the set structures.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Do I exist?
Occasionally I am told by online contacts that I am not real. I can't be, I have to be a male geek trying to fool the world. Occasionally it feels like they are right. Today is one of those unreal days. I am barely in touch with reality, tired and far from the things that anchor me to the solid rock I am used to seeing at all sides.

But my pants feel tighter than they should be. That wouldn't happen in unreality, would it?
Equal Share
Frustrated with the options of the US presidential election? Seems like you are not alone!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Woman Crossing
Satan's Laundromat has a great little collection of pictures from Manhattan, with stickers as art. This is my favourite.
Gaugin and Van Gogh
I was going to reply to Anne's question: Which person in a painting would you like to talk with, and I was looking for a picture I vaguely remembered to be by Gaugin. That's when I stumbled over this lovely little site from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, telling the story of Gaugin and Van Gogh. It is a little slow for me, and I towards the end I feel a little bored with moving through it the way they have planned it, but all in all this game-inspired ergodic pedagogic text of music and pictures is very pretty and definitely one of those windows you like to see on your monitor.

As for who I would like to talk to?

I think this woman, in the Blue Interiour by Harriet Backer.
Optimal experience
I keep reading work by Csikszentmihalyi, trying to figure out if I think his work is a cheesy modern explanation to why so many people are unhappy, or a really important contribution to understanding human experience. The research seems to be solid, even if I have not yet encountered any of the books where he introduces and discusses his methodology. This means that the reported experiences are likely to be correct.

The question is whether his conclusions are correct. Is the road to happiness to control your consciousness and impose more discipline on the human mind? This sounds like a very individualistic, 20th century solution, a reversal of religion or collectivity - do not seek happiness in the multitude or in spirituality, but find it for yourself, in your own actions and in your own achievement. It is a path to happiness that creates good little workers of us all, seeking to achieve as far as we can within the limitations allowed us by society?

I am slightly sunburned, lounging in bed at 7.08 am on the Long Island North Shore. I have been swimming, sunbathing, eating a lot of wonderful food and generally experiencing an intense and deep sense of relaxation and happiness. In many ways, it has been an optimal experience. But I did nothing for it, the pleasure was very different from the rush of research, the fervor of gaming, It was a sensual experience: skin, flesh, taste, scent, eye stimulated by the environments. Does this mean that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is wrong, and the optimal experience, the flow, does not come with discipline and achievement? Or does it simply mean that the experience is not optimal, just one of the more optimised ones?

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Protection and communication
This time, protection from the heat. It is one of those things dragons are no good at, even frost dragons. so for that, I needed a Tilley hat. And it seems that with that hat, I also received a communication device:

"It's way beyond a hat; it's a communication device. With what else can you walk up to a stranger, begin a conversation, and be confident that the stranger is of like mind and similar taste. You can also be quite sure that this is not the first time that it's happened to that stranger."
Mark Schneider, Kenner, LA

I have to admit, I am curious to see if that is ever going to happen in Volda.
They are NOT fluffy stuffed animals
I don't even like fluffy stuffed animals. Sleek, meanlooking stuffed dragons, on the other hand, is a totally different story.

Blue Tatsuko

Green and gold Yu

They are going home with me. I need somebody to help control the weather and fight passing knights. And if you want them for yourself, you will just have to go to the website and search for your own.
What was lost is found
It is quite fitting that the pictures from Michal Rovner's exhibition in Stone at Pace Wildenstein gallery in Chelsea New York are the ones that went missing. The exhibition illustrates the two states of the old and the new writing: the permanence of that which is written in stone and the transcience of the modern media. But I will not show you the pictures just yet, as I am on a vacation in the vacation, only carrying the little PowerBook G4 that caused the whole frustration.

Still, the incident of the lost pictures resonates with the subject matter of In Stone. Little movies where images that are very human-like have been animated into motion walk across the surfaces of books and stones, projected onto the paper. In one book a drawing swirls and shifts, in another the careful chinese calligraphy moves, elusive and impossible to keep in focus as you watch. The same technique is used on rocks, and elusive, shifting rosetta stones stand next to heavy runestones and shiny rocks that seem to have fallen from outer space. In one room are two large stone tablets, perhaps with the ten commandments, only these commandments are constantly shifting. In another room of the gallery there is a well. When you look into the well you see red shapes, perhaps humans, perhaps scorpions, scuttling in a whirling, panicky motion across the white, white sands.

I walked through this exhibition with a sensation of amazement and awe, struck by the force of the contrast. The heavy stone, the elusive light, the reference of the everlasting and permanent battling with the fluid and fluctuating.

Yoko, lovely, entertaining and bright companion in NYC adventures, heard about this exhibition from an artist friend - whose work we visited later, in a different gallery. It was the last day of the exhibition, and I am still lost in the marvel of it. when I have a chance I will try to post a little movie that I made of the stone tablets, to give you a tiny little impression of the quality of this work.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Stupid stupid stupid stupid
When I am done kicking myself for not being used to apple computers, but seduced by the beauty and speed of my NYC connections brand new tiny tibook, I will let you see some of the pictures I managed not to ruin, from my trip around Chelsea Galleries Friday.  And I think I can dig up links to the artist who most impressed me with her wonderful works - the pictures of which I lost because I didn't want to wait for my no longer all that new and quick Dell to fire up, using the pretty shiny toy instead.
Stupid stupid stupid.  Apart from me being stupid, New York in summer is warm and exhausting, which is a new experience for me.  So I spend time eating salads in the shadow, enjoying the airconditioned cars in the subway, drinking iced coffee at Barnes and Noble and trying on two-piece bathing suits in Paragon Sports.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

A lot of places to go
It is a little reassuring to know that there's still a lot of places I have never seen.

create your own visited country map

A little late to this bloggers' meme, but it's such a nice one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Dark chocolate
This is a public service post for people eating dark chocolate in Norway.
Are you one of the many who have discovered that really dark chocolate is a great way to have your chocolate and eat it too / as in not gaining weight? I have used that trick for sating the chocolate craving for years, and it works! The chocolate has to be at least 70% cocoa, and no, you can't eat without control, but who can really eat that much really dark chocolate anyway?

I was oh-so-happy when Freia of Norway started to make a really dark chocolate. It was easier to find, and cheaper than the stuff I got in health/speciality stores. But hey, what was this? I gained weight from it! I would eat a few pieces of Valrhona, for instance, and not gain weight, and then a few pieces of Freia Premium the next week, and gain weight. This was odd. This required serious study.

I did that study by turning the chocolate bar over, and reading the fine print at the back of the box. On the front there is this large mark saying 70%. At the back you will see that it is 70% cocoa in the outer layers. The inner layer is 35% truffle something. If you break off a piece of Freia Dark Premium, you will see that the sides and the middle layers split apart.

So now I know. And I am back to the exspensive stuff. But somebody really should let Freia know they have been found out. I am just wondering: should I call one of the health/lifestyle journalists first, or Freia?

Monday, July 12, 2004

Vienna flashback
So how was Blogtalk 2.0?
First of all, I want to say that Thomas Burg has done a tremendous job putting it all together. He made it very easy being in the program comittee, as the members' job mainly consisted in agreeing with him, and occasionally expanding a little. I wish there had been an opportunity to thank him for his efforts publicly, without jumping up and making a spectacle of myself. Contrary to what some people believe, that does not come easily to me, sso it didn't happen. It should have though.

When that is said: even something good can be better. I want to address a few areas which could have enhanced the experience.

The program was too uniform and too tight. This is something I could have influenced if I had thought at the time, so this is self-criticism. I think there should have been greater differentiation between the keynotes and the panels. For the panels to have presentations 20-25 minutes long, while the keynotes were half an hour, created a long series of uniform lectures rather than quick presentations accompanying papers broken up by longer lectures. The panels were not real panels. They were collections of more or less randomly connected speakers, who then took questions not all of them could really answer. The questions directed at all of the panel became awkward, as the case was frequently that only a few of the panel could reply. This could have been avoided by making the keynotes independent of the presentations, letting all the presenters take independent questions, insisting on having full papers ready for the conference and posted on the net or distributed in print at the conference, and by making the option as participating in panels with particular topics rather than having everybody at one panel or another. This would have made the schedule more dynamic, and helped avoid conference overload from sitting through two days of pretty much the same thing.

Since this was a bloggers' conference, and we knew there would be a lot of computers in use with all its potential for an active backchannel, this could perhaps be used more effectively. Others have suggested a designated blogger. I think there should be more than one - a team of bloggers who blogged on a conference blog. And their job should be more than just bringing summaries of the talks, because that is not as interesting as the discussion, comments and disagreement that might arise. This might also bring the backchannel into play. One of the most important things with being at a conference is that you can get face-to-face response from the people present, you don't have to write them or ask somebody else what they meant. By having a designated backchannel blogger bring the discussions and the questions more into the light, it would be possible to create a better dynamic between the different mode. An alternative would be a designated backchannel speaker: Two or three people designated to present the questions of the backchannel or the opinions of the backchannel to the entire audience, and connect the two different discussions.

What I really missed was common meals. There is something about the mingling that happens over a meal, a snack or what ever that just was lost in Vienna. I am aware that this is a financial question. However: the benefit of not having to run in different directions for a meal and the opportunity of meeting and talking to people you would not invite to go to lunch with you is substantial.

Now it may look like I hated the conference. I didn't. I really liked the topic, the collection of people with wide and varying interests. I like the dynamic of a new field opening for academic research and commercial exploration both, and blogs are definitely in that area. I would love to see blogs used as research obbjects as well as tools in other conferences discussing and addressing media, new media and internet culture. The blogtalk conferences take blogs seriously, and gives a chance for crossfertilisation, something which is vital to a new field. I hope it can expand and become something other than a cult conference. There are different ways of achieving that. One is for the Vienna conference to aim at growth, and have really diversified topics from year to year. Another is to move the conference around to different administrators and different locations. And yet another is to have Blogtalk combined with some other conference from time to time, for instance an AOIR blogtalk. But what ever happens, I want to see user-driven publishing as a topic for serious discussion and research in the future.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Gadgets for a geeky girl
Some people seem to know just what a woman needs - while some know how to make that inner playful girl happy. And when the digital camera broke in an accident and it turns out it may not be repaired in time to bring it with me when I go home to Norway, my NYC connection whipped out his card, pulled it through the right slots and then handed me a new digital camera. I did the right amount of happy exclamations to satisfy the proud pusher of gadgets, and then I stopped pretending to care about anything but the camera. And yes, if you are looking for a 5,1 mega pixel camera and have been wondering about the sony cybershot, then I am happy to recommend the DSC-P100. It's quick, small and has had some of the flaws of the sony cameras picked out of it. But most important: it's tiny! It fits into my pocket! WEEEEE!!!!
Wireless in Brooklyn
Gone are the days of awkwardly searching for the æøå on a foreign keyboard, or crouching over an imac, trying to figure out how to convert files back and forth, or where is that function again. Through the cooperation of my New York connection, who just loves gadgets, the college IT staff who love to fix things so that I am not such a pain in their collective - umm - somethings, and a nice lady at the apple support, I am online from the newly activated hotspot right in this apartment. So here I am, eminently comfortable (note the beanbag chair, found abandoned and almost empty and now repaired), testing out the connection. Now, off and out into the sun!

Friday, July 09, 2004

Captain Annie Kristensen and her crew...
It was just an other morning at Ørsta-Volda airport. The sun was shining brightly, dawn hours behind us, despite the early hours. A mottled crowd is waiting for the plane, a lot more women than normal, and even some children. A taxi pulls in, and out comes three persons in uniform. It was one green of the Widerøe stewardesses, and two navy pilot uniforms. Only something was slightly off. Had the uniforms changes? Suddenly the day took on a different luster. The world had shifted, subtly. Nothing big, more like the faint sound of a battle heard at a long distance, hinting that in some areas of our society there are still battles to be fought, and prejudices to overcome.

The crew of Widerøe flight 144 from Hovden to Gardermoen July 9th 2004 was all female! I had to ask to make sure, and yes, it was. Both the captain and the first officer, as well as the steward. The steward went through the announcements, and it gave me a tiny little thrill each time she said "Captain Annie Kristensen and her crew..." At one point, in her english announcement, she slipped though, and said "Captain Annie Kristensen and his crew." But she was flustered, as she had announced our landing to the wrong airport as well. Still, it showed how ingrained the "his" is in that phrase, what a long way that all female crew had come, and how far we still have to go until the "her" slips as easily off the tongue. Pilots, particularly captains, are male.

Me, I just sat there and enjoyed. Annie Kristensen, Captain, and your crew: you made my day!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Tomorrow night, NYC time
I have another day of waiting in airports before me tomorrow. I am trying to figure out if Schiphol has a wireless connection or not, since I will be spending 4 hours there. Oslo has, at least. And I have a book. I bought it on my way to Vienna, and started to read, but it frustrated me. I wanted to click the links. While this is an interesting document, it also illustrates that peculiar distinction between a blog and a book: the book is not yet connected.

I think that day will come though. And I will pull this book out of my bookshelf and tell my grandchildren about how I read it when the war in Baghdad was really happening, online, and how they had to print it to reach the mass audience, and how yes, it was true, people didn't click links in books back then. Hopefully, they will understand the concept of "reading" and "book", and be able to bring that antiquated knowledge to my great-grandchildren.
Weather in Volda
The district veterinarian is taking a summer vacation, so voldaveiret (weather in Volda) will not be regularly updated with his magnificent pictures. He left us fans with a great bonus summer picture, enjoy.

And he quotes James Taylor to explain why the updates will be sporadic, so I guess we have to forgive him:

Summer's Here
(James Taylor)

Summer's here
I'm for that
Got my rubber sandals
Got my straw hat
Got my cold beer
I'm just glad that I'm here
Dennis and the blogsphere
Dennis G. Jerz is reading Into the Blogosphere, and gives his thoughts and opinions on each article he reads on his blog. Fascinating at two levels: One: I love being able to see what the bright and brilliant think about the articles I plan to plod through, two: I am fascinated, again, with this man's capacity for processing information.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

That was my powercord!
I didn't realise at the time, but the cord they held up asking if somebody missed it must have been mine. This is typical for this conference, things were just too tight and too much going on. I'll be back later with some of the thoughts (brilliant, of course) that crystallized Tuesday night in one of the worn-down cheap Austrian bars Anja specialised on finding, but typical was too little time to talk and think, too much time and energy spent on organising things like food, long, tight schedules all around. The good thing is that this means a lot was going on. Anyway: no powercord, no luggage, and aching feet from searching for quality sleazy bars with Anja and Lisbeth. Eventful, it was.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Dialogue in slow motion - links
These are the links used in my keynote for Blogtalk 2.0 in Vienna 2004.


Why do I blog
Anders Jacobsen's "Why I blog" post from March 6th 2003.
Elmine Wijnia's "Why do I blog" post from March 31st 2004
Aldo de Moor and Lilia Efimova's working paper An Argumentation Analysis of Weblog Conversations
phaTTboi's "why I blog" post of June 16th 2004.
Simpleton's "Why I blog" answer May 26th 2004. Quote

The virtual and the factual other
Abraham Maslows's pyramid
of needs

The original slime

Time, space and blogs
"Blog this", two comments and links to Henry Jenkins' article of 2002. The article is today only available to subscribers of Technology Review.
Spitting Llama, Dave Winer
Since 2003 Technology Review has a blog, where Henry Jenkins is one of the writers.

Astri Heen Wold, Quote 1, 2 and 3

The tyranny of here and now
Some (in)famous conversations
Dave Winer and the Winer Watcher on the conflict between Dave Winer and Mark Pilgrim
Jonathon Delacour on "Doing a Dave"

Dave Winer took down 3000 blogs.
People were unhappy.
Dave Winer replied in an audio file.
People were not any happier.
Dave Winer presented a new plan for hosting.
Some people are still not happy.
Dave Winer thanks the professional sites for clearing up what the bloggers didn't understand.

Sidewalks and gaps
Anne Galloway: First Count

Wolfgang Iser: quote

Danah Boyd: The privilege to not fight
Pete: Again with the "Women and blogging meme"

Challenge, mastery and pleasure
Steven Johnson: Quote
Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi: Quote

Back to the beginning

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Anyway, I am in Vienna, as are Lisbeth, Anja and Mark. Well, and a whole lot of other bloggers, this is Blogtalk after all.

I arrived late yesterday evening, and woke early this morning. So I have wandered Vienna, and went to the Leopold Museum, where they have Goya's "Los Caprichos" exhibited at the moment! If you have a chance, go look! I was delighted, I wrote about Goya for my art history subject - umm, way too long ago - and loved his prints. Or - I guess I didn't as much love them as was became engaged in the black, bleak humour and the twisted shapes. Some of the pictures made lasting impact back then, and walking through the exhibition today it resonated with that string of sarcams and cynicism which I occasionally find in my line of thoughts.

One picture I wish I could have blogged for you all. It was of a mule having his picture painted. The text said: Now that he has his picture painted, all will know about him and know he is an important man, because he has had his picture painted so people know who he is.

I guess, in a way, that's what happens with blogs too. So here I am, having my picture painted...
Journalism, again
Kaye Trammell is frustrated with journalists who don't get it. A recent article about blogs causes her to complain, and the complaint sounds familiar. As a teacher of journalists, I have to say - I am not surprised.

It's not that they are stupid. At least in Norway, to get into a journalism study, you need top grades. It isn't that they don't know what to do. I think the problem is that they know it far too well.

Ketil Jarl Halse, associated professor at Volda College, wrote an article years ago called "Journalisten som strateg" - the journalist as a strategist. It explains some of the many pressures journalists are under as they are to create a new edition of the news. It is heavy peer pressure, intended to maintain the standards of the newspapers.

Journalism, at least in Norway, is one of the free professions. Anybody who can write are allowed to do so, if a newspaper prints what they write: great! This means that in order to maintain a certain standard and a certain level of trust, there are two harsh mechanisms in use. One is the social control, the peer pressure. This decides things like "what is news" "how do we write about that kind of news" "who do we interview". The other mechanisms is the editing that happens before the copy goes live. This is done by specially trained people who are taught to look for certain clues accepted at "good news," "good journalism" or "good stories". Both of these are good. They ensure high ethics, remove babble, exclude dubious sources.


There is always a but, and this is where Trammell's frustration hits right on the head. " For the past two years (wow, can it be that long?!) media articles haven't told us anything new about blogs." For a topic to be accepted, it has to get over the "news" treshold. Blogs did that years ago. But once it is over this treshold, changing the story rather than repeating it demands creativity. A system that functions through heavy peer pressure and high-pressure editing does not invite creativity. Once you know what works you stick with it, pack it up differently to make it look good, but you don't really think a new thought about it.

And this, sadly, explains at least to me what happens to all those brilliant, adventurous students once they get out there and start writing for their bread and rent.
The blogosphere
Into the Blogosphere is online. It is really an impressive number of articles, no wonder it took a while to set it all up. Go, read, enjoy.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Sex and games
Terra Nova had a post a while ago about sex and games. I have to say: It's about time it was talked about!

Ren Reynolds talks about rape in online games and sex in online games.

All the MUDs I played for my research addressed this issue. The first, World's End, didn't permit sex beyond making out, babies appeared miraculously. But they did exist. The second and main one, Dragon Realms, addressed the sexuality by not rewarding it. Rape roleplay was not permitted. Torture play had to be consensual, by way of a note to the administrators. Sex, cross-species or what ever, was just ignored. There were warnings posted though: don't give out your address, you never know who you are playing with. Aarinfel had MUDsex rules, as T.L. Taylor pointed out, quite ambivalent. There was a long list of warnings, and then it ended saying "Mud sex is safe sex". The many rules (mainly about rape) and warnings were an indicator of exactly the opposite: it isn't safe.

But it can be. As long as people use protection... erh, don't give out email, addresses or names, it is as safe a mutual fantasy as you can get into. And it happens, all the time. We should aknowledge it.
Leaving the office today
For all those who might want to catch me at the office, I am leaving today, in about 10 minutes. I will be online from home and from airports here and there (if my poor abused laptop manages the strain). The route is Vienna, Volda, New York, Volda - and back at the office 9th of August. That's one week after most of my colleagues. But the last week has been very, very quiet here. A good time for writing and reading. Now all I need to do is read through the keynote, and time it. Should have been edited a little. I guess that will happen ink on paper.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

My tabulator key just fell off, just as me and my laptop are about to go travelling for a month! It seems to work though. I'll just have to stop freaking out when the left little finger hits the little rubber tip where there should be a comfortable key...
When I try communicating with my brain, all I get is a busy signal. No dialogue between me and me at the moment... OK, lame joke, because I am stunned by trying to get all my thoughts on this down on paper before I get on the plane to Vienna. I leave Saturday, and will be travelling for 11 hours. I think that's longer than the time some of the Americans will spend on getting into town. OK, enough of this chatting thing. Back to work.