Sunday, September 30, 2001

OK, somebody said they didn't think I'd not blog... they were right, Hilde.
I am in NYC, the flight went smoooooooothly, and NY is - nice. there's lots of room in the restaurants, people are polite to each others, and there are sales all over the city. People are also in shock, and nobody seem to be particularly happy about not needign to make reservations. I haven't looked at the actual site yet, just at where there should be two towers in the skyline...

but the subways work

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

I need to find this when I have time to sit down and read. And then I'll want to read this without going through Jill's archives. Thanks Jill, I just putting this link on this shelf, OK?
It's Wednesday, and the autumn is here. My hands, shoulders and back ache, I have this sensation of never being warm again, a frozen cold settled somewhere close to my spine, and all I want to do is read. Feels like I am getting ready to hibernate.

Instead I am planning what to bring when I go to New York City tomorrow. One thing I am not bringing: my lap-top. I need to rest these aching arms while I am still able to feed myself. When I write too much too tensely I start dropping things - like glasses of milk, spoons and forks and the big heavy sharp knives I like to work with. Not good.

What does this mean for you, who might happen to read this?
I'll most likely not update this blog until October 15th. I haven't even considered using a blog understudy, although that would have been fun, but if you're desperate for reading research diaries with personal content and occasional mention of computers and games, try here or here or here. I might come across internet cafes while wandering about in New York, and if I do I will update, but don't count on it. I will also not read email on a regular basis, and only a few people will know how to get hold of me. I can't go anywhere without something I ought to read, so I will be reading and planning my essay on science theory when I don't spend too much money in sleazy bars or I gape in shock at the ruins of the World Trade Center. I will carry my old, battered but very good camera with me (the only electronics on that is a light measurement, I need to operate everything myself, and I love that), as well as a blank journal and a good pen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

I haven't talked much about Azhad and my new online character Miran lately. I keep playing though, but Miran doesn't make me laugh the way Eigar did, she doesn't surprise me in the same way, and I am also having a problem with people who know that I play her, and expect her every word to be as omnoius and potentially dangerous as Eigar's were.

Poor little Miran is however a NICE girl. OK, so she thinks it's charitable to use children as slaves in her workshop (she makes rugs), and she thinks a good way of getting people closer to the road to truth (Zakur: a fantasy mixture of Islam and different religions with reincarnation-topics, mixed with a large drop of capitalism and protectionism) is to help them get on with their lives, as in: their new incarnations. She is too young to be sophisticated about sex, protected spoiled girl as she is, and she doesn't look stunning, ugly or anything else.

So I made a boring character. It is however a very different character. The people who don't know about my former virtual incarnations (Linn the sweet assassin, Agirra the outrageous goldsmith, Eigar the elvish answer to Machiavelli) enjoy her flaring temper and naive arrogance without expecting a knife in their backs.

It's the first character where I have been open about who I am all the time though. Most of the time I have let the people I have talked much Out of Character with learn this slowly. This time I was quite upfront. Don't think I am doing that next time, it's so much easier to be the character when the people I play with respond to who I pretend to be, not to who I might pretend to be.
Disposable phones--a security risk?
A disposable phone? While "talk-and-toss" is a disgusting thought, being able to buy a 30$ phone and be available to family and friends when I am in the US is very nice. But in the days of unrestricted access to communication all over the western world, that is a security risk...

I wonder though: if Taliban forbids television, internet and other modern media in Afghanistan... how did they manage to cooperate efficiently enough to orcestrate the strike?

OK, so I am asking a stupid question, I just want to point out that outlawing technology doesn't put it out of use.
owrede_log: web_diary
This is about how to avoid being a terrorist target. It really made me think. And it's also why striking at full military force against terrorism won't help. They are already fragmented, and when talking of terrorism we are not talking about one thing, we are talking about one way to define a certain use of violence.

While I agree that terrorists should be punished, the armed war on terrorism is impossible. Terrorism isn't a place or even an organisation. It's a rhetoric! It's a way to bring a message across!

If we knew how to listen to the message, and speak without bombs, it would be possible to communicate differently. As Bjørgo and Heradstveit (Politisk kommunikasjon) quote a Palestine terrorist: "If we could make people listen by throwing roses, that's what we would do."

If drowning the white house in roses could get the kind of attention ruining the WTC and killing thousands of people did... I suspect President Bush would have been smothered from the smell of rotting roses right now.

(And I found Oliver Wrede's blog by way of Jill)

Monday, September 24, 2001

BBC News | MIDDLE EAST | Hijack 'suspect' alive in Morocco
This shows how much is "sure" about the hijacking.
Now can someone please let FBI investigate rather than just point fingers?
There's this old Norwegian fairytale about a woman who refused to agree with her husband. She kept telling him over and over how stupid he was, and she did the same, face to face with all authorities, the teacher, the sheriff, the priest. At the end her husband got so tired with this, he killed her and threw her in the river. When he regretted his act, confessed and wanted her to have a christian funeral, they couldn't find the body. Why? She had refused to be taken down-stream, and they finally found her upstream!

From this story comes a saying in Norwegian: to be the woman against the stream. It's said lovingly, proudly and flatteringly: denoting a spirit which cannot be broken, an individual who stands up for and takes the consequences of his or her beliefs. This story names a woman who could have been "kjerringa mot strømmen": Conscientious Objector In the House, by Ruth Conniff
Predicting after the fact is easy: I stick to that.
Working in a department of media and journalism studies, I am fascinated with the new trend of personal journalism. I predicted 5 years ago that what the department needed to emphasis for the future editor isn't a print, television or radio-editor, but a multimedia editor, coordinating print, pictures, television and radio from the same site. We are beginning to see this type of editors, although they are still sticking to a very traditional way of publishing by keeping the different types of media seperate, rather than creating composite media. This is most likely due both to the slowing down of technological development and sales, where the connections and hardware of the users can't handle mixed-media heavy with advertisements - particularly under the pressure of larger events - and to the next, necessary step to truly innovate: make the news-serving computer as accessible and portable as a newspaper.

The new editor today is a figure I did not foresee: the personal editor. While the web has been offering personally tailored news-services for a long time, this has had the flaw of all search-engines: if the key-words you feed into the machine isn't in the news-item, it's excluded... if it's present, it doesn't matter whether the article is interesting or not.

With a personal editor the search has been cleaned up for you, and you get the intersting, important and sometimes surprising parts.

So where do I find these personal editors? Actually... they don't work anywhere yet, they are volunteers who do this for their own pleasure, search, link, connect and comment on media content online. Of course, media stations try to convince their readers that they provide this service through their web-stires, but as far as I can see - they don't.

The web-editor of one of the larger Norwegian newspapers explained to a colleague of mine that they don't want to link out of the newspaper's site for news: it will lose them readers. Instead they insist on re-writing stories (carefully quoting sources of course) to avoid the links. The logic from a news-paper point of view is clear: You want the loyalty of the readers, and you want as many hits as possible on pages where your advertisers are displayed. To ensure that they spend their energy on rewriting the stories of other media institutions instead of searching and hunting for new content or alternative views.

I don't have the statistics of which internet-based businesses (except porn-sites) do well these days, but I know the online versions of newspapers are not particularly good business. But personal editors in the shape of web-loggers are getting hits and gaining online fame! Without a news organisation at their backs, they don't promise pre-approved truth, but give suggestions and comments to agree or disagree with - and they flourish!

If I was to predict anything today, I think I'd go with this personalisation of the news: the human factor in a media world where the organisations have grown so similar to each other and so dependent on each other that if the Norwegian papers didn't write in Norwegian, I'd have no idea which country I was in.
Research on Learning and Performance
OK, so I clicked blog of the day to find this one. Nice to find a blog with an interesting (to me) topic there, though, and a place I'll revisit.

Friday, September 21, 2001

I am getting a lot of emails trying to make me open an attachment lately. I suspect some server or computer where somebody have my email-address in their addressbook is infested with a virus. If I start sending some of you guys who read this odd-looking emails (OK, odder-looking), don't open any attachments! I am trying to be careful, but the emails are blandly worded asking for advice, the names of the attached files (until the last two ones, which were in Spanish and Icelandic) likely for a topic a friend or colleague would ask me about, and the subject line of the email changes every time to the name of the attached file.

I don't know if this is the feared Nimda virus or something else, but it's better to be ignored than to spread viruses to friends.
In Seduction, Baudrillard uses a quote which won't leave me be: "Take me to your room and fuck me. There is something indefinable in your language, something left to be desired." This is attributed to Philip Dick, The Schizo's Ball

I have searched for Philip Dick, I have searched for Schizos' Ball, and nothing turned up in any libraries until Google led me to a place where I got the explanation, and it was quite in the spirit of Philip K. Dick.

It turns out that the translator of Seduction has translated the french title back to english, without checking what the original book was called, and so The 3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch becomes The Schizos' Ball.
By way of David Gallagher: The attack on the twin towers influence gamers and games, among other things forcing Microsoft to release a patch for their Flight Simulator which removes the Twin Towers from Manhattan. Otherwise the game would have permitted players to fly virtual planes into virtual towers.

In other games players took the opportunity to create scenarios where they hunt down and assassinate Osama bin Laden. Due to the many responses to this scenario, positive and negative, the scenario was withdrawn.

I am not sure what to say about this. My opinion has always been that playing games does not mean not being creative, active or aware of what happens in the world. Perhaps the opposite, perhaps gamers need to act rather than give in to the impotence of being a small pawn in the struggles of nations.

Thursday, September 20, 2001

jill/txt supposedly needs a life. This is a very common accusation to throw at people who spend a lot of time online. And even online people throw at each other: "get off the computer and get a life!!!"

This always makes me wonder what constitutes a life. I'd really like to know, because I always thought I had one, but playing games and writing blogs the way I do, perhaps I don't? The people I play with call themselves nerds, but the ones I have met over the years are socially active, creative and outgoing. If having a life is somehow different from what they have... I don't think I want one.
Do I have this wet dream of getting the last word? Ohhh yesss....

Mark does too, I suspect, even if he can't spell my first name. And the argument isn't really between me and him, what I am doing here is what Jill and Hilde will tell me is a very masculine thing, I'll grab the opportunity to say: "I want to point out that I agree with the last speaker."

I just want to mention that there's this about academia which always surprises me; it seems so much more important to say: "you are wrong because you didn't study this", than to say: "Now that's interesting, but studying this might change that point."

As Mark finishes his post yesterday:
Don't get me wrong. Torril is right. So is Markku, for that matter. And so is Justin. This is the site of scholarly discourse nowadays, at least in this field, and we are changing it from within.

The wonderful thing about academic discourse is that we can all be right, and we can all disagree. Now, step 2: How to accept that disagreement doesn't diminish the value of other people's work.

Where can I sign up for that class?

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

hey, that's us right there! Somewhere in that picture is Jill, Hilde, Jan Rune and me. I think Adrian might be there too, unless he was holding the camera, it's a little blurred on my monitor. From the angle I think the camera is resting on a rock. The only persons with no home-page or blog who were with us that day were my son Hauk and Jill's daughter Aurora. The rest of us are a loud, opinionated bunch, and I guess the kids won't be any less so when they grow into their computing skills.
Multi-Platform Online Games - Research Area Description
Hmmm. I really should go to Oslo soon.
The baffling power of Academic writing
Today's first post is a kind of roundabout comment on a comment on a comment thing. I don't really disagree with what has been said so far, it just makes me ask more questions... and it actually managed to drag my mind away from NYC for a while: this is a topic which wouldn't let go of me tonight, so here goes.

Mark Bernstein comments on my comment on Justin Hall's review of Gamestudies. Bernstein reinforces Hall's point that the researchers of Gamestudies should put down their books and delve into games, particularly some special games which "the gaming community" thinks are the most important ones.

Coming from media studies, I have seen the products which shaped some of its paradigm. I have seen Eisenstein's experiments, I have seen Stagecoach, I have watched episodes of The Dynasty at the University of Bergen (yes, we had special viewings of Dynasty for students who didn't have a television). At that point (1985 -->) The Dynasty Years by Jostein Gripsrud was not yet written, and the soaps were not considered an object to be studied with anything but an ironic view, the "real" television was something else.

In literature, where several of the Gamestudies scholars come from, there are also certain works which are a must read. In Norway, the one author nobody gets past is Henrik Ibsen. He has become "bøygen", the massive block which has to be considered in all scholarship. I am certain we will at some point see "Ibsen's Dramatic Structures and Computer-Game Plots" from some overly eager Norwegian student.

All disciplines have a canon, something which is accepted as truth. Before Jostein Gripsrud's study of Dynasty, the serie was not important enough to waste time on - after, it has become a reference point in the study of media use. I am not quite old enough to know what literature studies were like before Ibsen, but I do know he was a controversial writer, he popularised and wrote of realistic situations, most likely not easy to accept for the Norwegian audience or the scholars.

The canon of the study of games has so far not been established. There is a certain tendency to play the academic political game along-side other games, but that's part of the development of any field. There might be some games which some users think are important... but my work includes interviews with active computer-game users, and none of them mention these games when I ask them about important games, interesting games, games they would recommend, or games they would have liked to make (they did mention Empire, the Sims were not such a big hit yet). Does that mean my interviewees were all wrong? Does that mean they haven't wasted enough time playing games?

To insist that there is a "right" object of study is an act which in the long run gives very little back to the field in question. Paradigms shift, yes, but why insist on creating an inflexible paradigm?

On the other hand: I might be blind to the Gamestudies Paradigm. After all I am a Scandinavian, Espen Aarseth strongly influences my work, I loosely consider Jesper Juul and Gonzalo Frasca friends, and I really care about Markku Eskelinen. But what I would like to know is how not studying an object stops a field from developing? Is this little journal that powerful? Does not looking at Deus Ex and Counterstrike make them taboo subjects for further study by other scholars?

If that is so, I understand why Justin Hall would have preferred that the journal discussed his chosen games - after all, that would have put him smack in the middle of the main-stream of game-research, and he could have had his thoughts and ideas confirmed, instead of needing to take that work on himself. That is a comfortable position to be in, as the many students who have chosen Ibsen as their topic over the years of Norwegian literature studies well know - not to talk of their professors who can spend their entire lives never looking outside of their narrow speciality.

Luckily, however, Gamestudies is a journal where more than the first articles will be posted. And knowing academic journals, if people write well about a topic they think is important, the articles will appear. You don't like the Gamestudies Paradigm (what ever it is)? Come on, change it from within!

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

the Dagbladet headline now is "Taliban threatens with holy war." The other headline was even corrected on the radio.
Yesterday, Charlie the blogstalker had the energy to reply to my email to him when I was unhappy, telling me how just being alive, outside, relatively sane and unharmed and still staying in touch helps the healing of those in NYC. Today he admitted to his own irrational anger, flaring up as a stranger made an insensitive remark. I think our US and particularly NYC friends might have come to that point now, as Jill has already noted.

What can we do? I suggest bite our collective tongues and wait for it to blow over, and manage to keep our mouths shut about Post Traumatic Stress as well. Telling a woman it's "that time of the month" when she's yelling at her husband for not cleaning up after himself doesn't work... I don't think "It's just PTS darling" will work either.
CIA -- The World Factbook 2000 -- Rwanda
While a lot of Americans don't know where Rwanda is, the CIA does, which I find reassuring. Between 500 000 and 800 000 civilians, Tutsis and moderate Hutus, died over a period of three months to terror preceding the Tutsi victory.
Afghanistan is actually negotiating with the US over giving Osama bin Laden over. In the headline is "Afghanistan declares holy war", which is not supported in the article. True to the level-headed nature of western journalism, a potential war is much better news than the more reassuring facts. What the article contains is a list of benefits the Taliban government wants in exchange for Osama bin Laden, hero and son-in-law to the head of the Taliban government (she's his fifth wife, gee, isn't it convenient to live in a culture where you can marry strategically as many times as you like?). Despite the fact that there is no hard evidence made public which connects bin Laden to the killings at the moment, they are negotiating.

Where did the holy war come in? That's the last threath if the United States starts bombing. History shows that when the people of Afghanistan say they are willing to die for a cause, well, that's just what they do. USA took advantage of that to destabilise USSR. Will the need for a symbolic act to satisfy the blood-thirst of grieving Americans be what puts USA in the situation USSR was in?

Monday, September 17, 2001

thank you
It's not like the US are alone in this, there's no need to be "the lone ranger" when there's are people all around the world grieving with them.
For the collectors of Internet memes, here's where the recent Nostradamus "quote" is supposed to come from. - Experts: A variety of intelligence factors may have played a role - September 16, 2001

" "The intelligence community was completely caught off-guard then," he said. "And the CIA and the intelligence community was created by the 1947 National Security Act to prevent future such surprises, which raises real questions about what has happened in the last 50 years." "

The problem with institutions like CIA is that we don't know how many "secret" attacks they have prevented in the last 50 years. They might have been very efficient - an efficiency rate of 99% wouldn't be bad... although tragic to the victims of the last 1%.
God Gave U.S. 'What We Deserve,' Falwell Says (
OK, some of the insanity is so far over the edge that it makes George Bush seem like a brilliant analyst.
Disaster and traumas, link found at the eastwest blog.
D a g s a v i s e n | Kronprinsparet endelig hjemme
Relax, everybody, the Crown Prince and Princess are home safe. They are not telling (yet) how close they might have been to the WTC as the planes crashed, but they were in what they call "the NYC area".
When I am about to lose perspective and wonder if even the gentlest of friends in the US are ready to bomb the rest of the world beyond the stone-age, I read the accounts of the blogstalker and his struggle to deal with the disaster, and I gain new trust in the sanity of humans, the only weapon we have against such carefully executed displays of madness.

Sunday, September 16, 2001

I have just spent an hour on the phone with a very close friend in New York, and then two hours online chatting. I was not at all prepared for his aggression towards me, of all people. But I guess I have to accept it. In 11 days I am going to New York if my plane is flying. That city will be packed with people who will be in shock and using moral outrage and patriotism as ways to deal with this horrible, impossible thing they have just experienced. When a person who I know really cares about me can get that upset over me not sharing his immediate feelings and opinions, I guess I should start practicing right away: nodding, and making sympathetic neutral noices.

OK, so I get sarcastic about this, but it makes me apprehensive. I have been to cities which have been hit by bombs before, been evacuated in bomb-threats, walked through a rail-way station just minutes before a bomb exploded and killed people... and I never was this worried about how I would be treated by the people on the street.

Friday, September 14, 2001

Breathless, and seduced by Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text leaving me dreaming of bliss:

Due allowance being made for the sounds of the language, writing aloud is not phonological but phonetic; its aim is not the clarity of messages, the theater of emotions; what it searches for (in a perspective of bliss) are the pulsional incidents, the language lined with flesh, a text where we can hear the grain of the throath, the patina of consonants, the voluptuousness ov vowels, a whole carnal stereophony; the articulation of the body, of the tongue, not that of meaning, of language.

This is what doesn't exist in a MUD.
Justin Hall Reviews GameStudies
Justin Hall finds that GameStudies is too vague, too academic and not offering a language with which to analyse computer games. I agree with him, there is no language with which to analyse computer-games. What he doesn't see is that there is a definition of what computer-games are not, what does not work. To avoid rediscovering the wheel, that is where the exploration has to begin. Why explore France if what you're looking for is the source of the Nile?

Yeah, I am sure there are a lot of gamers who are shouting: look here, look here, this is what it's all about. A lot of said gamers are in colleges and universities. GameStudies gives them a point to relate to, something to oppose or agree with. Even learning that: "this isn't how I want to think about games" is knowledge. If the result of the gamer's search for an academic home is: "we don't want to study games this way" then so be it. At least the readers of GameStudies have learned that.
World New York
I want to escape, but my mind pulls me back to New York. I am slowly feeling the reaction, physical, nausea, nothing tastes anything, it is as if I can smell and taste the smoke of NYC here in the crisp, clean autumn air at the other side of the world. So odd, that I can love such an ugly city like this.

15 years ago, I wrote a piece which was performed by the student theatre: a small five-minute scene about a sailor who could never return to his lost Bergen, the city being melted into its mountains, his family dying slowly in the suburbs. Today those imagined emotions of loss have returned to haunt me. While I will be returning to New York soon if normal air-traffic is resumed, the New York I knew will be as lost to me as Bergen was to the sailor, doomed never to return.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

By way of David F. Gallagher's visual blog: Bartolomeo: Traffic signs of the world
This is the ambivalence I have always felt towards my own work, but which I have refused to internalise. Richard Howard writes in the foreword to The Pleasure of the Text by Roland Barthes: "In the puritanism of our expressivity, what can be said is taken - is likely - to be no longer experienced, certainly no longer enjoyed."

I analyse and write about what I like and enjoy, and I insist on searching for the words to describe this pleasure, and still go on enjoying afterwards. But then again, I have occasionally been accused of simply being lewd.
Adrian's avatar came barging into my room at linguaMOO with a little tail of student-avatars trailing him, to ask me if MOO texts are oral. Since I was more than a little distracted at the time, I tried to convince Adrian that it can't be, because my voice is so much more sexy than my writing. I fear he didn't quite buy that as a scholarly argument (his precise words in the response were: you wish), so I'll have to try again.

Roland Barthes writes:
The music one plays comes from an activity which is very little auditory, being above all manual (and thus in a way much more sensual). It is the music which you or I can play, alone or among friends, with no other audience than its participants (that is, with all risk of theatre, all temptation of hysteria removed); a muscular music in which the part taken by the sense of hearing is one only of ratification, as though the body were hearing - and not 'the soul'; a music which is not played 'by heart': seated at the keyboard or the music stand, the body controls, conducts, co-ordinates, having itself to transcribe what it reads, making sound and meaning, the body as inscriber and not just transmitter, simple receiver. (Barthes 1977:149)

In the same way the body is involved in the creation of music through an instrument, the body is involved in the creation of words through my voice, an act so intimate it cannot be imitated by any other means of communication. And while I know that very few proofread, the way I do, there is that moment of composition. That moment to consider your words in a MOO denotes nothing but the fact that you are typing, but in a spoken conversation it's immediately made to mean so much else: insecurity, reflection, arrogance, wariness - even aggression - depending on the tone of voice, infliction, speed, volume...

Do the MUD conversations have characteristics which might be similar to oral communication? I would guess so. Are they oral in nature? NO, I am TYPING!
Terroren preger hele verden
First pages throughout the world, presented by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

comfort and information through the net
this link is on as well, but I leave it here because this is how things happened yesterday. When the phones were overloaded and the antennas for Manhattan down - and that was television antennas as well - the net did what it was supposed to do - provided decentralised information.
Buildings Burn and Fall as Onlookers Search for Elusive Safety
Eyewitness accounts. It's interesting to learn what people focus on in a crisis. The perception narrows down to what is important, and the horror only registers when the immediate danger is not as acute. People seems to have panicked in the street outside and around the building, but not inside, where the only thing they would do was to make their way.

Can this be because inside, there was only one option, and there was no need for the indecision of panic? Or have we just not heard of those who panicked, because they never got out?
Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.
This is probably the most visual terrorist attack ever. It was like a movie, even the weather was perfect. It will change the world, and the feelings about terrorism everywhere. This might be the end of reason and tolerance when dealing with terror. The insanity of the plane-crash into the World Trade Center is how these terrorists are using up all emotional ammunition of all terror organisations in one operation. Nobody wins a war fought like this.

Some thoughts off the top of my head: people in hostage situations will expect to die and not attempt to survive, planes which are hijacked will be shot down rather than permitted to deviate from the course, if the operations were not originally suicide missions, that's what they will end up as...

Perhaps this denotes the end of terrorism as an effective means of blackmail; the rhetoric of terror only works as long as there is hope that lives can be saved, that listening and negotiating will lead to less damage than a quick strike. After the morning September 11th New York time, all any government will think of at the slightest threat of a terrorist act is to keep the damage as small as possible - if they have to sacrifice 100 hostages to save thousands of lives, so be it.
such beautiful pictures. and such horrible events. The phone-lines from Norway to USA are still busy...

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

I spent the afternoon with the lap-top in front of the television. A social chat-room was turned into a news-room within minutes after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. A dutch banker and stockbroker kept me updated on the news from Reuter through ICQ. My friend in New York, Matthew, couldn't get home to Brooklyn or call out from work, as he was evaquated within minutes after the second crash, and the cell-phone antennas were on top of the World Trade Center, so there was no signal. He checked in through the net, so I wouldn't worry, spending hours trying to call people on Manhattan from a friend's apartment, to be able to reassure others through the net that their loved ones were fine.

This was a surreal afternoon. Adam, a student and friend at the Columbia University set this as his automated response to any who might page him: "Auto response from DaseinDilettante: I'm ok...things here are a little crazy...everyone's just wandering aimlessly around in this surreal approximation of real life that today has turned into. I'll be back in a bit." But the net worked as a communication device when the phones broke down. It works as it is designed.

Monday, September 10, 2001
Last fall I spent four months living in Brooklyn, and a lot of my free time I spent walking around in the Bay Ridge Area, with trips to Prospect Park, taking pictures of details: houses, gardens, decorations. For a Norwegian, a garden of plastic Santas mixed with angels, or perhaps particularly the many Halloween-decorations were very exotic. However, when I got home, I sent the films by mail to have them developed - and they got lost. I don't have one picture from that period, none of my children's visit in their fall break, nothing.

This is why finding these beautiful pictures of details of buildings in Prospect Avenue is such a thrill for me. The architecture of Brooklyn is whimsical at one moment, ugly the next, just like the gardens or door-steps would be: one housefront barren, ugly and worn down, perhaps with garbage blown up in a corner, next door it would be bright, decorated and neat, cared for to the extreme.

Friday, September 07, 2001

ebr11 --
I just dipped into Cybertext by Espen Aarseth again, searching for the difference between Cyber- and Hyper-texts, and this is how I understood it:

Hyper-texts are the structuring of texts with links, whether it is mediated by paper or computers. Cyber-text is a perspective of texts where a text is not the same as the message in a sender-message-receiver-model, but a part of different communication systems where the system takes part in the creation.

Not clear yet? I'll be back to this, but I do feel that a hypertext is a series of links in a tree- or net- or what-ever structure, while a Cybertext is a game, where the text isn't even created until that stage in the game "happens." I am tucking the book into my bag right now, bringing it with me home to read - again.
Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies
Introducing Cyberculture by David Silver is an interesting piece of writing, both for what it includes and what it excludes. Are games not part of Cyberculture - or I guess I should ask: has the position of games in Cyberculture been static since Turkle published Life on the Screen in 1995?
How to save Gonzalo from becoming a murdering maniac? I have thought about that problem for quite a while. As Lars points out, "Everyone in the field of computer game studies and you might add media studies in general are subject to this kind of inferior way of looking upon media: the so-called media effects. These studies might be dangerous in many ways. "

One of these days (unless somebody beats me to it) I will sit down and write the history of media panics, the myth of how new media will have power over the simple minds of everybody but the few responsible souls who see the danger and worry on behalf of the rest of the brainwashed public. It's a story of academic arrogance, of conservative views expressed as fear and concern, and of a clever move of projection; where the problems of society are projected to the new media rather than to where they belong.

Children don't spend 10 hours a day before the television because it's so hypnotic, they do it because their parents can't afford to spend time with them and take them out to have first-hand experiences. Parents don't use television as a baby-sitter because they are idiots, but because the mobile society leaves them isolated, without a social network and with no other options. Blaming the media is so much cheaper than giving social support to single mothers or building child-care centers and supporting sports or cultural activities for the older children.

Perhaps the people who blame the media are right that the public is easily fooled - at least, judging from the many many requests I get for doing lectures on: "Why computer-games are bad for children," the public is easily distracted from the real issues of power and distribution of resources.

Thursday, September 06, 2001
because when I miss New York, that also means I miss Brooklyn. I'll be watching this blog for pictures.
"True Love" or "To Lie"?

I was surfing safely along, checking out some favourite blogs, when I looked in on Lane and Stu's site, The story the site told was really a modern love-story. They were young, attractive, in love - and separated by the Pacific Ocean. To give an edge and a sense of urgency to their desire to meet each other, he had cancer. Now they were displaying their love and warmth, giving others a chance to contribute some money to letting two true lovers meet.

In The Princess Bride Goldman lets the dead hero moan "true love" as his reason for wanting to return to life, and the hag and wife of the necromancer yells at her husband for not helping, true love being the most noble of all causes. Her husband claims that what he heard was "to lie", and if he helps, he will eventually be cheated. This is the dilemma I experienced as I read the story of Lane and Stu the first time - true love or an inventive hoax?

I linked them in my blog, and commented on this. Soon Jill had seen the post. Since she feels that Melbourne is local (no matter where she is, Melbourne is close) and this should be possible to check, within seconds her fingers flew over the keyboard composing an email to the Melbourne journalist Jenny Sinclair. Jenny Sinclair had seen the blog already, but didn't consider it "a case" until Jill pointed her to my blog, and the possibility that it might be a hoax. At that point the journalist agreed that it was worth following up on anyway, if it wasn't a hoax, then it was a really sweet little human-interest story.

The rest is documented in, and the story can be read at the Age's site. Sadly, we don't get to see the pictures Lane thinks are so great of Stu.

This is an interesting example of how small the world is. When making a little effort - and since Stu had provided a cell-phone-number and was nice enough to agree to the interview - it is actually possible to check on people on the net. Somebody knows somebody - and suddenly the person you want to know something about isn't such a stranger after all. It's also somehow disappointing. As long as they might have been extremely clever con-artists, Lane and Stu had an aura of mystery. Now they are just a couple of cute kids who are hoping that some stranger will take pity on them and support the most noble cause: true love.

As for me? I guess I am more of the necromancer than his hag: when others hear "true love" I hear "to lie".
In the book by P.D. James I just read, Adam Dalgliesh lifted the hands of the victim. The right hand was stained red with blood, from gripping the handle of the knife with which her throath had been slit. Dalgliesh let his fingers slide gently along hers. His conclusion was that she was murdered, by someone who did not know she was left-handed. Why? She had a small callus on her left middle finger, from writing.

I know I have this thickening of the right middle finger, betraying that I write with my right hand - it's not really callused, just the first joint being slightly thicker than on the left hand. I wonder if this will change in the future? Will there perhaps be a slight thickening of the first joint of the right thumb, from hitting the space-bar? Will the muscles of the right arm, the ones that control the right middle finger, be more developed from controlling the mouse or joystick? What will the Dalgliesh of the future look for before he can rise from examining the victim, to say, in his calm, polite manner "she was murdered"?

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

As I looked in on Azhad today, Jasalm, the coder, was very happy about his new feature: contest

Syntax: Contest

The contest command allows two characters to generate a probabilistic outcome based on their attributes. This is intended as a roleplaying aid for emoted combat and any situation where an objective comparison is needed.

Some examples of situations where contest might be used:
str - arm wrestling
dex - juggling
con - drinking contests
int - games of strategy
wil - staring contest

A "combat" contest is a somewhat different thing. Essentially it evaluates one combat attack, using all relevant attributes, skills, equipment, and magical affects of both characters. The command then
informs the room of the attack, the outcome, and the amount of damage done (if any).

See also: attack, execute, emote, attributes.

The point being: while you might not want to attack an opponent and fight to the death or until one party flees (as you do with the kill-command), you might want to demonstrate that you are using force and your character should be able to do what the player emoted.

This is an interesting feature, something between fighting and emoting, and possibly something Jasalm is the first to include in a MUD.
And this is where I nicked the picture: Willkommen bei inkognito
The artist is Michael Sowa, the picture is called Dompteur (a.k.a Sarah Zupko's Cultural Studies Center)
Sarah Zupko didn't have the article I am looking for by Brecht on radio theory (I have it in Norwegian and have ordered the German text, I am hunting for an english version), but her site is very useful!

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

Musical Expression and Digital Media
The development of new music services was helped enormously by the increasing dialogue with and between media users. Interactivity was an important requirement of Berthold Brecht's radio theory long before the start of the multimedia era. Brecht saw radio not just as a medium of distribution but as a medium of communication. It was digital technology, however, which opened the way to wide-ranging interactive measures in the media landscape. They are found in the music sector in constantly refined forms, providing access to specific media products through analysis of usage, calculated by 'hits' to website files. But more than this, they allow the development of exchange forums about the beauty of music, and of its channels.
Berthold Brecht envisioned for radio what we today do, online. Can you imagine the conversations, crossing and crisscrossing in the ether, as voices mingle with the freedom of a two-way public radio?

The vision has been a dream of media democracy since it was written down. Today we can better imagine the limitations, but also better understand how such freedom can be achieved.
~*Winston's Journal*~
Do we have a secret admirer? Winston here has linked almost the entire list of blogs in the gaming/computing/gender/digital media "cluster" I keep visiting. He is a student in Singapore, and writes of his explorations and revelations on the ideology of theory.

One day I will return to Singapore, an Indian psychic on the street with her psychic (trained) parrot consulted the numbers and told me so. She also told me I'd have a new house within 2 years, and it took 5 years, so I guess "returing to Singapore" doesn't have to happen in this reincarnation....

Monday, September 03, 2001

damnthepacific dot com
and while we are talking of lane and stu...

looks like stuart is meeting with a journalist, and will have his face in a paper! This is rather convincing.

So why do I trust newspapers more than blogs? Because newspapers are part of public, traceable organisations which can be held economically and legally responsible for their errors. A journalist has to do research, and they have access to tools for tracking the identity of a person. And not the least: that paper will be read by the people living where Stuart lives. He might think ripping off anonymous strangers would be good if it worked, but when your neighbours learn what you are up to, then you have committed your reputation and your social status, not just some hours spent online.

Geography still matters.
Where the body resides is where you will most easily feel the result of your actions. I'll be waiting to hear about the interview, and then who knows, once the media pick up on the story the dollars they need might be theirs without any of them needing to sell computers, webcams or other essentials of this Information Age.
Hmm. The scandinavian-flavoured cluster.
In the cluster I feel like a part with, are people I like to talk to and exchange opinions with. Hilde - I have been chatting with her every day for the last year at lingua MOO, Jill - I exchange emails with her, blog back and forth, and chat with her and Adrian when I see them at lingua, Lisbeth, Elin, Gonzalo - I meet them at conferences and can exchange everything from just polite nods to deep personal information depending on the situation.

It's people I like to talk to. Is it elitist to choose a medium which makes our conversations public? If we discussed a topic which didn't belong in the academic sphere, and so didn't rely quite as much on our cultural capital, would it be less elitist that we linked to each others and discussed among ourselves?

For me, blogging goes in waves, sometimes I find things which interest me in the blogs of my friends, sometimes I find interesting things in blogs of people I never knew, sometimes I just read books and think about them instead. I don't do the "you blog me I blog you" thing, as the online-lovers lane and stu from so aptly call "linkslutting", but I do the: "you talk about something that interests me or annoys me or makes me think and I blog you" thing. After all - I am the editor of this blog. What I think is interesting is what goes. Perhaps I need some new friends?
OK, issn isn't copyright... sorry Jill, I think I got confused here somewhere...
Do I want copyright on these pages?
A lot of other academic bloggers are getting that by now. Jill has had it for a while, Lisbeth just got it, Lars just got it.

Let's go back and review what this is. It's a way for me to update my friends, to let my hands write around my real work, to store links which I might or might not use... mainly, this blog is the excess of my intellectual life (and sometimes the garbage). While I will track down and do nasty things to whoever tries to claim they wrote my academic papers or my thesis, these are the left-overs or the surplus, and if somebody else finds value in it, well, at least I trust their source of information!