Monday, December 31, 2001

I have been complaining to Adrian about this house: despite the fact that I love it, it looks like my parents or in-laws live here. That might be because we have inherited quite a bit of furniture, though. But some items would never have been part of their homes. My mother made it very clear that something like that big ugly thing (she used thing, not computer) would never be part of her livingroom. What I am happy about is my favourite room in the house, the kitchen. The furnishing is real plastc imitation wood from the 70ties, and after I removed most of the lovely green glass knobs and painted the green (different shade of green) wallpaper, this is the room where I like to set up the lap-top and enjoy a quiet day of working at home. The picture is painted by my sister, and has followed us from kitchen to kitchen for almost 15 years.

The view isn't so great, but the room feels safe and restful to me (when I have done the dishes).

One of the things which might be so frustrating to my sense of interiors is that it's a 70ies house built with some of the qualities of the old traditional farm-houses. That gives us a house designed to hold one of the large, generous living-rooms which was the best part of the houses built from 1965-1980 in Norway, but compromising. This house has that wonderful kitchen and a good, sizeable laundry-room, rather than the tiny rooms the times demanded for a modern household, which reduces the scope of the livingroom and makes it smaller and (shudder) cozy.
In the last month three young men have disappeared on their way home from parties here in Norway. I know: 47 people, all related, were killed in a car-accident in South-Afrika, and I am talking about three young men between 16-19 who didn't come home from the parties they were at. But it's such a different situation. If this had been women, we would have cried sex-crime and th police would be rounding up known rapists for questioning. But since it's three young men, they assume that they have gotten themselves into trouble such as stumbling into the frozen rivers, fights with rivalling gangs, falling down drunk and freezing to death... Well, not any more, really. Now the Kripos: Criminal Police have been called in on the latest case as well, the disappearance of 17-year old Lars Gillesen Hognes. They are checking his internet accounts, his chats and his cell-phone to see if it can give a hint as to where he went Thursday night, rather than going home.

Newspapers like to make cases as large as possible, and introduce a fourth mystical disappearance from 1998 to make it look larger and more dramatic. Who knows, it might be connected. I find myself looking at maps, wondering what kind of person is moving slowly from Hemsedal and south through wintery, frozen Norway, looking for young, pretty men - or boys, really, just few years older than my own son - seeking out parties and perhaps offering them a lift or the experience of their lives... It has to be someone who looks harmless, perhaps even seductive: an old man who needs assistance, a middle-aged woman who reminds them of their mothers or a favourite aunt, a pretty young girl who smiles at them, a cool boy who could be one of them...

It's like the plot of some particularly nasty mystery-novel. And I find that I watch the news with the same feeling of doom as I read crime-novels. Will the next boy disappear to the south... or back up north? We all know those plots: according to the conventions of literature, it can't stop now.
Jurgen Habermas, some links.
A quick overview of his Critical Theory
From Representative Publicity to Public Sphere
Habermas links, Habermas rechts you need to read German to both appreciate this clever title and the site with the mixture of quotes in German and English.
Habermas and the Frankfurter school, and despite the consistent use of "was" in this article, Habermas is not dead and his contributions to scholarly thinking are still at the "is" stage. The rest of the Frankfurter school can be spoken of in past tense though.
More Habermas resources.

Sunday, December 30, 2001

Following the comments on "The Social Network Explorer", I have had an email which told me things I didn't know about blogs and bloggers. Interesting things about networks that are created in the old fashioned way of physical contact (sometimes very close contact), about a feudal system worthy of Habermas' re-feudalisation, and certainly not the public sphere of discourse I thought this to be. Habermas uses the words which are translated "Borgerlig Offentlighet" from German to Norwegian... when I try to translate to English, I get "Public Public", a ridiculous phrase. But his idea was that a rational exchange of ideas could happen in a space where all can express their meaning informally and as equals. This would lead to an open discourse, informed and democratic, which would be the best base for decision. According to Habermas, we had such a state of innocense in the 19th and early 20th century. It was succeeded by Re-Feudalisation.

No, I am not quoting sources or even passing the words on. But I'll be dragging Jurgen Habermas out of the shelf, read up on the theory (OK, so I have to teach classes on this anyway) and see what I can do about tracking links. Perhaps there is a way to use the social network explorer after all.

Friday, December 28, 2001

A new toy, and I have to check it out (by way of Jill and Hilde): The Social Network Explorer. It makes interesting claims, it says that I have only one blogger friend: Hilde on But if asked, I'd call both Jill and Lisbeth Friends... Then it goes on to recommend some people I might make friends: I know some of them, and we are at polite nodding terms, our connection is that we work in the same field. Why should I want to be their "blog-friends"?

I am feeling imposed upon by all these tools. I don't keep track of who reads and who looks in here, who links and who comments - I don't like the thought that others can use something like this explorer and decide the level of popularity of my weblog, or the number of the links, or the coolness factor of tose who have linked to me... It takes away something from the pleasure of writing, it invades my space on the net. Perhaps what I want is to write in a Jane's space, such as Mark Bernstein describes, where only those who know what to look for can find me.

No, I don't want that either... I just want to have my weblog in peace, one place where I can write, think, share, and not compete.
Mark Bernstein is in Singapore, and I am thoroughly jealous of him. It's - 10 C outside, and I can't stop thinking about the old lady in the Indian Quarter, who foretold my future. She claimed I'd be back to Singapore one day (of course, after she had questioned me on what I do for a living, if I like travelling, if I like Singapore and other relevant questions). She also claimed with authority that we'd buy a larger house in two years and it was more than five before that happened, so perhaps I'll not return to Singapore in this life, but in the next.
Looking for definitions of amateur, I came across this delightful sceptics dictionary. It has a small article on alpha waves, which correspond with the measurements made of children watching television, where the brain activity was dominated by beta waves. Because the desired alpha waves were supressed and the beta waves (fast/active) were dominant, researchers concluded that television worked like a drug on children. This was the base of a lot of fear of television and later any monitor media, when it came to the effect on children. I haven't heard much about this particular brand of media research lately, but the harm is done: the belief resurfaces at intervals to make parents blame television for what's wrong with their kids rather than looking at their own life-styles, diets, exercise or activity-patterns.
amateur at Merriam-Webster OnLine
Entry Word: amateur
Function: noun
Text: 1 one having a marked and usually informed taste or liking for something
amateur: a person who engages in a study, sport or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit or professional reasons.
Fall 2000 I spent in New York, a visiting scholar at the department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. It was a time of forced introspection and sadly very little contact with the host department, exept a series of lectures I followed. Particularly the classes of Fred Moten were wonderful, the sheer cultural shock of sitting in on the classes of a black academic specialicing on jazz was enough to make my brain shift gears and new paths of thought open.

Halfway through the semester the kids came over for the fall vacation, and we all found room on the floors of an apartment already filled pretty well with me, my books and Matt. He was planning to give up the apartment to us while the kids were visiting, but he was soon drawn into the chatter, charmed by their pleasure with life and their curiosity. Returning from NYC, I had a lot of films I needed to develop, but they all disappeared in the mail. The only pictures I have from that fall are the ones Matt had taken with his camera. Dub Rogers, another NYC friend, scanned some of them, and look: here they are: Matt, Sine (she's a friend of my daughter), Erla and Hauk under the Verrazano Bridge.
Finally cleaned up.
Blogger played tricks with me tonight. I posted a picture and a story - then decided that picture deserved a better-told story, and deleted it - I thought. It refused to be deleted, and I posted an explanation: that I was trying to delete, but couldn't. That post didn't publish. At that point I decided that I didn't want to go crazy over it, and I went to bed.

When I came to work today, the picture and the story was still at the blogspot, and the explanation still wouldn't post. So I deleted the explanation and published again, and it all cleared up!

Events like these are what makes people antropomorph technology. It seems so reasonable to explain them through human or animal characteristics: Blogger was stubborn, the post refused to be deleted, the program changed its mind and I managed to convince blogspot to let go of the offending post.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

And this shows a piece of the house as well, almost snowed down. We are tucked up there, the four of us and the cat, surviving on Christmas left-overs for a while yet, don't worry.

I have had some wonderful christmas presents in the mailbox: pictures, pictures, pictures.

The next days you'll be introduced to how I look, to my friends and family, and the famous house with space for guests. And there will even be a picture of the elusive mr Miles of Melbourne, even if he is turning his back to the camera and does a good "nisse" impersonation. But the first picture will show the view I have moved to - this time, in one of the more mellow moods:

This picture is taken from the balcony just outside the bedroom - sadly it's not the right temperature for a romantic glass of wine, but those who insist on roughing it will be served a steaming cup of gløgg, I promise.
Jill had found this more suitable version of "which XXX are you?", this one for gamers, and I guess it wasn't all that surprising that I am an adventurer.

What Video Game Character Are You? I am a Gauntlet Adventurer.I am a Gauntlet Adventurer.

I strive to improve my living conditions by hoarding gold, food, and sometimes keys and potions. I love adventure, fighting, and particularly winning - especially when there's a prize at stake. I occasionally get lost inside buildings and can't find the exit. I need food badly. What Video Game Character Are You?

The alternative was a little more surprising, but hey, it's a classic, and I guess that is the best that can be said of women my age in this "game":

What Video Game Character Are You? I am Pacman.I am Pacman.

I am an aggressive sort of personality, out to get what I can, when I can. I prefer to avoid confrontation, but sometimes when it's called for, I can be a powerful character. I tend to be afflicted with munchies constantly. What Video
Game Character Are You?

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

Several years ago, my younger sister gave me a five-year diary for Christmas. She thought I'd like to write and compare: what happened when - to keep track of the way the kids grew and time passed. Writing a diary has never been about the passage of time for me, it's always been about a project, a topic, a journey, my experiences, but not the daily grind.

The five-year diary was never touched. I have diaries from travels with the kids, I have travelling-letters from my journeys alone, saved and stored, I have descriptions and short notes in a long list of note-books, which I have always used while doing academic work, but I never picked up that leather-bound, gold-edged beautifully printed diary, even to write my name in it.

Today I gave it to my mother. She's 76 years old, has a heart-condition, and keeps telling us that she will die soon. She has also lived through a war, the development of this country from an industry-low farm-country (there are some wonderful pictures of my sisters and the horse they used to run the farm they were managing, I always envied my sisters for having lived on a farm with a horse) to a technologically advanced society. Her father and grandfather were stone-masons, they participated in building the rail-road from Bergen to Oslo and were active agitators in the labour-party; which played an important part in building the well-fare society which Norway is today. Her late husband, my father, was sami, and she taught him to read and write after they had met - forcing him to read out loud from the newspapers every day. Now when we struggle with my son's dyslexia, she nods in recognition, and says that's the same problems as his grandfather had. My son doesn't have to switch from his mother-tongue to Norwegian to learn to read, and he grows up surrounded with books and technology to assist him, but the inherited dyslexia is pretty much the same, even down to the same type of errors: mixing up b and p, d and t, k and g.

Suddenly, holding that diary, I realised that the knowledge which was important to me personally, and which is about to be lost to me, is my mother's knowledge of the past. If she managed to write down her thoughts and recollections it would be a document of far more value to me than the huge house she insists she is keeping for us to inherit, or the treasured knick-knacks in her cabinets. Much as I love the bowls and chests my father painted and cut out, or the finely embroidered table-clothes we never dared use as I was a child, the inheritance I will miss and which will be lost forever when she is gone, is her knowledge.

I find myself hoping that she'll use that diary, And I also find myself wondering how I can download the files from this blog, store it on a cd and hide it for my kids to find when cd's are obsolete, antiquated technology...

Sunday, December 23, 2001

It's almost Christmas. Will I be blogging? I guess so. The ADSL to my house works admirably, and I'll need to think of something other than cakes and food. I tend to get over-dosed on being nice. However, my kids are turning into interesting, intelligent people I enjoy spending time with. 14 years ago I had one of them in my belly while the other was running around in a red dress shining with glitter. She hunted down the old lunch-bag of my brother-in-law, and while we were eating grouse on Christmas Eve, she was eating dark bread with brown cheese, slightly stale, but stolen, private and without having to sit around and listen to the grown-ups.

Today those two are tall, lanky teen-agers, getting ready to grow taller than me. They use me for transport, money and food, I use them for research, testing out computer games and sites on them: "hey, can you have a look at this, how does it work, what is it about?" I also use them for recognizing people and remembering names (something I am spectacularly bad at): "Who's that? Whose mother is she? Should I say hello? Do I know her?"

In this way we have come to realise that living together is useful for all of us, not just a strict neccessity until I can legally throw them out/they can legally flee the house. Others told me that having teen-agers would be the real test to my temper: I think it's so nice and so easy - much easier than the screaming horrors of sleepless nights, or the stubborn, unreasonable 4-year-olds, not to talk of the distracted, thoughtless 9-year-olds... These are almost adults: nice intelligent adults who surprise and challenge me, but also support and assist me.

Too good to be true? I fear so, and expect disaster to strike. Until then, I'll enjoy this Christmas, which feels like it will be a good one.

Saturday, December 22, 2001

Jill, what are you saying? I thought you knew about Spillets leser, leserens spill from 1997? But it's not published in a large publishing house, it's published by the college, and no, I don't teach games, I teach public relations, which is how I came into studying games at all. At the same time there was a flurry of thesises to Masters levels, particularly in Oslo, at the Department of Media Studies and the Informatics Department. About now - 4-5 years later, games as a tool in teaching is fairly well established and explored, and it is about time for taking the games seriously - as we both know.

Eva Liestøl must have written quickly and efficiently though... I really want to have a look at her book.

Friday, December 21, 2001

I've just been to see Lord of the Rings, and I have two teen-agers walking around all starry-eyed talking about details from the film. No, it's not like the book, and I would have liked Glorfindel to be there, he was one of my major focuses for fantasies all through being a teen-ager and well into my twenties. I think that was because he was quite well described, enough that I constantly expected to meet him again in the book, while I never did. There has been some later controversy though, spawning discussions about the identity of Glorfindel, wondering if he was originally slain by a balrog and then returned to Middle Earth from the halls of waiting. Me, I didn't delve into his past, I enjoyed imagining what he was doing to fight Sauron and the darkness while the book was busy following Frodo, Aragorn and the rest of the fellowship of the ring. I have to admit that Arwen doesn't quite fit the role of fantasy character for me, not even to identify with. My favourite was always Eowyn - she acts, she goes out there and she makes a difference, rather than just sit around and be loved. But she ends up with the better choice though - Faramir was an other favourite, perhaps because he was an academic at heart!

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

More people have tracked down my email-address; Frank Schaap who maintains the site/blog (which is in my habitual surfing-path) used his knowledge of non-english languages to track me down to tell me that I had better be careful to even joke about "men" and "women" as mutually exclusive categories:

gender is a social construction and thus gender is what we say it is and repeating that men and women are 'naturally' different and can or cannot understand eachother (unless they're gay/lesbian, which, in this warped common sense theory, makes them less of a man or less of a woman and more like the 'opposite sex'... heterosexuality after all must prevail!) is IMHO not a very constructive way of thinking about people... about individuals.

What shall I say but: thank you Frank, for saying and knowing this, there's hope for human-kind, in either gender or versions of genders, as long as there are nice young men like you out there. Me, I am a lot of things, but very few have accused me of being straight. Sometimes I don't hear the warning bells of genderised doom when I fool around: thanks for this pre-Christmas jingling.
Oh, and I love your puss - same colour as my cat.

From this morning's mail: Jesper Juul, applying his well-developed sense of humour, points out that women don't understand men either. Thank you Jesper, that's one of the things I thought I had figured out, and now I have to start all over again....

His other point really shot holes in my theory about the construction of the artificial female: Turing preferred men! Now that positions Turing right up there with people who understand women, right alongside fashion designers designing women fashion which fits young boys. I think I'll stop there, before I fall into a rant about how women who have reached the age when they are supposed to be fertile normally have breasts and hips, not to mention waists! That I am sure has little to do with exposing/testing artificial intelligence, only with artificial bodies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Jill, men have so much trouble understanding women, they probably hope that if they can program a reliable fake, they'll know how the female mind works. If the Turing game helps them think they are in control, at least it gives them a pick-up line which I don't worry about: "I don't understand my artificial female."

yes, that will make the girls melt...
The Quest to End Game Addiction
This looks like a sane view on game addiction: "Compulsive playing tends to mask underlying problems such as depression, anger and low self-esteem, said Orzack, who said she was once hooked on computer solitaire. " Still, reading about online addictions on the net (of course), it turns out that I am addicted to just about everything that might give pleasure: games, chatting, shopping, work, cyber-sex - and some tests for offline addictions: regular in the flesh sex, books, comics, television, chatting with friends in coffee-shops, chocolate... I can't have any of these addictions too badly, since I have time for all of them, but the criteria for addictions keep making me an addict when ever I take a test.

I guess that says more about the nature of tests online. I'd like to see tests which checked if I am addicted to my children, for instance. I know I would be, because I have at times neglected work, friends and social activities, as well as given up hobbies, to have more time for my children. Right now I would probably be told that I am addicted to Christmas preparations, because I'll be neglecting a lot of my other addictions for that...
Mark Bernstein comments on Gonzalo Frasca and the relationship play/narrative.
I'll get back to this. But at the moment, I feel like Gonzalo: there are too many who say that play is narrative. When I have the energy (read, when I don't feel that I am just spitting in the ocean when I try to say something about different types of play and different relationships to narrative) I'll get back to why play is not narrative, although it's possible to construct narratives from and about play. That's not the same thing though.
Hey, Kerstin! *hugs*
OK: Lord of the Cockrings. It just had to come.
Mann, kjærligheten er ditt håp
An article in Norwegian, discussing the problems of men in a society where women have stopped looking after them as well as looking up to them. It leads to men having worse health, less confidence and shorter life-expectancy - Darwinism would claim that men will end up at the garbage bin of development soon. The article concludes that: Man, love is your only hope.

For those who believe in planning ahead, read Sheri S. Tepper: The Gate to Women's Country.
Dave Winer has the nominees for the blogger of the year award, and it's interesting to see who's nominated and what kind of sites they maintain. My impression from a quick browsing through, is that it's men discussing technical/economic/political news, and very often referring to - each other.

At, the blog babe of the week might be disappearing. Since I got nominated but didn't make it to the top (steep competition there, I am sure....) I have been kind of miffed and been absolutely certain that it's all a matter of showing enough skin in the pictures sent to the jury of one... No, I don't think so - but it's symptomatic that it's been possible for one guy to find and promote a female blogger every week of the year, but when an other is supposed to choose the 15 outstanding ones there are two women: Heather Champ and Susan Kitchens.

I'll not go into personal bias, because weblogs are biased, it's one of my favourite things about blogs that they are subjective and personal. I have however found that blogs are good tools and a good medium for women in which to publish and to speak out, it's not a lack of good female bloggers that gives the ratio 13:2 among the nominated bloggers of the year.
Conference Video : NIC2001 - Nordic Interactive Conference 2001
For us who weren't there, but have been following Jill's reports and want to see more.

Monday, December 17, 2001

The Turing Game and The Risk of The Personal in Jill/txt.

I haven't read Jill's article or the response to it or played the Turing Game, so I am eminently unfit to comment on this. I guess that means I can be objective?

Objective is an interesting retoric position. Teaching journalism, I have stopped using the word "objective", only speaking of "etterrettelighet": an open way of writing which lets your reader check your sources - staying honest and thrustworthy within the context where you work.

No writing can be objective: even natural science or hard data sociology is victim to the context in which its researched and reported. Not being objective doesn't mean there is no truth, but it shows that truth is limited: a fact is limited by the situation in which it is observed.

A researcher is part of the context of research, a scholar is his or her own tool: not showing your face, your position and your opinions: your pre-understanding, is to hide a part of the context in order to make your statements seem to be more general, more valid: more objective. It's a long way from hermeneutic pre-understanding to the reflexive methods of action research, but even hermeneutics, the text-analysis of sosiologists, is clear about the limitations of facts and the need for interpretation of all facts.

Interpretation leads to subjectivity, and no careful proofreading removes the subject from my text, even if I don't use "I" at all, thus successfully hiding the source of the stream of words on the screen or the page. Our most important tool as text-scholars is interpretation: we all try to do it as honestly as possible, showing what we interpret how and why rather than just stating our feelings/findings, but it's still the work of the subject. A well-trained, honest and precise subject, perhaps, but still...
Computer Games and Digital Cultures
Speaks for itself. Go there. Talk. Listen. Grow.
journalism and blogs
Mike Sanders in his blog keep trying questions blogging and journalism. Blogging has been called personal journalism, and so Sanders asks if that means that we are all journalists now.

From a professional standpoint (as a teacher of journalists), that is a silly notion. I don't become a reporter because I write a report, I don't become a nurse just because I nurse a relative, I don't become a cook because I cook, I don't become a carpenter when I hit a nail with a hammer. What has happened is that the net and blogger has given the tools to publish to everybody. I can write and publish with the same ease as I can make dinner. The results from this general publishing is as varied as the results from home-cooking as well. Some bloggers just heat up half-chewed junk-food, others cook wonderfully elaborate meals. But when we are invited to eat with a friend, we don't insist on the food being perfect: we enjoy what we like, skip what we hate, focus on the fact that we were invited to share and compliment the efforts gone into the meal.
LuckNet Daily Horoscope Pisces
Your analytical skills and your intuition are at a peak today. Don’t hesitate to innovate and take bold initiatives.

Today’s Lucky Number: 19
Lucky color: blue
High energy point of the day: 11:00 p.m.
Sign to make friends with: Taurus

What shall I say? I have 10 hours and 50 minutes to go until my energy is at its high point today! No wonder I feel like I need lunch, not work.
Research Blog
The words "research" and "blog" are a sure way to get my attention. Samantha Callan has collected links to articles about academia, work and young children.

Friday, December 14, 2001

Back - almost - after the party, and here's a link for Norwegians, kind of in topic when talking about christmas tables: Vin på polet

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Snøord/Norwegian words for snow
I knew we had many words for snow - I didn't know it was this many.
All quiet on the blog-front...
For the next few days, I doubt if I will be blogging. No, I DON'T have tendonitis! What I do have is two days of assessing oral exams at the college, ending Thursday with a "Christmas Table" (julebord), the traditional Norwegian way of eating and drinking too much, with often disastrous effects for careers, work-relationships and marriages.

It's the closest thing we come to a "blot", the original norse celebration of the turn of the sun-wheel (Christmas is called Jul in Norwegian, which incidentally is almost the same word as for Wheel). The vikings would slaughter a pig to prepare for Jul, brew beer, bake, clean, visit the sauna and generally prepare for the darkest night as a celebration of life, wealth, fertility, warmth and light. In a good Norwegian "Julebord" you can see the same thing with a modern twist. We might wear heels and have showered rather than rolled in the snow before racing back to the sauna, but it's still a preparation to meet the darkness of winter, gathering mental strength to survive until the days grow longer and warmer.

So if I survive, and we haven't sacrificed a horse and gotten arrested for putting up a nid-stake, I'll be back in a proper Christmas mood.

Monday, December 10, 2001

Lisbeth and Jill down. I am starting to feel alone. And my hands are hurting a little as well...
Sometimes, I think newspapers take the "make the news"-slogan a little too seriously. Today's front-page in Dagbladet was a huge picture and a long description of norwegian oil platforms, why they would be exellent terror targets, and how the security and the defenses have been increased since september 11th.

In case there are any potential suicide bombers out there, reading this, let me tell you why Dagbladet is wrong and it would be a stupid idea to commit suicide by flying a plane into an oil-platform:

There are no cameras around to see what happens.
There will be no pictures of terrified innocents fleeing the fire, at best there will be some orange life-boats floating around in a puddle of oil.
There will be a lot of animals killed. This is bad, because killing people can be justified - but a war on species which are already in danger of extinction is bad publicity.
Norway isn't very powerful, and it won't launch huge retaliation scenarios where the country the terrorists hide in stands out like a suffering underdog - unless the terrorists happen to hide in Lichtenstein or Luxembourg.
Norwegians don't sound angry and arrogant on international television: they sound too helpless and clumsy for that.
Norwegian? We can swear as much as we like in the native language, it still sounds like the sweedish chef in muppet-show. Who can take a terrorist who picks the sweedish chef as a target seriously?

Anybody else have good reasons not to attack Norwegian Oil Platforms?
I was introduced to a new blog today. It looks interesting, and the writer has an exellent taste in links! But her comments-page didn't work with netscape, I might try from explorer later on.
Was this among the Taliban Games when Lisbeth, Jill and Gonzalo were posting several of them? I can't remember - no matter what, this is a very simple little thing where it's up to you to kill as many Taliban warriors as possible - and you can take out quite a few camels as well. The Statue of Liberty represents the US, stomping around like a giant, and the Talibani are running back and forth totally disorganised, but very quickly. I guess I should laugh... but I am left with an unpleasant aftertaste, and it's not sticky-sweet, as with the cats.
If you like cute pictures and cats, combined with musac, Cat Wisdom should be the thing for you. Personally, I am not too fond of "cute" and I am desperately looking for the off-button for the musac, but since a good friend passed it along, I looked patiently at all the sayings, and I will take one of them to heart:

When the going gets tough....
the tough find a sunny spot by a window.

Thursday, December 06, 2001

By way of Gonzalo Frasca: Rune Klevjer's open letter on his work concerning rhetorics and ideology in games.

Rune Klevjer: please get a blog! We need your voice in the daily discussions! - Kronikk
This article discusses recent media research from the University in Bergen, Department of Media Science, professor Martin Eide. It points out that there has been a change in power from the journalist and the media as the 4th power of the state, to the sources as more empowered. Norman Kirkeide, the author of the article, describes this as a loss of innocence: when the source knows how the media will use their information, and plans for it, and the media know that their sources know, and the audience has seen it all before.

Into this mixture Martin Eide and Terje Rasmussen throw the question of new media and the blurring borders between journalism and personal publishing.

I think I have to add that book to my wishlist for christmas.

If I were a work of art, I would be Piet Mondrian's Composition A.

I am rigidly organised and regimented, although my cold and unapproachable exterior hides a clever way of thinking and a rebellious and innovative nature. A lot of people don't understand me, but I can still affect them on an emotional level.

Which work of art would you be? The Art Test

Zarf's List of Interactive Games on the Web
On March 19th I mentioned my comfortable chair, HÅG Signét 7700. At that point it was new and a vast improvement from the chairs I had used before. It has saved me from the disabling pain in my back I tend to suffer from when I work too much, and it has also (I am certain) saved my hands and shoulders from the kind of problems Jill has now - I also tend to get problems with my hands.

Still, it could be better. I miss being able to change the angle of my hips while I am seated, and I want a chair where I can sit up and lean forwards, and the seat will follow me, or I can lean back and stretch out, and the angle in my hips will change and I can stretch the lower back. So today I had a visit from the very nice physiotherapist from the college health service. He had coffee, tried out the chair, read this blog, looked at my desk, tested the mouse (I need to get one with a wheel), frowned at the keyboard, squeezed my squeezy balls (and Jill, he agreed with me, you should use them, but not until your hands are better), told me that the makeshift "fix" of my desk done by the janitors here isn't acceptable and I deserve better (Ohhh, I really like this guy) and wrote down the address to blogger.

This physiotherapist comes highly recommended by my cat, he's one of the few people she prefers over me when it comes to sitting on laps, and I can see why, he doesn't just pet her, he massages her, the spoiled puss. But who can compete with this?

Wednesday, December 05, 2001
A band with their own online world! I wonder how something like this will relate to the game-worlds? Or are Aerosmith the only who are allowed to "play" here?
The "Quality Reform" damages student rights!
Today I am a Concerned, Norwegian Citizen.
I don't really know where to take my worry - and I am not really the one who should be worried, the students are. The new reform for colleges and universities in Norway is changing one of the best things with the system of grading students. While it will demand more feed-back to the students during the year, which is good and which the Media Department has been doing as long as I have worked there, it leaves the students at the mercy of the teacher they have to relate to all year. While I won't mind having very polite students, who don't want to piss me off, I don't think that makes for a healthy learning environment. I'll continue in norwegian - I don't have words in English for this.

Dette er hentet fra Kirke, Utdannings- og forskningsdepartementets brev om Kvalitetsreformen:

På bakgrunn av institusjonenes frihet med hensyn til valg av vurderingsordninger vil dagens system med to sensorer, hvorav én ekstern, ikke kunne opprettholdes som en generell ordning. I departementets merknader til § 50 nr. 1 heter det bl.a.: "Med lovendringen vil det være opp til den enkelte institusjon å fastsette hvordan den eksterne evalueringen kan gjennomføres, enten ved ekstern deltakelse i den enkelte vurdering eller ved ekstern evaluering av vurderingsordningene." Det henvises til merknadene for eksempler på alternativ bruk av ekstern sensor. Departementet vil oppfordre institusjonene til å utveksle erfaringer fra bruk av ulike ordninger.

Dagens bestemmelser om bruk av ekstern sensor gjelder inntil ny lov har trådt i kraft.

Mens mappevurderingen betyr bedre sjanser for studentene til å følge med i sin egen utvikling, betyr fjerningen av ekstern sensor innføringen av trynefaktoren som evalueringskriterium i høgskolesystemet. Selv om det er mulig å bruke ekstern sensor, er dette en av de største utgiftspostene til høgskolene i forbindelse med eksamensavviklingen, og bruken kommer til å bli kraftig redusert av økonomiske grunner. Dette fører til at studentene juridisk står svakere i forhold til underviserne. Og hva skjer med klageretten, når høgskolene står fritt til å oppnevne kommisjoner som bare består av interne medlemmer? "Mappevurderingen" er kanskje en fordel for studentene, men å fjerne den eksterne sensuren, den eksterne sensoren og høgskolenes vurdering av hverandre gjennom vurderingen av studentene er ikke en fordel.

For de interne sensorene er den eksterne sensoren også en viktig referanse, en mulighet til å få inn medarbeidere med kjennskap til andre deler av faglitteraturen, og en sikkerhet i tilfelle hvor lærer-student forholdet blir for tett og læreren kan være inhabil eller lite egnet til å vurdere studentens ferdigheter upartisk og noen lunde objektivt.

Hvorfor skriver jeg dette her? Jeg vet ikke hvor jeg skal vende meg for å gjøre studentene oppmerksom på hva som er i ferd med å skje med rettighetene deres. Jeg kommer til å lete etter de riktige kontaktene, men inntil videre har jeg i alle fall plassert et par viktige søkeord på nettet. Kvalitetsreform. Studievurdering. Eksamen. Eksamensformer. Sensur. Studenter. Rettigheter. Trynefaktor.

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

The Electronic Page
Allison Muri writes of the electronic text:

The theorizing of the electronic text revolves constantly around what is "real" and what is not--whether the representation is of "the order of sacrament," or of perversions of reality (orders of evil and malefice): a conversation posed as a uniquely post-postmodern crisis of truth, of body and mind and technology, of humanity itself, as though Socrates had never banned the poet from his Republic for creating representations three removes from the ideal, truth.

I found that I disagreed - but then I realised that I didn't disagree with Allison Muri, but with the theorizing.
mother helps you out... at least if you want to send sms-messages and prefer to write them on the computer rather than on the cell-phone.
Culture and Rationality
Peter Burgess, a colleague I haven't seen for quite a while, has written what looks like a very interesting book on what it is to be Norwegian. Last time I saw him he was on his way to Italy - I guess a book like this can only come about when it's written by a foreigner not at the moment living in Norway.
The Blog Twinning Project : thinking with my fingers
I have become twinned with Jill/txt!
An honour. And since Jill is the blog-idol of several of us Norwegian bloggers, perhaps not such a big surprise!

Monday, December 03, 2001

History - The Search
This is the story of the tree in Rockefeller Center. Somehow, I lose some of my holiday spirit when I think of these trees, perfect, ancient specimen, slowly growing in height and girth, sheltered from the wind and in healthy soil, the few trees left on this planet which have not been damaged by pollution or fallen before the expansion of human "civilisation".

Here in Norway, where several of the world's famous public Christmas trees come from, they are harder and harder to find due to acid rain carried here from the very nations we send our perfect trees to. The giants of the forest, cut from their roots and moved to die covered in lights, breathing their last scented breaths which for a short while replaces the stink of the city before they are dead, dry, cut up for firewood, burned and gone for ever; they leave me sad and tired, and not at all in a consuming mood.
You need to get into the Christmas Spirit but can't leave your computer? Have a look at EarthCam - MetroCams - Christmas Tree Cam. The Christmas Trees (a Norway Spruce) at Rockefeller Center.

Sunday, December 02, 2001

Lisbeth writes of games as spectator sports, and links to this article in BBC News Online. similar mechanisms even existed in the MUD I used to play: Dragon Realms. They had an OOC battle-command, where you could show off/test the strength of your character and your own skill against other players, without influencing the role-play. The results of the battle were announced to all the players in the game, and the characters were restored and returned to the game without having taken any loss in XP or having years added to their lives from the damage they took in this OOC battle. In a way it was a game inside the game.
Playing my character Miran the nice girl is almost impossible these days. The stress of writing demands that I get into something similar to a normal rhythm of day/night, while the players on Azhad are growing older and feel the pressure from the world around them. They no longer spend the nights there, staying online until I log on in the mornings, as they have jobs, spouses and responsibilities as well. There is this narrow window of opportunity in which I could play: between 10 pm and midnight, but I have grown too lazy to chase my kids off the computer - and they have grown into their own rhytms as well, playing, communicating, chatting online, the unlimited connectivity of the ADSL not changing the rhytms of their days and the need to send just one more email before they go to bed. With teen-age girls, there's always one more thing that needs to be said.. So Miran suffers, as does the faction, and I am trying out time-slots, hoping to find one which will let me meet up with people to role-play. Next step will most likely have to be to make an account at one of the huge graphic games, like Anarchy Online.
Just out of reach, wrapped in the words I need to put down is the resolution I have craved, which I have been anticipating ever since Wednesday. Researching computer games to me means that I have to forget about the traditional methods of textual analysis, and attempt to find the tools as well as the right questions to ask, before I can start finding answers. This has brought me to a point where I am using a mixture of literature theory, media theory, anthropology and sociology. This perverse mixture I have connected with Cultural Studies. The result is a varied (and labour-intensive) way of looking at MUDs, where the conclusion of most of the approaches I have tried has been: this is not quite right, this doesn't quite teach me the things I want to know. Most problematic is the way these methodologies deal with the subject of the researcher. Through all the work I have been doing I have seen that my work and my questions have had an impact on the games I have studied, changed the behaviour of the players and even lead to me being involved in developing games, testing out my own thoughts on games as well as learning.

Wednesday, I wrote about the delight in finding the work on Action Research, and yes, here it is, a methodology which takes the influence of the researcher and the fluid nature of human relations seriously. After all, there are no long traditions online, and to study net culture is less like studying the natives of Bhutan and more like studying an organisation in a period of change and development. Action research considers the subjects of the research to be active, individual and in possession of enough power to influence their own position in relation to the "organisation" being studied. It also opens for a mixture of methods, depending on which questions the researcher and the participants feel needs to be asked, with the participants or "subjects" being active without necessarily giving the control of the project to them. Some versions of Action Research is a kind of "Research of the Oppressed", where it connects to Boal's Drama of the Oppressed, treated like a tool to make the participant aware of their own position. This was not the intent of my research, but in a way it had that effect, as several of the interviews indicate.