Thursday, May 31, 2001

Aarinfel is closing - an other great role-play MUD goes down, and the politics of fighting over the players start. The original group of immortals are long since spread to other projects, at least two other MUDs in the process of being built have old Aarinfel administrators, at one time Dragon Realms administrators and players, a third MUD has Dragon Realms administrators and builders, as well as Aarinfel builders in the administrator staff, and the present administrator staff are building a new game. Aarinfel will not be closed until the new game is opened.

The world of MUDs is fluid, fluctuating, some good stories surface then fade out, with different levels of passion. I have played Eigar the male gay elf for two years.. the game has existed for not quite three years... some people claim they have been playing Aarinfel for up to four years, that's a slight (but interesting) exaggeration, unless they were the original staff of administrators. This intensity of the role-play, the feeling of ownership and the rush of creativity triggered by a good role-play area is both the attraction of the games and the reason they fall apart. Administrating a game isn't easy, and games like Aarinfel, Dragon Realms, World's End and The Infinite Point are run not by a professional and well-paid staff, but by normal people with a hobby, dealing with the hordes of eager creative players who all have their idea of what a great MUD would be.

I will wander on, I guess, to look for new games... I don't feel as homeless this time as when Dragon Realms closed and my female elf assassin fled the Realms with her human husband, priest of the Lord of Illusion and Delusion. Once the dissertation is done, I will try to look into games like Anarchy online or join Mark and Rob from Lu'Tamohr on Everquest, where Mark is supposed to be leading a clan.

Being Mark's clanmate would be fun, I played opposed to him on Dragon Realms... impersonated the character of one of his allies once and almost managed to get his clan (or hers, he was playing Tyrin, the Dreadmistress!) to go to war against their strongest allies. Sadly, real life interfered and they didn't have time for a war in the middle of exams.
Time to start a new chapter. In between the end of the last chapter (Friday) and the beginning of the new, I have written an article in Norwegian for the online magazine Localmotives. I don't know if that will be accepted yet, but I sent it off to the editor, and all I can do is start a new chapter and then see what happens. I might actually get paid for this: it's been years since I got paid for something which got published. I can't claim I am not getting paid for writing, after all, that's what I do. I get paid for each day, and what I am supposed to do is gather information, analyze it and write about the conclusions I come to. I hope that's what I am doing, as well...

Wednesday, May 30, 2001

a norwegian article about the playing human, and how play is absolutely necessary for achievement.
The Life of Games
interesting journal - they cover games in general, not just the limited area of computer games.
What's in your Name? - Demonstration Analysis
and while I am playing with the internett - this is what this site said about my first name:

The name of Torill creates a restless, creative nature that takes you into many ventures, but does not allow you to see things through to a satisfactory completion. Yours is a versatile, musical, artistic, but independent nature and you must have the freedom to express your creative ideas and abilities to be happy. An urge for independence causes dissatisfaction and frustration in close relationships and you find the "ties that bind" restricting. The qualities of this name would find a more constructive outlet in work that involves high-pressure selling or promotional activities, possibly in community affairs, for it contains a positive, driving power. It is difficult for you to merge with others; although you have quickness of mind, you lack tolerance and can give way to impatience at another's slowness or shortcomings. If you cannot complete your plans when you wish to do so, you could suffer intense moods of depression and extreme sensitivity in the region of the solar plexus, resulting possibly in ulcers or nervous disorders. This name could take you into bitter experiences through impulsive action. You need more stability to find peace of mind, relaxation and happiness in life.
Jeg fikk en sammenhengende rekke av ulike tips og hint på veien ut til Sotra og tilbake igjen, og all den edder og galde han klarte å spy ut om alt og alle gjorde at jeg til slutt ikke klarte å si et ord. Han klarte å lamme meg med snakket sitt, og det eneste jeg klarte å gjøre, var å sette opp en sur mine og la være å svare. Det igjen førte til at han, da jeg hadde parkert, ga meg kraftig kjeft for å være overlegen og bedre enn alle andre før han smelte igjen døren og gikk hjem. Her hadde han altså brukt to timer på å servere flere negative tanker enn jeg har tenkt i løpet av det siste året, brukt opp to timer av mitt liv til noe som kun opptok ham, og så blir jeg sittende igjen som idioten? Det ER en urettferdig verden.

Reading is the closest I get to following a soap opera. Yesterday's diary contained this little piece of wisdom. For the non-norwegian speakers, it describes how a person with a negative attitude can spew out more nastiness and generally negative opinions in two hours than even the pretty imaginative Sven Hope could think in a year, and still leaving Sven as the idiot and offender in the conversation. The last line says: "It's an unfair world." I know how he feels.

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

brittle-bones by Mark Strickling is being renewed and redone. I loved his site before, and I am really looking forwards to see what he's up to now!

Monday, May 28, 2001

me myself and i
this is sakura's blogspot, a young lady corrupted and seduced by me into the land of blogging. Now how to make certain she stays hooked...

Friday, May 25, 2001 I can dance if I want to!
Laughing, laughing really hard and while playing around with the figure
Much as I adore Blogger and think it deserves the webby-award, Paul here, the sharpest competitor, really knows how to make a woman laugh!
I think I only need to write three more chapters. But I keep coming up with titles for new ones, like: "The serial quality of computer games: the do-it-yourself-soap-opera" or "painful endings: how never-ending stories end". I guess I should hang on to those, and plan papers from them - after all, I should be able to profit from my expertize and degree for quite a while afterwards!

Thursday, May 24, 2001

Some quotes which have to do with online interaction and role-play... somehow... but which I didn't put to use in the chapter I just finished... (yes, you read finished!)

Dramatic realisation; "For if the individual's activity is to become significant to others, he must mobilize his activity so that it will express during the interaction what he wishes to convey." (Goffman 1959:30)

Thus, when the individual presents himself before others, his performance will tend to incorporate and exemplify the officially accredited values of the society, more so, in fact, than does his behaviour as a whole. (Goffman 1959:35)

Such considerations about power, discourse, and domination have been the province of social theorists. The experience of the internet, that most ephemeral of objects, has made these considerations more concrete. Of course, people have known for decades that each time they place an order from a mail-order catalogue or contribute to a political cause, they are adding information to a database. ... But people are isolated in their reflections about their electronic personae. On the Internet, such matters are more likely to find a collective voice. (Turkle 1995:249)

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

MUD-Dev-L (949 of 971): [MUD-Dev] New Yorker Article
A really good article about Ultima Online for those who know how important games are!
OK, this was just too silly not to share.
I found this piece of advice to King Haakon the 7th of Norway in Goffman's The Presentation of self in Everyday Life, page 68:

Posonby, in giving advice to the King of Norway, gives voice to the same theory:

One night King Haakon told me of his difficulties in face of the republican leanings of the opposition and how careful in consequence he had to be in all he did and said. He intended, he said, to go as much as possible among the people, and thought it would be popular if, instead of going in a motot car, he and Queen Maud were to use the tramways.
I told him frankly that I thought this would be a great mistake as familiarity bred contempt. As a naval officer he would know that the captain of a ship never had his meals with the other officers, but remained quite aloof. This was, of course, to stop any familiarity with them. I told him he must get up on the pedestal and remain there. He could then step off occasionally and no harm would be done. The people didn't want a King with which they could hob-nob, but something like the Delphic oracle. The Monarchy was really the creation of every individual's brain. Every man liked to think what he would do, if he was King. People invested the Monarch with every conceivable virtue and talent. They were bound therefore to be disappointed if they saw him going about like an ordinary man in the street.

I look at this, and almost feel a little annoyed in behalf of Haakon. The way people remember him, he lived the role of king-on-a-pedestal to perfection. But his son, his grandson and most certainly the young crown Prince live the way Haakon wanted to. What Ponsonby probably never knew was that

1) Norwegian sailing traditions include a huge fleet of small fishing vessels. Aboard them there's no such thing as "distance". A norwegian sailor trusts the captain he knows, and if he knows his father, his uncles, his wife, his children and his brothers and sisters as well as cousins to the third degree, he trusts him even more. Familiarity in this country breeds tolerance and trust, rather than contempt.

2) Norwegians don't want to imagine themselves as different. They want to be safely similar, not because they are all feeling drab, but because this is a wide country where people lived isolated for long periods of time, and only the feeling that we are the same with the same needs and ambitions is what could counter this isolation.

In short, Norwegians need different types of performances. Haakon's son, Olav, knew how to do that, perfectly, firmly anchoring the King as a man of the people - just a special man of the people - which I think was the move of a genius actor.

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Sacred Geometry Home Page
Results for net-art00
when I get to work I'll browse this... net art 2000!
It's artbaby! art! Art on the internet. One stop for the coolest online art. Art for the new generation.
And let's see if old ladies like me might be of the new generation.
evolving art - a fun little game :)
Four pages today! One more than the scheduled 3! OK, so I DID quote a lot today... but I am still happy! Today it was more Goffman, mixed with examples of people taking their online personae way too seriously...
Evil Overlord List
I need to memorize this...
ACH-ALLC 2001 Conference Home Page
This link works better for me than the one on Gonzalo's page: an other conference on Computers in the Humanities. Now which bank to rob to afford going to NY again...

Monday, May 21, 2001

Personality & Breast Shape
I am trying to think of a test which is more insulting and less informed than this one. I just can't think of any. If you can, please don't share it with me.
Just happened to read this blog, and found out that there are people who are worse off than me. It almost feels like a relief, but at the same time - it could have been me.... only it would have been my husband leaving and me working like hell to be able to survive alone.

Sunday, May 20, 2001

If I don't post much of exellence here, it's because I am writing... almost up to speed, despite 17th of May and all that... I am continuing the work with Goffman and Schechner, dragging in Turkle and Stone, and reading Foucault on the side, thinking forwards to the power-games of seduction and Baudrillard.

Friday, May 18, 2001

Goffman and Schechner next, and the role-play of everyday life. Over the week-end I will be reading about all the strategies we employ when relating to each other, and finding the performance equivalents, while thinking of how this might fit with the data I have on online role-play games. An other wild swinging week-end in Volda and Ålesund.
A friend and colleague, Johann Roppen looked in. He is also working on his PhD and started a few years before me. He is at about the same point now as I hope to be at in two months... and yeah... I want to get this done and finish faster than he did!

not that I am competitive... not nice little soft woman me...
An other non-Luddite - I think his reasoning for not wanting to have Ludicism or Ludicology mistaken for Luddism was better than my more cerebral reaction:

I agree. Since King Ludd destroyed knitting machines, and a knitting
machine is a machine for producing variety of expression, we definitely do
not want to be in that camp.

I have been talking about Ludicology and Homo Ludens here. I just want to make it clear that it has nothing to do with Luddites, no matter how much I occasionally feel prompted to do bodily harm on technological implements.

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

To quote matthew: I am soooo good!
Yeah, I almost wrote the quota of pages today, that means I have been steadily writing more on my dissertation each day for the last four days, and will be up to speed tomorrow. This feels good!
If I want to embarass my husband, all I need is to remind him of how he felt about the books I liked to read, back when we were young and new to this living-together-thing. I like fantasy, particularly the kind with flashy, colourful covers. He likes what he thinks of as serious literature, and he bought Olav Duun "Mennesket og Maktene" as a present to cheer me up when I was sick. It was my birthday, I had fever and all I wanted was an escape - and he brings me the most miserable piece of social realism he could find.

Over the years I have been permitted to take my little collection of fantasy into all the rooms of the appartment, he no longer blushes when people see what I read. This interest for fantasy has also been the source of many of the nice things in life. The fact that I had a lot of comic books helped my dyslectic son to learn how to read, the series of Tolkien, Lewis and others in both Norwegian and English helped both kids to learn english fast and easy, computer games has, beside of becoming a professional pursuit, been hours of family entertainment - it's possible to talk of a computer game as well as a tv-series, if you all try it out, you know.

But when I read academic literature, I am reminded of my husband's initial reaction to having Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley in the bookshelves. Typical traits of popular cultur, like the swift and easy reuse of a topic, a plot, a fictional framework between different media is being discovered as typical of the new media. Bolter and Grusin (1999), in Remediation, go back to McLuhan's claim that the content of a medium is always an other medium, and based on this they write: "we call the representation of one medium in another remediation, and we will argue that remediation is a defining characteristic of the new digital media."

I have no problem with part one of that sentence: remediation sounds like a good word for it. What I have a problem with is part two, where they leap from an observation by McLuhan, which while it might appear to us to be prophetic, was actually a statement about his time based on his observations in that time, and not some vision of times past.

Visions like that, we should leave to Ormus in "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" by Salman Rushdie, looking into his parallell universe. (But as you might remember, Marshall McLuhan isn't entirely of this world either, so perhaps it is prophetic?)
Tentatively testing
Oh, beloved blogger, will you fail me today?

Monday, May 14, 2001

Oh, Gonzalo, I forgot to mention!
in 1995 Ellen Lunde finished her masters thesis about Human Quest 1 at the institute of Media and Communication at the University of Oslo. Human Quest 1 was a game which discussed human rights in a simulated Latin-American country. Sadly it's in Norwegian, but I have the game somewhere, and I'll try to remember to bring it next time we are in the same place, and I'll see what I can do about translating it.

I don't know anything more about the background of the game, I was working on an analysis of Det Store Manndomsspranget (The great leap to manhood) at the time, and wasn't sidetracked to study this game. The game I studied was about sexual information, and was never published, the conservative christian government in 1998/99 stopped the publication. They claimed it might encourage young men to have an earlier sexual debut. They obviously hadn't seen the game. Nobody could think sex was interesting and exiting after going through it.

Sunday, May 13, 2001

And a piece of sad and shocking news. I always kept confusing the numbers: 42 and 49 - thinking the latter was the answer. Well, I guess it doesn't matter much to him now, while he leaves us all to wonder about the questions.
And for those who wonder what the weather is like in Volda at the moment... here it is!

Although it feels warmer, particularly in the sun, or if you're trying to keep up with your husband while hurrying uphill.
And yeah, the sun is out now!
I read Jill's blog today... She writes about the men - the ones with all the right answers. It might be my mood today, but yeah, I know who she means. They play the game of dominance because it makes them feel bigger and better to know all these names. I never could remember the names.

I am learning about dyslexia. No, I never had it. However.... I have never been able to remember names. Not faces either, but names is a real problem as an academic. Yeah, I know how to fake it now. I can get around by explaining a thought, a theory, a concept, a connection... but the name just doesn't stick. It's typical of dyslexia, the random pattern which has no connection to the topic doesn't stick - the logical argument which makes sense stays with you. I am wondering if it's something about the brain... That the brains of the people who don't remember all the obscure names aren't the ones flawed... but the brains of those who do. The ones who happen to remember those odd numbers, the words that make no sense, they are the mutants, the rest of us who need to feel that things make sense, we are the really normal and reasonable people.

Academia used to be a refugee for the mutants, where they were allowed to live by their own standards. Now, the rest of us, the sense-making people, enter, read their books and learn in or own patterns.

Well... Ummm... This is not exactly a tested theory. More like an unfounded thesis. But that's how it feels today, like academia is sense-making in the world of aliens or mutants.

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

I did a little search - the words were "women statistics", using netscape search. and this is what I came up with:

this with hotbot

I was looking for statistics on women, employment and income on a world basis. I am sure it has to be out there - but the net didn't yield the information easity today.

Monday, May 07, 2001

A Norwegian Multi User Gaming success: Planetarion, rule your own galaxy! The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG) has an article about Fifth Season A/S, the company formed by the creators of Planetarion.
The Field - Programs & Services - Fielday
Yoko Takahashi presented her wonderful performance to the public in New York saturday, at the Japan Society. Good thing matthew ran after that well-dressed asian gentleman and helped him find the right room and the right performance when Yoko was showing her work the first time at Tisch. When she is a famous performance artist, he can take credit for helping her start - and I will take credit for bringing matthew to the performance, and so I can have a little slice of glory as well....

Seriously... I think Yoko's presentation was so great, the public should see it.

Sunday, May 06, 2001

they are evil is a wonderful version of little red ridinghood, dedicated to all who break hearts and has them broken. the artist also is addicted to new york and lemondrops. I wonder if she visits Rocco's in Bleeker street for her shots of lemon drops, and if she does, how she feels about their little orange cookies...
Ludology - Videogame Theory
This is Gonzalo Frasca's new blog. Anybody noticed I used the phrase ludologists in the previous post? He coined the phrase Ludology. Jill made him realise the pleasure of blogging, eager little blogger as she is.

Thursday, May 03, 2001

Games and narratives - not just the ludologists of DAC 2001 think about that. Scott Osborne of talk about Telling Stories Without Telling Them. At times his arguments look like they are snapping at their own heels, but it's worth looking at.
Talking about death and loss, Patti Ann in the blog I Really Must Insist You Leave wonders how to grow old with dignity. I am not certain if I want to hang on to dignity at that age. I want to use and abuse the freedom from the judgement of society, the lack of need for fear of the future. Chatting with Susana, I made a character - the old woman I want to be. I think it's the goddess in her hag aspect, only the hag of the modern-day streets: An old woman with a walking-stick, a yapping little lap-dog for the hounds of the Morrigan, hair dyed a colour never seen in nature, too frail to deny, to old to care about the youth and energy and status of those she meets, in a culture which (despite what they may say) demands that old people are considered. I will make young men get up when I want a seat at the bus, I will make complicated requests at the library, I will walk over to the liqouer store slowly with my little pekingneese in a thin, fake-jewel-studded leash, I will tell everybody who pauses next to me what's wrong with the world - and by then I will think I have figured it out - I will keep stale candy around to offer children just to make them feel guilty about not being grateful, and I will block lines of theater-goers or people waiting to get into concerts with the slow time I make up the stairs, and the width of my fur. From behind the shield of age, with very little left to loose, since the most important people to me will be dead anyway, I can be wicked where I must be polite today, well-meaning where I am expected to cope, distracted and forgetful where I am expected to be reliable.

Yes, I think I want to grow old. Very old.
Oh, and if any of you now plan taking up Wicca for a life of success and power, read Meellee's reviews at amazon com for hints at what books a young witch-to-be likes and doesn't like.
This is a spell for those of my friends out there who struggle for success. If you did this as a teen-ager, who knows where you might have been now...:

Mega Success Spell:

1 green leaf
1 yellow flower
1 blue flower
a handful of earth
a bowl
an orange envelope

Hold the green leaf with your right hand, saying: This green leaf brings me luck.
Still holding the green leaf, pick up the yellow flower in the same hand, saying: This yellow flower bestows success.
Pick up the blue flower in the same hand (holding on to the others), saying: This is for the spirit by whom this spell is blessed.

Place them in a bowl, and scoop up the earth, saying: I sprinkle with my mother's earth, a reminder that I still must work extremely hard if I'm to have my will.

Look at the bowl and repeat the rhyme twice more. As you do, imagine yourself engaged in the activities necessary to reach your goal (such as studying or practicing).

Place the flowers and the soil in the orange envelope, and store it somewhere safe. Whenever you feel the need for a top-up, hold the envelope between the palms of your hand and repeat the evocation three times.

I found this in Marina Baker's: spells for teenage witches. Does it work? Well.... I gave the book to my daughter. We'll just have to wait and see if she is successful, won't we?
Back - from having fun in New York (I never managed to get to the Cloisters and check if the chapel Baudrillard writes about has been moved back to France yet), from talking to Espen Aarseth, my darling supervisor, and from the DAC Conference 2001. But I guess I have to realise I have more than one thing undone and unseen in New York.

But I did see Yoko's presentation to her performance class at NYU, Tisch School of Arts. Yoko is Japanese, married to a Finn, a former modern arts curator, a self-nominated nerd and one of the most intelligent, funny and enthusiastic people I know (on top of being beautiful and well-bred. grrr.) This paragon (no, I am not sarcastic, she even has a great voice and is graceful) presented a performance with and about digital media. Dressed in white, pale as a japanese vampire, carrying a CD like a mirror, a weapon or a treasure, she sang to us, before she started the video showing the hilarious capture of a woman who tried to assassinate Bill Gates in the name of a radical lesbian religion. Killing at least one agent with CDs thrown like ninja-stars, she was finally subdued by the Mistress wielding the web.... the web-mistress of course.

Where the first part had been almost a homage to technology, and the second part heralded disaster in a humorous manner (he controls my words), the third part of her performance was dystopic, a dancer captured by technology, literally trapped by the cords of the mice of several computers (the mouse had earlier on been wielded as a weapon, in the little video), howling her rage and frustration against walls covered with floating clouds. That was Holocaust and "The Matrix" in one vision.

Seeing Yoko's work made the hour we had to sit through the work of one of the other students worth while. The other performance was riddled with the bane of technology performances: technology which didn't work, too ambitiously planned, lack of understanding of what things like html is - or if they understood, not easily communicated to the audience what the meaning is - and a too fragmented screen for a performance for a group, rather than a game/experiment for single viewers from in front of their screen. As the presentation was explained to me later, it had several interesting points - sadly, the lack of 40 backup-plans (you need at least that many) made it too improvised and unclear to make the impression Yoko's presentation did. The human body is still a very good tool for a performance!