Friday, August 30, 2002

Friday mid-day realisation
I can see the surface of my desk before I recognize the symptoms. I have time to spare, and I am trying to avoid the thesis. Now that I am aware of what I am doing, it feels relaxing to sort through old papers, cleaning up, throwing out, putting away. And I find interesting things. I even had a copy of an article by Micael Heim. It needs to be read. I will read it. Good decision - now for the bean-bag chair.
Read Anja Rau's comments on my comments August 26th on an article in the NY Times on web economy. Anja says pretty much what I wanted to say, but obviously much clearer and better. Thanks Anja!

( And the permalinks on this unmodified version of a standard blogger template have always worked like this - if one of my html-savy friends want to fix that I'd be delighted to give them the password!)

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

The interview with Will Wright in Gamestudies volume 2 is getting quite a bit of traffic. I found an other interview with him though...
A timeline to the development of Virtual Worlds and the discussion/comments on it at slashdot.
Karyn is in debt, but she's very optimistic! It's an interesting comment to the article in New York Times on where the money is online. We have spam, fraud and porn, and now there's honest - but high tech - begging.
Tomorrow I am giving a lecture on research on popular culture. 10 years ago I wrote out every word of every lecture, I was that nervous. They were packed with references, structured almost like articles, but more oral. Sometimes I wrote them in my own dialect, in order not to sound like I was reading from a script. Back then writing a lecture and writing an article was pretty much the same thing, only slightly different audience.

Today I find that I think about the lecture totally differently from an article. At first I wasn't sure if this was bad or good, but they are different beasts, so I have to approach them differently. Where an article demands a stringent argument and low redundancy, a lecture demands repetition and a meandering approach close to non-linearity. Where the article needs a reference every time I make a claim, the lecture needs some important references of book which might be important to the students - the rest should be mentioned, but not emphasised. Where an article has to stand alone out there and contain enough information that it will be understood in the correct context as the correct object by the right people, the lecture lets me explain, ramble, backtrack - and not the least: address the audience. That's one of the things I like to do - turn around and talk with the students, not just past them.

How I prepare for this topic? Well, I guess I have to read a lot of comix, don't I?
No, really - I am most concerned about gathering examples of popular culture to use as examples. It will be fun.
Some links, in Norwegian, about the new research program from the Norwegian board of research. I need to have access to these while I think about new research projects.
notis: KIM
Instillingen fra planutvalget
SKIKT videreføres som KIM

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Jenkins and the journalist
Henry Jenkins describes what he would have liked to say at a talk-show in USA. One of the things I don't do when I am in the US is watch television, but I know of the genre: it's brutal even in fairly polite little Norway, it's impossible to complete an argument, and conflict is everything.

I would most likely have reacted like Henry Jenkins, I agree with him, I am impressed with the data he introduces, and I dislike fanatics who can't enter into an interactive argument, only yelling contests. But in the clear light of secondhand hindsight I think there is a real, clear-cut conflict where media panic as expressed by Daphne White is the one side. The other side in that conflict is the fear of facing real social issues. As long as concerned parents complain about computer games, they don't question the quality of public education, the organisation of society, welfare, support to single parents, or any of the many topics which all concern the environment children grow into adults in.

It's a much larger problem that children grow up in a society where the alternative to being in trouble on the street is sitting in front of a computer. When did their choices become limited to this? What happened to teaching the children how to help out in the home, what happened to participation and collective action? When did the parents outsource their responsibility?

Media panics are an expression of helplessness and fear. When something new intrudes this becomes the focus of the terror, the scapegoat. Banning computer games would not reduce violence. A better standard of living, more control over your life and equal opportunities independent of race, class and gender would. But as long as people worry about computer games, there's no need to change any of the real issues. This is why the liberal intellectual who might ask the wrong - or the right - questions needs to be discredited.

Link by way of Gonzalo
Postmodernism, Romanticism and Norwegian Cuisine
Adrian has a comment on August 26th about restaurants in Bergen and postmodernism:

when i first came to bergen in 1998 there simply was not a restaurant that went remotely close to what what i'd have described as postmodern cuisine, the sort of food that anders actually describes. it has all the qualities of the postmodern; a return to the value and significance of the local, of quotation and pastiche, and the loss of the authority of a particular metanarrative (master or national cuisine). today in bergen i know of 3 restaurants that provide food like this, they are all new. change does happen.

What does Anders (aug.22nd) describe? He describes cooking with traditional Norwegian ingredients, but with tastes which can compete with french or italian cuisine. This might be "quotation and pastiche", but it's not a post-modern expression. Quite to the contrary, it's neo-romanticism - note the reference to the Vikings, a favourite of Norwegian romanticisms. The reason why you didn't find post-modern restaurants in Bergen three years ago is that Norway never got over modernism. We still believe in progress - we're just awfully romantic about those nice, old days when living was easy and mussels tasted like mussels after you had picked them with your own hands and to your armpits in water.

Have you seen them driving around town, parked side by side and talking through open windows in parking-lots or just in the road when the traffic is slow? Have you heard the beat of bass before you heard the engines of their cars, and smelled burned oil and rubber long after they are gone? Have you wondered about the furry dice, the "wonderbaum" (little tree-shaped cardboard pieces smelling of air-freshener), noticed the stripes and flames painted on the cars and wondered why your old Volvo never looked like THAT? If that's the case, you have seen a "råner". Råne is the Norwegian word for male pig - not castrated. It's also a verb: å råne, which means to spend as much time as possible on outfitting your car with things like a huge stereosystem or extra-wide tires, and then drive around and show off. A råner is a person who does what the verb indicates - normally a young man from a industrial-, fishing or farm-background, most common or at least most visible in the countryside.

Some råne-links for those who read Norwegian:
Er du en råner?
Råning fra A-Å
Rånernes 10 bud

But, ladies and gentlemen: Råning is not restricted to cars!
This week-end I learned of a new phenomenon: styling your computer. This is the nerd version of råning.

First of all: don't buy a ready-made computer. You want to order every little piece of it seperately, and assemble it yourself. You do this by mail-order, because you live far away from the speciality stores you'd like to visit. This often leads to the pieces being outdated by the time the computer is assembled, and you need to order new and better ones. No, to a real råne-nerd this is not a problem, it's the most important aspect of the entire process.

Second: there's no standard cabinet which can fullfill your vision of tasteful design. To amend that a real råne-nerd orders a cabinet which can be polished down to the metal. Then you cut the sides out and replace them with plexi-glass (what's the use of your artfully assembled interior if nobody can see it?) before you put on three layers of coloured laquer and three layers of clear.

Third: Economical or efficient does not exist in your vocabulary. Read english instruction books on coding language before you have learned english, and then start programming as soon as possible - or perhaps earlier than that. However: if your program takes up too much space on your computer, that's not because you have programmed un-economically, but because you need a new processor/hard-disk/memory-chip.

Fourth: the aesthetic value of the computer and the programs on it, as well as the use you put it to, is a lot more important than function. The blinking lights do not have to actually indicate something, the icons on your opening screen do not have to lead to anything useful or important, and there's no reason to make the log-on process itself quick, easy or understandable for other people. After all: this is your personal expression, your project, the only place where you can be yourself.

I fear that the nerd chicks are as unimpressed with the råne-computers as they are with the råne-cars. Råne-nerds are no good when a standard computer breaks down, since a råne-nerd has nothing but contempt for people who don't build their own computers - just like a råne-car is the one you want to flag down - not for help, but if you need a ride to the closest car-shop. The person behind the wheel would be able to style your car beautifully and tell you which polish to use - but is not a problem solver unless you have a really esoteric problem.

Monday, August 26, 2002

New York Times about water.

Terje Tvedt, interviewed in the journal of the University of Bergen, Magasinet:
Water is a central factor in the complex political interactions of the Middle East, between India and Bangladesh, in Pakistan as well as in the American West - in fact in most areas of the world. Water plays important roles in both conflicts and cooperation, while dominant perceptions have moved from one extreme to another. At the beginning of the 90s some international organisations declared that future conflicts would centre on water. Nowadays, it is more politically fashionable to claim that water is first and foremost a source of cooperation. We hope that this conference, taking a long-term view of the role of water in history will encourage research and debate in order to demonstrate that such one-sided perceptions are not based on historical experience, and that what is required is more balanced knowledge and understanding.

Terje Tvedt is the author and program director of the documentary television series A journey in the history of water. The conference mentioned in the article was in Bergen 2001. The next conference of the IWHA - International Water History Association - is in Egypt 2003. As water becomes a rare and scarce commodity the historical importance of water becomes increasingly relevant on a global scale, and Terje's research interests almost take on a visionary aspect.
And a quote from slashdot's discussion of spam, fraud and porn on the net:

In some ways, I wish the "cyberspace" notion had never been introduced, because it furthers bad analogies like these, comparing the net to a geographical neighborhood, which has apparently become a red-light district.

That's why I try to avoid using "Cyberspace". Thank you radicalsubversive - whoever you are.
The Dirty Net
According to New York Times, the only businesses on the net which makes money at the moment are ebay and amazon - and those involved in porn, fraud and spam. The article makes it sound like the net is sinking with the weight of the "dark side".

Porn and fraud have always been easy ways to money, and it might be correct that apart from the junk, only the really large corporations are able to become profitable. But saying that the net is not profitable is a blind and onesided approach. There is a reason why only a few companies are broadcasting companies, or why the film industry is weak in countries like little Norway. Good communication takes effort, expertice and practice. And in Norway we hardly even have a porn-film industry to practice on.

There are two types of profit off the net.
The one version, which New York Times discuss, is direct: fit a business plan to depend on the net, the way ebay does, launch it and make money. Porn is eminently suited to this approach: It's easy to distribute, it's in high demand, and the net makes it hard to track, discrete and impulsive. Amazon, which sell goods that are somewhat more complicated to distribute, struggles not with the customer side, but with the off-line distribution.

The other version is using the net to make exisiting products more available and let them get more attention. This is where it's hard to measure the impact of the net in money, just as it's hard to measure the impact of a commercial directed towards changing attitudes. But it's also impossible to say that it does not make a difference. Why does NYTimes have a web-rpesence if it does not profit from it in some way or an other? Why does all the other actors - not to mention the research communities? What are the secondary benefits of the World Wide Web?

Link by way of

Friday, August 23, 2002

Check out the responsive animated characters project at NYU. Link by way of where the interview with Will Wright from Game Studies is mentioned under topic:games.
Anders knows how to find the good life in Norway, at his family's summer house. This week-end my family and I (and quite a few friends) are off to my mother's summer house. I won't be hunting mussels there, too many farms around the bay where we have our vacation paradise: a high threshold at the entrance to the fjord, and lots of fertiliser for algae from the farms... you want to watch your shellfish there.

But if I am lucky this week-end, you'll get a description of Norwegian fishcakes that might restore some of the faith in Norwegian cooking. I am off to the private paradise of my family, and I can't wait to go. The weather is lovely here, I haven't spent time in the boathouse all summer, haven't woken up in the really early hours and seen the otters sneak off with the remains of our fish dinners, haven't watched the seals stare at us from the water, haven't watched the porpoises hunt schools of hering, haven't studied the flight of the seagulls to see where the hering surfaces - always good fishing around the migrating silver of the sea - haven't listened to the water as I wake up in the dead of night, haven't.... in short, I am going to have a great week-end doing a lot of stuff which always makes me say what my father used to say: "Us poor people, we have the good life!"

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

To Lars and Jill: This site tops google both if you search for Torill and for "thinking with my fingers" (I know, that's a phrase...). For Mortensen I came in second, but I don't feel that is a defeat. The one person before me at google was the actor Viggo Mortensen. It's only polite to yield the top spot to Aragorn son of Arathorn, King of men.

Monday, August 19, 2002

If you like naked bodies in surprising contexts, check out the projects of Spencer Tunick.
There are two people in my life I have shared a room with for more than 6 months at a time and enjoyed it. One is my husband. The other is the girl I shared a room with at Skjeberg Folkehøyskole, Heidi Eng. We split up 21 years ago, but this week-end she came back into my life and was her old exuberant, emotional, honest and enthusiastic self. It felt like those 21 years had been a vacation, a short time apart in which we both have experienced a lot of exiting things we can share, and now life has settled back into the normal routine of sharing space, time, knowledge, friends, make-up and the stash of snacks in the closet.
Norwegian research has shown that using cell-phones for messages does not ruin the Norwegian language. An article in the Norwegian Newspaper Dagbladet quotes researcher Kjell Atle Halvorsen at the Norwegian University of Technology in Trondheim, who's been involved in a case study of school-children between 13-16, which is supposed to be the group most dependent on Smart Messaging System - SMS. In conjunction with the research of Berit Skog at NTNU, who leads a project called Mobil Youth Culture, it's now official that cellphones help teen-agers to manage their social life better, they develop language and are more concious of genres, they don't take the SMS-language into the writing they do for school, and only 10% use it to cheat at tests.

Sounds like technology isn't so dangerous after all.

Saturday, August 17, 2002

The importance of being Turok
first question: Would you change your name to that of a dinosaur hunting video-game character?
I think there are a lot of young men out there who'd think it is a cool idea, and who'd not worry about annoying (or perhaps enjoy annoying) their surroundings by legally changing their name for a year as long as they get a game-consoll, all the games they like and some cash. Wearing a nick-name which indicates some fantastic identity is second nature to that group of people anyway, and so why not be a dinosaur-hunter just as well as your average Joe.

second question: Would you trust your product's reputation to the kind of people who would be willing to do this?
A person who'd be willing to change their name in order to advertise a product might be of the early user, if not the innovator group: risk-takers, active sekers for information or innovation. People in this group are often considered opinion leaders, because they test out things in advance and the people around them know that. I expect this to be the logic which makes Acclaim UK plan for Identity Marketing. They expect the users to be people to be looked up to, people who are admired and trusted, and rolemodels for others.

The flaw in this logic lies just there. If you are a role-model, secure in your social network, known, respected and one who helps form opinions, it also means that you alread are a strongly profiled individual. Your identity is not something you want to flee from, it's something which brings you status and recognition. It's worth much more than a few games and some cash - it's more rewarding to you than the fiction of being a fantasy character: you get your rewards from being yourself.

The people who do not enjoy being themselves are normally insecure, have low self-esteem, have low status and a weak network. They do not overlap with the opinion leaders of diffusion theory.

But hey, they do get attention - just look at me, I am already writing about them!

Friday, August 16, 2002

this is crazy. Tonight mikesthougths were there again... I checked several times... then suddenly, the moment I have written a new question to the help-system at blogger... my own blog is back. It's like a ghost, haunting me, slipping away the moment I notify somebody who might understand what it is.

Oh, well, it keeps me alert.
Yesterday's top post looks ridiculous if you can read it. Here's what happened, from my side of it: When I tried to go to, I got to the correct URL, but instead of finding this blog, I found something called "mitchsthoughts", a few posts by a young man who was continuously talking about things he did not like, blogger among those. The word he used to describe what he did not like was "gay". The band he had listened to with some friends was "the gayest thing he had ever heard", etc. Aside from the assault of stupidity, I was upset with the thought of how easily I could lose my voice on the net. A glitch, an unfriendly hacker, an unexpected formatting of a disk, and more than a year of work will be lost. Scary.

Well, the blog is back, I hope it will stay here, and I feel like I have come back in the warmth after having lost the keys while some stranger had a party in my house.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

I logged on, went to my blog, and somebody else's blog was on it. What happened!?!
And if you read Norwegian, you might be interested in noting that Dagbladet consider Rimi-Hagen's colleagues to be the grocery-chains, the food-industry and the farmers. Somebody working in the finance section of the newspaper ought to take a trip out of their normal venue and figure out the difference between an average Norwegian farm and the private mansion of Rimi-Hagen.
If you read German, the electronic journal from the university of Munich: Medien Observationen might be worth a look. Interesting topics, and I found descriptions of two game-related German books in the article: 2002: The Year We Make Contact.
Among startling trivia such as links to articles of tool using birds, the weblog of the invisible city, Invisible Broadcast introduces interesting and exiting little tidbits of thought and information for those who are interested in role-playing games. I found this through Jeremy P. Bushnell's blog Narrative Technologies. This is a weblog where he discusses the serialised story Imaginary Year.

I have a weakness for stories told in serial form, I like to be restrained and kept from the gluttony of reading an entire book in one long sitting, I like to read a short piece created specifically to satisfy the reading pleasure of the moment, and I also like conglomerates of interlinked topics: narrative, discussion, links to related threads and of course the occasional delightful detour into personal matters. And Jeremy is a gamer too - what more can I ask for?

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Avalances - one thing I don't worry about.
Anders Fagerjord worries about the global warming and fears the end of the world as we know it. It's very, very hard not to point out that rain in Eastern Norway, particularly Oslo in July always makes the people at the other side of the mountains worry about the global climate. While even the specialists share some of his concerns, I want to put at least one of his worries to rest: the worry about the avalances at the western coast taking new paths.

It's not really the avalances choosing new routes, it's the humans who have forgotten how to avoid them. Modern developers plan in new manners: they worry about traffic-flow, about water, waste and electricity and the untapped potential represented by undeveloped land between properties which have to be supplied with cables and piping anyway. And so these spots fill up: nobody have ever seen an avalance do any damage there, right? Sometimes I wonder if these developers all practice the fashionable off-pist skiing...

Most of the recent damage by avalances on modern settlements is due not to global warming, but to urban planners who go by text-books rather than asking the people who have lived in the area. Avalances are after all directed not by temperature, but by the lay of the land - temperature changes influence the probability of an avalance, not the direction it will take. Around here, if you build at the wrong spot probability is a bad gamble: if an avalance can hit your house, sooner or later it will, in this century or the next.

(And do you think I am exaggerating in order to make Volda sound interesting? Avalances are like the wind: something to be considered and included in weather reports, this one from the NATO exercise Strong Resolve this winter/spring.)
One of the things I struggle with when I teach, is how to negotiate between theory and practical studies. The students at the media department tend to spurn the theory as "just theory", while they feel they do something "real" when they create something: write an article for the college newspaper, make a 15 - 30 second piece for the local radio, or perhaps even get their face on television. As long as they can get something "real" for their efforts, they have no urge to understand why it's good or bad, what consequences it might have or what cultural influences have made them write just so. They don't care if they are being manipulated by the establishment as long as same establishment is willing to accept the product they deliver.

It's my job to make them look not only at the product of the media puppets, but also at the strings. The problem is that the strings are only visible through the filter of cultural understanding, ideological criticism, through analysing texts and testing theories. Which, to these students, all lumps into the big bag of "theory". In this case theory means: "books I have to read in order to pass the exams I have to take so that I can get the piece of paper from this College in order to secure a job in a big newspaper/television station/corporation."

This problem of "real" is however very familiar to me. Something "real" in this case isn't exactly a table to put the food on, but it has a lot of the same qualities. It's tangible, it can be displayed, the skill of the craftsman is visible and can be shared through the pleasure others have from using the product, and it's possible to give meaningful feed-back on several levels. "I really liked the pictures" is valid praise for a leaflet, as is: "that was funny", or "nice music" about a radio program. It's however a lot more difficult for the layman to give praise to a theoretical product. "I love the colour of your thesis" doesn't quite cut it, and "I laughed several times as you presented your argument" is not trustworthy either. This means that the most common ways of evaluating a product for the people who are important to the students, are not valid when it comes to the work they do with what they call theory. The product becomes less "real", as it appears to be ruled by different rules, those of a small arena and a group of participants which they relate to out of necessity, not from desire.

Theory appears to be the game, the play-ground we have created for them to play around with toys and tools of the trade is seen as the real world. What I need to do, in order to make the students perceive theory as "real" is to skew their entire conception of what reality is. I need to tone down on the products and emphasis the analysis, change their priorities and shift their alliances and their trust. Wish me luck, it's going to be a busy autumn in Volda.

Monday, August 12, 2002

A grey day - finally. It feels like a relief. I actually feel bad about being at work when I could have been outside in the sun. That might have something to do with being brought up to believe that the only real work is the work that puts food on the table in a much more direct way than mine does: such as fishing, tending vegetables, fruit or berries, looking after animals or roaming the mountains looking for berries or mushrooms. The only real alternative to work which puts food directly on the table is making the table itself, the room it's in or any other item which can be used to shelter humans or add to the process of growing and gathering food. A lot of this is best done in nice weather. Dark cold horrible winter nights was for passing time through reading, writing or telling stories, not to mention playing games. Luckily - the autumn is almost here, it's dark at midnight, a sure sign that the summer is coming to an end.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Finally, a test that claims I am rational. Can I please have it on a piece of paper and with a couple of convincing seals and signatures?
I am still digesting the last comments Espen gave me on the thesis. The thoughts of what I need to do with/to it surface at intervals in this mad rush to prepare for the start of the semester. A discussion which bordered on argument today brought with it a sudden clarity.

Academic evaluation, while we like to think that we measure the skill and knowledge of the student, is actually only a measurement of the student's ability to convince us of skill and knowledge. We don't really look into the student's head and measure knowledge and understanding. The students are performing for us, and we are convinced or not, depending on the skill of the performer. Yes, we can ask questions which will make it very difficult for the student to convince us that he or she is smart. We can demand that an essay, an oral assessment or a multiple choice test is part of the performance. But in the end, if the student can't master these genres convincingly, it's all moot.

To finish a Ph.D. is like practicing for a performance. It's not enough that I have understood something about my topic: I need to present it and I need to present it convincingly. That's the hard part. The good part is that even if I know there are flaws, weak points, areas which should have been explored more deeply or detours into territory where I should never have ventured - as long as I present all of this flawed, skewed, limping mass of assumptions, knowledge, understanding and questions in a way that convinces my assessors that the thesis contributes in a constructive and desirable manner to the accumulated knowledge of the world - I'll be fine.

I hope this realisation will be able to carry me past the final editing. I really need a boost of some kind.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Cultural differences are normally experienced when we go abroad - at least here in homogenous, social democratic egality-focused Volda, Norway. But this summer, the cultural differences have come home to us.

My daughter sings in a choir, and this summer they have a greek dancing/singing group visiting. All the families of the youths in the choir have two or three greek visitors to look after, house and feed. The housing part is simple - we have lots of space and it's fun to have guests. The feeding part is a lot more complicated. Norway isn't exactly famous for exiting and good food, but there are a few things you can get here which definitely deserves attention. Smoked salmon, for instance, a delicacy all over the world - and quite common and easily available as well as very good here. Of the less well known things there's fenalår: Cured mutton thigh, with a pronounced taste as rich as any of the famous hams of southern Europe. In the summer, potatoes in Norway are extremely good - new potatoes is a must, and you have them with sour cream for most meals. Because of the low temperature and blonde nights, all Norwegian vegetables and fruit get a flavour that can't be copied elsewhere. Of course, the growing season is short and risky, but what's made is extremely good.

All things considered it was with quite a bit of pride and pleasure I started out with common Norwegian meals for the two 20 year old girls living with us. The problem was however soon detected. They didn't dare taste the food. The salmon and the ham was carefully avoided. The cheeses, chosen to suit sophisticated continental palates were ignored. Not a leaf of salad or a slice of vegetables reached their plates. And when it came to the meat, they tasted that with great suspicion. Although the venison and chanterelles passed the test - the great hit was a spagetti bolognese which basically came out of a jar - the McDonalds of pasta sauces, as foreign to a Norwegian meal as the hamburger in a bun. They survive on bread with rasberry jam, and in desperation I started baking cakes. No Norwegian housewife can endure having her cakes rejected, that is the final test of your skill in the kitchen: to be able to make a light, tasty, elegantly presented and irresistable cake. Finally, I found something they could endure. So the girls here have, for 9 days now, been living on bread, lefse and cakes - chocolate cake, apple cake, cream cake, a progression of cakes which they never sit down to eat. They eat on the run: grab a packed meal and then spurn any healthy looking food we might have packed for them, and clean out the cakes.

At least they get enough calories. But as a score for Norwegian cuisine - I am not entirely certain that I feel comfortable with it. Still, thankfully I am not the one who need to worry about the greek relationship to time. That has been an educational experience for the nice, reliable and always-on-time members of the choir. The relative meaning of "five minutes" has taught our very proper girl the frustration of cultural differences - before she has even gotten out of her own home in the morning.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

One of the things I have to plan this autumn, is a beginners course in writing. Luckily I don't have to teach it, but I need to plan the contents. A search on the net brings me some pages of other resources, such as this: Writing Resources on the World Wide Web, which might be useful, but not really what I am looking for.

There are lots of tutorials for HTML out there, and this is one that looked comprehensive - but rather old. Still - that might be my level of competence - at least at first, and I might be back to that... I should learn enough about writing on the web that I can at least understand what the students are doing from more than an analytical position.

Looking further I found what looks like a well-planned course in web writing: Writing for New Media, a course at Towson University in Maryland with Thomas Lieb. It's a bit ambitious for what I am looking for, but I like the way he progresses from the personal web-site (which I expect the students to have a particular interest in making and maintaining) and to more analytical assignments. Still, perhaps not surprisingly, University of Texas has a very interesting web-writing course with instructor Tonya Browning (A website in the fridge... perhaps so it will be cooler?) which includes a female perspective (women on the web) and building for MUDs, both MOOs and Diku-MUDs.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

This is supposed to be webcam which shows the building in which I work, and the road to the main building on the campus. If you're lucky, you might see me hurrying across here, on my way to the main administration, library or just going to get a cappucino with my lunch.

Volda College consists of three large and scattered small buildings, all but the newest main building a mixture of styles all the way from the classisism of the old Teacher's College from the 19th century, by way of the functionalistic buildings of the District College, not quite 30 years old, touching on functional barracs from just about any period up to the modern, sleek building signifying Volda College, unifying the District College and the Teacher's College: A postmodern boathouse for space-ships which accidentally got a main eating/mingling space that's the best concert hall in Volda. That was not planned, they tried to deaden the sound because it's quite exhausting to be able to hear everything in that very large room, but to no avail. And since the room is built kind of like an auditorium, with levels sinking towards the wide floor at the bottom, it doesn't just have great sound, but also offers a decent place to see the performance.

In summer, when there are no students around to see the teaching staff behave undignified, we play whispering games in this room - walk all across and speak, quietly - or whisper - to see how far the sound will carry.

Monday, August 05, 2002

Vacation is officially over. Now: planning a new semester.
Some links from a Danish role-play research web-site: Rollespillets Forskningsforum.
The Norwegian official (?) role-play portal: laiv Norge. At live action role-play is defined as improvisation theatre.

Jill writes of warmth and shadow. What I hunger for through the long winter is the sun, the light, the heat, melting me, scorching me, I don’t care, I want it.

My legs are tanned, and look longer than I remember. It’s been such a long time since I felt like this: as if I am melted all the way to the bone. I lie flat out in the sun, letting it work on my skin, a sensous touch of heat all over. There is a short story by Ray Bradbury, in the collection called The Golden Apples of the Sun, about a woman who pulls energy straight out of the sun in order to reshape herself. I look at my tanned legs and brown hands, the light dusting of freckles over my eyelids and the way the pale shirt contrast the dark skin of my neck, and I feel like her. The sun and the summer reshapes me, muscles develop in my calves, I find my courage is still there as I dive into the green waters of the fjord, cooled down by the melting water off the glaciers and the dramatic (and expensive, thank you) blonde stripes in my brown hair are integrated into a natural sunbleached mane.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

What's new? Oh, yes, that's right, Gamestudies is finally out with issue 2, and I have an article there. It's on methods for research on MUDs: Playing with Players. This is an early version of what's now the methodology chapter of my thesis. This chapter is six times as long, so reading this article I keep saying to myself: but there's so much more! Frustrating, but I guess that frustration is one with the nature of publishing. Which I do like, exhibitionist that I am.