Thursday, September 30, 2004

Eye candy

The district veterinarian in Volda is a man who generously shares what beauty he sees. These are my favourite two pictures from yesterday. Enjoy.

Three times

This is a post of subjective speculation on Norwegians, foreigners and public transport. Be aware of bias.

I am not only shocked and outraged on behalf of the people who were attacked when a man grabbed and axe and attacked the pilots of a Widerøe Kato Air plane yesterday, I am also quite at loss for what to think about this event.

This is the third attack on people in public transport in the last two years. The first was a hostage situation where the attacker killed a bus-driver in Fagernes. The driver was attacked while the bus was still moving. He managed to stop the bus and so avert a worse accident. The passengers managed to get out of the bus. In the time it took for the police to arrive at the scene the driver died of his wounds.

In July a man killed one person and wounded five in a tram in Oslo. He was originally from Somalia, and had applied for asylum in Norway. The attacker in Fagernes was from Ethiopia and applying for asylum in Norway. Before getting on the bus he had killed another African applying for asylum in Norway, a man from Kongo. The attacker on the Widerøe plane was from Algerie and had his application for asylum in Norway rejected.

The more or less active nationalistic movements in Norway are gloating. Making the searches for this post I found links I never knew existed, of movements with a rhetoric that balances at the edge of illegal. I am not linking back or giving their names, I am not giving them linkcredit by doing that. I shy away from that kind of response to the point that it disgusts me when I find some correlation between this rhetoric and how I react to the recent attacks. "Oh, it is just another asylum applicant going crazy." It is such a disgusting response. At the same time this kind of violent attack on random people just doing their job feels so un-Norwegian. There is something about the collective transport that is almost sanctified - it is a space where all are equal, on the bus, the tram or the widerøe plane we are all the same and we are all together - in the same boat.

Or perhaps that is the explanation. Where Norwegians experience collective transport as a space of equality and solidarity, foreigners experience exclusion and seclusion. Norwegians are always silent on the bus or tram or plane, you only talk to the person next to you if you know him or her, you sit still and pull yourself into your own personal sphere, trying not to intrude. Is this the ultimate symbol of how Norwegians can come oh-so-close to the foreign, and then reject it? Is the public transport violence an attack on the Norwegian reserve, by so many read as aloffness and arrogance?

Or - alternatively - is this just another example of reporting bias, where we see and remember the singular events, and not the everyday violence done by Norwegians? There might be an article there, or a thesis for a student. I would read it with great interest.

(Edited due to corrections through the comments.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Afterlife by blogging

A table of bloggers and a bottle of wine can give birth to some deviant thoughts, One of those was the idea of blogging from beyond.

Blogger, and several of the other blog-systems, have a feature that lets you blog in the future. I can set the date on the post for a date in the future, and then it will be posted when I am dead. This is a classic set-up for the: "There is a letter with my lawyer, and if I die, it will be opened" plot in movies and books. "If you hurt me, the names and addresses of who I was to meet tonight will be published on the net tomorrow."

But we can go beyond that. Imagine writing the letter to your loved ones that you would want them to find when you are dead. Tell them how you think about death, thank them for the time you had, and let them know it was great while it lasted, and they can never lose that. Or the dark secret you never wanted to reveal, but you needed to share. How you always loved a man or woman you never dared to approach, how you were the one who was behind that drunken hit-and-run in 1994, how you could not be the father of your child, but you never told your wife you were infertile and just loved the baby when it happened to be born...

There is a huge potential for wickedness in this, as you can slander others safely from beyond the grave. There is also a potential for art and beauty, and for those with a need for it - for a kind of life after death.

I still think it would be a little morbid, and I would definitely prefer to only use it when I know I am going to a set-up where organised criminals will threaten to break my knee-caps and leave me for the ravens.

But the thought doesn't let go. Blog everlasting.


volda_aug2004w, originally uploaded by Rotill.

One of the pictures I took for Nick Montfort and Scott Rettberg's Implementation.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Play with your pod

I know I am really not that much of a gadget girl, but looking at Ipods I found a feature that woke me up. Ipod has a Game Generator, where you can create your own stories. There is a whole long list of games to be downloaded to your Ipod, and of course, there are commercial games to be had.

Perhaps what I need is an Ipod? Or perhaps I have fallen for their active lifestyle advertising?

Monday, September 27, 2004


It is raining. Normally rain doesn't get much more than an annoyed glance and a switch of the wardrobe towards oilskin and rubber, but today all roads north are closed. Downstairs in the hall desperate students are using their cellphones to try and figure out how to get home. Many of them live in farms just beyond the closed roads. There is one road south which is still open, so we could get out of here if we have to...

Games and values

If you read Norwegian, check out Rune Klevjer's article Spill og Verdier in It is part of a debate about how the Norwegian public culture politics ignore games (video and computer).

Rune Klevjer's article has several good points, even if I do feel the pain when he attacks researchers who don't do enough to change Norwegian game politics. I guess I should be writing articles continuously. Most of all I agree in his point that Computer Games are not defined as culture, the same way as film or literature.

No, they are not. This is why games are seen to be so disruptive to the process of human development, unlike reading books. To have something accepted as culture does however take time. But how long before film was culture? Television? We still talk about high and low culture, classic culture and popular culture - we accept that some entertainment is approaching classic status, while other types are too tacky for words - particularly printed words in propositions for support through the channels supporting the high culture.

Perhaps some of this is the fault of researchers. But even a doctorate doesn't nullify the slowness of cultural change. Still, things have happened, the proposal to support Norwegian, non-violent computer games did go through, even if it has the qualifiers Rune Klevjer argues against in his article: non-violent norwegian language games for children. Norway is changing, even if somewhat slower than we might wish.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Dragon Apple Cake

epledrage, originally uploaded by Rotill.
Everybody living in the house were attracted by today's apple cake, and so I name this version for the dragon who has travelled with me like a stow-away in the computer backpack from Greenport, Long Island and all the way to Volda.

Today was the second time I tried to make the apple cake. Last time wasn't all that successful, so I adjusted the process a little this time. This is the modified recipe:

200 gram butter
100 gram fructose
4 eggs
1 dl yoghurt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
60 gram whole spelt flour
200 gram fine spelt flour

3 apples, peeled and in thin wedges
40 gram dried apricots in small cubes
3 tablespoons fructose
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Mix butter and fructose until white. put in one egg at the time, and mix in between. Add yoghurt, baking powder, vanilla sugar and spelt. Mix all of this and pour half the mix in a 24 cm diameter round baking form. Cover the batter with apples, apricots and the fructose and cinnamon mix. Put in the rest of the batter. Bake on 180 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes, or 57 minutes if you put it into a cold oven. Watch the cake, if it overbakes it gets very dry.

Serve warm with ice cream or just plain cream.

The cake was received with enthusiasm from the family, but the spelt flour makes these cakes a little more filling than normal. This means that the young adults in my house didn't manage to devour all of it immediately, and I had a chance to play around with a slice for presentation purposes. I don't expect there to be much left when I leave for work in the morning.


Do you want to escape the Yesterday Land, and enter into a state of Freedom and Equity?
Nornia is an advanced direct-democratic country, based on freedom, equality and creativity. All mature inhabitants of Yesterday Land, (the present society on the planet earth), are invited to immigrate to this new, virtual world. When enough people have become Nornians, we hope that more and more of Planet Earth will be governed by our principles, until the Whole Planet finally have become Nornian.

Follow the community doctor in Jølster into Nornia, and escape the vampire society of Yesterday Land.

Games are no fun

Or at least according to Espen, in his speach at my PhD dinner. Personally, I think Espen takes his games way too seriously, but he isn't alone. By way of Jill I found a group of art students who built a pain game: no pain no game. This mirrors an idea shown in Never Say Never Again, a James Bond movie from 1983.

Somehow I don't think Espen meant just that kind of no-fun, but I think this is at the core of gaming. To prove that you can endure more than the other, run faster, stay longer at the monitor, think more tricky thoughts, take more pain.

My time is out

deathclock 2000, originally uploaded by Rotill.

According to the deathclock, I died May 6th 2000. This may explain a lot, and ougth to be a pretty good excuse too, when people wonder why they haven't heard from me lately.

Link by way of Clancy.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Face to face at AOIR

The first I saw was Alex Halavais, at the IIPC meeting. I didn't talk to him though - there's that natural Scandinavian shyness (OK, I hear people cracking up all over the world at the concept of me and shyness, but it's there, I swear!) which kept me from talking - until I cornered him at the campus in Sussex, shook his hand and told him his remarks at the meeting made perfect sense.

Lisbeth, Anders and Lilia were already old friends. Lilia slipped into the "honorary Scandinavian Gamer" category seamlessly. The next totally new face to me belonged to the woman behind Planned Obsolesence. Kathleen Fitzpatrick confused me, as her physical presence had nothing to do with the blog. Alex Halavais skirted close to these dangerous waters as he said to Lilia and me that we were not like our blogs. When pressed, he said he could no longer tell me how the woman writing "thinking with my fingers" was like, as I had become three-dimentional. Nice save, Alex. But now, thinking about it, I know what you mean. Planned Obsolesence has compressed from my image of a tall scandinavian woman, kind of like - umm - me, to the dainty dark and vivacious Kathleen. An improvement, really.

There were others. Kaye Trammell both looked and talked like her blog, and her presentations confirmed the impression. No, I don't mean Kaye Trammell is orange, khaki and pink, but she appeared tidy, together, and straightforward. Somebody whose appearance did not surprise me at all was Netwoman Tracy Kennedy. OK, she did surprise me a little, she looks much better in real life than in her blog picture. But I had time for nothing much more than a quick "oh, so NICE to see you". Or perhaps I had time, but that Scandinavian shyness kicked in.

I think Mia Consalvo was there too, but I didn't manage to track her down. And on the list of rants on the AOIR conference in Brighton, add the small print on the nametags. Putting my nose all the way up to an other person's bosom, trying to locate Mia Consalvo is DEFINITELY over the limit for that Scandinavian shyness.

I know there were other bloggers, but I really could not recognize them. The reason may have been, as Alex was daring enough to mention, because the blogs and the persons were so different. Lilia spent an evening trying to drag out of Alex his pre-face-to-face impression of her, failing. I have to say, the real Alex Halavais is a lot more daring and also a lot more diplomatic than I had imagined from his weblog. And he needed it that night.

I have to admit, I have looked more carefully at my blog since I came home, trying to figure out the woman behind it. To me, it looks like a mess of different interests. Hopefully, my appearance in the flesh is a little more together than the blog image. Or perhaps just - rounder?

Friday, September 24, 2004

PAD - Photo a Day

I didn't know what it was, but Rosie put me straight. This is her photoblog, where she posts a photo a day. There is a whole culture around this, a discipline, as she calls it, of posting one photograph each day, to see your skill grow and develop, your focus change, and the seasons turn.

Artist at work

anders with camera, originally uploaded by Rotill.

Anders taking the pictures which later became the composite picture he uses in this post. Note the intense focus and the happy smile of creativity!

Gadget craving

One effect of the trip to London and Brighton was a craving for a new gadget. Now, if I just can find presentation software which lets me use the screen as a blackboard, I'll be happy!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Sussex Graffiti

sussex grafitti, originally uploaded by Rotill.

While listening to the keynote by Nina Wakeford, I took this picture of the table in the lecturing hall. It is a mesh of words, images, traces of boredom and random movements of pens.

update: Lisbeth noticed the writing on the table too (As well as other things).
update 2: And so did David Brake.

British Library Boardroom

british library boardroom, originally uploaded by Rotill.

From the IIPC meeting in the British Library. A lovely serene room, with paintings on all walls. A group of people thinking, seriously, about how to make information available for the future. And a one-sided view of what the net is. Content, all about content, and nothing about how the content is used, presented and interwoven - and the web, all about the web.

What will really be saved for the future?

Opportunity missed

Here is one regret as I return home. There's a person at the University of Sussex I would have liked to meet, to thank and to chat with. Or not really a regret, I just didn't notice until now, as I read this article in the Guardian with among others Esther McCallum-Stewart, Anne Galloway and Jill Walker.

The article is nice, well written and interesting, but the thing that's foremost in my attention is that I was at the University of Sussex, and didn't even try to invite Esther MacCallum-Stewart for coffee. And her with all those posts of pictures from the pier in Brighton, and me with such a dead, tired brain and shot memory.

Blogging as social action

Under the name of "The Ubiquity of Blogs", Carolyn Miller presented her very decent article from into the Blogosphere. I am blogging this while I remember, because while saying nothing really new about blogs, Carolyn Miller and Dawn Shepherd have done the work for us and written the article that puts down in writing and in public all those things we have all been saying for the last 3-4 years. And they have done it well, done the research, read the books, put it in writing and published it in an obvious place. This makes a good reference, and definitely a piece of blog writing that should be used and pointed to in the future.

Back at the desk

And I didn't think I would miss it this badly. But I had fun too. I will spend some time later to sort through the notes as well as the impressions. Until then, in the series "pictures of Torill's feet", the new shoes I got in Brighton, in order to survive running around the campus of the University of Sussex. The other shoes are in the garbage bin, never to torture me again.

These are a pair of Timberland boots, racier younger sisters of the more classic hiking boots I have stationed in New York. It's a brand that fits my feet well, while looking neat with trousers or jeans. They made all the difference of the conference for me. To cover the distances of the campus, with sessions in several different buildings and lunch in another building and coffee in yet another, was a challenge that the sensible-looking shoes I had brought did not stand up to.

It is interesting though, that a conference on internet research can depend so much on the comfort of my feet...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

edited thursday 23

The strongest impression right now is that AOIR was the perfect conference to go to without a lap-top, as there was no wifi. But it was a good place for meeting new people and making new alliances.
I had to leave early this morning, and will be in volda 21.22 tonight. Now my main concern is whether this gets on to the blog. There is no way i can know really. I tried to post from Brighton, but no go. Do you read this wednesday afternoon and know my cellphone number, can you text me please?

update: this didn't post from the cellphone, but it was in the blog as posted when I checked in today. Can it be that I didn't give it a title, and so it wouldn't post? I will have to experiment further.

Friday, September 17, 2004

London travel

Transport for London
Tube guru
Heathrow Airport transport guide
National Rail Enquiries online

Conference break

For the first time since I got a lap-top, I am leaving it home while I go away to a conference. My back is still a problem, so no carrying heavy laptops around this week. This means: I have no idea if I will be blogging any until I return home. I bring the camera though, so I promise there will be pictures later on.

I am leaving today, because of a Saturday meeting in the IIPC - international internet preservation consortium, researchers requirements group (and not the IIPC doing research on out of body experiences and bioenergies). I am looking forwards to meeting other Europeans working in this field, and I am looking very much forwards to seeing Jill and Lisbeth again.

There are more conferences ahead. In October I will be in Washington for the Serious Games Summit - funding and a place to stay is all organised, thanks to Stuart who helped me get the final brick in place. No speaking here, just attending, so if they have a wireless network running I will be online!

Returning from USA in November, I'll land briefly in Volda before I rush off to Bergen and Digital og Sosial, which Jill, Jon and Thomas organise. I am speaking here, on blogs and beyond. Yes, I am looking into the vast spaces and reporting visions, Torill, the blogging Oracle...

Then I was supposed to have a few weeks of rest before I zoomed off to Other Players, where I have submitted a paper (no idea if it's been accepted yet). Now it looks like I may have to pass on that one. We'll see, but the college has
a) decided I am one of the five chosen to lead them into the reform of the educational system, and picked me for a group to analyse the organisational structure and suggest a new one. One consequence of this is that I will be travelling the week before Other Players - even to Denmark - visiting organisations organised differently from ours, and there's just a limit to what a woman can take of travels and still work full time.
b) put the media theory oral assessments right on top of that conference. I am normally heavily involved in this. I don't know if I get the time off yet, it depends on the resources of the department in December. I hope though. Other Players is the conference I really wanted to get to this year, for multiple reasons.

Is it a wonder I look at my calendar and get tired? I love travelling... I guess I need to ease off it a tiny little bit before it becomes too mundane.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Blog as lecturing tool

I find that I am increasingly relying on the blog as an aid while preparing lectures. I try to avoid using it as a way to present quotes and things I use directly, but I like it as a way to store links, comments and suggestions, both for my own background material and for the students who would like to have access to some of the resources I use to prepare.

I did the same thing for Blogtalk 2.0. It was received ambivalently. I had not foreseen that the net would be overloaded by the general use of so many laptops in one room, so I had to ask people to please log off. That request was received fairly gracefully, but ewwwww - felt bad. Some people were annoyed with seeing the links on the blog, some were happy. But when I had to ask people to turn off the computers, it lost a lot of the main reason for displaying the links like that. I originally wanted people to be able to call up all those links and play around with them while I was talking.

But teaching my regular students, I use the lecture blog mainly as a future reference for them and a tool of preparation for me. This lets them go back in my archives and reconstruct some of the background for my lectures, if they so wish. I also find that while the students don't react to this at first, as they become familiarised with it they use the lecture blog not only as a way to go back and check, but also as a way to see what I have in store for them in an upcoming lecture.

Machine reads minds

Or does it really? This is a game that plays 20 questions with you.

Link sent by a student after yesterday's lecture, he found it in

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The N-word

Pushed into my mind by a long post on Terra Nova by Timothy Burke, the L vs N debate forces its way into my attention. For some information on the debate for any who might have missed it, see Marie-Laure Ryan's course for PhD students from the fall term 2002 at the IT university in Copenhagen on Ludology and Narratology.

At one point in the development of the game studies this was a useful tool for defining the study of games as something other than the study of literature. This was neccessary, to avoid the kind of colonialisation of the medium that happened in other pop-culture phenomena which could somehow be interpreted as a text. In media-studies in the eighties, this fight was over methodology, qualitative versus quantitative. And my, could my old professors use words - barbed and polished like vampiric arrows they would be exchanged in speaking and writing. Media researcher conferences were as poisonous and wicked and packed with academic gossip as any game-conference or -blog is today.

Now I find I miss those debates. Ludologists and narratologists are too close together, and the battle needs to be kept alive by the participants expansion in numbers, a consumption-driven economy of academic debate. This isn't a self-supporting academic debate! We need to have more, wider, more dramatic clashes. We haven't really heard from the number crushers yet. Hard data sociologists, do any of you care about games? Why don't you quantify the gaming acts and tell us what the patterns mean? Vannevar Bush can't be the last one to talk of Pattern Recognition - I thought that was your special field? Media studies - where are the film critics, games become films, films become games, come out, come out and play! In England we have somebody researching the physiological reactions of gamers. Good, wonderful, perhaps we can fight over the addiction of games - anybody reading up on media effects know about the rays from television sets and how they make the brain settle into a more autistic mode - does this happen with games? Are the monitors making us less able to communicate? Inquiering minds want to know!

OK, I may be slipping into a touch of ridicule here, as I approach the more media panic inspired research, and Thornton and Purdy don't deserve to be made into spokesmen for that group as far as I know. But my point is: there are so many other potential areas of overlap and conflict that ougth to be explored here, the L&N words should be allowed to rest for a while soon. Otherwise we may scare away everybody but some frustrated cultural critics, and that would be crippling to the field.

Post-lecture drop

After too many years in this job, I feel like I have lectured about just about everything. This means I am used to be able to pull an old lecture out of the drawer, add some updated information, find some nifty links, spend some time on updating the examples, cutting what didnt work last year and adding something I hope will work this year.

This semester, so far all the lectures I have been giving have been new to me. And since I have gotten used to using my evergrowing archive of lectures while preparing, I have accepted all those little administrative things that needs to be done, you know.

I have to sit down at some point later and write about why teaching and administration are mutually excluding activities. Today I will just whine, because what reacts to this stress is my body. While I lecture, I am floating on a cloud of focus on the task and a certain amount of adrenalin. But afterwards I feel it all, and not just mentally. Yesterday I could barely walk from the pain in my hips and back, and when I settled with the lap-top in the afternoon to prepare for today's lecture, my son had to rescue me when I wanted to get up: I was unable to lift a Dell Latitude off my lap.

I don't know how to deal with this exhaustion. I know it is common, and lecturers I really admire share their own versions of it, but I need to find a way to deal with it. I can't keep this job unless I find a way to lecture without being a useless vegetable the rest of the day.

Bitch PhD

Added to my blogroll because we all need a role model for those extracurricular activities (and the curricular ones, too). Thanks for pointing the way, Jill.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Are you in Norway and need a phone card? Not too many options available for you. The best one is to go to a store run by and catering to imigrants. If you can't do that, there's

Since I have a considerable number of foreign calls during a year, and several of these go from the college where I can't call abroad unless the switchboard is open (between 8 am and 4 pm Norwegian time), I go through a few phone cards (phone cards let me bypass the lock, as I call a toll-free number in Norway). Until now Jill and Hilde have been getting them for me in Bergen, as there are no stores selling anything like that in Volda. So imagine my joy when I found an online store.

And imagine my frustration when I tried to call today and found that the card was transpired. Not used up, I can deal with that, but just plain old transpired. The deal I agreed to when I bought the card, the card was supposed to be valid for a year from the first time I used it, or transpire on 01.03.2005, which ever came first. Somewhere along the way the company I bought it from (Global One in this case), decided to change the terms. After waiting for 20 minutes on the phone, I got through to their service phone and managed to tell them how I felt about this. After a brief conference at the other end of the phone-line, they decided to issue a new card for me. Fine, I was happy with that, so give me the number and I can get my call done! Yes, they would email me the number for the new card... in a week.

So, I got to spend 20 minutes listening to their inane music rather than talking to a friend across the Atlantic Ocean, I get the rest of the money I paid back in the shape of a special-issue phone card, and I will get to talk to the people I need to reach in the US - in a week. All this delight because a company decided I ought to get something other than the service I bought from them. I guess I should be grateful I didn't have to pay for the call to their service phone - waiting and listening to the repeated "all our operators are busy.... press 1 to talk to one of our english speaking operators" would probably have cost as much as I had left on the phone card. And I pressed 1 three times and nothing happened. Oh, and my angry, annoyed voice got recorded: for security and educational reasons. How about that. I hope they learn something.

Excuse me for not jumping up and down in pleasure. And thank you Telenor for not ripping me totally off on foreign calls.

The infinite cat project

I need to find a way to use this in tomorrow's lecture! Or the day after... too cute to miss. OK, a question to my five readers: does this project have more to do with linearity or with remediation?

Link by way of Culture Cat - of course.

Teaching thoughts

I am in the middle of a series of lectures on the near history of the new media, and I try to communicate to the students the amazing developments. But the 50 something who showed up for the lecture last week had this glazed-over look on their faces. I guess I need to lean back a little today, relax and feed them smaller snippets. My lecturing style normally reflects an intense wish to just beam massive amounts of data right into their heads.

Anyway, some links I have found for today's lecture, which others may find useful:
Windows timeline: a useful representation of the development of windows
A little history of the world wide web
The history of Mosaic
The world wide web consortium - or W3

Tomorrow it's hypertext structures. Then I guess I just have to turn on the computer and show them some interesting examples rather than forcefeeding them facts. I love that, but technology doesn't really go over well when I use it for the big lectures. It may be that I feel too uncomfortable with it, or it may be the "what can go wrong will go wrong" law. Teaching is an ongoing process of self-evaluation.

Monday, September 13, 2004


One of my favourite popular culture critics has always been Raymond Williams. Today I want to share a slice from his article "The Technology and the Society", reprinted in The New Media Reader:

It is especially a characteristic of the communications systems that all were foreseen - not in utopian but in technical ways - before the crucial components of the developed systems had been discovered and refined. In no way is this a history of communications systems creating a new society or new social conditions. The decisive and earlier transformation of industrial production, and its new social forms, which had grown out of a long history of capital accumulation and working technical improvements, created new needs but also new possibilities, and the communications systems, down to television, were their intrinsic outcome.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Nigerian scam

Obviously, the Nigerian scam isn't good publicity for the Nigerians. Here's a list of resources about the scam, compiled within a page of information on Nigeria.


Today is a sad, strange day, It is sunny, like three years ago. I am using my laptop in the livingroom, as I was then. But I am not desperately trying to get in touch with my NYC connection, to find out if he is safely out of the lower end of of Manhattan.

The 11th of September changed the news. It also shocked America out of the aloof isolationism, as it experienced a direct attack. The backlash is still sweeping over the world.

But terrorism is older than three years ago, and it happened and happens all over the world. Barcelona and Jakarta are only the most recent examples. Sometimes we tend to forget this, in the face of the massive tragedy of perhaps the most successful terrorist attack ever.

To mark the day I bring you the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, and their knowledge base on terrorism and international crime.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The view from this side

This is a picture of the other side of the fjord. They have the morning sun, we have the middle of the day and the afternoon.

One woman

And 98 men in Southern Methodist University's Guildhall school of video game making.

Survival skill

By now I have learned to focus in the weirdest places, and preparing a lecture on the plane between Oslo and Volda is only a problem because the flight is a little too short. Luckily I got to wait at Gardermoen for three hours first. One problem with that - learning how to work while travelling is runing my experience of total freedom while on my way somewhere. I wonder what I will have to figure out next.
Anyway: Datamaskinen og tanken, "the computer and the thought", part one out of three in a series of media science lectures. Bush, Engelbart, Nelson and Baudrillard. Fun stuff, and in 10 minutes!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Another life

Jill's post resonates with the dreams of what we could have been. I can definitely see Jill teach Alexander technique. I have a bit more problems seeing myself in the role I occasionally consider: becoming a hairdresser. Not that I think I would not enjoy it, but I know my back, after years of abuse, can't take it. What I haven't quite forgotten is the dream of being a goldsmith. One day perhaps I sell the house, take a year or two leave, and find a very different life for myself. I haven't forgotten Mary Ann Buckles.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

With just a little help

from your friends, it's possible to make some sense in an over-crowded day. A question asked by Jill on email yesterday was still unresolved today, until she grabbed the phone and asked me what I really want to talk about in Bergen in November. (Please, pretend that you don't follow that link until Thursday, they are working on the lay-out.)

This is what we came up with:
Sosiale tekster hinsides blogging

Blogging har blitt kjent og etablert blant akademikere. Men er blogging det endelige svaret på personlig, sosiale publisering via nettet? Hva betyr blogging for endringen av menigmanns rolle som mediebruker? Går rollen fra å være mottaker til å være deltaker eller spiller på nettet?

"Sosial texts beyond blogging: Blogging is known and established in academia. But is blogging the final answer to personal, social publishing online? How does blogging influence the shift of the common man's role as a media user? Does the role change from receiver to participant of player online?"

And then I said yes to do a blog workshop for beginners. Fun stuff!

Controlling porn

China gets tough on Internet Porn, which is, I think, a good thing. However: imagine what else the filters and censorship systems built to control porn can be used for? China is not exactly known for not using tools for information control.

Science in Game Research

From BBC NEWS: Bodies and brains of gamers probed.

"Playing a game does not make you happy if you lose. A game does alert and activate you though," said Dr Thornton.
The stress hormone, cortisol, also shot up in the group of 16 men, doubling that of an average person. In a control group where they sat passively watching a video of a game, they fell.

Based on this, the researchers have hypothesised so far that the psycho-physiological impacts are similar to physical sports.

"It is much like playing football or rugby. If you lose, you feel rubbish but still elated."

Good. Science can now tell us that playing games feels like playing games.

Don't get me wrong, I am delighted that there is a wider range of research done on computer games, particularly studies how the player experiences and the players' relationship to the game. And while this is done with the intent to develop better games, it is done within the traditions and the culture of established academic research.

Dr Jeremy Thornton, Department of Computer Science, University of Hull, is one of the two working to develop a model for measuring player reactions to games, and he presented the results on the Game Developers Conference Europe. From their site:
Jeremy Thornton has an MB ChB. He is a Family Practitioner taking his PhD in Computer Science part time at the University of Hull. His main area of research is the psycho-physiological impact of video games and using the results to design and predict hit games of the future.

He is working with Jon Purdy:
Jon Purdy has a PhD in Applied Physics. He is now a lecturer at Hull University in the Department of Computer Science where he developed the curriculum for, and teaches on, the advanced MSc in Games Programming. Jon is an active researcher publishing papers in medical signal processing and visualization.

I would have loved a link to the content of presentation, which was held on Academic Day. Gonzalo was there though, perhaps he knows something?

Monday, September 06, 2004

Digital documentary

PixelPress is a project to support documentary makers taking advantage of the digital media:
At PixelPress our intent is to encourage documentary photographers, writers, filmmakers, artists, human rights workers and students to explore the world in ways that take advantage of the new possibilities provided by digital media. We seek a new paradigm of journalism, one that encourages an active dialogue between the author and reader and, also, the subject.

Our online magazine features projects that use a variety of linear and non-linear strategies, attempting to articulate visions of human possibility even while confirming human frailty. For us the digital revolution is a revolution in consciousness, not in commerce.

One of their projects is Digital Diary: Witnessing the war by Brian Palmer. The diary is a mixture of strong, expressive photography and thoughtful writing. This is an example of how blog technology and blog genres can be used.

Not so sinful

I spent the sunday putting the house back in some order. After a week or two of being lived in by an active family with more tasks than time, it looks like a neglected bus-station. Which it sometimes feels like. As a reward to the family for all doing their part of the job, I made this spelt and fructose chocolate cake.

The recipe:
100 gram fructose
4 eggs
1 dl virgin olive oil
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 deciliter milk
180 grams of fine spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Mix eggs and sugar until it's fluffy and stiff. This is easier and quicker with fructose than with sugar. Add oil, salt, milk, cocoa, baking powder and spelt flour. Beat carefully and as little as possible as you mix everything. Use a round form with a loose bottom, 24 cm diameter. Bake for 40 minutes, 180 degrees celsius.

When the cake cools down, mix the icing.

100 grams of butter
100 grams of cream cheese
75 grams of fructose
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 eggyolk

Mix butter and cream cheese. Put in the cocoa and the eggyolk and beat until the icing is smooth. Spread it over the cake and serve with whipped cream and/or fruit.

Using spelt flour and fructose causes the bloodsugar levels to rise slower and fall slower when you eat this cake than others. The calorie count isn't much lower than with normal flour and sugar, but the spelt flour makes you feel full much quicker, and the slow drop of the bloodsugar prevents the renewed craving for something sweet that cakes otherwise trigger in carb wrecks like me. No, this isn't diet food for losing weight, but it doesn't make me gain weight at the lightening speed most other chocolate cakes I make would if I didn't leave the eating to others.

The decoration? I was playing around with my 36 tips cake decoration set (yes, I have deviant interests), making this design which the boy claims was inspired by old wigs. Alternately, he expected an alien monster to break free of the cake in a shower of chocolate icing and wrap about his neck. I guess I should name this cake "alien nest" or "chocolate of outer space". Nobody refused to eat though. I guess I should have put some blue in the icing if I wanted it all for myself.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Game article cooperation

yes, it's true, after a couple of years of finishing and focusing on my own stuff, I am planning to cooperate with Hilde again. It's odd, I feel relieved, as if relaxing into something that I know will work and be fun, the opposite feeling of how academic writing and research has felt the last year.

No, not a big deal, but we plan to enjoy it!


neccessities, originally uploaded by Rotill.

I imagine myself as somebody walking through life carrying little with me, as I feel that I only have the bare necessities. A quick look at what I have close on a normal afternoon preparing a lecture made me think twice. There is nothing in this picture I would consider throwing away - except from the newspaper. But I get a new one three times a week of that one.

Lisbeth and the Prince

For our gossip column: Today, Lisbeth Klastrup, reknown Danish blogger and games scholar, may or may not meet the prince. In this meeting, she is supposed to be ready for making conversation during the buffet after the speeches at the opening of the IT-University in Copenhagen. The blogging community of Scandinavia waits with bated breath as the Prince may be given audience with our own Lisbeth, Gracious Lady of Danish blogdom.

Stay tuned to Klastrup's Cataklysms for further updates.

Which Prince? Oh, right, Joachim, second in line to inherit Denmark, and a handsome prince indeed.

Thursday, September 02, 2004


I am currently testing to see if that is a good place to put up a photo blog. Flickr offers something I have not played around with before - different layers of privacy. Since I am planning to use this to communicate with my sisters about the boathouse, there's not everything that needs to be fully public.

I am not sure how this will work. Some of my sisters are very net-savvy, some were for years of the persuasion that computers would ruin the creativity of children, some are happily curious and exploring their new imacs and some just want the accounting system to work, for svarte. So I guess we represent a pretty varied sample of humanity.

I am doing a couple of other explorations into different ways to play around online, none of them at the moment connected directly to games. One is at Blink is a community site with blogging, moblogging, photoblogging, email between members, friend-lists and a lot of other different features that makes it one of the more interesting hybrids of social software and blogging software. I find this leans more towards social, as you have to log in in order to read blogs and view images - I think. I guess I will be corrected if I am wrong here. And I know, Livejournal was always more of a closed community - but I don't think that's anywhere close to Blink.

Offline, I am still playing Neverwinter Nights. I still love it. Almost through with the first part - I know, this is extremely slow - and there's little as relaxing and lazy as spending a sunday while it's raining right in front of the computer killing bandits, undead, rogue giants and trolls. One of these days I'll dare play it in company with others.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Knowing your own mind

There is a name that only needs to be spoken, to give me nightmares. Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind is an endless potential for horrifying images connected to this name. It is as if the name is hyperlinked to every weakness in my armour, every shadow that ever crossed my mind.

If computers manage to become so personalised that they will store information like the human mind, is this what we will see? When we search a word, we will have it immediately linked to our curiosity, our delight or our nightmares? I hope not, the idea of being assisted by an artificial intelligence that knows my nightmares - or even worse, develops nightmares of its own - is not my vision of the bright cyber future.