Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Kurgisian Sparrow Hound

The Kurgisian Sparrow Hound (Kurgisk spurvehund) was developed on the Kurgian plains in order to chase birds from the crop, a four-legged version of scare-crows. They were a lightweight breed, with long hind legs and a quick gait, fierce and well-tempered little beasts with a fun task. They were also good at alerting the farm when strangers approached, but they were not really good for protection, as they were too small and too trusting and good natured. Their temper made them very good pets though, and the Kurgisian Sparrow Hound survived into modern times as a pet among the farmers of the plains due to their gentle and happy nature.

This was however not enough to save the breed after the second world war. In 1950 there were 10 pure-bred Kurgisian Sparrow Hounds left, and by 1972 there was one surviving litter. The dam died giving birth, and the surviving puppies were scattered, all attempts to save the breed given up due to earlier disastrous effects of inbreeding.

The Kurgisian Sparrow Hound was about the size of a medium poodle, it had signature long hind legs, dainty paws and a small, delicate head. The ears were not standing but folded, and in the puppies they might stand up at moments of exitement. They could come in shades of grey and black, but most common was black with a white neck and chest, and occasionally white paws. The coat was soft, rugged but not rough. It would have a thick, downy winter coat under the smoother outer coat. These dogs were typically extremely intelligent, quick and had a healthy hunting instinct, which made them good mousers. This might have been another reason why they survived as far as into the 20th century.

The last litter of Kurgisian Sparrow Hounds was born in Germany, and one of the pups was smuggled into Norway in an attempt to save it. My sister smuggled it into the country and put it with the pups of my old mutt everything-used-on-norwegian-farms dog. The pup thrived, and soon charmed the entire family. When it was time to find new homes for the puppies, we couldn't part with the little special one. She was the smallest, but yet the one who always managed to break out of the puppy pen and sit outside the door waiting for us when we opened it, ready to play.

We named her Ruffi. Her real name was Radisha von Hocherholt, but nobody could see her mischievous dark eyes and the ears - for a long time as a pup one was standing, the other was folded - and think of anything that cumbersome. She had one white paw and a spot of white on her chest and jaw, the rest was a soft, fluffy black. My father, who did not like to have animals, as he bonded too easily with them and grieved too much when they died, took to the little lost orphan as if she was his private teddy bear. She would ride with him to work, or he would drop in in the middle of the day to pick her up, "since he was passing the house anyway."

Ruffi was extremely easy to train, although she also trained herself into quite a few bad habits. What dog, having figured out it is possible to get up on the table and steal the cold cuts, would also figure out that she should take just one or two slices from each plate, and then get down? For years we were always short when we cut meats for the big family breakfasts. It wasn't until she started to grow a little deaf in her old age that we realised that was because for years, when we went to fetch the rest of the family for breakfast, she stole meat from the plates. One day we caught her red-pawed, daintily positioned in the middle of the table, looking quite annoyed with herself for being caught in the act.

At the age of 18 she left us. She just walked - or waddled, she was old, had gained weight and had a hip problem - into the forest one day, and never returned. In my dreams, she still chases bird in some far-away green field.

Written in response to Mike's assignment for his students. Everything is true, including the fact that the veterinarian in Ålesund had her registered as Kurgisk Spurvehund for her entire life, and if you ask him, I am sure he still knows the breed. The only not-so-true thing is that there is no Kurgisian Sparrow Hound (probably not even any Kurgisian Plains) and Ruffi was never smuggled into Norway, she was just the cutest of the litter of five mutts of very questionable origins.

Blog school in Norwegian

If you're Norwegian and wonder what a blog is, check out Bloggskolen. If you are Norwegian and know what a blog is, perhaps even use it a lot and have done research on the topic, it's a lesson in how blogging looks from the outside, way outside Academia.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Starting low

There are weeks when I hit Monday exhausted, and not from fun stuff. My mother, who has been of poor health and not too reasonable about it for years, is now worse. The weather is making the roads very dangerous due to avalanches, both landslides and snow, and my daughter has been driving about the county to different concerts. Combinations of ferry schedules, weather and general stupidity from the organisers, going to see my mother yesterday had to happen by bus - which of course takes hours more than by car and includes lots of walking with a heavy pack. Tomorrow I am leaving for ten days, much of which will be spent in various hotels in Copenhagen. If you don't hear from me, imagine me relaxed in a museum or gallery in Copenhagen, making intelligent conversation totally unrelated with the many phonecalls I have to make today, or hanging out with Lisbeth and Susana, passing sarcastic little comments about presenters and papers at Other Players. That's the hope that keeps me from calling in sick and cancelling everything for the next two weeks.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Game production and blogs

This article by the wife of a man who works for Electronic Arts is interesting for more than one reason.

1) She talks about a ruthless exploitation of labour that would be illegal here, no matter how much money they paid, and which most likely is illegal in the United States as well. I will have problems buying an other Electronic Arts game, I will have flashes of broken homes, ruined lives and burned-out programmers.

2) It points towards a change in the production models for computer games which I was asked about on State of Play II – somebody asked if I thought innovation would cease due to the large companies taking over game production. At the time I was optimistic and said that the economic benefit from pushing the hardware by way of more and more challenging computer games would keep the innovation in the game industry. After reading this, I am not sure. Burned-out people are not innovative.

3) The story was taken from a Live Journal and published by IGDA under the creative commons. The writer is anonymous, to protect herself, but an organisation such as IGDA still posts the whole thing, picks it up and reuses it. What do they know about Electronic Arts, in order to pick up this anonymous, unreviewed article off a blog and post it on their site? Or does it just look convincing? Interesting content, and free?

Yes, lots of interesting questions. And a well written piece, too!

Link by way of Reality Panic

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The MUDs are still out there

Just checking in on familiar haunts: the Mudconnector now lists 1740 MUDs, in 2001 the number was 1771.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

How big is micro?

They never said it was going to be micro payment. But at Ingentaconnect, a database for selling academic articles, a five-page article costs 26.74$. That's more than 5$ a page. OK, so I might have to buy the whole volume if I was to buy the paper version, but then I would have all the other (quite interesting) articles as well, and not a leaflet worth its weight in - well, at least silver.

It looks like an interesting database though. A good search tool, if you know other ways of getting your thin, inkblotted scholar fingers on the content.

No Blogtalk 3.0

There will be no Blogtalk 3.0 in 2005 in Vienna. Thomas Burgh is looking at new things! Good for Thomas. And perhaps good for blog research and practice? I would personally like to see blogs slip back into not obscurity, but the mainstream of online communication, and be treated as part of a larger set of studies and practice of online communication and culture, rather than an isolated hype.

Links by way of Lilia.

Advertising that works

By putting 30 odd and fascinating little dream sequences/short movies online, Diesel manages to get people like me to blog them, mention them and spread the word. Yes, I know it's a very commercial site. But you may still enjoy watching the diesel dreams.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Like Hilde, I am testing out Blogexplosion. Just registered - I am curious to see where this takes me.

Nuthin' Muffins

Home, it's cold, it's snowing, I gained weight during the last three conferences as well as attracted other diet-related problems, and I am sick of the restrictions on what I can eat. So what to do? Turn to the net, google the problem.

So tomorrow for lunch and for two more lunches, there are neat little bags of muffins waiting to be carried off to work and warmed in the microwave. Packed with protein, adjusted to fit the Norwegian selection of ingredients and then spiced up a little, these muffins are a surprisingly solid meal. And of course, they need to be renamed. The name only makes sense in Norwegian. Ask your friendly neighbourhood Norwegian to translate.

Muffens Muffins

1 pound of low-fat sausage
6 eggs
1 cup soy flour (2,5 dl)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup mayonnaise (1,2 dl)
1/2 cup light sour cream (1,2 dl)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (1/2 l)
1/2 cm slice of ginger, chopped
1/2 green chili pepper, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit, 190 Celcius, and grease 6 large muffins tins. Add all ingredients exept sausage in a bowl and beat until smooth. Add sausage. Put the mix into the miffin tins and bake for 30 minutes.

The soy flour gives these muffins an unfamiliar consistency, but because of the high egg, cheese and sausage content this does not feel as odd as when I make sweet-tasting cakes from soy.

Stop phone advertising!

This is a public service announcement for Norwegians who are sick and tired of phones from people wanting to sell things. It says how to stop at least a part of it.

Det mest konstruktive som kom ut av dagens telefonselgersamtale, var når jeg mistet beherskelsen og bannet over telefonselgerne jeg ikke blir kvitt. Da fortalte han meg hvor jeg kan ta kontakt for å få slutt på oppringningene. Det er Brønnøysundregisteret. Der kan du registrere at du ikke vil ha tilsendt addressert reklame i posten, du vil ikke ha telefonsalg hverken på fastlinje eller mobil, og du kan velge å utvide dette til å gjelde humanitære organisasjoner. Du registrerer deg med personnummer, og det er en personlig registrering, det gjelder ikke for husstanden. En husstand med flere personer kan derfor risikere så bli oppringt selv om en eller flere har reservert seg mot telefonsalg. Det tar opp til tre måneder før reservasjonen trer i kraft, siden de forskjellige organisasjonene er pålagt å oppdatere listene sine mot Brønnøysundregisteret minst hver tredje måned.

Det er ofte en i husstanden som er målet for reklame og salg. Jeg er en kvinne midt i den mest kjøpekraftige alderen, i en to-inntekts husstand med barn og relativt god inntekt. Jeg er et stort og fett mål for markedsføring av alle slag, og det er som regel meg selgerne spør etter. Selv om de er god trening for sarkasme-muskelen fortjener de egentlig ikke å bli utsatt for meg. Jeg reserverer meg.

Trust them, they know what they are doing…

Car and Rubber Service A/S, number 700something, 8.30 am, - 2 Celcius and dropping, November, dark.

“uuuuuuut uuuuuuut uuuuuut” ….. probably not there yet…. Probably have to wait… oh, somebody answered! “Car and Rubber?” “Oh, hello, I have an old Opel Astra, and now the heater is dead, and that’s a little inconvenient in this weather.” “Hang on, I’ll give you the workshop.” Short flash of a diesel and grease scented mess of tools and pits and men in blue coveralls passes through my not-enough-tea-yet brain. “Workshop?” “Hello, this is me, I have an old Opel Astra, and now the heater doesn’t work.” “Does the fan work?” “Yes, it just gives off no heat.” “Did you check the water?” Another flash, this time of me with the hood of the car open, book of instructions in one hand and flashlight in the other, dressed in 20 layers of clothing and looking desperately for some place to check something which hopefully isn’t frozen solid. “There is frost liquid on the car?” Ouch, I have no idea, normally we take the car to the workshop to check this when it starts getting cold, but this is a month early and I have hardly been in the country lately, much less driven the car! “Eh, Ah, I…” “It may be that the frost liquid level is low, or just the cooling water, and you could check that, you know.” Can a voice really carry a smirk that well? OK, time to capitulate, admit total lack of knowledge and blame somebody else. “I haven’t been driving the car for months, I have hardly been in the country! My husband uses it and now he has problems with it and I have to fix them!” No longer a hidden smirk, but outright laughter. OK, I like that better. “Come on over, we’ll have a look at it.” Yeah, I know it’s idiots like me that keep you guys in large houses, nice cars and long vacations in Spain. But we’ll see who is laughing when you desperately need an essay on new media theory!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Starting early

This year, I want to get the Christmas preparations done early!

Blogs as academic publishing?

At Crooked Thimber, Ezther Hargittai writes a long post about blogging and academic publishing. In this she argues that blogs should count towards academic publishing, because there are blogposts that are more carefully researched and better written than academic articles.

This is a very enthusiastic argument for blogging as an academic activity, but I am afraid it is a little naive as well as somewhat blind to the mechanisms of professionalisation and the limitations of blogging.

Blogging is an exellent medium for a wide range of things, but not for assuring a consistent minimum of quality. The desire to look as good as possible to the public can make the write deliver well considered and good material, but there is no system which guarantees that every blogpost has been subjected to scrutiny and criticism by at least one person other than the blogger. Of course, there is no reason why blogs should not make such a system, have an editor and an editorial board, and the post will only be accepted if this group of reviewers have read it. But there are media like this already active in academic publishing. They call them journals.

This does not mean that blogs are useless to academics. No, they are very, very good for creating your own profile, an online presence. They let others see what you work with and where you are, and if you have managed to get over a few thresholds and are fairly easy to "hit" when somebody googles your name, the chance that you may have invitations to interesting conferences or to participation in research and teaching or other interesting, relevant things rises sharply.

Much of the debate around academic publishing and the need for blogs to fill a niche in that field has nothing to do with the failure of journals to publish the interestign and important stuff, but a failure in the US educational system in assessing their own employees. First, the need for assessment is enourmous, as there is supposed to be a constant competition. The American dream is based on competition and survival of the fittest. In Academia this comes out as "survival of the person whocan get the most articles published." For anybody who have the slightest understanding of why something gets published, it is obvious that a system like that will statistically be concervative and preserve already accepted values. Read Galtung and Ruge for a basic understanding of news values, the same mechanisms are (with some slight adjustments) valid in all types of publishing.

Second, the assessment needed to constantly maintain an air of fair competition is very, very expensive. So instead of doing this themselves, Universities and Colleges all over the US give that task to the editors of journals. Because the scholars need a positive assessment, the journals need content and the Universities need a free system for assessing the work of scholars, we get a trinity of mutually dependency where all appear to benefit.

And everybody do benefit - until a scholar thinks a new thought. As soon as somebody works on something which is innovative, which is different and strange, something not yet over the threshold of academic publishing, they will be kept back by the concervative nature of this system. This is where the enthusiasts dream of blogging as academic publishing, accpted into the struggle for tenure.

I don't think that's a good substitute for the traditional academic publishing. I do however think a blog can make something more acceptable. Blogging works virally, new concepts spread with lightening spead, and a good concept can catch on in a matter of months. This is not a bad thing for the new, young scholar, because this means that a new concept can become/appear established in a very short time. A blog will also ensure that the assessors can find the references to key concepts in your work easily, and a good blogpost may give further depth to an argument.

So I think my personal and subjective conclusion is: No, blogs can not fill the position of the journal article in a process where you are constantly assessed and compete with others who are constantly assessed - unless the Colleges and Universities put a whole lot more resources into the assessing process than they do at present. Yes, blogs can be very useful, particularly in situations where a comittee is forced to make a judgement call, or when it comes to creating and maintaining networks.

Pretty and evil

I will try to keep my whining at a minimum, but the moment the streets get slippery, I get problems with my back. So yes, the pictures are lovely, the winter-sport enthusiasts are exstatic, I want to turn into a bear; go to bed and wake up in April.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Everyday Sims

I have The Sims installed on at least one computer in the house. I have a little family. They live in a little house. And that's it. I can't make myself play it. I spend a lot of time wondering why I hate playing The Sims. My daughter loves it. My son plays it to understand it. I look at it, and turn it off.

Today Stewart Woods gave me a hint in his playful comment below. I play with real people every day. "I have 25 new students, and I make them read these books and do these tasks. I give them this much time and I reward them like this. What will they learn in three years, how will they relate to each other, and what will they make of themselves afterwards?" Only... this isn't a game. I don't change the parameters of the study in order to "see what happens." I do it because I want real people to have real experiences and give them the knowledge they need to deal with the real tasks they will be given when I can no longer help them.

In my spare time, I want a dagger in virtual hand and a drow to backstab.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Going home to cuddle a report on how my colleagues feel about the college at present, tomorrow will be spent planning how to proceed in the re-organising process of Volda College. I actually hate responsibility, I try to flee it when I can, but I have this thing about not wanting to let down people who trust me. And now there is a college full of people who trust me to do my best - or at least an honest attempt.

I want to do something else. I want to play games. I want to read books. I want to write chapter on chapter about communication theory. Instead, I'll change people's daily lives. Scary.

Way Back When

One of the really good web resources for internet researchers is the wayback machine maintained by the Internet Archive. I have to admit I am not good at using it, but I really should. This was pointed out by David Brake, PhD researcher in London:
You suggest in Personal Publication and Public Attention that "the only traces of this story exist in the blogs of those who blogged about it at the time (Mortensen, 2001). Damn the Pacific is no longer easily available". You should note that the Internet Archive keeps records of many things including the site. (It disappeared when the couple broke up).

As you can see by looking at the last archived post, July 1st 2002, by stu, updates are on their separate blogs. Later on the internet archive has saved a short explanation, telling how they have broken up, giving an email for people who have donated money for the trip to write Lane to have them back. Sad, but very human. But anyway, this means that damnthepacific.org is fairly readily available, and that the world wide web is not quite as loose and transient as it might seem.

Monday, November 15, 2004


It is a rare luxury as far north as this, but there is a pot of healthy basil blooming in the kitchen window. This energetic little bush has survived a summer in the boathouse, where I left it at the mercy of my family after a visit early this summer. Everybody visiting took care of it, used it, watered it and occasionally left it for days or a week until the next users showed up, and then when we closed the place down in the late summer, we brought the plant back to Volda - healthier than when I bought it.

I love basil, I love the scent and the taste, and living in NYC as a visiting scholar at New York University one of the affordable luxuries was to go to Union Square and the Farmer's market to buy a fresh bunch. The subway car would be filled with the fragrance of the fresh sprigs, and back in Bay Ridge I would indulge in tomatoes and basil to my heart's content.

Of course, when I followed Clancy's latest quizlink, this result delighted me:


What herb are you?
brought to you by Quizilla


The autumn has settled in, as unpleasantly grey and dark as only November can be in this part of the world. Sunrise is 8.50 and sunset is 15.52 today, so it's dark when I go to work and dark when I go home. This small window of daylight will shrink more, but for some reason November feels darker than any other month of the year.

December has Christmas lights, January has cold clear nights when the Aurora flickers over the skies, February has snow and a multitude of birthdays. November has storms, rain, accidents and nothing to look forwards to but longer, colder, darker days every day.

November 2004 promises to be as bad as ever. This weekend saw landslides blocking the road south of here, boats running ashore north of here and tragic accidents happening to students west of here. I haven't dared check the roads east. A kind of bone-deep exhaustion has settled in to stay, and all the slight allergies that I keep trying to control through diet and clean healthy living are back with a vengeance after weeks of carpeted floors and bread for lunch while travelling.

On the upside: This makes me enjoy being back at the college, back at the office, back with my bookshelves and familiar tasks. Now: to organise them and get stuff done, and to let the impressions of this hectic autumn sink in.

Anda's Game

If you have a Salon account or don't mind reading their obnoxious ads, read Cory Doctorow's Anda's Game, a fiction story of a gamegirl after some initial stupidity leading to being at the bad side, gaining weight, contracting diabetes and annoying her family, working to liberate the sweatshop slaves in some unnamed online world.

It's a nice story, and it is a quick lecture in game-talk. A lot of the words used in this story were also freely bandied about at State of Play II - such as noobs. Thanks to Cory I now think I understand them.

Although I have to say that the solution was - well, politically correct, but also slightly simplistic. But I am not giving it away just for the pleasure of a critical thinking I-am-a-good-socialist show-off.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Swedish blog popularity contest

By way of Francis Strand, a link to a ranking list of Swedish blogs. No female bloggers among the ten most influental. Why are we not surprised? Just because Sweden has exellent female bloggers and researchers working on blogging, is that a reason for the established media notice and perhaps for once show us some real news?

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Taken by the sea

Volda is not a happy place today. A student challenged the power of the nature, and lost. He went with several friends to see the waves breaking over the breakwater by Stad, the West Cape of Norway, a place where waves can rise to sudden, immense heights. One wave grabbed five students - four crawled back up. Then the four who ran to help were taken by the next wave, but managed to get back out of the water. Three were hurt, broken bones according to the news. The bay where the students were taken by the wave is used for surfing by tourists, students at the nearby school, and students from the colleges within a reasonable distance.

But this loss, so sudden, so potentially a much larger disaster, is a reminder of the indifference of the nature we live in here, the speed of the wind, the hardness of the rocks, the weight of the water, and the frail humans making a living. And it reminds us how few people live here, how precious each individual is. Voluntairs have been looking for the missing young man all day, despite the storm and sleet in one of the world's roughest and least hospitable waters.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Suicidal librarians

Tron Øgrim, radical journalist and selfproclaimed technofreak, ended the conference by provoking the audience to activism and to fight for the free literature distributed through the libraries. Although I am not entirely sure librarians would choose to bomb the library or burn themselves alive.

The conference has been interesting, intense activity on a small area, with only occasional trips to the University to provide some exercize in the rain. I like the style of intense lectures, workshops and open periods of coffee and lunch. I have given one lecture - and what was supposed to be two half workshops but timewise it ended up with two whole workshops. So I worked every day, and now I am shot. But there are people who now know how to blog, who did not know before.

So, fun all around, and not least nice to see Jill, Hanne Lovise, Sarah and Lisbeth again, Scott for the second time in a few weeks, and Cory Doctorow for the first time ever.

Remembering Arafat

The official memorial service happens right now in Egypt. Norwegian Broadcasting has the pictures on their website.

Downgrade in the upgrade

Cory Doctorow from Boing Boing and Electronic Frontier is putting digital copyrights and copyright law in the context of other media. As he says: all media technology is originally pirat technology. To use technology to force people to obey laws - by, for instance, making it impossible to copy a movie on a DVD - unless you hack it - and then making hacking it illegal - is in his opinion the same as saying that blacksmiths have the right to control all transportation, and cars should be outlawed unless they use blacksmith approved wheels.

An interesting perspective, definitely. And so is the information about "upgrades" fixing "bugs", which really is downgrades removing features - because the features can potentially be used for things like copying music off the internet and distributing it. His example is iTunes upgrades - sadly I don't know enough about Apple and iTunes that I caught the precise reference.

Doctorow mentioned public broadcasters and how these should open up the archives - and how Norwegian Broadcasting can set the standard internationally by opening the archives. From what I know, sadly, that will not happen. NRK wants to make money off their archives, and offer to sell the old programs to users. This is a problem for scholars as well as for anybody who would like to use this material for learning or for artworks. I am afraid NRK will not turn out to be the progressive spokesman for the freedom of information that Cory Doctorow speaks for.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


"Fat" is a Norwegian feminist magazine. In Norwegian, "fett" means something is good, in a kind of retro-hip way. But it can also be an acronym from FEministisk TidsskrifT. Norewgian reader? See if they manage to provoke you - that's what they want, the naughty girls!

George vs John

Did you wonder what would happen if George Bush and John Kerry had to live together? In the sims, this can become truth (scary truth?) Link by way of Francis Strand.

Blogging workshop - bloglinks

We just had a fun workshop, and I taught all the people on it how to make a blog with Blogger. It did make me feel slightly as a fraud, since I think blogger is so simple nobody needs my guidance, but I guess it's a good thing to have the time to actually sit down to do it and the motivation of company while doing it, both of which the conference provided. And my presence provided somebody who could say: "oh, but we can change that if you want it differently, now just look here..."

So, a whole lot of people got on the blogging workshop, and made nice and interesting blogs. Some of them wanted to have the other blogs collected in one spot. That is what I hope this post can become.

All of you who were at the workshop: can you please leave a comment, containing the link to your blog?

Pretty please?

Yesterday and the day after tomorrow

The day before today was my father's birthday. I deliberately did not dwell on it, although I did remember. He would have been 80 years old. There would have been a tremendous party, because he loved parties. There would have been food and wine, speeches and songs, guests and party-crashers, flowers and bonfires and lots and lots of presents.

It did not happen. Instead the day is flavoured by a feeling of loss, of something bright and warm gone from our lives. And the 10th of November is a day to be passed by quickly, silently, all of us looking forwards to the 13th and my little sister's birthday. Born on Friday 13th, remembering her day is a sweet celebration to jag me out of melancholia and loss. Life goes on. It can go no other way. And I am waiting for this month's paycheck to hit the account tomorrow, so I can go present shopping.

Links for the talk Wednesday

Some of these links lead to Norwegian chat and discussion sites

Anja Rau - a blog without comments
Alex Halavais - a blog with a sidebar
Lilia Efimova - Where is Lilia?
Stephanie Nilsson - wrote and article about dialogues in blogs
Bitch Ph D - anonymous and personal
Terra Nova - a groups blog with a particular topic

Touchgraph - A visualisation of blog links
Technorati - shows new links
World as a blog - geographic positioning of blogs
Blogdex - shows the most linked pages
Blogosphere Ecosystem - ranking blogs according to linking
Blogshares - a game of blog values and blog ranking (the value of my blog in blogshares)

Social chats - Blink
Topics – Motorbikes at Sol.no
Community - Young Mothers
Information collection - lommelegen.no med diskusjonsforum
Common interest – Min hest med debattsider

Friendster - social site, a dating game - which Danah Boyd mentioned Thursday as well
Orkut - professional network
Flickr.com - for photographs online
Second Life - social game, 3D world with its own newsblog
There - a 3D world with stores and bars

Young Voices

Marit Bødtker, who told me in the car yesterday morning that she started blogging because of me, edits Unge Stemmer - young voices - a blog where she publishes the texts of young Norwegian writers.

She has taken the writers seriously, and when she then asks about their feelings and experiences as writers, she gets very serious and open responses.

Danah Boyd without subtitles

I am listening to Danah Boyd in the webcast, and she speaks about very interesting subjects. One of her references is Burning Man, a phenomenon I have been peripherally aware of for years. This is, however, also an example of how the cultural distance makes it hard to understand her.

Now she is talking about dating - a phenomenon that is mysterious and alien to Norwegians, as we have no dating culture that can be compared to the American dating routine. But I used Friendster as one of the examples yesterday, so the digital area she talks about should be familiar. Jill is also projecting Friendster on a screen here, and she just showed my profile and Lisbeth's profile through that. Danah's story of how Friendster was used for diverging profiles like drug-dealing, data-trading and fraud is fascinating.

Norwegians are used to subtitles in television screens, and now with the chat, as Jill types in questions, there are a kind of subtitles. Still, it is hard to respond to a face on a screen, even if I argued yesterday that people are supposed to be able to take the role of the writer or sender when facing the modern media.

Now Jill was very strict and wanted everybody to log into the chat. First, I logged into the wrogn chat that did not work. Then I logged into the right chat, and it still didn't work. Not much I can do about that. I'll try to catch Jill on AIM and catch her there!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Dinner happening, talking done

There's a video, somebody gratefully turned the light down, so I am this dramatic shadow against my slides. People ask how it went - I have no idea. But I promise, tomorrow the links will appear on the blog - for those who are actually trying to follow what I am saying.

Dinner is just about to finish, I hope I am not missing the coffee. I did catch the shrimp, the reindeer and just a slice of the cloudberry parfait though, so no big loss really.

We all know about technology

The first thing you learn when you plan a lecture or a conference or just about anything that involves making modern technology work, is that something always happens to make it NOT work. And so it did. I am at the WiKi workshop, and there were too many of us (and the wiki was set up wrong), so we had to change the focus from hands on to listening. Oh well, perhaps I can check in to the hotel now, earlier today there was a fire-rehearsal. (I hope that's the right word.)

Collective Action

Rheingold speaks about technology and collective action. It is pretty familiar stuff, but still interesting, particularly as he points out some of the practical advantages connectedness gives groups of people who we would not think of as typical digital technology users. Examples are fishermen, migrant workers and part-time working mothers in the Fillipines - at least as interesting as the flocking of mobile-connected youths in Finland and Japan.

Wisely, Rheingold also points out the aspect of the flocking, smart mobs which ought to be considered by the potentially overly eager fan of the modern technology: Smart mobs are not always wise mobs - so although cooperative action supported by technology can work for democratic action, it can also work, for instance, to instigate non-democratic riots.

Sosial og Digital

I am in Bergen, at the conference on social and digital. I have just been handed the smallest conference program ever, in the form of a memory key, and I just hope the batteries (boosted the poor dell by taking out the CD drive and putting in an extra battery) will last for all those little checks of what happens next. If not, I guess I can just ask Jill, Thomas or Jon. But now: time to listen to Howard Rheingold, who, like me, has fond memories of librarians.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Seems like I have found the perfect cure for jetlag. Be exhausted, be too busy to do anything but follow the local time schedule, collapse about 7 hours before you have to start working again. Repeat the next day. This should get you on the local time in two days.

I have never before wanted so intensely to go to bed at what is about 4 pm New York after only two days on Norwegian time. Now I will pack, and then follow the demand of the body. See you in Bergen.

Digital and social

Tomorrow I will be in Bergen, at Digital og sosial, with Jill and the rest of her fabulous crew. But it is no longer possible to just link you all to their pretty nice homepage, as it forwards us all automatically to the wiki. Sure, I like wikis, but when I don't want the wiki, only the name of the place where the conference is, that gets a little aggravating.

But I can't sit around being aggravated for long. I have to catch up with the work I ignored for three days during the State of Play conference - part of which involved preparing for Bergen. Or, I may have made the preparations a lot bigger than they need to be, because there is an article I just have to write lurking just beyond this conference.

So, I am scouring the web for examples, taking my time to put it all together in powerpoint, pictures and all, in case the net does not cooperate with me. And I am tempted to download and play both there and second life, because I ought to test it before I use it, don't I? When was the lecture again? Oh, right, tomorrow...

Monday, November 08, 2004

Quick visit home

And last night and today was spent with the board I am in on the Norwegian Board of Research. Starting to work the moment I am home is one way to cure jet-lag - I slept at the right time and all night tonight - I am dead tired now, but that's normal around this time. Continental Airlines have a long way to go before they are as smooth and professional as SAS, just being treated efficiently and politely is worth paying for. Yes, I want the direct flights Oslo - New York with SAS back. (insert whine here)

Now it's one day in my office (dear, familiar, comfortable office), before I am off to Bergen and Sosial og Digital. Hopefully, some more nights of comfortable sleep before that.

Friday, November 05, 2004

I heart existensialism

Do you need the answers to the really big questions? Like: why am I here, what is the meaning of life, and why did I meet the same person three times in places of significance to me? That's when you take your case to the existensial detectives. In I Heart Huckabees you get all the answers to how life connects - and a good dose of wicked nihilism too, from the sexy French seductress. The reception of the movie has been a little mixed, but I liked the New York Times review, where the reviewer is as exstatic as I felt when I sat laughing through the credits, waiting for my company to wipe his tears from his eyes.

I was planning to see Shaun of the Dead, but Francis Strand emailed and asked how I liked I heart Huckabees, so of course I had to find out! And Francis, I loved it. I didn't understand every reference in it, but there were moment of such amazing, sublime sillyness that it didn't really matter. At times it did threaten to tip over into too much slapstick, but it was pulled back neatly by the good-natured ridicule that ran through everything.

Where Team America was wicked to the point of sadistic viciousness and Sky Captain had a story that held no surprises after the first introduction of the blonde, the hero and the mad scientist, the free-roaming philosophy of this movie held new twists to the lives of the main characters every time I thought I knew what was going on. And while it was both warm and funny and had a pretty explicit sex-reference, the irony was smeared on heavily. Laughing at the movie I also laughed at bad poetry, nature preservation fanatics, small organisation politics, big corporation politics, the political abuse of a good cause by corporate america, angstridden academics, overeducated philosphers on a quest for the really difficult answers, models and supermodels, self-righteous men, plain stupid and aggressive women and rocks. "You rock, rock."

On Eight street afterwards, in Yaffa Cafe with my favourite Japanese/Finnish couple, we started talking to a woman at the next table, who, for some reason, had seen the movie with her Swedish girlfriend. She was learning Swedish, but only knew the dirty words yet. So, I went to see the movie because of an email from an American male who is learning Swedish because his husband is Swedish, and immediately afterwards started talking about it to an American woman who is learning Swedish because her girlfriend is Swedish. Coincidence? Not after seeing this movie!

Do anybody have the phone number of Jaffe and Jaffe?

Thursday, November 04, 2004


I survived the trip to Balthazar. This summer I had bought a pair of pretty black shoes with a quite high heel - and wearing them the first time I immediately got blisters on both feet. So they stayed here for emergencies, and perhaps later discreet destruction at a point when I had forgotten I had spent money on them. Since Tuesday was an emergency, I tried them on again. And what a difference weather does! Cool as opposed to HOT and HUMID made the shoes fit like a glove, and stockings rather than bare feet eliminated the chafing problem completely. And so I was about 7 cm taller and felt like my legs were a mile long when I walked to the subway.

It was election day, and we were a little early for the largest crowd. Balthazar is an attempt at a french restaurant on Spring Street, and not a bad one at that. The room is large and spacious, with a very high ceiling. It's kept in colours of brown, smoke-yellow and white, and the decorations - specifically the two figurehead/kore figures on the wall over the bar - are carefully painted to appear stylishly gritty from what I guess is an American idea of French lack of cleaning and ambience accumulated since Matisse had his anisette there. With the ornate ceiling which my New York Connection claims is made out of tin and my host for the evening, the British/Canadian/Cosmopolitan claims is covered with thick embossed paper, the room took on a kind of hyper-frenchness, somehow like the cloisters and its hyper-medievalism. Somebody had stolen bits and pieces of French restaurants and put them all together under this American overdone ceiling, including the handsome waiter from Bordeaux - while the sassy chic frenchlooking waitress was all American under her black and white french maid uniform.

The menu was similarly immaculately french, as was the wine-list. I did however miss the cafe au lait and the chocolate croissant for breakfast, but I guess they leave that to the next-door bakery - also a part of Balthazar. Food was nice, I had foie gras for the first time, the lamb had been spoiled silly in some green, idyllic field - no climbing hills and developing stringy muscle for this little lamb - the wine was a decent Burgundy (which means quite good), and the company was nice... only we forgot all about talking and were basically just people-watching. That's the most fun part about large, spacious restaurants when it's packed and the waiters are busy. You get to see how the staff cooperates, watch the guests in their interaction with each others, see their reaction to the food or their lack of such... like eating snails with a bored expression, or making an onion soup last through your partner's full meal.

Did I pick the right shoes? I guess less would have worked, but apart from the table with four tourists in bluejeans I saw no sneakers and no hiking boots, so in this case heels were definitely more appropriate. The heels were even comfortable enough for an after dinner stroll hunting for a bar and a last drink before I got back on the R line. And the dinner did make a welcome change from slimburgers at the Tiffany Diner.

Out of the US of A

I am leaving Saturday afternoon. Got to start packing. Guess I will not be leaving much behind for the next visit. Good thing I have somewhere else to go. Entering the states again, I will travel light. There is no privacy crossing borders, and I don't foresee the personal space and privacy of visitors being more respected in the next years. Things have changed dramatically since my first visit 5 years ago, and it isn't just me.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Culture shock in progress

Are you a fan of Will and Grace? Did you see the episode where Will for his birthday had to choose between going to the Ice capades which Jack had tickets for and where Grace really wanted to go (probably not a vintage show, but I am not really sure what would be the right link) and Balthazar where Grace had twisted Karen's arm to get them a table?

If you did, you understand that I am a little apprehensive tonight, as I have been invited for dinner by a friend who knows both how to reserve tables and pick up the tab afterwards. Balthazar is a long way from Det Grøne Treet, geographically, socially, culturally and economically. And I have just given both my nice pairs of boots over to the Russian at 95th street for maintainance! What do I do? It's NOT a place for sneakers or hiking boots!

The Knight of the Net

I am sure this is old news for all of you net-savvy readers out there, but I thought it was kind of nice to discover that Tim Berners-Lee has been honoured with a knighthood. Don't know what that entails? Brian Grainger explains it to us laywomen.

Beyond the United State of Play

After days of low-energy, panel-based presentations in State of Play II, the high-point of Saturday for me was the lecture of Leo Sang-Min Whang from Yonsei University. He started ut with correcting several of the other speakers who had been talking about the situation of games in Asia, and correcting them with updated numbers on for instance broadband penetration in Korea, the number of gamers and the use of games in different Asian cultures.

Whang also delivered several very sensible, almost common-sensible statements, which keep being forgotten in the gaming culture debate. He addressed addiction, multiple personality disorders and culture shock, and had an extremely down-to-earth view on this, which was funded in his training as a psychologist. I particularly enjoyed the way he pointed out that to be addicted to novels is a good thing, while being addicted to games is considered bad. Addictions are culturally defined. If we looked at all the important things in our lives, most of us are probably addicted to a great many things - it is just that our addictions are socially and culturally acceptable.

For the numbers he quoted, I recommend you all to go watch his presentation in the video time capsule. The research he is doing is ambitious, and the results are interesting. Comparing gamers from Korea, Japan, Singapore and China, from 2001 and through 2005, all playing Lineage, he has his job cut out for him. I am waiting with happy anticipation for the results to be published in a language I can read. Until then, I am happy I got to hear Whang talk, although I think he had definitely deserved a better slot than the lunch hour.

We are all sinners - somewhere

And in quite a few places we are criminals - or at least felons - too.

Monday, November 01, 2004

China, internet and censorship

According to this news story, China has shut down 1.600 Cybercafes since May. In Norway, that would be a huge number, but it is out of 1,8 million Cybercafes checked. It is slightly less than one in thousand. A larger number, 18.000, have been shut down for "rectification" and will (may?) reopen.

I am actually a little positively surprised by this. I'd have thought the Chinese would have been able to find a lot more cafes making available "violent or pornographic content, and other material it considers harmful to public morality." Seems like "harmful to public morality" isn't that strict after all. Or, perhaps the 1.780.400 other cafes are really conformist and really boring.

Lovecraftian pages

I never read anything by H. P. Lovecraft, despite many urging me to. However, I do recognize his influence on fantasy and science fiction, and through that, on gaming. So for those of us who need to get names, titles, times, references and myths right, here's the H. P. Lovecraft Archive.