Thursday, June 30, 2005

LOCAL/GLOBAL at Lista fyr

My sister Solfrid lives in a lovely little house way south in Norway, has a state art grant and has spent her life living on, with and for her art: textiles, installations, drawings and paintings. One of the things she does now is exhibit and curate exhibitions at Lista fyr, which is a large lighthouse surrounded by gardens and a bird-watch area and bird resort. This summer the place will again be filled with artists, Norwegian and foreign, a mixture of different media.

And on the list of artists I also found Magnar Åm, a composer of contemporary music. If you happen to be a contemporary music buff, Magnar Åm is famous far beyond the Norwegian borders. But he is also very active locally, and directs both the choir my daughter sings in, and the choir my husband sings in.

Solfrid and Magnar are both very much living examples of the title of the exhibition. They have visions and ideas which reach beyond the small towns they live and work in, but they commit themselves to the community as well as to their international contacts, creating growth, development and making their little spot on the planet a better place to live in for more than themselves.

And if you would like to see an example of their work, the exhibition at Lista is open through July and August. Go there, and enjoy.


Summer Exhibition at the Lista Lighthouse area, Farsund, Norway arrangend by Lista Lighthouse Gallery July 3rd - September 4th 2005

Art in landscape:
Laura Baird, Canada - Srey Bandol, Cambodia - Regine von Chossy, Germany - Howard McCalebb, USA - Solfrid Olette Mortensen, Norway - Leang Seckon, Cambodia - Alfred Vaagsvold, Norway - Gudrun Westerberg, Sweden - Gao Xiang, China - Tien Yao, China.

Anne Kathrine Solbakken and RotaMundos: Elisabeth Kristensen, Vibeke Melby, Frode Holgersen, Hector Carranco (N)
Web-support Martin Vindheim.

Bunkeriologi: Alf Waage, Eva Brodtkorb, Jan Gunnar Skjeldsøy (N)
Olaf Karlsen (N) - Kjell Pahr-Iversen (N)
Elin Høyland (N) - Mathilde Helene Pettersen (N)

Installations Nordberg Fort:
Marion Frigstad (N) - Solfrid Olette Mortensen (N)
Audio and video-installations:
Magnar Åm and Torill Haugen (N) - Brite Hindal(N). Riksutstillinger and others.

Opening Program Sunday July 3rd at 5 PM (17.00) in Lista Lighthouse
Gallery Garden:
Opening: Kjell Abildsnes, Vest-Agder fylkeskommune, Solfrid Olette Mortensen, artist. Performance: Laura Baird.
Dance: Margrethe Kvalbein, Huang Shan, Chen Jia and Liu Minjia.
Aries: Lorene Spain and Turid Stokke Andreassen.
Cortege: Am Car Club.
Brass band: Borhaug musikkorps.


Galleri Lista fyr
N-4563 Borhaug tel.: (+47) 9518 3518
fax.: (+47) 3839 7405
Gallery-hours: July daily from 12-5 PM. August and September only
Sundays 2-5 PM. Other visits call tel.: 9518 3518

FOLK-05 is sponsored by: Vest-Agder fylkeskommune, Areopagos, TC/G Nordica, Farsund kommune, Einar Øgrey Farsund as, Sørlandsruta as, Sørlandet Ferdiggress as. Monter Vanse.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Survival on the highway

Sometimes, we're just plain lucky, as Dennis Jerz and his wonderful little family were on father's day. Walking away from a dreadful accident, knowing you and all you love could have been dead, together with potentially scores of strangers, if it had just happened a little before or a little after, is an experience that makes you treasure life. Reading about survival in the weblog of a person so far away drives home how we identify and grow close to the people we communicate with and who are open and willing to communicate with us.

And although Dennis insists on maintaining a meta-level to his experience, and claims his description is a bad essay because he doesn't convey emotion in the writing, I find he does, and strongly. Perhaps you need to enjoy the matter-of-fact style of the sagas to understand what I mean, but look at the things he is focusing on: only a man in shock, reaching for his skill, competence and the safety of his profession will do things like analyse his own narrative of the crash, consider the genre choices of reading for his little daughter while waiting for the ambulance, comment on how he has adjusted the picture to make it more aesthetically pleasing and pointing out that his aesthetic faculties are still working despite the shock. More likely it worked because of the shock, letting him be the strong, capable father until everybody are safe, the emergency is over and it's possible to process emotions without making bad worse.

Which, being a cold Scandinavian who considers being reasonable in the face of chaos as one of the main virtues, I think is an admirable reaction.

And yes, Dennis, I am very, very happy you are all alive and well.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Death in the alley

Outside the hotel in Tromsø, seagulls were crying through the grey, rainy, light night. As I left for the meeting in the morning I passed one standing in a narrow alley, yelling short, penetrating warnings at me. I walked quickly past, but not so quickly I didn't notice the dead chick, a grey ball of feathers on the asphalt next to the large white gull. As I had passed the seagull I was suddenly attacked, something bumping into my head from behind. Turning, I saw the large gull land next to the dead chick.

Later that day, as I returned, the adult gull was still in the alley, still guarding the miserable little corpse. I walked past, quickly, expecting another attack, but nothing happened, only the sharp, painfully penetrating screams from the orange beak. Later that evening, the dead chick and the mother were still there. And as I returned past midnight, the grey rainheavy sky as bright as it had been at midday. Through the night I heard the gulls, complaining, threatening, arguing. The characteristic, short screeches of the gull in the alley were unmistakeable, a very different sort of warning from the calls of the others. As I left, 24 hours after I had encountered that miniature tragedy for the first time, the seagull was still there, guarding the body of its dead chick.

I have no idea why the chick fell. Perhaps the nest was perched at a dangerous spot, and it just dropped out, helped even by a gust of wind. Perhaps another seagull had raided it, and this was the only chick the distraught parent could find. Some cruel human might have cleaned a windowsill of nest materials and chicks, this one falling to the pavement, a rat might have climbed the roofs... the options are many. But some things were obvious. The adult bird was protecting the little dead body. It was in distress. It was not going to abandon its responsibility. Nothing was more important than to protect this little, dead bundle of fluff. No creature was to large to attack in the line of duty.

Do the annoying, noisy, stinking seagulls have feelings? I have no idea. But the little tragedy in that alley in Tromsø managed to make me choose a different route after the first couple of encounters. I don't think out of fear, but perhaps, from some kind of odd respect for what I interpreted as grief and a desperate need to protect your children. Perhaps what I avoided was my own fear of standing like that over my children.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Conversation in a dream

I woke up this morning, astonished at what my sleeping mind could come up with. I was with some of my childhood friends. We were a few who played role playing games long before there was a name or a system for it in Norway, dreaming up stories and dramas, and playing them out in the forests around where we lived.

In my dream we were all adults, but still role playing. Only some of the role play had backfired into reality. I no longer remember every detail, lucid and logical though they were, but it involved pern-type firelizards (miniature dragons), familiars, astral bodies and magic children. So I called in some of the people I had played with for a long time, but who had freaked out because they felt it got too real. The logic was: If they felt it was too real, perhaps they had already experienced these situations, and I had just not listened to them.

Turned out they were no good, their "too real" was on the emotional plane. But one of them brought a long a teacher/mentor, who looked like "the fat aging academic male" in all movies where they need some disposable nerd. And I started discussing educational planning with him.

He claimed that the master study they were planning was created after the structure of herd behaviour: by seeing in what sequence students would naturally choose subjects, they would make the path through the courses as easy and natural as possible. I claimed that what he described was supermarket planning, and that true herd/flock behaviour was non-linear, unless the group was spooked and forced to act in the same sequence. I used birds as an example. While they would, when relaxed, spread all over the red currant bushes in the garden, eating, singing, resting, fluttering about looking for something else, the presence of our cat would make them all fly up at the same time.

The argument was that the natural, unhurried pattern of choice for a group of students would be no pattern at all - unless some outside authority or threath spooked them. Which is what we use exams and assessments for - to make them all fly in the same direction to save their grades.

When I woke up, I felt like I had been having an epiphany. I understood why students want to move things around and direct their own progress, and why I have always felt that was important. That is more how the old Norwegian educational system worked, and how it still works to a certain degree if you go for a free bachelor. I also understood the modifying effect of tests, tasks and exams, and the need for these things to have real consequences. Well, not that I want to need to kill and eat students, but the need for apprehension, fear, tension and the possibility of significant loss at the other end of the process was suddenly clear to me.

It was weird. And interesting, as were the metaphors my mind used to tell me those things.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Flashbacks of New York

Business Week has started with blogs for several of their employees. One of those is Michael Mandel, their Chief Economist, with Economics Unbound. Michael was the person I met through IMs, and when I dropped a broad hint that I knew something about blogs, it took him a very short time to figure out who I was, and from there an even shorter time to invite me to visit Business Week at 48th street during the ICA conference - which was taking place at 53rd street, same avenue.

We chatted about Business Week, about newspapers in general, and about the electronic revolution. My brain was elegantly and politely tapped for information, during our walk around their offices with their extravagant view of the city of Manhattan, and even more so during lunch at City Lobster.

I don't know if Michael actually learned anything useful, but I did. I also had it reconfirmed that those people I meet online, who appear to be nothing but words, are frequently nice and always real persons.

Siida isn't dead

I have been hiding from my responsibilities towards this project, Siida, a computer game/computer exploration focusing on sami culture and language. Apparently that was appropriate, because the development has been hibernating through winter, like any sensible thing in the northlands. Monday I will be in a meeting in Tromsø, midnight sun and long-not-seen cousins waiting at the other end of a trip as long as from Oslo to Paris. It is going to be a great trip, interesting project, amazing landscape and brilliant and fun people. Look at this: I am actually enthusiastic about something resembling work!


The long-term reader knows that I have had severe problems with my back. I am now much, much better, so good that I am starting to hurt where the experts expect me to hurt. It's odd, but I am actually grateful for that discomfort. It is a sign that my body has started to register sensations below "please just shoot me like they do horses" level.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I see a book in my future

Now that it looks like things are falling into place, I dare talk about some parts of my longer term plans.

This spring I had a phone call from, of all things, an editor at a small Norwegian publishing house (yes, that makes it miniscule). She told me she had heard loads of favourable things about me (good beginning), and was I interested in writing a book on computer games for the Norwegian college/university market?

Was I? I was.

But since offers like these don't come with big advances attached, at least not in Norway, to be able to do something like that, I have to incorporate it into the responsibility we have at the college for communicating both our own research and that done elsewhere, and making it available for scholars in Norway, in Norwegian. This is normally done through shorter articles or simple lectures and teaching, but one way to do it can be by writing a text book. So I applied the college for time to do so. I wanted to have 6 weeks this fall to prepare for the book, and the spring term to write the first draft. I have been negotiating the work-load this autumn to get that much time for my own research, and kind of got that into place today. Then I heard that I got the spring term for research and writing.

Step one in the stairway to my big work has been built. In the next year I can walk up on it. Bootstrapping my own thought-processes, as well as my academic publishing, if everything works right.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Autumn plans

The autumn starts settling into place, and it looks like it may be manageable. Teaching and administration is a given, it has to happen to a certain extent. But it looks like I may be able to get back for the 100 hours of comittee work to reorganise the college, and also keep up the plans for 3 weeks of no admin/teaching for all attached to the study, to spend the time writing, reading, doing research or somethign similar sorting under FOU on our lists of tasks. Those three weeks are very important to me, and they have been to others, as if nothing else then it is a good time to take that week of vacation saved up from summer, or just getting a handle on all the overtime that tends to accumulate after a period of intensive teaching and preparing.

So far this is how my fall looks:
Women in Games in Dundee
Norwegian Board of research meeting, Oslo
Time to write, play and plan, New York
State of Play III, New York
Communication Union conference, Ålesund
Volda, Teaching and planning! (wow, a whole month. Something has to come up.)
Digital Arts and Culture, Copenhagen

I guess this should do it. What is not settled yet are things like: do I manage to move the meeting at the board of research a little, to get a longer period in NYC, will I have the cash for the fee at State of Play (the NYC trips do tend to drain the wallet), when is the next Board of Research meeting, will I get the resources needed for the autumn term, thus liberating this much time for me?
Update: yes, don't know yet, late enough, yes. :)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Significant and dead

They have found the graves of two women, ritually murdered and buried in positions of significance, in a Maya Indian crypt. The conclusion from this is that they have been politically important, as somebody went to that much trouble to kill them.

Charming, isn't it, to know that women have been sufficiently significant to kill and bury in complicated manners.

By way of

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Body, space and distance

Before my own selfabsorbed musings, I want to point to the blog which started them, and an interesting collection of papers and series of pictures from India: Bite Me, the weblog of Ateya Khorakiwala and the subterranean homesick alien. Ateya links to the Sarai Reader from the Sarai Media Labs in Delhi. Ateya's article in this reader is on Negotiating territory.

Going from Volda to New York, one of the intense experiences is that of the crowds. Always packed with people, the city buzzes with human life. It is both fascinating and terrifying, and in the summer heat I avoid other human bodies, no longer wishing to have them close. Is that how simple I am, the desire for humanity ruled by a need for warmth? On the plane back I was freezing, and I found myself edging gently closer to the man next to me. His warmth, radiating from his arm and shoulder was so attractive, I was fantasising about leaning in, cuddling against his side like a cat or a puppy.

How different, this cool place, where summer is defined by a lack of snow and the colour green. There is space around my body, as I walk to work, silence, for long stretches, nothing but the click of my computer. And from this cool, quiet, distant place I read the weblog of an indian woman, an academic, watch her pictures and read her stories, and wonder who I would have been if that was the natural state of my life.

Eva Dahlgren asks the same question:
Åh, jag undrar så ibland,
Om jag, blivit född
nån annan stans,
I ett annat land,
med ett annat namn.

Jag kanske va brunett
och inte särskilt lång,
och rund,
och min röst var gäll och dan,
ja, det lät som fan, när jag tog ton.

I wonder occasionally/ if I was born/ elsewhere/ in a different country/ with a different name/ I might have been a brunette/and not particularly tall/ and round/ and my voice was.../yes, it would sound like hell, when I found a tune.

Byt Ateya's world is a different one yet, her everyday further still, from Volda, than even the crowded intensity of New York, and her trainrides are colourful fairytales when read from across the world, a tale of bodies trapped in intimacy or forced apart in ways which make me feel exotic in the cool isolation of the north.

A mommy moment

I try to keep the "kids" out of the blog as much as possible. Well, it is impossible to do so all the time, as they are inspiration and assistance as much as offspring, but you haven't heard me gush with how great they are for a while, hmm?

What I wanted to tell you is how nice it is to have grown children. To be met at the airport by a daughter who happily takes you home from a long trip, chatting about her straight A's for her final exams and her plans for the University next year. She will be leaving me, going off on her own to become another person. The independent adult, not the soft little girl who still crawls into the couch next to me to put her head on my shoulder and check what I am up to.

I wanted to tell you about putting my arms about my little boy, hug him and find my head on his chest, only reaching his cheek if I get up on my toes and stretch. My wonderful cuddly pet, who would wrap his arms about my neck and never want to let go - tonight he is having an improvised barbeque with his friends, the June night at its darkest, and still it's light out, and I am just barely worried that they stay out this long.

I may be getting old. I am certainly maudling. But I have always thought what ever age my children were was the best. I recently decided I really love young adults. There is nothing better than seeing them grow into their potential. Who needs soft marsipan-sweet cheeks and sticky paws when I can have a firm jaw and a strong hand to carry the heavy suitcase or drive the car? Perfect.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ethics in Games: Cfp

From Karsten Weber and the e-journal IRIE (International Review of Information Ethics), a call for papers on ethics on electronic games:

The Ethics of E-Games
Call for Papers for Vol. 4 (02/2005)

- Deadline for abstracts: July 30, 2005
- Notification of acceptance to authors: September 15, 2005
- Deadline for full chapters: October 30, 2005
- Publication: December, 2005


Computer-based or e-games, in both standalone and networked incarnations
(including “Massive Multiplayer Online Games” or MMOGs), represent one
of the most popular – and an economically profitable – uses of ICTs and
CMC in the contemporary world. Such games not only simulate a range of
human social interactions, from building (perhaps utopian) societies to
historical and fantasy warfare of every age: the games further occasion
and catalyze a range of human interactions that rightly inspire research
from a variety of disciplines and specialties. Especially violent games
(e.g., Quake, Doom, Grand Theft Auto III, and others) have generated
some critical discussion, ranging from “moral panics” in popular media
to social science investigations into possible effects and consequences
of participating in such games. But e-games represent a relatively
neglected subject in Information Ethics. At the same time, however, if
broader discussion of e-games is to include responsible and informed
ethical reflection, much more critical reflection from the various
perspectives of Information Ethics upon the multiple dimensions of
e-games and game-playing is needed. Hence this special issue of IRIE
calls for such critical ethical reflection.

Possible Topics and Questions

1. The Rules – and thus Ethics – of Play

While much has been written about potential psychological and social
consequences of e-games, very little academic research has focused on
the ethics of e-games. The ethical questions and issues here, however,
are many – for example:
A. What ethics – if any – may be expected of gamers (e.g., honesty,
fairness, respect, integrity - see: Code of Ethics
B. On the contrary, is it ethically justified to suspend such ethical
expectations within specific games (e.g., Grand Theft Auto III) –
precisely because these are “just a game,” i.e., a kind of psychological
and/or social exercise that, like Carneval and other traditional events
that temporarily invert prevailing social norms, may have cathartic
and/or other beneficent effects?
C. Are there ethical norms to be expected of game designers – e.g.,
avoiding designs that intentionally or inadvertently reinforce
questionable (if not dangerous and unethical) stereotypes regarding
gender, ethnic and national identities, etc.? Or is anything justified
as long as it sells in the marketplace?
D. How do different cultures shape and shade these ethical questions and
responses? For example, are concerns with illicit sexuality in games
primarily only an issue for U.S. (puritanical) parents, while European
parents are more concerned about violence, while parents in Asian
countries are concerned about …? Do different cultures understand the
role of games differently – and thus, the ethical questions and ways of
responding to these questions in different ways?
E. Additional questions / issues?

2. Virtue Ethics and Ethics of Care

E-games, especially in their online versions, bring together
participants from around the globe. A specific approach to the ethics of
e-Games invokes virtue ethics – e.g., in Aristotelian and/or Confucian
traditions – to ask the question, what human excellences and potentials
are fostered by our playing such games (e.g., Coleman 2001)?
Contemporary feminist ethics, including an ethics of care (e.g., as
developed by Nel Noddings) would also raise critical questions regarding
what we learn and develop – specifically, what capacities for caring, if
any – as we play such games.
What would such ethical analyses suggest to us regarding contemporary
games? Are these analyses legitimate to use – and/or do they beg several
questions regarding the nature of games, gamers, and game-playing?

[Coleman, Kari. 2001. Android Arete: Toward a Virtue Ethic for
Computational Agents, Ethics and Information Technology, 3 (4): 247-265.]

3. Social Dimensions

The larger social impacts of computing and information technologies are
one set of consequences that are ethically relevant to design and use of
ICTs – and thus are of importance in Information Ethics.
Many negative consequences of game-playing are thematic of both popular
and scholarly literature, e.g., concerns with encouraging violence,
potential addiction, and other anti-social impacts. At the same time,
however, at least some games may be argued to have ethical and social
value as they enhance social and other sorts of skills, serve as an
attractor in e-learning environments, etc.
What can reliable research in fact tell us regarding these impacts –
both positive and negative? And: given the best available research on
these impacts – what ethical conclusions (if any) may be drawn regarding
the production and consumption of e-games?

4. Gender

It is not hard to find examples in especially the more popular e-games
of gender and cultural stereotypes – stereotypes that are ethically
reprehensible insofar as they ideologically justify a range of
inequalities and the violation of basic human rights. If certain games
only work to reinforce prevailing “masculinist” stereotypes regarding
how to be male; and if certain games teach us to see “the Other”
(whether as a female and/or as a member of a cultural/ethnic identity
different from our own) as naturally inferior, the legitimate target of
violence, etc. – then a strong ethical case against such games could be
made. On the other hand, gamers may be perfectly aware that “this is
just a game” – i.e., they may well approach such stereotypes with a
distance and irony that helps diffuse rather than reinforce them.
Moreover, not all games work by presuming such gender and/or cultural
stereotypes. And finally, a growing community of women gamers directly
challenge these stereotypes about games. Are there games and ways of
playing games that help us explore our identities as gendered beings in
positive and fruitful ways, rather than simply playing off and thus
reinforcing stereotypes that may be questionable, if not oppressive? Are
there games and ways of playing games that in fact help us overcome
ethnocentrism and come to see “the Other” in ways that teach us to
respect the irreducible differences that define diverse gender and
cultural identities – perhaps even teach us to communicate more
effectively across these differences?

5. Cultural issues

Starting at least with cinema and tv, modern western cultures encounter
something like an "imaginative revolution" (W. Goebel): not simply
mediated views of the world, but also fantasies and imaginative
extrapolations that 'transgress' given reality can be constructed and
communicated. This changes the lifeworld of people and potentially
revolutionizes culture as the non-thematic background of understanding
and communication. With e-games the imaginative revolutions seems to
have made another leap forward - if not a quantum-leap: imagination now
becomes tangible since it becomes interactive.
These developments pose new ethical questions. To begin with: what do
e-games and the experience given by them mean to the cultural background
of understanding the world, ones own life and each other? Moreover,
especially the immersion offered by e-games seems to enhance the
experiential quality of what they mediate. What does this mean for our
understanding of reality and for the cultural labelling of specific
realities as such?
For example: The game *Medal of Honour: Frontline* offers some
experiences concerning history and war that movies like *Saving Private
Ryan* never could deliver in such a direct and thought-provoking way. On
the other hand most of the *routine* of the game obeys the *normal*
rules of first-person shooters and thus deflects the *horrific truth of
war*. What does this mean for teaching young people history in school
and university? What does it mean for the historical consciousness of a
generation that grew up with e-games of that kind?
As another example: the games *Silent Hill 2* and *Max Payne 2* give
some insight into the psychotic mind (since the protagonists in both
games are psychotic). What does this mean for the cultural *labeling* of
sound vs. psychotic? What are the consequences to prevailing conceptions
of order or - with Foucault - regime of health? Can and should that
process of the imaginative revolution by games thus be ethically
oriented into a certain direction - or do we face a process that may
legitimately alter the cultural setting of certain issues, narratives
(in Lyotard's sense) and legitimations? And if so - who or what may be
able to state and justify the legitimacy of these alterations?

6. None of the Above

We do not imagine that this initial list of suggestions exhausts all
possible topics and approaches to ethical reflection on e-Games. On the
contrary, we encourage interested authors to propose additional
frameworks, questions, ethical and analytical approaches, etc., that
will add to our insight regarding ethics and e-Games.

The Rules of the Game

Potential authors have to provide an extended abstract (max. 1.500
words) until 30. July 2005. The abstract should be written in the mother
tongue of the author. An English translation of this abstract has to be
included, if the chosen language is not English or German. The IRIE will
publish accepted articles (3.000 words or 20.000 letters including
blanks) in German, English, Spanish, French or Portuguese. For further
details see the submission guidelines.

The abstracts will be selected by the guest editors, Dr. Charles Ess and
Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan. Authors will be notified by 15. September 2005.

Deadline for the final article (according to IRIE format guide) is 30.
October 2005. All submissions will be subject to peer review. Therefore
the acceptance of an extended abstract by the members of the editorial
board does not imply the publication of the final text unless the
article passed the peer review.

For more information about the journal see:

A list of documents, which potential authors might find useful, can be
requested by e-mail. Members of the ICIE will get a copy of the list via
the ICIE mailing list.


Please send queries and proposals to guest editors,

Dr. Charles Ess:
Dr. Elizabeth Buchanan:


Call for Papers - Vol. 4 (02/2005): The Ethics of E-Games - Language:
English pdf-fulltext (30 KB,

Friday, June 10, 2005


Not entirely out of touch with work, I did get an internet connection even as far east as it was possible to come on Long Island, but I restrained myself to short days and select tasks. So I had time to find a new friend, and do some of the important things in life.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

For my students

I am in the United States, and my students are having their last exam at the information study back in Volda. We have known each other for 2-3 years, and I know I will miss them when they have left, so this is the speech I should have held at the party tonight, starting right now.

Kjære alle sammen
Informasjonsutdanninga har vært min baby siden sommeren 1991, når jeg tok jobben i Volda. "Du blir informasjonsutdanningas mamma'" sa en god venn profetisk, og på mange måter har det vært sånn. Men det har ikke alltid vært enkelt. Det har vært kamper mot systemet, for å få drive utdanninga slik vi som jobbet med den mente var riktig, det har vært trefninger med studentene på grunn av alt fra ytre ting vi ikke kunne gjøre noe med, via ulike forventninger, til både min og studentenes manglende vilje og evne til å kompromisse. Det har slett ikke vært glatt, uproblematisk og likegyldig, for noen av oss.

Dette er kanskje det viktigste ved informasjonsutdanninga for meg. Den har aldri vært likegyldig. Vi forsøker å lære dere alt vi kan om kommunikasjon, om målgrupper, om metoder og teknikker, vi forsøker å gi dere alle redskaper vi kan til å klare dere der ute, men samtidig drømmer jeg om å kunne gi fra meg en liten ting, en ting som er viktigere enn alt annet, og som jeg vil at dere skal kunne når dere drar herfra.

Jeg vil at dere skal kunne stille spørsmål.

Samfunnet vi lever i er organisk og alltid i forandring. Når jeg tok hovedfag i Bergen, var Internettet noe vi måtte tigge oss til tid i høyteknologisenteret for å oppleve. Det året Palme ble myrdet tok jeg grunnfageksamen i medievitenskap, med Ketil Halse som sensor, og det gikk ikke så bra. Men jeg husket noen få viktige ting, for eksempel at Bergens Tidende kom ut i seks ulike eksemplar den dagen. Hvilke aviser trykker seks opplag på en dag nå? De legger ut oppdateringene på nettet, og jobber heller med det tunge stoffet til neste dags avis. I dag foreslo jeg å møte dere ansikt til ansikt på nettet, i stedet skriver jeg til dere på bloggen min. Den hadde jeg heller aldri drømt om den sommeren i 1991 når jeg dro fra mann og barn i Bergen for å begynne i ny jobb på et nytt og skremmende sted, sammen med det mest skremmende av alt - studenter. Alt jeg hadde å stille opp med var noen års utdanning og et intenst ønske om å kunne lære og å kunne gi.

I informasjon hører disse to tingene sammen. For å kunne kommunisere må du sette deg selv til side og se den du skal nå fram til, ellers snakker du bare til et speil. Du kommer ikke særlig langt ved å fortelle hva du vet, du må lete etter det den andre trenger å vite - du må åpne deg for den andre og se og lære. Men hvordan skal jeg kunne se et helt kull om gangen, og tre kull parallelt? Jeg lærte det de første årene, det var bare en måte å gjøre det på, og det var å bli glad i menneskene jeg sto ovenfor. Og jeg gjorde det, ble glad i studentene mine, lo og gråt med dem, danset av glede over gode karakterer, og sloss for rom, ressurser og muligheter i alle sammenhenger hvor jeg kunne.

Men studentene reiser fra meg, bare oppgavene blir igjen.

Det er mange år siden jeg lærte at jeg har et alt for sårbart hjerte til å kunne by det fram til dere alle hele tiden. Jeg må kunne si nei, jeg må holde meg til reglene, der er troll og monstre jeg ikke kan drepe for dere, der er juv dere selv må finne en måte å krysse. Men en gang i året kan jeg ta det fram, dette som gjør det meningsfullt å fortsette å undervise til tross for reformer, konflikter, dager som aldri blir lange nok og oppgaver som gjentas og gjentas i det uendelige, like steinen til Sisyphus, når den ruller tilbake ned bakken.

Sannheten er at jeg blir glad studentene mine, hver eneste en. Jeg kommer til å fortrenge dere litt etter hvert. Når dere ringer om 10 år kan det hende dere må minne meg om hvem dere er. Men akkurat nå, når dere skal pakke sammen og dra, kjenner jeg det. Det blir tomt i Volda uten dere.

Dere går selvsagt ut i verden uten å se dere tilbake. Det er både godt og riktig, dere skal det, verden ligger åpen foran dere, som den lå foran meg når jeg dro fra Bergen til Volda for å gjøre og bli noe jeg aldri hadde ventet. Og når jeg ser dere igjen, på fjernsynet, som praksisveiledere i en bedrift eller etat, som deltakere på en konferanse, voksne, kompetente, dyktige utøvere av det dere har valgt, så er jeg stolt og lykkelig over å ha fått gi dere noe med på veien fram dit.

Men husk at dere ikke har gått tre år i Volda uten å sette spor. Takk for at dere var her, mine studenter, og ga deres tid og nysgjerrighet.

Lykke til.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Women in Neverwinter

I just sent away the last version I will be poking at of a paper Hilde and I have been writing for the Women in Games conference in Dundee. It was not exactly smooth sailing, but we did it, the paper is done and I can start looking for tickets!

Friday, June 03, 2005

The taste of tears

Do you ever spend days, when you cry for no reason at all? This spring has been so cold, so late, so cruel and so fraught with conflict, filled with work conflicting with work, responsibilities I cannot fulfil and loved ones I cannot be everything for. It has all hit me this week, when I was supposed to be away from it all and on top of it all. And so I have watched the screen blur, and I have had no idea why, why can't I just write, why can't I just do, why can't I just act?

I am far away from most of it, and as the load lightens, there is space for my despair to peek through the cracks again. But I have this tube of superglue, and as I write I am repairing myself, tightening it all up and wiping the tears away. It's just salt water anyway, and soon I will have finished one more thing on my list, and then one more and then one more until I can start breathing again.

This is pathetic, isn't it? Well, sometimes, I am pretty pathetic. I'll be back to being professional and professorial later.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I wish I could afford a new car

Preferably a Jaguar.

I had never thought I'd want to buy a Ford out of principle, but if the Christian Extremists are going after them for supporting gay and lesbian activists, it's almost enough to make me wish my trusty Opel into a Ford.

The Big Brass

I just got contacted on AIM by somebody who wanted me to be part of The Big Brass Alliance. That is rather flattering, although I am a little paranoid about people suddenly sending me messages out of the blue. So, rule one if contacting me on AIM, approach like a human being, or I think you are spam and block you immediately.

However, as there was not a word about sex in the messages, I checked out the links he sent me. While I don't think I want to be on the list with the big brass - I am after all not that involved with US politics - I do want to pass these links on to any of my readers who might be.

The Big Brass Alliance is a group of bloggers who support After Downing Street, "a coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups formed to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war."

I was also sent a link to a site describing The Downing Street Memo, which is supposed to contain the minutes from a meeting in 2002, where Tony Blair in a meeting with his ministers agree that the intelligence out of Iraq was fixed. After Downing Street want to see more discussion of this news in US media, and hope that by planting it in blogs, they will.

This is interesting at several levels. First, I find it interesting that this piece of news is not being discussed in US media. I am however not entirely shocked, after the President's comments about Amnesty International's report about Human Rights in the USA. BitchPhD as usual says what they (Pseudonymous Rocket Scientist in this case) mean about this much more informed than I can.

Second: that when somebody wants to plant a piece of news in the media, they turn to viral marketing, plant it in blogs, and the blogs will spread the word. And it works. I am writing about it.

So, while I don't think I am Big Brass, I am going to watch this. I hope it will be good.