Thursday, September 23, 2021

Northern Star - Apophenia - call for papers

 Dear friends and readers, I have the pleasure to extend the invitation for a symposium at Nord University, Bodø, December 9-10th 2021. More details will follow as we learn how many will participate.

NOTE concerning extensions:  since this clashes with DiGRA2022 deadline: I am not going to formally extend the date, but if you send me an email letting me know you want to submit, but need more time, I will extend it to October 18th. Why do I do it like this? I need to, as soon as possible, have some kind of idea about the interest for this symposium for the internal planning, and to know you will submit is very helpful at that point. The actual selection process will not start until the 18th, but there are some practical decisions that need to be taken as soon as possible.


Northern Star Symposium: Apophenia 

Apophenia is the sense of seeing patterns where there are none. It is why you feel like it always rains when you travel, and may also be why an angry mob thought fragmented messages from the anonymous stranger “Q” meant the US election was invalid. It is what makes open world games so inviting to player interpretation, but also why they break, as apophenia will leave players chasing clues that don’t lead anywhere. 

 For this first Northern Star symposium at Nord University in Bodø, December 9th and 10th 2021, we invite participants to present reflections, abstracts and work in progress that relate to pattern recognition in texts and online behaviour. The main focus is on how we see patterns, interpret and mis-interpret them, with examples from media, social media, games; digital and analogue, and networks. This can include, but is not limited to, fake news, conspiracy theories, worldbuilding, social networks, big data and methods (errors and over-interpretation), fiction, and religion. 

 How to participate: Email: torillDOTmortensenATnordDOTno, use APOPHENIA in the subject field. 

Deadline: October 15th 2021. Decision: October 22nd 2021. Include a no more than one page description (500 words) of what you want to do. Options are: 

Reflections: This is a flight of fancy, a description of potential ideas and connections that the concept Apophenia fosters. 

Abstract: This is a summary of a relevant research project you have done, and which you would like to present to the others. 

Work in progress: This is a work you would like feedback on. You will get an opponent, and be asked to oppose the work of another person. 

Selection process: Participants for this inaugural Northern Star symposium will be selected based on received description of the project up to 500 words. For this first Northern Star symposium the program committee members are Torill Mortensen (organizer), Lisbeth Klastrup, IT University of Copenhagen, Tanja Sihvonen, Vasaa University and Susana Tosca, Roskilde University. Submissions will be curated by the program committee and the Nord University journalism faculty. 

Place: Nord University, Bodø. Venue to be announced. 

Online? If it is still/again impossible to travel, the two keynotes will be streamed, and there will be a town hall meeting where we discuss what we would like to do next year. Also, all the submissions will be collected and distributed to the other participants, before the virtual town hall. The symposium itself will not move online.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Go north!

 I have gone north. This update comes to you from just north of the polar circle, Nord University in Bodø. If you need to google that, you are not alone. Until a few years ago, Nord University Bodø was Bodø University College, along the same lines and Volda University College, where I worked for 19 years. It is a small, messy place which has grown in different direction based on interest, need, politics, convenience and opportunities. There is no clear plan that can be easily identified from the outside, and while there is a strong profile, it is as much forced by geography (arctic, local, indigenous) as designed. These small universities in the Norwegian periphery grow from the inside, based on necessity and possibility, rather than from the outside, based on grand visions and planning. They are the medieval city center rather than the renaissance park of educations.

Being here feels like coming home, but at the same time, I left that renaissance park behind. As I step in under the low ceilings of the 80-ies architecture, climb the red brick stairs and settle between the light yellow walls, I miss the steel and glass of ITU, the flights of fancy dominating the atrium instead of the snug warmth of the offices. However, here people can speak to each other. The Norwegian habit of bringing your own lunch means most are settling down around the same table unpacking their sandwiches of dark bread, having homegrown vegetables and sharing homegrown fruit. The directness that feels like such an alien thing when I speak to my colleagues at ITU is the norm here, with sharp jokes, insolent comments and quick teasing, with everybody unapologetically getting into all business being revealed in the open. This is Norway too - if you are a stranger, you are shielded, but if you are in, you are in for it all, every impulsive thought played out for better or for worse. I had forgotten I missed this, the language letting me be quick and sharp back without slowing down to shape the words carefully to be understood, the body language so easy to read, the actions and habits to easy and normal.

Things may still change. Whether I stay north or go back south depends on a range of circumstances falling into place. The main reason I am here is to be in Norway, with my husband and children, and not trapped at the other side of a border, our visits determined by quarantine laws, not desire to be together. But as for now, I am planning for a future in Bodø, building a master in journalism and strategic communication, and this place being as open to opportunity and invention as it is, I am building the education I really want to offer. It will be exiting to see it play out.