Hooray! When I came home from Chercher le texte, the 2013 Electronic Literature Organization conference, I found a copy of the new and revised edition of my book Blogging waiting for me in my mailbox!
A lot has changed in blogging since the first edition came out in 2008. Blogs are still important, but we often read them through other social media sites, finding links to blog posts on Facebook or Twitter. Blogs have grown increasingly image-centric, and the second edition discusses how this changes blogs, and how new image-centric ecosystems like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr can be seen as a form of blogging. Microblogging and reblogging are another new development, as are the more specialised and often commercialised blogs we see now.
Right now you can buy the book in the UK (or online from Amazon.co.uk, for instance) and it will be released in the US in a few more weeks.
If you want to see what kinds of things I talk about, you can browse through the texts and blogs I have referenced in the new edition. I’ll post the table of contents too, later.
I hadn’t realised that the UK curriculum for GCSE English Literature (for 14-16 year olds) explicitly excludes any kind of electronic literature, as Alexander Pask-Hughes writes in a post on Cyborgology today. He quotes the proposed content descriptions – I suppose “proposed” means they’re not yet approved, but don’t know much about the UK system so fill me in here if I’m wrong:
Study of high quality English literature should be the principal focus of study for this GCSE. Digital texts must not be included. GCSE specifications in English literature should be designed on the basis that students’ reading should include whole texts.
Alexander Pask-Hughes reads this in terms of “digital dualism”, a worldview where the digital is seen as fundamentally different from and often less valuable than the non-digital.
In Norway, the digital is very explicitly included in school curricula, and “digital skills” are defined as one of five basic skills to be part of every subject in schools, along with orals skills, reading, writing and numeracy. One of the goals for high school students in Norwegian is that they should be able to
beskrive samspillet mellom estetiske virkemidler i sammensatte tekster, og reflektere over hvordan vi påvirkes av lyd, språk og bilder (“Describe the interplay between aesthetic techniques in multimodal texts, and reflect over how we are affected by sound, language and images.”)
Of course, Norwegian includes not just literature but language and culture, and has a decades-long tradition of including analyses of advertising, for instance. So adding digital and multimodal texts to the mix doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a general acceptance that poetry could be digital as easily as printed.
In the EU, digital competencies are defined as one of eight key competencies for life-long learning, and are seen as a transversal skill set that should be learnt across subjects in schools, not just in one single subject. That’s great if it works, but also means that nobody has sole responsibility for digital competencies.
Perhaps classing “digital competencies” as a skill set also allows us to keep that digital dualism. Digital skills mean being able to use technology. Maybe that allows us to continue to see technology as separate from the rest of our society and culture, and to continue to see digital skills as separate from the other key skills we learn at school.
I just noticed the year view of iCal gives me a nice intensity chart of how busy my life has been over the last few years, at least in terms of how many meetings and calendar events I have.
In 2007 it looks as though my spring was fairly light, but things heat up for Scott and my wedding in early June, and the rest of the year is fairly busy too. I was on sabbatical in the academic year of 2007/8, but still had lots of appointments, it seems. Our daughter was born in April, and the rest of the year was busy in a way not tracked by calendars.
By mid-2010 I was pregnant again, and I wonder whether my pregnancy exhaustion forced me to be a little less busy, because the calendar’s not very busy. I remember I was napping every afternoon and still going to bed by nine pm. Benji was born in February 2010 and you can very clearly see my parental leave – and how things got very busy again when I was back at work in the autumn, although Scott and I were each only working 50% that semester.
2011 and 2012 look pretty steady – you can’t even really spot my summer holidays, which seems a little sad.
This last year very clearly shows the election campaign all spring, though. A lighter summer, and hopefully the next few months will keep some of that nice yellow, as I’m on sabbatical again.
I suppose this isn’t a very useful visualisation, but I had forgotten that all my calendar events for the last several years are actually archived and probably I could get more information out of them than this. It’s also nothing to what dedicated self-trackers are tracking. Here’s a snippet from Chris Dancy’s calendar where he tracks everything he does in great detail.
My simple iCal view won’t yield the kind of self-analysis that Chris Dancy’s calendar will, but it’s interesting because it’s generated entirely without my intending it to be generated – I’m just using my calendar to keep track of my appointments, and when I suddenly click on the Year view, I see my life, portrayed in levels of busy-ness from yellow to red.
So busy. Last week was a wonderfully fun and inspiring intensive summer class, Collaborative Creativity in New Media, with ten US and ten Norwegian students as well as wonderful faculty: Rob Wittig, Joellyn Rock, Sandy Baldwin and Rod Coover as well as Scott and me from here. The students made wonderful projects in just six intensive days, based on characters from the character generator Scott set up, a mysterious letter from Archibald Baker III, lots of explorations and photos and sounds and collages and writing and more. The projects will be available online once we and the students have had more time to finalise things, and we’re planning to repeat the course next year as well.
Today my fingers ache from typing fast as I translate the catalogue for a new exhibition on electronic literature that Scott has put together at the university library, with a little help from me and a lot from the library. The poster, made by Pedro Vasquez at the library, is wonderful.
Tomorrow I’m meeting my team from the Digital Methods Winter School in Amsterdam (Anne Helmond, Erik Borra, David Berry and Jean-Christophe Plantin), to discuss our progress finishing the paper we started in the data sprint in January, visualising the fields of digital humanities and electronic literature using book recommendation data from Amazons in different countries. So hopefully I’ll have got some more work done on the paper before 14:00 tomorrow.
And on Monday we’re hosting another seminar and workshop here, that should be fantastic: Visualising Electronic Literature. The first day consists of public presentations in Bergen Public Library, and Tuesday and Wednesday will be a hands-on workshop where we’re going to be teaching participants how to use Gephi to analyse data from the Electronic Literature Knowledge Base, and we’ll do a data sprint of our own to get some projects started. It should be really good fun, but oh my, how to have the time for it all!
On top of this, of course our three and five year olds have been acting up from all the late nights and babysitting and barely seeing their parents. Yesterday I spent lots of time with them, and they’ve been so much happier. I wish wish wish the days had a lot more than 24 hours, because how on earth am I going to get everything done and hang out with the kids?
The good thing? I’m on sabbatical so I’m NOT at orientation meetings like the rest of my department. And sometimes we get to bring the kids along, like on the summer course excursion to Fløyen last Saturday, where our kids played with a visiting post.doc’s son.
I was born in Norway and have lived here for more than 35 of the 41 years I’ve been alive, but I’m still not a Norwegian citizen. You see, Norway is among the dwindling group of countries that still insists that people should only be citizens of one country. Only 5 of 27 EU countries still insists upon this, and one of those five, Denmark, is on its way to changing that.
I fulfil the requirements to be granted Norwegian citizenship, but would have to renounce my Australian citizenship to “become Norwegian”, or more specifically, in order to have a Norwegian passport and the right to vote or be a member of parliament. I already have pretty much all the other rights, although the three hour lines at the police station to renew my residency permit every two years aren’t much fun, I’ll admit that.
The recent debates about Norwegian children being stripped of their Norwegian citizenship when they inherit the citizenship of their non-Norwegian parent (meaning, for instance, that families can no longer move home to Norway together) have reignited all my frustration with the Norwegian lack of acceptance of plurality, of the possibility of having an identity and loyalties that are not single. So I wrote a letter to the paper (of course).
Only two political parties in Norway appear to be working for dual citizenship: SV and Venstre. I was happy to see SV politician Olivia Corso Salles, herself a dual Brazilian/Norwegian citizen, arguing for dual citizenship in Dagsavisen today. You see, there are plenty of Norwegians who also hold another citizenship for various reasons. In fact, 52% of all people who became Norwegian citizens after 2010 also hold the citizenship of another country. So the “rule” that you can’t become a Norwegian without renouncing your other citizenship, and that you lose your Norwegian citizenship when you take the citizenship of another country, really only counts for people from some countries. Unfortunately for me, it counts for Australians. Another useful article I’ve found that explains some of the background for the Norwegian citizenship laws is by peace researchers Tove Heggli Sagmo and Marta Bivand Erdal, who present many good arguments for dual citizenship.
I was born and mostly grew up in Norway. My husband and two youngest children are US citizens. My eldest daughter’s paternal grandmother is Norwegian but her grandfather was born in Germany. My parents are from Australia. My great-great-great-great grandparents moved to Australia from Ireland and England and Austria. Probably there are Norwegian marauders in my ancestry too if you go far enough back, certainly my ancestors lived in countries the vikings attacked. Norwegian descendants in Minnesota still celebrate the 17th of May, Norwegians move en masse to Spain today, there are Norwegian schools and churches all over the world. And there are more and more of us, you know, more and more people with ties to more than one country, whether because our parents moved from somewhere else, or because we married someone from another country or because we moved for work, or as refugees. I want to live in a world that accepts that I am more than simply Norwegian or Australian. I am both, and more.
Blogs are a genre that work beautifully for projects with clear rules and goals that can be tracked in daily posts. Lose weight, cook everything in Julia Childs’ cookbook, stop buying things, declutter the house, only wear clothes you have made yourself, wear just one dress for a whole year, survive cancer - I wrote a post about these project blogs a while ago.
One example I’ve written about several times (including in my book Blogging – second edition due out in October!) is The Date Project, which I discovered in 2002 when John Hiler dissected it and other dating blogs. As I wrote back then, Hiler points out a problem with real life blogs as narratives: real life just doesn’t respect the suspense and the dramatic curve we love in narratives. Hiler wrote:
I’m realizing that the whole fun of dating blogs comes from vicariously experiencing the frustrations and humiliations of the dating circuit. It’s no fun when someone finds true love in, say… twenty-seven days (?!). It’s like Bridget Jones getting married in the first chapter, or Carrie Bradshaw meeting Mr. Big in the first season (oh wait, that one did happen).
I came across a new, far more fancily designed dating project blog today: 40 Days of Dating. They’re up to day 21 and true love is not yet clearly apparent, but then, this project has a rather different premise to The Date Project. While the guy in The Date Project committed to meeting new people and asking women out, hoping to get a girlfriend out of it, 40 Days of Dating is actually written by a couple. The catch is that the couple is not a romantic couple – yet. They write:
Two good friends with opposite relationship problems found themselves single at the same time. As an experiment, they dated for 40 days.
Of course there’s always the possibility of romance. And due to the delayed publication – they’re just now publishing the daily interviews that they wrote this spring – we know that the project will indeed last for forty days. Perhaps it will work better as a narrative than The Date Project did in 2002?