This is an archive of july 2002 posts from Jill Walker's blog, jill/txt.
nothing within last four days
nothing within last four days
mothers and fathers
This is why I live in Norway, despite the weather: we don't run (or uncritically report, as Australian newspapers constantly do) stupid studies that decide that mothers must stay home with their children without considering that perhaps what the children need is a parent spending time with them. It's like noone has even thought of the existence of fathers in Australia. What, paternity leave? Huh? What's that? And those 8th of March Australian radio debates on womens' rights and childcare are an embarrassment to our species.
I'm starting to get RSI again, or recurrent (how often does it have to come back to be chronic?) tendonitis or whatever you want to call it. It comes from typing too much, but now I've not touched a computer in three days and it's no better. I can still slice bread but picking up a saucepan or something slightly heavy in my left hand hurts. Typing for more than two minutes hurts. I have to finish this thesis within the next few months so I'm taking it very seriously; I can't let it get as bad as last time where it took a month before I could type again. So I've ordered ViaVoice and maybe I can dictate instead of type, and I'm getting a better keyboard and I'm going to try and find someone help me improve my typing technique. My musician friends recommend a bloke does something called Alexander Technique - musicians know all about tendonitis, so I think I'll follow their advice.
Most importantly I'm severely rationing typing and that means there'll be very little, if any, blogging for a while. I'll miss it. I'm going to have to practice thinking in my mind, and connecting ideas mentally instead of through writing. Probably won't do me any harm ;)
Of course if I get ViaVoice and it works for me, there might be more blogging if I can dictate to my blog rather than write. Scary thought, eh?
The trailer for Murder by Numbers ends as Sandra Bullock (cast as a tough investigator) is about to fall off a collapsing balcony. In Spiderman, the girl next door Spiderman's in love with spends ages falling from a shattered balcony, and later, of course, she falls from the Brooklyn Bridge.
I've never seen a single film where a man falls. Jump, maybe; get knocked down, sure; fall from a height, never.
are we living in a computer simulation?
Tormodh provided a link to simulation-argument.com, home of a paper discussing whether or not we might be living in a virtual reality simulation right now, and just think that we're real (like in The Matrix, you know). I admit, I've only read the abstract
(This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a "posthuman" stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.)
- and I guess, yes, probably. But why would a posthuman civilisation simulate their evolution? Would we if we could? In the excessive detail in which "real life" is rendered? Maybe, I suppose. Though if simulated, it might just as well go otherwise, so perhaps we aren't really the ancestors of the posthumans, who are thus not posthuman but post-cockroaches or something, and we are a completely fictive (simulative) alternative that never happened. Perhaps this is discussed in the paper.
I'm trying to read possible worlds theory, or rather, to read a narratological variation of possible worlds theory, which compares fictional worlds to possible worlds. Possible worlds is a philosophical idea which (I think) is basically that well, you know, things could have been different. Only it's much more complicated, and the book I've been reading seems to start in the middle of things. It's hard going. But possibly extraordinarily useful to what I'm trying to do. Or possibly not. Thinking that we might be simulations is about as confusing as the possible worlds stuff.
There are a lot of good links to online articles and more about hypertext, cybernetics, cyborgs, complexity theory, gender and technology, digital communities and virtual realities at the University of Iowa, Communication Studies. Gathered by Karla Tonella.
philosophy and monty p
painting and so on
Lisbeth's been painting too, though she also moved, which I have to admit is (even) more exhausting than fixing up a single room in your house. She's found books she didn't know she owned, including one by an early blogger.
tricks for people living alone
Those IKEA instructions showing two people assembling a cupboard (annoyingly gendered) force me to gripe about the difficulties of performing certain household tasks on your own. Such as assembling a cupboard, folding huge sheets or moving a double bed from room to room. Especially if you have a newly sanded and varnished shiny beautiful wood floor so you don't want to just pull my furniture around as you used to. My mum recently showed me her clever technique: put wads of newspaper or rugs under the feet of heavy tables, sofas and so on and then pull them. Works a treat, nary a mark on your gorgeous floor. Won't help turn the bed on end and pull it through the door.
I guess I'll ask a neighbour to help me with the bed. I like neighbours. Any other household hints?
trapped in fictional worlds
I'm writing, thesis writing, about our fear of and fascination with being trapped in fictional worlds. So I'm using Ende's The Neverending Story as an example, do you remember, Bastian reads the book he steals from the second hand bookstore and finds that he must enter the fictional world in order to save it? And in the second Harry Potter book there's that diary Voldemort made when he was 16, which Ginny and later Harry enter with baleful consequences. There are heaps of other examples of this literal entering books in fantasy literature - and films too, only I can't remember them. That Schwartzenegger one, what's its name, Last Action Hero. Don Quixote and Madame Bovary are well known examples of novels about readers who take novels too seriously, and try to take the fictional world into the actual world.
Now I want to take this into talking about computers, and I want to argue that we treat computer games and the net with similar fear and fascination as we do fictional worlds, seeing them as scary because they're so engaging we worry we'll get sucked in and get trapped. Only I can't think of games that use this motif. There must be some I'm forgetting or don't know of, surely? Myst repeats the "trapped in a book" image, remember, the two brothers have been locked into (television-like) books by their father? But how about getting stuck in a game, in a game? Does it happen? Or perhaps you're already "stuck in the game" just by playing it and there's no metaphor to literalise, as there is in cinema and literature?
My nearly-six-year-old is on holiday with her Dad in Denmark. Here's the postcard she sent me:
MAMMA AILAU. IU IS N NORWAY. GOOD MAMMA. VI VAR I REINSKOGEN IDAG. HILSEN AURORA.
You probably can't read that. She's bilingual, you see, so the English has Norwegian spelling, and the second half is Norwegian. I learnt to read before I could write; my daughter has been left to her own devices (though we've answered her questions when she's asked) and so she's a self-taught (peer-taught) writer, preferring other people to read for her. Now she's at a glorious stage where she's full of expression and isn't trapped by knowing how words are supposed to look.
Reading her writing I wonder whether most English-speakers would ever realise that "Hello" starts with a "H" and not a short "A" or an "Eh" if we hadn't been carefully taught? There's no real reason not to spell hello "ailau". I've carefully carelessly said it aloud a few times, and I think most of the time I don't pronounce the H, or I only barely pronounce it, though I always used to think that I did. Perhaps they even discussed whether or not to put an H at the beginning of Hello back when spelling was unsettled.
I'm curious to see whether my daughter will work out the different spellings of English and Norwegian as naturally as she's worked out their different pronounciations.
experimenting with the blog form
Conversation at blogroots about blogs that push the formal limits of blogging. Quite a few interesting links.
Danish courts have just ruled that deeplinks are illegal (articles in Politiken or zdnet). Actually that's too broad a statement. They've ruled that newsbooster's emails with deeplinks to news from various online newspapers are a breach of copyright. The court says that newsbooster is not a search engines (so thank goodness they've not outlawed search engines' use of deeplinks) but a competitor to the newspapers. They do have a point. The reason I'm worried about this is that if stretched, it would mean that my linking straight to that article about deeplinks was a breach of copyright. Perhaps my citing a specific page in a journal article would also be seen as a breach of copyright? Obviously some people don't think this preposterous: NPR wants anyone linking to any of their pages to ask permission first, as I commented on a couple of weeks ago. American courts have several times ruled that deeplinks are not illegal. The Danish ruling is important in that it creates legal precedence in Europe, and is (perhaps?) the first ruling ever to deem deeplinks illegal.
tagboards, referrers and so on
I was all set to delete the tagboard today, thinking it had overstayed its welcome. Or at least its novelty. But now I see someone's used it to suggest a link - that there "Of interest" with the green smily that whistles sometimes, that's actually a link to a site that explains a freshly coined term: blogstreaming. (Personally I don't find the term very useful. I think it poorly expresses the idea of having separate blogs for separate themes (streaming is you, know, sending a continuous video stream rather than a big file you have to download all of before you can watch it; what's that got to do with microblogs?), and in addition it neglects the fact that lots of people already do this. Esther has several themed blogs, for instance, and so do several of the other research blogs I've seen. Tinka had an academic blog and a personal one. I wouldn't put it past Torill (or myself, for that matter) to have several blogging personas out there we'll never know about. No doubt others do too.)
Though I'm not that thrilled about the idea of blogstreaming, I like that people can add links they think are related to the other content on this site. I like the idea of opening up and allowing people to write in the margins. (Most of the time anyway. And it was easy to delete that stupid tagboard comment last week where some jerk wanted a sexy fox to ring him.)
Given my initial and long-lasting scepticism of comments and all that I'm surprised at what a convert I am. I'm definitely not removing the comments and I find myself grumbling at the lack of comments at Lisbeth's, Torill's, Mark's and Adrian's blogs, to mention a few. I've discovered I have different needs: sometimes I just want to, well, comment something I read, or write a simple "me too". So I add a comment. Other times I want to discuss the matter raised from my own point of view with more care. So I post it to my blog.
All the recent talk of backlinking and trackback and linkback and so on is great too. When I learn php and stuff I'll implement it, I promise. After the PhD. Though I've not commented on it before, I really think it's monumental and brilliant and terribly important to the web and knowledge and so on, and so I've written a bit about it at weblogkitchen in a node called BiDirectionalLinking (it has that silly capitalisation because it's a Wiki and that's what you've got to do in Wikis to tell the system that hey, I want that to be a link and could you make a node called that please? Wikis - or at least this wiki - are pretty cool though. Go explore. Play in the Sandbox.)
mathemetical geneology project
Christian August Hansen was a matematician in Leipzig in the early 18th century. He is a direct ancestor of Graham Leuschke and 12844 other matematicians: he was the advisor for Abraham Kaestner's doctoral dissertation in 1739, Abraham was the advisor for....etc, right down to Graham Leuschke. All those links, and many others, are catalogued at the mathematical geneology project.
I wonder if I could track my heritage back to Aristotles. That'd be fun. I'd probably have to make up some of the links, but it might be quite a satisfying project.
Hypertext 2003 is going to be held in Nottingham, 26-30 August. That's nice and close for me, which is good - I want to try and write up a full paper based on the short paper I had this year. The deadline will be in February. OK.
heard of the acronym tag?
Diveintomark.org is running a great blog series on making your site more accessible. Good tips and an entertaining, undaunting read - I should implement lots of those things but it'll have to be after the PhD. Today's post describes how to use the acronym tag. Never heard of it? Well, hover your mouse over an acronym on this page, and hopefully, I'll have remembered to tag it and you'll see it's meaning! Clever, eh? Further assistence on definitions of acronyms can be had from The Acronym Database (I know what RSS means but had no idea what it stands for).
UFO Breakfast neatly connects Tinka's comment about academia as the mob with my description of Christine's defence, culminating in an illustrated exposé of Bourdieu as the godfather.
Bourdieu is one of my intellectual heroes is that he was so goodlooking in his later years--goodlooking, but in a rugged mafioso sort of way, not like that candyass leather-jacket photo that Derrida circulated in GQ magazine and taped up in various barber shops and storefronts all over the world.
Bourdieu was the French intellectual you went to in the last resort.
When you needed a favor. (UFO Breakfast 1/7/2002)
The IGDA has a nice annotated list of conferences and events of interest to game developers and researchers. Lots of the conferences are of more general interest too.
I love deadlines and the woooshing sound they make as they fly by. (Douglas Adams, quoted by Thomas in an email)
people got here from
Links and Power: The Political Economy of Linking on the Web. Short paper presented at Hypertext 2002. In Proceedings of Hypertext 2002, Baltimore: ACM Press. 78-79. PDF.
Blogging Thoughts: Personal Publication as an Online Research Tool. With Torill Mortensen. In Researching ICTs in Context, ed. Andrew Morrison, InterMedia Report, 3/2002, Oslo 2002. Buy the book at gnist.no.
Reisebrev fra NIC2001, publisert i Kunstnett Norges nettkunstmagasin. November 2001.
Do you think you're part of this? Digital texts and the second person address
Men er det litteratur?
Men hvorfor virker ikke musen?
How to learn MOO programming Annotated links for non-programmers, 1999.
Jeg taster, derfor er jeg
Piecing together and tearing apart: reading afternoon, a story.
Hypertextual Criticism. Comparative Readings of Three Web Hypertexts about Literature and Film