This is an archive of march 2002 posts from Jill Walker's blog, jill/txt.
Annette Markham: Life Online [notes]
3/7: Chapter 2, which is about the ways we think about ourselves. And our machines. Written the disposition which is most unusual for me.
norwegian travel blog
Jorda rundt med Rusket og Rasket. What a dream - Rusket is an adult (the mum?) and Rasket is her (his?) child who would normally have been in year six but instead, the two of them are travelling the world and blogging it. What a great concept. Traces of reality here - Rasket "doesn't speak English" but happily reads the Lonely Planet guides. They're in France now and finding it very expensive.
comments on wikis and blogs
Kumquat comments my wikis and weblogs post, refers to a related discussion at Blogtank (intriguing place, btw) and Bill Seitz comments by email that "Wiki's don't have to be open to anyone's edits" and that they're tweakable and can make good weblogs. Kumquat writes:
Wikis won't be mainstream anytime soon. Traversing and contributing to a wiki is too dissimilar from any other sorts of online communities. If people can't immediately grok the interface, they'll leave. (..) This is all somewhat unfortunate, as wikis can be incredibly useful.
narrative as virtual reality
I really want to get my hands on Marie-Laure Ryan's new book, Narrative as Virtual Reality, but it's 49 American dollars!! Plus shipping. D'you think it'll come in paperback? The University of Oslo library has it, but it's on loan (Anders?) and anyway, I'm going to Melbourne in just over a week so it's not a good time to order a book on interlibrary loan.
Is melted icecream very bad for touchpads?
I'm writing furiously. It's amazing. I hadn't realised I'd been thinking this much all these weeks I've edged around my thesis writing writing anything else I could to avoid it. If I keep writing at this rate I'll have a first complete draft of my thesis in two weeks!
cataloging the web
Thomas suggests a collaborative librarians catalogue of the web, which could be connected to libraries book catalogues. Great idea. I just signed up (or applied, I've no idea whether it's hard to get this "job") to be an editor at dmoz, the open directory project. The idea there is that experts on fields edit a catalogue of the Web. Unfortunately the fields I'm really an expert on don't exist, so I signed up for Norwegian weblogs instead. I love this idea of using everyone's knowledge, but I must say I have great difficulty using web catalogues. I rarely find the correct slot for whatever I'm looking for or trying to classify. That's why librarians would be the perfect people to catalogue the Web - they know about classifying stuff.
Everything's shut for Easter. No newspaper. Tomorrow even the cinemas will be shut. I'm not at the mountains skiing and reading detective novels as most Norwegians supposedly are, I'm at home. I've been a) writing lots, b) close to mastering juggling two balls in one hand but stumped by doing that with both hands at once to make a four ball shower, c) watching a surpising amount of TV. Instead of surfing I suppose. And I suspect they're showing better TV since it's Easter and they know most of the population is stuck at home with every other form of entertainment shut and the perception that everyone else they know is either at the mountains skiing and reading detective novels or blissfully enjoying family life and so they shouldn't disturb each other. We Norwegians are good at not disturbing each other.
We are all sons and daughters of the winter, and turn our eyes down upon meeting the unknown, the strange, the foreign - the light. (Terje Valestrand, Bergens Tidende 27/3 page 29)
I did go on an outing yesterday. I got a bus out to Lagunen, a newly renovated extended mall which for me is like tourism. Came back with an absolutely brilliant dress. I mean, it is stunningly cut, has groovy geometric patterns (power) combined wih subtle frills on sections of the low cut neck (romance and sweetness, crucial to post-September 11 fashion apparently), and it's reversible in such a cool way and it has a slip. Now as every girl knows, a dress with a slip is clearly a princess dress. And it's even equally suitable for a casual daytime lunch, a serious meeting (with a rational looking cardigan over the romantic frills and revealing neckline) or a dinner party. It hovers beautifully between dressy and not overdressed. I even think it might do the Marilyn Monroe thing if I stand over an air vent. I should test that in controlled conditions in case I need it.
It's getting lighter. It's light before six and doesn't get dark till after eight now. Our housing cooperation's janitor has put out the summer benches and tables in the playground. If we're children of winter, here in the North, we're also children of endless days of light, able to draw in the bleakest, thinnest rays of light, and make them feel like summer. Writing by the window I'm cheered to see my neighbours huddling around the playground benches outside, laughing and chatting again after a long winter indoors.
don't date a web diarist!
Steve Mann is filing a lawsuit against Air Canada for discrinimating against him because he is a cyborg! As one of Elin's classmates commented, Kevin Warwick must be so pissed off that he didn't think of it first.... (via Elin, 25 March 2002)
I thought my short paper for Hypertext (deadline today) was brilliant a few hours ago. Now it's almost finished but I think it's dreadful. It's getting worse and worse. More and more boring as I pare it down (shouldn't it be getting sharper instead?) and oh, just terrible. I'd better send it in before I make it even worse...
God, if I feel this way finishing a two page paper, what's it going to be like finishing my whole dissertation?
Interesting paper on self-organising and self-identifying communities on the web. Interesting (and scary) discussion of linking strategies in relation to google etc. And a two page short paper is SHORT. It's really hard to write that short!
There's a weird system where google punishes sites that have lots of external links by reducing their PageRank, which means that site doesn't show up as high as it otherwise would in searches. "search engine considerations are perverting web linkage" - weird stuff, and on the face of it it would seem to contradict the idea that google loves weblogs? [update 26/3: this is unconfirmed. What appears to be a fact is that each page has a PageRank (PR) assigned to it by Google. The page also has that many points to "give" other pages by linking to them. So if a page has one link out, the full PR will be passed on to one site - and kept, the page doesn't lose PR by linking. More links mean more pages split the PR score between them. And you could be "spending" that PR score on your own site by only linking internally - a link from my front page to an archive page gives the archive some PR, you see, and so on. So it seems that some search engine-obsessed people avoid external links. And they don't want to put too many links on one page and so on. Weird, huh?
Good sources for google info are the google forum at webmasterworld and an article by Chris Riding, PageRank Explained (pdf) that elegantly explains what does appear to be known about Google's algorithms. Google themselves are silent on the matter, and the most recent paper by them appear to be from 1998, when Google was still in prototype at Stanford: one by Page et. al. and another more extensive paper given at the WWW7 conference by Brin et. al., "Anatomy of a Large Scale Search Engine"]
You can fake referrers, the kind I have displayed to the right there. Here's how.
how to write a conference paper
Kent Beck has written some great suggestions on how to write a conference paper that will be accepted. I'm quoting some here, extracted from a panel presentation for a computer scientist's conference. Not everything will transfer to humanists' essays, but the abstract description translates perfectly, I reckon. I spent years wondering what abstracts were supposed to be and this is such a help in focussing. First, he says, you need a startling sentence.
If you have been working on the world's niftiest program night and day for five years, the temptation is to include absolutely everything about it, "The Foo System In All Its Glory." It'll never work. I know it's painful to ignore all those great insights, but find the most thing you have done and write it down, "network garbage collection is fast and easy." You want the reader's eyes to open wide when they realize what it is you've just said.
I think some people are reluctant to boil their message down to one startling sentence because it opens them up to concrete criticism. If you write about the Foo System and someone says it isn't neat, you can just reply, "Is so, nyah!" If you say network garbage collection is easy, it is a statement that is objectively true or false. You can be proven wrong. Wait! You spent five years proving it was easy. Make your case.
And here's what he writes about abstracts, specifically:
I try to have four sentences in my abstract. The first states the problem. The second states why the problem is a problem. The third is my startling sentence. The fourth states the implication of my startling sentence. An abstract for this paper done in this style would be:
The rejection rate for OOPSLA papers in near 90%. Most papers are rejected not because of a lack of good ideas, but because they are poorly structured. Following four simple steps in writing a paper will dramatically increase your chances of acceptance. If everyone followed these steps, the amount of communication in the object community would increase, improving the rate of progress.
Well, I'm not sure that's a great abstract, but you get the idea.
I always feel funny writing an abstract this way. The idea I thought was so wonderful when I started writing the paper looks naked and alone sitting there with no support. I resist the temptation to argue for my conclusion in the abstract. I think it gives the reader more incentive to carefully read the rest of the paper. They want to find out how in the world you could possibly say such an outrageous thing.
Finally, the question I try to remember to ask about anything I write is so what? John Cayley asked me this after a presentation I gave all a couple of years ago where I'd got completely entwined in diegetic levels and MOOs and definitions. I think in its honesty it's the most useful question I've ever had. Diegetic levels and many other things are completely uninteresting unless they lead somewhere.
mtv's metadata for videos
Writing, taking breaks, and I have MTV on now and then while dancing out eyestrain and sore arms. The videos on now have "videodata" - constant semi-transparent text boxes with metadata about the video. Some generally educational (before the 20th century operations were often performed outside of hospitals), some personal (the lead singer's mother was in hospital when he recorded this video), some teaching visual literacy (note how the background changes to reflect the couple's changing relationship) some cryptic (she wrote on his wall that he smelled like the American detergent "Teen Spirit").
The commercials on MTV are amazing. I get the "Northern European" version here which serves a strange mixture of ads for iPods (I want one), for Swedish sex chat lines (can it really be? it seemed to be), for god knows what in Finnish, and ads in Eurenglish you only realise are in English after they're almost over and by then you have no idea what they were for. Presumably I'm not quite the target audience. Though I do want an iPod...
names and conclusions
I'm reading Costranova's paper on the economy of Everquest. He remarks that scarcity of resources is important, and that "people seem to prefer a world with constraints to a world without them. (..) [Virtual Worlds] are worlds that are designed to be appealing. Their features tell us much about what the ideal society looks like, in the minds of ordinary people." (p 17) This is a lovely example of the power of names. If you call something a Virtual World you assume it's a world and since people choose to "be" here that means that ordinary peoples' idea of an ideal world to live in is a competitive world with scarcity of resources. If you call it a game instead, the obvious conclusion is simply that scarcity of resources is necessary to a game. Or to this kind of game.
warwick's got the nerve implant
Kevin Warwick, a robotics researcher who was at Nordic Interactive last year, has had that implant inserted in his arm now. New Scientist enjoys reporting the "controversy" of the issue, and how other scientists think he's into entertainment, not science.
political video games
kairos news site
Kairos is an online journal which often has very interesting articles in interesting shapes and forms. They've just started up a community weblog (with discussions and polls and any member can submit a story etc) called Kairos News Site, which is billed as "A News Site and Online Community for Discussing Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy." Worth keeping an eye on this. I'm glad to see community weblogs run by and for researchers. This is good. via hypertext kitchen
Got a great email from L. M. Orchard, who'd seen my posts about wikis and weblogs and about trying out Radio Userland's blogging system, and who knows lots about both. Receiving knowledgeable and interesting emails is a brilliant side-effect of writing a weblog.
Here's a nugget I found in a (long) page about Wikis and weblogs (wiki pages tend to seem very long and unfocussed to me, I have trouble reading them - um, I suppose I mean, I have trouble scanning them)
[W]ikis are worse than WebLogs at encouraging communities. First, they are user hostile, which doesn't help. Second, they are deeply bizarre. WebLogs look like newspapers, wikis don't look like anything (at first; the analogies are interesting). Third, most of the learning curve isn't explicit like the TextFormattingRules, but implicit like the CommunityExpectations; after all, most of the work of a wiki is done via CommunitySolutions. Wikis are too much work and too confusing.
Also, I think the collectivism of a wiki grates against the individualist North Americans that populate the internet. Let's not forget that wikis grew out of Smalltalk culture and consequently rely heavily on (pseudo-)Eastern philosophy. Indeed, until recently, one of the strongest metaphors on WikiWiki was Wiki:WikiMaster, alluding to Zen mastery. I think the SoapBox metaphor that WebLogs wrap around fit more into the deeper social roots of the internet than wikis. On the other hand, from what I can tell, the Japanese MoinMoins are doing really well.
I think you've hit the nail on the head. Wikis are bad at creating individualistic community.
Well. Though I'm not a North American, I guess this view certainly relates to the way I react with fear (yes, I think that's about it, actually, what a strange reaction, I'm not too proud of that) to Wikis whereas I instantly felt thrilled and happy when I realised what a weblog was.
On the other hand, L. M. Orchard (who's email handle is Deus_X) wrote in his email today:
I guess wiki gathers so much enthusiasm because, for the people who click with it, it's an amazing tool. Freeform and flexible to a fault, it places almost all of the management into the hands of the community, so the user manual is largely composed of custom and preference.
I like it for what I'm doing now because it's quick, simple, and takes no maintenance. I pop in, jot some things, and go away. Sometimes people pop by and drop a few notes for me.
Why Wiki Works is a lovely example of how any characteristics of anything can be read as wonderfully positive or terribly negative. It's also quite instructive.
kids version of a book
You might be interested in the kid's version of David Weinberger's new book about the net, Small Pieces, Loosely Joined. He wrote it for kids about the age of his 11 year old son, and it's fully online. Mindboggling, huh?
diminished patience for tedium
You know all those complaints about the fragmentation and speed and lack of sustained thought and the MTV generation or the web generation and so on? Here's a good response next time you hear that line:
I'm in a figuring out mood today. Set up a test blog with Radio UserLand to see how their system works. I quite like it - there are a lot of built in options (comments, categories, pictures, rss feeds, stats) but I think the learning curve's also a lot steeper than for Blogger. Or have I just forgotten? I'm also not sure how much customisation is possible. And it seems you have to publish your blog on their server. Still, a lot of features and it seems solid and costs just US$39 which isn't bad.
wiki and weblogs
I'm trying to figure out why I've been hearing Wiki and weblogs mentioned in the same breath lately. Wiki is a collaborative, hypertextual webpublishing system where literally anyone can change anything on a page. I think. One Minute Wiki seems to explain it and let you try. Many are highly enthusiastic about this but I've never quite got it. I feel a bit like I'm reading and listening to a foreign language when I hear about Wiki. Presumably this is how some people feel when I try to tell them about blogs and hypertext... Trusty old google has lots of interesting hits for "weblog wiki" and the first led me to Bill Seitz' weblog which is now no longer quite a weblog (or is it?) but a wiki (ThinkingSpace) only kind of shaped like a weblog. Presumably that means it's sort of both? Fortunately there's a link to an interview with Bill where he explains why he abandonned the weblog form for a Wiki. Reading it I feel much less panicked about "what on earth is a Wiki anyway?" but I still don't have an answer to the question.
I expect it's good for me to experience mild panic about new technology and genres. Unbridled enthusiasm can sometimes get annoying for one's surroundings, I've been told.
Motherboard at Landmark
Landmark is a new media caf-cum-exhibition space in Bergen, and Motherboard is one of Norway's best groups working in new media art electronic art digital theatricality net installation art. Motherboard is at Landmark this evening and I wish I was too. Baktruppen, a brilliant Norwegian free theatre group, are participating in a streaming video collaboration of a country and western version of Ibsen's long poem "Terje Vigen" from a flat in Oslo. However, I and other people who are not in Bergen or are in Bergen but still can't go, can follow some of the performance (though obviously we'll miss out on the fish being throwin among us, and the 200 architects who'll be in the audience) through a webcam from landmark and the realaudio stream from Oslo (both available from lmark.no.
I finally met Per Platou and Amanda Steggel today, the backbone of Motherboard, and their collaborator Kristine. Great to finally meet people whose work I've enjoyed and mailing list posts I've read for years. As I left, Amanda was heading out to buy fish (sardines, I think; definitely dead) for the performance. What nice people :)
The show starts at 10. And Motherboard will be at Landmark every night till Sunday.
Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911
The 1911 verson of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is now completely online. Not in a very elegant version, but still there. (via bokogbibliotek)
Meg Hourihan has a really good piece on usability and interface at conferences - read this if you're likely to be organising or helping to organise a conference or seminar or meeting, or if you might chair a panel discussion or give a talk. The stuff she's talking about makes such a difference to a conference.
internet research: ethics and methodology
The conference Making Common Ground: Methodological and Ethical Challenges in Research will be held in Trondheim 1-2 June. It's co-organised by our department, and looks really good. There are several keynotes, and also extensive workshop sessions. The workshop themes are online ethnography and participant observation, conducting interviews and doing surveys online, and documentary analysis: studying web archives and webpages. Contributions to the workshops are requested and the deadline is 15 April. There's also a graduate seminar in connection with this.
Bergen has a strange tradition of buekorps, paramilitary groups of young boys who march through the streets in spring time toting toy wooden crossbows and playing drums. Loudly. On their way home from practice, two or three boys will push their drums against the wall of your house and drum madly,delirious with the resonance and the power to terrorise neighbours with the noise of beating drums.
When I was in primary school, every year young men would come into the classroom handing out recruitment brochures to the boys in our class. I was outraged. I didn't really want to march around in a 19th century child militia, but I was furious that only boys were allowed to. And we girls weren't even allowed to look at the brochures! Just in the last decade three new buekorps have started up that are for girls. The girls look delightful with tightly plaited hair and rebellious eyes but their uniforms are shabby compared to the boys'. The boys' buekorps have an extended system of old boys, which to the uninitiated would appear to be a ritualised version of the old boys' club. The old boys, old men, really, march at the front of the buekorps in the 17 May (consititution day) parades, carrying banners, and they appear to provide substantial financial and political support as well.
I had though that with the arrival of the girls' buekorps, and one buekorps that's open to both boys and girls, things had changed. They haven't.
A couple of weeks ago there was an insert in the newspaper: A recruitment brochure for the buekorps. I found myself eagerly reading it, finally, after all those years permitted to read it, and I leafed quickly through to find the girls' buekorps. They weren't there. I read more carefully. No. Nowhere.
A few days later more news broke: The girls were not allowed to participate in Buekorpsenes dag, The Day of the Buekorps, a sort of festival. The media, the public, and the girls were outraged. Letters were written. The newspaper filled up with opinions, all shocked at the boys. Old boys gave interviews, speaking of the importance of upholding tradition.
Yesterday's paper amazingly reported that the girls had "given in". A photo showed sjefsrdet, a board consisting of pimply young boys, graciously accepting a letter from the girls which said something about their not wanting to cause a fuss. The girls had krpet til korset, an expression Hilde rightly objects to.
The whole affair is appalling.
Diane's started displaying referrers on her blog, too. "I'll be your mirror", she writes, and "I can't tell what's more titillating: knowing who visits, or knowing that they know that I know... "
links, referrers, Crisc
Lisbeth has some interesting comments on the referrers (i.e. what site a reader clicked a link on to come here) that I've started displaying in the right column. She also mentions Odigo, a system that lets you chat with other (Odigo-registered) visitors to a site. This brings me to art. It wouldn't be hard to explain that showing the referrers is a politico-aesthetical statement about the networked society we live in and that it forces the reader-viewer to assess her complicity in the surveillance of the network. And declare this blog net.art. (I'm not being sarcastic, I mean it. Honestly. I'll write it out properly later. After I've finished my thesis...)
This brings me to Atle Barclay's Crisc, which shows information about visitors to any site it's installed on and allows you to chat with other visitors without being registered at some central place. He implemented it as a art installation at the issue of Localmotives Kevin and I edited on net art. If you go to Crisc you'll see who you are (your IP number) and the IP numbers of others who are at any of the sites Crisc is installed at. You can zoom in on users and see their browsers, systems and all the other information browsers give a site, and also the other servers that their data is bouncing through on its way between the user and the server they're surfing. Data bounces lots.
Wow! There's a download link, connect your server to Crisc. With some PhP stuff. I'm going to write and ask Atle how to install that, if you can install it just like that.
Crisc is different to the referrer links though. Complementary, perhaps :)
Torill: Advanced procrastination.
i'm 86% likely to be a woman
[update: however, it's hardly accurate. Lars writes that the test finds that he is more likely to be a woman than his girlfriend is, and both Anja and my mother are definitely men, according to the test. Does this mean that since the test calls me a woman, I'm probably really a man?]
UFO Breakfast on attack blogs and other ugly uses of blogging that kind of mess up our image of the open, authentic blogging community.
I want some talk about the dark side. Even at his goofiest, McLuhan would acknowledge that the potential of a medium always cuts two ways. The greater the potential for good, the greater the potential for evil. Before Lucifer fell he was the highest of angels: ask the bloggin' theologians. "Never believe that smooth space is enough to save us." Or Greymatter.
Andrew Orlowsky's rejoinder to the Cluetrainers sees the double edge of the medium's potential pretty clearly. If blogs offer a way for "the people" to challenge centralized media, they also offer an unparalleled channel for centralized media to spread disinformation and psych-war sound bytes like a virus. "If I was in a position of power, I'd be delighted to see news reporters supplanted by blogs, because blogs - for all their empowerment rhetoric - are far easier to divert and confuse than a few persistent and skillful reporters." Bingo.
ding an sich
visibility of links
A friend is deeply suspicious of the idea of showing referrers on a site. I think there are two reasons for this, mind you, these may not be my friend's reasons.
1. It's showing off. It's like having a visible counter on your page, trying to prove that you have so many hits. Showing off is not cool.
2. We've gotten very used to links being one way - from one site to another with no way back except the back button. Until recently, I could safely link to something and expect that not to be visible. Site owners might track their own referrers but until tools like Blogdex came along, readers were very unlikely to do so. When I put the referrers on my site, links to my site become much more visible. This may change the perceived meaning of the link. When I automatically display the links the last ten people followed to get to my site, that can be interpreted as taking those links as public endorsements or recommendations of my site. The links may not have been meant that way at all. It also contests the ownership of the link. When a link to me is displayed as content on my site, that link no longer only belongs to the person who made it.
The increased visibility of links is changing the power structures of the Web.
Long URLs screw the tables up... I can add "maxlen=25" to cut the URLs to a max of 25 characters, Sean writes (see A Few Extras), but being ignorant of how to "pass a query to a script" I obviously haven't quite managed it. I tried adding &maxlen=25 to the long http://www.yaywastaken.com/referer/referer-js.asp?
[update: the " has to be right at the end, after &maxlen=25, not after the URL. Now it works!]
Hey, putting referrer links on my site really wasn't very hard. It took me - about 20 minutes. And I know NO java script and was fiddling a bit with Tinderbox stuff that I really know but sort of forgot. See the referrers? Down in the right hand column?
I don't know how to get rid of that title with a grey background, under my orange background title, though. It seems to just happen. Sean explains how to tweak the look of things but I don't know what he's talking about. Oh well, I'll leave it as it is for now.
The first paragraphs of Sean's page with the script for this are interesting too, with references to Steven Johnson's Emergence and a system called alexa that analyses links between sites. Here's alexa's info on jill/txt - they've got the old title and description, but lots of related links - I don't think that four year old email address works anymore though. And how do they work out the traffic stats? It's a little like blogdex and its social network explorer.
here's how to show referrer links
Leuschke and Hilde both sent me the source: Sean Nolan gives you what you need to put referrers on your site. I have to do this. Start the clock...NOW to see how long it'll take me!
Over at leuschke there's a little link under the archive links which'll tell you where readers came from. That means what page they were on when they clicked a link that led them to leuschke. I want one of them. I like links that go backwards. So, I guess somewhere I can find a script or something that'll put that on my site? (Torill and Hilde found something like this somewhere?)
Hilde's moved her blog to the cmc server - and I love the photos of her eyes :)
links as caesuras
Tom Matrullo must be a classicist who adores seeing the world through the words of the ancients. I really liked his idea of blogs as loci amoeni. Now he's suggesting links are caesuras. I'm not as enamoured by this one. Mostly because I've heard links called a great many things (metaphors, edits, lyrical, etc, etc) all interesting in themselves but I don't really feel like I need to hear more things that links are like.
I'm feeling confused about analogy. It's so frequently used in academic discourse, and I often find it really tiring, especially when you've heard the same thing compared to a zillion other things. But then again - how can we understand anything if not by comparing it to that we already know? I guess the existence of bad analogies doesn't condemn the entire species, as Adrian has on occassion reminded me. Perhaps, also, analogies are most important in the first phases of understanding something new. After a while, it becomes more interesting to see what a phenomenon is rather than what it is like.
Amusing piece on students evaluating lecturers and employers their employees at UFO Breakfast (found via my referrer logs, I love the bidirectionality of links). This bit's where it transpires that the new provost, who's ruthless about evaluations, plans to give some lectures himself. This is bound to cause trouble:
We all knew that to get high student ratings you needed to be a combination of doting parent, sexy boss-mentor, sibling and stand-up comic, with, if you were older, an overlay of serene grandparentish wisdom and a certain majesterial graying of the temples.
The ending - well, much as indicated by the Snowcrash quote it all starts with.
hey that's my house!
New vogs - and there, in the one from November (though just published, I think), that's my house! And my walk or ride to work, too, except I go a little bit further. And the snow's melted. Remember to mouse around. Notice the cracks in the time dependent day one - I'm reading about art and cracks in mirrors and in betweens and I love the cracks in the video with text behind them, and text in front if you mouse over the video.
books, favourites, amazon and etiquette
I've been playing with Amazon again, finding people and marking them as my "favourites" and seeing what my personalised page does with that. Torill just bought such a book! I'm unsure of the ettiquette of all this. I mean, I'm happy to mark Torill as my friend, but what about people whose blogs I read but whom I've never met, nor am I likely to meet them? Is it snooping to read their wishlists? Does it make me an internet prowler? I found Nancy Kaplan, for instance, and I like her plenty, but I felt that it would be somehow rude and intrusive to add her to my "favourites" list. Digital girl and megnut have so many people on their favourites and have links to their amazon wishlists from their blogs, so I have no hesitation in adding them - but their wishlists aren't really that interesting. Meg's latest review is of a pasta machine which is all very well but not really something I need to know. I would have been more interested in that had Meg been my real friend, I suspect. Torill's pasta machine - now, that might be of real interest to me.
I did a search for Peter Merholz, who has a brilliant and relevant blog so I can sort of assume he's happy to be found on the net, and instantly was rewarded with the book above. A highly relevant book I had no idea was on its way. [update: had I read his blog first I'd have found out about it - oh well, dual information channels are ok.] I'm leaving him one of my amazon favourites.
Here's a link to my amazon.com page. I've never linked to that before. Feel free to send me books on my wishlist, though I guess you have to show your tits for that system to really pay, huh? Too bad ;)
Adrian: Tinderbox as a knowledge making tool, not a knowledge management tool. I like that.
reading and stuff
Anders has started listing the books he's reading and what he's writing in his blog with the lovely name, Surftrail. I really like the idea of seeing more of what other people are reading. Mark's got a good review of Derek Powazek's Design for Community, which I've just been reading, but a computer crash lost my wonderfully extensive notes and I'm not retyping them - I agree with Mark anyway, so read his notes instead. I'd like to add that I think it'd be a great book for people working with online teaching to read as well, though it never mentions education.
from dr art to a phd
When I speak English I tell people I'm working on a PhD, but really I'm not. I'm aiming for a degree called "dr. art.", which is a Norwegian hybrid between the shorter Anglo-American PhD and the longer continental European dr. philos. I'll be a representative of the last generation of dr. arts in Norway, it appears. Norway's going international, which means changing to an Anglo-American structure like the rest of Europe. Bachelors, MAs, PhDs.
I remember when I was completing my hovedfag (kind of like an MA only
Jeremy Welsh announced 20/02/2002 (the only palindromatic date this century) the day of time-specific art, and has put together a collection of time-specific art that's displayed now at kunstnett. Adrian's in there, and several other Bergen people - and an interesting interview with Jeremy by Grethe Melby (in Norwegian).
[update: Anders Fagerjord sends a list of OTHER palindromatic dates this century...
Plenty more art to make, then...]
what are your AD&D stats?
I used to play lots of AD&D and other role-playing games, and I really enjoyed it. So I'm thrilled to find a test that will simply assess your own, real life AD&D stats. Mine are actually much better than I've secretly suspected when constructing my invented characters for role-playing. Here, this is all you need to know about Jill: Str: 7, Int: 17, Wis: 15, Dex: 10, Con: 11, Chr: 14. Pity about the dexterity. I love playing characters with high dex scores. The intelligence is solely based on what degree I have or am working towards, so I did well there. Wisdom's hard though: I'm wise enough to spot the right answer, optimistic enough to know that that's the way I'd like to act, and realistic enough to know that often I don't. Now I just need to work out what career I should choose based on this. A cleric perhaps, if the wisdom's reliable? The intelligence suggests a wizard, but the low dex would be a problem. A fighter is out of the question with that strength. But really, isn't it lovely that someone actually thought this out?
Mind you, the best role-playing games I've played have been led by people who don't care much about stats and dice. I suspect Real Life is like that too.
organisations and loyalty
Jens Stoltenberg, our sexy young ex-prime minister, was giving a pep talk to his colleagues in Arbeiderpartiet (Labour) the other day. Arbeiderpartiet are down to a meagre 16% support rate in Oslo in the latest opinion polls. That's the lowest rating since 1901!
Jens's argument went something like this: "The other parties have stolen our social democratic politics! But we're the original social democrats and so we can do social democracy best!" (sorry; I heard him on the radio and can't find you a link online)
An alternative way of viewing things would be to realise that social democratic politics basically rule this country. (For instance, our conservative coalition government just announced they're bringing in legislation to ensure that 40% of board members in private and state owned companies are women. That's not conservative politics in most countries. That's socialist politics.) If almost every party in the country has social democratic politics at heart, that's a huge victory for the labour movement. Who cares whether the Labour Party itself remains the carrier of those values?
Anniken Huitfeldt, a young Arbeiderpartiet politician, said the other day that she would always be loyal to Arbeiderpartiet. No matter what, she'd always vote for them.
I find that scary. Society is changing, and a good thing too. There's no way I'll be unconditionally loyal to any party, organisation, institution or nation. I care about ideas and ideals and ethics and goals. I think that Arbeiderpartiet don't understand this change and that's one of the reasons they're going under.
This mistake is made in academia too. Does it really matter whether a certain department or a certain conference or a certain organisation continues? Surely the interesting thing should be that interesting and useful research, development, teaching and discussions hold forth?
And I realise I can think this way because I'm outside these systems. When I have a job that's dependent on the existence of an institution, as Jens Stoltenberg and many academics do, I may take for granted the very attitudes I object to today.
She hates my new design. "Your last one had class. This one's just awful. It's as bad as Mrtha and Ari's wedding design."
She disapproves of my kitchen as well. I love her anyway ;)
A year or so ago the lit girls and I set up a net magazine for reviews of stuff that happens here in Bergen: theatre, concerts, exhibitions and so on. And film and literature since we like film and literature. And there's a web section which is supposed to be by me but I've neglected it sorely. Synnve and Hanne have just redesigned the site and it looks absolutely scrumptious. Gro's the editor. And I'm the hanger-on who comes to the parties and has good intentions. I'm very impressed at the redesign; it's all built so cleverly around databases and stuff that it's a cinch to enter new reviews. Now we just need a business model and we'll be rich!
happy womens' day!
I wanted to have a good egalitarian link or something here today, but I've been too busy reading. Sorry. Gratulerer med dagen anyway!
(That means "congratulations on the day" and if you're in Norway you should say it to everyone you meet on 17 May (constitution day), to anyone except capitalist tycoons on 1 May, to all women on 8 March, to people celebrating their birthday or wedding anniversary or the birth of a child, grandchild, niece or nephew; also to the family of the wedding couple and to people in Hammerfest who are toasting each other having just been informed that yes we will be putting oil rigs in the freezing Barentssea which will ensure work for the next 30 years and of course, as you'll all want to remember, you should definitely say gratulerer med dagen to anyone whose just been awarded their PhD. To be on the safe side you should probably tell their parents gratulerer med dagen as well and possibly their supervisor too.)
creating a new addiction
I've only got ten months left till my PhD has to be finished, so I've decided to try to make this blog more closely tied to my writing. It's already useful; posts here often become parts of chapters in the thesis, and other times it's great to be able to write out stuff that isn't really relevant to the thesis but that interests me. To focus things now that the thesis needs to be finished soon I've added two new sections: what I'm currently reading, which I'd like to expand with links to brief notes about books as I read them, and what I'm currently writing. This is partly in the spirit of sharing a process and inviting new discussions, and of course it's common on blogs anyway. For me it's also a way of making myself work more systematically. I plan to create a new addiction for myself. Not only will I feel a deep need to blog regularly, I'll also feel an uncontrollable urge to read and write up notes and to complete more chapters so I can constantly update my "reading" and "writing" sections.
Sounds good, eh?
Btw, this redesign features the colour scheme I have in my kitchen: pink and orange cupboards and white walls. I love it, though I might repaint it again in a few months. Blue and green maybe. It took four hours to redesign this site: not bad compared to five days painting the kitchen. At least on the web you don't have to wait for paint to dry.
made up or real?
Jenny's BlogOn column this week features blogs that probably aren't real. Or authentic. Or actually written by the people who claim to have written them. (I hate discussing reality and fiction, it's too complicated.) Julius Caesar's blog is straightforward, but I too have wondered about the Trailer Trash Family. As Jenny writes, "The authentic trailer trash-style is a hard one to get right, and this blog is either a masterpiece of satire, or really quite frightening."
Last week Noah asked me whether there were any fiction blogs, and I suggested blogs like these. That wasn't what he meant though. I think he meant blogs where fiction writers write about the process of their writing and perhaps post work-in-progress. I think Ruthie's Double would count, though it's not explicit about it. Some damn good writing in there anyway. Neil Gaiman famously keeps a blog, and of course, he's a writer, but when I've visited his blog it's more about "now the next book will be out soon", paraphernalia about what it's like doing publicity and audio recordings of his books and answering fan email than about the writing itself.
Mind you, now I've gone to have a look at it for the purpose of writing this, I found wonderful tidbits among the replies to fan email, such as his uncertainty about sending his book to the author who writes as Lemony Snicket (whose books my daughter and I love, his stories are stunning and he explains things so wonderfully, the way he has of using difficult words, like "metaphorical" and "literal" for instance, and then spending two pages hilariously defining them so that a five year old can understand them and an adult reading squirms with delight). I have to quote you what the fictional character Snicket has written for the blurb on the back of Gaiman's next book:
This book tells a fascinating and disturbing story that frightened me nearly to death. Unless you want to find yourself hiding under your bed, with your thumb in your mouth, trembling with fear and making terrible noises, I suggest that you step very slowly away from this book and go find another source of amusement, such as investigating an unsolved crime or making a small animal out of yarn. --Lemony Snicket (Neil Gaiman's journal, 22 Feb 2002, no permalink)
Right. Enough of that. Back to work ;)
The Sims is one of my favourite games ever. Later this year, I'll be able to play The Sims Online. Wow. Imagine the addiction potential! It'll be running in the background constantly, bugging me as I'm writing to tell me my Sims have a visitor or that someone's just got fired. Great for productivity ;) Oh, and if you're thinking of touring virtual worlds, you'll want to know the exchange rates - they're right at the bottom of this tourist's handbook by economist Edward Castronova, the one who wrote about the economy of Everquest. The full paper describing that study has been downloaded 12805 times. Yes, that's an academic paper! Wow.
I love the map (scroll down) of the social network that helped Peter Morville learn about social networks.
why do you blog?
I like Mark's 10 rules for writing a good weblog. But both Mark's rules and other recent advice on writing weblogs forgets to ask why you're writing. There are many reasons, and often bloggers haven't really thought through why they want to write. Often you don't actually know why you're writing till you've been writing for a while, and often the reasons change, too.
Advice on writing weblogs generally assumes that a general goal is to have as many readers as possible. That's not always the case. Some people don't care whether they have readers. That's not why they write. Others would prefer not to have too many readers. If you're selling a product or a service or working freelance you might be using your weblog as a voice to communicate with potential customers or clients, and you'll probably want as many readers as possible. Me, I want both a place to speak freely (which I can't quite do in articles, theses or lectures) and, just as importantly, I want to be part of a community. I want responses and I want to respond to other people's ideas. I want discussions. So I do want readers. But I don't need a huge number of readers.
An interesting article on google's search algorithms and how the system's easily skewed by blogs: Google loves blogs. Also an early paper on Google, The Anatomy of a Search Engine. (thanks Noah) I'm working on making all this search, community, power and blogs stuff fit into my thesis. I think I can do it.
who gets to be the object
I've been caught contradicting myself. Lars Ove Haugen, a good friend of mine who happens to work as a journalist, objected to Ray and my claim that journalists don't cite their sources properly. Lars mentions Sigurd Allern and others' work on "presseverdier" (press values) from Insitutt for Journalistikk.
I'm not that interested in whether or not journalists cite their sources. More interesting to me is Lars' point that I criticised journalists for something I really know little about. Lars impressively reminds me that criticising from outside like this is something I've complained about several times lately:
There is intense discomfort in being the object of someone's critical interest, and a common way to defend against it, is to conclude that this "someone" is ill-informed, does in fact not know what she is talking/writing about. You touched on the same phenomenon in your blog a while ago, seeing it in Justin Hall's review, perhaps not in your own comment: "I read that Lejeune had "spent a month on the internet" to research online diaries. That pretty much did it for me. I put the book away and forgot about it". Seeing it, perhaps, again, in my reaction to your general criticism of journalism.
Lars also points out that this is in part the reaction many bloggers have had to Henry Jenkins and others' attempts to analyse blogging from outside. Lars notes that this discomfort with being made the silent object is probably why he has such a strong reaction to my blanket criticism of journalists. Yes, these cases do have a lot of parallells.
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