Right now the blog is hovering between two languages, so some bits are in English and some are in Norwegian. I reckon you'll manage just fine.
collegues with blogs:
monday, april 30
Katherine Parrish in Canada has a good blog about MOOs and cybertext and theory: squish. She even went to the e-poetry conference - another one to watch!
Fragments of a trip report: Games, ludology. Structures of games, time and events. Games aren't narrative, say the ludologists (Jesper Juul, Markku Eskelinen, Espen Aarseth, Gonzalo Frasca, and there are more); a bunch of game designers think they are. The ludologists want a new field and refuse to colonise games by assuming they're like literature or cinema. False accusations of an oedipal killing of literature abound.
There was more, of course. Much more. Maybe later.
Boston, Sunday evening, Elin's apartment. DAC's over, and being a roving reporter wasn't even a remotely attractive thought when it came down to it. Conferences are about meeting and talking and wondering, not reporting. Perhaps you'll get a trip report later ;)
tuesday, april 24
Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for the Digital Arts and Culture 2001 conference in Providence, near Boston. You'll get to hear about it, don't you worry. If the net connections are what they should be at a modern conference with this kind of theme, I'll be blogging away, letting you know my versions of what's happening at the conference. I'm rather looking forward to being a roving reporter. ;) Oh, Torill and Lisbeth will be at DAC too, so you may find different versions of the news from DAC in their blogs.
We should have set up a community blog for the conference, like the one for SXSW a couple of months ago. Except that reading their blog you'd never guess what the conference is actually about, and it was pretty much inactive during the conference itself. I'd like blogging stations dotted around the conference area so people can write about what's being discussed as well as listen, think and talk, and so the rest of the world can join in. I'd enjoy reading a blog like that whether I was at the conference or wishing I was. Maybe next year.
Art often needs explanation these days, doesn't it? Here's a "hypertour" of Mark Amerika's famous Grammatron and of the equally famous jodi.org. A walking guide to net art fiction, holding your hand and telling you what you're seeing, giving you ample links to the bits in the middle that are important but that you might have missed otherwise, exhausted by its not making sense. Sometimes I need walking tours. I'm trying to stop feeling like needing them is failure.
There's more information out about trAce's online writing workshops - several of them look very good. Most of them seem to cost £150 and they last for six weeks, starting in July, mostly, though there'll be more starting later. How would you like to learn about Flash for poets, or writing "hypertext and its double"?
monday, april 23
Phillippe Lejeune's "Cher écran..." Journal personnel et ordinateur has finally arrived. It discusses both online and offline computer-written diaries: net diaries and private computer diaries. I notice in the introduction that he's "spent a month on the net" to explore these net diaries - always a bad sign, I think, when a writer thinks of the net as something to swim in for a month and then leave. I suppose it's an anthropological idea of the net as a place or community to be infiltrated, observed and understood. And maybe I'm just defensive, not believing that Monsieur Lejeune or anyone else who decides to spend a month on the the net (and then what - no more? log off for ever?) can find anything interesting there. On the other hand it's interesting in itself that someone who is pretty unsure about the net in the first place finds net diaries important enough to want to write a book about them.
I've put the book aside to read crossing the Atlantic on my way to Digital Arts and Culture 2001. I might nip down to the library too and pick up a couple of his older books - his ideas about the autobiographical pact might be relevant to web fictions like Online Caroline. And of course I'm hoping that this book is too.
The list of accepted papers for Hypertext 2001 (Aarhus, 14-18 August) is public now. There are some interesting-looking new workshops too. Oh, and there's still time to submit a short paper to the conference.
friday, april 20
[This post is about a Norwegian seminar and Norwegian translations of "link".]
"Jeg sier link", sa Ture Schwebs i går, "ikke lenke". Jeg har sagt lenke, jeg, tenkte det hørtes mer norsk ut. Men link er et godt, gammelt norsk ord, mener Ture. Det har vært i bruk i ord som radiolink fra 20-tallet, og det glir enkelt inn i et norsk bøyningsmønster: en link, linken, linker, linkene. Viktigst er konnotasjonene. En lenke bruker man til å binde noe fast, feste noe, beskytte det eller hindre det i å rømme. Det konnoterer ufrihet, mens hypertekstens lenker (kan forstås som) en mulighet for leserfrihet.
Hillis Miller har den samme klagen. Men på engelsk er det ikke alternativer: det heter link, og link på engelsk er lenke på norsk. I blant fins det fordeler med oversettelser - som nettkunst er et mer inkluderende begrep enn det engelsk net.art. Det setter jeg pris på.
Ture har jobbet med skjermtekster i årevis, men jeg har ikke truffet ham før i dag, på et seminar ved bibliotekarhøyskolen: skjønn og digital, elektronisk litteratur i bibliotekene. Jeg blir alltid glad når nye mennesker blir interessert i nettlitteratur, og etter kommentarene jeg fikk, var det mange som syns det var spennende - og få som hadde hørt noe som helst om nettlitteratur på forhånd.
Jeg lovde å legge ut lenker - unnskyld, linker - til websidene jeg viste fram, og de har jeg samlet her.
tuesday, april 17
And another email narrative - this is getting fun! This one's called Inbox Outbox and is based in India. To read it, you need to go to Café Mumbai and follow the link to "India's first e-novel" - annoyingly, it's set up so you can't get directly to the story. Inbox Outbox is written by Jerry Pinto, a "prolific" and "humourous" journalist who's written books about the CIM (Confused Indian Man) and during the earthquake a few months ago. Unless there are two Jerry Pintos in India, which is entirely possible. Piecing together an idea of a person from searching the web can be quite an amusing experience. Inbox Outbox is a little different from the other webbased email narratives I've found (I'm going to have to compile a list). Instead of sending you copies of fictional characters' email (Blue Company, emailshows) or having the main character send emails address to you (http://www.onlinecaroline.com">Online Caroline), Jerry Pinto's made a mockup of one of those free webbased email accounts you can get at hotmail or yahoo or excite or whereever. To read the story, you go poking around in the main character's inbox, trash and other folders.
I haven't actually read much of this yet, but it looks interesting. The plot revolves around a 33 year old, slightly neurotic journalist who wants to be a novelist. His girlfriend has just moved to the States to study journalism and so he's got himself an email account to write with her. There's a cast of other characters: the expected Best Friend, Ex-Girlfriend, Mother, Boss and so on, and you can read email from and to all of these characters. The "e-novel" was opened the day before yesterday, and will be continually growing. You can even write to the characters and perhaps have your emails included as part of the story. That's kind of neat.
Strangely enough, I haven't seen anything about this anywhere except a small article in the regional newspaper for the very north of Northern Norway, which my friend Lars Ove writes for (thanks, Lars). My web searches only turned up old news about Jerry Pinto, but the story's on Reuters so presumably spinning the globe. Only I can't find it.
What do you do when you're reading (viewing, using) a text and you don't know whether you've read it all, read enough? If you pick up a book you can quit after the first two pages; you're bored and decide that the next 180 pages don't look like they're worth it. In a computer game, your goals are clearly defined. Some tell you your score: "You have 20 points of a possible 620. This ranks you as a Novice Adventurer." At arcades you can compare your score - your mastery of the game, your depth of penetration into its secrets - with the highscores of others. If you buy a game that costs the equivalent of seven visits to the cinema you know that if you can't seem to get anywhere after the first five minutes, you just need to work harder, or go online and find a walkthrough. You know there must be more there, even if you can't see it instantly. You know what to expect. You know when a book or a game is over, and if you give up on them, you do that fully understanding that that is your decision.
When I look at web art, web poems, some hypertext, I don't have that luxury. I play with esfore-entropy's Dancing prey and click the bugs a few times, try to find a way to move on. The bugs move around each time I click them, dancing into the shapes of letters or patterns. That's all I can do with them; all they will do for me. Is there more? I have no idea. Perhaps I've missed the entire point? Perhaps the main part of the work is behind some secret entrance that I can't find. Or perhaps that really is all there is. And I'm left feeling half cheated, half foolish.
Dancing Prey is in the web journal Drunken Boat, which is a treasure I only just discovered. It's a "journal of the arts", presenting poetry, prose, photos and videos, sound, criticism and web art. The web art interests me most. It's mostly flash or shockwave based, and several of the pieces appeal to me. Liz Miller's Moles is there, an old favourite of mine that's been republished. I love the way she uses links, images and words to create a poem of her body; a physcial memory of her personality and sexuality. Thom Swiss and Skye Giordano have a poem here that I love too: Genius. The poem is read to a beat that makes the words feel like music. Some of the words and phrases are echoed in text in a flash animation, and the images move reinforcing the words; the words illustrating the images. I listened to the piece three times to fully sense the currents of meaning in it. This poem has no "interactivity"; it's linear and I can't control it in any way, so in theory you could have it on video (only I've never seen video art so literary). I want art or poems like this on the handheld mp3-player wireless networked hand held computer mobile phone digital camera e-book that I plan to own in five years time. They'll have made one that I can afford by then, won't they?
saturday, april 14
* Animated Poetry in Flash, taught by Peter Howard
Can't find any info about prices. I notice there's no course in blogging or writing net diaries - autobiographies if you want a more impressive term - though they must be among the most popular forms of online writing. Are they not acknowledged as "literature", I wonder? Or perhaps these genres don't have any practioners who've thought of teaching. I can't say I'd thought of teaching "how to blog" until this very instance. I wonder whether people'd sign up?
The ELO/trAce chat tomorrow is for people who are curious about or are going to DAC 2001 or the E-Poetry conference (Which for some reason is called EPIC. I'm not sure why; epics and poems are kind of different, aren't they? I suppose there are epic poems; is that what e-poetry is about? Hm.) The chat's at LinguaMOO at 22.00 Norwegian time. More info (and international times) at their explanatory page.
Florian Cramer's written a pretty interesting review of the CODE conference in Cambridge last week. CODE stands for "Collaboration and Ownership in the Digital Economy" and Florian writes mostly about the discussions of open source. My favourite bit is this:
There is little awareness that any piece of digital data, whether an audio CD, a video game or a computer operating systems is simply a number and that every new copyrighted digital work reduces the amount of freely available numbers. (..) The zeros and ones of Microsoft Word are legally considered a Windows program and thus subject to Microsoft's licensing, although they could just as well be seen as a piece of concrete poetry when displayed as alphanumeric code or as music when burned onto an audio CD. The opposite is also true: no-one can rule out that the text of, say, Shakespeare's Hamlet cannot be parsed and compiled into a piece of software that infringes somebody's patents.
Wouldn't it be fascinating if someone wrote a computer language specially to parse Hamlet as an executable program? Preferably a program that looked and acted exactly like Microsoft Word or something of course. Um, I guess that would mean it would have to have the same machine code, right, I mean, the 0s and 1s would have to be the same as Word's? I need to ask a programmer about that, huh? (You're quite right, I'm unlikely to do this myself.)
thursday, april 12
Johan Svedjedal has published a collection of essays that's among other things, about hypertext: Sista boken. That's right, it's in Swedish, and the title means The Last Book. There's a review of the book in Svenska Dagbladet, but unfortunately the reviewer's seems to be more interested in reviewing hypertext than the book. And if you believe, as the reviewer writes that he does, that the Internet is good for information but no use for reflection, ideas, education or art, then I guess you're likely to miss the point of hypertext too. Don't you love people who hate the net without having spent more than a couple of minutes on it?
wednesday, april 11
My counter tells me that someone got here by searching for "young men with ponytails" at some search engine. Right.
Go and have a look: this year's 5k contest entries are up. It's a contest for sites that are smaller than 5 k - so this is something you can afford to go and see even on the slowest connection. Here's the original rationale:
The idea behind the contest is that the rigid constraints of designing for the web are what force us to get truly creative. Between servers and bandwidth, clients and users, HTML and the DOM, browsers and platforms, our conscience and our ego, we're left in a very small space to find highly optimal solutions. Since the space we have to explore is so small, we have to look harder, get more creative; and that's what makes it all interesting. Just celebrating that is all.
There are some pretty nifty things there, and I've really been enjoying being a "judge" on the site - you can register (or use your metafilter login), rate the entries and enter your comments. Oh yeah.
Btw, the entired concept of a 5k contest could easily be argued to be net.art or at least net art, and many of the entries are entired worthy of the attention of a digital art affectionado like yourself.
Rob Wittig's email fiction Blue Company started its "month of e-mail" yesterday. I'm still finding the story amusing, or more precisely, I'm not going to stop reading yet. But I'm annoyed that the email I received sent me to read "it" at the web site. There are drawings (jpgs) included in the email, so perhaps I just need to make my email client more html friendly. It shows all the drawings as broken images.
Isn't it annoying how electronic art and literature is so easily broken?
tuesday, april 10
Oh yes. Three wonderful refutations of the assumption that weblogs say anything "real" about their writer at lemonyellow:
It makes me howl when people assume this is me-- laid bare. I once had someone tell me, to prove a point, that she'd gone back through the archives and mapped my writing to specific personal events. It was hard not to laugh... Naturally. This is the extent of me. Exposed. You can turn me over and prod my soft spots, stick your fingers into my orifices and smell me. Each bit of what you think is my soul corresponds to a point on or in my body defined by three coordinates. Click here to browse them. (16 March 2001)
monday, april 9
There are some net diaries I really like. I love seeing Samm's new photos and her design that changes almost weekly, sometimes daily, and reading about how she's trying to study photography in Perth. Kevin's style of writing each post so it's almost a poem is often quite beautiful. I like how brief and yet heartfelt their posts can be.
Chris Crawford has put sample chapters of a self-published book called Understanding Interactivity online. Interactivity must be one of the most overused terms around, as Crawford points out, and this overuse has made us lose track of what it actually might mean.
[C]onsider this definition of interactivity offered in a popular book: "By definition, the things people do on computers have always been interactive." Not very illuminating, is it? (..) So let's start with a humbling realization: we really don't have a clear idea of what interactivity is all about. Plenty of people have slapped it onto their work and tried to sell "The Same Old Same Old Stuff" as "New Interactive Technology!" and we have to admit that, with all the hype, we've lost track of the true meaning of the word. (Chapter 1.)
Crawford argues that there are degrees of interactivity, and sensibly takes his starting point in interaction between people, defining interaction as "a cyclic process in which two actors alternately listen, think, and speak." Sounds fairly sensible. I need to write a bit about interaction for my thesis, but it's a touchy area. It's obviously overused and misused, but perhaps the word's very ubiquity lends it some authority? I haven't quite made my mind up about that. I do agree with Jan von Bornsdorff, who recently pointed out that net art rarely delivers interactivity even when it promises it.
sunday, april 8
The latest issue of TEXT includes essays about teaching creative writing "in cyberspace".
friday, april 6
Yes, I want to use blogs in teaching too.
thursday, april 5
Ooh, a new email story. There aren't many of them. I dug up a few in my last frantic hunt, but a couple are just really really bad (emailshows being a notable example); there's good old Online Caroline, which does some interesting things with emails but which I've been through enough times now, and there's an archived email and web site event called Two Minutes which isn't bad. And Two Solitudes by Carl Steadman that looked interesting but seems to be shut down - oh! the site's redesigned and there's a confidence in those fonts and that web form that suggests maybe it's up and happy.
But I wanted to tell you about Rob Wittig's Blue Company, "a fiction told in a month of e-mail". You sign up to a mailing list and I think you'll receive an email a day until "the performance" is over. It starts on the tenth of April, next Tuesday, so sign up now! You can read the first of the emails at the web site. I enjoy the style - the emailish punctuation, the contrasts of style and subject matter and well, it's about time-travelling (or is it?) and as a child I used to dream of inventing a time-machine. I was going to be a famous inventor, you see. I loved time-travel stories. And I'm really excited about this story.
You know how WAP phones and wireless Palm Pilots in New York can tell you where the nearest post office is and what's showing at the local cinema? Andrea Moed wants to annotate space in a different way using portable devices like this. Her idea relates to what Torill's been writing lately about non-spaces, since she points out how you can avoid dealing with a place on its own terms when you use such devices, which "reduce the experience of place to the consumer transactions available there." I suppose the same goes for a guide book or street directory come to think of it, though perhaps new technology increases the effect. Anyway, Andrea's going to design story and/or activity modules for places in New York city - I wonder what they'll be like? It's a strange blend of different kinds of place; of virtual world placed on top of the physical world. Imagine a MUD of NY that you play while you're physically in the places described? (via... oh I know I got this link from some blog but I can't remember which, I'd closed that browser window an hour before I got round to looking at this window. Sorry.)
wednesday, april 4
Cher écran, dear screen, are any net diaries actually called that? There must be a few. Phillippe Lejeune, who's written classics on autobiography and diary writing, recently (well, last October) published a book called Chèr ecran that's about net diaries. There's an article about it in Libération. I want to read this book! I'm obviously going to have to brush up my French since amazon hasn't even heard of Lejeune and the library only has translations of a couple of his books. Not of this latest one.
Dirk Hines has archived Subterranean notes and has started a new blog that he's called hypogee:
Whereas Subterranean Notes was intended for as wide an audience as possible, with the goal of turning people on to (primarily) digital art, this is more like the kind of weblog that Jouke recently described, in that it's more of a taking of personal notes.
I never posted a link to that interview that a journalist from The Age did with me in Melbourne, did I? I'm not terribly impressed with it. A lot of Australian journalism seems to follow this strange rule where paragraphs are one sentence long - you hit a full stop, you'd better hit return too, mate! Occasionally you can let two sentences into a paragraph, but that's really pushing it. I hate the style. To me it's clunky and unpleasant to read. I can't get into a flow of thoughts; every time I find myself interested in something there's a space and a completely new idea appears in the next line. Why do they do it?
I noticed the one sentence = one paragraph rule ages ago, when I was living in Perth and reading newspapers there. Look at this article, for instance - it's just a list of facts, hardly connected at all. Only one paragraph has more than a sentence to it's name. The current lead piece in Dagbladet has longer paragraphs, but I have to admit there are several one-liners. The top story in Aftenposten has longer paragraphs, mostly using three or four sentences. So perhaps it's a class difference and newspapers have different sociolects?
In Australia too the one sentence rule is followed most rigorously in the tabloids, whereas quality papers like The Australian often have beautiful writing. The Age is usually pretty good too, which is why I'm surprised at this interview. Frankly it seems uninspired and rather dull. I suppose even journalists have bad days. I keep wanting to apologise for possibly having been a bad interviewee, but you know what? I reckon a good journalist should be able to write an interesting story about just about anything. Anyway, I'm not dull at all, so there ;)
Oh well. Enough griping, it's time for me to do some writing myself. Perhaps I should follow the one sentence rule in my dissertation? Yuck!
tuesday, april 3
Are you a bit of a sticky-beak? Perhaps you're the sort of person who'll only go to a conference or a party if you know other important people will be there? Your curiousity about Digital Arts and Culture 2001 will be amply sated by regular visits to the DAC Confirmed Attendee List. Oh, and it looks like Ted Nelson really is coming!
monday, april 2
Fredrik Norman has more info about broadcasting dramas in several channels. He sends a quote from an article in Aftenposten, and I'm translating loosely here: New Year's Eve 1999 Lars von Trier and three other Danish Dogma directors were given a TV channel each and a lead character and improvised a story in the course of an hour. The theme was partly agreed in advance and the characters met several times during that hour. Viewers could switch between these four channels and three additional ones that gave back stage footage - for instance, one of the backstage channel broadcast from the control room where the directors were sending actors and camera teams around Copenhagen. It'll all be published soon on DVD - might be worth a look. Fredrik also reminds me that the show U did something similar on NRK last year: one channel showed the main show and another gave the backstage stuff.
It would have been interesting to see the Danish experiment in particular - wow, a Dogma interactive improvised drama! Still, Nick Fisher's drama for the BBC is pre-scripted which does actually make it rather different to these improvised experiments, or the reality-TV styles of backstage footage or Big Brother. It's not as new as the BBC would like us to think, though. Do you think there's an inverse relationship between the cries of NEW and the actual originality of a project?
I get to be an editor! Kevin Foust and I are co-editing a special issue of Localmotives that's going to be about net art. Not net.art in the strict sense of the word, but art (visual, literary, conceptual, political, audible, textual - have I forgotten anything?) that has to do with the net in some way. We just sent out the call for things (cft) after much deliberation about words and phrases. Do you think anyone will shoot us for using the word "quality"? Is "innovative" too conventional? This is hard stuff!
I'm posting the cft here in case you feel like participating. Localmotives is a Norwegian web journal, so we're mostly looking for Norwegian and Scandinavian things - but feel free to suggest any ideas you might have.
Nettidsskriftet Localmotives (http://www.localmotives.com) planlegger et nettkunstnummer som skal redigeres av Kevin Foust og Jill Walker. Vi har som mål å vise noe av spennet i hva nettkunst kan være, og dessuten være med på å gjøre miljøene bedre kjent - med hverandre, og for alle interesserte. Vi vil derfor invitere alle til å foreslå bidrag i form av tekster og kunstprosjekter.
Nummeret skal inneholde både kunstneriske prosjekter og tekster om nettkunst. Vi ser på nettkunst i bred forstand, og er åpne for alt som eksperimenterer med etisk, estetisk, politisk, sosialt eller konseptuelt utfordrende bruk av nettet, enten det ligger nær visuell kunst, litteratur, filmkunst, dataspill, musikk/lydkunst eller noe annet.
Tekster kan være akademiske, kritiske eller kreative. Vi ser gjerne at du bruker mediet kreativt, men er også åpne for godt skrevne tradisjonelle essay. I tillegg til analyser, tolkninger, meningsytringer og refleksjoner er vi interesserte i intervjuer med eller presentasjoner av kunstnere, tenkere eller miljøer. Kunstneriske prosjekter bør forholde seg til nettkunst og nettverksmedier. Vi kommer til å vurdere forslagene etter deres kvalitet og innovative bruk av mediene, og vil ha en åpen tolkning av hva nettkunst eller for den saks skyld kunst og nettverk er.
I første omgang vil vi gjerne ha en kort skisse av hva du kan tenke deg å skrive, lage eller gjøre; noen setninger holder. Meld din interesse til firstname.lastname@example.org innen 9. april 2001. Hvis du har spørsmål eller ønsker mer informasjon kan du skrive til samme adresse.
Tekster og prosjekter som publiseres blir honorert.
Send gjerne denne invitasjonen videre til andre interesserte.
A new parcel of books from my beloved amazon. Among other tidbits I now own The Deluxe Transitive Vampire, a grammar book that starts with great promise:
Maybe this will even clear up my insatiable tendency to run on in run-on sentences, comma-splicing is a vice of mine.
Diane Greco's interviewed Nick Fisher about The Wheel of Fortune, an "interactive drama" he's written for BBC Radio. The drama uses three channels. Each channel focusses on one main character which his or her own goals and plot. These three characters have many meeting points, and so by switching between channels you can hear different parts of the story - or stories. Didn't NRK do something like this last year, only with football rather than a story? I think it's been done with music too. And of course Big Brother does exactly this. Last week the cable company sent me an offer to extend my cable package to include three 24 hour channels of Big Brother footage. Only 179 kroner extra a week! :P
This is the first time I've heard of drama broadcast like this though, and narrative is different from music, football and surveillance cameras. It'll be interesting to see how a sound hypertext fiction like this works. The way the sound fixes it in time with clear beginning and end points makes this project different from most written hypertexts. [postscript: Kevin says Swedish TV did something like this a few years ago. I don't know any details though.]
The Wheel of Fortune will be broadcast on April 18th and we'll be able to listen to it on the web from the same date.
Har dere sett at bokklubbenes nettbokhandel mao.no gir deg 20 kroner i avslag for hver bok du anmelder? Det er lurt. Veldig lurt. Anmeldelser fra leserne er noe av det som gjør at jeg bruker amazon - og fraværet av anmeldelser er en av grunnene til at jeg ikke gidder å bruke bol - skjønt nå når jeg ser etter hos bol har de forbedret grensesnittet grundig. Mer tekst om hver bok og en "De som har bestilt denne boken har også bestilt." Det hjelper. Men jeg vil ha leseranmeldelser også, jeg. [Can't understand this post? Don't worry, you probably wouldn't have been interested, it's about Norwegian netbookshops and bookclubs and since I can't help but think about them in Norwegian the post is in Norwegian. And please don't ask me what language I dream in - it all depends, of course.]
sunday, april 1
Do you think you're part of this? Digital texts and the second person address
Men er det litteratur?
Men hvorfor virker ikke musen?
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