Hello. I'm Jill Walker, a researcher at humanistic informatics at the University of Bergen. This blog is bits of my thoughts about my research on electronic texts:
hypertext, net art,
games, stories.

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.


ISSN: 1502-8003



collegues with blogs:

adrian miles
torill mortensen
lisbeth klastrup
mark bernstein
carsten jopp
hilde corneliussen
elin sjursen
laura trippi
gonzalo frasca
katherine parrish
aki jarvinen
lars konzack
frank schaap


norske blogger

and also:

vog: video blog
hypertext kitchen
synthetic zero
ceres development peekhole
ockham's razor
ruthie's double

This page is

powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

tuesday, july 31

Some amazon.com reader reviews are wonderful. Here's a good one: "I bought this book because I saw the title of it in the feature film "The Matrix." Good product placement - I wonder how much Baudrillard's publishers had to pay for that?

posted 13:47 link

"You realise that "penetrate" always refers to sex in English?" he remarked. I suppose I did know, though my mind confuses languages at times. "You should take that word out. Unless you want to conclude that she fucked you." I'd asked him to read an essay I'd just finished about Online Caroline. "Caroline penetrates my world", I'd written. "How about 'insinuates herself into my world'", he suggested. "No, no, insinuate is too feminine, too passive", I objected, suddenly confident. "The force is important."

I took penetrate out, opting for "permeate" as a blurring of boundaries less passive and sneaky than insinuate. Today I'm thinking about penetrate. There's an argument there that I want to make, about force and bodies and perhaps gender (though I'm not sure about that) and perhaps I do need to make it sexual. Last night, Torill recommended Baudrillard's Seduction, which she she's merging with theories of play and games. Today I'll read. Tomorrow, perhaps I'll write my theory of Caroline's penetration into my world.

posted 13:22 link

Today I actually skimmed some of my spam before trashing it - and they're little stories! They're kind of cute actually. Always a sucker for a story, I followed Wendi's link after reading this:

Hello this is Wendi!

I Lost your e-mails boy i am glad i found the address in my outbox!!

i just went out and bought a webcam and snapped a few pics of me and posted them here

be sure to check them out and let me know how you like them!

He would get really pissed at me for showing anyone these pics. He thinks I took them for him.. :)

love ya!

Unfortunately, the site she's advertising is another depressing open-fifteen-browser-windows-at-once of porn with no connection to this narrative hook. I guess porn has never needed good story-telling to sell. There seems to be a rash of narrative spam though, based on this morning's sample of two. The next spam I looked at was a sad rip off of Wendi's comparatively subtle technique:

Hello my dear Love!!! I'm lost You email, but i'm find with help of my brother, he's cool hacker :)) You can find gallery of photos that I offered here.


chmok.... love, Switty......

posted 12:50 link

monday, july 30

Katherine comments on what I wrote the other day about exhibitionism and writing and bras and so on - with an interesting reference to a book about how students are taught to write: "they are described as subjects but can never really be describing subjects". They've just done a blogathon over there - 24 hours of continuous blogging for charity - amazing stamina!

posted 16:03 link

poemsthatgo.com have a good list of links to essays on new media poetry and you'll find some lovely poems there as well. They're all in flash though, which makes them rather uniform, as Matt Kirschenbaum's pointed out in an interview. The editors write that they've only ever received two non-flash contributions - luckily there are other sites that show new media art and poetry that's not always determined by Macromedia software. (rhizome, altx, vog, hypertext kitchen, kunstnett are a few among them)

posted 11:03 link

wednesday, july 25

"Men like the Tab key and tend to use the scrolling wheel on a mouse. Women move the mouse around more, even if a scrolling wheel is available." I've no idea what these differences may mean, but a company called Predictive are tracking and analysing our mouse and keyboard idiosyncracies ("biometric data") in order to find out more about us and target advertising more accurately. I find these differences between us interesting in themselves - and I wonder how we react to different kinds of systems? Do Mac users develop different nervous ticks to Unix users? What if a game or story reacted to the way we move the mouse around and not just to our conscious choices and actions?

Having read about this in a print newspaper, and having noticed that the article was syndicated from another paper anyway, I used google to find the article, searching for the author's name and "fingertips", one of the first words in the article. I got 58 hits - this guy must use the word "fingertips" in almost every article he writes! Betting at your fingertips, cyber thieves have at their fingertips a dozen dangerous tools, the entire world at one's fingertips, information at users' fingertips... I hadn't thought of using google as a tool for finding clichéd usage.

posted 12:38 link

tuesday, july 24

"Isn't it rather exhibitionistic?" people ask me ambiguously. I'm not sure whether they want me to announce that yes, I'm an exhibitionist, that's why I write a blog, or if they'd rather I'd argue that blogs aren't about showing off, no no, they're serious. And of course I'm not an exhibitionist. Who'd want to be an exhibitionist?

My daughter's an exhibitionist. She's five years old and jumps up and down on my bed or performs terrifying feats on the monkey bars and screams "look at me! look at me!" If there are other kids around, they'll instantly react by doing some fancy trick themselves, each fighting for all of the adults' attention. As we grow up we learn to hide this need for attention, but I don't think it disappears. We're all exhibitionists to some extent, though some of us hide it so well that we believe we aren't.

Yes, blogs are exhibitionistic. And they're personal. That worries a lot of people. It especially worries a lot of academics. I've been reading about "personal criticism" lately. I think I've been writing or trying to write personal criticism for years, but I only just discovered that of course people were thinking about this long before I started writing. Nancy K Miller sees personal criticism as a particularly feminist strategy, though not exclusively so (Getting Personal). And the fear of exhibitionism is present all the time - "How can we speak personally to one another and not be self-centred?" asks Jane Tompkins (in Kauffman, Gender and Theory). I think the clue is in the words "to one another" - and this is why blogs are so powerful: we write to one another. Blogs are always part of a context. We comment on one another's writing, we comment on what we read, what we experience. Each post in a blog is anchored to a time (the time stamp, the immediacy, opinions in time rather than in a fictitious eternity) and to other writing (the links that posts revolve about) and to an individual. Blogs are personal, they are writing in context.

Why are we so afraid of being thought exhibitionists, anyway? Miller writes how her mother would derise other women with the condemning words "She's making a spectacle of herself!" Women have been conditioned not to expose themselves; to hide. We've been taught to be ashamed of "overly rouged cheeks, of a voice shrill in laughter, or of a sliding bra strap - a loose, dingy bra strap especially." (Miller, 23) Perhaps men have been taught this shame as well? I don't know; I have my experiences, not theirs. My mother is a brave woman and a feminist, but still taught me to hide my bra straps. The summer I was thirteen my breasts grew, making it obvious that they weren't restrained. My mother bought me bras and showed me how to wear them. Later my professors taught me to curb my writing as well. Don't let anyone see that you're restraining yourself though! It's supposed to be secret, though always present, like your bra.

Personal criticism, then, might be about showing this (feminine?) excess, these things that aren't supposed to show, the gaps between abstract reasoning and flesh and blood. I've got lots more to think about here, though. For instance - I can see the value of the personal, and of intensity, but how does this remain criticism and research rather than "just" gossip? ("just" gossip?)

posted 13:50 link

monday, july 23

At last: a British study shows kids who play computer games ("regularly but not excessively) have "higher levels of co-ordination and powers of concentration equivalent to those observed in top-level athletes." They also tend to have more friends and be better adjusted than those who make do with traditional pastimes such as reading and television. About time we heard this version of the story. Via metafilter).

posted 15:04 link

A new office. At last. I've been in four different offices in the last 18 months, three of them full of some absent professor's books. Today I moved into my first empty office. At last: I don't have to squeeze my own personality into the cracks between somebody else's knick knacks and photos and books and papers and pens. The room smells musty as do all the other offices in this building. I had thought it was dust on books too rarely consulted, but this room has no books but still the smell. Perhaps it's the smell of the building's own personality: a little musty and unwelcoming. It's summer though and I have my door and window open, and I've bought freshly ground coffee that will overpower the dust for now.

I've changed the name of this place (this blog) again, from lived thought back to jill/txt. Was it ever called jill/txt, or was that only in my dreams? Lived thought is both presumptuous and meaningless and has never sat properly with me. I'm tired of generalising. These are my words and that's it. Enough.

posted 14:38 link

wednesday, july 18

And I see Gonzalo's nabbed ludology.org - good one, Gonzalo!

posted 17:53 link

Adrian Miles, who's my partner and an inspired hypertexter and quite a lot more, has just started a regular blog, vlog, to go with his video blog, vog. About time too ;) He's teaching an all-MOO-and-blog course this semester which will be interesting. I expect that will spill over into the blog.

I'm still on holiday. My daughter and I took her new Scala lego doll "camping" up on Ulriken. The doll comes with this amazing tent, backpack, sleeping bag, spare clothes, compass, horse - I had as much fun as Aurora did, I think. Snuck in several hours of mountain walking there too. Great day.

posted 17:38 link

(I'm on holiday in case you've been wondering. Back next week.)

posted 09:14 link

thursday, july 5

I gave my first bloggerised talk the other night, to postgrad students and researchers at AIM here at RMIT. I wasn't planning on using a screen presentation at all, but of course I ended up wanting to show half a dozen web sites and show a quotation or two, and since my powerbook was out of power I got stuck at the imac lab wondering how to collate all these bits and pieces. Aha - put them in a blog! It was an amazingly effective, quick and easy way of making an instant presentation. An added benefit: hardly anyone in the audience knew what a blog was, so using one to present my talk was a great way of emphasising my point about the importance of personal and continuing narrative on the web. It ended up being a good evening too. The talk was beautifully informal. Everyone gathered around in a circle, which was encircled again by computers. Four or five of the screens displayed the blog I'd prepared, and as I talked about each point, people would follow the relevant links. Afterwards we had a full hour of discussion: wonderful. I'm still thinking about the things in the talk - kinds of web narratives, kinds of audience roles, kinds of simulation - I'm writing a chapter of my thesis about all this. In fact, my word processor is calling me right now. See you!

posted 07:14 link

Here's a sweet little flash poem/animation: Thump by Tim Danko. I have a headache right now and the imagery of stars and thumping inside of your head being dissolved into pleasure is tempting. This piece is in Overland, an Australian literary journal that I used to subscribe to in an effort to become familiar with the literature of my family's country. Nice to see they're online now, and even have "a hypertext section". Apparently there's an Australian organisation for electronic literature on the way too, which will be interesting. (via Hypertext Kitchen)

posted 07:04 link

tuesday, july 3

Gonzalo has some good thoughts about simulations and adventure games. He thinks adventure games are dying, and simulations are going to become dominant. "Narrative (..) gives better tools for telling the concrete, the particular, while simulation is better suited for explaining mechanisms, how things work", he writes, arguing that adventure games are mostly about finding the story-line that the author thinks is the right one, whereas "the pleasure of simulation is in experimentation, not on watching a predetermined sequence of events." Gonzalo has some good thoughts about simulations. I like how clear he is (or acts, anyway) about his view of these things. I'm thinking a lot about simulations these days - more here later.

posted 08:40 link

Via Lisbeth, som fant det i Søndag Aftens "Lille guide til den elektroniske litteratur": her er De Ubrugelige - Den første danske interaktive kriminalroman på Internettet Den involverer eposter og kodegjetting - nå kan det ikke være lenge til vi ser mer elektronisk litteratur også i Norge?

posted 03:53 link

The first issue of Game studies is out! This is the first academic journal dedicated to the study of computer games. "Perhaps the most remarkable aspect is that such a journal has not been started before", the chief editor Espen Aarseth writes, after all, computer games have been around as long as computers have. This issue features discussions about whether or not games are narrative (Marie-Laure Ryan argues that they are, while Jesper Juul argues for the ludologists that no, they aren't.) It's good to see this journal happening, just a year after Susana Tosca suggested it on a fjord cruise near Bergen.

posted 03:50 link


Do you think you're part of this? Digital texts and the second person address
(or pdf) Cybertext Yearbook, Jyv?yla University. You can order the whole anthology from roisko@dodo.jyu.fi.

A Child's Game Confused
a hypertextual riff against (or with?) some netpoems. JoDI 1.7, 2000. Speilet lokalt.

Men er det litteratur?
en introduksjon til skjermtekster. Bob nr. 7-8, 2000.

Men hvorfor virker ikke musen?
en anmeldelse av nettkunsten på høstutstillingen. Kunstnett Norge,okt 2000.

Jeg taster, derfor er jeg
en kronikk om websåpeoperaer. Studvest, 18/1999.

Piecing together and tearing apart: reading afternoon, a story.
about Michael Joyce's classic hypertext fiction. Won Ted Nelsons Newcomer Award, Hypertext '99.

Tripp trapp tresko i cyberspace
en hypertekstuell anmeldelse av Juliet Ann Martins elektroniske diktsyklus xxxoooxxx. vinduet.no,1998.

Hypertextual Criticism. Comparative Readings of Three Web Hypertexts about Literature and Film
my MA thesis on non-fiction web hypertexts. Dept of Comparative Literature, University of Bergen, 1998.

Jernaldervev: lesefragmenter
en hypertekst om min lesning av Steinar Lødings papirroman Jernalderdrøm. 1998. (Dette er ikke en hypertekstuell versjon av romanen men en anmeldelse av den.)