This is an archive of february 2003 posts from Jill Walker's blog, jill/txt.


We can blog it!


theorising weblogs

politics of links and search engines

research blogs


2003 january

2002 december : november : october : september : august : july : june : may : april : march : february : january

2001 december : november : october : september : august : july : june : may : april : march : february : january

2000 december : november : october

blogs i read

recent updates first

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version 1.2.3d5

february 2003


Jan Karlsberg comments the University of Bergen IT strategy I wrote about the other day, and connects it with other research (at Norsk Hydro, actually) showing that standardisation is an illusion. UiB's decision to prioritise open source software is rather uncontroversial, really, after the Norwegian government cancelled their deal with Microsoft as of last July. Also the EU is going for open source. Well, kind of open source. If you're European you can share it. I suppose that's not really open source, is it? Of course in practice, open source priorities or not, I think it'll be a while before many people actually use alternatives to Word. But at least Microsoft no longer has a state-sanctioned monopoly on providing software to the public sector.

posted: 28/2/03 12:21 |


Retrogames' history of Space Invaders is so multiple that it includes two completely different coders/authors, both a story about how one of these alleged coders wrote it after dreaming of kids saving the Earth from aliens on Christmas Eve, and a denial of said story, and a description of how the game was so popular in Japan that they ran out of coins and had to shut down the arcades until the countries yen supply was quadrupled.

My favourite bit is how they just put all these contradictions and absurdities next to one another without commentary. (That one about the yens can't be true, right? Right?) Unfortunately it doesn't help me figure out how to cite Space Invaders in my bibliography - as an arcade game it's not in Mobygames game documentation project yet. Steven Poole says it's made by Taito in 1978, and lots on the net agrees with that but I can't find, you know, definite proof. I think I'll just go with Poole, because I need to move on here. I did find a nice shoot-down-Dick-Cheny to save the planet version of Space Invaders though. 'nother one for my chapter on political flash versions of old games.

posted: 28/2/03 11:51 |

web slowness

The latest issue of American Book Review (to which I accepted a subscription in lieu of rather minimal pay after writing a review for them last year) is almost all about new media studies. Scott Rettberg is focus editor, and the reviews in this theme are also available online through the Electronic Book Review. (sorry, their server seems really slow this morning so I can't find the exact URL for the online version of this stuff. Will update later.) There are several reviews of interesting books about new media studies, and of some web literature and, perhaps most surprisingly, a review of a weblog. Rob Wittig (who among other things has written Blue Company, a wonderful email narrative) reviews Justin's Links, and he does properly: with an appreciation of the time. Last April The Peer-to-Peer Review Project collected reviews of weblogs. The idea was that a blogger could sign up, review another blog, and in turn be reviewed by another participant. I was assigned a blog called ~unsettled~, and quite enjoyed the experience of reading with the aim of writing, and yet it seemed wrong. I was reviewing a blog after reading it for one week. Even though I could delve into the archives and in theory experience the "whole" work, it didn't seem right. The way I really appreciate reading blogs is different, it's a slow, slow process of coming back at irregular intervals over a long period of time.

Rob Wittig frames this temporality of blogs beautifully in his review. He starts by describing his first experiences of reading Justin's Links:

I'll never forget the Monday morning in the mid-90s when I rushed in to work (my only Internet connection at the time, imagine!) and hurriedly pointed my browser to to see if Justin Hall had broken up with his girlfriend over the weekend.

After reading intensely during this period (when Justin Hall's was one of the few web diaries around) Rob read less of it - blog reading goes in ebbs and flows - and then refound it late last year. The archives were still there, Justin's elegant hypertextual and pictorial story of his life, and "an even more touching discovery: I still care about its lead character. I still am interested in Justin Hall."

Interestingly, though I'm only a sporadic reading of Justin's Links, Rob cites the exact post that I kept rereading last November (written on a bus at night driving out of Tokyo) not only as an example of rejoining a once-familiar narrative but also of Justin's plain good writing. I find that strange, because I think of weblogs as so large that you're unlikely to read all the same bits as another reader. Yet here Rob and I have both fastened on the same post. Perhaps by chance. Partly, I'm convinced because it is a wonderful piece of writing.

But for weblogs in general, Rob's expression of the importance of the slowness of reading is crucial:

I've known for a while that one of the powerful and particular pleasures of on-line literature is its timing - a liberation from the cycles of daily newspapers, monthly magazines, yearly novels. I've enjoyed many occasions of the Web's speed after Justin introduced me to it - confessions updated hourly, fictions that include breaking news. But Justin has now also introduced me to my first experience of Web slowness.

Rob questions the boundaries of a blog not only in time, but also in authors. Here's a sentence to go down in the annals of blogdom:

You can't be one blogger; you are always at least eight or ten bloggers.

This is a wonderful example of a review of a blog in a traditional print forum. This is a way of making non-bloggers aware of blogs, and perhaps of elevating it to a literary genre (which I think it often is, but the fact that it doesn't need to be acknowledged as such (as a novel, for instance, does) is one of its strengths) Blogs don't really need reviews, of course. Blogs need links, comments and blogrolls. It's a different system.

posted: 27/2/03 09:34 |

it policy at uib

There's a newly declared ICT strategy plan for our university, the internal magazine announces. It has "standardisation" in its title, but wonderfully, that doesn't mean everything now becomes Microsoft-standardised. No, on the contrary, open source and open standards solutions are to be given priority:

Ein skal velgja løysingar basert på open kjeldekode eller opne standardar mellom anna for å fremme konkurranse i marknaden. Spesielt viktig blir det å finne fram til eit felles ope format for dokumentutveksling. (På Høyden)

What a nice start to the day.

posted: 25/2/03 10:10 |

poems about war

Caterina was so unimpressed with the quality of the poems gathered at the Poets Against the War website that she's started a weblog of good poems about war and peace. Thank you.

posted: 24/2/03 11:00 |

david still's birthday party

Remember David Still? The virtual persona who'll let you borrow his identity? I wrote about last December. This morning he (or someone using his identity) sent me an invitation to his birthday party:

Dear Jill

Cargo, an art gallery in my neighbourhood, de Realiteit (Reality) in Almere is planning a special event for my birthday.

It's on Sunday, 9th of March 2003 at 3 o'clock - there'll be refreshments and music. Several artists will be at the event, each with their own tribute to me! The art space is turning the whole thing into an art event by promoting me as a work of art or something... Have I become so important?

Don't want them to forget that I'm a real person with real friends like you. That's why I want to make sure you're on the guest list.

How could I celebrate this without you?

Please let me know that you are coming. Or just surprise me and turn up in De Realiteit!

There's a website from the apparently real art gallery Cargo backing up the invitation. I wish I lived near de Realiteit, I'd definitely go! Oh, and I do like his signature tagline: Free as freeware, human as you.

posted: 24/2/03 08:48 |

why google bought

Wired's article on why Google might have wanted to buy Blogger may be the number one hit on Blogdex, but it's mostly speculation from someone called Chris Cleveland who worked with Pyra (owners of on a developing a search engine for Blogger's blogs:

"We worked on this project for a couple of months and everything seemed to be going pretty well until about January when communication stopped," said Cleveland. "Now I know why."

Ah. Well, at least Cleveland gets some fame out of it all. Cleveland reckons that

Google will likely use Blogger to develop sophisticated searches that utilize the rich metadata inherent in the RSS feeds from weblogs: who wrote what and when, what it linked to, what linked to it and its level of popularity with Web surfers.

But Google already does that. And you can use the RSS without owning the databases, that's the whole point,isn't it? And there are so many other blogs that aren't blogs. It will be interesting to read the first articles about this that aren't speculations from someone who vaguely knows something that might be related.

posted: 23/2/03 20:52 |

videos of mouse demos

Look, video footage of Doug Engelbart's demonstrations of the first mouse and the graphical user interface and more, from 1968! I was amazed when I first realised how many aspects of modern computing were pioneered by Engelbart's team that early. (via Matt Kirschenbaum's blog for his Digital Media course) [update Sat night: I just saw that yesterday Mark posted some interesting comments on Engelbart and his place in the history of hypertext (I had no idea that one was either a Nelsonian or an Engelbartian at early Hypertext conferences!) and also links this same video.]

posted: 22/2/03 11:30 |

Matt Kirschenbaum's blogging

I meet Matt Kirschenbaum every couple of years at conferences, and read his articles when I come across them, and he always has interesting ideas. Now he's blogging, and using blogs in his teaching, and I'm thrilled: I love how those important voices in digital culture and hypertext and so on research are becoming persistent, present always, available on the web. Mailing lists and usenet were/are sometimes good for discussions, but blogs feel more steady to me. I can read Matt's blog when I want, it links to what's he's reading, thinking about, what he's written, it's grounded and in motion at the same time. Rather than only getting to see the finished articles and have chats between sessions at yearly conferences I can now follow the thoughts of many more or less distant researchers whose thoughts I enjoy: Matt Kirschenbaum, Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Lisbeth Klastrup, Torill Mortensen, Mark Bernstein, Frank Schaap, Anja Rau, Adrian Miles. (Well, OK, so I talk with Adrian all the time anyway). And then there are the ones I've discovered through blogs, and might not have met if I'd only stuck to my own field's journals and conferences: Peter Merholz, Anne Galloway, Meredith Baker, Liz Lawley, Brandon Barr and several others. (via Adrian)

posted: 22/2/03 11:19 |

dr hilde!

Today Hilde Corneliussen is defending her thesis!

posted: 21/2/03 08:51 |

flash simulations

I rather enjoyed Idleworm's political simulations: Ashcroft Online lets you taste what future internet access may be like (your patriot rating sinks and rises according to what you read), while the "game" Gulf War 2 simulates what it calls the only possible outcome of a war on Irak. Since the statistical probability of this outcome is 99.9% you can't actually make any choices in the game, other than "continue".

I'm writing a chapter about this kind of political game-cartoon. I started it last year, with all the "Click here to kill Bin Laden" style games, and now I'm going to finish it with and add some new species of the genre. They're interesting to me because while most games at least strive to keep an illusion of user-freedom, most of these "games" play upon the user's lack of control. In many of them, the lack of control is the main point of the game.

posted: 21/2/03 08:46 |

hypertext, google, blogs

On Monday I quoted Dennis Jerz's sceptical comment on Google's purchase of Now he's written out his thoughts on Google, blogs, Vannevar Bush and early 90s hypertext theory in an article that's just been published in Dichtung Digital. He reiterates the attack on "hypertext theory" and "literary hypertext" that's currently in vogue, and as is fashionable, he limits hypertext theory to Landow's early 90s book and literary hypertext to Afternoon and Patchwork Girl (both from the very early 90s). And having done that, of course it's easy to dismiss hypertext theory and hypertext fiction as being all about self-contained monographs (though Landow's Intermedia was more like a web in miniature with lots of participants constantly expanding it, wasn't it?) and disorientating postmodernism. Getting past my ritual grumpiness about this (and hey, I had a six year old trying to sleep on top of me most of last night, I'm entitled to a bit of grump) Jerz does raise important points about the convergence of blogs and Google. My paper on links and power is kind of related to this stuff too.

posted: 20/2/03 09:00 |

a convert

Eirik Newth wrote a scathing attack on weblogs a year ago. Now he's changed his mind, and explains why in Kulturnett.

Det var i 2002 at Gud og hvermann fant ut at det var nødvendig å legge seg flat. Sein i avtrekket som jeg er, kaster jeg meg først nå i slapset med ansiktet ned. [Sorry for the poor translation, it's full of idiom and metaphor, but here's a go: "In 2002 God and everyman decided to go down on their knees in admiration. Slow to the mark as I am, I've only just thrown myself face down in the disgusting rained-on dirty snow." (Norwegian has hundreds of words for snow, you know)]

Eirik's own blog (a couple of months old now) is one of my regular reads :)

posted: 19/2/03 12:26 |

DVD-Jon blogs

Jon Lech Johansen, the young Norwegian who was aquitted for cracking that DVD-stuff, has started blogging. The blog is fittingly titled So Sue Me.

posted: 19/2/03 12:23 |

network aesthetics

I realised last night as I was falling asleep that most people probably think that a course titled web design and web aesthetics is going to be about what websites look like. I, on the other hand, think it means network aesthetics. For me the aesthetics and the beauty and the power of the web is all about the network. Content isn't king in this medium, it's the transactions and the connections that are the point. (And I forget where I read that.) What I want to teach is not electronic literacy, it's network literacy - and that phrase is from Adrian who on the phone this morning obligingly understood just what I meant and gave me a word to explain it beautifully.

That's why all of yesterday's class was about Blogdex and Technorati and referrer logs and TrackBack. And no, it wasn't immediately obvious to the students what those sites where trying to do and why it's interesting. I suspect these are kinds of knowledge that need to be experienced rather than explained.

posted: 19/2/03 11:15 |

deena in queensland

Nothing like reading blogs for keeping track of one's friends and colleagues: Deena Larsen (who's also a contributor to Susana and my JoDI issue) told me she was going to Queensland. Today I discoved Roy Hornsby has just commented a presentation she gave in Brisbane on Friday. Ah, the world's a village, really ;)

posted: 19/2/03 11:14 |

lisbeth at HUMlab

Tomorrow Lisbeth's speaking at HUMlab about a poetics for virtual worlds (what a great title!). It's being streamed, there'll be questions by chat, it's in Danish/Swedish, and starts at 15:10.

posted: 18/2/03 15:15 |


I talk with Adrian so often (yes, those phone bills can be harsh) that sometimes I forget to read his weblog. So when I wrote yesterday about Google buying Blogger, I now wish I'd then linked to Adrian's point about Google and Blogger both being native to the web:

google is the first search engine that understood the web as a system of links and that these links, what expresses connection between parts, is the major semantic, structural, thematic, and commercial economy of the web. that is it is the first large search engine that treats the web as its native habitat, rather than bringing flatland values to the problem of data, indexing, and retrieval.

similarly blogs are the first native genre to have developed in the networked writing space that is the Web. so it makes sense that one sees the value of the other, but together . . . this is not just a question of commercial capital but also of the intellectual (cultural and networked) capital that comes with living the web in vitro. in 3 - 5 years publishing will have changed so dramatically as a result that what we today will appear odd. (vlog, 17/2)


posted: 18/2/03 15:06 |


In my web design and web aesthetics class today we're talking about connections, links, referrers, trackback and generally how other bloggers know you're talking about them. I'm going to ask the students to figure out what Blogdex, and Technorati actually do, first individually surfing, then in groups, then explaining it to the rest of the class. My plan is that they'll learn it much better by figuring it out for themselves than by listening to me explain it, but I'm also curious as to how easy this stuff is to figure out if you don't have much background in it.

So in hunting for relevant sites I found Organica, another better-than-Blogdex system that's still in alpha (i.e. only crawling weblogs not yet connecting them), and it's being developed by Ask Bjørn Hansen. He must be Norwegian. Though his weblog is in English, and it's And his powerbook looks as old as mine, so I think I like him :) Actually I found Organica via MerzLog, which is in Italian but looks right up my alley based on the links and bits I can understand. I found it through my referrers. And that's exactly the kind of circular navigation of the web, the self-organising emergent community thing that I'd like my students to discover and use. I think you probably need to experience it to really get it. As Eirik did with TrackBack the other week.

posted: 18/2/03 11:56 |

special issue of JoDI!

The special issue of JoDI that Susana and I edited is out, and it's great! The theme is hypertext criticism, and we invited critics and authors to write short nodes of 250-1500 words each. We had lots of excellent submissions, and with the assistence of a large and hard-working team of peer-reviewers (thank you) selected 30 nodes by seven authors, which were then revised by the authors and linked together by both the authors and by Susana and I.

The resulting journal issue is unusual in that the contributions are densely interlinked. The theme is focussed around what criticism of hypertext and electronic literature is, can be and should be. We've tried to include discussions of specific hypertexts and of specific criticisms of hypertexts as well as the more common discussions of what hypertext could be. Mez writes about a collaborative work she participated in, and about Talan Memmott's Translucidity, for instance, and Adrian Miles writes about My Favourite Babe and These Waves of Girls. Go have a look: start with the editorial and jump from there.

posted: 17/2/03 13:06 |

protests and politicians

15,000 anti-war protesters filled Bergen on Saturday. That's not far off 10% of the city's population. There were 60,000 in Oslo, and tens of thousands more in 45 locations in Norway. (The numbers suggest an interesting sample of where you might choose to live. In my ancestral home of Perth, home to 1.3 million people, only 10,000 marched, against 200,000 in Sydney, though of course, Sydney has three times Perth's population. More surprisingly, Copenhagen, about the same size as Perth but with a much more cosmopolitan feeling to it, also had fewer protesters than little Bergen. Perhaps Denmark's supporting the US in the current NATO debacle is supported by the people. London's "at least 750,000" is more than 10% of it's population, too. And of course Rome's million protesters in a city with only 2.7 million is amazing.) The protests might not stop the war, but they're making politicians defend their war-mongering in a new way. John Howard, for instance, Australian Prime Mininster, said on TV the other night that "In the end, my charge as Prime Minister is to take whatever decision I think is in the best interests of the country" (The Age). Well, kind of. There is that bit about representing the people, too.

And if nothing else, Prime Ministers who ignore the people can inspire a bit of solidarity:

"Mr Blair has truly united Britain for the first time in my lifetime. I never dreamed so many people felt the same way as I did," said Joanna Fitcham, company director from Norfolk. "I shall be taking part in every demonstration I can from now." (The Guardian)

posted: 17/2/03 10:48 |

google buys

Google appears to have really, truly bought! Or more precisely, they've bought Pyra which is the firm that developed and runs Amazing. Dan Gillmor broke the news on Saturday, and has links to quite a few other takes on it. Or go straight to Blogdex's info on all the blogs writing about Gillmor's article.

Dennis Jerz is worried that Google's getting a monopoly on the web:

Google owns the Web, by virtue of its superior and highly popular search engine. It also owns the history of the Internet, thanks to GoogleGroups, which searches over 20 years of Usenet archives. It owns the present, thanks to GoogleNews, which continually scans the front pages of thousands of online newspapers, deduces which stories editors around the world consider to be the most important, and snags the headlines and lead paragraphs from those sentences to assemble a patchwork quilt that exposes news readers to a wide variety of editorial and political opinions. Will GoogleBlogs somehow cross the line? Can Google be fair to blogs hosted by its competitors? Has the Google Galaxy brought an end to the Golden Age of blogging? (comment on Kairos News)

So far Google seems pretty benevolent, but Dennis has a point. Empires are dangerous. [update: Evan Williams, the old boss of Pyra, comments the purchase]

posted: 17/2/03 10:25 |


The peace rally in Melbourne this evening was attended by at least 120,000 people by conservative estimates. That's more people than the biggest demonstrations at the height of the Vietnam war. At least 528 other cities around the globe are hosting rallys this weekend, most on Saturday. Here's a site with links to city-specific websites. has lots of information about the Norwegian protests. It's the biggest coordinated global protest ever. They expect half a million in London and Barcelona and 200,000 in New York. Though, as a metafilterist points out, the front page of the New York Times proclaims huge protests expected in Europe (username: readanonymously, password: anonymous) conveniently ignoring the massive protests planned in New York, along with, of course, the rest of the planet.

I'll be joining the rally in Bergen. Will you be marching?

posted: 14/2/03 22:43 |

blogs and community

CS-ED is an interesting attempt to establish an academic community based on weblogs. Matt Jadud is one of the iniators, and he wrote to me about it: basically, they're a group of Computer Science Education researchers, and they've set up a MoveableType-based system for coordinating individual weblogs. They'll set up weblogs for researchers and there's a system so that you can see the most recently updated in the network on the front page of the community site. Since they've not actually quite launched the site yet there are only two blogs there as yet, but they're recruiting researchers at the annual ACM Computer Science Education conference later this month. It's a great idea, and I hope they get the activity they're after.

I've updated my list of research blogs - after about half a year of ignoring it. It seems to be useful to a lot of people though, so I'm going to try and look after it more regularly. Though if it keeps growing like this it'll need a better system of organisation than it has now.

posted: 10/2/03 09:31 |

chance encounter

Unexpected: Trude Kristin, the teacher at the "Flow and balance" class I went to at the gym on Friday, is a student in that course on ICTs and pedagogy I talked at last Monday. Strange symmetry there, isn't there? More unexpected: she's doing her MA on blogs, with Barbara at Intermedia as her supervisor - I guess it'll be part of that blog project they want to do. Trude and another student are going to be analysing the effects of the blogs the students in that class have started using. She's just been introduced to blogging herself quite recently (can't find her blog yet though), so from what I understood she's not sure where it'll all take her yet.

The gym's like one of those gentlemen's clubs in old movies, it's where you get all the good gossip these days.

[Update: Tonight I discovered that Line, a web design and web aesthetics student, works at the gym too!]

posted: 9/2/03 15:17 |


I'm going to be talking at a seminar on literature for young people in Narvik in a few weeks time, and they've just put up info about it on the web. I've never been that far North before.

posted: 6/2/03 17:07 |

good intentions

I still haven't finished my paper for DAC. Not to mention my PhD. Gawd. I've done a multitude of other important tasks, but no writing. Oh dear.

It's five pm, dark, and I'm exhausted after teaching. And I'm going to the gym. Tomorrow I'll write all day. I promise!

posted: 6/2/03 16:54 |

talk about blogs and learning

I'm giving a talk about blogs and learning over at informasjonsvitenskap in a few minutes - the notes and links are over at the HUIN105 blog.

posted: 3/2/03 11:17 |


Norwegian net art, net literature and blogging is expanding beautifully. Mentalpropell have just started a blog (though there's no front page, it's an entry a day on individual pages so you never see the collection at once) which they describe as

Dagboksblad i tekst og bilder over hverdagen i Oslo, Norge i år 2003. Personlige nedtegnelser i et mer eller mindre hektisk allmennliv. Alt er fiksjon og alt er virkelig. (Diarypages in words and images of daily life in Oslo, Norway in the year 2003. Personal writings in a more or less hectic everyday life. Everything is fiction and everything is real.)

So far each day has a short reflection based on personal or imagined experience (that's bloggish), links that aren't links but that probaby use the acronym tag or something because they just show up a few extra words rather than a new site, and black and white thumbnail images along the side of the screen. It's done in Flash so perhaps they intend to vary this format. The email announcement did say this:

Hvordan påvirker tekst og bilder hverandre når de er på en skjerm samtidig? Hvordan påvirker den digitale hverdagen kunsten? Hvordan påvirker kunsten den digitale hverdagen? (How do text and images affect each other when they're on a screen at the same time? How does the digital everyday life affect art? How does art affect digital everyday life?)

posted: 3/2/03 10:22 |

oops! i moved!

Well, I'm glad you found me! The old URL for jill/txt is now a 404! I can't say I didn't have prior warning, because the old server I was on has long since changed owners and I knew they were upgrading to a new server, but I was still caught by surprise. I can still have an account on the new server, but it'll be a different URL to my old one anyway, and so I figured I might as well just move the blog to where I actually work these days: Humanistic Informatics. Unfortunately that means I now have a tilde in the URL (I hate tildes) and that you'll be lucky to find me given there's nothing at the old URL. Thanks to those of you've who've been updating links to jill/txt, I really appreciate it!

I suppose it'd be quite sensible to just buy a domain name. That way it wouldn't matter which server I was at, and I wouldn't need any tildes either.

posted: 3/2/03 10:01 |


It's so safe to demonize the internet, to be afraid of anything new. The media do it regularly, and it's so reassuring: anything bad can be assigned to the internet, and so is avoidable so long as we don't let our sons spend too much time online. Internet addiction, porn, pedophilia, loneliness: it's all the fault of technology. (Torill's post on this more than a year ago was a rare breath of sanity.)

Strangely enough, this also seemed to be the conclusion of Edit Kaldor's performance "Or press escape", which I saw at Teatergarasjen on Friday. I really liked the way she wove her story as we watched and read. (Beware, there are spoilers in the following! If you're likely to see the performance and don't want to know what happens, don't read this!) When the audience were let in Kaldor was already seated at her computer, her back to the onlookers, a lone spotlight illuminating her computer rather than her face. The contenst of her screen were projected on a large screen which became the main scene of action. As we were walking in she was typing a surreal first person narrative of spaceships and synchronous swimming. When she saved the text file in a folder labelled "Dreams" we could start fitting it into a system of meaning. This became the dominant strategy of the performance: fragments that didn't make sense on their own were woven into a whole by being given meaningful file names or being sorted into folders or repeated and referred to in other fragments.

After the dream description, Kaldor added items to a to do list, then continued with drafts of emails or notes to neighbours. Uncertain Norwegian grammar and an online English-Norwegian dictionary to position herself as an immigrant (I wonder whether she learns enough of the language in every country she performs in to do this in the native tongue? If she was simply working from a script specially translated for her then she did an impressive job with the deletions, rewritings, and constructions.) She appears to be upset about a man who's staying illegally in her attic, and has a security camera pointing out through the peephole of the front door to her flat. Every five minutes her writing is interrupted by a live feed from this camera - though it takes a while before we realise that that is what the image signifies.

In an elegant twist towards the end we realise that if the man exists, it is mostly as an image of the protagonist and her own isolation and semi-illegal status. An email reminds her that she must apply for a work permit within two days or leave the country. Her attempts to write a business plan for this application are painful to watch, and though she finds sample business plans online, she gives up, abandons her to-do list and just writes to the man in the attic - or to herself. "Wash your clothes. Wash yourself. Make yourself presentable."

But while she is writing this advice to herself, she gets an invitation to "The Lounge", an iVisit webcam chatsite. The first time she refuses the invitation, but the second time she accepts and joins the chat. It's just a chat. A real, regular, inane, boring chat; the kind you find if you walk into any chatroom - or pub, for that matter - where there's no topic and noone you know. "Hi Ede!" someone says. "How are you today?" We see her face, finally, through the same webcam image that the others in the chatroom see her: it's half in shadow and half too brightly lit by the shadow. The lights on the audience slowly become brighter, the music starts playing outside in the bar, and though there's no clapping it's clear that the performance is over. Or rather, it's never-ending. The woman Kaldor is portraying is trapped. She'll never leave her flat, she'll never take her own advice, she'll never get a job. She'll stay in the boring safety of her own words and webcam chats.

After my initial disappointment with the obviousness of Kaldor's chosen ending I started to wonder whether it was a tactical choice. Kaldor has used her chosen technology cleverly, and clearly appreciates the aesthetic possibilities in it, but she must also be aware that this is still strange and frightening technology to many. By pandering to mainstream media's fear of the technology, her performance is totally unthreatening. That might be what allows the mainstream to embrace it, as Bergens Tidende's reviewer did.

posted: 2/2/03 12:09 |

nigella blogs

"Reading that last post of yours I finally understood what you're doing", my mother said, "you're the Nigella Lawson of academia! She puts the roast in the oven and takes her kids into the garden for a jump on the trampoline while it's cooking; you mention your daughter and your father the babysitter oh-so-coincidentally as you demonstrate how your research is part of your whole life."

See what happens when your mother reads your blog? And of course posting Mum's comment is just pandering to the same false natural image...

posted: 1/2/03 21:17 |

I'm Jill Walker, and this is my weblog: my notes as I live, research and teach. I work at the University of Bergen in Norway, and this semester I'll be teaching Web design and web aesthetics. I'm still finishing my PhD thesis, which is about interactive narratives where the reader is positioned as a character in the fictional world.

I'm passionate about the web, writing, blogging and electronic literature as well as about my six-year-old daughter and my partner, who unfortunately lives rather a long way away from me. Oh, and I'm starting to learn tai ji this year, so maybe I'll become passionate about that too?


How I Was Played by Online Caroline. In First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game, edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Forthcoming from MIT Press in 2003.

Makten forrykkes på nettet. Kronikk i Bergens Tidende om blogging, nettdagbøker og makt. 22. september 2002.

Epostpoesi og epostfortellinger. Kunstnett, juni 2002.

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

Reisebrev fra NIC2001, publisert i Kunstnett Norges nettkunstmagasin. November 2001.

Email Narratives
an annotated bibliography.

Do you think you're part of this? Digital texts and the second person address
(or pdf) Cybertext Yearbook, Jyväskylä University.
You can order the whole anthology from

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

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.

How to learn MOO programming Annotated links for non-programmers, 1999.

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

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

Tripp trapp tresko i cyberspace
en hypertekstuell anmeldelse av Juliet Ann Martins elektroniske diktsyklus xxxoooxxx.,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 Jernalderdrm. 1998. (Dette er ikke en hypertekstuell versjon av romanen men en anmeldelse av den.)