This is an archive of may 2002 posts from Jill Walker's blog, jill/txt.


We can blog it!


theorising weblogs

politics of links and search engines

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may 2002

methods and ethics in internet research

Off to this conference tomorrow morning: Making Common Ground: Methodological and Ethical Challenges in Internet Research. It's in Trondheim, run by Janne Bromseth and Dag Elgesem, and I think it'll be really interesting. I'm speaking on a panel at the end, about ethics. I think I'm going to talk about the ethics of doing research on blogs, and I'm going to try and relate it to the subject/object thing. In five minutes.

posted: 31/5/02 19:27 |

living off blogs

Blogonomics: Making a Living from Blogging (via Blogdex) - here's a little extract:

The old economics of media he who controls distribution wins the most readers and serves advertisers best will be plowed under by a new economics she who relates best attracts the most valuable audience. (Since relate means connect and tell.)

More in this thoroughly linked article by Henry Copeland. Though mostly not exactly about that.

posted: 31/5/02 17:55 |

google blogs

Interesting list of google-blogs in Jenny's latest BlogOn column.

posted: 31/5/02 17:12 |


Thanks for all the voting, and the comments - I found the suggestion that deictic sounds like medicine against stomach cramps especially entertaining. I think I might manage to keep both terms and make them mean different things, or... um, not sure.

Still reading Genette. Here's what I want my thesis to be about, more or less. Handily enough, it's also very relevant to blogs and the conversation, links, context etc discussions of late. Genette's talking about different aspects of a narrator. The two first are telling the story and directing the discourse. When a blogger writes "as I posted yesterday" and links to what she posted yesterday, that's directing the discourse, whereas "i ate a cheese sandwich" is telling the story.

The third aspect is the narrating situation itself, whose two protagonists are the narratee - present, absent, or implied - and the narrator. The function that concerns the narrator's orientation toward the narratee - his care in establishing or maintaining with the narratee a contact, indeed, a dialogue (actual, as in La Maison Nucingen, or fictive, as in Tristam Shandy) - recalls both Jakobsen's "phatic" (verifying the contact) and his "conative" (acting on the receiver) functions. Rogers calls narrators of the Shandian type, always turned towards their public and often more interested in the relationship they maintain with that public than in their narrative itself, "raconteurs". (256)

Nice to know there are complicated words for these things, isn't it? So anyway, my thesis will be about that relationship, between narrator and narratee, where the narratee is or seems to be the reader, and in electronic texts. Not blogs. Though I could probably save myself a lot of trouble by including blogs. Oh, yes. I'd have another chapter, at least, practically pre-written, just by bunging all these posts together and quoting generously. Ooh. A subsection, of course, would have to be on comments and polls.

posted: 31/5/02 11:57 |


I'd settled on the pair deictic and diegetic (from Mieke Bal) to refer to texts where the reader is a character in the story or not, but realise that all I want to say with those words can be said more clearly and simply by using Genette's terms homodiegetic and heterodiegetic: inside or outside of the diegesis (the fictional world). Genette uses them about the narrator; I want to use them about the reader. Using Genette's terms also lets me out of that nasty confusion where diegetic seems to mean a particular sort of diegesis, or alternatively, deictic claims that the diegesis isn't really diegetic. Or something like that.

But I love the word deictic! Even if I don't know how to pronouce it. And homo- and heterodiegetic are such cumbersome terms. They're so clearly academic jargon that they'll exclude most people. I guess deictic isn't really that common a word either, is it? But it's short. And reminds me of deus. Which is half the name of a really cool computer game, after all.

So, dear readers, as a token gesture of academic wall-tearing-down, I'd like to invite you to participate in the inaugural Poll. Yup, it's there in the right column of the front page of this here blog. Yes, you can even add comments. No, I'm too stingy to pay so you'll have to put up with ads.

[Oh, that's scary. Half a minute after I'd put it up and voted for "homodiegetic is more accurate" someone else had already voted for "deictic is cooler". The ramifications for academia and pure research are endless!]

posted: 30/5/02 18:01 |

walled academic gardens (no comments)

Well, I'm taking this utterly to heart: in a comment to Leuschke's post, Des writes It is, uh, intriguing that the debate on linkage as conversation is mostly taking place within the Walled Garden of Academia ("look Ma, no comment system!")

Of course I assume he's criticising me, and go all defensive. Only after reading Tinka, who quotes Des and links to his site do I realise that Des has a perfectly decent soapbox (read: blog) of his own to speak from and he doesn't allow comments either. He's also quite adept at throwing around names like Foucault and Derrida, so knows how to play the academic power game. Knows how to perform an elegant rhetorical manouever too, as that attack shows.

I really don't want comments. I think the reasons are partly quite ignoble: I've found this great place to talk away where no one interrupts me and I really don't want any interruptions, thank you. This is my garden and you're very welcome to visit, but please don't disturb me while I'm reading, and for goodness sake don't expect me to make you a cup of tea. And don't leave footprints in my flowerbeds!

A more noble reason, which I actually just made up but which I can sort of believe in, is that allowing readers to comment within my text just sets up a greater divide between the authority of the blog host and the insignificance of the reading plebs. Comments clearly have a much lower status in the economy of blog posts. They're never visible from the front page, they usually pop up in an extra window that's almost unlinkable and certainly isn't indexed by search engines, and their so clearly outside, banished - oh, I don't much like comments. It's like the department meetings where I don't have a vote so my suggestions have to go via someone else who does have a vote. I would much rather speak face to face with someone, blog to blog, woman to woman (or woman to man) than deal with a conversation that sneaks around in the corners.

If you want to comment, blog it and I'll most likely find it through my referrers and link back. Or email me (

posted: 30/5/02 16:25 |

links continued

Gotta go to a meeting, but the link debate continues with comments from Leuschke (who says I'm table-pounding! cool! fits right into the barbaric rhetoric I'm working on!) and Mark. More later.

posted: 30/5/02 10:36 |

time and space

By a disymmetry whose underlying reasons escape us but which is inscribed in the very structures of language (or at the very least of the main "languages of civilisation" of Western culture), I can very well tell a story without specifying the place where it happens, and whether this place is more or less distant from the place where I am telling it; nevertheless, it is almost impossible for me not to locate the story in time with respect to my narrating act, since I must necessarily tell the story in a present, past, or future tense. (Genette, Narrative Discourse, 215)

So transfer this to the web, which is often called spatial - perhaps we speak always in the present tense on the web? Or more in the present tense than we did in print and oral story-telling - web diaries and blogs often tell stories in the past tense ("Yesterday, I...") but the now of the act of narrating is so very present when we write each day and know we will be read each day. Perhaps that is why bloggers write so much about blogging, whereas most novelists don't write much about writing.

When you use the second person you're more likely to use the present tense. Most (all?) games and stories like Online Caroline, which are directed to you, are in the present tense. If they refer back to the past it's in embedded stories: the main story is now. So the kind of temporality that we're used to in narratives is fading. Perhaps that's why we keep hunting for spatiality; the temporality of the web is unfamiliar.

posted: 30/5/02 09:51 |

barbaric links

Alex Golub, Jeff Ward and Tom Matrullo have been having a bit of a blogyarn about links and blogs (Jeff part 1 and 2 and 3, Tom, Alex), in part based on David Weinberger's book and Alex's review of it. They're discussing the different qualities of link-driven and content-driven blogs, and since they all have blogs with lengthy reflective posts and few links it's unsurprising to find that Jeff and Alex are sceptical to link-driven blogs (Tom doesn't comment this). I think they'd call this blog link-driven; at any rate, Alex calls Leuschke (a blog I'd be happy to be likened to) link-driven. Jeff likens link-driven blogs to the footnotes of a scholarly essay, devoid of pulp and content, rarely enjoyable. Wood's Lot is one of the few link-driven blogs he likes, and that's because there is "a coherence to his method", which Jeff relates to Coleridge's "On Method" (27 May). Alex argues that linking reveals identity, while Jeff disagrees, using Bourdieu's notion of habitus to argue that linking only displays who a person wants to be. I've been rereading Hillis Miller, and I suspect that "the assumption that signs represent something other than themselves is patriarchal, logocentric, phallogocentric" (Ariadne's Thread, 88). I think Jeff would agree with J. Hillis Miller's criticism of links, though: they always point away from the matter at hand rather than going deeper into it. (He writes this in Illustrations, I think, about a quarter or a third of the way through, sorry, I don't have the book here so no page number.)

In my opinion they've all got it backwards. Links only seem to point away if you insist on seeing them from a print-centric point of view where value is given to the individual, to authority, to the singular romantic genius. Jeff finds it refreshing "that most of the online writers I read do not merely shout and point." His cave-man imagery reveals the crux of the matter: Links are barbaric. They are dangerous. They have an excess that cannot be controlled by the conventions of scholarship, breeding and selfhood. Links turn scholarly essays and conversations inside out, upside down, making connections ("footnotes") the centre rather than an afterthought.

Tom, perhaps, would agree with this. He's more aligned with David Weinberger, whom he paraphrases to say that links are "a mode of caring, which is also a mode of being, which is also a mode of promising, which can only be accomplished when an other is both addressed and acted upon." (Two or three views of links) Are even these milder words an expression of fear? Adrian Miles writes of this fear of links, and I'll finish with a line from that: "The anxiety I am referring to is evident in the manner in which much writing on linking wishes to domesticate the link as some category or species of rhetorical figure, always at the service of some other role." Bit of a conversation-stopper, that, isn't it? How do you argue against being told you're scared and anything you liken a link to is further proof of your anxiety? What a power-game. And yet, I think it's true.

posted: 29/5/02 12:15 |

the future doctor...

What a good title for a researcher's blog: The Future Dr. Karlsbjerg. He's a Danish PhD student and his cunning strategies include displaying his to do list on his blog.

posted: 28/5/02 18:19 |

Noah Wardrip-Fruin's started blogging too, which is wonderful, because I love reading his writing. He's both a theorist and a creative writer - his Impermanence Agent is a must-read, or rather a must-experience - it inhabits your browser for a week, using bits of your surfings to adjust and infiltrate its own story which is told a bit at a time, as you read other things. It's a beautiful concept. Noah's blog is called, and he promises to post writing in progress as well as criticism and well, bloggish posts.

posted: 28/5/02 17:54 |

culture jamming and anti-memes

Ooh, look at all these links on culture jamming! And had you heard of the anti-meme movement? (You've probably heard of it only maybe not with the word meme in there: "The idea is to take an existing meme, alter it, and thus show its unreasonable or arbitrary nature." Slightly messy article but with some interesting links.)

posted: 28/5/02 17:32 |


It's entirely obvious that I can't write until I've done the dishes, vacuumed (the smell of dust was intensely distracting, amazing, eh?), made a healthy meal with seven a day (five veg and two fruit, they only recommend five a day in norway, but I'll go with the Aussies), ordered books from amazon, redesigned my blog and rung an architect to discuss possible (castle in the sky) renovations to my flat. Yes, I really have done all these things. The only thing left is doing my accounts and paying my bills but I guess I'd rather write than do that. Ah, there, use that, Jill!

posted: 28/5/02 16:19 |

how to survive a phd

Oh yes. Excellent advice: How To Survive A PhD (notes written on a train). Thank goodness, I'm already doing most of these things. Well, perhaps I've not really massaged the ego of my supervisor yet. Put that on my to do list ;) (via vlog)

posted: 28/5/02 10:51 |


Goodness. I was nominated for the best new games editor at the ODP. I got all of 4.7% of the votes which appears to mean a grand total of 2 individual votes. Seeing the only games category I edit is game studies which is rather less popular than, say, video games, I'm surprised I was nominated at all. Thank you though! It also gives me the right to display this banner, so I will.

Nominated for Best New Games Editor Spring 2002

posted: 28/5/02 10:01 |

narrative and rereading

I'm rereading. Rereading is something I've forgotten to do, thinking that having read Genette and Cybertext and so on five years ago I'd done that, no need to repeat it. Of course rereading them I see I've forgotten all the useful details that will be crucial to making a good argument in my thesis.

Genette writes what I want to write to counter all the anti-narrativists out there:

Is it necessary to specify that by treating this work as a narrative here we do not by any means intend to limit it to that aspect? An aspect too often neglected by critics. (Genette, Narrative Discourse, 30)

Plan: Reread for an hour, then write. Lunch with Thomas at noon and he's promised to ask me how my writing's gone this morning, so I have to write so I can answer "great!"

posted: 28/5/02 09:39 |

writing nothing

Yesterday I wrote nothing except a letter of complaint to a travel agent. It was an exceptionally unfulfilling day. To add insult to injury my office neighbour told me I looked very tired (rule one: you're unlikely to make friends by telling people they look haggard) and I decided I could work without my forgotten computer glasses which left me with a raging headache all afternoon and evening.

The day was probably a disaster because I had planned that it would be The First Day of Extraordinarily Intense Thesis Writing, leading into an exemplary last half year which would beautifully complete my PhD thesis. To be honest, the thought of half a year's intensive writing scares me witless. At moments like this I'd much rather have a raging headache and spend the day being cross with neighbours and travel agents than write, though I know that once I just DO write I love it.

I have such a fear of finishing things. I think it's because once their finished, well, they're done. They can no longer be "promising". They're out there and can be judged.

That's why blogging works for me. It's all beginnings. I work well with short forms. I should use that rather than fighting it - after all, there is a place for poets and short story writers as well as for 1000-page novelists. Oh, blogging as academic poetry! (Halt! No frivolous digressions now! WORK!)

posted: 28/5/02 09:30 |

second person

Having received a charming email from Dennis, who's just added a link to my essay "Do you think you're part of this?" to his very informative site about second person narratives (thank you), I had a look at said informative site and found an essay by Ruth Nestvold, about the second person in electronic fiction, written in 1997, which it is a shocking shame I didn't find and refer to in my essay. I've found it now anyway.

posted: 26/5/02 21:23 |

for goodness sakes

A friend from a seminar years ago has joined one of those dodgy pyramid schemes and keeps pestering me, and presumably everyone else he knows, with emails trying to convince me to join. The latest email included a link to a newspaper article about someone making 100000 kroner a week off the scheme. The last question in the interview is "Are you sure this is legal?", a very reasonable question since pyramid games are illegal in Norway. The answer is yes, because it's based in Australia and Norwegian participants aren't downloading anything to their harddrives! Doing some web searches I discover that Australia has legalised online gambling sites, but require that they only serve overseas customers, not Australian residents (can't find anything more recent than March 2001 about this though). What shameful hypocrisy.

Victoria, the state of which Melbourne is the capital, made 16% (or was it 19%?) of its revenue from taxes on gambling, according to an article I read a few weeks back in The Age. It's obviously a brilliant export industry. Too bad about the ethics.

UPDATE: Pyramid schemes aren't legal in Australia. (thanks for the links, Adrian) Gambling is, though I don't know the details of what sorts of gambling. So my poor duped friend is breaking the law, if his scam is a pyramid scheme, and it certainly sounds like one, though they claim not to be ( I also see that the Norwegian Kapital is sceptical, and that it's very unclear whether the scheme is a pyramid thing, gambling or the share market, it seems like a weird mix of them all.

posted: 26/5/02 12:09 |

princesses and commoners

Hearing outsiders speak of that which you know can be quite amusing. BBC World appears to think that Norwegians are horrified at the princess marrying "a commoner" - what a peculiarly British idea. Who else would she marry? We don't have dukes and ladies and baronesses in Norway. There's the royal family (king queen prince and princess, nice and compact) and everyone else. And we're proud that the royal family is as ordinary as everyone else. That's the whole point of royalty in a country where it's important noone be better than anyone else. Duh.

BBC World also thinks that Ari (the newlywed bridegroom) worries Norwegians because of his wild partying (the televised drug partying did worry some) and his wild intellectual pursuits! He's published a book of short stories you see, with a swearword in the title. The very idea of a whole nation thinking you an ineligible young man to marry a princess because of wild intellectualism is hilarious!

Btw, do brides cry more than grooms because of some genetic crying gene attached to the X chromosone or just because we expect it of them?

posted: 24/5/02 21:19 |

hot books

Weblog Bookwatch checks's list of recently updated weblogs for links to amazon's book pages, and lets you know which books bloggers are talking about. Nice idea, and another example of how we need better tagged information. More information than we think is tagged as a kind of side-effect of linking, as Google (links=peer endorsement), Blogdex (links=social ties) and now the Bookwatch (links to amazon=book) demonstrate.

posted: 24/5/02 16:02 |

the borg and the force

Read Steven Johnson in Salon: Use the Blog, Luke! (I got the link from Peter) Skim past the recaps of old debates on blogging and journalism and how blogging skews Google and read about his idea for a connecton engine. Doesn't it sound wonderful? As you write or read (email, websites, paper, PhD thesis, whatever) your computer checks your favourite blogs and other sites for related information and lets you know about it, according to the level of intrusiveness you've requested. Writing this, a discreet sidebar might tell me that Mark thinks X about Johnson, Torill wrote a piece about his previous book last year, and six of my two dozen favourite writers all recommend this other site that deals with emergent, contextual interfaces, and how about that note I wrote three years ago after Gene Golovchinsky showed me the e-book they were developing at Xerox FX?

Microcontent's April 1 story on blogs as borg journalism relates to this, but differently. Naturally turning to StarTrek, John Hiler decides that being part of a collective hive mind of blogs can be good:

Seven: "Your plan is inefficient."

Janeway: "Why?"

Seven: "There are only two of you. If I were to assimilate you into a small Borg collective, you could then assimilate others. The work would proceed more rapidly."

Janeway: "Sorry, but I like my plan better. We'll be back."

Hiler quotes Dan Gilmore's four assumptions:

1. My readers know more than I do;

2. That is not a threat, but rather an opportunity;

3. We can use this together to create something between a seminar and a conversation, educating all of us;

4. Interactivity and communications technology -- in the form of e-mail, weblogs, discussion boards, websites and more -- make it happen.

To which Hiler concludes that "clearly, Dan Gillmor has found value in assimilating with the Blog collective." Hiler does a lot more with this (read the article) but I particularly note his argument about the types of work bloggers do well as a group: suspicious blogging and speculative blogging are the fortes of the blog borg. Look at the metafilter and associated discussions of Joel's blog for an idea.

I absolutely agree with Hiler. As a fully assimilated member of the blog borg collective it's unsurprising that I enthused about this collective intelligence in lectures in digital culture last year. I was already part of the hive mind. No doubt many other blog borg assimilees were also giving that very same lecture to other students, thinking it was their original work just as I did. The students hopefully realised that resistence was futile.

Giving up the need to know best, have the most intimidating jargon and to be the ultimate authority is going to be academia's greatest struggle. Resistence is futile. Academia will be assimilated.

(Oops. That would leave me without a career. And blogging ain't paying that well yet. I'm starting to understand why young rebels suddenly support the status quo when they get a mortgage...)

posted: 24/5/02 14:58 |

online gaming and social roles

Peter Merholz has an interesting post talking about a talk J. C. Herz gave at Emerging Technologies on the ways people build up identities and the roles they take in online games (which suggests the same categories of players as Richard Bartle does in Players Who Suit MUDs which I oddly also just happened to look at today). He relates this to his own experience in online communities and has some good further reading links, too.

posted: 24/5/02 13:27 |


The Bergen Festival is on. When the rain stopped this evening I took my daughter to see Le Cirque Invisible. Street performers outside were colourful birds on stilts. Balloons were handed out to children. Inside, a whirl of acrobatics, costumes, silliness, magical tricks, animals, transforming clothes and bicycles and paraphernalia. Magical.

posted: 23/5/02 22:01 |

how to write a conclusion

One to tuck away here, from Anders, How PhD Thesis Conclusions Are Structured:

1. Repeat the aim of the thesis.

2. Summarise the chapters, pointing at the flow of argument. In the introduction, you were secretive, just hinting at what would come. Now is the time for a hard sell.

3. Offer a New Perspective to the whole.

4. Point to your contribution to the discipline.

5. Blush modestly, and say that the whole thing is crap.

I hate writing conclusions. I like openness. Right now I'm trying hard to explain my whole thesis in the first three pages so that the rest can be a meaningful discussion of details, what-ifs, problems, related work and so on. My idea is that I want my readers to know what I'm on about first, so I can actually deal with the details. This may well turn out to be a horribly flawed plan.

Writers may also wish to study How To Write An Abstract So Your Conference Paper Is Accepted.

posted: 23/5/02 21:57 |

the royal sims of norway

Princess Märtha-Louise and Ari Behn, maverick novelist, are getting married tomorrow in Trondheim. To commemorate this, artists at Trondheim Elektroniske Kunstsenter have made a set of skins for the Sims so you can download the Norwegian royal family, build a house for them and basically run their lives. The set includes hangers-on as well as the royal family itself. You'll probably want some cheat codes too, to build suitably affluent residences. Oh, and they'd like your photo albums with the stories you play.

posted: 23/5/02 12:55 |


Today was Tuesday, foot day. He had divided the week up among different organs and members: Monday, hands; Wednesday, ears; Thursday, nose; Friday, hair; Saturday, eyes; and Sunday, skin... Concentrating each night on just one area of his body allowed him to carry out the task of cleaning it and preserving it with greater thoroughness and attention to detail; and by so doing, to know and to love it more. With each individual organ and area the master of his labors for one day, perfect impartiality with regard to the care of the whole was assured; there were no favoritisms, no postponements, no odious hierarchies with respect to the overall treatment and detailed consideration of part and whole. He thought: my body is that impossibility; an egalitarian society. (Rem Koolhaus, S, M, L, XL, p 65-6)

The alphabetised entries along the left margins of some of the pages of the Koolhaus' monumental architecture book are bloggish in their brevity, their individual wholeness and the way in which some fit with their neighbours and others don't, not really, but it doesn't matter. One entry may seem irrelevant to the theme of the book or an idea of the whole, but another entry gives it another meaning. Looking for a passage someone said they thought was in the book is a pleasure. I don't mind if I never find it, the passage I was thinking I might use in my thesis, and I probably won't find it or use it, but these pictures and ideas and stories written in sentence-long chapters ("Obstacles: Villa Dall'Ava, St. Cloud, Paris, 1991", p 130-194, for instance, is beautifully written as well as gorgeously designed), facsimilies, charts, photos are enough for one evening.

Oh, and after seeing the price at amazon: I love my library. State library of Victoria didn't have this one, and RMIT only let people read it for two hours at a time. Blessed University of Bergen sent it home with me (it's heavy) and let me keep it for four weeks. And they've ordered all those other impossible-to-get books from various other libraries.

posted: 22/5/02 21:02 |

more handshaking

Apparently I should be making an effort to shake hands as a goodbye as well as in greeting. At least if networking in America. (via metafilter)

posted: 21/5/02 15:07 |


I was going to Hypertext 2002. I've decided not to. I desperately need quiet to finish this dissertation. Half a year to go and a lot of writing rewriting thinking editing organising. I feel bad about pulling out this late, after having a paper accepted, but I have to give priority to the dissertation at this point.

posted: 20/5/02 14:44 |

representation and information

Interesting thoughts about representation, information and blogs from Alex Golub, a blogging anthropologist:

When, in other words, you loose interpretive control of your biography, you feel like you got burnt, and when it comes to information getting loose, blogging is like playing with fire.

Blogging exposes you to the world - as such it offers at a hyperlevel the problematics of writing that constantly occur when one writes ethnography. Like most important problems, the way out of this one is the way through - trying to work through how you represent, what you want to represent, who you think you are, who you want to be, and who you appear to be. The quicker you get a handle on the work of representing, the better. (Golublog 29/4/02, via Adrian)

From another post, another day:

We as humans are meat, but we are also aggregations of information (a paradox that lies at the heart of Valeri's theory of taboo). The whole text/meat distinction is basically an optic illusion - you know, like the Wittgenstein one that is either a duck or a rabbit but simultaneously kinda both. Depending on how you look at it, humans are either a bunch of people who move around exchanging texts with one another, or they are the environment and nexus points through which a bunch of information moves. Which one gets to be in focus and which one becomes the background is up to you.

posted: 20/5/02 13:56 |


At last The Age has started putting Jenny's Blogon columns online. Every Thursday she reviews three or four blogs with a theme in common. This week was school blogs. Last was illness blogs.

posted: 19/5/02 14:18 |

social technology

Torill's been doing research on the social technology at an Eyebeam soire in New York. I wish she had been allowed to bring a meme tag home...

posted: 19/5/02 13:50 |

the businessMAN's airline?

Scandinavian Airlines kindly sent me a letter about the changes in their services. Though I'm still not sure what the changes are, I now know they'll be the biggest since the 1980s, when SAS transformed itself into "the Businessman's Airline" (apparently a very successful strategy). But the businessman's airline? That's what I've been flying with? That explains a lot.

posted: 19/5/02 13:27 |

chat about hypertext literature

I'm a guest at a chat this evening about hypertext and electronic literature. Robert Kendall and Deena Larsen are among the other participants, and anyone who's curious or interested is welcome to join in. It's at 4 pm Eastern US time, 3 pm Central, 9 pm London, 10 pm Western Europe and 6 am Eastern Australia. To join in, go to LinguaMOO. Log in as guest. Type @go trAcELO at the bottom of your screen. We will help you from there.

posted: 19/5/02 11:32 |

expectations and requirements

Met Geir at a party last night; he's doing a doctorate in applied mathematics or something. One of those oil-related fields. Over at his faculty you're expected to have four peer-reviewed international publications before submitting your doctoral thesis. I wonder why our faculty doesn't have any particular rules like that? Many of us do publish, though a common line is that one should concentrate on one's thesis and publish later. Interesting how informal and formal expectations differ just across one university. Oh, Geir's partner Melanie is from Adelaide, so we had a good natter. Apparently I have a Melbourne accent now. She has an outside-of-Bergen accent to her Norwegian; very impressive after just three years.

posted: 19/5/02 11:22 |

multi-player games on aeroplanes

Malaysian Airlines (cheap, good food (!), fairly friendly, reasonable seats for economy class and seat-back entertainment and 11 video channels to choose between: recommended) have updated the inflight entertainment system. The interface is a little better, though still rather cryptical, but my moment of joy came when I flipped up the games menu, thinking I might play some Nintendo, and found a new category: Multi-Player Games! YES! Imagine multiplayer Quake in a jumbo jet, or a MUD, oh, it would be brilliant. Unfortunately the games offered were more mundane: there was the Inflight Trivia Quiz, chess and Othello or Reversi. Even more unfortunately, noone else was playing any of the games. I triviaed away, and after every question the score chart showed up: Jill is number one, with 950 points and she's sitting in seat 16A. Noone else on the list. I'm a little concerned about the automatic display of my seat number. You can imagine a rather nice in-game in-flight messaging system with filters deciding who should see your seat number. Say a message came in, you could ask which seat number it was from, check out whether it was from a hunk or not, and choose to answer or not accordingly.

I ended up playing Solitaire instead, after seeing that the only available opponent for chess or othello was the computer (no seat number). And reading half a book and watching three movies. K-PAX with Kevin Spacey, which I quite enjoyed for its unusual but sucessful mixture of alien spacetravel, asylum drama and thriller/mystery; Kate and Leopold (Meg Ryan falls in love with a time-traveller from the Victorian age because of his gentlemanliness and goes back with him, a sort of anti-American dream story really; and one where John Travolta is the divorced dad who rescues his son from an evil stepfather, a reverse Panic Room where the mum is useless and the happy ending is the death or departure of both the dad and the mum's partners. Armed with my semicircular inflatable neck cushion and eyeshield (I'm passed not wearing them because they look silly) I slept for hours and hours and all in all had a very pleasant flight. The first meal was actually really good! Amazing.

May I add that I would definitely not recommend flying KLM. I have to because they have a monopoly on the Amsterdam-Bergen run, but they have grumpy flight attendents who don't say please or thank you or smile (well, one did) and they don't have "real milk" (i.e. that little container with white runny stuff) for your tea or coffee, only horrible powder. That's in economy. Qantas has friendly staff but no seat-back video and games, so I don't often fly with them.

posted: 16/5/02 10:00 |


This is my last day in Melbourne. I'm flying with Malaysian to KL, then to Amsterdam, then home to Bergen. I don't want to leave. I do want to pick my daughter up from kindy tomorrow and be with her.

posted: 15/5/02 10:01 |

surfmind: interesting veteran

A search led me to a November 1999 archive of Surfmind, a veteran blog by Andy Edmonds that's still very much alive and kicking. Lots of interesting posts on blogs, human-computer interaction, hypertext, wikis and blogging, search engines, etc etc etc. Just imagine all the other fascinating blogs out there I haven't found yet! Wow!

posted: 14/5/02 16:15 |

self-organising academic journal

Brandon Barr's written an interesting essay arguing that academic journals should be modelled along the lines of self-organising community sites like and the like - he's also posted a bit about the issue at texturl. Adrian's suggested this on occasion, and I think it's an excellent idea - a combination of openness, accessibility and a wonderfully extended form of peer-review. I'd love to see a genuine academic self-organised site.

posted: 14/5/02 16:05 |

self-portrait with webcam

Narkes is a dreamy self-portrait, narcissistically webcammed and digitally and temporally manipulated in Shockwave by Brazilian artist Helga Stein. I've obviously been writing too many descriptions at the ODP if I'm blogging like that.)

posted: 14/5/02 16:01 |

quickly bookmarking sites

David Weinberger has some nice comments about Torill and my blog article. Peter Merholz has a long post about narrative with some interesting links I want to follow. And Susana Tosca and Paola Carbone have written a trip report from that conference in Paris that I would have liked to go to.

posted: 10/5/02 11:07 |

personal criticism and blogs

Leafing through old posts I can across one I wrote last summer, about the fear of exhibitionism and blogging and personal criticism. That's a damn fine post. I think that I'll turn it into an essay, combined with my bits of the blogging esay Torill and I wrote, and that can be my vitenskapsteoretisk innlegg or methology essay. It's the only compulsory part of the Norwegian PhD "school", apart from supervision and attendence of at least two relevant conferences or seminars. was supposed to finish it in the second semester of working on my PhD; I'm now approaching the end of my fifth and penultimate semester and haven't done it. Oh dear. Torill and I were hoping that our blogging essay would be accepted as the vitenskapsteoretisk innlegg, since it's a) twice the length of the requirements and b) accepted in a peer-reviewed publication on methodology, but no, they won't consider collaborative work, it has to be done individually. So we have to split the essay up and edit it and oh, why didn't I just write something two years ago?

posted: 9/5/02 17:35 |

rereading cybertext

I'm rereading Cybertext again and as usual finding new bits I hadn't paid attention to before that are relevant to what I'm doing now - a bit on blogs (well it isn't of course since blogs didn't exist then, but it's very relevant to blogs), a bit about linking, and bits about reader perpective and position.

posted: 9/5/02 09:11 |


I'm still editing at ODP, the volunteer-edited catalogue that feeds Google and other search engines, and I'm now an editor in Arts/Digital, which currently has 459 unreviewed submitted URLs that need to be sorted, sent elsewhere or deleted. Daunting, but I'm coming across some fascinating sites - expect some interesting blog posts.

Today's main finds are Crossings, a peer-reviewed journal of art and technology based at the University of Dublin. I'm going to read Michael Heim on The Feng Shui of Virtual Reality and several of their other essays. And someone who calls him or herself Babel has a collection of her or his work (Tower of Babel) which is rather nice: there's hyperpoetry and some interesting interactivish sort of video and image projects happening there.

posted: 8/5/02 15:29 |

everquest survey

Nicholas Yee recently published a very extensive survey of EverQuest players: The Norrathian Scrools: A Study of EverQuest. There's a lot of statistical, quantitative data, especially player demographics, questions about gender and gender bending, playing with a romantic partner or your parent or child, addiction, enjoyment, time spent and so on, including questions such as "Would you feel guilty if you role-played being in love with someone else?" where answers are sorted according to gender and related to personality type. Nicholas Yee has also written other essays about EverQuest and MMORPGs. (Did I get that acronym right? I think I mean Massive Multi-User Online Role-Playing Games) It's interesting for a brief look and no doubt brilliant if you want to do research in the area. If you're into EverQuest you might also want to have a look at Edward Castronova's Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier, which investigates the economy of EverQuest, arguing that it's as real as the economy of any nation state.

posted: 8/5/02 11:29 |


I'm still editing at ODP, the volunteer-edited catalogue that feeds Google and other search engines, and I'm now an editor in Arts/Digital, which currently has 459 unreviewed submitted URLs that need to be sorted, sent elsewhere or deleted. Daunting, but I'm coming across some fascinating sites - expect some interesting blog posts.

Today's main finds are Crossings, a peer-reviewed journal of art and technology based at the University of Dublin. I'm going to read Michael Heim on The Feng Shui of Virtual Reality and several of their other essays. And someone who calls him or herself Babel has a collection of her or his work (Tower of Babel) which is rather nice: there's hyperpoetry and some interesting interactivish sort of video and image projects happening there.

posted: 8/5/02 11:29 |

'nother new blog

Johndan Johnson-Eilola wrote a wonderful, complicated book on hypertext a few years ago, and now and then I see articles by him (one sticks in my mind for explaining to me the difference between Monopoly and most computer games: Monopoly is modernist, it tells you all the rules and you need to know them to play. Most computer games plunge you into the middle of things and you infer the rules by playing - they're postmodern). Anyway, he's got a weblog. It might be a group weblog (there's a "join now" link) but I think he's the only one posting. The blog's simply called Media.

posted: 7/5/02 15:09 |

collection of criticism notes

Mark now gathers all his notes on criticism in one place. Which is very useful for readers and reminds me that I still haven't made themed archives. Still, I did fix my reading notes index page up a bit, though it's still got an ugly thing happening up the top there. I can see why graphic designers study for years to learn how to present all the necessary information so it looks good and can be found easily. It's hard! Happily, fixing that up reminded me that I've been reading lots. Good on me :)

posted: 7/5/02 13:48 |

investigating norway

I've just answered a survey Ben Ben sent me. Ben Ben is conducting a strange investigation into the relationship between Norway and Bora Bora. Or maybe it's just into Norway. I can't track down the beginning of it based on his blog, but I'm entertaining an enjoyable notion that he's having visions that might be related to Norway and that he is therefore investigating a supernatural connection between Bora Bora (where I assume he live, though another post suggests New York) and Norway. I'm so happy with this interpretation that I don't want to read more of his archives in case they contradict my farfetched but amusing theory. I will instead continue reading his blog as he publishes new posts, attempting to read each new post into my idea of his Life and Project. I propose this as a more successful strategy for read blogs than [update: Elin got his email too, and didn't find it as entertaining as I did]

Ben Ben also has an interesting little bit about how he'd like to blog which is quite a decent defintion of the stylistics of the blog genre, really.

posted: 6/5/02 17:41 |

moralistic mobile phones

In mobile phone dictionary news (also discussed last October) The English dictionary* on my Nokia phone insists I stick to standard spelling conventions, rejecting "exuberence" until I spell it correctly as "exuberance". The Norwegian one, on the other hand, is clearly compiled by lobbyists for a simpler spelling, and is equally content with "kansje" (which is definitely not correct) as with "kanskje".

* (If you're not used to SMSing: there's a dictionary on phones, and each number on the keypad has 3 or 4 letters on it. If I punch in 43556 while in writing mode, the dictionary works out that 4 is g,h or i; 3 is d, e or f and so on, and from that, suggests that I meant "hello". I can click a key to switch between alternate possibilities if hello was not what I meant, or I can spell the word myself by clicking 4 twice to mean h or three times to mean i.)

posted: 6/5/02 09:50 |

teoma and other search engines

Is Teoma, a new search engine getting some press these days, step beyond PageRank? I could go on forever thinking about the politcs of links and the value of a link economy.

To determine the authority or quality of a site's content, Teoma uses Subject-Specific Popularity. Subject-Specific Popularity ranks a site based on the number of same-subject pages that reference it, not just general popularity, to determine a site's level of authority. (About Teoma)

Brett Tabke of Webmasterworld has posted a short piece on Teoma, with a very interesting looking "advanced reading list" appended to it. So far, though the idea is interesting, I'm not impressed with the results. A Google search for "blog" turns up Blogger as first hit, BlogSpot as number three, and the eatonweb portal as number nine, in between fairly random blogs. A Teoma search for blog suggests I might like to research the geneology of the Blog family, has a link to Blogstickers (not that interesting, surely), then to MoveableType, which is a tool for blogging and a relevant hit, then to a pile of random blogs, including a couple which are dead. Their suggested authorities (sites that have link collections to a lot of other sites in their cluster) are all just blogs.

On the other hand, they've just started, they only have 200 million sites indexed (Google has 1.5 billion) and the basic idea is really interesting.

Anders searched a number of search engines for "permalink" a week or two ago (18 April), with interesting results. A more thorough research project than my currency of the web experiment ;). Teoma gives the same result as AskJeeves, a kind of relevant one but not really the ideal one. AskJeeves has bought Teoma so presumably they use the same engine.

posted: 4/5/02 17:58 |

pronounciation guide

"Heard that one about the literature professor who was asked to give a lecture on Rambo and wrote it on Rimbaud?" You see, they're pronounced identically in Australian. Foucault is "FOOk-oh", Blanchot is "blAHNch-oh", and Aarseth is "ARR-seth" (a bit like a pirate: ARR!). This is fine once you get it, and obviously no worse than the fact that everyone who's studied comparative literature in Bergen pronounces Don Quixote "don key-SHOT" because one of the professors studied in Paris 30 years ago and that, apparently, is the French pronounciation. It does make for an added level of confusion for an outsider though.

In related news, I've nearly cracked the handshaking codes. Or rather, I've turned handshaking into a power game where I assert my otherness. I've not reached a conclusive conclusion on the question of whether or not Australians shake hands more gently than Norwegians yet. For several days I was convinced of this but the variables make my methodology problematic. For instance, many of the subjects may be in a state of shock due to my insistence that they shake hands at all, and the confidence of their handshakes may suffer as a result. Or perhaps men make their hands limp when shaking a woman's hand as some kind of courteous token of respect. And to completely mess up my statistics, every hand I've shaken after deciding Australians were gentle shakers has been decisive and firm.

You really need a research team for this kind of work, with a fair distribution of gender, age and sexual preference. It's a major project.

posted: 4/5/02 14:29 |

reviews of cyberculture books

New reviews of Brenda Laurel's Utopian Entrepreneur, Takahiko Iimura's Observer/Observed and Other Works of Video Semiology and Chrisanthi Avgerou and Geoff Walsham's Information Technology in

Context: Studies from the Perspective of Developing Countries at the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies. They have a great collection of reviews there.

posted: 3/5/02 15:41 |

impressive linklist

Now I knew that have an extremely impressive list of links to researchers in the field of digital arts and culture, but look at this list of conferences you might like! Wow.

posted: 2/5/02 14:51 |

lucid claptrap

Ooh, a compliment for us, Torill! "The PDF on weblogs is surprisingly lucid, as academic claptrap goes." From Peterme's comments, you see, Peter linked our blog article yesterday, which is rather nice. Of course, Peter does respond with a "Yes, but is it still claptrap?" which, I suppose, it must be since we managed to get it past peer review and into an academic publication. Peter also writes:

When people ask me, "where can I learn about information architecture?", the best set of resources I can point them to are weblogs and mailing lists. I find this fascinating both in the development of a discipline, as well as in the development of the format for discussing this discipline. I wouldn't be surprised if, 5 years from now, every discipline is using weblogs and mailing lists to advance and test their ideas.

posted: 2/5/02 13:21 |


It's getting colder here. The frequency of polar fleeces and coats is rapidly increasing, which makes the occassional tall blonde in a pink strappy thigh-length dress and high heels in the supermarket stand out even more than usual. I'm pleased because Australians have interesting, attractive, finely knit and colourful woollen tops down pat (whereas Norwegian wool all seems to go on thick star-patterned pseudo-handknitted jumpers) but concerned because I really want to wear my new turquoise top to Mark Amerika's farewell party this evening, with the slightly absurd faux-diamond studded zipper pants, but I don't have anythink to wear over the top. Also, is this outfit going to work for the lecture on Naomi Klein, No Logo and design that I'm going to just before the party? And how about the cold walk home? Can I fit a polar fleece jumper into my handbag without anybody noticing? (The market for instantly expanding fit-in-a-handbag thermal coats is so untapped!)

Being a woman in academia is extremely demanding.

posted: 2/5/02 13:10 |

maintaining a web presence

I've started editing the ODP hypertext theory section, which is important because Google and heaps of other search engines use the ODP database to sort and rank sites and frustrating because categories are really not my preferred way of thinking. Still, I like the idea of giving something back to a larger community.

So, updating slightly lame descriptions of sites (the category hasn't had an editor for a while so it's rather out of date) I checked out Michael Joyce's site, and lo and behold: "Michael Joyce is no longer maintaining a public web presence." The crucial word "however" follows, and then a long list of links to student projects, publishers, online publications, a CV, the ELO directory which lists his work etc.

I'm very obviously "maintaining a public web presence" by blogging away here almost every day. Michael Joyce appears to have chosen the opposite extreme. And yet, he hasn't really, has he?

posted: 2/5/02 12:55 |

on weblogs

Paper on weblogs, I think (need to read it properly, this is a bookmark till then) by Jouke Kleerebezem:

This paper introduces not solutions but observations and imaginations of two closely related, equally important cultural and political challenges, folded into one experience: a challenge for design, and a challenge for publishing, folded into real time information exchange and shared learning.

And an archive of 911-related weblogs and such, via Craig. I think this is a different one to the one Webarchivist etc. set up.

posted: 1/5/02 20:47 |

blue company

Rob Wittig's email narrative Blue Company is being run again in a slightly new version starting May 13. This is "a story told in a month of emails", sent by a young marketer who's had a job transfer to Renaissance Italy to the girl he's in love with. She forwards them to a few of their friends, which, if you sign up, will include you. I enjoyed this story a lot when it ran the first time, last July. This time round will be a "director's cut" with live (whatever that means) performances by William Gillespie and Nick Montfort.

posted: 1/5/02 14:57 |

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.)