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


We can blog it!


theorising weblogs

politics of links and search engines

research blogs


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october 2002


Adrian's left. A year or two ago this would have meant he was incommunicado for 36 hours or so, flying between Bergen and Melbourne. Now of course we've been SMSing and emailing and weirdly, he's even blogging. From the airport in Oslo, where there (of course) is wireless access. Of course, being the thoughtful sort of person he is (and I love him for it) this makes him think about public, nomadic writing :) I'm waiting for web access on aeroplanes - that 13 hour bit between London and Singapore where you're totally offline is so anachronistic. Can't be far away now, surely? They've already got the multi-player games, after all.

posted: 31/10/02 16:39 |

blog narratives: dating blogs

John Hiler has an amusing dissection of dating blogs over at Microcontent News, and points out a problem with real life blogs as narratives: real life just doesn't respect the suspense and the dramatic curve we love in narratives.

I'm realizing that the whole fun of dating blogs comes from vicariously experiencing the frustrations and humiliations of the dating circuit. It's no fun when someone finds true love in, say... twenty-seven days (?!). It's like Bridget Jones getting married in the first chapter, or Carrie Bradshaw meeting Mr. Big in the first season (oh wait, that one did happen).

The dating blog John discusses is a blog used as a tool in a specific project: it's to make the blogger keep his commitment to three rules he has set himself:

One: I will strike up a conversation with three different people I do not know each day.

Two: I will attend activities, events, or other situations where I can meet new people at least twice a week.

Three: I will ask out at least one woman each week. (The Date Project, June 4, 2002)

Blogs can be used for project management as well as for communication or discussion. Here the public aspect of the project's progress helps the blogger stick to commitments. After being dubbed a Notable Blog by, the Date Project receives hundreds of visitors, and the blogger writes:

I haven't been real successful yet, but with all the people watching now, I don't think I have a choice to not follow through. From the e-mails and comments I have received today, too many people would be disappointed. (The Date Project, June 14, 2002)

I did this for a while with my "currently reading" and "currently writing" segments - they worked great until I reorganised my system and sort of forgot to organise those bits of the blog...

However, having readers is a double-edged sword. Some obviously juicy posts have sadly for us eavesdroppers been deleted, but something happened with readers, emails, online romance while dating 'K'. And after the first while of enjoying the support of his readers, the dating blogger writes:

A whole lot happened this week. I can boil this all down to one thing. I stopped writing for myself and began writing for the people who I thought were reading the site. That turned out to be a bad idea. (The Date Project, June 24, 2002)

I guess there's more potential for hurting people in Love than in Currently Reading, eh?

Some other project blogs: Tales of a Bathroom Scale, Searching for Mister Pretty-Close-to-Right.

posted: 31/10/02 13:29 |

new blogs

Recent finds: Jon Hoem has started work on a PhD on "internett som fortellende medium" (the internet as a story-telling medium) and made a great start on a Norwegian-language blog about this and adjacent topics: JonblOGG. He's at Høgskolen i Bergen (I'm also in Bergen, but at the University) and is one of those people I know about rather than know which is silly since he's obviously interested in lots of the same stuff as me. And there's also Mark Hancock has a blog called Interactive Cinematic Procrastination and is involved in that interesting discussion I've jumped into too, with Grumpy Girl (now at Invisible Shoebox), about voice and blogs and such. Mark does electronic interactive video art installation work, and has some interesting ideas.

posted: 31/10/02 12:48 |

gonzalo's coming to town!

Gonzalo Frasca is coming to Bergen on his European tour! Yes, the author of, an honorary Scandinavian though he's actually from Uruguay: he'll be right here in Bergen! He'll be giving a talk here on the 11th of November. Hooray!

posted: 31/10/02 12:19 |

kids surfing

I was quite surprised to see the rules for internet use in my daughter's school calendar. "Don't spread pornography. Be honest and polite. Don't send emails without your full name." These are 6-12 year olds! Turns out the school hadn't really thought about internet ethics and safety so now I'm on the "internet committee" - presumably as the only member. Aurora doesn't actually read or write much yet so her net-surfing so far is limited to playing flash games and downloading colouring-in pictures from her favourite cartoons. When she's older, I want to instill anonymity skills in her. Teach her how to set up hotmail accounts, how to invent nicknames for chatting and so on that don't give away her real name, how to chat with strangers without giving out her personal information or sharing more than she wants to share. (Torill's my inspiration here, she has great kids who use the net expertly and safely.) Perhaps my house rule will be "never send an email with your full name" and "there is no need to be honest", with exceptions, of course, for communicating with RL friends and family.

Kulturnett reports on a recent survey, by Taran Bjørnstad, of children and teenagers' surfing habits. Bjørnstad found that parents are pretty absent when kids surf. Dads show their kids how to use a browser, while mums generally keep right out of it. boys are told not to download porn, while girls are either given no rules or told not to visit chat sites. Several "kidsafe" net packages block all chatting, which is pretty idiotic since girls generally use chats to communicate with their girlfriends. Bjørnstad's previous work is on television and violence.

posted: 31/10/02 12:02 |

IP-number harmonies

The music you'll hear is just for you, generated from your IP-number, and by clicking you can (possibly) make it more harmonious: Looking for the new universal harmonies. (via Lisbeth)

posted: 30/10/02 14:00 |


My much-loved partner Adrian is going home to Melbourne tomorrow. I'm sad.

posted: 30/10/02 13:23 |

change their painting

Go change the painting projected on their office wall in Melbourne: choose #8 Untitled at Reactive. I'd like one of those for my living room wall... (via Jenny)

posted: 30/10/02 10:52 |

leaving home

Australians don't move out of their parents' home until they're 25, on average! On average! That means lots of them are older! One of those "I am so not Australian" moments. Here I'd assume anyone still living at home at 25 was unbelievably immature and probably incapable of ever really fending for themselves. I suppose that can't be assumed in Australia.

posted: 29/10/02 11:20 |

daring oneself to write differently

Grumpygirl's thinking more about voices, and writes

I used the character [Grumpy Girl] as a way of distancing myself from my blog, but eventually (inevitably?) we started to merge. Whether or not this is a good thing I have yet to decide. (29 October 2002)

Reading this I realise I did something similar, only less explicitly. I consciously decided to blog in a grumpier - or at least less careful - voice than I usually used. I had (have) a sometimes overly diplomatic streak. You know the type: I want everyone to like me so I often find myself wanting to agree with everyone. My academic writing was like that too, "on the one hand" and "on the other hand" and never really coming to conclusions or taking a stand. So in blogging I decided to be opinionated. Grumpy, I guess. It worked. I'm proud to say I'm a much grumpier person today. ;)

Most important though: I'm much better at writing what I want to write instead what I think is expected of me. I just realised that that could be because I've finally internalised "what is expected of me". It doesn't feel that way, though. It feels as though I can sort of work out what's expected and disregard it.

posted: 29/10/02 10:46 |

buy bush a playstation 2

Concerned citizens can now chip in and buy Bush a Playstation 2, with a copy of Conflict: Desert Storm and an extra controller so Cheney can play too. Hopefully this worthy effort will allow Bush a safe playground to vent his aggression without any real damage being done. (via Metafilter)

posted: 29/10/02 10:13 |

narrative clothes

Apparently Nordstrom department store has a "narrative" department which sells women's coats: "our Narrative department features coats that have you covered from casual to dress."

In the Narrative Society's mailing list discussion of this fascinating use of the all-purpose term narrative, Donald Larsson comments:

This is rather fascinating in its implications, given that "Narrative" is one department of women's clothing along with "Brass Plum," "Individualist," "Studio 121," and more traditional categories such as "Coats," "Lingerie," and "Swimwear." All of this begins to sound like that infamous Chinese encyclopedia with its discontinuous categories of "Pigs," but one of the other departments listed here is "Point of View." Can "Focalization," "Diegesis," and "Metalepsis" be far behind?

Most of the posts to the list are unsubscribes and automated virus reports, but it's so worth subscribing to for gems like these.

posted: 29/10/02 10:13 |

social writing

Torill comments that she learnt what I learnt from blogging playing MUDs - perhaps it's writing socially that does it, she suggests. Definitely the social, and the writing, but also the semi-permanence of blogs, I think. As Adrian's noted before, blogs are published, and that certainly makes me more conscious of how I write than when I'm on a MUD or chatting online. I often edit blog posts in the hours after they're published: fixing typos, making sentence structures more elegant, sometimes shortening or reordering. Which makes me realise that blogging is also about daring to show people something that's not necessarily quite finished, and continuing to work on it after it's public.

posted: 28/10/02 13:13 |

Hey, I'm on the web! Olav Anders Øvrebø interviewed me last week, and the interview's up at

Fulgte du linken hit fra intervjuet? I så fall: velkommen! Du leser en blogg ved å bla nedover siden - tenk deg at hver "post" er som en artikkel i et blad. Du trenger ikke lese alle. Følg gjerne linker til andre blogger, eller til andre steder. Og kom tilbake hit en annen dag om du vil. Send meg gjerne en epost om du har noen kommentarer.

posted: 28/10/02 10:50 |

writing styles and blogs

I'm enjoying Grumpygirl these days. She's writing an MA thesis on blogs and voice, and she's an animator, so has these hilarious conversations between herself and an ant. The last one's a self-evaluation anyone who's tried to write a thesis will find familiar.

I've developed my writing style and voice and self-assurance a lot in the last couple of years of blogging. I've become very comfortable with expressing myself quickly and clearly, and I'm much more confident about expressing a clear opinion, tolerating its being challenged, debating it and supporting it - or changing it and learning from criticism. Networking, building on others ideas, sharing my own and letting go of my ideas as they join up with others and are used by others. Though I suppose universities want to or should teach these things, I sure didn't learn them in seminars, lectures or writing groups. Perhaps others did.

There are other skills blogging hasn't helped me with. Finishing a long piece (like a PhD thesis) and actually accepting it as completed rather than just another dated post in a process, for instance. But then no one ever claimed a blog would teach you everything.

posted: 28/10/02 09:22 |


Weblogs are called webbkrönikor in the Swedish section of the ODP. I suppose that translates as web chronicles - it sounds charming, doesn't it, though perhaps a little unwieldy? But most of the Swedish blogs I've seen call themselves webbloggar, or bloggar - the title of Svenskt webbloggindeks also suggests that this is indeed the more common term.

posted: 27/10/02 18:32 |

moral outrage

Cindy Poremba is tired of media decrying online games as addictive (25/10 post), and links a neatly parallell article from 1994 detailing how paper-and-dices role-playing games were accused of causing suicides and insanity. Interestingly that subsided just as anxiety about online "addiction" increased.

posted: 26/10/02 13:13 |

åpent brev til demonstrantene

I've sent an open letter to the newspaper, addressed to the young demonstrators that tried to stop us entering Annie Sprinkle's Herstory of Porn last night. I'm furious. I was a teen anti-porn demonstrator (there's a porn video title for you) and I'm so angry with how the elder Women's front women terrified us with photos of donkeys with swollen organs penetrating large-breasted but frightened women. At 17, I'd never seen any other porn. Of course I demonstrated against it. Porn was evil. The girls demonstrating last night were just as ignorant as I was.

Had those older women (I admired them so) shown us Annie Sprinkle's 1980s porn videos made by women, with women and for women, well, wow, that would have made quite a difference. How to have orgasms. Touch yourself like this. We recommend vibrators. You might enjoy this. Honestly, it was explicit, honest, sometimes sexy sex-ed for lesbians, for mature women, for any woman. Given the ridiculous fuss in the press and on the street (the police had a commando van there for goodness sake!) it was a bit of a let down really. Annie Sprinkle was sweet and did a wonderful job of narrating around her flicks. It was good. But the real drama here is in the surrounding debates.

I am so cross with those women who tried to teach me that any portrayal of sex is evil. Yes, some porn objectifies women and/or men. Some porn is violent, non-consensual - but it's not really the porn, but the violence that is evil there, surely? "Porn is theory, rape is practice", I used to chant. Maybe some porn. Certainly not Annie Sprinkle's womencentric porn. Ignorance and generalisations are not going to help fight rape and oppression.

Here's my letter. I assume the paper'll print it - it's about porn, after all. Do you think I'll get an answer though?

I går kveld måtte jeg presse meg forbi dere for å komme inn til Annie Sprinkles forestilling i Teatergarasjen. De fleste av dere var unge. 17-18 år, kanskje. Jeg hadde glemt det: det ungdommelige hatet mot porno. Den blinde troen. Uvitenheten.

Jeg demonstrerte nemlig også mot porno da jeg var 17 år. De litt eldre kvinnene fra RU og Ottar og Kvinnefronten viste oss bilder: menn med groteskt oppsvulmede kjønnsorganer som tvang seg på purunge jenter, dyresex (kvinner nesten skjult av esler, griser), livredde kvinneansikter, glanende menn med plirende øyne som lo av desperate kvinner som ikke hadde valg. Bildene de viste og historiene de fortalte oss skremte vettet av meg. Annen porno hadde jeg ikke sett. Så jeg trodde på dem: all porno er som dette. Porno er ondskapen selv. Dere tror vel på dem også?

Hadde noen av dere tatt dere bryet med å ha sett hva dere demonstrerte mot i går kveld kan jeg aldri tenke meg at dere hadde giddet å stå der og skrike i duskregnet. Visst var det kjønnsorganer i bevegelse i det Sprinkle viste fra 70-tallet - men klippet sammen til å være latterlige bevis på hvor uerotisk den typen pornografi er. En iscenesatt voldtektsscene, ja - men med Sprinkles myke, alvorlige stemme som fortalte hvordan hun hadde hatt seksuelle fantasier om voldtekt (og det er det mange kvinner som har hatt), og hvordan hun så hadde ønsket å iscenesette fantasien i en film. Så fortalte hun hvordan hun hadde hatet det. Hun hadde mistet kontrollen. Hun hadde vært vettskremt. Og hun hadde aldri fantasert om voldtekt igjen. Å fantasere om noe er ikke det samme som å ønske det.

Hadde dere tatt seg bryet med å høre på Sprinkle hadde dere visst at hun fra åtti-tallet har kjempet for en annen type pornografi. At hun var med på å starte en pornografi for kvinner, hvor kvinner hadde kontrollen. Hun skapte en pornografi hvor den kvinnelige orgasme kan vises og hvor kvinnens nytelse står i sentrum. Dere hadde sett eksplisitte men myke seksualundervisningsvideoer for lesbiske, dere hadde sett filmer som hyller modne kvinners seksualitet og kvinner som onanerer og lærer hverandre å onanere. Det var knapt en mann med i en av filmene Sprinkle visste som var laget etter begynnelsen av 80-tallet. Hvorfor fikk vi aldri se denne pornografien på antipornomøtene?

Er dere virkelig motstandere av dette? Vet dere egentlig hva dere demonstrerer mot?

Man forkjemper ikke kvinneundertrykkelse med uvitenhet.

Jill Walker

posted: 26/10/02 12:45 |

herstory of porn

I'm going to see Annie Sprinkle's Herstory of Porn tonight. The cultural bureaucracy here in Bergen wanted to ban it, and her visit has spurred a debate on porn which is just amazing. Womens' fronters have decried sex toys like dildos and vibrators as forcing women into becoming lackeys to patriarchy! That is such utter nonsense. I'm not sure what I'll think about Annie Sprinkle. She's an ex-pornstar and prostitute who's become a feminist performance artist, though of course a lot of people think she's an anti-feminist. Tonight's show she'll show film clips of her porn videos and narrate around them. And perhaps there's more, too, I'm not sure. I'll let you know :)

posted: 25/10/02 11:22 |

new media, old paradigms

Writing about "innovative" projects to stream traditional linear short films on the Internet, Adrian concludes: "to be recognised as innovative in this medium it is crucial to use old paradigms".

posted: 24/10/02 13:02 |

chechen hostage-holders' blog

The Kavkaz Center [October 26: now offline] appears to be a news agency related to the Chechen soldiers (who appear to be called mujahideen, Muslim Holy Warriors) who are holding the hundreds of hostages in the Moscow theatre. It's strange reading. I'm no expert on Chechenia or politics but as an example of news gathering on the Internet this is fascinating. It's a completely different source to CNN, and is directly from participants in the conflict - well, almost directly, I guess it's still not live blogging from the theatre itself (will we see that, in future?) I found this on Metafilter, a community link gathering discussion group, not at a traditional news source. It's constantly updated and appears to have more recent news than CNN, which is still broadcasting the same videos of the theatre in the dark as they were last night, though it's clearly daylight in Moscow now.

Of course Kavkaz is not "objective". Which in a way, makes it more reliable: it's blatantly honest about its prejudices. It's chilling reading:

2002-10-24 04:50:45

Mujahideen shot dead a female employee of FSB

Assistants of Movsar Barayev contacted "Kavkaz Center" news agency at approximately 4 A.M. Moscow time and informed that a young woman entered into the building of House of Culture despite the fact that she was warned not to enter. In spite of warning, the young woman impudently entered into the hall, declaring, "And what can you do to me?.....". Mujahideen warned her again that she must leave the building immediately. However, the woman did not react to the words of soldiers. Having information about the tactics of FSB, mujahideen understood that the woman entered for the purpose of collecting information. Considering the seriousness of prevailing situation, it was decided to shoot the young woman. (Kavkaz Center)

According to this source, 20 of the mujahideen are widows of Chechen soldiers. Whatever the greater political picture, there is tragedy on both sides here.

Of course they could be making it up. They're undoubtably telling it skewed - but then so do we, only we tell it skewed in our favour. Whether it's real or not, it's a performance, a self-construction and self-presentation on the web which, interestingly, pretty much uses the format of a blog.

Update: does link to That's impressive. Oh, and just now even CNN mentioned "a Chechen website" on the TV, and finally showed (some) daylight videos. OK. Official media are totally picking it up, as a daypop search shows, it's been sent out by Reuters.

posted: 24/10/02 10:36 |

blogging cartoons

There's an amusing blogger in the last few days of Doonesbury cartoons - October 21, 22 and 23.

- You must feel like a god, hurling your thunderbolts across cyberspace, answerable to no one!
- Well, yeah... Yeah... It's a pretty similar feeling to that sometimes... Of course, mostly I write about my stop sign collection. (Oct 23)

Update: see also October 24, 25 and especially 26.

posted: 23/10/02 09:56 |

it's not X!

I forgot to write about the seminar I spoke at last weekend. It was a laudable effort to educate art gallery curators about digital art, run by NKLF. Lots of the participants were pleased, excited and curious from what I could tell. Others, of course, were anxious and cross. In the questions at the end one question was repeated across the room: "But is this art?"

And so I realise it's all the same, everywhere. The literary establishment says "It's not literature" and worry that ebooks and hypertext will kill their beloved books. The art establishment says "It's not art" and worry that it'll kill their beloved galleries.

Thank goodness there are artists and writers who don't care.

posted: 22/10/02 13:06 |


I've spent hours and hours formatting all the essays for the JoDI issue Susana and I are editing. I hate how long these things take: changing fonts, fixing links, fitting it all into the JoDI template, dotting i's, checking references. I now know why experienced journal editors like being strict about formats and hate experimental stuff. It takes so much time.

posted: 22/10/02 13:01 |


Did you know that Australia has long since promised Bush to support an attack on Irak? If you're not Australian, you probably had no idea. Blair was recently talked into it, yes, but surely that's the USA's only ally?

Australia fought with Britain in both world wars, and sent troops to Korea, to Vietnam, to the Gulf and to Afganistan. They are unusually willing to go to war - for other people. The idea appears to be that if Australia helps the big boys, the big boys will protect Australia. They didn't though, not during the second world war. USA didn't help Australia with East-Timor. Germaine Greer's article about it says a lot more than this.

posted: 22/10/02 11:52 |

a brief report from Manovich's talk

I was at the talk Manovich gave this morning, along with lots of other people. He spoke about data visualisation and software art, emphasising the computer's ability to simulate other machines (Turing) and cultural activities (Ivan Sutherland's work on graphic interfaces and VR in the early 1960s), often encapsulating existing data in simulated interfaces which are separate from the data: a fixed set of operations (laid out in the menu options or palettes of a software package) that can be performed on many different subsets of data. He showed us Lisa Jenbratt's 1:1, which goes hunting for random IP numbers and graphing them, creates a visualisation of the unlinked web, and Alex Galloway's Carnivore, which visualises the data that flows through a cable. In pieces like these, and especially Carnivore, the artist doesn't create a conventional art piece, but a platform which others can then build upon. Several artists have built clients for Carnivore which produce different visualisations of the same data. There is commercial software that does the same thing as Carnivore, but it's not open so that others can extend it.

These kinds of visualisations are abstractions of reality. They simplify, which allows us to see patterns we might not otherwise see. In this sense they are the opposite of romantic art. If the sublime is that which is unrepresentable, beyond human perception and cognition, then this data visualisation art aims for the opposite: it is anti-sublime. 1:1 and Carnivore reduce messy, unfathomable masses of data to something we can represent, comprehend and even fit within a browser frame. This is why artistic visualisation software can move us emotionally, Manovich proposed: it is anti-sublime.

In the discussion afterwards, Espen Aarseth had a short response, and he and Manovich discussed the relation of visualisation to spatialisation. He suggested that the term and field of "new media" has a visual bias, slanted towards visual artists, computer graphics and Hollywood production qualities, which lets us forget that "ordinary" people's use of the net is non-visual: email, SMS, chat, etc. Manovich pointed out that while a graphical interface works well for managing one's own computer and personal files, it would be disasterous to have to rely on visualisations when we surf the web: with millions of files we need (linguistic) search engines.

posted: 21/10/02 16:03 |

levelling in a community

I'm 6 points away from becoming a Zealot. I check my profile every day, reading my transaction reports, quality ratings and checking my points. It's five points for each site you submit, but less if there's a problem with the listing. I only got four for Fibreculture because I submitted it to the wrong category. I passed the Member's quiz, which gave me 25 points. I've passed the Zealot's Quiz too, so once I have my 75 points I'll be a Zealot. I'll be able to choose a category of my own (a small one to start with, I won't be able to afford to buy a large one with just 75 points) and add sites to it without needing them to be checked by an editor. is a web directory that uses volunteers as contributors, like the Open Directory Project does. Zeal is owned by Looksmart, and disdained by ODP'ers for good reason: it's censored (no nudity or violence outside of a historical context, no sex, no hate speech; ODP lists anything, but puts adult content in a separate section of the directory so you won't find it by accident), commercial sites are only added if they're paid for, and can't be added by the community members (like me), it only lists English language sites, the ontology is screwed (say the ODPers) and while ODP's data is free to anyone who wants to use it, rumour has it that Looksmart pays people to use Zeal's data.

ODP runs by consensus, discussion and open source ideals. To become an editor you choose a category, click to join, suggest three sites and write decent descriptions for them. If your descriptions are lousy you'll be told you can't join. I read (in uncomfirmed rumourous discussion) that only 11% are accepted, which is unimpressive. Once joined, you can apply to edit new categories, and each request will be evaluated by "metas" (meta-editors), editors who've been members for long enough to be voted in as metas by those who are already metas. They'll consider the quality of the categories you already edit, the way you've described sites, the structure of any subcategories, and how many sites you've added, edited or deleted. If they say no you may not get a reason, but you can reapply if you like. The system has worked great for me. Or perhaps I work great with the system. It reminds me of academia, only smaller and more immediate. Once I worked out what they wanted, it was easy to work my way up. I wanted a games studies category, so I built one in my private bookmarks. Bookmarks don't show up in the main directory, so you can do what you like with them. Building a category in your bookmarks is like writing a project proposal and sending it to the research council. I suggested the category be created in the forums, but the responses were mixed. A week later the chief editor read one of those articles about computer games and violence, started adding sites about games research to the directory, and found my project proposal - and hey presto I was editor of Games/Game_Studies. Kinda prestiguous that, being the editor of a second-level category. I think some other Games editors were pissed. I guess years in academia has taught me how to play the system.

Zeal, on the other hand, is like a computer game, with points, levels, goals and rules you can't quarrel with. Anyone can join. You don't have to be vetted by metas. You just sign up. To become a contributor, you have to pass the Member's Quiz. To do that, you need to read the guidelines and answer multiple choice questions about the best ways to describe sites, find titles and so on. You fill in your profile. Start contributing sites. Five points for a contribution. Two for suggesting a change to a site decription, three for alerting editors to a site that's no longer there. Zealots and Looksmart staff give you constant feedback and points. Keep a Quality Rating of at least 6/10 or you can't be a Zealot.

Is it a fairer system than the ODP? It's quantifiable. Predictable. The rules are explicit and open. Everyone's given a chance, and noone's rejected - it's just that not everyone will pass the quizzes.

It's also a completely authoritarian system. Paid Looksmart employees are always going to be in charge. In the ODP, though there are a couple of paid employees who could do what they want (as the editor-in-chief did when he instated me as Games Studies editor with no discussion)

It's also a system that allows, even encourages corruption. You're encouraged to join simply so that you can submit your own sites. While the ODP frowns upon listing multiple pages from the same site, Zeal encourages it. So of course I plan on adding every single essay and comment on my site to various categories in Everyone else does. It won't increase my PageRank with Google, as ODP listings do, but it'll make me really visible to anyone searching with Looksmart, Altavista etc.

But I really want to be a Zealot. Not because I want to have a category of my own to edit - I don't really. Or because I think is a particularly worthy cause. Nope. I just want to level. I just have to have those points.

[Update: Yay! I made it! Only I'm not officially a Zealot until I sign up to manage a category. So of course I did...]

posted: 17/10/02 09:30 |

buffy studies

Did you know there's an International Journal of Buffy Studies? Of course there is. And a scholarly mailing list and an annotated bibliography of dozens of articles, and no doubt, much more.

posted: 17/10/02 08:59 |

time and length

Just as Norwegians speak distance in time rather than kilometres, digital fictions are measured in hours or days rather than pages, words or nodes. Online Caroline lasts for 21 days. tells me it will take me an hour to read it. Or up to 28 days if I want to wait until my free gift arrives. I tell people that I am a Singer is brief: it takes half an hour or so to read it. You should read afternoon for three times twenty minutes, then continue as you please.

posted: 16/10/02 11:19 |


Don't anthropomorphize computers.

They don't like it.

-- Anonymous.

posted: 15/10/02 10:35 |


Got this spam yet? Slight variant on the Nigerian spam ;)


David Chess has the full deal.

posted: 14/10/02 10:23 |

the sims online

Did I mention that I'm really looking forward to The Sims Online?

posted: 14/10/02 08:50 |

in defence of cutscenes

Rune Klevjer: In Defence of Cutscenes. Part of the narrative vs. game debate.

The cutscene may indeed be a narrative of re-telling, as Ryan maybe would say, but more importantly: It is a narrative of pre-telling, paving the way for the mimetic event, making it a part of a narrative act, which does not take place after, but before the event. The cutscene casts its meanings forward, strengthening the diegetic, rhetorical dimension of the event to come.

posted: 14/10/02 08:42 |

interesting new blog


shinyspinning is the personal and research website of Cindy Poremba. My research interests include multiplayer games, women & technology, emergence in e-culture (communities & games), serial & reconfigurable narrative, and creative constructionism/remediation.

Right up our alleys, wouldn't you say? (via my referrers)

posted: 13/10/02 17:36 |

counsel this poor couple

Help Save Tess and Luke's Relationship isn't really a good website, but the concept would be great if it were fiction and done thoroughly. Or just done thoroughly. The friend of a couple who've been splitting up and getting together for a decade decides to help them by asking chance web surfers to advise them:

I tell them they should see a counsellor. They refuse. So I tell them about an idea I've had. They communicate only via video mail, I post them on the net and people let them know what they think of the relationship and whether it'll ever work.

Given the quality of the advice they've received I'd say a professional would be more helpful. Perhaps less entertaining, though.

posted: 13/10/02 16:55 |

bias in the blogosphere

Robert Corr has written a pretty interesting essay, Bias in the Blogosphere, for his class on Media and Politics. The essay's chock full of links, and does a good job of pulling together debated issues in blogging and ideas about blogging. His references are a treat: he'll link the groovyest words in a citation to the source (most are online, some are from books and for them he links to the amazon book page), and he's put the correctly formatted academic reference in the title tag for each link, so you see it if you hover your mouse over the link. There are a lot of good links, and it's elegantly and bloggishly done. I'd have liked an old-fashioned bibliography as well. And I don't agree with his conclusions, but hey, that's OK. (via Blogroots)

posted: 11/10/02 15:46 |

sound showers

This week there are sound showers at the central railway station in Oslo, where they transmit sound, live, from various places in Norway. Anyone who's been to Gardermoen, the airport of Oslo, would think they're made by the same people. They're not, and Anne Karin Rynander, who made the Gardermoen sound showers is unimpressed. She didn't actually invent sound showers, but she was the first person to place them in a transit hall, using sound to transport travellers to an idea of someplace else. Jørgen Larssen argues that the theft of Rynander's concept was unintentional, and is based in a fundamental misunderstanding between composers and visual artists. They basically don't agree on what "a work of art" is. For a visual artist, like Rynander, the concept (sounds in transit space) and the physical object are the art work. The railway station people are composers. They care about the sounds as the work of art and the connection and the audio quality. The shower itself is merely a chance technique for them, one of many possible ways of presenting the work of art. And finally, composers don't take sound artists seriously. So they won't say they're sorry for plagiarising Rynander. They don't think they did.

posted: 11/10/02 15:06 |

text production

Grep is a unix command for searching files for text strings or patterns. It's extremely powerful and, for the newbie, somewhat arcane in its myriad options and cryptic shorthand. Grep works in Word and some other programs too; Textism has a brief intro.

Google also searches files, but unlike grep, it's opaque. The algorithms are secret and it tries to figure out what you want rather than just doing what you say. Grep does exactly what you tell it to do, in great detail, even if you tell it to do something stupid. Google is more flexible. Type in rethoric and Google will gently ask whether you meant to search for rhetoric.

In his book Digital Poetics, Loss Pequeño Glazier writes about using grep for text production.

Like Pollack's paint can and many other unix utilities, the grep command is a solid conduit for text with strictly defined rules and properties, rigorous in its execution of procedure. Like the hole in Pollack's paint can, a grep offers an opening into the materiality of the words that constitute the electronic text file. Most important, grep is a procedure. (99)

Glazier links to a collection of grep poetry, poems produced using grep as a transformative procedure, a tool, a technique, in the online appendices to Digital Poetics. Perhaps he's right, and it is the precise grammar of grep that makes it a poetic technique. The examples of grep poetry are certainly more interesting than GooPoetry. Perhaps not solely because of the rigorous nature of grep, but also because the source material is carefully selected. In a way, each grep command you write is a tiny program. Or a tiny poem.

grep -wH poetry{2,3} home/jill/txt/*

posted: 11/10/02 08:36 |

slashdot discusses blogging book

Lengthy review and discussion of Rebecca Blood's blogging handbook over at Slashdot. (via Jenny)

posted: 9/10/02 13:14 |

paper on online caroline

It's about time I publish this here: How I Was Played by Online Caroline, by me, a reading of the web drama Online Caroline. The article will be published as a chapter in First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game, which is an anthology edited by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan, forthcoming from MIT Press in 2003. I finished the essay more than a year ago. Print publishing is really, really slow.

All the articles in the book have responses from the other authors. I got a long response from Warren Sack, which extremely faithful readers will remember me fretting over last December. I put that online too (with Warren's permission), and my reply to him.

posted: 9/10/02 11:23 |

blogging anniversary

It's exactly two years since this blog was born. It was in Norwegian then. I think I thought my voice would be stronger, more easily heard, in a smaller community. Plus the whole blog to the world thing was a bit scary, and speaking Norwegian, only a tiny percentage of the world could listen in. It's also exactly two years today since I first came across my first weblog: Caterina's. I can't remember how I found it, but I remember reading, browsing, loving it, and my exhileration when I realised that hey! this is something anyone can do! I followed her link to and started blogging myself the same day, finding more blogs to read along the way. I wasn't the first Norwegian weblogger, but possibly the first to write in Norwegian. The day I started I found this English-language Norwegian blog, a month later another, and then some Norwegian web diaries. On November 2 the Norwegian tabloid VG published an article about blogs, with a link to my site, which started a small rush of Norwegian blogs - and 500 visitors to my site. I still remember the rush of that realisation: 500 people reading this! Wow! I think it must have been VG first used the Norwegian spelling of blog: "blogg" (Norwegian for "log" is "logg"). I spelt it "blog" until after November 2. Kind of disappointing: I would have liked to claim invention of a word...

Here's my first post:

Fins det weblogger på norsk? Jeg har ikke sett noen - send meg en mail om du vet om noen. Før trodde jeg at webdagbøker bare var eksibisjonistisk utbretting av privatlivet til allmennheten, men i det siste har jeg kommet over gode, tenksomme, fascinerende dagbøker. Eller ikke dagbøker: weblogs, eller til og med blogs. I en blog forteller du ikke om sexlivet ditt eller om krangelen med bestevenninnen, du forteller om strøtanker, idÎer, websites du har kommet over, bøker du har lest, hva du mener om noe du leste i avisen. Jeg tror jeg skal prøve meg på en blog. Så nå er jeg altså en blogger. Eksibisjonist? Kanskje, men du finner ikke privatlivets detaljer her. (9 October 2000, 12:55)

I was quite anxious about being thought exhibitionistic, wasn't I? Rather an issue for me, that was. Strange, in retrospect. And I didn't want my blog to be about my personal life - now I'm more relaxed about that. My "personal" thoughts and my "academic" thoughts crossfertilise each other, mingle with each other, and I don't see any point in keeping them strictly separate. The forced shedding of any remnants of personality in traditional academic prose is not only a systemic lie but also an protective armour for the insecure. (I can do the pompous verbose thing quite well now, huh?)

Not much here about my sex life though. I'm happy with that ;)

posted: 9/10/02 10:37 |


Trying to get Google to generate a decent poem from the words you feed it is difficult, like any creative act with self-imposed limits. Pushing against the resistence of the medium, against the hidden algorithms of Google and of the programmer who made the poetry-generator. (via Tom)

posted: 8/10/02 11:41 |

bias metrics

I asked the authors of the Bias on the Web paper whether they're continuing their research: they are, and they're investigating alternative methods of measuring bias. You can try out their current measurement system, which lets you test a search term against several search engines. I don't understand all the results, but it does let you see, for each site, how many search engines place it in the top twenty hits. Here, for instance, are the results for ludology.

posted: 8/10/02 11:09 |

canberra rain

I love this vog. Not just because I'm in it (though I rather like being in it, and of course having been there and being in it makes me totally impartial, but then blogs are subjective anyway so that's OK) but because of the way the words overlap and because of the confusion and mystery of trying to read them, piece them together, trying to read the end or that bit to the left under the other bit but you can't; move the mouse and you're not sure why but something happens, and the words and paragraphs look like the clouds of rain in the images and move as they did, do, and the voices are half-heard, like peeking over someone's shoulder to see their notebook, hear their conversation, and the videos that hardly move and look as though they're half-erased, blurred by the words. I like the other Canberra vogs too, but this one most. It's the words. And their mistiness.

[The vog above is Adrian Miles's Canberra Rain, and is posted with his permission. It's part of the Canberra Trilogy. Viewing requires Quicktime.]

posted: 7/10/02 17:05 |

living obituary

I have a folder, marked Milon Buneta. His mother gave it to me. It includes childhood photos, school reports, prize certificates, faded flyers from school theatricals, testimonials from friends, notes in Milon's handwriting. Some of these tokens are official, formal. Others are quite personal. (Milon's Memory)

Bernard Lane has started a weblog as an obituary to his friend Milon, who died twenty years ago. Milon's mother gave Bernard a folder of photos and documents, and asked him to write about her son. No newspaper would print an obituary to a man who had died twenty years earlier, though they would print an article about Bernard's choice to start a weblog for his friend instead.

Milon Buneta, 1961-1981. Begin with a simple fact. He lived just 20 years.

I don't usually read obituaries of people I didn't know, or know of. This living obituary is different. A story unfolding. Some of the most successful digital narratives are told a little like this: someone has died, or disappeared, or lost their memory, and you must piece their story together from the bits and pieces they left behind, the photos, news clippings, stories, memories. Uncle Buddy's Funhouse: your uncle Buddy left you the contents of his hard drive. I am a Singer: the protagonist has amnesia and in reading, you mirror her exploration of half-memories tied to stamps in her passport, her diary, news items. The Impermance Agent is an obituary of a sort, told according to how you surf the web, popping up among other reading in the course of a week. Found documents, objects trouvés, looking through a folder, a file, a box, a database and piecing together a story from what you find: this seems to be a form of narrative suited well to digital media. Perhaps a living obituary will be more read, more meaningful, than one published in a newspaper and then gone forever?

posted: 7/10/02 15:40 |

algorithms and infallability

They've changed the algorithms at Google again, to much uproar and speculation in the search engine tweaking community. Wired's even written about it. I suppose Google is aiming at always more perfect objectivity, like that praised by the savant Mallory in Gibson and Sterling's The Difference Engine:

Mallory unloosed the complex stopper of porcelain, cork and levered wire, and thirstily drank. NEWCASTLE ALE, the bottle said, in molded letters of raised glass. A modern brewery where they made the liquor in great steel vats near the size of a ship-of-the-line. Fine machine-made brew, free of any cheater's taint of jalap or indian-berry. (231)

I've been reading The Difference Engine as background reading for last night's game of Space 1889, which is similarly set in a Victorian computer age. Babbage's engine really worked in that world, and logically enough, by 1889 the British Empire has been expanded to Mars. I got to play an Ada Lovelace clone which was most satisfying. Though I do wish they'd let me reprogram that huge difference engine that the mad professor had made, connecting the hive minds of Martians to a difference engine to attain world domination. Sacrilege, really, to destroy it so crudely. The rest of my group were luddites, one and all.

posted: 7/10/02 13:11 |


New book reviews from the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies, including two of Steven Johnson's Emergence.

posted: 5/10/02 19:22 |


Lev Manovich is giving a lecture here in Bergen in a couple of weeks time, on 21 October - if you're around, try and catch it, he's a major figure in new media theory.

posted: 5/10/02 19:18 |


The seminar was excellent. Marie-Laure Ryan asked probing questions and the discussions were lively and persistent and creative. After hurried conferences of 20 minute presentations it's wonderful discussing one topic (or more or less one topic) for four days. Some confusions were set to rest and some assumptions uprooted: a week well spent.

And I want a Playstation with a dance mat like they have at ITU. It was such fun!

posted: 4/10/02 20:45 |

hypermediacy becoming transparent?

Hypermediacy, as Bolter and Grusin write about it, calls attention to the medium and can thereby alienate us from "reality": it's the opposite of transparency. But won't we get used to what has been thought of as hypermediacy? Do many windows on a screen (B & G's main example of hypermediacy) really stop us from feeling immersed, as perhaps they did when we first saw them? With multiple images onscreen in mainstream televison (CNN news, the drama series 24, quiz shows like Norwegian Pokerfjes) we're getting so used to this kind of representation that perhaps it is ceasing to alienate us, to draw attention to the medium. Ancient Greeks told their stories in rythmic verse: Did the first stories told in prose shock people and seem hypermediate, to alienate us from reality which was more transparently represented in iambic pentameter?

posted: 2/10/02 00:00 |

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.)