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

Right now the blog is hovering between two languages, so some bits are in English and some are in Norwegian. I reckon you'll manage just fine.


ISSN: 1502-8003



collegues with blogs:

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


norske blogger

and also:

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

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wednesday, june 27

Nettkunst? nummeret av Localmotives er sluppet! Gå og ta en titt, delta i diskusjonen, la oss høre hva du mener! (The special issue of Localmotives on net art has been released. Kevin and I are really happy with it - go and have a look!)

posted 00:45 link

tuesday, june 26

Italo Calvino's an author I've enjoyed for years, devouring his strange narratives. Reading The Castle of Crossed Destinies for the first time I feel like someone's torn the carpet from under my feet: I'm disappointed. Yes, it's "ingenious", as a back cover excerpt from a New Yorker review states, but it's not gripping or enthralling or a good read. The genius of this book lies in its structure, in the way it's been created. This is a book of stories interpreted or laid over patterns found in tarot cards placed on a table in criss-crossing patterns. Stories read horisontally and vertically like words in crossword puzzle.

As concept art or an experiment in narrativity this is ingenious. I love it. But it's not just concept art. (Ah, and I realise that "just" is dodgy. I'm not quite sure where it might lead.) This is a book. Books are meant to be read. This ingenious structure results in dull, uninspired stories. I'm exhausted after two: I've seen the structure (concept, gimmick) and I'm sated.

This is a problem I have with a lot of net art (art in the broadest sense). The concept is cool but then what? Is a gimmick enough? I suppose that depends on what you want. I mostly want more.

posted 06:43 link

saturday, june 23

I think the journal's done. Oh, there are a few loose ends, but it'll do. It's good, in some ways and some places it's really good. It'll be released on Monday (the link above may not work until then), and by then I'll be in Melbourne again. I have to pack. What time did you say it was?

posted 01:05 link

thursday, june 21

No posts lately - I've been using up my thoughts elsewhere, no, doing other work that swallows my thoughts, no that's not fair either, but I've not had as much time for thinking or writing or reading as I want to have. Now our journal issue's so close to ready and some of the pieces are wonderful. I'd love to meet more of these people; so many thoughts never reach the web. So many net artists don't really have much of a web presence. Why not I wonder? I suspect it's because try as we might we all think our thoughts need to be perfect before we can utter them out loud. My sister gave me a book, it's a musician's book really but I found lots in it that's helpful for my kind of performing, academically, in teaching and in writing and just in living. A paragraph I pounced on when I first opened the book:

We tell ourselves so many lies and half-truths. "I can't play that fast. I can't play slow music well. I can't hit that high not without clutching. I can't memorize well. I'm a lousy sight-reader. This passage is going too well—I'll probably blow it. Oops, here comes that spot—I'll never make it through. Everyone else can play more difficult music than I can. I'm just a phony who has bluffed my way to the top and they'll find me out. (Eloise Ristad, A Soprano on her Head

Ever felt like that? Reading this, for the first time I realised that everyone does. Fancy reaching thirty (well, almost) before realising that. Though I'm not a musician I feel exactly like this.

I was reading the book in the canteen at the Uni. Person after person came past and asked what I was reading. I read them this paragraph. "Story of my life!" some exclaimed. Others quietly said "It's not just me?" My sister told me that reading that I felt like this made her laugh at her only phony-feeling for the first time, seeing how comical it was.

So is it fear that people will laugh, show them up as phonies that makes so many of us silent in discussions, absent from email lists? Fear of being shown up as a phony?

posted 21:42 link

monday, june 18

The Kubrick/Spielberg movie A.I. sounds like a cross between Bladerunner and Pinocchio - a robot child who's been programmed to love wants to be human. The marketing for the movie is a little more original than the plot from the sounds of an article in Danish Computerworld (and there must be others in English but I don't have time to find them right now). If you look at the trailer credits very carefully you'll see someone called Janine Salla is listed as a "sentient machine therapist". Search for her name and you'll find lots of mysterious stuff flung around the web. In fact, there's a whole game or mystery or live role-playing game set up there to ponder. A group of players called The Cloudmakers are working together to solve it - you and I can help (if we have time).

From what I've read about this, it's a simulation similar to Electronic Arts' Majestic and to Online Caroline. And come to think of it, I remember a book - oh, nearly twenty years ago? (I think I was ten or twelve?) - which had a mysterious set of stories full of pseudo-mythological clues that led to a real treasure, which readers eventually did dig up. Simulations aren't a purely digital phenomenon. But they're bigger, further reaching and penetrate more deeply into our daily business when they're done on the net. (I read about the A.I. mystery on Lisbeth's blog: thanks Lisbeth!)

I'm up to my neck in editing, which as I've been repeatedly told and never quite believed, is a huge job. The journal will be out on Friday. It has to be out on Friday. And it will be really good. A piece of art in itself, really.

posted 14:50 link

friday, june 15

Trading cards of theorists and an action doll of Foucault. Cute. (via Gonzalo)

posted 13:21 link

wednesday, june 13

FuckedWeblog lists dead weblogs, implying that blogs are a dying race. I doubt that, but at least the list provides a sprinkling of reasons for not writing a blog.

posted 17:14 link

The disorder of blogs; fragments arranged by time of writing rather than the logic of arguments. Barthes orders several books by the seeming randomness of the alphabet. Would he have blogged had he known how? Probably he did, but privately, for himself. Then he structured it all into a single enormous network (or not) of fragments, pensées, epitaphs.

The alphabetical order erases everything, banishes every origin. Perhaps in places, certain fragments seem to follow one another by some affinity, but the important thing is that these little networks not be connected, that they not slide into a single enormous network which would be the structure of the book, its meaning. It is in order to halt, to deflect, to divide this descent of discourse toward a destiny of the subject, that at certain moments the alphabet calls you to order (to disorder) and says: Cut! Resume the story in another way. (Roland Barthes: Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes. 1977. p 148)

posted 16:46 link

The development peekhole for Ceres that I wrote about the other day is being updated early and often - there's interesting reading there, not just about this particular product but about ideas of blogging and note-taking in general.

posted 16:37 link

Torill writes about why she blogs - another for my collection. I love her description of sneaking up on a thought and surprising it, and of writing down thoughts that don't quite fit in to gain closure, like with the boys she was in love with at sixteen. And Lisbeth's been interviewed about blogging by Danish Computerworld.

I'm back from Melbourne, for a little while. The weather's exactly the same here as it is there, though here it's summer and there it's winter. I've come home to busy-ness; Kevin and my net art issue of Localmotives is nearly ready. Kevin's set up a brilliant structure for it, I just love it - command-line aesthetics (think PINE and unix) with a community weblog functionality. We've got some great work in it y some excellent contributors and it's going to be good.

posted 08:21 link

M/C's next issue will have the theme Creator, and they're currently asking for submissions around this theme.

posted 08:11 link

friday, june 8

Ceres is a new tool by Eastgate for writing, organising, analysing and publishing notes that I'm really looking forward to trying. It will live on your personal computer, and is meant to handle all your notes. Agents can set up links and organise stuff for you, and you can link and sort stuff as well. And (I love this bit) you can tag some of your notes to be published in your blog - so I can keep all my notes in the same file, link them as I want, always have a neat archive, and choose for some notes to be private and others to go in my blog. It sounds wonderful. Eastgate are planning to ship Ceres at the end of this year, and you can see where they're up to in the development peekhole - a blog-like thing made by Ceres of course.

posted 04:24 link

10 fresh styles - thinking of the web as the medium rather than a copy of old media.

posted 04:12 link

I'm really interested in Gonzalo's recent thoughts about the power of simulation: Ludology.org - Videogame Theory "Unlike a statue, that simply represents, a game simulates an event and so it makes players actually perform an action." (June 7 2001) Yes. Gonzalo also writes about how simulation is seen as immoral, it's "playing with serious stuff", whereas narrative is morally clear and generally approved of. Gonzalo's developed these ideas in relation to computer games, for instance in his essay Ephemeral games: Is it barbaric to design videogames after Auschwitz? - I'm starting to think of the guilt I feel when reading Online Caroline along these lines. Simulation, representation, guilt, scale - thoughts whizzing round my mind that need time and thought to settle.

posted 03:32 link

thursday, june 7

Kunstnett has an interesting article about Transmediale.01's new artistic category, "artistic software", with a discussion of why they didn't really get any qualified entries. I wonder how hackers, who actually do write this kind of creative code, respond to art's attempts to colonise their work? Do they like being thought of as artists, or do they want to be hackers?

posted 05:48 link

monday, june 4

Check out the 2001 Electronic Literature Awards - I'm so pleased John Cayley won the poetry award; his pieces are so amazingly beautiful. Caitlin Fisher won the fiction award - I don't know her work as well as John's, but she's coming to Hypertext 2001 in August and I'm looking forward to hearing her read.

posted 05:32 link

friday, june 1

Talking of fictive web diaries (yes, I know that was two weeks ago), here's a list of that kind of hoax. Some amusing ones here. Via Lisbeth.

posted 14:20 link


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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