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, october 31

I think I'll go listen to this debate tomorrow night. "What are we doing when we talk to a thing?" I've wondered about that too.

posted 15:19 link

Gonzalo reviews Brenda Laurel's new book, Utopian Entrepreneur - it's about her endeavours to create games for girls, and I'll certainly be reading it. (I'm skipping the second half of the parallell sessions here. Looking forward till the expo and art exhibition open.)

posted 15:09 link

I don't know anyone here. Except Aida. And some Bergen people who are all building a huge "stand" in the Expo. Oh, and Niels Oluf Bouvin from Hypertext conferences is here, now with titanium components in his heart. I asked how it feels and he said that he feels great but he ticks! In a quiet room I would have heard it, he said. A heart that ticks instead of beating.

Aida and I worked hard at lunch to talk with the people opposite us. "What's your area?"
- Digital art.
- Mobile computing.
- Pervasive interfaces.
And then these stony faces shut off (or was that only my perception of it?) and try as I would I couldn't get any further with them. Next time, Aida and I have agreed to make up on-the-fly specialty fields for ourselves. Cyborg erotica. Nomadic divergence art. Pervasive pedagogy. And if anyone asks more (and I bet they won't) we'll be utterly vague and suggestive.

This morning's keynote was Kevin Warwick, the scandalous would-be-cyborg robotics professor from England. He wants to augment human intelligence by extending our senses (which to him are the main part of intelligence, I think). His next implant will make him able to perceive (or for his nervous system to send and receive) ultrasonic signals, so he won't bump into things in the dark. Oh, and he showed an amazing video almost too theatrical to believe (though he swore it was true) of a Parkinsons patient who couldn't move on his own, he just trembles uncontrolably, until they implanted electrodes in his brain and "reset" the shivering (well, I suppose they reset something else really but I can't remember what exactly) and he stopped trembling, to the click of a button, and could move, walk, dance, smile! If it was real, it was amazing. Kevin Warwick reckons electronic medicine will become much more important than chemical drugs - electronic signals to stop a headache, remove pain, restore muscle control. Fascinating idea.

Kevin Warwick wants to be a cyborg. But when asked about the ethics of all this, he wanted no responsibility for that side of things. "I'm a scientist", he said, "I want to see what can be done. Whether we do it or not is up to society." Just imagine Microsoft owning the rights to parts of your body... ugh...

There's a queue and a sign outside the "internet café" now. "Please limit your surfing to ten minutes." Imagine six computers at a conference for 500. Weird.

posted 13:19 link

Stewart of sylloge has read that I nicked his stylesheet! He's very gentlemanly about it, says he wouldn't have minded if I had asked, and that I may "use that file in good health and happiness". Thank you. I hereby solemnly declare that I have turned over a new leaf and will henceforth ask first. Unless I can call it parody. Like Stewart's google rip-off, for instance. Follow the top "hit" for some good questions: "I copied the HTML from Google's pages and made the necessary changes, but I could have just as easily written it myself. In this case, does it make any difference?" I don't know.

posted 10:52 link

Btw, why is a room full of computers automatically called an "Internet Café" when there's no coffee or food or physical social interaction in sight? Weird.

posted 10:36 link

Blogging at a conference is tempting when you barely know anyone else at the conference and the current presentation is by the CEO of Scandinavian Airlines, explaining why it's great that the Nordic countries cooperate - perhaps Nordic Interactive will be the conference I blog from. I do like the idea of people delivering live reports from possbly interesting conferences, but I know that last time I tried to be the person doing that I failed miserably.

So, I'm at Nordic Interactive, in Copenhagen, and it's looking like it might be quite interesting actually. There are 500 participants, so it's quite large.This afternoon a large and professionally curated exhibition of digital (or, of course, given the title of the conference, interactive) art will be opening. There's nothing much on the web about it (typical) but there are some really interesting pieces here, from the looks of the catalogue. Some of the pieces were at the Detox exhibition that toured Norway last year (and Ståle Stenslie, who curated that, is involved in this exhibition as well) but there are plenty of things I haven't seen before. Reading the catalogue I'm intrigued by nu-K-ke, a voodoo doll which you can pierce with needles, and on being pierced, it freezes the screen of a random registered visitor to its website: "The monitor of the victim freezes for a few seconds and the image of the "stabber" from the current exhibition space appears on the screen". I'm not sure I'd want to sign up for that - but it's a fascinating idea. Perhaps this is the blackening of an opponents screen that Markku wants in a game - though it's not the permanent screen death that I think Markku was after.

There's also an expo of industry related stuff, opening about now, and some of of the exhibits look fascinating. Several exhibits are about non-mouse-and-keyboard interfaces, things like controlling a computer with eye-movements or "natural human actions". Many of the talks sound like they might be good. And I'm even moderating a panel (the original moderator got lost, somehow, and I stepped in on Lisbeth's recommendation (thanks Lisbeth!)) - I think the panel will be great, it's on new kinds of stories. On Saturday there's a research seminar on narrativity and interactivity run by Maureen Thomas - I know a lot of people will scream at those words, especially joined like that, but hey, it's worth seeing what they're up to. And since I see from the list of participants that hardly anyone I know is here, I get to meet lots of new and different people.

Perhaps I should go to the expo and start mingling.

posted 10:21 link

tuesday, october 30

It's terrible to be computerless. And webmail is a pain. Never the less, this afternoon I'm off to Copenhagen to attend Nordic Interactive. I'm curious as to what the conference will be like. It seems to have a lot of Nordic funding and seems to be pretty much aimed towards industry with lots of cultural alibis and some academic stuff too. Some quite different people to the crowd I seem to generally meet at conferences are going to be there, so I'm looking forward to experiencing a new group of people. Also, I get to see Susana again - Susana Tosca was awarded her PhD on hypertext literature yesterday, summa cum laude! (that means splendidly done in Latin, I think.) Today she's moving to Copenhagen to start teaching at the IT University today! Susana has so many great thoughts about games and hypertext and stuff and she's one of the funnest people I know to spend time with - and there are direct flights between Bergen and Copenhagen! Hooray!

posted 13:50 link

friday, october 26

My computer died! It won't start up at all! I'm in mourning... I'm rather emotionally attached to that computer. Oh, and I only have recent backups of essentials - there are all those semi-essential things that I can't get at. Apparently it probably needs a new m motherboard or processor. Hopefully the harddisk is OK and I'll eventually get my stuff back. Right now, I've borrowed a windows laptop for a few days (everything on it feels weird, the keyboard clicks, the mouse is odd, the interface peculiar, but I suppose I'll get used to it), and at home I think I'll repossess the old iMac my daughter's been using. Oh, and of course, since I'm in a university, I have two different divisions quarrelling over who should pay and the bosses of both divisions are away so I can't really get an answer. Great.

This is the sort of occassion where a blog like this, run via a remote server and not through my personal computer, is really good. At least I can blog, though I can't get to most of my other work - my Ceres notes are gone :( On the other hand, I've never in my computing life had a totally dead machine before so it's not like it's a frequent problem.

Cyber.* was great. I'll write more about that later when I've figured out what I can do about my poor computer.

posted 12:43 link

sunday, october 21

Gallery of ''Misused'' Quotation Marks. (via Eclogues)

posted 13:02 link

saturday, october 20

Lisbeth and I are arranging a seminar here at Humanistic Informatics (my dept) next week: cyber.*, a frivolously open name where the wildcard * indicates that it's about anything digital - digital aesthetics, computer games, cyberculture, technorhetoric (aha, techrhet, no, that sounds better than it looks), gender and computing, net.art etc. 16 people, mostly from Nordic countries, are coming to speak and lots of interesting people have already signed up to come and listen and discuss things. I think it'll be really good! If you 'd like to come, drop a line to Lisbeth and me - everyone's welcome, in theory, but in practice the room only fits 38 people so write fast so we're sure there's room for you. Oh, and the language is mostly English. Don't let the first page (in Norwegian) fool you. Go look at the program or the list of participants instead.

posted 17:53 link

My stylesheet got ripped off by Noemata.net! I'm really pleased! :) That's like a huge compliment! And they even credited me. Now may be the time to admit that I actually stole my stylesheet myself. Oh, I did tweak it a fair bit. Changed the link colours, removed lots of images and some burgundy stuff he had. But the basics are stolen. I got it from sylloge, which used to be a good blog, but got steadily duller until it shut down. Now there doesn't seem to be anything at all at the old URL (so that link may not work). Back then, a whole year ago (!) when I was a young blogger and not as brave as I am today, I didn't dare tell Stewart at Sylloge that I'd stolen his stylesheet. I got so worried that once, when I emailed him with an answer to a question he had, I carefully deleted my signature file from the email so he wouldn't click on my URL and discover I'd taken his stylesheet. Perhaps I should email him now and confess.

Really I think everyone steals stuff on the web, intentionally and not - html code, stylesheets, design ideas, links - that's even before we get to the dodgy stuff like mp3s, pirated software and images. Sharing stuff is the great thing about the web. It's the hive mind of our time. It's much nicer having stuff borrowed from you when they credit you though, so thanks Noemata! Oh, and nice touch, calling your stylesheet jill.css ;) I'm honoured. I kept Stewart's name, which I really like: ornaments.css.

posted 17:39 link

thursday, october 18

I need a term that's equivalent to narratee in a narrative communication model, but that will apply to games and preferably also to hypertext fictions and so on. A narratee is internal to the fictional world, it's a function that's part of the text, and is not the same as the real, flesh and blood reader. Can I find a word general enough to describe all these kinds of text? Maybe any kind of text, including narratives, and narratee would be a subcategory of that word - or is that too much? I need to differentiate between the actual flesh and blood human being and the player expected by the text. Implied player comes to mind but I don't think that's quite what I want. The implied reader is not the same as the narratee in the narrative communication model.

In Cybertext Espen sets up a model for adventure games which includes a position similar to what I want which he calls the intriguee. I'm not sure that's what I want though. That implies that there's an intrigue, which needn't be the case even in text adventure games - look at Nick Montfort's Ad Verbum, for instance. I've seen words like vuser and of course user and player and reader but none of these differentiate between me as a real person and the player the text is assuming or the role that I am expected to fill. In a first person shooter, the hands I sometimes see holding the gun aren't my hands, they're "my" hands. They're my avatar's hands. Perhaps avatar is the word I want - but it's so very tied to gaming, and I'm not sure it quite means what I want it to mean.

How do you invent a word? Perhaps I should start by defining it rather than by naming it. Then if I can't think of a good name, I can make up a nonsense sequence of letters. I'll use the nonsense word until my terminology is stable if odd, and then, maybe, the right word for the concept will come to me? Or I could just redefine avatar to make it fit my use.

posted 19:54 link

wednesday, october 17

I don't think the games people have been making in response to the Current Situation (tm) change peoples' attitudes. I don't think they're meant to. I'm interested in the way so many people are using games as a way to express their feelings. That's different to trying to change people's minds. I think the games have a similar function to writing a poem or a song, painting a picture about something, or telling your friends about something important that happened to you, or blogging about it. I'm interested in whether this is primarily an aestheticisation of emotion or something else (gamification? hm) that's specific to games. I find it fascinating that it's obviously meaningful to many people to make these games and also that enormous numbers want to play them.

posted 17:45 link

Did Americans used to talk about being "unpatriotic"? It was just "un-American" back in the Cold War, right? (Not that I remember the Cold War.) So what happened with that slippage of meaning?

posted 17:24 link

Jeg danset meg ned til kantinen etter å ha hørt og sett en meget aktuell svensk tolkning av en (påstått?) hindu låt. Samme opplegget som Hatten er din som Espen minte meg på i formiddag. Men mer nyhetsrettet ;) Her er disclaimeren fra de som laget den. [Swedish "translation" of a "Hindu" song. English disclaimer and translation available.] (via blogdex)

posted 15:52 link

tuesday, october 16

Carsten Jopp's one of my collegues here - we worked together on a MOO and learning project a couple of years ago and now he's researching learning in networked environments. He's just started up a blog: joppLOGG. Blogs are really getting compulsory ;)

posted 13:42 link

monday, october 15

If you can wade through the mystery frames and flash at their site (hint: click on an area at random), the Media Lounge has some really interesting SMS projects. I think what we're seeing at their web site is just short text descriptions of projects, and they're actually hosting a physical exhibition which may be awesome though their website is tangled. It was launched the day before yesterday. Give the interface a chance and click into the mystery areas. Among the ones that intrigued me the most are Surrender Control and WAN2LRN. Surrender Control is a game/art piece which sends messages to your mobile phone and insists that you perform the actions it describes.Actually, it's "an experimental narrative project", according to the description - I wonder what makes it narrative? This article about it doesn't make it sound very narrative, but I guess narrative's a cool word these days. There's a short project description (which looks better but is very hard to find inside frames). And they write: "At the end of the project, the messages will stop, with no indication of why the messages were sent, what the purpose of the project was, or who sent them." Hm. I can see the point of a minimal "experience" for the reader/player but it feels a bit like a cop-out. Like the people who designed the project aren't quite sure what the purpose of the project was, either. Leaves me feeling a bit empty - though I love the idea of experimenting with SMS messages and I like the premise of playing with the ways we surrender control to our machines.

WAN2LRN is an SMS and blog soap opera that's supposed to inspire teenagers to actually pass their exams. They've put the SMS messages online with links to the blogs for those of us who aren't high school students in Surrey or whereever (where's "the north west learning grid I wonder?). Intriguing idea.

Also there's the-phone-book.com, which collects SMS-length mininarratives. , I remember.

Btw, do people really write SMS messages the way the fictional teenagers do in WAN2LRN? You know, "RU sk8in 2nite?" I have a "cool teenager phone" (it was marketed as that, yes) and the dictionary recognition software is good enough that there's no way I'm typing stuff in letter by letter, punching the ABC key six times to get an Å. I'd much rather let the phone do that dull work. And of course, the phone dictionary doesn't recognise "2nite", it only accepts tonight (or tmmgggf before the dictionary kicks in) Actually there are lots of words it doesn't recognise. I constantly rephrase my sentences so they'll fit the phone's vocabulary. The government (or in Norway, Språkrådet) should sponsor decent mobile phone dictionaries. Much worse things will happen to our language than spelling tonight 2nite.

posted 18:50 link

Dozens of people have been landing at this blog persuing a search for "dancing bin laden". Obviously I had to replicate the search, but I can't find any dancing Bin Laden, only reports of dancing crowds and Bin Laden. Did someone make a dancing baby doll with Bin Laden's face? Gawd. (And the things one learns - or surmises - from referrer stats.)

posted 11:07 link

friday, october 12

MyVideoGames.com -- CAN GAMES CHANGE THE WORLD?: "Games have to become, in short, political." Published Sept 24 with no direct mention of the attacks. Odd. And did Henry Jenkins and Janet Murray really grown up gaming? No, but really, it's a sensible editorial. And there's a pretty active of this at Plastic.com, surprisingly enough with some really good debate in there. Now that I'm utterly into this political gaming stuff, I've finally downloaded Gonzalo Frasca's amazingly relevant MA thesis, Videogames of the Oppressed - Videogames as a Means for Critical Thinking and Debate.

posted 23:46 link

An article in Le Monde about Bin Laden games. Perhaps written by this Emmanuelle? Mostly the same as the article the other day in Wired about the skins at cyberextruder.com, though updated and with a mention (and a beautiful description of) Bin Laden Liquors as well. (thanks Gonzalo)

posted 12:32 link

thursday, october 11

I'm not sure if this is meant to be funny, but I'm hooting with laughter! Bad Dudes vs. Bin Laden: "We have Osama Bin Laden in custody. Are you a bad enough dude to kick his ass? Instructions: Simply click your mouse where you want to punch Bin Laden." Wow, that's BAD, dude! (and I haven't even started playing yet)

posted 15:31 link

Oh no, I hit the jackpot. A page dedicated to "anti-Osama" games and movies. "America is ANGRY!" What I don't get is how BOTH sides in this war see the other as evil, cowardly, terrorist, violent, bloodthirsty, etc. They describe each other with exactly the same words. Of course, the terrorists who attacked the WTC were despicable. But reacting by wanting to blow up Afghanistan and decapitate Bin Laden and his cronies doesn't seem that much better. Even some of the protestors react the same way. I went to a "peace rally" on Monday. It turned out to be as militant as the war-mongers, with idiotic slogans like "hvis du e så glad i bomber, Bush, kan du bombe deg sjølv i ræva!" (be grateful if you don't understand that). Needless to say, I didn't stay.

I'm interested in the war related games to see how people use games to interpret and comment on the world. I might not have the stomach to conduct a thorough investigation, though. We'll see.

posted 15:25 link

Wired has an article about Bin Laden skins you can get for Quake and Unreal Tournament. Apparently The Sims players have asked for Bin Laden skins too, but they're not available yet. (Update: yes they are, here at CyberExtruder with the other skins) I've been hunting for more war-related games (about this war, not just about war in general, that'd be easy) but it's hard to find the right search methods and terms. Lisbeth showed me a really awful short film, Osama Been Flatten, which certainly has a game aesthetic about it, made by the guy who made that dancing baby in Ally McBeal. There are some bad flash animations, not games, just movies, too. The only online games I've found so far are Gonzalo's "humanitarian" Kabul Kaboom!, the hilarious though possibly tasteless New York Defender and the definitely tasteless and somewhat racist Bin Laden Liquors. There are certainly more stories than games about this war and the attacks that set it going, but making and playing games are definitely becoming ways we think about, interpret and react to the world around us.

posted 14:57 link

Cunning trick: make a new bookmark (from the browser menu, not just by clicking "add favourite"), give it a name, and in the address/URL field paste in
When you go to that bookmark later, it will do a google search on links to the page you were on when you clicked that bookmark. Nifty, eh? From a comment to a thread in MeFi, which I have to admit, often has extraordinarily inane discussions. Some great links and gems occasionally though.

posted 10:32 link

This doesn't have anything to do with the real theme of this blog, but well, I have to share it. A Woman's Guide on How to Pee Standing Up at restrooms.org. My personal favourite (though I haven't actually tried it out yet): the finger-assist method.

posted 10:18 link

wednesday, october 10

Media philosophy is an attack on the institutions of rational, systematic, uncommercial, analytic, supposedly value-free, unmediated, objective thought. It sets itself against every form of critical thought that remains a prisoner to the abstract.

In the media, one-liners are everything. Impressions are everything. Style, personality and a timing are everything. There is no possibility - and this cannot be emphasized too much - of ruling out the scholar's nightmare of ambiguity and, even more shocking, radical, outraged, emotionally charged misunderstanding. For those who still believe in the dream of transparent intersubjectivity or an ideal speech community of the experts who trade clear and distinct ideas, essences and concepts, misunderstanding constitutes an abiding fear. But misunderstanding can release energy. The law of media is the law of dirty hands: you cannot be understood if you are not misunderstood. (Poster/Saarinen: Imagologies, "Media Philosophy", p 5, 1994)

posted 21:19 link

Gonzalo answered my question the other day by making a game of his own: Kabul Kaboom! - dodge the missiles and get the food drops. Games as social commentary could be powerful. Instead of speaking at you they place you in a role; you're immediately situated. As a hero fighting a battle in New York Defender and as a Picassoesquely tragic Afghan victim in Kabulkaboom. Very different positions. Both player positions are doomed to fail, though, as that kind of dexterity driven shoot-em-down game generally are. You can't win that sort of game, though you might get the high score. I guess that's what wars are like too. "You can no more win a war than win an earthquake."

posted 17:22 link

tuesday, october 9

If you have a Mac running OS10.1, this might be for you: "BlogScript is a powerfully convenient little script that allows users of Blogger.com to post instantly to a user's weblog from any application without the need to login or even launch a browser."

posted 15:30 link

I can drag Storyspace nodes straight into Ceres! Oh yay! The joy of software doing exactly what I hope it will do even when I suspect it won't.

posted 12:14 link

monday, october 8

Medieviter om krigspropagandaen fra Pentagon og informasjon som krigføring.

posted 12:55 link

Artists copyright every possible sequence of tones in a phone number: We're saying to (big business), 'Okay guys, the boot is on the other foot. If you really believe in copyright, you've got to pay' (The Age, via blogdex, which has a new, more informative and differently coloured layout today.)

posted 12:02 link

Stats of usage patterns on Metafilter. Would be useful in discussing online communities in general or specifically growth curves, popularity of particular posts, usage around September 11, etc. Also see Pew Internet Research for more general stats.

posted 11:05 link

OK, so it's only a few days since I was outraged at the idea of games about real life wars and catastrophes. Today I laughed hysterically playing this flash game. You're supposed to shoot down planes before they crash into the World Trade Center - and they just keep on coming in. I hope Gonzalo or someone else who thinks deeply and wisely about ethics and videogames will explain my and others somewhat disturbing glee at this game. Catharsis? Release? Plain old humour saving us from tension and terror? (Via metafilter, where there are also a lot of varied responses to the game. Notably, the negative reactions are all from people who declare they haven't actually looked at the game. Interesting.)

posted 11:02 link

Email Roulette: "Email Roulette is the finest form of email entertainment to hit the net since spam." You sign up and send an email that will be randomly sent to another member. They may answer. Game, net.art, potential story, or just a passtime?

posted 10:51 link

Actually, Quake is a "humanitarian" game.

posted 09:47 link

sunday, october 7

If you want fast comments and links about the attacks (on Afganistan this time) you might do worse than try Metafilter. Lots of nonsense and lots of sense. Btw, do you find it somehow odd that a photo like this represents this war? I guess you have to have some picture so viewers will believe you.

posted 19:31 link

friday, october 5

I've finally put together a list of email narratives I've found around the web on a webpage of their own. If anyone knows of any others, or of any work on email narratives, or anything like that, please let me know.

This list is my first completely published webpage completely done in Ceres - I'm going to migrate this blog to Ceres too, because I can already see it's going to be a great tool, but I've not quite tweaked it all the way I want it yet so I'm still using Blogger. Ceres lets me put all my notes in it, give them keywords, map them out as a spatial (and colourful) hypertext, link them, search them, decorate them, build agents to keep track of them - and publish the ones I want to make public as posts in a blog, putting lots on one page, or as separate pages, like with the list of email narratives. It's really cool. I haven't quite got my head around doing permalinks yet, though, and some other stuff, and as most way cool things that are actually rather powerful, it does take a little learning to move all my stuff happily in there and see how I can best use it.

posted 17:58 link

Justin Hall's review of gamestudies.org has been out for a while, but I just got a newsletter about it today, with the following paragraph extracted as advertisment for it:

These GameStudies folks will make more promising contributions if we can convince them to waste more of their time with games and less with books.

Scathing criticism? Well, I'm not so sure. This is actually a rather generic kind of criticism, the kind of criticism that says "you don't know enough about what you're talking about" or more specifically, "you don't know as much about this as I do". It's a kind of criticism that is typically used at question time after a conference presentation, or as here, in a response to a paper or journal or conference.

What's really annoying about this particular trope of criticism (shall I add it to my slowly growing list of tropes of academic writing?) is that you can't respond and remain academic, scientific, objective. What are you supposed to do? Stamp your foot and yell? "I do SO know lots about it!" "I've read all these books!" "I've played all these games!" "I've played more than you have so there!" Doesn't seem very academic or scientific, does it? Of course, that's the cunning thing about this tactic of attack. The criticism sounds academic and objective enough but it moves the discussion from the issue at stake to an ad hominem or ad feminem criticism: criticism of the person instead of the issue. Toril Moi writes lots about this in What is a Woman but I can't quote it just now because I gave my borrowed copy back to its owner.

I could analyse that bit of Justin Hall's review of gamestudies.org more of course. It's an exemplary piece of what I'd call hersketeknikk in Norwegian - an attempt to dominate, rule, control? Doesn't sound as good in English, sorry. I'm not sure whether that means Norwegians are better at using or better at seeing through hersketeknikk. There's the "we" against "them" thing happening. "These GameStudies folks" is a very casual and ufarliggjørende (sorry, I guess, un-dangerous-making) expression that demonstrates that the writer doesn't take them very seriously. The word "waste" refers ironically to the common assumption that games are a waste of time at the same time as introducing the idea of waste in relation to books (and thereby theory?) and in particular to "them", these gamestudies folks. "Convince them" suggests that there is a True Answer here and that "these folks" will come round if only shown their flaws. Obviously Hall feels the need to position himself as an authority, and to situate himself as a "game player", a member of "a tough crowd" which ritually demands theorists prove that they actually play games (see the last paragraph). His desire to see analyses of concrete games rather than general theory ("my trained eye hunting for specific game analysis and reference") is reasonable, yet he admits that two of the five articles in the issue are just that, but that they don't mention two games he thinks are relevant. Why does he assume that their non-mention means the authors don't play games, or even that they haven't played those games? That doesn't necessarily follow, does it? No. But it is the standard criticism of gamers. As Justin Hall writes:

During the USC games conference in January 2001, there was an uneasy exchange as a noted modern narrative theorist was questioned dramatically by audience members: had she actually played games, or just watched them being played? Academic writers about games open themselves up to criticism from an audience often hostile to serious academia. I count myself as a game player (..)

Claiming authority through the same old arguments. Fighting over ownership of a field: "You don't know as much about this as we do!" You can't really answer it - without stamping your foot and accepting the personal attack.

posted 11:25 link

wednesday, october 3

Blogwords: (scroll down, the anchor tag doesn't work, it's dated 30/9) haircut blog, backblog, blogary, blogwhoring, a-list, statsurfing, vapormeme.

posted 14:03 link

tuesday, october 2

Lisbeth Klastrup is visiting Bergen (till mid-December) and now she's even online and posting to her blog - and she's just down the hall from me! Yay! The net's great, but it sure is nice to have someone working on the same kind of stuff as me, just down the hall.

posted 15:11 link

Lunchroom musings with Lisbeth and Carsten: Will Americans in 60 years time make a state of the art action game about the attacks on the WTC where you can choose whether you want to be a member of bin Laden's terrorist gang or one of the firefighters and rescue workers? The latest Wolfenstein game (ultra-realism where you can choose between being on Hitler's side or going with the Allies) kind of gives you the same unpleasant feeling, don't you think?

posted 13:17 link

Hypertext in Norway - this year's !Les ("!Read") strategy to get Norwegian teenagers interested in literature is called Hypertekst (you can translate that for yourself) and it involves a competition where about 20000 high school students will be adding bits and pieces to a sort of hypertext detective story. Kari Sverdrup has written the background story which students will be adding to - though actually I'm not sure whether students will actually be writing or just reading and answering questions based on the information on the site. According to Sverdrup's description of the process, she's struggled a bit to write a text that's native to the net and that also can be printed in a booklet for participating schools. Sounds tricky. "Gjør jeg det igjen, vil jeg nok helst bare “tenke nett”, uten å ha teksthefte og kronologi i bakhodet." ("If I do it again, I'll want to just "think for the net", without always having a book and chronology at the back of my mind.") The actual story isn't published yet (online), but from the description it sounds as though it's chronological, has a beginning, middle and end and no alternate paths through it, but there are "avstikkere" (digressions, detours). Apart from these detours, the text will be the same on the net as in the printed booklet.

I'm faintly disappointed that a Norwegian project called "hypertekst" isn't more - well, truly multilinear - but mostly I'm thrilled about the growing public awareness that stories can be different - and wonderful - on computers.

One of the short papers at Hypertext 2001 in August was about a Korean project about hypertext. The Korean government apparently hired a bunch of poets to create a tree of poems - the root poem (by a very famous poet) had so many links out, each of the second layer poems had so many links out and so on. Ordinary readers could add their own poems to the empty spots in the hierarchy. It's interesting to see what hypertext is assumed to be when adopted as something "good" by various powers that be. Here in Norway, it seems to be being promoted as a cool net-related kind of literature that might get young people reading. Reading is good per definition. Reading books on paper, that is. And that seems to be the main aim of this Hypertext project - the detours mostly lead to books. Now, please do take that with a big pinch of salt, because, remember, I haven't actually had a proper look at the story yet, I've only read about it at their web site txt and in Dagbladet.

posted 10:22 link

monday, october 1

One for the archives: Screen Shoots of Online News Sites, September 11/12, 2001. There must be about a hundred here, from a lot of different countries (including Norway): a new screenshot of a new site every minute or two for the first 24 hours after the attacks.

posted 11:42 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.)