Albertine (who doesn’t have a website but has dipped into lots of interesting projects) has asked me to come teach her high school students to blog on the last day of April. A whole day, just a day, in a place I’ve never been to before: I reckon I’ll have fun. “And will you talk about how blogs compare to Blink?” Albertine asked. “My students are crazy about Blink.” So today I signed up for Blink.

Blink means bullseye in Norwegian as well as connoting something fast, eit augenblink a moment, an arrow speeding to its target. It’s pretty cool, actually, as such systems go, and with being part of one of the country’s most popular newspaper sites it’s huge: right now there are over 1700 users online. It’s got the dating, the chatting, the profiles, the guestbooks, but it’s also got diary-writing with Livejournal-like features (this is for friends, this is for me, this is for everyone) and debates and journalists and hosts keeping things going, and find your old class-mates and the rest of it. Interestingly you’re awarded points for each act of writing: writing in your diary, writing in someone else’s guest book, participating in the debates. The more points you have, the higher up you’ll appear on lists of users, so say someone searches for 32 year old women in Bergen and I’ve written in my diary every day for the last month I’ll show up pretty high on that list.

The diaries themselves aren’t that great. So far I’ve not found any way to find the most interesting diaries, other than by clicking on profiles. There’s no possibility for trackbacks, comments, changing the template or anything like that, and most entries are brief and banal. They’re obviously trying to make it non-intimidating, unpretensious:

Din dagbok. Her kan du skrive ned spennende ting som har skjedd i livet ditt eller kjedelige ting som hva du kj¯pte p butikken. Det er opp til deg. NÂr du skriver i dagboka fÂr du velge om alle skal f lese det du skriver, kun dine venner eller bare deg.
(Your diary. Here you can write down exciting things that have happened in your life or boring things like what you bought at the shop. It’s up to you. When you write in your diary you can choose whether everyone can read what you write, or just your friends or just you.)

I might check in now and then to get a feel for it but probably the analysis of how blogs relate to Blink will be a lot more interesting if I let Albertine’s students work it out and tell me. As genuine users of Blink they’re bound to “get” it far better than I do. I’ll need to work out how to present blogs in a way that lets them use their knowledge of Blink to understand blogs and rethink their own network community practice.

I’m “literal” on Blink. At first I just left my profile pretty empty. But within a few minutes I’d had messages from people obviously looking for lovers. Kind messages, you know, from real people. I probably didn’t blog about my internet dating excursions last spring, did I? I used Spraydate then, and let’s simply say that in Bergen a woman can get a dinner date within ten minutes of logging in. Reliably. Even on a Monday afternoon at five pm, when she’d like a bit of company after going to the gym. The dinner date will be perfectly acceptable. He’ll have ironed his shirt and put on aftershave, he’ll have an MBA or a law degree and a decent job and be perfectly good-looking. He’ll be nice, you know, and no doubt some woman’s dream. He’ll pay for dinner, which is pretty exceptional in Norway, where dating didn’t really exist until the internet, we just went to parties and got drunk, mostly, to find partners in the olden days, ten years ago. You’ll have dinner with a fine man who just probably won’t actually make you want to meet him again.

Great for keeping your spirits up though. Given there are three or four times as many men as women on these dating sites, probably women are going to get the most out of them: but for a women I’d highly recommend it, at least for a date or two. And though I got absurd stories out of it rather than true love, I do have friends who’ve found the man in their life on a dating site.

I don’t want to mislead people on Blink, so I’ve made my profile completely literal and open and said I’m a researcher looking for information not lovers and here’s my blog. Talk about breaking the conventions of the community! I wonder whether I’ll still get messages in my guestbook?

Update: Thomas signed up, with a hilarious description, and gave me the opportunity to try out the “friend” setting in Blink. It’s not bad, actually, it lets you define lots of types of friends: friend, acquaintence, lover, best friend, spouse, got-a-crush-on-this-person etc etc etc. That information doesn’t seem to show up to anyone else, and there’s no friends-of-friends networking.


Update April 6: I noticed the front page has stats on the users:

38% er jente (is a girl)
62% er gutt (is a boy)
50% er singel (is single)
2% er gift (is married)
3% er samboer (lives with their boyfriend/girlfriend)
40% har bilde (has a photo)
12% har mobil (has their mobile phone no connected to their profile)
1.59% av befolkningen (of Norway’s population)

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