klastrup AT it-c.dk

This is the research diary of Lisbeth Klastrup. Here I share some of my thoughts on life, universe, virtual worlds, interactive stories and internet oddities with you.

I'm a ph.d. scholar at DIAC at the IT University at Copenhagen (ITU). I also host & work in a world called StoryMOO. At this ITU homepage you can read more about my research project and miscellaneus activities. List of publications is here.

Current month

Fellow researchers
Jesper Juul
Susana Tosca
Troels Degn Johansson
Estrid Soerensen
Lars Konzack
Kenneth Hansen
Gabriel Hansen
Joergen Callesen
Soeren Pold

Jill Walker's blog
Torill Mortensen's blog
Ragnhild Tronstad
Hilde Corneliussen's blog
Carsten Jopp's blog
Anders Fagerjord's blog

Anna Gunder
Jenny Sunden
Mikael Jacobsson

Aki Jarvinen
Markku Eskelinen
Raine Koskimaa

-The World
Gonzalo Frasca's blog (URU, US)
Anja Rau's blog (DE)
Elin Sjursen's blog (NO, US)
Frank Schaap's blog (NL)
Adrian Miles' Vog blog (AUSTR.)
Mark Bernstein's blog (US.)

Related Reads
Dust from a Distant Sun (DK)
Cykelkokken (DK, in Danish)
Two Years in Denmark (DK,US)
Future Dr. Karlsbjerg (DK)
Laurel.blog (US)
Texturl (US)

©Lisbeth Klastrup 2002

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I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! when there is no last update date on a webpage - and all links to a much-referred -to piece of writing are dead. Kalevala MOO, where art thou?

This is a good link day! Came across this nice article (despite it's title)on theatre online, including snippets of interview with Juli Burk of AtheMOO: From paper and ink to pixels and linksby Helen Jamieson. She has nice biblio at the end, where she links to the Digital Performance Archive, a site which turned out to have a massive "performance on the net"-in-all-aspects bibliography, including quite a few weblinks. And she linked to The Plaintext players, a group of online performers and writers which appears to have done several online plays. There is also an article here DID ANYONE BRING A WORD OR AN AX?, which I haven't read yet, but I love the title.

The Art of making you believe in Fictional personalities on-line:
I have recently come across 2 examples, one promoted via weblogg, the other one living mainly through e-mail. There is the story of Kaycee Nicole , a young girl suffering from leukemia, who recently suddenly died of an unexpected aneurism. I actually visited her weblogg page shortly after the supposed death of Kaycee, and fully believed it, even if the page was cheesily sentimental in all ways - and now, I'm left with a feeling of both respect (quite an author, that is) and disgust (how can you play with other people's emotions like this?).
And then, the story of Nowheremom. The handle Dennilfloss (RL male) created Nowheremom, a female single mother and started dating her, when he/she got too many approaches from other men. At last he "killed" in a car accident because things were getting too complicated (marriage ahead and that kind of stuff...)
Both cases obviously reminds me of the first story of this kind, I got to know, the story of the male psychiatrist who posed as a disabled woman. It's related both in Sherry Tuckle's Life on the Screen (she doesn't tell the full story, though) and in R.A. Stone's The War of desire and Technology (she/he tell's the full story, so go for her version, if you haven't read it), both written around 1995. I guess these hoaxes are quite old internet-history wise, since all you need is an e-mail address and a handle (username) to promote your fictional character. However, it's interesting that the Kaycee Nicole story was boosted through the use of fake photographs and the more easily accessible weblogg, i.e. through this kind of media (blogg, homepage) the hoax can move from being inside a closed community (a news-group, forum, community which has access to the e-mails) to being accessible to, in principle, everybody, who passes that page. I'm sure there exist loads of homepages of imaginary people out there, but it requires some nerve (and creative writing skills) to maintain a character day after day in an blogg. No wonder, that after some time (years even!), you'd want to kill your imaginary alter ego...
There are links to more hoaxes here .

The site Netzspannung has a map of places in Europe where media art (medienkunst) is produced and presented. For some strange (and sad?) reason, neither Denmark nor Norway is active on this map.

Gonzalo has some sharp thoughts on remediation in his last log.


I'm thinking about art on the internet, since I'm working on an article for Localmotives. Copyrightdavis is a piece, I love - it combines word, mainly images though, and some "interactivity" (click on the bottom pattern and see what happens if you follow the lead).

So I finished the Lord of the Rings (Return of the King) this morning. I thought I knew this book by heart now, but there were so many details I had forgotten. This time I especially noted how big a part the "grounding the reader in the story space" plays. All this talk of hills and slopes and mounds and crevices and gaps and bushes and stones and mountain peaks and forests and lakes and streams and rivers...He writes with the keen sight of a geographer and an autist's incurable need for the precision of detail. And yes, I truly believe I was "there". in The Shire, in Gondor, in Mordor; though I sometimes found myself wearily dragging my tired eyes through all the scenic descriptions while I waited to get to a peoples place again.

I simply have to start playing the A.I game . Article in Politiken tells how players have organised in a group called Cloudmakers , following the trails and solving the riddles laid out in dataspace by the A.I. film promotion people - concerning the murder of future person Evan Chan. Article says that part of the game is to get codewords to voicemails - and you even risk being called yourself be people with menacing voices or e-mailing with fictional people. Very interesting - this interweaving of fact and fiction, the dispersement of spaces where the fiction takes place....

The Postmodernism Generator. Sadly, it produces only essays, not conference themes (see 18.05 blogg).

Reboot 4.0 - the conference of the Danish Internet trade org. is currently taking place in Copenhagen. Evan Williams of Blogger.com is one of the speakers - thus making webloggs one of the hot conference themes. Reboot also has a award-ceremony for best websites in various categories. Here is their shortlist.

Replayability: Been out cold for a couple of days, due to a strained ancle. I know that the brain is my main tool and hence, a injured bodypart shouldn't really put me out of the academic game. But it's just been hurting too much for me to concentrate properly. And so I started reading Lord of the Rings again (so I'm prepared to review the movie properly and of course to discuss it further as an very elaborate example of a virtual world in the ph.d.thesis;)). Still as a addictive as the first time, I read it, so I've spent a lot of hours on the sofa these 2 days....Which leads me directly to the first link of today: Replayabliity, Part One: Narrative"", by Ernest Adams in Gamasutra. He's writing about how to think about constructing narrative games that are replayable. Turns out he has somewhat of a Janet Murrayish stance: if the designer can just come up with a great and compelling story (f.i. like the Lord of the Rings!), then people will want to relive/replay again and again...Well, gamedesigners aren't Tolkiens nor Shakespeares in Spe, so that's a bit much too hope for: content solving what to me seems to be an intrinsicly ontological problem. If the game includes a good story (or rather strong narrative cuing), you (or at least I) "suffer" through all the annoying game elements of solving puzzles and shooting villains in order to get to the end of the story...And once I've learned what the story is all about, I won't suffer through all the tedious and timeconsuming puzzlesolving etc once more, even if some kind of "chartasistic" kick is my reward. However, if the gameplay itself is fun and I'm entertained while working my way through the game, I'll be happy to make do with even a moderately interesting narrative while replaying it because it's simply a good game. So seems to me that in order to make the ultimate replayable narrative-oriented game you would have to come up with something that had both a good story and an interesting gameplay/gaming content. The narrative game depends on suspense in the sense that you are constantly postponing the moment of resolve. In the replayable game, time itself seems suspended while you are struggling to "make it right" with the objects etc you're handling. Thus, how to prevent these elements from getting in each other's way, is somewhat of a paradox yet to be solved, I think. Not saying, that I wouldn't like to solve it myself. I'd love to make my StoryMOO mystery replayable. But somehow it's only fun discovering who the murderer is once...

Today's conference announcement...A (post)graduate conference on Postmodern Practices: MediaTraces - DiscourseBodies - TradeMarx""in Nurnberg, Germany in November. Possible topics include: "jouissance as surplus value", "difference as a symptom", "transnational media rhizomes", "I is a commodity"...and many more truly inventive titles ;). Jesper Juul, my colleague, suggested the topics list must have been generated by a text-generation-machine. I tend to agree with him. However, further down the list, you do find "hyperfiction and net literature" - so perhaps there are humans behind this after all...

Just updated my Fellow Colleagues list (see left column) - it's nice knowing that there are by now quite a few people distributed all over the world doing all this great work in this field of digital media, e-narratives, virtual worlds (MUDs, MOOs mainly), computer games, cybertextuality, cybersociology...I wish there were one fitting word to describe what we're doing but perhaps it is a good thing, there is not, because this complex similiarity/difference relation I have with most of them is what I benefit the most from - and maybe the diversity of subject of studies is a healthy sign; we are all moving in different directions, getting into depth with specific phenomena, rather than trying to come up with the theory that describes it all....

And Elin Sjursen, a Norwegian colleague studying at MIT got a new blogg up and running, BloggerdyDoc. Great :)! She and Jill in her blogg are discussing Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media, which is lying right next to me on this very table. For better, for worse, I'm looking forward to reading him now...I rather liked his essay on Cinema as a Cultural interface (appears to be a preliminary to the book), to be found on his personal website.

As most know by now, Douglas Adams died last Friday. I just visited his official website , which on the frontpage displays the "menucard" for his memorial service. A bit morbid, and very sad, too. There's is also a tribute option and there are lots of postings - and I must admit they might me laugh a bit. It's obvious to write "Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish" ... but I only ever read in English. But here are several other language interpretations; tributes include titles ".....Tack för all fisk " (SWE), "Au revoir & merci pour le poisson"(FRA), "Auf Wiedersehen und danke für den Fisch!"(DE),"Terve, ja kiitos kaloista"(FIN)...Farvel og tak for fisk, Douglas.

Btw, if I was to venture into another area of study, web tributes would definitely be something, I'd like to study. When recently Danish Queen Mother Ingrid died, the Danish newspaper Politiken established a tribute list online almost only minutes after the announcement. I read some of them the day after, and they were so heartfelt and moving many of them, highly personal and even poetic. Whereas I see the weblogg as mainly the means of expression of the more skilled and avid webbers - the web tribute seems closer to being a means of expression of the less skilled, irregular webber, hence closer perhaps, to the voices of most people briefly showing up on the web? Obviously, with the tribute being a one-time occurence there are natural differences in form, but still...Well, in my next life, I'd hopefully be able to say more about this.

New York, New York. Just got info on a conference, or i.e the "The Second Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association" , to be held in NY in June. It's a weird mix of all kind of subjects - politics, aesthetics, gender, communication, cyberspace - but for those with an interest in media studies, it could be interesting. Joshua Meyrowitz and Camille Paglia are among the keynote speakers.

Project Cyborg 2001...chipped love, one might call it. Irena, professor Warwick's wife is willing to have a chip operated into her arm that will allow her to exchange neural impulses with her husband - via a computer, that is! Strange world.

Someone dropped my beloved laptop on the floor...(no names mentioned, R) and so now I'm spending my time uploading my files, addressbook etc to the local fileserver before I turn it in for repair (perhaps to never see it again...Arrrghh). It's a bit scaring that so much of my research life seem to be crammed into all these invisible and volatile kilobytes. So little in the head, so little on paper, so much "in there"...I know where to find everything, but if it's deleted, I'm lost.
And then, I need to write up my annual research report (the one that earns my institution money) - in which I have to document what research I have done in the last 6 months. Looking back, days just seemed to have slipped through my fingers... but according to recent Danish statistics, ph.d.students use 70% on their time on research (fyi, lowest score belongs to professors - they only spend 25% of their official working hours on research!), so I guess, I must have done something! - And then, finally, as soon as the report is over and done with, I will move my workspace outside, enjoying the spring sun and reading The Well - A Story of Love, Death and Real Life in the seminal Online Comunnity by Katie Hafner (pub. 2001), one of my New York findings. It sounds cheasy, I know, but from what I have read so far reasonably down to earth despite the title. And with the Well being a very old online community by electronic standards, it might be interesting to actually discover how the story of a community develops from start to end. And not to forget: The Joy of Reading without a deadline - I have almost forgotten it.

As I bide my time, waiting for my health to return and pondering where my future will take me, this poem by Philip Larkin keeps hauting me:

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and Time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

(Philip Larkin, 1964)

I have returned from the US, but healthwise I'm not up and running yet, so a few more days of silence here might be expected.
Meanwhile, here's a nice "screensaver" : no words, just pictures - a nice little "female" animation (advertising a compagny, but nice artwork): Melon