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.
Troels Degn Johansson
Jill Walker's blog
Torill Mortensen's blog
Hilde Corneliussen's blog
Carsten Jopp's blog
Anders Fagerjord's blog
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.)
Dust from a Distant Sun (DK)
Cykelkokken (DK, in Danish)
Two Years in Denmark (DK,US)
Future Dr. Karlsbjerg (DK)
©Lisbeth Klastrup 2002
I want this, so I can communicate with this thing, which I seriously crave.
Dreaming of total mobility after a Easter Holiday, where too much food have left me wanting to rid myself of the force of gravity - of projecting myself into the world of 3D games which I want to play on the laptop to be mine right now!
Definitely looks like I should take a closer look at Edge in April, since it analyses the headway the medium [games] is making into academic circles
Feeding Mum - this personal interlude you can read here. If you are here for the academic stuff, just go to next post.
How to manage your ph.d.research - an US ph.d.scholar has made a neat little summary of that, too - including how NOT to get a PhD....
Project Management Theory and the Management of Research Projects. When I grow up and become the head of my own research department, Im gonna kick ass!
By way of Frank Schaap: an article in GameSpy.com (reporting from the Game Developers Conference) on The Future of Massively Multiplayer Games.
I should note that I have heard some interesting comments and remarks on my recent post on the life of Danish ph.d.student. Karlsbjerg makes an interesting comparison with the U.S. ph.d. and has a good analysis of why the Danish ph.d.might seem so frustrating:
"In short, the Danish PhD model is very unstructured, which brings along all sorts of stresses because there are many subprojects and tasks that you must do at some point during the three year project time, but you only have independent control over very few of these subprojects and tasks. The rest are coordinated with a multitude of other people (colleagues, students, project partners at other universities, interviewees, etc.), other institutions, schedules, financial issues, etc".
A blogging lecturer wrote and told me he had pointed his ph.d.students to the blog. He also wrote that I wish I could say that it gets better when you move up to a regular faculty position, but it doesn't - and I'm sure he is right, judging from what I have seen and heard around me...
Torill writes some nice words about the online ph.d.scholars surrounding her - and also comments on the finishing stress most of us seem to suffer from, bodies giving up on us (Get better with your back, Torill - and you are NOT slower and less brilliant than the rest of us!)
I guess, what I wanted to obtain by writing things out (except from off-loading some of the stress) was to emphasise that jumping on the ph.d.-wagon is not as much a question of choosing a job as it is a question of choosing an all encompassing style of life and that one should, if possible in advance, be aware of the consequence of this choice. When that is said and done, I do not regret my choice. I would not have the same opportunities of persuing my interests in any other job and I would not have the same freedom to choose when and where to work - and almost most importantly I would not have met all the brilliant people I work with, nationally and internationally, now. And, I am mainly satisfied with being here at ITU - I have some open & kind colleagues in general and much more influence on the state of affairs than I would have, had I stayed at University of Copenhagen. From the responses I have gotten, I don't think life as a ph.d. in general is much more different other places in Scandinavia; perhaps I have just spent more time help building up the place than is normal at older institutions and this I subjected myself to voluntarily. The problems lie mainly with the Danish Ph.d. programme definition as such (as Jan also points too) rather than within a specific institution. I believe you can only change the systems by contesting them and talking openly about the effects they have on us, from both a short- and a longterm perspective.
digital-literacy.com - if you search on this in IE explorer, it cant find any such site, but suggests these instead:
Wired News - Digital Divide, The
Americans Communicating Electronically
- kind of mindboggling, isnt it? Suggesting that
a) the main interest in digital literacy is not discussing what it is, but discussing the divide between those who are digital literate, and those who are not (i.e. focus is on the social implications of literacy, not the aesthetics of it)
b) those that are literate are mostly Americans...
Sad state of affairs, if this is true ;)
Tinka, another Dane writing in English, comments on the discussion of English vs. Danish language blogs too (see previous post). She wrote her comment independently of me, at approximately the same time, which is also interesting itself. Did we naturally as English-writing Danes take offense of the apparent marginalisation of us? Are we less Danish in our content because we write in English: do we comment less on specifically Danish subjects, such as life in Copenhagen, Danish politics, Danish culture, Danish music - topics which would naturally be easier to write about in Danish because they relate to "local phrasings" as well (I mean how do you translate a nickname like Anders Fjog Rasmussen into English etc)? Definitely our choice of academic subject (the study of literature in various forms) drives us towards thinking (in) English, since there is very little substantial theory on Literary Theory written in Danish - and since our peers are likely to be non Danes rather than Danes (at least those on the net at the time being)? But does an orientation towards "international subjects" imply that the way we think about things or define ourselves is less Danish? Actually I do not think so. We are raised within a Danish discourse of what "danskhed" (Danish-ness) is and of what is the proper way to think academically - we come with a frame of mind which makes us just a little bit different from our neighbouring country colleagues (sweet Torill in her last mail refers to me as a classic Danish humanist) and I think we all subconsciously note the differences in approaches, in ways of thinking, however small they may be between the Danes and the Norwegians for instance.
I might address an international audience, but that does not prevent me from thinking locally. And thinking locally is not just a question of being situated at a specific longitude, but of being situated in a specific discourse on how to think, of what to say and what not to say and when to do it, both academically and in general. It is this "locality" in combination with my individual approach to things which gives this blog its own unique voice. It would not be the same if it was not Danish.
Winthers Weblog is another Danish weblog written in Danish. It contains a selective list of Danish weblogs - divided into Danish language blogs and Danish blogs in English (last species of writers are under observation;)). One post claims that 60-70% of the Danish weblogs are in fact in English - a throught-provoking observation and an interesting discussion concordingly unfolds in the comments.
Well, Winther, I write in English, because I reach a larger audience this way (especially some international colleagues who cannot read Danish) and definitely also because I want to practice writing in English: my thesis has to be written in English and I have to keep in shape, basically. I'm sorry if my English to some Danish readers "rings hollow", but I'm afraid my Danish is even worse. For that reason it sure would be a good idea to run a Danish language blog on the side to practice my Danish language skills - if I had more time at hand. But I don't and I am pretty comfortable with this language, at the same time as I like the fact that more and more people are actually starting up blogs written in Danish. From a general point of view, it _is_ important to prevent the language of the net from turning into English (and Spanish,Chinese and Japanese) only and to cultivate the smaller national languages also in this medium. But personally, I think it is content that matters, not form (though I know it is difficult to separate these two) - and to me the main question is whether people write about something worth writing about, not which language they choose to do it in. A point might be made more precisely, eloquently or detailed in someone's native language, but in the long run even the seductiveness of a beautiful style cannot make up for an inherently inane content, IMHO.
In this Interview with Jon Sanborn, he tells the backstory of the e-mail narrative/viral fiction happening called Dyson.org. It is one of the first attempts I have come across to do a viral story, i.e. one that consciously tries to blur the border between fiction and fact, net and the real life. Unfortunately, the long and throrough description of the experience of Dyson.org, including some of the original posts, posted at the Monty Python site by Eric Idle has been deleted and cant be found anymore...I read it some 2 years ago.
Worn - reflections on the life of a Danish ph.d. studentI have been pondering why I feel so stressed currently (hence the title of this post). Part of it is obviously due to the advanced procrastination, Torill talks about (i.e. events in life as such moving, illness, relationship problems, deaths in the family etc which inevitably slows down your work - and rightly should do), which I am suffering from right now, but part of it is also, I find, an effect of the way the ph.d.education is conceived here in Denmark and especially here at the IT University. Here I'd like to explain why:
During those 3 years, it is expected that
Regarding requirement B - following courses ourselves, of course we should follow courses since we, formally, enrolled in a research education. However, it is a widespread and commonly acknowledged problem that many ph.d.students in RL have problems hunting down relevant courses enough to fullfill the ½ year requirement. I have taken a course in Basic Programming, in Virtual Environments, I have organised and followed a study group on Virtual Environments and Systems (at a time when there was absolute NO relevant courses for me around), and now this term to round this up, I have taken a course in Theory of Science and Project Management. All together the courses comes close to the goal. And they are more or less all relevantl, so I shouldnt complain, I guess. But I know that many of my younger colleagues are now going through the same problems of not being able to find relevant courses, one major problem being that so far the IT University have not been able to offer many courses (1!) of relevance to phd.students with a Humanistic background. Not that they dont want to, we just need to organise them ourselves - and where do we get the hours to do that?
Regarding requirement C, it is a highly relevant requirement. Problem is, that whether you go away for a shorter or longer time, you still need to do a lot of footwork and deal with a lot of practical details, when organising your stay abroad, such as applying for extra funding on basis of a detailed budget, establishing contacts, finding a place to live etc. In the end, most students (from what i have heard) get a lot out of their stay abroad, but often spend substantial time on organising the stay, getting settled etc. I chose to go to wonderful Bergen, where I knew some people already, and Hilde kindly offered me a place to stay, so I have spent less time on organising my stay than many colleagues going to the US. But however much time we spend of practicalities, of course those hours dont count anywhere! And if your stay is short, you might end up not getting that much efficient time out of it. However, some people just cant go for longer stays, perhaps because they have a family or other personal reasons to stay home, so they just have to accept the disadvantages of shorter stays abroad.
Then, in the case of ITU; there is the matter of meetings. For most of the time I have worked here, I have attended an average minimum of 2 department meetings a month (duration of each approx 2 hours). This amounts to a total (so far) of min 120 hours spent on department meetings alone. Add to this staff meetings (which I have stopped attending). the monthly meetings for teaching staff at DKM (they offen lasted 3-4 hours, and I have stopped attending them too), "marketing meetings" where we present our work to outsiders or politicians (there has been quite a few of them too, in order to secure funding and spreading the name of ITU). Then there is the ph.d.studyboard meetings (I was stupid enough to sign up for that when I started because there were no students representative and I want to have a say in the outlining of the ph.d.study programme, which Im proud to say, were finally agreed upon and legalised this summer, only 2 years after I started....), also on a monthly basis - my estimate is that many ph.d.students here are engaged in some form of commitee of sorts, so I am not extraordinary in this respect. Let's say that all in all, I have spent 100 hours attending those meetings. That is min. 220 hours (or half a term) spent on meetings alone!
So how much time do I actually have to research? Well, with time spent meeting formal requirements (teaching, supervising, following courses, planning stay abroad) and informal requirments (meetings, paper preparation, organising seminars etc), I would estimate that in fact I, for instance, have almost only 1 years actual time to spend on writing and researching the actual project. In practice, this is rarely distributed so that you actually have 1-1½ years doing nothing else than writing. Rather, you do a little bit of research "on the line" while you do a little bit of this and that (a course here, some supervising there) - so in the end, you end up with something like 12 months or less in the end where you can focus completely on your work.
And finally I'm there! Yesterday was my last class and today is my last course attendance day. But I am worn, admittedly. And for good reason. Like a lot of other fellow students at this part of their project, I surmise. Worn, not torn (I still love my work and I want to complete it), but just a little more frail, somewhat more susceptible to the workings of life itself, than many other people. I chose this lifestyle willingly, but I honestly believe, that institutional and political decisions and changes could be made, so being a ph.d.student in Denmark - and at ITU - could be less of strain and make more sense on an overall level.
What do YOU think? What is your discoursive experience? Surely, I cant be the only one feeling like this...
Here is link to the slides I will be using in teaching today.
Universitetslederes syn på forskningsanvendelse - a working paper in Danish on the relation between research management and use of research. Want to use it for a small-scale project I am doing in relation to the course I am folloing on Project Management & Organisation.
Eva Martha Eckkrammer is German Linguist who has done some solid work on virtual communication. Highly recommended by a linguist I met last week. Especially this text:
Gemeinsam mit Hildegund M. EDER: [Cyber]Diskurs zwischen Konvention und Revolution. Eine multi-linguale textlinguistische Analyse von Gebrauchstextsorten im realen und virtuellen Raum. Frankfurt a.M. u.a.: Lang (= Studien zur Romanischen Sprachwissenschaft und Interkulturellen Kommunikation 2). (344 S)
- looks interesting. Must polish up my German!
Also this article published in Social Semiotics look interesting:
Create Adobe® PDF Online - at this site you can sign up and be allowed to convert 5 documents into PDF for free!
Revisiting the Corridors of Pretention
I have really enjoyed this week workwise. It has been a rewarding and engaging experience spending 7 hours a day, 5 days in a row, discussing science ideals and ideologies and how they relate to our work with a group of 9 other ph.d.students from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. They were a very relaxed bunch of people - open and constructive - and not afraid to reveal their doubts and fears, which made the discussions much more lively and engaged, I think. I am sure this atmosphere were in part also the result of the laid-back, yet attentive attitude of our two lecturers who supervised us the entire week.
Looking back, the only thing which really bothered me during the course was the grudge against Comparative Literature Students (Litteraturvidenskabsstuderende), one of the lecturers and some of my peers seemed to hold. It made me emphasise several times in public that I do no longer see myself as belonging to Comparative Literature, but that I see myself as a researcher of Digital Culture. Not that I want to disown my own theoretical background, just that I do not want to be counted as one of those arrogant and self-contained Comparative Literature Academics whom I have unfortunately met quite a few of. My own reaction surprised me, and looking back one may wonder why one day I had no problem going to the Department of Film & Media Studies, knocking on the doors of my fellow colleagues there to have a chat with them, but the other preferred to walk silently and hurriedly down the teachers' corridor at the Department of Comparative Literature. - Perhaps it is because my colleagues at Film & Media Studies actually acknowledge what I do, whereas some of my colleagues and former teachers at Comp. Lit do not. Let alone some of my fellow students (some of whom still haunt the place) who made it quite explicit that they thought my object of study was inferior as were my insights, back in those silver days when I was writing my Masters.
I could not help smiling when I read Tinka's perceptive description of the environment at University of Copenhagen Amager where you find those departments. This is very much how I experienced it too this week - watching the new versions of all those Turtle Neck males, some very cool and often condescending, like those who used to make me feel so small and insignificant. Now I watch them, while feeling older and wiser and assured that there is actually sense, relevance and intelligence in my research, promising myself that I will do my part to keep the IT University alive as a place where students and researchers alike walk down the corridors without having to pretend to be someone they are not, without wanting to leave them as quickly as possible.
The silence of the link
Jill has implemented a feature on her site which makes visible the 10 last referrers to her site. A colleague has objected to it, thinking that she is showing off. I dont think so - I really like the idea since it is just making visible something that quite a few of us with a sitemeter practice anyway: looking at those who look at us ;). However, I do not agree with you, Jill, that this visualisation in a significant way changes the power structures of the Web. To really contest the ownership of the link, and thereby the authoritatíve relation between it and you as the recipient of it, you would have to be given the option of actually taking it over, by erasing it, changing it or commenting on it instantly. In fact, the referrer link-list as it is now displays all the people who looks at your site, disregarding whether you wanted them to look at it or not. Which means that all those that look at my site for the wrong reasons (those who do not come looking for Lisbeth, but for Bondage b a r b i e or children p l a y i n g naked) would be featured at my site. Which is similar to letting a lot of strangers into my living room without knowing the reason why they want to visit me. Surely I can look back at them, but they were here first whether I want them to trespass or not! And our respective identities and motives remain uncontested, uncommented.
What I think would be a truly interesting experiment would be to combine this feature with the Odigo programme. Odigo is a free "portable" chat feature, a kind of "remote control device" which you can have running in a window while you browse. It shows you the other people who are online looking at the same site at the same time as you (provided they have registered with Odigo too). So if you have Odigo running and can see that the most recent visitor to your site is, for instance, Jill and if Jill were using Odigo too, I could actually interact with her immediately and engage in a dialogue about the post she is presumably looking at. In this way, the link would no longer be silent - via Odigo it would be given the voice of its sender - and I would be able to find out why it had appeared on my site - what made its "owner" go there. And isn't that what is really interesting about the link? Not that it is there per se, but why it is there and in which way my voice made it come?
I'm a Man. And a romantic one, that is!
By way of Tinka, the Which Poet are You Quiz and my result (quoted verbatim):
You are Alfred Lord Tennyson
You are very analytical and like to debate. You want truth and beauty. For you, it seems that every cloud has a silver lining. You believe it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
Take the Which Poet are You? Quiz - brought to you out of boredom and pretention!
Hmmh, maybe I wrote this poem on one of my better days...
Another interesting example of a mixed reality concept: Tony & Tinas Bryllup(Tony and Tina's Wedding) - a Danish theatre "real life" performance inspired by a play in New York. As audience, you participate in the church wedding, you are then transported to the following dinner and dance (dinner is made by famous Danish chef and is included in price) - where you might be involved in the evolving drama in various ways. I'd love to go - just need to figure out a way to convince my supervisor that my study account should pay for the experience ;)
This week I am participating in a course on Science Theory of the Arts and Humanities at the University of Copenhagen. It runs Mon-Fri 9-16, so there won't be much time for posting - since I also have to read for it after class! Seems interesting, though - it is fun being with "pure" Humanists again, people who do not really care about computers, but study stuff like Byzantine Music on Mount Athos, French African Politics, the History of Paleontology, the Importance of the First Position in Latin Sentences and the Teaching of Danish Grammatics in Secondary Schools. Yes, I too thought that these subjects sounded very specific and somewhat small-scale - but after having read and heard about them for a day now, I find that we have more in common than I would have thought possible. Schooled as humanists we face the same problems of proving the scientific validity of our theses, institutionalised as ph.d.students we very much feel the same stress and the same pressure in the short period we have to produce "new scientific knowledge." And whether you interview monks in Greece or dwarfs in cyberspace you are confronted with the same problems of ethics and understanding of what the concept of "informed consent" actually entails.
Lesson of the day: Never underestimate the power of basic discussions.
The most feared woman on the Internet - on a virtual character believed to be real...
Enron Designed Fake Trading Floor - alternative take on the viral marketing thread ;)
DyingScent of E-Mail Ad Campaign another article on internet - real world marketing strategies.
The Psychology of Choice article in Gamasutra. Should be able to relate that to interactivity discussion.
Viral Marketing and the Web - related article which I might have posted here before. Just to tie things together.
Have 2 student groups working on concepts for game-stories mixing internet with RL. So looking for relevant articles & projects online. Here is an article on mixed reality car-racing.
I'm intrigued by the film "A Beautiful Mind", just out in Denmark. The film itself seems good, what fascinates me is more the fact that it is a portrait of a still living academic - and apparently somewhat of the mark (truly, the filmmakers just say it is "inspired" by his life). I found some of the true "true story" in the Princeton BulletIn - this article actually spends as much space trying to explain his theories as talking about the film which I find fairly sympathetic:) - did you for instance know that he is a game theoretic too? Perhaps some of the story is also revealed in this article which reviews some of the reviews of the gap between the film story and true story. What a world of metacommunication we live in!
Architectures of Trust - a recently completed MA-thesis on supporting co-operation in gaming through software design. Author is Jonas Heide Smith, who is also one of the guys behind Game-research.com.
The other guy behind this site - and co-author with Jonas on the book Den digitale leg (The Digital Play) is Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen who has just joined our department to do a ph.d.project on computergames and learning. Welcome, Simon!
This has been a busy week with many amazing experiences I would have liked to share here...- like the visit to the Danish Nokia Headquarters (building is so cool I want to work there); discussing Danish immigrations politics with an engineer from Iraq; and at choir rehersal meeting an absolutely unique song teacher who very vividly translated singing techniques into words. And the week came to a great conclusion with a seminar on Design Theory Friday and Saturday organised by our department. I have been helping out with practical advice and hands, sharing my experience from the conference I organised last year (CGDC) and I have much enjoyed this sharing - it annoys me immensely when this kind of knowledge is NOT been circulated in an organision like ITU - it's such a precious waste of time...(I mean if an IT institution cannot handle knowledge sharing and management who then?....but that is a looong discussion).
Anyway, though many of the presentations did not relate to my work, especially some of the presentations on the second day contained some interesting thoughts - an Art Historian had some good points relating to the ontology of virtual spaces and some very beautiful images to show of it. And an interesting follow-up will be a lunch with a Media Sociologist and a Philosopher (phd.stipends like me) to discuss various interpretations of communication models ...For once the cross-disciplinary thing actually works in practice!
And I had great fun acting as a digital photographer - I managed to hold on to the camera most of the time and have taken A LOT of pictures which you should be able to find here - some are already online, the rest will be uploaded monday. And there is one of me in the official ITU outfit here.