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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Slides from my presentation on MUDs/MOOs, virtual worlds and stories yesterday, as promised.

Ever wondered how to copy a slide with inbuilt animation to another powerpoint presentation? Because it doesn't work if you go the "regular" way and use the "insert slide..." option from the menu bar. No, what you have to do, is to open both presentations, and then copy and paste between the slide sorter views. Et voila! Thank God for the web, when the help files as usual doesn't work. (I'm currently preparing a powerpoint presentation for a lecture tomorrow on online textuality, a part of Gitte Stald's course on computergames).

Yesterday I was interviewed about my research, and the article which came out of it, is now online at Computerworld.dk . (in Danish).

Virtual storytelling. Conference very soon to be in Avignon, France.

Is That a Game in Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me. This and other articles on Gamasutras mobile game resource site.

I have just finished reading Katie Hafner's The Well: A Story of Love, Death & Real Life in the Seminal Online Community. More journalistic than academic, it nevertheless provides an interesting insight in the rise and fall of an online community. It seems like people do not like too many changes and prefer familiar old-fashioned technology to new, for instance. Also, when the Well was bought by people who were in it for money more than idealism, the society lost momentum. - The story of love and death is mainly that of long time member Tom Mandel who ended up dying of cancer, but posting till the last moment about his illness and feelings. Shortly before his death, he was married to a woman he got to know via The Well and whom he had previously being verbally abusing in the Well community because she had withdrawn from him. Strong feelings tie people to these places and stories unfold, even if people are not masquerading as someone else than themselves.

I guess, this is old knowledge. But I still wonder why some theorists who are trying to place themselves in the theoretical avantgarde have to describe all contemporary developments as post-?

SWITCH, online mag examining relation between art and technology, posted by San Jose University, has had a special issue on Games in 1999 (i think). Most consequent layout for this kind of stuff, I have ever seen, though not sure it works that well from user-perspective. Includes an "essay" on game patches as hacker art (sic!) CrackingtheMaze with funky examples of game patches, like female skins for Quake figures....

A petition for peace and justice, urging President Bush to put these before revenge. Goal is 1 million digital signatures, I was approx no 118.000. I have signed likewise e-mail petitions before and always wondered how they kept track of signatures. This is run from a central site and seems pretty organised. I hope that more than 1 mill signatures will actually have an effect somewhere in the US government.

Report from The Pew Research center on "How Americans Used the Internet After the Terror Attack", interesting in that I think it also reflects how other nationalities with easy access to the internet have used the net during the last week. We use it as a useful supplement, we use it as a source of comfort and a place to share, and way of checking up on people (e-mail, instant msgs). But not as our main source of information, yet.

@skepost (mail from Aske) is a email epic which has been going on in Politiken for quite some time (I think min. half a year??, I've been reading it each sunday for ages, it seems). It consists of mails to and from Aske and his friends, usually one episode contains 3-5 mails. It is a brilliant series, I love it for its ironic, but loving rendering of what goes on inside the head of your averagely confused thirtysomething male Danish single - it's a bit like a Danish version of a Nick Hornsby novel or perhaps a male version of Bridget Jones, only Aske is more concerned about footballmatch results than his own weight.It is written on a week to week basis by a non-disclosed Danish writer (wonder which gender he/she is?). So, comminting on recent events, one of this Sunday's mails goes to Aske's friend HC, who lives in New York, to check whether he is OK. Which he is, of course; after all it is pretty easy to rescue a fictive person, could but life be as easy to manipulate as fiction, sometimes...And talking of New York, the title of the episode Sunday Sept 3 was "Terror in New York", and chronicles Aske's brief visit to New York to find ex-girlfriend. A bit spooky....

Finally, Politiken has put some of the episodes online (but been terribly sloppy about the look, they could have done more to make it look like real emails) - look here and meet Aske.

Laure Guvak, american researcher, writes this as part of a comment on the role of the Internet during and following Tuesday's events, in the Association of Internet Researchers mailinglist:
The Internet is also a site where misinformation can and does flourish and where, often, emotions run high. We must be careful not to let the speedy nature of Internet communication lead us to rumor-spreading or anger against entire groups of people. We should use the Internet at this time as a place for community and debate and not for hatred.

I could not agree more. I read the Danish posts on the discussion thread in Politiken re the US events and there is such hatred and racism expressed in many of them that I chill. Everything can be said, everything can be thought, and amidst storms of wild words, reason and reflection seem to be lost easily.

Eyewitness account from the bombing of Dresden. And some statistics:
"Casualties: by 10th March, 1945, 18,375 dead, 2,212 seriously injured, and 13,918 slightly injured had been registered, with 350,000 homeless and permanently evacuated." The total death-roll, "primarily women and children," was expected to reach 25,000; fewer than a hundred of the dead were servicemen. Of the dead recovered by then, 6,865 had been cremated in one of the city squares. A total of 35,000 people were listed as "missing"."

Perhaps we should be thankful that CNN and digital cameras did not exist then. Nothing can justify what happened in New York, and it does seem like an act of pure evil. But let us not forget history. There is no definite good guys and bad guys in the game of world politics.

Web choreography - Danish site Dansens hus has moved dance into the realm of the www. In a little piece called Tears of Joy (Glædestårer), you can choose between 5 small pieces of dance&music and through your choices make your own choreography. The music is beautiful, so is the dancing, transition between clips could be faster, but in general it's oddly mesmerising.

Truly, you can find everything on the internet. By way of Dummert.dk, the first Danish blogg in Danish, I have read, I came upon the Death Test . I have 45 years to live still, according to them. Well, then I guess I still stand a chance of becoming the first Danish female professor in Digital Aesthetics and Communication ;)...

And timing is perfect, Jill and Torill are writing about hypertext and cybertext. I'm preparing a talk for my department on this subject this Monday, trying to read up on some of the papers presented at Hypertext '01 and thinking about hypertext and cybertext too. I think, that one of the things this conference made me realise/remember, is that the www is just one, and perhaps in certain ways, a bad one version of a hypertextual system. There is still a lot you can do within this "genre", in fiction as well as systems development. It is not, as Nick Montfort claimed, Markku Eskelinen said that "hypertext is dead", rather it seems to me that theoretically it has become less salient in the consciousness of some of us. This does not mean that there is not still a lot to be said about it - I am glad there are people which do.

Armarium, Danish blogger, has collected the longest list of Danish blogs I have seen so far.

And a love story generator. Google search on "story generator" gives me 160.000 hits. Amazing

The Proppian Fairy Tale Generator by way of Squish blogg.
And have I ever linked to Marvin, the depressed browser - in memoriam Douglas Adams? He tells a kind of story too....

There is now a group within OASIS founded with the intention of developing the HumanML, human markup language. They want to:
"develop and promote a specification for conveying human characteristics through XML. The Human Markup Language (HumanML) will embed contextual human characteristics (cultural, social, kinesic, psychological and intentional features) within information." Well, I guess their intentions are good, but how the f*** are they going to do that? - Wonder if it will be a further development of this initiative?

Places to go, places to be. the online Mag for Roleplayers.

The Interactive Fallacy...By way of Hypertext Kitchen (an indispensable news site for all things related to hypertext fiction, digital literature etc), I found my way to a page advertising BBC's "first interactive drama" - The Wheel of Fortune. I tried the sneak preview and it turns out that the "interactivity" consists of letting me choose between listening to 3 different characters when and only when a speaker announces "Bet now!". This reminds me of those who calls forking path narratives "interactive fictions", when all the interaction actually consists of a choice between a few options, leading you down various "pre-recorded" paths. A much more fitting description would be "Multiple choice narratives", but somehow that doesn't ring as well when you're trying to sell your product;). "Interactive" or "interaction" is such an ideologically loaded word that it rarely makes sense to use just as is; and I have found that theoretical writers dealing with it (myself included), always end up having to qualify the interaction by the use of adjectives that can distinguish types of interaction from each other, like "highly interactive" or "true interaction" etc, adjectives which again is often grounded in a "highly" normative view of what interaction is and should be. OK, so here is my normative description of what something "truly interactive" is: it is a piece of work (art, programme etc) which makes possible a continous feedback loop. If you as a reader/user gives a certain input, the object/programme will adjust what follows according to your individual choice and that which follows will again allow you to choose and your choice makes the programme adjust its output again etc ad infinitum. I guess the ideal version of this is actually a real-life dialogue between 2 speakers of a natural language, and of course, once a machine is involved you cannot get the perfectly individually fitted "text" out of the interaction. However, you should be able to get a text that is "yours" only and configured in a way no other reader will experience. That is interactivity for me and according to this normative definition, BBC is Not putting on an interactive drama and never will be as long as they are working with prerecorded material and allowing their listeners nothing else but choosing a, b or c...

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