Catching Up ...
Souvik Wednesday, June 03, 2009Haven't blogged in ages now. In fact, I have even had a rather long period of ludic stagnation. 'This gaming life' has been eventful in other ways - some good and some not. Two events that I have attended deserve special mention. One was the LINK event held in Loughborough University in mid-May where the gathered academics and postgraduate students provided me with some important insights on publishing the PhD thesis. Besides this, there were some interesting postgrad papers - the one that interested me most was, predictably, on cyborgs and disability. The hybrid identity of the cyborg was flagged up as the connecting link for discursive alliance for women and the handicapped. What particularly intrigued me was how world war 2 disfigurement was seen as cyborgean and how people were seen as being regendered (remasculinised). My notes have to be aided by faded memories and I am afraid that I do not do justice to the paper. I've learnt my lesson about why one shouldn't leave things unblogged for too long.
This was the very thing that Jess Lacetti, prolific blogger and new media researcher at De Montfort, told us at the CEDAR workshop. Lacetti, interestingly, calls weblogs 'online academic business cards' and asks academic bloggers to concentrate on topical content. Good advice, for sure - in fact, I was pulled up slightly for suggesting something more in the nature of 'Ludus Ex'. Lacetti's solution is to maintain different blogs and not conflate their purpose. She gives the following three reasons for academic blogging:
i exist online
i participate with other scholars
i am able to think through writing
Nice. One thing I know and keep forgetting is the importance of tagging. There are no tags to this post but there will be more in any future post ... i promise. Tagging obviously gets the web-crawlers attention with all the meta-data and also helps create easy links between topics. My external examiner, Will Slocombe, was also one of the speakers at the event. He spoke on the importance of blogging as a teaching tool, how it is important for 'keeping in shape' for writing and how it enables peer-review. Astrid Ensslin, editor of the Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds, also spoke on her blogging experiences as a PhD student, about the importance of blogs in disseminating ideas, sharing posts, networking with other academics and the importance of rss feeds. Together with the rest of the team from Bangor (researchers Lyell Skains and Sonia Fizek), she showed us how to use Google Sites and Google Forms. Very useful for me - I was even able to use these examples for a job interview!
All said and done, however, much as I agree with the need for academic blogging and find the tips provided useful, I personally find it immensely more pleasant to read about someone's research and thoughts in a non/quasi-academic blog like QBlog (maintained by Richard Bartle , mentioned in an earlier entry). It's about the style and also the way it points out something very different to what I would normally expect in my real, virtual and possible lives (getting a bit too Deleuzian already) that I like so much more than some very dreary academic blogs that I have to plough through occasionally. For me blogging is about the in-between spaces of one's research and thinking. Of course, this is a very personal view and I know I need to be more of a disciplined and organised blogger.
Speaking of 'in-between spaces', as always these were for me the best part of the event: as I've always maintained, the smooth spaces of interaction that exist alongside the striated organisation of events are extremely important. In between the talks or (rather rudely) even during them in whispered conversations, I learned more about other people's work on game design, new stuff that people were doing and (importantly) where to get good Indian food in Leicester.
After the nice food (idli and sambar rather than Biriyani though), the final event was a demonstration of a mathematical tool designed for mapping creativity. I must say I wasn't convinced and was rather too vocal about it. At least, it shows that scientists and artists are still happy to talk to each other. I had almost lost hope after hearing a science PhD (a rather stuck-up one, as well) student, who is unfortunately an acquaintance of mine, say a million times how worthless the people who degrees in the Humanities are ... Well my friend, at least some of your colleagues recognise our importance although I squirm at the methods they use to 'map' us.
Finally, the pathbreaking event in my life: I learnt that some people, somewhere in the world actually think that I am a little turtle (in Polish, apparently my name means 'little turtle').
No actually that's not the pathbreaking thing that's changed my life ... it's the fact that I've begun to believe that what these people think is true. Yes, I am a little turtle.
Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo and Souvik ....
'Literature is a combinatorial game that pursues the possibilities implicit in its own material [...] but it is a game that at a certain point is invested with an unexpected meaning' - Italo Calvino