Author Archives: Kim

A Retirement

As I continued to play Clan Lord last year, I became a regular fixture on hunts arranged by perhaps the strongest player in the game, Mujin Kun. She had been playing almost since the inception, and could usually be found somewhere in the lands for at least eight hours a day, if not more. That devotion and consequent strength allowed her to lead groups into the hardest areas, which in turn allowed both the fighters and healers she brought along to advance quite quickly themselves. The person behind Mujin was able to maintain this intense focus on the game because he worked at business run by his family, in a position that allowed him to play during working hours, on top of the time he took outside of work.

In late August though, we learned that Mujin would be retiring, because her clicker’s family was selling the business, and the clicker behind Mujin would be obliged to find a new job. Since starting his that job, Mujin has rarely appeared, except in off hours, very briefly.

This posed a challenge for those who had hunted with her. Some areas became, if not impossible to visit, at least impossible to visit within the two-hour hunt Mujin ran. Without her strength, group had to move much more slowly. There were several other fighters who had grown strong under Mujin’s command, and if they all came, we could still get to those areas, at least sometimes. Howvever, Mujin’s retirement had a wider impact than just on our hunting group. Because Mujin was in-game so constantly, there were always some fighters and healers around as well. People checking to see who was online, would always find someone, which would make them more inclined to sign in and see about organizing something. Without Mujin, the population will far more often drop to one or two, and that rarely attracts others in to play.

On top of these effects, people miss her. Mujin had blunt sense of humor, was self-serving, but sometimes surprisingly kind. She often took pains to make sure i could join the group, even when my character was tiresomely weak, and she would have to wait and wait as I tried to hit some creature that was so strong, my only hope was mere luck. Her absence has cast a pall over the community, though people don’t often speak of it. No one wants to suggest that her loss may prove fatal, because that can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but there is quite worry.


Obviously I did not manage to keep up momentum, since I last wrote in February. The last year proved extraordinarily difficult on the personal front, for a number of reasons I’ll not discuss here.

During that time I was completely unable to write, and barely able to read anything that required even a little mental effort. It was rather strange, because starting in the spring, there were a number of material improvements to my circumstances, and in fact during the summer I did accomplish a certain amount in non-academic areas. However, I discovered some things about my own working habits, in particular, my need for solitude, for any sustained or focused thinking/writing. Unfortunately, solitude has been in very short supply.

My current goal is simply to figure out a workspace that has free wifi and free solitude. That is to say, I can’t afford to rent some additional space. Like never before, Woolf’s talk of the need for a room of one’s own makes sense to me.

In the mean time, I have a few posts that having buzzing around my brain for awhile, and I’ll try to wrestle them onto the screen.

Arse Elektronika 2009

I gave a talk this year, along with my co-panelist Pepper Mint. It went very well and was I think pretty informative for the audience, though of course some said, oh, we all know this already.  –It was about how technology and the internet have been intertwined with the emergence of a polyamorous community, which represents a very interesting example of tech enabled identity formation and community creation.

Anyway, the talk was good and I had the chance to see a number of friends I see only rarely, including Pep, but also Johannes Grenzfurthner from Monochrom, Aaron Muszalski, and Susan Mernit, to name a few. The conference was spread out over four days and I saw regrettably little.  I had hoped to see more panels on Saturday, but got hung up on the BART in commuter traffic for the Lovefest.  Honestly, it could have been called “Hot Topic Fest” based on the appearance of the attendees I saw…

I’ll post links too our talk and to archival stuff when Monochrom puts it up.

Ethereal Archives: The Evolution of Information Structures from Social Networks and Their Impact on Collective and Personal Identity

How do collective archives emerge from the individual digital memories of participants in social networks, facilitated by social software? Networks in northern California are studied and described as “ethereal archives” because they are widely distributed, linked through blogs, microblogs, and other locations in which content is always changing. Digital technology allows preservation of memories, and at the same time broadcast of those memories to the community in many formats, including text, photostreams, video collections and on social networking sites. Over time, events, objects and even people generate folksonomic tagging across platforms, and a shared understanding of the things being described.

These archives become an extension not only of personal, but of collective memory; both individual and community identities are shaped and preserved in collaborative ethereal archives, made up of numerous people’s online collections of text and other media. They are dependent for organization on social connections across the network expressed through links shared via numerous platforms, and studying an ethereal archive’s emrgence reveals that it both reflects and shapes the communities from which it arises.

I’ll be presenting a paper on the above, if I have enough money to get to Louisville for CCCC ’10.


My school, like many, is having money trouble, and that’s making things tough in a number of ways.  For me personally, there is direct financial impact– we didn’t get the raises we were due this year, and there’s no money for travel or research.  I was awarded an internal research grant, but since we have no money, it wasn’t funded.  But even worse, money for a lot of other things is being cut and some people are losing their jobs.  Some people I supervise.  We haven’t officially laid anyone off, and so far, there are no plans for that.  But there are people who had not worked here long enough to gain any protection who were not re-hired after one semester.  And our grad students can’t count on finding work here any more after they finish.

My school has always asked a lot in terms of teaching and service, but I think many of us have been quiet disheartened by the current conditions.  Also, many of us are looking around and noticing that working so many hours per week leaves little tmes for friends and family.  I have been thinking about that a lot.  I love my research, and my students are great.  but I need to have some life outside those areas.  In fact, I’d like at least half my time free to spend on the other things I love– friends and family of course.  But also gardening.  Reading for fun.  Writing and coding for fun; to experiment, rather than always to a deadline.

And I’m tired of moving.  And of always traveling for work.  Thinking hard about how to change things so I can work less and play more.  So that work again becomes fun, rather than a weight crushing the life out of my life.

Yes, dark post today, but there it is.  I  paid a cost for my doctorate in all the time I didn’t spend on anything else about which I cared.  i didn’t expect I’d just have to keep paying and paying.  Think I’m going to try keeping more for myself.

CCCC panel–Web 2.0 Wavelengths: Examining Spaces Created Within Electronic Discourse

Missed the first speaker–my stupid business center could not print my slides…. 😛

2 Jennifer Buckner spoke about using Pownce in her class.  She analyzed her own interactions with students and in particular the way she teetered between speaking personally and speaking as teacher.  I notice again how little Comp. and and Internet Research are not talking, because so many of the questions raised have been raised and explored already–which is not to discredit what she said, but rather to wish the larger conversation were more coherent and integrated.

I also wonder if she has read earlier research on networked writing classes–must find citations for those.

3 Deanya Lattimore now presenting “How I killed the Weblog.”  She uses overheads in a really clever way to introduce her talk, which has changed from when she first proposed it.  She used a multi-user WordPress blog–how does one choose that?  It allows students to choose there own themes, but doesn’t encourage the kind of organization I can achieve with the magzine type theme I’ve used in my classes.  –hypersuasion–

problems: no outward links, only internal.  No comments.

Is it true that a paper-based essay wouldn’t allow the personal tone that a student uses in the blog’s “about me” page?

Seems Deanya emphasized too much what form an essay must take–not too much hyperlinking, for example.  She also thinks this focus stifled comments and prevented the “working through ideas” characteristic of many blogs.  In the end, she seems to have decided that it would have been better to not try controlling what students wrote, or how they wrote it.  –That jibes with most work on fostering student engagement; students will feel more invested if they have more control.

Next time–the blog as portfolio, not essay.

And let the academic essay rest in peace.

4 Todd Finley –Microblogging as prof. development.  Cites Alfred Wallace–developed theory of evolution in a fever dream, at the same time as Darwin, but was just a little too slow publishing.

How we socialized each other in that space–example of how the word “fuck” in is used in the space. How this community of teachers developed–mish mash of experiences.  Rather messy auto-ethnography. Anxiety is ok–related to productivity, depression is not; you’re a slug.  But bragginess isn’t ok either.  Also depends whether you are positioned as a novice or experienced scholar.

No one talks about sex, no talk about spouses–no outside intimacies discussed in this group. Alliances are not discussed–who is closer who is less close.  Academic debates are ok, but conflicts involving emotions are not discussed.  No religion. So how much trust is there really?  Sadly have to leave before discussion because it runs long and I speak in the next session!

Refer him to Jonathan Marshall and Shanyang Zhao about the body breaking out, emotional intimacy and co-presence.  And I wonder if the speaker had permission from the other group members to discuss this at Cs.

Again, a lot of reinvention going on–confirms what I said at MLA about how fragmented research is right now,  Deanya’s talk was the best and most useful-real analysis going on there, by someone who was NOT just cutting her teeth on social software.

In Honor of Ada Lovelace

So today is Ada Lovelace day and many people are writing posts in her honor that say something about women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

For awhile I thought I would write on some particular historical figure, but after thinking over my own research on gender and technology, I’ve decided instead to write a bout women I know who are quietly doing their thing in these fields, without public recognition (so far).

Sher Doruff.  I wrote about Sher last summer and while she’s fairly well-known in the European art/culture community, I doubt most people think of her as working in Tech.  Yet she was one of the driving forces in KeyWorx, an open-source project at De Waag Society for Old and New Media.  KeyWorx was a tool for collaboration and interaction between artists/musicians that allowed them not only to work together in real time, but to actually take control of each other’s machines, allowing for some really cool performances.

Lee Atchison.  Lee has been involved with Sequential Tart since it was founded, and has designed our CMS from scratch.  She has been titled web designer, system administrator, and solutions architect at various jobs.  I think Lee is inspirational as an example of someone who just went out there and did her thing, in this case, programming and web design.

Melanie Martin and Megan Thomas.  These are two of my colleagues on Campus who both teach in the Computer Science department.  Both of them have have accomplished a lot in getting doctorates to begin with, but around here (a very conservative geographical area, with a strong patriarchal culture, historically) are especially great because their very existence can inspire young women to look beyond traditional roles and careers.

All of these women also embody ideals held by Ada Lovelace beyond their connections with science and technology.  Somewhere, I recall Lovelace said that you can be complete without having the care of another.  She didn’t just mean parenting, but teaching and mentoring aso count.  All of the women I mention here have done that, either explicitly, as teachers, or as mentors, or both, helping both men and women to learn more about technology and about how unlimited by gender it can be.

Finally Posting Again…

I took quite a stretch off from posting here because I was focusing on my teaching blog, Ethereal Education.  Now that it is pretty well under control, I will resume, though probably sporadically until Spring break anyway.  The teaching blog is going well, and I’ve learned a lot more about theme templates in the process of setting it up, so I may change this theme again.

In the next 12 to 24 hours I’ll start posting the entries I’ve written while in SF for CCCC.  There was no wifi in most of the conference (aaargh!) so I had to just write them as documents…

Anyway, as you’ve divined, I’m in San Francisco for the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) and was speaking about teaching grad students about technology.  My talk went well, but I’ll post about that later.

Nice to be back.