More About the Trip

So, more about the trip. I’ll be in Amsterdam for one conference and Utrecht for the second, but I’ll actually be spending most of my time in Rotterdam. Or as my Lonely Planet Netherlands guide calls it, “Mighty Rotterdam.” 🙂 I haven’t actually been there yet, but I suspect R’dam is seriously underrated. I mean, quaint old buildings are nice, I like them a lot, but when they are filled with stoned American college students, they lose their charm.

Rotterdam, on the other hand, is not so infested, has really amazing architecture, and excellent design being practiced in general. I’m looking forward to visiting a city where things are really going on and the main industry is not tourism. (I’m not saying this is true of Amsterdam, but certainly it’s a prominent feature there.) I’ll be staying there during my trip and in between conferences I’ll be interviewing people at various cultural institutions and schools that are involved with New Media (or cyberculture, or whatever term we are using this week). And, on top of that, my university and the Piet Zwart Institute Media Design program are working out a joint Master of Arts program, so I am meeting with people there too. They are putting me up, which has allowed me to stay for 16 days. I’m really excited to have such a nice long visit and am practicing my Dutch.

Yes, nearly everyone there does speak English fluently, but for one thing, it’s just polite to at least learn how to say “hello,” “please,” and “thank you.” In my case though, it’s a little more of an issue because I have a Dutch last name and I guess I am tall enough and blondish enough to be taken for a native and it’s embarrassing to be completely ignorant. Actually, not entirely ignorant, because I studied Old Saxon in grad school, from which both English and Dutch have developed. So sometimes when I hear some Dutch, I understand a lot without being able to really say how. Anyway, if you want to practice a little Dutch, try the Laura Speaks Dutch
website, by Brenno de Winter. Rather than being like a standard lesson, it’s more like talking to someone about the Netherlands and about speaking Dutch, and I find it sinks in better. You can also find it in iTunes.

Next time maybe some more about the interviews–the whys and whos.

Immediate Causes

In the last (first) post I never got round to explaining why I’m trying this again right at this moment–don’t get excited though, it’s not earth-shaking. I mentioned to a David Silver, who runs the terrifically useful Resource Center for Cyberculture Sudies that I was attending some conferences in the Netherlands on virtual communities and on digital lit. if he’d like reports for the RCCS, and he said I should just blog it. He said it in all caps. I respect his work and opinion, so I figured what the hell. I’ve been teetering on the edge of blogging again for months anyway.

So a brief intro on the conferences: next week I’ll start with the New Network Theory conference in Amsterdam, and I’m presenting a paper there. Eventually I’ll put it online someplace and you all can see it–but since my school currently only allows us upload access from campus computers, and since I won’t be on campus again until August, this could take awhile. Or maybe I’ll find some other place for it…. I’m excited about it though because a bunch of people whose work I like will be speaking and I look forward to that. If I were at a comic book convention (you will probably read a fair amount about comic books in this blog) I would collect autographs and sketchs from people whose work I like. I wonder how these speakers would react? The proceedings are going to be on cd, so it doesn’t really offer much space for cute little notes…maybe I’ll suggest that for next time. Anyway, here’s who I want to see: Wendy Chun, Florian Cramer, Alan Liu (all keynotes, all rather well-known) and also Ramesh Srinivasan, Ulises Ali Mejias and Mirko Schaefer (not as well known, but should be).

Then I’ll be going to Re-Mediating Literature in Utrecht where, happily, I am not presenting, so I can just enjoy myself listening to other people talk about things that interest me, including Katherine Hayles, Jan Baetens and some others. But it’s late, I’m tired and I’ll say more about this in my next post, along with more exciting news about my impending trip.

Once More Into the Breach

It’s been about four years since I last did any blogging. I enjoyed it the first time, but then several things happened: a troll started harassing me, I had kids, and I had to do a job search. Then I got a job and moved cross-country. The troll alone wouldn’t have stopped me, but it became so difficult to make time for blogging that being greeting mainly by hostile crap as my reward led me to put it aside for awhile, along with several other hobbies that were more satisfying, but still took too much time and energy.

Now the kids are a little older, I’m settled into the new job, and hey, it only took four years!

I’m also prompted to write because there are things I want to share with whomever might be interested without going through the channels of some on or offline publication. Mainly there are two reasons: enough of my writing gets reviewed and evaluated already (I’m an academic) and I don’t need the extra stress, and I want anything I write here to be freely available to anyone who cares to read.

I expect this will mostly be a mix of comments on stuff I’m doing and thoughts about blogs, net culture, life at a state university, travel…ok, could be anything.