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This is the research diary of researcher Lisbeth Klastrup, since february 2001 sharing her thoughts on life, universe, persistent online worlds, games, interactive stories and internet oddities with you on the www.

I am currently on leave from the IT University of Copenhagen, and from aug. 2006 - aug. 2007 working as Associate Research Professor at the Center for Design Research Copenhagen, an independant center situated at the School of Architecture. During this year, I will be working on a book about the development of aesthetics, design and interaction on the WWW, together with colleague Ida Engholm.

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Gollum is my Orkut Friend!
*update: as often before I'm doing the rounds a bit late. Visit Apophenia to see a rant about Orkut and lot of links to other writings on it*

A week or two ago I signed up for another piece of social software, Orkut. com. By now most of the "usual suspects" (lovely suspects, but more or less usual), in my social circle of colleagues who blog or research games or do internet research have signed up. I haven't given it much thought, but I like this software better than Friendster, even if Orkut comes with a somewhat unsettling rating of friends with most encourages a kind of "levelling behaviour" which has little to do with actual social networking. It is also interesting to note that the people with highest friend ranking quite often seem to be A-list Bloggers (such as Joi Ito or Justin Hall) - their social network already well in place long before joining this network.

Anyway, just like in Friendster, people have now started to invent fictional personalities. So I asked "Gollum" to be my friend a few days ago. Now he has even written me a testimonial! And he is highest in ranking on the friends list. In Friendster, a friend invented a profile called ph.d. dissertation, he/she got some very interesting testimonials as well - and it served well as an outlet of anxieties and jokes about this "object".

SInce the friends in the network is so far people, I socialise with in other ways as well (for instance through blogging or e-mail or even IRL), I think it is much more fun "socialising" around these fictional characters, playing with the fact that you can make up such characters anonymously, and develop a certain kind of shared 'nerdiness' around them. Perhaps it is exactly possibilities like this embedded in the software, that is part of what makes a online social network interesting - at least I can't really imagine this kind of play with characters taking place in similar networks offline. Perhaps sharing an interest in a fictional profile can be a more alternative way to actually meet NEW people in the network.

Hmmh, actually this play with invented profiles is much like the play with characters (the puns and play with known names or personalities) you see in shared online worlds. Not in the way that you use them to "play with identity", but more that you use them to as a way of reaching out to others, using an 'exploit' in the system to do it. Need to think more about all this, but need to go now...

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My Other Places
Death Stories project
Walgblog (DK)
DK forskerblogs (DK)
klast at
Site feed Link (Atom)
Klastrup family?


Buy our book

ACE 2007
Mobile Media 2007
MobileCHI 07
Perth DAC 2007
DIGRA 2007
AOIR 8.0/2007

My Ph.D. thesis website:
Towards a Poetics of Virtual Worlds

I also used to host & work in a world called StoryMOO.