New year, new university?

This holiday season has been quite busy and intensive (for reasons that I might write more about a bit later), but now it is the New Year’s eve, and time to look back, and towards the future. The 1st of January, I will officially take hold of the new chair, Professor of Hypermedia, Especially Digital Culture and Game Studies that our department and the University of Tampere set up last year for the next five years’ period. I have been working so intensely the last five years, that it is hard to find the real quality of change that is going on around you. Yet, there are clear and fundamental changes taking place in the world: the climate, the globalizing culture and economy, gradual adoption of new technologies, gradual changes in peoples’ lives and ways of thinking. Some are for good, no doubt, and many developments are also giving cause for concern.

Close to the home, the Finnish university system has been clearly in some kind of crisis for years, and now some of the top politicians are showing signs of taking the university reform into their agenda. Today’s newspapers are telling about Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen riding to the next parliamentary elections waving this flag; he says that university reform will be the single most important task for the next government. I would readily agree, but there are many different directions this particular reform can go, and some of them can be rather heavy on the academic freedom and scientific autonomy. We have heard about the powerful restructuring of the Danish university system that the conservative government carried out over there, and much of what Vanhanen is saying is sounding like same road: integration into fewer and bigger units, introduction of tuition fees for foreign students (currently the Finnish university education is free for everyone who is allowed in), plus boards of universities should according to Vanhanen’s model be consisting of non-university personnel. The idea there is to introduce contacts to business world with its professional executives.

If you ask us who work within this system, our main problem right now is on the other hand the lack of basic funding (less money than in the early 1990s, while numbers of students and research projects has been rising all the time), and the stiff, bureaucratic administrative system on the other. Thus, the autonomy of science and scholarship is dependent on certain kind of economic backbone, and business-style board of directors is not necessarily going to serve the basic research in the best way, even if the more applied areas might profit from that kind of approach. Our department, and our work with emerging technologies and user culture studies for example, would probably prosper in the liberally reformed university system. On the other hand, there are many important, classic areas of learning which require something else than free market system to provide its resources and raison d’être.

Thus, my professional wish for 2007: a reasonable university reform that would both provide for the need for increased dynamism as well as sustained support for fundamental research and studies within academia. Impossible? Not at all…

Link: YLE news about Matti Vanhanen’s interview

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Day of opening presents, day of warmth and joy. Merry Christmas, everyone! (My blog and other services are finally back online, after 29 days of life with temporary solutions — a nice present also this, thanks to my new ISP WlanNet: 8mb/1mb adsl this time 🙂

Season's Greetings

Snow-covered window
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Snow finally returned today, sheltering all under its protective cover. The attached shot is from the earlier, thicker snow conditions we had, but I use the opportunity to wish you all Peaceful and Happy Christmas-time; you can use our department’s Official Christmas-Card Application here:

(There are more photos from this somewhat unreal winter in this of my Flickr sets:

New article on online gaming

I wrote a short piece for Hyvinvointikatsaus (a magazine of Statistics Finland) where I summarise some of the developments in various sorts of online gaming; you can access this piece from:

and the magazine home page is:

Winter coming back?

Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

This has been an exceptionally warm winter over here, after an exceptionally hot and dry summer. Today, walking in Hatanpää area I took some photos, and as you can see here, the power of cold is returning. I like the visual qualities of ice, and looking through it, into the frozen world that is waiting, trapped, until next summer, is somehow magical.

Virve Peteri's PhD defence

Virve Peteri’s PhD defence
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

Virve bravely defended her thesis “Mediaksi kotiin” (a study on domestication of media technologies) against a sociologist from Turku (from all places!) today in Linna Building. Her study is one of the few thorough qualitative studies that examines how new media (computers, mobile phones, home theatre equipment etc.) are being taken into the lives and also situated in people’s homes. You can access the entire study online (in Finnish) here:

Pervasive gaming field day

Pervasive gaming field day
Originally uploaded by FransBadger.

This week there is the second annual review of our IPerG research project. It involves much theoretical and strategic discussions, as well as some running around in the Nokia Research Centre corridors, as our evaluators here demonstrate. In Wednesday more people will participate, as the Open House presentations will take place in Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum. Welcome!

Edit: you can find more photos in Flickr, with ‘iperg’ tag

How to mess up your Wii controller connection

The first Wii experiences have been predominantly positive: the physical play style and basic sensory technology actually seem to work well. The remaining troubles have been either technical limitations or user errors. I will explain here one of my own from the latter category, so that others with same issue might get help quicker than I did.

Wii manual explains how to connect your controller (“Wiimote”) with the console by pressing the sync button simultaneously both in the remote and in the console. The trick is to press both buttons only once; somewhere I had got an idea that you need to keep those two buttons pressed down until the controller tells it has synced. That is wrong, and a bad idea. I ended up spending one or two hours pressing buttons for minutes without successful synchronization. The Wii console was of course inaccessible for all that time, which was not very happy situation — I was already calling help lines and was ready to send my brand new console back and order a new one.

Laura saved my day by pointing out that both two controllers sync perfectly if I just stop my futile attempts in keeping the sync buttons pressed down, and just press them once. Oh dear.

Another irritation is the lack of S video or component video cable from Wii (coming to Europe some time next year; out of stock in Japan). And I cannot get Dolby Surround sound out into my amplifier, even when both console and game (Zelda) advertise to support surround. But Wii Sports was really enjoyable, even sweaty. And Zelda Twilight Princess has the right kind of magic in it. It actually reminds me from both WoW, Fable and Beyond Good and Evil, which are among my favourites as far as contemporary RPG style adventures are concerned.

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