Tampere Gamelab folks spent this afternoon discussing Japanese culture and games (thanks to Aakoo, who just spent one month in Tokyo) — and then with some hands-on research with our lab’s new Wii console. Fun — and also thought-provoking.
Looking at my calendar, I will be mostly in Finland during this Spring (this is at least what I imagine at the moment). There are few engagements in the coming weeks worth listing here:
- in January 16th to 20th I will be participating in the IPerG workshop and planning pervasive gaming research (in Palma de Mallorca, nice!)
- in January 25th I will be in Joensuu, examining the licentiate thesis of Leena Vartiainen that is related to live roleplaying, arts and crafts and virtual communities
- the following day, January 26th, I will be giving a talk in Forum Dynamo conference, titled Games Cultures & Games Literacy (PDF brochure)
- in the 1st of February, I will be talking in Youth, Media and Library — Back to the Future seminar in Tikkurila about Cultures of Games and Cultures of Play
- following Monday, 5th of February, I will speak in Tietoturvaviikot event in Helsinki (Online Safety Week) about Net Cultures, Now and in the Future
And then there will be the bi-weekly PhD & MA seminar of game studies that I will be running during this spring; welcome. As there are also other lectures, classes and several research projects and other work going on, it appears that I will have no difficulty in filling my hours this spring, either. 🙂
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…
Phwww. This week has been dedicated to the UPJ process, this mysterious, this transcendentally beautiful, illuminating and ambiguously ambidextrous rite of salary classification on the basis of work requirements and personal achievements that we need to go through, meek, alert and ready to prove our worth, every year, from now on, as employees of the Finnish university system. This is why we are, what we are, how we are, as the scholars, as the servants of wisdom, sophia, as academics.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the free world.
Henry Jenkins has participated in the new MacArthur Foundation initiatives and blogs about the white paper where they discuss the concept of distributed cognition, among other important things:
Challenging the traditional view that intelligence is an attribute of
individuals, the distributed cognition perspective holds that
intelligence is distributed across “brain, body, and world”, looping
through an extended technological and sociocultural environment. [link]