I would like to go from Oslo, Norway, by way of New York City to Portland, Oregon in May 2002, leaving in the last half of May and spending 2-3 weeks on the trip.

Currently I reside in Volda, Norway. I'll manage to get to Oslo on my own - well, I might even manage to get to NYC on my own if I got the tickets from NYC to Portland.

I am a professor and working on a research project/doctoral thesis which is supposed to be finished by the end of May. I would however like to add one final feature before finishing, and to do that - I'd like to go to Portland.

The research is on computer games: specifically online Role-playing games in MUDs. Autumn 1999 I travelled from Norway via NYC to Seattle and Portland, drove down the west coast to San Diego and went back to the east coast by plane. On that trip I interviewed several players, and took their pictures.

What I would love to do is a small "where are they now" section. I have been planning all along to put their pictures on the net, with their character names or their real names (I have to discuss that with them, there's always the danger of harassment). If I could go back and take pictures of the "Portland Cluster", that would make the site a lot more amusing. If I could interview them again, it would make a wonderful finishing touch to my research! Several of the players in the Portland Cluster live with people they met online, in the roleplay game, or have the game as an important aspect of their social life. There are two couples in that group, and several who define themselves as parts of the group without having seen them in real life, at least oen of whom lives in NYC.

What the web will get out of it:
The picture web-site.
I'll post a couple of my articles written during the period of research, but not integrated in the final thesis. Travelling reports posted on an independent travelling blog or on my blog: thinking with my fingers - http://torillsin.blogspot.com/ - pictures and descriptions of what I see and experience while travelling. Here's an example of my posts when I was in NYC just after sept.11th: Friday, October 19th (well, I had actually returned) http://torillsin.blogspot.com/?/2001_10_01_torillsin_archive.html I can write and I have an audience, something which keeps surprising me - wouldn't think that people would care about the everyday questions of a frustrated academic. They do though. Alternatively I could make a travel-blog, using something like tinderbox, I expect there must be a similar tool for PC's - where I could incorporate all of this: the pictures, the diary, small "travelling correspondent" articles and the larger research articles, but for that I'd need technical assistance.

One unresolved aspect: I have not asked the players if they want to have their pictures on the net. If they refuse, alternative B is to do the interviews, write their stories and post those, illustrated with something else they choose to represent them, and with their character names or fictional character names. This won't have the intimacy and urgency of the pictures, but it will still describe the development of the persons from who they were three years ago and up till today.

This would illustrate people's different uses of the internet as social arenas, while connecting it to ongoing research. And it's not something I'd get funding for elsewhere - going to Portland to see them and talk to them again would be pure fun and luxury for me.

Torill Mortensen
torill.mortensen@hivolda.no +47 48288360 http://www.hivolda.no/amf/tilsette/mortensen/index.htm http://torillsin.blogspot.com/