Here follows a thematic and somewhat chronological account of life, work, projects and interests. Please look at my CV or the list of presentations and publications to get a less prosaic and more condensed presentation. My interests range from corpus linguistics and Gothic to symbolism in computer games, information technology and learning, art and technology, and interrupt culture.
I am a humanities scholar interested in the intersection of the humanities and information technology, the humanities more generally, and issues to with learning, collaboration and innovation. I am the director of HUMlab at Umeå University.
In 1998, I defended my Ph.D. dissertation on nominal number, cognition and embodiment. My work was based on corpus analyses and a cognitive linguistics kind of framework. When doing my Ph.D. work I also wrote a textbook on Gothic in Swedish together with Torbjörn Nilsson, and historical linguistics (as well as diachrony in general) is another interest of mine. In 1996-1997 I spent a year at Berkeley, where George Lakoff was my supervisor. I learnt a great deal there, and maybe most importantly, I was inspired by and saw the benefits of true cross-disciplinary and cutting-edge work. Among other things, my time in California gave my linguistics Ph.D. thesis a strong cognitive science angle. I go back to California rather often, and I benefit greatly from the energy and the meetings I experience there. I believe in traveling, meeting people, and getting away.
I still do some linguistics and language technology work, and there are several themes that I have picked up on: cognitive science, embodiment, information technology in humanities research, corpus methodology, computer-mediated communication, the use of visual representation in traditionally textual contexts, and learning in relation to new technology. One obvious example of fairly current activity with some linguistics emphasis is the monograph on language learning and technology which which I published in 2008.
An important strand in my work has to do with creative use of new technology in relation to learning, learning paradigms and representation. I was the project leader of a project whose three-year externally financed phase was finished in 2002 (1999-2002): the Virtual Weddings Project (read final report here, financed by the Council for the Renewal of Higher Education). In the project, students created and populated a graphical virtual world instead of writing a traditional third term academic paper (the equivalent of ten weeks’ work). The idea is to bridge gaps between sub-disciplines through a thematic approach and to explore non-textual as well as textual representation. The project depended heavily on constructivist learning, rich hypertext, collaborative learning, experimentation and reaching out. Also, we tried to encourage language students to express themselves artistically.
I have done many presentations and written a few articles on information technology and learning, non-traditional representation, creativity and learning, constructivist learning, virtual learning arenas, co-evolution and cyberspace as a laboratory. I have also been the project leader of nationally funded project on streamed media in an educational context (final report in Swedish here) and involved in several other project applications and projects in this field (for instance a recently funded project on drama history in virtual space). I have also been the project leader of a national initiative on language learning and information technology financed by the Swedish Net University. A book on language education and information technology, for which I was the editor, was published by the Net University in 2006. Currently I am the PI for a KK Foundation funded project on YouTube as a performative arena.
My interest in language learning and information technology led myself and Ulrike Klingemann at Stockholm University to found a national network for these issues, and in 2001, this network came into being at a large-scale symposium staged at HUMlab: From Tradition to Vision. I am interested in people who are doing interesting things, and I seek contact and encourage people to contact me. For several years now, I have organized several seminar series in HUMlab, and among the seminar speakers are people like Jessica Pressman, Brenda Laurel, Bruce Damer, Katherine Hayles, Peter Gärdenfors, Espen Aarseth, Charles Fillmore, Judith Donath and Henry Jenkins. These visits greatly benefit HUMlab as an intellectual and creative environment. My own traveling is also rather substantial, and I try to learn from other environments and people.
I have a profound interest in the intersections between technology and art, and between technology and the humanities, as well as in the role of the humanities in our society more generally. Some of my work in this area is being canalised in a series of four articles on the digital humanities for the Digital Humanities Quarterly. So far two articles have been published, one has been accepted for publication and I am currently working on the fourth article. The titles are Humanities Computing as Digital Humanities, The Landscape of Digital Humantities, From Optical Fiber to Conceptual Cyberinfrastructure, and Envisioning the Digital Humanites. I have come to think about myself somewhat as a Science and Technology Studies researcher over the last couple of years.
My research interests include interdisciplinarity, research methods in the humanities and in the sciences, simulation as a tool, visualization, academic responsibility, creating opportunities for successful meetings, physical aspects of information technology environments, the use of non-textual elements in humanities academic discourse, digital art, and artistic expression in “non-art” subjects. In 2000, I organized a cross-disciplinary symposium on visualization in HUMlab. For September 2003, I organized an international workshop on dynamic maps, and this event was very successful with people from many different areas and disciplines: dialectology, geography, cartography, contemporary art, simulation and information visualization. In 2005 I organized a conference on the humanities and information technology (The Technological Texture). More recently, I orgnized a December 2010 conference on Media Places.