Updated 10:01 — Time Still Ticks

Tuesday 9 September 2014, 1:15 am   ////  

Lance Olsen and Tim Guthrie have updated their classic and palindromically-titled electronic literature work, 10:01.

This piece was included in the first Electronic Literature Collection and the first edition can still be seen there. Since it offers links out to the Web, and some of these became stale since the piece was first published in 2005, the prolific and edgy experimental writer Olsen and developer Guthrie have revised the piece for the Web for 2014, also reworking a few other elements. One is still able to select among movie patrons to read their perspectives. The piece is a companion to the print-novel version of 10:01, published by Chiasmus in 2005.

I cannot explain how apropos it is that I blog about this after returning from an AMC theater.

The audience is listening! Check it out.

More Human to Open September 12

Tuesday 9 September 2014, 12:54 am   ////////  

An upcoming exhibit, a group show here in town, features a work of mine…


Collision21: More Human

The exhibition Collision21: More Human will be at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery September 13-October 26, 2014, with an opening on Friday, September 12th from 6 to 9pm. This is a group show dealing with two closely-related concepts: human self-modification and the human modification of our environment. Formed by artists and technologists, the COLLISIONcollective is premised on the sometimes abrupt intersection between art and technology.   

Art Technology New England (ATNE) will be hosting a salon which will feature COLLISIONcollective artists from this exhibition discussing their works and the show. The salon will be held on Wednesday, September 24th at 7:30pm at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery. The gallery is located at 141 Green Street in Jamaica Plain (inside the Green St T Station on the Orange Line). The salon is free, but please register for it by emailing info@atne.org.

Artists Include

Matt Brand, Ben Bray, Alicia Eggert, Joseph Farbrook, Antony Flackett, Rob Gonsalves, Hwayong Jung, Gloria King Merritt, Georgina Lewis, Robin Lohrey, Mark Millstein, Nick Montfort, Andrew Neumann, Sarah Rushford, Fito Segrera, John Slepian, Sophia Sobers


My piece in the show is “From the Tables of My Memorie,” documented at nickm.com. It’s an interactive video installation.

The Open Book Project

Friday 5 September 2014, 7:29 pm   /////  

Two professors page through, scroll through, search through the history and contemporary existence of the book to disrupt the opposition between computing and print-based, codexical practice.

NYPL Builds Book Covers from PETSCII

Friday 5 September 2014, 11:52 am   /////  

GOTO80 tipped me off that the NYPL is experimenting with using PETSCII (the character set used on the Commodore 64 and other Commodore computers) to generate covers for e-books that don’t have them. There is also a cover generator under development that uses illustrations.

Generated covers (from the New York Public Library Labs)

The PETSCII generator is specificaly inspired by 10 PRINT, and of course, it leads leads me to ask … will they use this system to generate a cover for the e-book version of 10 PRINT?

A Koan

Thursday 4 September 2014, 11:55 pm   ////  

The disciple went to Minsky.

The disciple told him of his project, to develop a story generator with different components, a collaborative system that collaborated.

Minsky asked if a specific author was to be imitated.

No, the disciple said, the project seeks to do what only computers can do, to use computational power in new ways. And yet, the disciple admitted, the system models human creativity, techniques and processes that people use. Hesitantly, the disciple said, “it does seem contradictory…”

“You can do both,” said Minsky.

At that moment, the disciple was enlightened.

Full/Assoc Positions at NUS (Singapore)

Thursday 4 September 2014, 10:30 pm   ///  

I was asked to pass along word of the full/associate professor position in HCI and interactive media design at NUS. Checking the link, I found that there are also openings for full/associate professors in media studies and in new media studies and development. So: the details on these faculty positions in Singapore.

#! Bops Up to #4 … Shebang, Shebang …

Thursday 4 September 2014, 12:51 pm   //////  

My recent book #! (pronounced Shebang) made it to #4 on the August 2014 SPD Poetry Bestseller List.

Call for “Textual Machines” Papers

Thursday 4 September 2014, 12:13 am   ///////  

Here’s a conference coming up in April, with a January 1 deadline:


International Symposium

“Textual Machines”

April 18, 2015

The University of Georgia

Athens, GA

Keynote speakers

  • Janet MURRAY, Professor at the School of Literature, Media and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology and interaction designer.

  • Serge BOUCHARDON, Professor at the University of Technology of Compiegne and author of interactive fictions.

Themes and topics

“Textual Machines” is an international symposium exploring literary objects that produce texts through the material interaction with mechanical devices or procedures. We define “textual machines” as a perspective on literature and book objects where text is “a mechanical device for the production and consumption of verbal signs” (Espen J. Aarseth). From the symposium’s perspective, textual machines are not limited to a specific media or epoch, and include literary objects ranging from early modern movable books, to modern pop-up books, artist’s books, game books, concrete poetry, combinatory literature, electronic literature and interactive fictions. A distinctive feature of textual machines is that they invite readers to traverse text through the non-trivial manipulation of mechanistic devices or procedures: by navigating through hyperlinks, footnotes, marginalia or other semiotic cues, or by answering to configurational, exploratory or writing prompts.

Possible areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to:  

  • Reading textual machines. What common reading functions are shared by textual machines? How do readers navigate, maneuver, explore, configure, probe, play or collate textual machines and their outcomes? What theoretical concepts and analytical tools are best suited to describe the textuality of such objects? How can readings of such objects be recorded, shared, visualized and taught?

  • Situating textual machines. Beyond the cultural split between analog and digital media, how do the mechanics and affordances of textual machines relate to one another? What communities of readers and authors produce and perform textual machines?

  • Preserving textual machines. What can media archaeology labs, museums and rare book collections learn from one another in the process of preserving, curating and making textual machines accessible?

The Symposium “Textual Machines” will take place on April 18, 2015 at the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. In parallel to the symposium, the Main Library of the University of Georgia will be hosting the “Textual Machines” exhibit, featuring works of electronic literature from the Digital Arts Library and rare books from the Hargrett Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Selection Process

Proposals are expected by January 1, 2015. They must be sent as an abstract of 800 – 1,000 words (excluding bibliography). Each proposal must indicate the author’s full name, status and institutional affiliation. Proposals should be sent to baille@uga.edu.

Another Nod to BASIC

Thursday 4 September 2014, 12:09 am   /////  

Doug Orleans pointed me to “Lost Lessons from 8-Bit BASIC,” a blog post that makes the case that there were real, practical advantages to the much-maligned BASIC programming langauge, at least in the context of the home computer era.

Texto Digital Seeks Papers (in Many Languages)

A correspondent in Brazil sends news of a new call for papers in the journal Texto Digital. The recent issues have been almost entirely in Portuguese, but the journal is reaching out and seeking submissions in several languages. I think you can tell from the title (even if your Portuguese is a bit rusty) that this publication focuses on some very Post Position (and Grand Texto Auto) sorts of topics. Here’s the call:


Texto Digital is a peer-reviewed electronic academic journal, published twice annually in June and December by the Center for Research in Informatics, Literature and Linguistics – NuPILL (http://www.nupill.org/), linked to the Postgraduate Program in Literature, the Department of Vernacular Language and Literatures and the Center of Communication and Expression at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil.

Texto Digital publishes original articles in Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Catalan which discuss several theoretical implications related to the texts created/inserted in electronic and digital media.

Interdisciplinary by nature and range, as implied in its title with the words “text” and “digital”, the journal embraces the fields of Literature, Linguistics, Education, Arts, Computing and others, in their relation to the digital medium, yet without privileging any specific critical approach or methodology.

In addition to the Articles Section, Texto Digital presents specific sections destined on publishing digital works of art, as well as interviews with recognized researchers and / or digital artists.

Once submitted, all articles that meet the general scope of the journal and its guidelines will be considered for peer-review publication, even in case of issues that may favor some particular subject-matter.

CALL FOR PAPERS – TEXTO DIGITAL

Texto Digital, the electronic journal published by the Center for Research in Informatics, Literature and Linguistics (NuPILL) at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), Brazil, informs that submissions for articles are open until October 15th, 2014.

We accept papers that analyse the relationships of digital media with one or more of the following subjects: Literature, teaching processes (reading and writing in particular, but not restricted to), language studies and arts in general. Accepted papers will be published in our our December issue (n.2/2014).

Submissions for our journal are open on a continuous flow basis since September 1st, 2014, for academic papers that fit its scope. Our publication standards and guidelines are available at:. https://periodicos.ufsc.br/index.php/textodigital/about/submissions#authorGuidelines. Only papers in accordance with such criteria will be accepted.

“Driverless” or “Self-Driving” Cars

Thursday 28 August 2014, 11:04 am   /////  

So, I’m not saying they’re a bad idea, but why do these things get called “driverless” or “self-driving”? They are being driven by an immense corporation with the most massive store of data on Earth. They can’t function without this corporation or this store of data. They can’t drive themselves.

I dunno, maybe we should at least notice this sort of — hey! These cars are programmed to go up to 10 mph above the speed limit! Shiny!

(Prompted by Erik Stayton‘s great presentation of his thesis work on this topic yesterday. Erik works as my research assisstant in the Trope Tank.)

Forking Paths and Forest Platformer of Depression

Thursday 28 August 2014, 10:56 am   ////  

I’ve revisited two games about depression which seem interesting to compare. One has been discussed more recently, particularly thanks to its recent release on Steam: the Twine game Depression Quest. (It’s also available on the Web.) The other, which is in Flash and on the Web, is the platformer Elude. The latter was developed at MIT, in the GAMBIT Game Lab.

Both of these games have seen plenty of discussion, but I wanted to mention an aspect that make them interesting to compare. Of course, Elude is graphical and played in real time, while Depression Quest is text-based and allows the user to select CYOA-style options. But that’s quite obvious.

More interesting to me is that “Elude‘s metaphorical model for depression serves to bring awareness to the realities of depression by creating empathy with those who live with depression every day,” while “Depression Quest is a game that deals with living with depression in a very literal way.” Of course, being literal or metaphorical goes beyond having a single axis or slider, and it isn’t tied to whether one has a graphical or textual game. It’s interesting to see two games about the same subject matter that declare their intent to be different in this way. I wonder if there is a pair of games on similar topics where the text game is very metaphorical and the graphical game literal?

A New Dave Lebling Interview

Friday 22 August 2014, 12:47 am   ///  

USgamer features a new interview with Zork co-author and all-around Infocom implementor Dave Lebling. Very nice!

The opening flourish of the article, though, implies that in the days of Adventure, people used either green-on-black or amber-on-black video terminals to access computers, and players would see glowing letters and the “darkness of an empty command line.”

This is actually fantasy, not history. As I’ve written about in “Continuous Paper: Print interfaces and early computer writing,” as others have experienced and noted, and an amazing binder of print terminal output from an MIT student testified to me, a great deal of very early interactive fiction interaction was done on print terminals, including but not limited to the famous name-brand “Teletype.” A few people (including Lebling!) had access to top-notch video terminals, but lots of interaction was done on paper.

Will Crowther even wrote the original version of Adventure in Fortran on an ASR-33 Teletype.

So, when writing and first playing Adventure, perhaps the space that you would see on the paper is intentionally left blank – but you aren’t likely to be eaten by a grue.

Another Thought for the Day

Thursday 21 August 2014, 1:20 pm   ///  

If I used my Twitter account the way I’m supposed to, instead of as a conceptual writing project, I would have put that last post on Twitter.

Thought for the Day

Thursday 21 August 2014, 1:18 pm   ///  

If I had a Facebook account, it would be tagged as satire.

The Mutable Stanzas

Wednesday 20 August 2014, 11:20 pm   /////  

Yesterday first-person-shooter Borges, intimate, infinite, and based on prose; today cut-up Spenser, mutable and poetic.

The Mutable Stanzas

This dynamic digital poetry piece, by Stephen Pentecost, is quite compelling. The author writes:

The Mutable Stanzas is a digital poetry installation and deformance experiment inspired by Raymond Queneau’s Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes, by the work by Jerome McGann et al on “Deformance and Interpretation,” and by the work of my collegues in the Humanities Digital Workshop.

The Mutable Stanzas disassembles Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene into its constituent lines, groups lines according to terminal rhyme, then randomly reassembles lines into new stanzas.

While the stanzas are structured by end rhyme, and each line is not independent of others, I wonder, as a reader, whether it’s best to avail myself of the pause button or whether I should simply continue reading down the page.

Senderos que se … Intimate, Infinite

Tuesday 19 August 2014, 10:33 pm   /////  

Intimate, Infinite by Robert Yang

Robert Yang’s latest is a first-person-shooter version of Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Garden of Forking Paths.” With a lovingly off-kilter translation (befitting its “original”) and with visuals and (quite minimal) interaction that suits the experience, this is an extraordinary set of linked mini-games, well worth the short amount of time it takes to get through them, and worth offering at least a bit for this pay-what-you-will game.

Check out Intimate, Infinite.

Intimate, Infinite by Robert Yang

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