January 29, 2008

EP Meta: Chapter One

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 7:17 am

With today’s post of section 1.6, we’ve reached the first major milestone of the Expressive Processing review. The entire first chapter has now been posted. Given this, I’d like to ask for further thoughts about issues that have been raised — and also invite wider discussion.

Here are some of the comments that stand out most for me, thus far:

Both Ian Bogost and Barry Atkins found the first chapter’s self-referentiality (something much less present in later chapters) problematic.

Both Lev Manovich and Matt Kirschenbaum raised the issue that software studies (and, by extension, Expressive Processing) should be careful not to uncritically reproduce the structures of computer science.

With Terry Bosky, Lord Yo, and Nick Montfort there was a discussion of whether it made sense to lump Pong and Tetris together as “early” games. While this was sparked by infelicitous word choice (I realized I probably meant something more like “iconic”) some interesting points were made.

Finally, with Barry Atkins, Chris Lewis, and Nick Montfort we got into an in-depth discussion of The Sims, Myst, asset libraries, graphical processing, behavioral processing, and process intensity.

I’d be very interested in further discussion of these points, either here or back in the earlier posts. All of them will be on my mind as I do my next round of revisions. More generally, I’d also like to hear any thoughts about the first chapter as a whole. While, obviously, it remains for the rest of the manuscript to make good on the first chapter’s promise, I’m hoping that the promise is coherent and enticing. I also hope its argument, that it is worth paying attention to digital media’s processes for these reasons and in these ways, seems convincing.

Finally, I’ll take this “meta” opportunity to link to Ben Vershbow’s thought-provoking project announcement on if:book that wasn’t yet live when I did my initial project post. Since then I’ve also become quite intrigued to see what Kathleen Fitzpatrick is cooking up in a forthcoming paper on the history and future of peer review and upcoming MediaCommons projects. And I’m happy to see this project sparking discussion elsewhere, as summarized in blog posts from MIT Press (citing Info/Law, ReadWriteWeb, Scholarly Communication, Sources and Methods, and Voir Dire) and the Chronicle‘s Footnoted (citing Info-Fetishist, The Valve, and Progressive Historians). I’ve also noticed discussions at Computerworld, The Scientist, Weblogg-ed, Blog Herald, and Educational Games Research. I won’t respond to all the ideas here, but they will provide fodder for whatever I eventually write about this project. Any other interesting responses I should know about?