April 26, 2008

We LOLed

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 6:00 pm

For one thing, I have to note that interactive fiction must be resurgent. There’s a vodka ad placed in a few Cambridge, Massachusetts bus stops that refers to text adventures pretty directly.

An ad

April 23, 2008

Joystick Programming on the 2600, or How Stella Got Her Bots Back

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:05 am

The Atari 2600 could have been a player-programmable system! Fathom that.

If you were old enough to hold a joystick in 1978, you have encountered the work of Rob Fulop. Early in his career Rob made a name for himself as an Atari 2600 game programmer and designer, responsible for the highly successful cartridges Demon Attack (Billboard’s Video Game of the Year in 1982), Cosmic Ark (1982), Fathom (1983), as well as the 2600 ports of Missile Command (1981) and Night Driver (1978) from the original arcade games.

April 22, 2008

Jessica’s first new media artwork

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 3:25 am

Jessica’s first new media artwork, originally uploaded by srett.

Shortly after he received the birth announcement, my friend the digital poet Jason Nelson made Jessica’s first new media artwork. Even better, when I showed it to her she stopped crying.

April 21, 2008

Jessica Ann Rettberg

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 3:03 am

Closeup of Jessica, originally uploaded by srett.

Saturday April 19th at 11:40AM in Bergen, Norway, Jill gave birth to Jessica Ann Rettberg. Our daughter weighed 8 pounds, was 50 centimeters long, and is 100% healthy and beautiful.

Lørdag 19.april kl11:40 fikk Jill og jeg en datter: Jessica Ann Rettberg. Hun veide 3655g, var 50 centimeter lang, og det står bra til med mor og barn.

April 19, 2008

The End of the Restaurant’s Universe

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 11:20 am

This has been so overexposed as to finally oblige a post – so, sorry if you’ve already heard it. There’s a set of backup files from the main Infocom disk that exists and seems to be in very small-scale but discernible circulation. Among other things, it contains emails about the eventually scuttled sequel to the game Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky, design notes for this sequel, and two early very incomplete but working mock-ups of it. Andy Baio’s lengthy post on Waxy.org unearths an email conversation about the never-completed game Milliways, ak.a. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe from more than 20 years ago.

April 17, 2008

Ollie Johnston, 95

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:13 pm

The last of the senior animators of the original core group at Disney (a.k.a the “nine old men”), National Medal of Arts recipient, and co-author of The Illusion of Life, the gold standard character animation reference.

My Mind is Going…

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:06 pm

Putting aside unnecessarily pretentious claims such as “The worlds first piece of online conceptual video game art”, Stewart Hogarth’s The Naked Game is brilliant.

Welcome to the Naked Game. What you are seeing is a primitive version of ‘Pong’, being played by two artificial intelligences, with the entire code governing the mechanics of the game exposed below it, and the variables affecting the mechanics to the right. Furthermore, you can remove lines of code and see the effects in real time.

I kind of think of this as the Web 2.0 indie game version of HAL devolving as he sings “Daisy”.

April 16, 2008

Software Studies Meets TechnoTravels/TeleMobility

As mentioned earlier, I very much enjoyed the first HASTAC conference. Now registration has opened for the second HASTAC iteration, themed “TechnoTravels/TeleMobility.” I’m also happy to say there will be a substantial selection of software studies content, including a panel featuring information from the first North American software studies workshop, special software studies presentations by Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass using the massive-resolution HiPerWall display at UC Irvine’s branch of Calit2, and a short talk by yours truly on the Expressive Processing blog-based peer review project.

April 13, 2008

Major League Lifestyle Improvement

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 4:34 pm

Today I upgraded to WordPress 2.5, which has a much nicer backend interface and some smart improvements (though I can’t seem to get the media uploader to work). In the process I also found out my previous theme had somehow been spam-hacked, which explains the new look-in-progress. But the major technological upgrade of the day was my subscription to MLB.TV. We have a DV cable to put the stream through to the TV. At anything over 400K, the image stream is too jerky on my connection, but at 400K, it is a lot like like watching baseball used to be when I was a kid and broadcast television involved rabbit ear manipulation. Still, you can’t beat being able to watch the Cubs live from Norway. Great game, the Cubs beat the Phillies 6-5 in the 10th inning. Well worth $20 a month.
Cubs on my tv in Norway

April 12, 2008

Crawford’s Nine Breakthroughs

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:19 am

Via Water Cooler Games — Chris Crawford’s presentation yesterday at the Game Developers Exchange in Atlanta, on his “Nine Breakthroughs” useful in developing Storytron. Good stuff!

Update: The Storytron site has a new look! They’re still beta, but getting close to an initial launch.

April 10, 2008

Sweets Digits are Made of This

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 5:31 am

I suppose “digital materiality” (among other things, the topic that Matthew Kirschenbaum treated so well in his recent Mechanisms) is no longer widely considered an oxymoron. A scholarship is being offered this year along library and information science lines for PhD study of “Digital Materiality and the Management of Cultural Heritage Collections.” Follow the link for contact information:

Victoria University of Wellington (NZ) is offering a once-off Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Research Scholarship for a PhD in Digital Materiality.

April 8, 2008

IndieCade Deadline Nears

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:31 am

From the call:

Indiecade invites independent game artists and designers from around the world to submit interactive media of all types – from art to commercial, ARG to abstract, serious to shooter – for consideration. Work-in-progress is encouraged.

A diverse jury of industry leaders will select entries for top prizes at the IndieCade @ Open Satellite Festival. All entries for the Festival will also receive consideration for presentation at the other 2008 IndieCade international showcase exhibitions.

Submissions Deadline: April 11, 2008 at Midnight PST.

For more information and to enter: www.IndieCade.com.

April 5, 2008

Blog-Based Peer Review: Some Preliminary Conclusions, part 2

[This is a continuation of part 1]

The version of the Expressive Processing manuscript used for both forms of peer review begins with an introductory chapter composed, in part, in response to a desire to let people know what is at stake right up front. I wrote it to let readers know, from the beginning, what I am advocating and why it matters to me. I also wanted a first chapter that could be assigned as a stand-alone class reading (as so many monograph chapters are) and function to make my case.

In the blog-based review I got a number of important comments on this chapter, especially on my discussion of process intensity and The Sims. In the course of that discussion I also learned a number of things about the blog-based review form that still hold true in my conclusions about this project. (more...)

April 4, 2008

i got yer future of games here in my greasy mitt

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 5:49 pm


Process of “The IBM Poem” by Emmett Williams

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:11 am

Chris Funkhouser is author of the excellent volume Prehistoric Digital Poetry, which I hope to write about at greater length before too long. He told us today during the Codework workshop at WVU about Emmett Williams’s “The IBM Poem,” a 1966 computationally-generated poem and system for generating poems. I can find little information about this poem on the Web – certainly, not the specification of how the generator works, which Funkhouser was kind enough to hand out to us on paper.

Here is a partial implementation (Update: a complete implementation; my earlier version is still available) of the poem-generating process in Python which I just wrote up. You may modify or do anything you like with this. I dedicate this program to the public domain as described in the linked document. I’ve uploaded a text file containing the program that also appears in this post, below.

April 3, 2008

Programs Ted Nelson Likes

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 6:37 pm
Nelson at WVU

I just got to hear Ted Nelson (inventor of the term “hypertext,” author of Computer Lib/Dream Machines and Literary Machines) kick off the Codework workshop with his talk here at West Virginia University. I did not take notes during Nelson’s talk. The basic ideas he expounded (as one might guess) were the ones expressed in his books and in the last talk of his that I heard, in 2001 at Brown. He showed some examples of cross-document connections and transclusion in Xanadu Space, and demonstrated the underlying data representation, ZigZag.

Blog-Based Peer Review: Some Preliminary Conclusions, part 1

As many Grand Text Auto readers know, earlier this year I put a mostly-completed draft of my manuscript (for Expressive Processing) through two forms of peer review. One was a review by three anonymous field experts selected by my publisher, The MIT Press. The other was a blog-based review right here on Grand Text Auto. I posted each chapter, section by section, with a new addition each weekday morning — inviting paragraph-by-paragraph comments from the readers here.

April 2, 2008

The New Media Reader – Correct Us!

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:30 pm

Putting The New Media Reader together with Noah years ago meant amassing a huge variety of material from different sorts of sources. This diversity, and the sheer amount of text and images, made the book difficult to compile and edit. We knew that despite rather extreme efforts from us and from others at The MIT Press, there are minor errors throughout the book.

Expressive Processing Review: A Question of Goals

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:30 am

I’m surprised to see the opening paragraph of Jeff Young’s piece in the Chronicle today, in which he’s offering one of the first post-experiment evaluations of the Expressive Processing blog-based peer review project. The lead and headline seem to focus on the idea that blog-based review will “not replace traditional blind peer review anytime soon.”

I’m not surprised because I disagree about blog-based review replacing press-solicited reviews, but rather because finding a replacement for press-solicited review was never a goal of the project. Rather, the project participants (the Institute for the Future of the Book, the MIT Press, UCSD’s Software Studies initiative, GTxA, and yours truly) had goals such as seeing what would take place in a blog-based form of review (this was, after all, the first known experiment), learning from comparing the results of the two forms of review, and (most importantly) garnering responses from the GTxA community that will help improve the book. (more...)

“No Time” is the Present

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:15 am

Daniel C. Howe and Aya’s Karpinska’s present to us, that is. I’m sure you think you don’t have time to look at it, but it’s worth the trip to their “No Time Machine,” which fetches statements from the Web about how people don’t have time, dropped into new dialogues. It’s a very pleasing piece in terms of how it sounds, looks, and ticks along. Among other things, it serves as a new media clock, along the lines of Speaking Clock, Sine Clock, and 12 o’clocks. I also found, among some flashes of humor, that it is deeply saddening to read. It is, after all, a true reflection of the things people say and write as they discuss missed opportunities and hopes they have decided not to attain.

April 1, 2008


from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:00 pm

(Update: April Foolery!) The official Website for the movie Superbad (IMDB) seems to have been hacked or something. The promotional content has been replaced with incomprehensible junk that seems to serve no commercial purpose.

Unless … a Superbad video game or similar spinoff is nearing launch, and this update signals the beginning of a new alternative realty game to promote that product.

LA Times Gets Hits with Wiki Stick

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:00 am
LW Timespedia

(Update: somewhat obvious April Foolery!) News of a very surprising and innovative move in journalism: The former Los Angeles Times has transitioned to become The Los Wikiless Timespedia, “continuously updated by the fine people of Los Angeles and the World.”

“We tried basically all the gimmicks we know,” said new Editor-in-Chief Tony Cahter, recently promoted from the depleted typesetting staff. “Different fonts. Moving Marmaduke to the front page. Everything.”

The wiki news system allows readers to enter and edit articles as they please.

Moby Disk 1.1.1

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 2:00 am
(Update: April Foolery!) Starting today, with this post, I’ll be making my new novel, Moby Disk, or the Worm available on Grand Text Auto in draft form. I’m definitely hoping to get your comments, but because of some difficulties with CommentPress, I’ve decided to go with the standard comment mechanism for the blog. Well, truth be told, there is only one long, long paragraph (most of them much longer than this) in each of the sections that I’ll be posting, so using CommentPress would make no sense. While the bit at the very end isn’t completely worked out yet, I do know that the book will have 550 sections. Since I’m posting a day at a time, it should take just over 18 months to post everything. I hope you enjoy reading this sort of fare over the next year and a half – intermixed, of course, with our usual posts.

Call me method. Through a Commodore VIC-20 of recirculation I wet the bed early for a long time. Motherboard died today. A screaming comes across this guy – the guy above the port who was the color of television, tuned. It was a nice and stormy dork. As Feature awoke one morning from disquieting dreams, he found himself transformed into a giant insect. It was a pleasure to burn, even at only 4x speed. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting the disk to satisfy misses in the L2 cache which also could not be found in RAM. Dr. Seuss says I shud rite down what I think and evrey thing that happins to me from now on. The random access device (for so it will be convenient to speak of it) was expounding a recondite matter to us. Once upon a time the disk was round and you could go on it around and around. It was in those days that I wandered about hungry, encrypted. I would seek – seek unto death with that long agony; and when they at last unmounted me, and I was permitted to park, I felt that my sectors were leaving me. Night of my knife, fur of my lions. Every happy file system is alike. First post. You are about to begin executing Nick Montfort’s new novel, Moby Disk, or the Worm. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone vibrating three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end saying “forty one.” The station wagons arrived at noon. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. If you’re going to, read this. It was the best of rhymes, it was repetition.

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