From outline to full text, witness here the writing of 13 (annotated) sentences about startups in EtherPad. Thanks to Charles McKenzie for this nugget.
February 27, 2009
February 26, 2009
Stephanie Strickland’s article “Born Digital,” describing electronic literature as a practice distinct from the publication of e-books and entwined with programming, is now up on the Poetry Foundation’s site. If you yourself are curious yourself about what characterizes e-lit, or if you’re hoping to be able to better explain the concept to others, I suggest you take a look at what Strickland has insightfully written.
February 25, 2009
Michael Jackson’s arcade games are being auctioned off. He will still apparently maintain two ping-pong tables in his basement.
I learned in the past few days that Laura Borràs Castanyer of the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) is apparently being dismissed from her position at UOC.
This comes as quite a surprise, as Professor Borràs directs Hermeneia, a major European research group on digital literature; is also organizing the 2009 e-Poetry conference; has been overseeing the Ciutat de Vinaros Prize for digital literature; and is serving in the editorial collective for The Electronic Literature Collection, volume 2, the follow-up to the first volume that Scott and I worked on with Kate Hayles and Stephanie Strickland. Without having heard the complete story, the justification for this action apparently has something to do with her not having performed adequate service. This justification is also rather surprising, given only these activities that those of us in the Electronic Literature Organization know about.
February 24, 2009
We have news of a faculty position in creative enterprise and public leadership at Vanderbilt, one that is open to those working in digital media:
Vanderbilt University is seeking an innovative and entrepreneurial tenure-track scholar to help build a new program in Creative Enterprise and Public Leadership. The program includes graduate and undergraduate courses, internships, and hands-on creative practice and is part of a larger Creative Campus initiative described below.
Karen Collins, author of Game Sound, did an amazing study in which she traces how the peculiarities of the TIA (Television Interface Adapter) may have influenced the tonal sensibilities of Western youth and may be linked to the later use of flat seconds in rave, heavy metal, and industrial music. The article is “Fine Tuning the Terrible Twos: The Musical Aesthetic of the Atari VCS” (PDF version, deprecated HTML). Thanks much to 8-bit and 1-bit artist Shifty for handing me a copy of this paper last week.
February 23, 2009
In the 1990s, Seiko manufactured and supported a service for a pager in a wristwatch’s guise. The unit could only display two eight-character lines, and because it (more or less) used a seven-segment display, it could only display a subset of the letters in the English alphabet. (I speak of it in the past tense, for service is discontinued as the device did not survive Y2K.) For instance, it could not display the letters K, M, or W, so it could not render the words “Seiko,” “Message,” or “Watch.” Nevertheless, Benjamin Mako Hill wrote an ode to the Seiko Messagewatch on the Seiko Messagewatch.
February 19, 2009
Jamey Pittman’s Pac-Man Dossier is a Web page that contains everything that is known about Namco’s famous arcade game Pac-Man. As Pittman writes, “New discoveries found during the research for this page in December 2008 have allowed for the clearest view yet of the actual ghost behavior and pathfinding logic used by the game.” On the page, you will find a detailed analysis of why turning the joystick before reaching a corner is a good idea; an enormous table listing Pac-Man’s speed, the ghosts’ fright time, and other statistics for each level; and a discussion of the accelerated “Cruise Elroy” state which Blinky enters under certain circumstances. Word of this resource reached us thanks to (no, really) Inky.
February 18, 2009
Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency
By Jay David Bolter and Diane Gromala
The MIT Press
xii, 182 p.
Just as Apple Stores can’t bite into Apple’s retail chain too deeply, we at Grand Text Auto have to save some (doggie) scoops for other Web outlets. This time it’s Gamasutra that got to break the news of a new iPhone game, Touch Pets Dogs by Andrew Stern’s Stumptown Game Machine. The announcement includes an interview with Andrew and producer Karlo Kilayko. Andrew’s latest virtual pet program looks to be a riot (check out the video and features like the Dog Feed) and will be actually shipping soon.
February 17, 2009
Riddle Me This: A World Treasury of Word Puzzles, Folk Wisdom, & Literary Conundrums
By Phil Cousineau
Barnes and Noble Books
viii, 184 p.
February 14, 2009
oGFx (or, more fully, E15:oGFx) is a new system by Kyle Buza and Luis Blackaller that allows a programmer to procedurally generate 2D animations which are continually extruded into 3D forms – and to made changes to code as it is running and generating graphics. You can write (or modify) simple Python programs to get going in oGFx, within a few minutes. The system was just released on 1234567890 (Unix Epoch Time). oGFx is deeply beautiful, in that it allows for many sorts of visually compelling work, relates 2D to 3D graphics in a fascinating way, and allows for a better understanding of how computation and programming can be aesthetic. The system was developed in the MIT Physical Language Workshop which was run by John Maeda from 2006-2008. I’m glad to have been on Luis’s committee as he worked on the closely related project MyStudio, and to have gotten to talk with him about oGFx and see it in action as it developed.
If you’ve been looking for that excuse to write some IF, look no further. Interactive Fiction Writing Month is about to begin. During February 15-March 15, author/programmers will be encouraged with a series of tasks to learn about constructing IF in Inform 6. There’s also a blog; and there’s a forum. CMU is the focal point of this month of writing, and there will be some live lectures and events there, but participation is open to anyone.
February 12, 2009
This March 21-22, at Brown University, there will be the 3rd (almost-annual) conference on constructed languages (CONLANGs). The organizers are accepting proposals and suggestions for sessions — in addition to all that’s already in store. More below!
February 11, 2009
Mary and I realized, at a bar in Hanover, New Hampshire, this particular language generator: “The Hangup.” We hope you enjoy it!
February 9, 2009
Check this out: Art and Code, “a low-key conference teaching a variety of tools specially developed for use in the arts and education to artists, young people, and everyone else.” It’s happening March 7-9 at CMU.
A long while ago Gilbert Bernstein discussed process intensity and programming with us in the comment section after my review of Alex Galloway’s Gaming. I mentioned one of Edsgar W. Dijkstra’s notes, EWD277, in which the problem of writing a program to find the first 1000 prime numbers is discussed.
Bernstein, who is from my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, where Dijkstra taught, recently pointed me to a hilarious paper that discusses the same problem and proposes a different programming methodology to solve it, while also referring to different Dijkstra note on structured programming and offering an excellent set of references. The paper is “Notes On Postmodern Programming” by James Noble and Robert Biddle. Section 13 is the one that lays out the new (or perhaps not so new) approach.
February 4, 2009
Here’s the latest on Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. Ian and I have done a Q&A about our study of the Atari 2600 over at Powell’s Books, which has Racing the Beam on sale right now. On February 2 Amazon must have been out at the warehouse (good news from a standpoint of reader interest) because their time for delivery jumped up, but Amazon now flows with copies as well. For those who like to read with the ear, Ian offers a lively discussion of the book on this month’s MIT Press podcast, in the second segment of the program, after Stephen H. Axilrod talks about his Inside the Fed.
February 3, 2009
I’ve been wanting to take a moment to mention a game that I’ve found fun, wacky, and interesting, one that offers an innovative play feeling – and one which recently received a glowing review from GameCritics.com. (It’s been praised elsewhere; for instance, on Destructoid.) The game in question is CarneyVale Showtime, available since late December for the Xbox 360 via Xbox LIVE Community Games. In this “vertical ragdoll platform game,” you grip, release, and inflect a whirling clown, Slinky, who is flung through balloon-laden spaces. This game was an IGF finalist and won first place in the 2008 Dream-Build-Play Challenge. And, CarneyVale Showtime was developed right here at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. Go go GAMBIT game!
February 2, 2009
February 1, 2009
Turbulence has just made two announcements. First, based on a bevy of quality proposals, authors have been selected for Networked: a (networked_book) about (networked_art). They are Anne Helmond, Patrick Lichty, Anna Munster, Marisa Olson, and Kazys Varnelis. Second, two new pieces commissioned by Turbulence have been unfurled: ABSML, a language for writing text-generation templates, and “Without a Trace,” a comic generated from tracings and traces of several sources, including The New York Times.