September 30, 2010

Computing with Your Torch

from Post Position
by @ 3:43 pm

I just have to mention the 16-bit ALU implemented in the 3D environment of Minecraft, which has been much discussed by now. I’m glad to hear this game is keeping up with Dwarf Fortress. By the way, the particular piece of hardware that has been (virtually) built, on the way to creating a full CPU, is the one described in The Elements of Computing Systems, a book I wrote about on Grand Text Auto back in 2006.

September 29, 2010

Death and the Powers Arrives

from Post Position
by @ 3:52 pm

The opera and “robot pageant” composed by Tod Machover, directed by Diane Paulis and with a libretto by Robert Pinsky has finally been staged in Monaco. I won’t see it until it comes to the Boston area in a few months, but I’m delighted to see the project reach the stage. Death and the Powers (discussed in this WBUR interview) has been in the works for about a decade. I wrote about it as we rang in the new year (2006) at Grand Text Auto, and I was very pleased to hear the workshop performance of the opera at A.R.T., here in Cambirdge. By now, we not only have the performances in Monaco: The libretto has been printed in Poetry and is available online at the Poetry Foundation. And those of us in the US can look forward to the March arrival of Death and the Powers in Boston.

September 27, 2010

Brian Lande at UCSC

Brian Lande
“‘When You Are Strange’: Mutual Intelligibility, Intercoporeality, and Accountability in Stranger Encounters”
Brian Lande, Ph.D, Program Manager, DARPA, Arlington VA

Date: Thursday, September 30, 2010
Time: 11:00 am
Place: Engineering 2 Room 399

This lecture is free and open to the public, but visitors should purchase a parking pass from the visitor kiosk at the main entrance. There they can also provide a map showing the best parking for the School of Engineering.

September 24, 2010

Notes on the IF Community

from Post Position
by @ 6:07 pm

I was a sort of “international observer” at the latest ELMCIP Seminar in Bergen, Norway. ELCMIP is a European project, funded by HERA, which looks at the ways electronic literature communities function and foster creativity. On the first day of the seminar (Monday, September 20) I presented about the IF community, supplementing that evening’s screening of Get Lamp at the Landmark Cafe. I offered some thoughts, summarized here, for those working in other types of electronic literature practices.

New Grow-a-Game Cards arrive!

from tiltfactor
by @ 10:10 am

grow a game cards v. 2.0Better than ever before, the new series of Grow-A-Game cards are out!

Grow-a-Game are colorful, professionally produced brainstorming tools used in top game design programs at major universities, in game design companies, and in high school programs. Version 2.0 now comes in three different sets (Classic, Apprentice, and Expert). Thousands of participants since 2007 have brainstormed games using these values-centered tools. Tiltfactor developed the cards as part of our research with Values at Play, a National Science Foundation research project led by Mary Flanagan and Helen Nissenbaum.

September 22, 2010

A Deterministic ppg256

from Post Position
by @ 4:36 am

Last night I premiered ppg256-6 in Bergen, Norway:

perl -le '@d=split/ /,"eros won to tree for fire sex sever ate nice tin elfin wealth";@t=split//,"_bhlmnpstw";{$_=localtime;/(..):(.)(.):(.)(.)/;print"\n$t[$3]".($4%2)."ck $t[$4]".($3%2)."ck\n"if!$5;print"\\"x$5." $d[$1%12] $d[$2] $d[$3] $d[$4] $d[$5]";sleep 1;redo}'

This is the latest in my series of 256-character poetry generators written in Perl. An unusual feature of this one is that it is deterministic: If run at the same time, it will produce the same output. Those who run Windows should check the ppg256 page for a .pl file that will run on that OS, on ActivePerl.

September 16, 2010

Small World Show UK

from tiltfactor
by @ 1:23 pm

The Small World Exhibition examines how the world is being shaped by new technologies, setting this in the context of the last 160 years of industrial and global change. To accompany the show there will be a series of talks and educational events.

Opening times: Thurs / Fri / Sat 11am – 6pm.
Or by appointment. Please call 01702 470700.

Venue: Chalkwell Hall, Chalkwell Avenue, Southend-on-Sea SS0 8NB

Small World Fair – programme of events:

A series of panel-led discussions with artists, activists, business leaders and academics will debate technology, its impact and implications for progress and society.

September 14, 2010

New Digital Gender Studies eBook in Spanish

from tiltfactor
by @ 7:44 pm

The innovative X0y1 project in Spain has released a new Spanish ebook of cyberfeminist writing! Download it here!

Como parte de las actividades de X0y1 (plataforma para la investigación y la producción artística sobre identidad y cultura de redes), ellos presentan su 1er ebook X0y1 #ensayos sobre género y ciberespacio, Coordina: Remedios Zafra; Traduce: Natalia Pérez-Galdós. Colaboran en esta publicación: Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo. A ellos hemos sumado la traducción de una breve selección de trabajos sobre estudios de género y cultura digital de investigadoras que trabajan sobre feminismo y tecnología como Mary Flanagan, Gesche Joost o Sandra Buckmüller. Puedes descargarlo en:

September 11, 2010

Making Sense with Answer Set Programming: “I’m into nuggets ya’ll”

I’m currently working on modeling stories through Answer Set Programming. My last research post was about using retroactive continuity in storytelling as rationalization mechanisms (defined by Abelson’s Goldwater Machine or my adviser’s Terminal Time) for story explanation. As more work goes into using logic programming in representing stories and characters, there are snags along with moments of small novel discoveries. Yesterday, Adam Smith was helping me work out a few snags in the event calculus for this story system. Overall, I want to anecdotally describe what working with believability in technology and expressive intelligence is like, along with giving some insights on formal models of story.

September 7, 2010

An Electronic Literature Directory Comparison

from Post Position
by @ 6:52 pm

Yesterday I posted an interview with Joe Tabbi about the Electronic Literature Directory. Those interested in the new Directory project should check out this post by John Vincler which compares the version 1 and version 2 Directory with reference to the entries for Patchwork Girl.

Infinite Adaptive Mario

Recently, there has been increased interest in building games that dynamically adapt to players. One of the common approaches to building adaptive games is dynamic difficulty adjustment. However, most of these approaches are limited to parameter tweaking such as adjusting weapon strength or reducing spawning times, and do not modify levels in response to difficulty adjustment. My system attempts to overcome this limitation by incorporating parameter tweaking into procedural content generation. The system creates new levels on the fly in response to the current performance of the player.

September 6, 2010

The New Electronic Literature Directory

from Post Position
by @ 3:23 pm

I interviewed Joseph Tabbi, author of Cognitive Fictions and editor of electronic book review, about the Electronic Literature Directory project that he’s currently heading. I took over from Joe early this summer as president of the Electronic Literature Organization. The Directory, which has already had success in its “version 1″ form, has been reworked to allow collaboratively-written and richer writing about e-lit work.

nm: Joe, what sorts of people are going to find something compelling in the Electronic Literature Organization’s new Directory?

September 4, 2010

Retrospective on the CIG 2010 Level Design Competition

At the recent 2010 Computational Intelligence in Games conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, there were competitions for making race car controllers, human-like FPS bots, and Ms. Pac Man players, among others. The competition that drew my interest, however, was the Mario level design competition, which challenged entrants to create procedural level generators that could generate fun and interesting levels based on information about a particular player’s style. The restrictions on entries (use only fixed numbers of gaps, coin blocks, and Koopas) meant that the winner would have to be cunning: it wouldn’t be easy to just estimate player skill and make the level more or less difficult by adding or removing obstacles; you would instead have to find ways to place obstacles that made the same obstacles more or less difficult. And because entries would be played by players at different skill levels, they would have to be flexible and adjust their output over a broad range of difficulties to get a high score. Finally, because score was based on the audience’s relative rating of enjoyment between level pairs, there would be no way to game the system and optimize some metric set without making truly enjoyable levels. Between these constraints, the winning entry should have been a demonstration of the power of procedural content generation to adapt to players of different skill levels, which is one of several reasons that PCG is useful in games. Unfortunately, the competition design may have been a bit too clever.

September 3, 2010

tiltfactor 2010-09-03 17:51:56

from tiltfactor
by @ 5:51 pm

Mary Flanagan’s collaborator at Tiltfactor in the rather hush-hush Book of Jing manga project, Jonathan Jay Lee, has had a solo show in Hong Kong and been featured in Penninsula magazine as a “rising star” in the comics world.

Go Jonathan!
And… a sneak peak — Book One!

September 2, 2010

A Probabilistic Multi-Pass Level Generator

I recently participated in the CIG 2010 Mario level generation competition. My submission utilizes a multi-pass approach to level generation in which the system iterates through the level several times, placing different types of objects during each pass. During each pass through the level, a subset of each object type has a specific probability of being added to the level. The result is a computationally efficient approach to generating a large space of randomized levels.

A level created by the probabilistic multi-pass generator

The generation process consists of several phases, which place additional object types in the level. The following passes occur during generation:

September 1, 2010

Welcome Back, ELO Site

from Post Position
by @ 6:01 pm

I’m serving now as the president of the Electronic Literature Organization. We’ve been working to move the site to a new server, which has unfortunately left most of down for a while. (We did make a point of getting the Electronic Literature Collection, volume 1 back up as soon as possible at the new site, so that teachers, students, and other readers would have access to it.) I’m sorry for the inconvenience. My thanks go to the ELO directors who worked on this and to our new system administrator, Ward Vandewege, for managing the transition. Our new host and our retooling should mean that we will be able to avoid outages like this in the future, and that we will be able to better develop the site and our other ELO projects.

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