I’m at the intriguing and very sucessful third 2011 symposium of TILTS, the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies. (Interestingly, TILTS can be spelled using only letter from “The X-Files.”) I might have written more about the event, but my computer has been identified by automated UT-Austin systems as being a rooted Windows machine (although it’s not a Windows machine at all) and is banned from the network. Desite my radio silence, though, the symposium has certainly been a space of lively discussion of digital media work, computational linguistics and its application to humanistic inquiry, and the representation of technology in media.
May 28, 2011
May 26, 2011
Fantasy, Farms, and Freemium: What Game Data Mining Teaches Us About Retention, Conversion, and Virality
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of delivering a keynote presentation at the 2011 Mining Software Repositories (MSR 2011) conference (part of the pleasure being the location, Waikiki beach in Hawaii). My slides are available in pdf (1.3M) and ppt (13.5M).
May 24, 2011
In a time when women are increasingly prominent in fields such as medicine, law and business, why are there so few women scientists and engineers? The situation in Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology fields has prompted a variety of investigations into how we might best attract women and girls to more technical fields, especially computer science. Today, I was on a panel at the annual NCWIT conference (National Center for Women & Information Technology) with Mitch Resnick, of the MIT Media Lab and known for the innovative programming software program Scratch, and fellow panelists: Kevin Clark and Tobi Saulnier. The panel provoked an interesting discussion with the audience, and I want to continue my thoughts a bit further here.
The heart of the english sentence (and equivalent sentential forms in of the natural languages) lies in connecting ideas together and creating meaning. Like placing two portals from the recent hit sequel by valve, you are changing the space without necessarily adding or subtracting from it. You’re using what’s already there, but rearranging it; repurposing it. Relying on a complex process of disambiguation to carry through your novel contribution to the whole of spoken or written utterances (as you learn in English grammar classes).
The heart of the english sentence (and equivalent sentential forms in other natural languages) lies in connecting ideas together and creating meaning. Like placing two portals from the recent hit sequel by Valve, you are changing the space without necessarily adding or subtracting from it. You’re using what’s already there, but rearranging it; repurposing it. Relying on a complex process of disambiguation to carry through your novel contribution to the whole of spoken or written utterances (as you learn in English grammar classes).
May 23, 2011
[This is a review of, or summary of, or comment on on The X-Files – the complete, nine-season television series and the two movies – written under constraint.]
The title files, the X-Files, exist. His fief.
His silliest, fishiest thesis: Lithe, sexless elitist “eels” exist. These sliest eels flit. These eels felt his sis. Eels flee. Exit sis. She left: Exile.
She, steel theist, feels little. Little else lifts life.
His fetish: Elfish feet? He, slitless, sexless, sees little fetishist sex, feels less.
She sifts the lifeless: filth, shit. She lifts the sheet: The stiff. She sees his teeth, hefts his testis. The fifth stiff, the sixth stiff…
May 21, 2011
Charles Bernstein just gave the keynote-like presentation at E-Poetry. (Actually, he used PowerPoint.) I’m providing a few notes, feebly extending in my subjective way some of his oral and photographic/digital presentation for those of you in the information super-blogosphere.
He started by mentioning the UB Poetics Program and its engagement with digital humanities, saying: “As Digital Humanities departs from poetics, it loses its ability to articulate what it needs to articulate.”
May 20, 2011
[If this is funny to anyone, it will probably be funny to people here at E-Poetry. Nevertheless, I offer it up here to the Internet as a curious digital relic of this gathering.]
May 19, 2011
I’m here at the University at Buffalo enjoying the E-Poetry Festival. Amid this discussion of digital work, concrete poetry, and related innovative practices, and among this great crowd of poets, I’ve developed a very short piece for anyone with Perl installed to enjoy – just copy and paste on the command line:
yes | perl -pe '$.%=26;$_=$"x$..chr 97+$.'
It does use “yes,” one of my favorite Unix/GNU commands, and the -p option to wrap the Perl code in a loop. So there’s some bonus stuff there on the command line. But the Perl code itself is only 25 characters long, not a bad length for a program that displays the alphabet.
May 18, 2011
The Digital Studies initiative at Dartmouth College is seeking applications for postdoctoral position in Learning Sciences and Assessment. The Postdoc will be affiliated with The Tiltfactor Laboratory (http://www.tiltfactor.org), the leading game design research group in values-conscious design.
Tiltfactor at Dartmouth College designs, creates, and studies games. From social activist games, where we examine empathy, to games for health where we study if players are learning about immunization, we focus on what we call ‘critical play’ that fosters human values. We also encourage the artistic and innovative place of games in culture. Given the multidisciplinary nature of our projects, the candidates will likely have interests that span several disciplines, such as psychology, gaming, and learning; or machine learning, social games, and HCI. Technical expertise among candidates is highly favored.
I’m here in Buffalo for the E-Poetry Festival at UB. Last night I got to present work downtown at the Sqeuaky Wheel, a media arts center that has been helping artists produce video, film, and digital work since 1985.
With my collaborator Stephanie Strickland, I presented “Sea and Spar Between,” our recent poetry generator which offers an unusual interface to about 225 trillion stanzas arranged in a lattice.
May 16, 2011
Since I mentioned some funny CYOA-like smut that has recently issued from the IF community, I’ll also suggest a less lewd piece of branching narrative, one which allows the reader to make choices early in the text and in the story’s past: Andrew Plotkin’s The Matter of the Monster. Perhaps it’s a case of the folktale wagging the dog – in any case, it’s brightly written, cleverly put together, and worth reading.
May 15, 2011
We have three great talks on games this week at UC Santa Cruz. All are free and open to the public. Please help spread the word!
Title: Mama Ludens vs Fanboi – What is wrong with the Gaming Revolution?
Speaker: Jessica Enevold, Assistant Professor at Lund University, Sweden and Managing Editor for the journal Game Studies
Time and Place: 2pm Monday May 16th, Engineering 2 room 599
Title: What will the games business look like in 5 years?
Speaker: John Davison, VP of programming at CBS Interactive for GameSpot and Metacritic
Time and Place: noon Tuesday May 17th, Media Theater (M110)
I believe that Curveship and the example game Lost One may have just recieved their first roasting, thanks to the firepower of the S.S. Turgidity and the intrepid, enterprising player character Stiffy Makane. The “erotic adventures” that unfold in The Cavity of Time, released as part of the Indigo New Language Speed IF, allow you to jump everything within reach. And, just to be clear, to fuck all of those things. If you were offended just now, let me suggest that you don’t fire up this Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style garden of fucking paths. Otherwise, this offering, written in the slick Undum system, may please you. Not like that. I mean it may amuse you.
May 14, 2011
Interactive fiction aficianados who aren’t at MiT7 (Media in Transition 7) and who thus missed Jaroslav Svelch’s excellent presentation – please check out the corresponding paper which he’s helpfully placed online: “Indiana Jones Fights the Communist Police: Text Adventures as a Transitional Media Form in the 1980s Czechoslovakia.”
I’ve noted here at MiT7 (Media in Transition 7) that we’re now achieved some very reasoned discussion and understanding of the virtues of different approaches to preserving and accessing computer programs. Not that we’ve solved the underlying problem, of course, but I’ve been pleased to see how our overall approach has evolved.
Instead of simply dismissing emulation, migration, or the preservation of old hardware, we’ve had some good comments about the ways in which these different techniques have proven to work well and about what their limitations are. We saw this in the plenary discussion on archives and cultural memory late this morning – audio of that conversation will be coming online. Update: Here it is.
At Media in Transition 7 here at MIT, after a good start in the opening plenary and first break-out session, we had a fascinating session yesterday on “Computer Histories.” The papers presented were:
- Sandra Braman presented “Designing for Instability: Internet Architecture and Constant Change.” [Abstract.]
- Kevin Driscoll spoke on “Revisiting Bill Gates’ “Open Letter to Hobbyists.” [Abstract.]
- Colleen Kaman’s talk was “‘Interop,’ Internet Commercialization, and the Early Politics of Global Computer Networks.” [Abstract.] [Full paper.]
May 13, 2011
Wow! In less than two months, we are SOLD OUT of the 1st edition of our Pox Game! But do not fret! The Tiltfactor team is publishing a 2nd edition. Pre-Order Edition 2 now! Expected ship date 9/1/2011. We’ll have some at GENCON in Indiana this August as well at our BOOTH!
Thanks to everyone who bought a set and helped -ahem- spread the word about POX.
May 12, 2011
May 11, 2011
A collaborative story by Jesse Ashcraft-Johnson, Eleanor Crummé, Alex Ghaben, Cisco Gonzales, Ray Gonzalez, Boling Jiang, Nick Montfort, Shannon Moran, Kirsten Paredes, Carter Rice, Tyler Wagner, and Jia Zhu
“Mr. President, can you summarize the events of the G-6 conference?”
“First, a bunch of world leaders surrendered their favorite prostitutes. Then, we all yelled ‘Yeehaw!’” That was what George H. W. Bush thought, anyway, as he delivered a quick straight answer to the question.
“Mr. President, what was your holiday message to the troops?”
“I told the boys: either step up to the challenge or there will be no Christmas presents this year.”
If you’re heading over to look at today’s parodical “Final Edition,” allow me to suggest instead a thoughtful and compelling re-imagination of the New York Times, the special edition of July 4, 2009 by the Yes Men and the Anti-Advertising Agency. Instead of being just a joke that falls flat – one that was released on the 11th day of the month and features a New York skyscraper in flames, very tastefully – the latter “fake” newspaper is actually a productive utopian vision.
May 9, 2011
SPAG (The Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games) #60 is out – the latest issue of the long-running interactive fiction newsletter. On the cover, a figure in a dark sport coat looms, his face a grim rictus as he hunches toward some computer or iPad. I don’t recall seeing this sinister individual at the festive and very enjoyable IF Demo Fair, which Emily Short organized at PAX East, but I do recall seeing happy interactions of the sort depicted in the rest of that scene.
These cards have been seen at MIT. Some say they point the way to an interactive fiction that you can play, if you search the campus and find a way in.
May 5, 2011
Tiltfactor Director and Digital Humanities Prof. Mary Flanagan and students worked with local a health organization on “Pox: Save the People,” a game that depicts the importance of immunization. Read more at Dartmouth Now: http://bit.ly/g83Yxm