October 15, 2013

Anne Balsamo on “Designing Culture” (Media Systems)

What would it mean to have “big” projects — bigger than a single investigator, lab, or even institution could handle — that are not arranged by science and engineering concerns, but by cultural concerns? In this talk from the Media Systems gathering at UC Santa Cruz, Anne Balsamo gives the shape of two major, ongoing digital humanities projects of this sort: the AIDS Memorial Quilt Browser and FemTechNet.

October 8, 2013

Mary Lou Maher on “Curious Dances” (Media Systems)

We can build a computer system that could generate a surprising event, and we can build a computer system that would recognize it.

When Mary Lou Maher said these words at the Media Systems gathering at UC Santa Cruz, she wasn’t talking about hypothetical systems working in sterile domains like block stacking. She was talking about the already-demonstrated power of computational models in rich areas of human creativity, like music and humor… creative domains in which strong expectation is key to our experience.

September 24, 2013

Ian Bogost on “Procedural Rhetoric” (Media Systems)

As Ian Bogost explains in this video from the Media Systems gathering at UC Santa Cruz, his work in procedural rhetoric is not “operationalizing” particular rhetorical tropes (the way Nick Montfort’s work operationalizes elements of Genette’s Narrative Discourse) but rather:

It’s a theory or a design philosophy. It’s a way of making things. A way of thinking about the process of translating systems in the world into representations of those systems in the computer…. It gives you a framework through which to ask questions about what a particular situation might demand.

September 18, 2013

Nick Montfort on “The Art of Operationalization” (Media Systems)

Among those doing computational media work, the concept of “operationalization” — as Nick Montfort discusses in this video from the Media Systems gathering at UC Santa Cruz — involves the formalization of theories from the humanities, arts, and social sciences and the implementation of these in a computational system, where they can be effective in new ways and “tested” in certain senses. This has proven a very powerful approach. For example, the entire field of 3D graphics could be seen as operationalizing arts knowledge about visual perspective and other knowledge from the visual arts. Or, more specifically, Facade (generally seen as the first interactive drama) is explicitly operationalizing concepts from arts and humanities theories of dramatic writing.

September 11, 2013

Alex McDowell on “World Building” (Media Systems)

In this video from the Media Systems gathering at UC Santa Cruz, Alex McDowell — one of the most influential designers in the world today — talks about how computational media are transforming storytelling. We are moving from the linear, auteur-oriented storytelling model of the printing press and industrialized film production to a collaborative, non-linear approach he terms world building.

September 4, 2013

Ian Horswill says “Interdisciplinarity is Hard” (Media Systems)

One goal sometimes pursued by interdisciplinary programs is to move beyond the arbitrary divides in knowledge represented by the schools and divisions of universities. One way of accomplishing this is to report to multiple deans, or to no dean at all (perhaps directly to the provost level). This sounds appropriate in theory, but at the Media Systems gathering we discussed the difficulties such models of interdisciplinary organization have presented for pioneering programs such as Animate Arts at Northwestern and Arts, Computation, and Engineering (ACE) at UC Irvine.

August 28, 2013

Janet Murray on “Lessons Learned” (Media Systems)

At the Media Systems gathering Janet Murray made a clarion call for deeper fundamental research in computational media, moving forward interdisciplinary understanding through the creation of new genres:

There has to be someplace where you say, “How do we reconfigure knowledge?” Because that is what happens when you have a new medium of representation, as with the printing press. And we’re not making fast enough progress there, because nobody’s getting rewarded for it, nobody’s being paid to do it.

August 21, 2013

Brenda Laurel on “Crossing Boundaries” (Media Systems)

When asking how the humanities, the arts, and computer science can come together to create new possibilities for media making and understanding, we might choose to be purely theoretical. But why would we do this, when we have decades of experience to draw upon?

August 14, 2013

Noah Wardrip-Fruin on “Computation as Part of Culture” (Media Systems)

The Media Systems gathering last summer brought together a remarkable group of participants from digital arts, digital humanities, and media-focused computer science. It was convened by a historic group of partners — the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Endowment for the Arts (in their first-ever collaboration) together with both Microsoft Studios and Microsoft Research. I was amazed and pleased to spend three days with the group we assembled, discussing important topics for the future of computational media.

May 19, 2013

Trope Tank Annual Report 2012-2013

from Post Position
by @ 7:35 pm

Trope Tank home computers

I direct a lab at MIT called The Trope Tank. This is a lab for research, teaching, and creative production, located in building 14 (where the Hayden Library is also housed), in room 14N-233. Its mission is to develop new poetic practices and new understandings of digital media by focusing on the material, formal, and historical aspects of computation and language.

May 2, 2013

Now Hiring: Program Director for new UC Santa Cruz MS

At UC Santa Cruz we’re launching a new professional MS in Games and Playable Media, which will be offered through our Silicon Valley campus and will include working both with our current game faculty and with new personnel hired specifically for the program. We are currently in the selection process for the first position to be hired, the Creative Director. Simultaneously, the job ad is now live for the Program Director. For this newly-opened position we’re seeking someone with demonstrated leadership in the games and playable media field. Application review begins May 29, 2013. The job includes program and curriculum vision, planning, management, and evaluation; teaching and advising students in the program; and ongoing professional work and/or research in the games field. Those who have already applied to the Creative Director position are encouraged to also apply for the Program Director position, if appropriate.

April 20, 2013

May 10th – The Future of Interactive Storytelling

On May 10th, at the Computer History Museum, UC Santa Cruz will host some of the world’s most exciting thinkers on interactive storytelling for Inventing the Future of Games 2013. Rather than focus on yesterday’s tips and tricks, our focus is on how the future of interactive storytelling is being invented now. There will be talks, panels, discussion, and live demonstrations — including, I am excited to share, the first-ever public demonstration of a major, not-yet-announced interactive storytelling technology being developed by UC Santa Cruz and multiple partner organizations.

April 9, 2013

EIS Members Awarded NEH Grant to Help Preserve Game Development with Prom Week

We are pleased to announce that EIS co-director Noah Wardrip-Fruin, and myself, Eric Kaltman, along with Christy Caldwell at UCSC Library and Henry Lowood of Stanford University Library, have been awarded an NEH Digital Start Up Grant aimed at investigating archival and preservation methods for digital software and games! The grant covers the development of an initial archival methodology focused on the preservation of computer games created for academic research. We have chosen UCSC’s Prom Week as the case object for our investigation, and are extremely honored to be helping further archival research with an EIS created game. The project will focus not only on the game object itself, but also on its development process. Our hope is to enumerate, categorize and potentially archive all relevant secondary documentation along with Prom Week to gain a greater understanding of the requirements for preserving the process and creation of digital games.

March 14, 2013

Now Hiring: Digital Arts Technologist at UC Santa Cruz

The University of California, Santa Cruz is hiring a new Technical Coordinator for the Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) MFA program. This is someone who works full time helping students and faculty do interesting projects, thinks about the future technical direction of the program (and has a budget to purchase technical items worth investigating), helps people figure out how to exhibit and distribute their work, and manages the DANM spaces in the Digital Arts Research Center (including a black box theater, a white box gallery, a rapid prototyping lab, etc). The starting salary range is $57,500-$80,500 and review of applications begins March 20th. Please help spread the word, and feel free to ask questions in the comments!

February 26, 2013

Amodern, a New Open Access Peer-Reviewed Journal

from Post Position
by @ 4:37 pm

Amodern has just launched, and it’s not asexy…

Announcing the launch of AMODERN:

A new peer-reviewed, open access scholarly journal devoted to the
study of media, culture, and poetics.


Issue 1: The Future of the Scholarly Journal

Scott Pound

“We Have Never Done It That Way Before”
an interview with Kathleen Fitzpatrick by Michael Nardone

“Towards Philology in a a New Key”
an interview with Jerome J. McGann by Scott Pound

“Scholarly Publishing: Micro Units and the Macro Scale”
Johanna Drucker

“The Grammatization of Scholarship”
Benjamin J. Robertson

New Game Degree and Job at UC Santa Cruz

At UC Santa Cruz we are about to launch (pending final approvals) a new year-long (12 month) MS degree focused on combining technical and design innovation — to create novel possibilities for the games of today, to enable new types of games, and to explore a wide variety of next-generation playable experiences. The degree will admit students who have a background in computer science and knowledge of games. Target students include industry professionals seeking new knowledge (e.g., advanced AI techniques) and/or wanting to experience new roles (e.g., engineers seeking a move into design) as well as talented recent undergraduates who have completed technically-focused game degrees. The application deadline for this year is March 15th. The degree will be offered through our Silicon Valley campus and will include working both with our current game faculty and with new personnel hired specifically for the program.

October 19, 2012

UC Santa Cruz seeks game developer and game designer staff

The Univ. of California, Santa Cruz is seeking applicants for two new full time staff positions, a Lead Game Programmer and a Lead Game Designer to work with myself, Michael Mateas, and Luca de Alfaro in support of the CHEKOFV project.

October 4, 2012

UCSC Computer Science Hiring Faculty Member in Games and Playable Media

The Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz invites applications for a tenure track (Assistant) or tenured (Associate and Full Professor) faculty position. We seek outstanding applicants in the area of games and playable media. Preferred applicants will have research and teaching experience in games and graphics, with a research presence in the graphics community and the games and/or interactive media community, though candidates with specializations in other areas of games and interactive media will be considered. Specializations in areas particularly appropriate to games and interactive media, such as real-time animation and effects, procedural content generation, and novel interface mechanisms are preferred. This position will develop and teach courses within the undergraduate and graduate games and playable media curriculum, including being one of the primary instructors for the introduction to graphics and animation courses. Applicants are expected to develop externally funded research programs at UC Santa Cruz. The campus is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through their research, teaching, and service.

August 22, 2012

Media Systems — A glimpse of the future?

Next week, among the redwoods of the UC Santa Cruz campus, we will host the Media Systems gathering. It will be the first joint activity of the NSF, NEH, and NEA — and we are also sponsored by both Microsoft Studios and Microsoft Research.

Some might wonder what such disparate funders, not to mention the people they are bringing together from different fields, could possibly have to say to each other. In ten years I predict we’ll ask, instead, “What took so long?”

July 19, 2012

Now Hiring: Game Designer in Residence

The Center for Games and Playable Media at UC Santa Cruz is in search of a talented game designer with a portfolio of interesting games for a new position, the Game Designer in Residence. Like an Artist in Residence, the game designer will continue to work on personal projects as well as contribute to the academic environment with a mix of teaching duties, offering feedback and critique, collaborating on research opportunities, and providing design guidance.

The full job posting is here:

June 12, 2012

Dissertation: Integrating Learning in a Multi-Scale Agent

Building expert-level artificial intelligence for real-time strategy games remains an open research challenge. StarCraft in particular provides an excellent environment for AI research, because the game has many real-world properties and is played at an extremely competitive level. It is also an environment in which human decision making can be observed, emulated, and evaluated. During gameplay, professional players demonstrate a broad range of reasoning capabilities including estimation, anticipation, and adaptation.

June 1, 2012

Prom Week Selected for E3 IndieCade Showcase!

Reposted from promweek.soe.ucsc.edu

We are very happy to announce that Prom Week has been selected to be a part of IndieCade’s E3 Showcase. If you happen to find yourself at E3 this year at the beautiful Los Angeles Convention Center on June 5th-7th, stop on by and say “hi”! Chat with us about Prom Week, Comme il Faut (the AI system which powers the game), interactive storytelling, or just high school in general! We’ll be located at the Concourse Foyer, which is in the convention center’s Level 1 West Hall Entrance.

May 4, 2012

Almost Goodbye: Minimalist Procedural Content Generation in Interactive Storytelling

Last quarter I took a graduate seminar here at UCSC in procedural content generation, taught by Jim Whitehead. I’ve long been intrigued by the possibilities of PCG for interactive storytelling, but my past work hasn’t explored this terrain. The course inspired the short piece I’m posting today, Almost Goodbye, a parserless, browser-based, short-form experiment in procedural content generation for interactive stories. (It’s also science fiction, if none of the rest of that piques your interest.)

April 26, 2012

“Creative Material Computing in a Laboratory Context”

from Post Position
by @ 11:28 am

The Trope Tank has just issued a new technical report:

Creative Material Computing in a Laboratory Context
Nick Montfort and Natalia Fedorova

Download the full report

Principles for organizing a laboratory with material computing resources are articulated. This laboratory, the Trope Tank, is a facility for teaching, research, and creative collaboration and offers hardware (in working condition and set up for use) from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, including videogame systems, home computers, an arcade cabinet, and a workstation. Other resources include controllers, peripherals, manuals, books, and software on physical media. In reorganizing the space, we considered its primary purpose as a laboratory (rather than as a library or studio), organized materials by platform and intended use, and provided additional cues and textual information about the historical contexts of the available systems.

March 20, 2012

Digging beyond Data

from Post Position
by @ 11:44 am

Noah Wardrip-Fruin, a friend and collaborator, has a great editorial in Inside Higher Ed today. It’s called “The Prison-House of Data” and addresses a prevalent (if not all-inclusive) view of the digital humanities that focuses on the analysis of data and that overlooks how we can understand computation, too.

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