November 9, 2009

Bergen Apothegma, Part 1

from Post Position
by @ 6:14 am

I’m at a fine gathering, The Network as a Space and Medium for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Art Practice. This is a workshop Scott Rettberg organized here in Bergen, Norway. Here’s a tiny glimpse of it.

First, Daniel Apollon has very deftly provided us with a video of last night’s electronic literature readings / presentations by nine readers: Jörg Piringer. Roderick Coover, J. R. Carpenter, John Cayley, Renée Turner, Serge Bouchardon, Chris Funkhouser, Talan Memmott, and Michelle Teran. It was remarkable for being an extremely long e-lit reading that was also very compelling throughout and offered a wide range of work, never lagging at any point during the three hours. The video is just over 11 minutes.

October 31, 2009

Eludamos Posts New Issue, Seeks Articles, Volunteers

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by @ 9:13 pm

Those of us who study computer and video games are very fortunate to have two free, online, peer-reviewed journals that do not assess page fees: Game Studies and Eludamos. And, there is at least one more free, online, peer-reviewed journal that does not assess page fees and includes articles about computer and video games: Digital Humanities Quarterly.

That’s the preface to my mentioning that a new issue (vol. 3, no. 2) of Eludamos is now out.

Also, that journal has issued a new call for papers:

October 29, 2009

Mary Flanagan Speaks in Purple Blurb, Monday 11/2 6pm

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by @ 8:42 pm

On Monday (November 2) at 6pm in MIT’s room 14E-310,

The Purple Blurb series of readings and presentations on digital writing will present a talk by

Mary Flanagan.

Mary Flanagan

author of Critical Play: Radical Game Design (MIT Press, 2009)

Mary Flanagan is the creator of [giantJoystick], and author of [theHouse] among other digital writing works. She is Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth, where she directs Tiltfactor, a lab focused on the design of activists and socially-conscious software.

October 26, 2009

Invisible GeoCities

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by @ 8:18 pm

GeoCities, founded in 1995, grew to become the third most visited site on the Web in 1999, when it was bought by Yahoo! for more than $3.5 billion. It offered free Web hosting in directories themed as different cities. Many people published their first page and first site on GeoCities. The Archiveteam has been working to save as much of it as possible; this wildly individual Web work won’t be completely lost to us as much of the pre-Wayback Web is. But at midnight Pacific Time, the plug will be pulled on this significant and populist piece of the Web. Here is, not an archive, but at least a peek at some of what will go dark.

October 24, 2009

The Network as a Space and Medium for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Art Practice

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 5:39 am

I’m organizing a small conference, The Network as a Space and Medium for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Art Practice in Bergen, which will take place from November 8-10 at UiB and at Landmark Café. The gathering is focused on the increasing use of the network as a space and medium for collaborative interdisciplinary art practices including electronic literature and other network-based art forms. Researchers will present papers exploring new network-based creative practices that involve the cooperation of small to large-scale groups of writers, artists, performers, and programmers to create online projects that defy simple generic definitions and disciplinary boundaries. Panel topics (abstracts) include:

October 21, 2009

Platform Readings: Jaguar, Pseudo 3D

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by @ 10:27 pm

As an Atari Jaguar owner, I suppose I have something of a soft spot for the system, but I really do wish that it had more than one awesome game. There’s a recent article on the failure of Atari’s last console by Matthew Kaplan. He ends up singing of the Jaguar rather as if it has been the Great White Hope, sadly fallen to Japanese consoles, but touches on several interesting aspects of the console along the way. Technology, pricing, and marketing are all discussed in some detail. This will help us remember the “64-bit” claims that were made for the system and the never-shipped VR helmet that made appearances at trade shows. Thanks to Jason Scott for this link.

October 20, 2009


from Post Position
by @ 5:36 pm
Babyfucker, Urs Allemann, trans. Peter Smith, biligual edition, Les Figues Press, 2010

Babyfucker, Urs Allemann, trans. Peter Smith, biligual edition, Les Figues Press, 2010

“… mirrors and copulation are abominable because they increase the number of men.” —Borges

Tiltfactor at Montreal Games Summit

from tiltfactor
by @ 7:17 am

Tiltfactor’s Mary Flanagan will be speaking on the panel, “Designing For Impact: Where the Talk Meets the Walk,” with several other internationally recognized social impact game makers. “As the medium of games matures and new experimentation and exploration of the medium flourish, many game designers, educators and activists of all stripes are turning to games to address key international issues such as poverty, global conflicts and climate change. Games such as Food Force from the UN’s World Food Program and Darfur Is Dying are being played by literally millions of players. Yet what exactly are the end results? Is it enough to simply track numbers of plays or players and declare the game a success? Or is the emerging field finally ready to start looking more seriously at how to design for concrete impact in the real world? What if the game began with a petition, a march or a dollar amount needed and designed back from that real-world outcome? How do we build this new step into a design process already very well established? This panel of leading game developers and educators will discuss how a new paradigm of game design is needed to take this emerging field from Talk to Walk. Featuring Tracy Fullerton, Chair of EA Innovation Lab at USC, Mary Flanagan of Tiltfactor Lab, Alexander Eberts, Co-founder and VP Products, Akoha, and Suzanne Seggerman (moderator) President and Co-founder of Games for Change.”

October 17, 2009

Computer Game Maps Sought for Exhibit

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by @ 11:15 am

Hand-drawn, player-created computer game maps are sought for a traveling exhibit in the UK. They’re needed soon – by mid-November. Thanks to Ian Bogost for letting me know about this.

October 15, 2009

Morpheus Biblionaut

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by @ 7:51 am

Writer, publisher, and collaborator of mine William Gillespie just read (yesterday afternoon) an extraordinary piece here at the &Now festival in Buffalo. The multimedia piece is Morpheus Biblionaut, which he created with Travis Alber of Gillespie pulls out the stops for this tale of an American astronaut and poet who returns to earth to find almost no radio activity, except, perhaps, for one signal. Plug in, isolate yourself for a space of time, and read this one!

I presented right after on ppg256, my series of poetry generators.

Two interesting locative gaming experiences

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 3:48 am

I’m at a seminar in Oslo focused on mixed reality narrative. A couple of interesting projects: Julianne Pierce from the UK artist group Blast Theory presented Ulrike and Eamon Compliant, in which the interactor is put in the role of one of two IRA terrorists, about to undergo interrogration, and Rider Spoke, an interactive performance piece for cyclists. Petr Svorovsky from the Oslo National Academy of the Art also presented Flirtman, a mobile phone game in which players control a human avatar. Petr had some interesting observations about how people related to social codes differently when controlling the actions of another human being than they did when controlling a virtual avatar.

October 13, 2009

Of Late

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by @ 6:49 pm

People I know have been up to many things lately, and many of these surely deserve a full, thoughtful blog post. I won’t manage that, so the least I can do is mention that …

Jason Scott continues to back up Geocities, and, in the process of doing this, has posted page-heaps of under construction and email icons. Warning: ginormous.

Jason Nelson presented his new, uncanny, crapcredible game, Evidence of Everything Exploding.

Jason McIntosh has a great video about a non-digital game, Diplomacy, that he and friends did during a day-long session, wearing more-ot-less nationally appropriate hats.

Curveship in AI Magazine

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by @ 4:06 pm

Delightfully, the current issue of AI Magazine (Volume 30, number 3, Fall 2009) is on computational creativity. The number offers articles on the field overall; the history of workshops on the topic; computer models of creativity; and creative systems to generate music, stories and their tellings, moves of chess, and humor. The last article is computer-generated in high Hofstadter style.

Pablo Gervás’s contribution, “Computational Approaches to Storytelling and Creativity,” provides a clear introduction to the concept of creativity and the history of the term, analyzes the relevant features that storytelling systems can work upon, gives an outline of work in computational creativity so far, and continues with a capsule summary of several important storytelling systems. The last one of these is my system nn, which I renamed “Curveship” as I started focusing on a public release of the software.

October 6, 2009

Metadata Games in the News

from tiltfactor
by @ 6:45 am

Mary Flanagan on Vermont Television A news piece on Tiltfactor’s metadata project aired Sept. 29 on WCAX-Channel 3, Vermont’s statewide television station based in Burlington. The piece features project director Mary Flanagan and one of her students, Danielle Arostegui, from Dartmouth.

A print story also appears on the station’s website.

October 3, 2009

The Games Begin

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by @ 8:56 pm

The 15th Interactive Fiction Competition games are out. You can download them and, this year, play 14 of them online. Voting in the IF Comp is done by the public at large, so you can participate at the ballot box as well as at the prompt.

September 28, 2009

Nordic Digital Culture Network Launched

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 1:31 am

Nordic Digital Culture Netwrok I’m pleased to announce the launch of the Nordic Digital Culture Network, a Nordplus Higher Education network which we have been working to develop for the past year. Linking together digital culture programs from the Nordic and Baltic region, the Digital Culture Network facilitates curriculum development, student and faculty exchanges, and innovative teaching ideas and best practices. Students studying in the programs in the network will benefit from increased student and teacher mobility and enhanced opportunities for study. All the programs in the network — the University of Bergen in Norway, Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden, IT University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and the University of Jyväskylä in Finland — are leaders in the field of digital culture in their respective countries. Network participants will facilitate student and faculty exchange ranging from express visits to semester or yearlong exchanges, joint programs and master’s degrees. We are launching network activities this activities this fall and spring with faculty exchanges between the institutions, and will add programs, such as student exchanges and a summer school for digital culture, in coming years. I also encourage students from other countries in Europe, North America, and elsewhere to explore the exchange and M.A. program opportunities detailed on the site. For instance, both Bergen and Jyväskylä welcome applications to our M.A. programs in digital culture from well qualified international students. While international students are responsible for their own living expenses, they are not required to pay tuition.

September 17, 2009

Tenure Track Position: Assistant Professor of Visual Arts

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by @ 9:45 am

My colleagues in the Visual Art Program are looking for an artist (and particularly inviting new media artists) to join the faculty and teach in the program. MIT, of course, offers the opportunity for artists to work in a diverse and high-powered technical context, but the campus also has incredible arts dimension. A nicely-formatted announcement is on the Web and available in PDF. Here’s the text of it:

September 15, 2009

Tenured Faculty Position in Comparative Media Studies

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by @ 1:43 pm

I’m delighted to announce that MIT’s CMS program, where I’ve done much of my teaching and advising, is hiring:

MIT’s Program in Comparative Media Studies seeks applications for a tenured position beginning in September 2010. A PhD and an extensive record of publication, research activity and leadership are expected. We encourage applicants from a wide array of disciplinary backgrounds. The successful candidate will teach and guide research in one or more of the Program’s dimensions of comparativity (historical, methodological, cultural) across media forms. Expertise in the cultural and social implications of established media forms (film, television, audio and visual cultures, print) is as important as scholarship in one or more emerging areas such as games, social media, new media literacies, participatory culture, software studies, IPTV, and transmedia storytelling.

September 11, 2009

I’m Glad I’m Not the Only One Who Does This

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by @ 2:21 pm

September 9, 2009

Interactive Fiction Suggestions, Fall 2009

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by @ 9:29 pm

People who are interested in interactive fiction but who haven’t played much or any of it ask me for suggestions from time to time — not as often as I’d like, of course, but, luckily, once in a while. I’ve had a page of recommendations up on my site since 2005. The games on that list remain good ones, but I’m now updating those recommendations to take into account games from recent years, and, I’m posting the new ones here. Note that many of the people who ask me about IF are of a literary bent, as am I, and my suggestions reflect that.

September 8, 2009

Purple Blurb – Digital Writing, Fall 2009

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by @ 2:17 pm

Once again, Purple Blurb offers readings and presentations on digital writing by practitioners of digital writing. All events are at MIT in room 14E-310, Mondays at 6pm. All events are free and open to the public. The Purple Blurb series is supported by the Angus N. MacDonald fund and Writing and Humanistic Studies.

Noah Wardrip-Fruin.

September 14 — Noah Wardrip-Fruin is author of Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies (MIT Press, 2009), co-creator of Screen (among other works of digital writing), and assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

September 7, 2009

Comics Are Great when Your Life Sucks

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by @ 9:55 pm

Comics are written by people whose lives suck, for people whose lives suck. Obviously, that’s not entirely true. Alternative comics do seem to be highly in touch with the lameness of life, though, whether they’re chronicling lynchings in the American South, exploring the emotional suffering of outcasts, or taking us through people’s decisions and indecision.

Since this blog is about digital media sorts of things as well as “other stuff [I] like,” I thought I’d note and briefly comment on a few graphic novels that I’ve read recently, even if nothing here feeds directly into computer conversations.

September 3, 2009

A Tiny Poetry Generator with Blinkenlights

from Post Position
by @ 12:31 pm

ppg256-4 on a shelf

[As I wrote on] My latest Perl Poetry Generator in 256 Characters, ppg256-4, is my first one created specifically for a gallery setting. Although shown here in my office, it’s now on display at the Axiom Gallery for New and Experimental Media in Boston in the show Pulling Back the Curtain, which runs through September 27.

Since 2007, I have been developing Perl poetry generators that are 256 characters long. These programs constitute the ppg256 series. They are simply 256 characters of Perl code; they use no external data sources, online or local, and they do not make use of any special libraries or invoke any other programs. Here’s the code for ppg256-4:

September 1, 2009

1/2 of GTxA Gather at DiGRA 2009

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:50 am

nullMichael Mateas, Noah Wardrip Fruin, and Mary Flanagan, half of the art-theory collaboration Grand Text Auto, gathered at the Digital Games Research Association’s 2009 Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory in Uxbridge, UK. Mateas is speaking on “Operational Logics,” Wardrip Fruin’s paper is “Agency Reconsidered,” and Flanagan is presenting the co-written paper, “Anxiety, Openness and Activist Games: A Case Study for Critical Play,” and speaking in an interactive workshop called ““Some Assembly Required”: Starting and Growing a Game Lab.” In between these presentations, both of Flanagan’s more recent books (Critical Play and re:SKIN), and Wardrip Fruin’s Expressive Processing are available in the MIT bookshop on site!

August 26, 2009

Using Playtime Productively!

from tiltfactor
by @ 11:37 am

Tiltfactor director Mary Flanagan was interviewed in, “Labeling Library Archives Is a Game at Dartmouth College” in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the new NEH project called “Metadata Games.” The interview perhaps overplays the “free labour” aspect of the game itself. Using play time in novel, productive ways likely harms no one. If the game is fun, engaging, and playful, it will attract players, and players will like to play regardless if the hours are “productive” or “wasteful.”
players collaborate with [giantJoystick]
At Tiltfactor, we have a philosophy that play is not a useless activity. Players are constantly learning and growing through game play. Play promotes collaboration and experimentation. If it does even more than that? We say, YAY! – IF it contributes to the Commons and to access to knowledge for the public.

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