My student Anastasia Salter’s final project Avatara, in which she asks (and even more impressively, starts to answer) some pretty tough questions:
The motivating force behind the project is a question of language. Of all the terms that could be used for the presence of a user in cyberspace, the term “avatar” has risen, a word that comes from the presence of a god moving from divine realm to the world of his construction. By adapting a word that carries with it the idea of divine power and responsibility, what have we constructed in ourselves in cyberspace? And what roles do the new myths of the avatar play in defining the self?
Anastasia is off to CCT at Georgetown next year. Wouldn’t surprise me to see her giving Mr. Johnson (see post before this one) a run for his money one day soon.
I see Steve Johnson opens and closes Everything Bad is Good For You with the image of his ten-year old self sprawled out on his bedroom floor amid his paper and dice baseball simulations, which he rightly identifies as complex virtual worlds that taught him the essentials of problem solving and pattern recognition for today’s digital, emergent, network culture.
Boy do I feel smug . . .
My submission to the 60 Second Story project:
Part of the Plot
Text of the story is below the fold.
Part of the Plot (with apologies to E. M. Forster)
The king died and then the queen died. Of grief. But that wasn’t the end of the story. You see, it was all part of a plot. First the grand vizier bribed the apothecary who had blackmailed the hostler whose wife, he knew, had gone for a roll in the hay with the sergeant at arms. Then the grand vizier got the queen’s handmaiden to distract the sergeant at arms while he took the apothecary’s potion to the king’s wine steward who was also the hostler’s brother. The wine steward, who harbored a grudge against the queen for some old slight, real or perceived we cannot say, laced the king’s best drams with the potion. Which was toxic of course. So the king died, no surprise there—that is, after all, how the story got started—and then the queen died of grief, which is no surprise either, but clearly is a simplification. As for what became of the grand vizier, the apothecary, the hostler, the sergeant at arms, the handmaiden, and the wine steward we cannot know, but they’re all part of the plot.
|Pholph’s Scrabble Generator|
My Scrabble© Score is: 42.
What is your score? Get it here.
I’m doing a guest lecture spot today in a course entitled Digital Sound & Fury On Mac OSX. They’ve mainly been doing production oriented stuff all semester so my goal is to expose them to electronic literature (how apt, given the title). Anyway, here are links to what I plan to show, which will double as my set list during the talk.
If you have suggestions or additions get ‘em in before 2:00 EST today.
Some additional stuff . . .
DAKOTA is based on a close reading of Ezra Pound’s Cantos part I and part II.
At first, we didn’t realize we were creating an animation. But it seems that by a certain new-media-art definition of things, when you use Flash you’re doing animation. Someone suggested recently that we’re doing motion graphics – O.K., except we don’t really use graphics, just the Monaco font.
We came upon moving text because we wanted a website, but quickly discovered we didn’t know – or care to know – how web designers created online graphics, colors, photos, illustrations, and text. Frankly, we dislike graphic design, and we also dislike interactivity, which are the two staples of web design, if not the web itself. Being artists, we like to do things wrong, or at least our own damn way. We ended up with a moving text synchronized to jazz, which was (and still is) all we could do.
K: So George Lucas directed four of the Star Wars films including the new one, and Irv Kirshner [who we’ve had dinner with, but that’s another story] did the fifth; who directed the sixth?
Me: I don’t know, but what’s the internet for if not telling you who directed Star Wars films?
K [sitting in front of her laptop]: Oh.
Me: If you can’t find that out in 15 seconds we’re throwing away the computers.
In addition to the Philadelphia Dalí, we’ve taken in the Extreme Textiles exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt in New York and Asian Games: The Art of Contest at the Sackler downtown (see Jason’s entry on the latter).
Jean Daniel Fekete gave a talk to a combined audience from MITH/HCIL here yesterday. Fekete discussed and demonstrated various tools to assist scholars working with electronic renditions of both “clean” and “draft” manuscripts (the former fairly linear and neat, the latter more complex with overwrites, erasures, etc.). These tools, including Compus, InfoZoom, and Concordance, are all available on his Web site.
There was some good discussion afterward revolving around what scholars do with manuscripts, what kinds of questions they ask (coming from the HCI people), and how humanists respond to quantitative research methods (I pointed out that humanists don’t like black boxes; it’s not helpful to suggest to them that Hamlet wants to be instead of not be just because the computer says so). Some useful interdisciplinary encounters I thought.
There seems to be no etymological link between hysteresis and either hysterical (fr. L hystericus of the womb) or history (fr. Gk, inquiry, history, fr. histor, istor knowing, learned). This is too bad, as there are scientific connections to both words.
A response I was invited to write to Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan’s important First Person collection is now online from ebr. In it I briefly suggest ways in which Robert Darnton’s five-part method for studying the history of reading can be adapted to the new media field.
Via GrandTextAuto and Nick’s Hypercard bibliography: A Biased History of Interactive Media. See especially the material on Hypercard (When Multimedia Was Black and White), which includes a look at a classic of the form, “Inigo Gets Out.”
In the Neal Stephenson essay I blogged about below he mentions in passing that nation states have never attacked one another’s underwater communications cables in times of war. “It’s like starting a nuclear war,” he quotes cypherpunk Doug Barnes. “It’s easy to do, the results are devastating, and as soon as one country does it all of the others will retaliate” (123). He’s apparently wrong about that, however. This from Robert K. Massie’s Castles of Steel, on the war at sea during World War One:
The war’s first blow in [England’s] home waters was struck . . . by a single, humble vessel. In the misty dawn of August 5, when the war was only five hours old, the British cable ship Teleconia dragged her grappling irons along the muddy bottom of the southern North Sea. Five German overseas cables, snaking down the Channel, from the port city of Emden, on the Dutch frontier, were her quarry. One to Brest, in France, another to Vigo, in Spain, a third to Tenerife, in North Africa, and two to New York. One by one, Teleconia fished up and cut all five of the heavy, slime-covered cables. That same day, a British cruiser severed two German overseas cables near the Azores. Thus, from the war’s first day, Germany was cut off from direct cable communication with the world beyond Europe. (77)
Along with so many of its other technological monstrosities, the “Great War” bequeathed us the onset of modern information warfare.
“Visibility itself is not a measure of inscription, modification of the substratum is.”
—Marcos Novak, Trans Terra Form
This is a photograph (you can click to enlarge) that I took of one of my old 5.25” floppy disks that I treated with MagView developer fluid (a magnetic iron suspension in aerosol format). The MagView makes visible to the unaided eye the concentric recording tracks on disk’s surface—the same geometry used on your hard drive, albeit at much higher densities.
Can’t see them? Look closely, particularly in the boxed area. They’re faint, but you’re looking for something very much like the grooves on the surface of an old vinyl record. That’s the mark of the data.