Went to hear William Gibson last night at Politics and Prose. He read one of the “DC chapters” from his new novel Spook Country, fielded questions for a while, then signed books.
The place was packed, but we had gotten there over an hour early so had front row seats (which meant not only a great view, but, more importantly, legroom). The questions were the usual range of the good: what are your views on intellectual property?—the bad: what kind of music do you listen to?—and the just-wrong: what do you read in the bathroom? No, I’m not making that last one up. Anyway. Gibson was patient and good-humored throughout, and adept at turning even the most tentative or banal query into an interesting comment or anecdote.
The most important remark, for me, was his reflecting on the enormous sense of relief he felt after finishing Pattern Recognition. Gibson said he was self-conscious of being one of the very first novelists to attempt to write about September 11, and in addition to the great weight of that responsibility he also felt he had successfully confronted those events in his writing and thereby relieved himself of the obligation of having to do so again in the future. (Please note that’s my paraphrase of what WG said, not a direct quotation.)
Oh. There may be a Neuromancer movie that begins filming early next year.
And yes, the man is tall.
This is the little house we’ve bought on a quiet, leafy street in a lovely old neighborhood five minutes from campus. We’ll close in a few weeks and move in by the end of September.
My article “Hamlet.doc? Literature in a Digital Age” is the cover story in this week’s Chronicle Review in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The essay discusses the challenges and opportunities for future literary studies in an era when the material basis of authorship—including journals, notes, correspondence, and manuscripts—is increasingly born-digital.
Just a post to draw attention to a major new piece in the current issue of Digital Humanities Quarterly (a venue which you all should be keeping tabs on anyway) on Will Crowther’s original ADVENTURE (aka Colossal Cave).
In his “Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther’s Original “Adventure” in Code and in Kentucky,” Dennis Jerz offers an archeology of the work’s source code alongside of an exploration (photo-documented!) of the actual Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
Scholars routinely mis-cite information as fundamental as ADVENTURE’s date of composition, the kind of carelessness that reinforces the view that electronic objects exist outside of material histories and are impossible to take seriously as cultural artifacts. Jerz sets the record straight with rigorous textual scholarship based (in part) on the work’s original magnetic back-up tapes, which is personally responsible for recovering.
Absolutely essential reading.
<blushing>The “endorsements” are up.</blushing>
The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) is delighted to announce we are partnering with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Linden Lab (creators of Second Life) for a project funded by the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) on PRESERVING VIRTUAL WORLDS. The two-year $590,000 award under NDIIPP’s Preserving Creative America program will be shared among the project participants.
The researchers leading the work at the University of Maryland are NEIL FRAISTAT (Professor of English and Director, MITH), MATTHEW KIRSCHENBAUM (Associate Professor of English and Associate Director, MITH), and KARI KRAUS (Assistant Professor, College of Information Studies and English).
The Preserving Virtual Worlds project will explore methods for preserving digital games, interactive fiction, and shared realtime virtual spaces. Major activities will include developing basic standards for metadata and content representation and conducting a series of archiving case studies for early video games and electronic literature, as well as Second Life, the popular and influential multi-user online world. According to Fraistat, “This award from the Library of Congress places MITH and its partners at the forefront of those addressing a range of increasingly urgent questions involving the preservation of creative works that are “born digital”—from interactive electronic literature, to digital games, to virtual worlds such as Second Life. We are especially pleased to have as an industry partner, Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life itself.”
In addition to contributing to the work on Second Life, Maryland will take the lead on interactive fiction/electronic literature as a sub-domain of the project, and will be occupied with all aspects of scoping, metadata, intellectual property, evaluation, and archiving of these materials. We will initially focus on a small number of targeted works of recognized cultural and literary significance, including former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s 1984 interactive novel Mindwheel, Will Crowther’s ADVENTURE (written in 1975 and widely considered the earliest interactive text of its kind), and selected items from a large private collection of 1980s-era hardware and software recently gifted to MITH. The international Electronic Literature Organization will also extend its support and in kind contributions to our work here at Maryland.
The project begins in January 2008. Notice of other recent Preserving Creative America NDIIPP awards is available here: