April 14, 2014

Console Yourself In Flight

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by @ 1:43 pm

If you, like Ian Bogost, manage to attain Titanium Medallion status on Delta, you too can influence the content of the company’s safety videos.

April 11, 2014

Transcendance

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by @ 12:18 pm

The premiere of the film Transcendance, directed by Wally Pfister and starring Johnny Depp as AI researcher Dr. Will Caster, was last night in Westwood. I got to go since my spouse produced and co-wrote the iOS and Android game that accompanies this movie. Johnny Depp and other cast members were there, but, alas, I did not get to hang with them; there were many interesting conversations nevertheless and I was glad to get to see the film for the first time. (Those involved with it had often seen very many cuts already, of course.) The general theatrical release of the film is April 18.

April 9, 2014

Microcodes and more Non-Object Art

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by @ 5:40 am

In NOO ART, The Journal of Objectless Art, there’s a conversation between Páll Thayer and Daniel Temkin that was just posted. (Thayer recently collaborated with me to put up “Programs at an Exhibition,” the first software art show at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery.) The conversation covers Thayer’s code art, including his Perl Microcodes and antecedents, but also touches on free software, Windows, various esoteric languages by Temkin and others, painting and drawing, Christiane Paul’s CodeDOC project at the Whitney, “expert cultures,” and the future of code-based art.

It’s great reading, and objectless art might be just the thing to go with your object-oriented ontology.

April 7, 2014

Those Persistent Mainframes

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by @ 9:11 am

Mickey Rooney is no longer with us, but the mainframe computer is. The Register writes up the 50th anniversary of IBM’s System 360, finishing by describing the current zEnterprise line of IBM mainframes. The line was updated just last year.

If this anniversary encourages you to hit the books about the System 360, I suggest IBM’s 360 and Early 370 Systems by Emerson W. Pugh, Lyle R. Johnson and John H. Palmer.

April 6, 2014

Lance Olsen in Purple Blurb, Mon 5:30pm

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by @ 9:36 am

“Lance Olsen is at the center of every discussion I have about the contemporary landscape of innovative and experimental writing.”

-Bookslut

Lance Olsen

Lance Olsen

April 7, 5:30pm

MIT’s Room 14E-310

Experimental writing & video

Including a reading from his recent book [[ there. ]] and video from his Theories of Forgetting project.

April 3, 2014

Kevin Brooks

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by @ 8:54 pm

Kevin Brooks, a storyteller who worked with technology in many contexts, died last Friday of cancer. Kevin was finishing his PhD at the MIT Media Lab when I was there as a masters student. Although he was farther along in his studies and working on a different floor with Glorianna Davenport’s research group, he helped me with my thinking and became a real friend, discussing his work (from Tired of Giving In to his Agent Stories project for his dissertation, “Metalinear Cinematic Narrative: Theory, Process, and Tool”) and how to develop other sorts of interactive narratives. Kevin also introduced me to the storytelling of Brother Blue and the rest of the Cambridge storytelling community. Kevin was at Apple before coming to MIT and went on to work at Motorola and, later, Hallmark. When I came to MIT, I was interested in inquiring about narrative and poetics in the system-building work that I did, and I was lucky to encounter Kevin, who had been looking at the forms and structures of storytelling as well as its ability to treat themes, to change people, and to change the world.

Advanced Bitcoin Simulator

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by @ 12:51 pm

If you felt like you missed your chance to … profit! … from the ascendance of Bitcoin, try the new, shiny Advanced Bitcoin Simulator, an interactive fiction by a sekrit author. It’s built with yui3, Inform 7, and parchment, but also builds on the simulation of online forums found in Judith Pintar’s CosmoServe, incorporates some of the audacity of several recent Twine games, and offers a bit (no pun intended) of the Ayn Rand pillory found in Bioshock.

March 26, 2014

E.T.‘s Material Mess

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by @ 11:20 am

My comments were part of a brief piece on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday. NPR only turns to me when there’s a very serious issue at stake; this time, some documentary filmmakers were thwarted, at least for the moment, in their quest to visit an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill and dig up the large number of E.T.: The Extraterrestial Atari 2600 cartridges that, according to reports, are buried there.

Lots of people read the story of E.T. (the video game) as one of monumental punishment for a media company’s disrespect for users/players. To me, there are at least two other important points.

March 24, 2014

Fox Harrell on Digital Soul

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by @ 3:09 pm

Check out my colleague Fox Harrell’s article “Digital Soul: The Computer, Imagination and Social Change, just posted at The Root. It’s a very nice, concise statement of Harrell’s vision of the computer as an imaginative force.

March 22, 2014

A Book on the Song “Hallelujah”

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by @ 5:08 pm

Acting on a tip from The Kelly Writers House at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, I recently learned about, and then read, Alan Light’s book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah.” This intrigued me as an admirer of this song in particular, Leonard Cohen’s songwriting and singing generally, and other aspects of his literary art (particularly the incredible novel Beautiful Losers). It also appealed to me as an entire book written about a single, short work. In this case, the work isn’t a Commodore 64 BASIC program – as in the book collaborators and I wrote, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1));: GOTO 10 – but a popular song with many lines and many covers, one that has been used in a wide variety of contexts.

GDC 2014: U.S. National Investment in the Future of Games?

At the just-concluded 2014 Game Developers Conference I organized and spoke in a session titled, “U.S. National Investment in the Future of Games?” I was joined by William S. Bainbridge (Program Director for the National Science Foundation), Elaine Raybourn (Principal Member of the Technical Staff in Cognitive Systems at Sandia National Laboratories, on assignment from to the Advanced Distributed Learning Initiative, Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense), and Jason Rhody (Senior Program Officer for the Office of Digital Humanities in the National Endowment for the Humanities). I’m posting here my slides and notes from the session introduction and my talk, the latter of which focused on three recommendation areas from the Media Systems final report that would benefit from joint effort by federal agencies and the game development community.

March 21, 2014

Mourn Google’s Departed

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by @ 2:40 pm

You may have noticed that “corpse” and “corporate” are lexically quite similar, and seem even more so when it comes to technology. Slate’s Google Graveyard lets visitors leave a virtual flower in memory of their favorite dead Google product. Seeking to be ever ready, they have dug a hole for Google Glass.

GDC 2014: Game Grants for Scholars, Librarians, and Artists

This week at GDC I gave a talk as part of the session “Federal Opportunities for Game Faculty and Students.” I was joined by William Bainbridge (Program Director, National Science Foundation) and Jason Rhody (Senior Program Officer, Office of Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities). My presentation focused on my experiences as a Principle Investigator on a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.

The slides and my talk notes are below. I hope they’re helpful!

nwf-eduGDC2014.001

nwf-eduGDC2014.002

March 20, 2014

“Envisioning the Future of Computational Media”

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by @ 12:55 pm

The final report of the Media Systems workshop has just been released:

“Envisioning the Future of Computational Media.”

You can download either the executive summary alone or the whole report.

I took part in the Media Systems workshop in 2012 with about 40 others from across the country. The workshop was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Microsoft Studios, and Microsoft Research. As Noah Wardrip-Fruin, co-author and co-organizer of the workshop, writes on the HASTAC site:

March 19, 2014

A “Programs” Writeup

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by @ 8:37 pm

Matthew Battles has a nice post about the “Programs at an Exhibition” show, up now on the metaLAB blog.

A “Programs” Writeup

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by @ 8:37 pm

Matthew Battles has a nice post about the “Programs at an Exhibition” show, up now on the metaLAB blog.

New Publication: “Envisioning the Future of Computational Media” (Media Systems)

Media Systems logo

Today we are publishing the final report of the Media Systems project — including a set of 12 key recommendations for building the future of computational media.

This report is the result of bringing more than 40 field leaders together for a meeting made possible by an unprecedented set of organizations: the U.S. National Science Foundation, U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, U.S. National Endowment for the Arts, Microsoft Studios, and Microsoft Research. We followed the meeting with more than a year of additional analysis, conversation, and writing.

March 14, 2014

Happy Pi Day: Round

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by @ 2:15 pm

My poem Round computes the digits of pi (in your browser, for as long as you like) and represents them as strings of text. It’s published by New Binary Press. Enjoy it on this 3/14.

March 12, 2014

How to “Train” as a Writer

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by @ 8:10 pm

After a pilot program (or perhaps that should be “engineer program”?) in which one writer was gifted with a round-trip train ride, Amtrak recently announced that they will begin a larger-scale residency program which “will allow for up to 24 writers to take long-distance trains to work on their projects.”

The Poetry Foundation’s blog, Harriet, was all over this, but they soon posted about how problematic the official terms of the application are. This was originally pointed out at The Outlet.

For instance:

The Hunting of the eBook

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by @ 3:47 pm

I’m quoted in this article on the origins of ebooks, published today in The Guardian. The news hook is the exhibition of Peter James’s Host in its 1993 floppy-disk edition.

March 11, 2014

“Programs at an Exhibition” Cards

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by @ 7:46 pm

From the “Programs at an Exhibition” exhibit, the C64 BASIC (Montfort) card, and the Perl (Thayer) card – both are being offered for visitors to take.

Photos from “Programs at an Exhibition”

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by @ 12:57 pm

Here’s some documentation of “Programs at an Exhibition” by Nick Montfort & Páll Thayer, an exhibit of five Commodore 64 BASIC programs and five Perl programs at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery, March 6-16, 2014.

Exterior

The front of the gallery hosts a Commodore 64 running Nick Montfort’s “After Jasper Johns” (left) and an Intel/Ubuntu computer running Páll Thayer’s “Flag” (right). These two pieces respond to and rework the famous 1954 painting, Flag, which is in the collection of the MoMA. Jasper Johns, we salute you.

Take some code

March 6, 2014

‘Bitcoin’ Creator Pulled Currency Because It Was ‘Too Addictive’

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by @ 9:02 am

Amid Speculation of a Publicity Stunt, Developer Says Fuss Was Overwhelming

LOS ANGELES – Despite what many users of his infuriatingly difficult “Bitcoin” currency seem to think, Satoshi Nakamoto isn’t actually Satan.

“I just wanted to create a currency that people could enjoy for a few minutes,” he said Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview.

His currency, which became a global phenomenon, in recent weeks soared to the top of the currency charts , turning the shy 64-year-old Mr. Nakamoto into something of a sensation among small, independent currency developers. His notoriety grew further when he mysteriously withdrew the currency from circulation Sunday at the height of its success.

March 4, 2014

Music Technology Event at Tufts

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by @ 11:37 am

After just listening to numerous covers of Main Titles from Blade Runner by Vangelis, I just got word that “Machine Fantasies: A Workshop on Music Technologies – Past, Present, and Future” is happening April 4-5, 2014 here in town, at the Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center of Tufts University.

March 3, 2014

“Programs” Previewed at Boston.com

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by @ 6:17 pm

Here’s the Boston.com article on our exhibit “Programs at an Exhibition,” which opens Thursday (March 6). Hope to see you at the opening, which is 6pm-9pm.

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