Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

September 2004 Archives

PHP/SWF charts.

This is here more as a note to myself than as one to all y'all, but these PHP/SWF Charts will come in handy on the upcoming weblog relaunch.


OK, so this is definitely the season for Great New Media. The new R.E.M. album hits the streets next Tuesday, the new U2 single has already hit the web, but most importantly, there's a brand-new Eddie From Ohio CD coming out in three short weeks. PEOPLE! THIS IS CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION! You can pre-order it now at the Bulletproof Store; apparently the first 500 copies will be signed by the band. What are you waiting for? Go! Go!

(Unless, of course, you're like me and am torn between ordering it online and buying it through iTunes... Oh, hell, it's EFO. I will set aside my aversion to physical media for EFO.)

This is what I'm talking about: Yo-Yo Ma and technology.

There's a very, very cool example of where technology and the arts intersect in The New York Times this morning: A Virtuoso and His Technology. It's all about how Yo-Yo Ma is using technology in his work. Very cool stuff.

Social (software) butterfly, part III.

Huh. It looks like the Social Computing Group at Microsoft might be doing just that, with their Wallop project, although from the looks of things so far it only appears to be a Flickr+Blogger+Friendster function set. It'll be interesting to see where they go with it... I wonder if they implemented FOAF or some other basic agreed-upon XML system? (*snicker*)

Social (software) butterfly, part II.

Furthermore, someone with deep pockets (*cough*Google*cough*) should go out there and frickin' buy up Flickr, Friendster, Plazes and all these similar services and roll them all into one mammoth 'myLife' plugin for your weblog. It'd be the greatest combination "about me + blogroll" system ever. People are using these systems with increasing regularity, but it's getting too bloody complicated. Maybe this is the next arena for someone like Apple to tackle: a combination of these social software apps with some blogging software, something that brings all this mess together into one spot. I think this is where the next big chunk of Kottke's Web 2.0 concept will be coming from.

Hmm. There's already stuff like this going on; the Rendezvous system built into iChat kind of does what Plazes is supposed to do anyway: show you who's around, but iChat doesn't let you link to a profile, or a weblog, to let you figure out who this random digital identity belongs to, or if they're someone you'd ever consider exchanging syllables with...

Right. Too much thinking, not enough sleeping. Night-night.

Social (software) butterfly.

Ugh. So now I'm a member of Plazes, Friendster, Flickr, Orkut... Would someone in the know please modify FOAF so that whenever one of these new services is launched, you could simply import your profile and friends list from FOAF!? This is getting way too friggin' complicated.

Oh, the Plazes we'll go.

I'm really bloody tired, so this is going to have to be quick, but Plazes is a new web thing which lets you see who else is logged onto the wi-fi node you're using. It's actually really pretty cool, and could conceivably become very cool if it catches on. Check it out!

Oh, and I'm on there as glong2005 if anyone's interested in adding me as a friend. The dreamsbay account is the email address I used.


Work. Study.

Today I polished off two little Flash sites and transcribed thirty pages of a history textbook. It doesn't seem like a lot of work, but I'm bizarrely tired.

One thing that is truly amazing, though, is that I feel like there are now more and more clear spots ahead. For a long time, it was like a fog had descended upon my future, and I was like a boat trying to chart a course through, first listing to one side and then to the other. Now I can sort of see where I'm heading, and it's looking brighter every day. Trust me, it's a great feeling.

I'm going to be crazybusy here for the forseeable future, though, so you might want to check out some of the webloggers I've been enjoying lately while I'm gone:

Adam Greenfield Jason Kottke Caterina Fake Bryan Boyer Todd Dominey Dunstan Orchard John Hicks Angie McKaig Cameron Moll Greg Storey Matt Haughey Derek Powazek Molly Wright Steenson Stewart Butterfield

I've met a bunch of these folks. Some of them I count as my friends. They're all brilliant. Do check them out.

Also worth noting: Sarah McLachlan has posted an amazing new video called 'World on Fire' which has a lot of perspective. You can check out the video in QuickTime over at Good on ya, Sarah, as always.


On the other hand...

I am suddenly reconsidering the design trajectory I'd been taking for my new weblog. Why? I was futzing around on my current personal site, looking for a piece of content, and I realized that with a couple of small exceptions, I really liked the look and feel of that site, even better than the new one. I've also been reading Adam Greenfield's design notes on v-2 and realizing that yes, indeed, I do share his inclination towards stark, minimalist navigation and disinclination towards superfluous Flash widgets. Which is too bad, because I've been making some kind of nice Flash widgets, but at the end of the day they're just not what I should be working on. What I should be working on are new interactive narratives, design experiments and truly excellent writing and observations, not trying to make myself into something I'm not – an "edgy" web designer. Reading Adam's notes, I'm learning from his mistake and trying to prevent my own.

So, the question then becomes, how do I integrate the new features I want into the existing site? I think I found my project for the weekend...

Developing thoughts on digital narratives.

As many of you know, I'm currently cranking up my digital skills to apply to grad school. I've been feeling out different programs for years, and I've finally found the direction I want to take – the catch is, I really need to put my money where my mouth is in order to actually get in. To that end, I am now furiously studying both programming techniques and some of the definitive works of Media Studies in order to improve my chances. The more I work on this, the more certain I become that yes, this is the direction I want to go next. I picked up a copy of Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media, which is a small dense book of theory and philosophy about the impact of media upon human development, and it's incredible. I definitely want to get into some kind of academic setting where we can talk about this, because the work is so dense that I'd love to have someone to talk to about it, but even alone I'm really enjoying it.

There is one thing, though, which I'm sure is actually a Good Sign. As I continue down this path, I'm becoming increasingly aware how vague and overambitious my old question, "What is digital storytelling?" actually is. For me, it's no longer enough to simply bat around definitions. 'Digital storytelling' can mean using technology to tell true personal stories, or to help others record their stories, or to tell stories that could not have been told without such technology, or even to just use digital technology to tell stories, period. These are the things from which amazingly banal academic schisms are formed. What really matters, IMHO, is how that technology can help drive the art form and shape the art of the narrative in the 21st century.

Here's two of the things I've been thinking about in the last two weeks.

  1. Hot versus cold media

    McLuhan describes media as existing in two categories: hot or cool. 'Hot' media is high-resolution and low-involvement, whereas 'cool' media is low-resolution and high-involvement. A movie is 'hot' because it's a very rich sensory experience, with lots of very detailed visuals and audio creating a very real environment in which the user only has to sit and enjoy it. A comic strip, however, is 'cool' because they are so often simply-drawn sketches (so a reader has to interpret what they're intended to mean) with a good deal of the action occurring in the spaces between each panel (so the reader has to extrapolate what's actually happening there): again, low-resolution, high-involvement.

    So what, do you suppose, would McLuhan call a video game? As technology improves, it's only a matter of time before videogames become made from real video frames, which the computer then alters and serves up in real time – truly interactive cinema. High-resolution, high-interaction. Sounds a lot like life, doesn't it?

  2. The coming age of the digital Renaissance man

    Personally, I'm fairly excited about the improvements in digital technology, because I believe that the future of narrative is going to be exactly what I just described: high-resolution, high-interaction stories. Much like videogames, only more robust, involved and even more literary. Someday someone is going to write a videogame based on Shakespeare, or the War of the Roses, etc. In the same way as Myst provided escapism without turtles to stomp, I think there will be a real market for worlds to explore that simply unfold narratives as you go. I keep thinking someone should create a digital version of Prospero's island, with a virtual Caliban running around wreaking havoc. Why not?

    I think in the future, these digital storytellers will be true Renaissance men. Personally, I'm trying to hone my skills in music, writing, art, programming, all of these things so that I can sit in my garage and create a truly innovative piece of work. Do I think that collaborations between people will still be important? Absolutely – but I also forsee more digital narrative artists tackling videogames the same way as comic writer/artists like Jeff Smith and Dave Sim do double duty on their books. I think we'll have more Sid Meiers and American McGees and Will Wrights, and I think that's great. The rise of indie videogames will most likely echo the rise of indie cinema and indie publishing, and as those games become more and more artistically interesting, I think the form will gain credibility. Gen X and Gen Y have grown up with games, and we're not growing out of them anytime soon. It only makes sense that the form will grow with us.

  3. How important is interactivity, and why?

    Videogames like Final Fantasy deserve their great reputations because they consistently deliver great, uncliched stories. There's a real sense of narrative innovation and style there, and I think that the medium as a whole will do well to continue to experiment along those lines.

    However, in many cases the amount of story is inversely proportionate to the amount of interaction. This makes sense – the more freedom they give the user to write their own stories, the more difficult it becomes to implement such classic storytelling techniques such as pacing, character development or even plot. So where's the sweet spot?

Anyway, those are the things I'm thinking about right now. More, I'm sure, will follow in the weeks ahead.


U2's "Vertigo" leaked to the web!

Most excellent – MP3s of U2's new single, "Vertigo", have started appearing online. Links to where you can obtain your oh-so-illegal-yet-oh-so-buzzworthy copy are here: It's Vertigo!

Man, I am so stoked. The new song is really cool, with Achtung Baby-esque echo effects but with some kick-ass growly guitar courtesy of our good Master Edge. I can't wait to hear the rest of the album. And the new R.E.M. album, too! Bring it on!

It's so true.

Rstevens over at Diesel Sweeties hits the nail on the head today: Kids of the 90s suck.


My old Kentucky home coffeeshop.

This post is being written from this really nifty little cafe in Louisville, Kentucky called Heine Brothers. Good coffee, free wi-fi, nifty wooden bench seating (which, when done right, can be quite comfortable) and attached to an equally cool little bookstore, this place has just entered my list of Favorite Coffeeshops.

Which, come to think of it, I should probably incorporate into my personal site somewhere. Hmm.

Oh, what am I doing in Louisville? My friend Ruth has a grad school interview here today, and I offered to give her a lift. I love long car drives, especially with great conversation (which Ruth always provides in spades) and just seeing the country. There's a lovely feeling that comes with rolling through America, and I was definitely jonesing for that again. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, there was always a nice drive through the countryside involved no matter where I was going – even just into Wooster for coffee or groceries. It's something I just love to do when I get a chance. In fact, I'll be doing this again in just over a week, when I head down to Washington, DC to help my film company produce a new short film for the National Film Challenge. After that, I'll be rolling for Boston to visit with a client and maybe visit a potential grad school program, then back through Ohio and back to Illinois.

Man, I wish I could afford a brand new Mini with a tricked-out sound system. I can only imagine how much fun these cross-country drives would be with one of those. Ah, well – one big expense at a time. :)


Precisely the kind of dork I am.

It is a Monday night. It has been a very good, very productive day –, one of my little client gigs, got out the door safely, a couple other client projects moved forward, I did the laundry, took out the trash, snagged some halfway decent chicken biryani for dinner, and now am looking around the universe out here for a midnight sale of the Star Wars trilogy on DVD. I am somewhat astonished to discover that nobody here on the north end is doing a midnight sale. The hell, people? Borders did a midnight sale for Bill Clinton's biography but not the DVD set of Star Wars? Where are your priorities?

Not to mention the fact that the last book in The Dark Tower series also hits the shelves tomorrow. I'm honestly mildly flabbergasted that this stuff isn't coming out closer to Christmas. I know these two items would be at the tip-top of my Christmas list, if I had even one iota of restraint...

Greenfield vs. Winer.

I admire both Dave Winer and Adam Greenfield for different reasons, but when Adam lays the smack down I just have to cheer. Good on ya, mate – let him have it.


Hey, where'd I go?

For those of you wondering where I disappeared to recently, you should know that upgrading to Movable Type 3.0 is a bitch. Importing a 21MB database has been a ridiculous failure, simply sputtering out and dying after sometime in late 2003. I am reluctant to lose so much history here, but at the same time there is a real appeal to simply starting over.

What I'm working on now is a new weblog designed to act as a notebook for my experiments this fall, leading up to my application to grad school this winter. This autumn is already a season of intense learning, and my goal is to create a site much like Todd Dominey's What Do I Know? that will let me take notes on the books I'm reading, post experiments, and serve as a workbook of sorts. I'll make a note when that goes live, or simply redirect this page to the new site.

One thing that will change, though, is that comments will return – only you'll need a TypeKey account to post. I do apologize for that, but 20,000 spam comments are most likely the reason why it's nigh-impossible for me to recover the 4+ years of weblogging that exists here at Tip of the Quill, and I have no intention of going through that again. I'm sure you'll understand. Anyway, TypeKey is free, growing in popularity and available now at if you want to get a jump on things.

Thanks, and I'll see you soon!


Subscriptions in Safari?

So just about the only thing I miss from Internet Explorer is the ability to "subscribe" to sites – in other words, the ability to scan down and see when your favorite sites have been updated without actually visiting them. That was cool. I wonder if someone's built a plugin for Safari that would enable website watchlists?

Upgrades: The Realization of Magellan.

Thanks to a couple gigs finally paying off, and thanks to the Refurbished section at The Apple Store, I am at long last in a position to start realizing my dreams of a personal command center. This morning my new dual-2GHz G5 with 23" Cinema HD display showed up via the FedEx guy, and I've spent pretty much all day getting everything moved in. (And I gotta say, iSync with .Mac is the bee's knees for this kind of thing.)

I'm completely thrilled about this new machine, in so many ways. A long time ago I swore I'd never buy another desktop machine, but various things have made me realize that those of us who are totally serious about media arts and sciences (and utter technoweenies) kind of need both. I need the portability of Copernicus, my laptop, in order to get out of the house every so often and present my work to clients at meetings. But I've also been jonesing for a central place to really sit down and focus and do more intense work than my laptop would comfortably permit. Hardcore apps like Motion and Final Cut Pro just run better on desktop machines, and Flash MX is infinitely easier to do serious work on when there's enough room for all those bloody palettes. This new desktop, Magellan, satisfies all those requirements and more. I'm stoked. I feel like I've suddenly been unleashed and given room to run again after having been pent up for so long – like a genie being let out of his bottle. (And oy, what a crick in the neck...)

Actually, in all seriousness, one thing that I definitely love about this new system is that I will hopefully stop being such a bloody hunchback. I'd noticed that I'd started becoming increasingly stooped-over just when I walk, since I spend so much time hunched over my laptop. Now, if I'm going to be spending twelve hours a day in front of a computer, I can at least be sitting upright. Huge improvement.

I'm going to start working this evening on some other new ideas as well, which might have some serious ramifications on the way things work around here. With a little luck, I'll have something new and cool ready to show off by the end of the week. As always, stay tuned!


Bill Maher on the Bush 9/11 Campaign.

Following up on yesterday's wish for someone to stand up and lay down the law, my good man Ken posted this yesterday, and I think it's hysterical. In case you don't read his blog (and why not?), I'm reposting it here:

"And finally, New Rule: You can't run on a mistake. Franklin Roosevelt didn't run for re-election claiming Pearl Harbor was his finest hour. Abe Lincoln was a great president, but the high point of his second term wasn't theater security. 9/11 wasn't a triumph of the human spirit. It was a fuck-up by a guy on vacation.

Now, don't get me wrong, Mr. President. I'm not blaming you for 9/11. We have blue-ribbon commissions to do that. And I'm not saying there was anything improper about your immediate response to the attacks. Someone had to stay in that classroom and protect those kids from Chechen rebels.

But by the looks of your convention, you'd think that the worst thing that ever happened to us was the best thing that ever happened to you. You just can't keep celebrating the deadliest attack ever as if it's your personal rendezvous with greatness. You don't see old men who were shot down during World War II jumping out of a plane every year. I mean, other than your dad.

But even your dad didn't run for re-election based on a recession and his propensity to barf on the Japanese. Now, I know you'd like us all to get swept away with emotionalism and stop sweating the small stuff like the deficit and the environment, and focus on what's really important: how you look in a fireman's hat. But crying during your speech? I mean, come on! There's no crying in politics! It's not fair! That's a trick chicks use. How are we supposed to discuss this rationally if you're going to cry?! There's a name for people who exploit their participation in historical events for political gain. They're called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

So I say, if you absolutely must win an election on the backs of dead people, do it like they do in Chicago, and have them actually vote for you."

– Bill Maher
Oh, man. Couldn't have put that any better myself.


Sometimes I don't get Democrats.

So Cheney gets up there and basically says, "If you elect John Kerry we're going to be attacked by terrorists." (What he actually said was more vague, closer to "If this country makes the wrong decision in November, we're more likely to be attacked by terrorists", but what he meant was pretty clear.) And today the Republican party is having a field day with our dead, capitalizing off the 9/11 tragedy and waving it around like a banner for their election campaign. This is just flat-out nauseating in and of itself, but what I really don't understand is why some Democrats don't get up there and simply say, "This happened on your watch. This administration failed to defend America from Al-Qaeda, and continues to do so. Osama bin Laden is still at large, the 9/11 tragedy occurred while on the Republican watch, and if Bush hadn't been asleep at the wheel over 3,000 Americans would still be alive today."

I don't get it. I just don't get it.


The wisdom of Jonathan Safran Foer.

In a New York Times Q&A with Jonathan Safran Foer, the young novelist tosses in this one-sentence bit of real wisdom:

I've tried to write the book I would want to read, rather than the book I would want to write.
I think that's a fantastic – and critical – insight that young writers often overlook. My respect for the man just ratcheted up a couple of notches.

Responding to Matt.

Over at "How do you compile?", Matt weighs in on my recent thoughts about digital storytelling. He takes me to task on my assertion that it may be more human to listen to others tell stories than to tell our own. I should have been more specific: I'm not saying that we don't tell our life stories, but I'm saying that we don't make up stories as often as we listen to ones that other people have made up. You know, the pros.

Jeez, I wish my comments were working.


Hey, where'd the comments go!?

For those of you wondering why comments aren't working at the moment, one of those comment-spamming jackasses decided to slam our server. We're going to be upgrading to Movable Type 3.0 here sometime between now and next week, but until that happens comments are offline. Sorry about that.


Fitts' law and other wisdom.

While surfing the exquisite Dustan Orchard's 1976design blog this morning, I came across this post: Link presentation and Fitts' Law. Fitts' Law is a UI guideline that says:

"The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target."
– Paul Fitts
Tog goes into this more here.

Of course, me being me, I immediately thought of this not as UI guideline but as a piece of life wisdom. The targets I've been setting for myself lately are huge.

In much the same vein, I picked up these pieces of wisdom from the lovely Caterina Fake this morning:

"Nothing frightens true entrepreneurs because nothing can be allowed to interfere with their vision. They have the same passion as artists and writers. Just as an artist creates a painting from scratch, so entrepreneurs can realize their own dreams in precisely the same way – by turning an idea into reality, earning a livelihood from it and, hopefully, making a profit."
– Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop

"The challenge for business leaders in the twenty-first century is to assume the mantle of spiritual elder for their cultures, so that life doesn't become trivial and grey for all the people who spend most of their life at work."
– Jim Channon
The first one really struck home for me, because that so epitomizes the way I work and what I'm always trying to do – dream stuff up and then make it real. The second one got me because that's where my previous full-time employer failed – while they were constantly doing the old "Look! Shiny!" routine, dandling parties and little favors about, they didn't really keep those of us in the trenches inspired to bend over backwards for the millionaires in the upper echelons. (Except for the founder – him, I definitely admire. Some of the others, though, were hellspawn.)

And now here I am, trying to do amazing things on a shoestring budget, and getting tired of shoestrings. Oh, well – story of my life, I guess.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

The good: I'm about four hours away (I think) from being done with what is actually version 2.1 of a client project, but I'm thinking of it as the real 1.0. In other words, I'm almost to the point where I could dust off my hands and say, "Yep, that's done."

The bad: I should have been here weeks ago.

The ugly: This last phase was a flat bid job. Dang.


Not a bad Tuesday.

Any day whose media intake includes both Tori Amos and Quentin Tarantino is a pretty darn fine day.


Stupid, stupid Comcast.

I love Chicago. I really do. What I don't love is the Comcast Internet service we're getting out here. Back in DC, we didn't have that many problems, but here in the windy city a gnat sneezes in Milwaukee and our 'Net connection goes down. Grrrr. As a result, it's 9 o'clock and I'm just now checking my email for the first solid time all day, because I finally caved and headed for a Panera Bread.

I know, I know, it's a holiday, but I'm behind. I did get a chance to work on some of those Flash books I bought a while back, and I'm feeling pretty powerful. I also took a little time to update my interactive portfolio, adding a bunch of stuff I've done this year. So some progress was made, but Comcast is still on my hit list. Gah.

The fall semester.

Today is Labor Day, so it's only fitting that today should also be the first day of classes for my roommate – the beginning of a new enterprise, the start of a new massive project. (If Mother's Day celebrates mothers, and President's Day celebrates presidents, and Arbor Day celebrates trees, then Labor Day should celebrate working – right?)

My good man Talon is starting his Master's program. As expected, I'm totally jealous, and it's been acting as a major catalyst for getting my own butt in gear. To that end, I've been examining and revising the things I posted about earlier, in "Progress report, part 3." I have to finish learning some of these things that I've been kicking around for ages, like PHP/MySQL, ActionScript, and so on. What I'm hoping is, if I can echo Talon's schedule (a full schedule combining school and work), that I can plow through enough of my to-learn list to stand a decent shot at being accepted when I apply to grad school this winter. This is going to be tight – I have a lot to catch up on, a lot to refresh and a lot to just flat-out learn – but even if my bid for acceptance is unsuccessful, I'm hoping I'll have learned enough to enable further creative experiments, flesh out a more well-rounded portfolio, add some value to my consulting work and have a bunch of fun in the meantime. That's the plan, anyway.

Oh, and I also hope to make some things that I could submit to next year's SIGGRAPH and the Interactive Annuals for the different magazines. I've been reading the latest issues of Communication Arts, Step, How and I.D. and they're all filled with some really pretty uninspired work. There is clearly room for improvement here – I need to get to work, and now.

Who's Frank Bickford?

Frank Bickford isn't the guy who kicked a protester at the 2004 RNC, despite the post at the Daily Kos. Frank Bickford was the guy that had been interviewed before this jackass.

Guys like me shouldn't be given GarageBand.

On Friday, my good man Talon and I headed to the mall to hang out and play mallrat. While there, I picked up Griffin Technologies' GarageBand microphone cable, which lets me jack in a regular XLR mic straight into the Mac. (I also picked up an iMic, but I seem to have some difficulty getting its preamp features to work properly.) What this means is that I can now record my beautiful (*cough*) voice without that bloody buzzing from recording with the PowerBook's built-in mic. Major improvement. I set out to rerecord 'God and Ducks' but instead made a new track, 'Seven-Eleven Cherry Apple', which is a more-or-less instrumental piece and another epic testament to my own silliness and lack of shame. It's funky and silly and not to be played over open speakers in an office. Trust me.

Seven-Eleven Cherry Apple
(3.17MB, two minutes and forty-seven seconds of silly)



Someday, when I am a rich and eccentric recluse, I will have a big old farmhouse and barn studio located out in the middle of a hundred acres of woods. When that happens, I will obtain a Quark, a fuel-cell driven four-wheeler, and tool about at high speeds in the dead of night.

This is my plan. Oh, yes.


This makes me angry.

So you say you watched Bush's heartwarming speech last night? So you say you've been moved to new heights of patriotism?

Just read this.


Progress report, part 3.

OK, well, that's not quite true. (And if you haven't read my previous entry yet, then please do so to figure out what I'm talking about.)

When I left off, I was saying that I wasn't sure what I wanted to do to expand my skills and, by extension, my portfolio. That's not true. Here are my top areas of potential expansion:

  • digital video
  • video games
  • Flash animation
  • mobile computing as narrative environment
  • art for art's sake
  • interactive elements in general
That last one sounds a little weird, so I should clarify.

I've been doing a lot of web design, but I haven't been doing a lot of truly interactive art. That is, if you go through the website for the MIT Media Lab and look at what they're doing in there, you'll see all kinds of interesting digital artwork. (You'll also see a decent amount of non-earth-shattering stuff and digital nose hair trimmers, but I digress.) I haven't done nearly any of that – and there's a reason for that.

I may be shooting myself in the foot in future applications if the professor in question ever reads this entry, but this has been on my mind for a while now.

When people say "digital storytelling", they tend to infer one of two things: one, that it's non-fiction, or two, that it's some kind of user-controlled narrative. Why?

The Center for Digital Storytelling, which is headed up by Joe Lambert, deals almost exclusively with people using technology to tell their life stories. Derek Powazek's {fray} is a non-fiction forum. Dana Atchley's Last Exit was a computer-assisted autobiography of sorts. All of these things hinged on the stories being true – but when people say "storytelling" in a general context, they don't necessarily assume that the stories are true. Those stories could be folklore, ghost stories, or anything. So why assume that digital stories have to be true?

Alternatively, groups like MIT's Interactive Cinema trumpet the ever-approaching advent of audience-controlled narratives – but if you actually examine what the technology is bringing us, it's not a bunch of voter-controlled narratives, it's more storytellers. As cameras and editing suites and special effects get cheaper, we're seeing a heartening rise of indie cinema. We're seeing more guys in their garages producing sci-fi epics like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, not more theaters with voting machines installed in every seat to control the narrative.

I think it might be an intrinsic component of human nature to listen to others tell stories more than to tell our own. People aren't going to unsubscribe to HBO just because handicams are cheap enough for them to make their own TV shows. Therefore, why would an audience necessarily want to take control of a story? If I go see a Quentin Tarantino movie, I don't want to see Quentin pop up every five minutes and say, "How do you want to see The Bride whack the Crazy 88?" I want Quentin to decide it for me. That's why he's the director.

Now, do I think that there are still great breakthroughs to be made by hybridizing digital video and videogames? Absolutely. That's why I think there's great room for innovation in the notion of transmedia storytelling, and this is something I'd love to explore in grad school.

I just need to get in.

Progress report, part 2.

I should be working. And that's the problem.

I'm sitting here in the Evanston Public Library, where I've been working for the last couple of hours on various client projects. This is pretty much my status quo: wake up, check the email, check the news sites, get showered, and either pull up to my desk at home or throw the mobile studio into my bag and head for some wi-fi outpost. Around these parts, that means a handful of Panera Breads, the Borders across the street from a Panera Bread where you can mooch their wi-fi if you sit by the window, or the Evanston Public Library. I like the library, because it's usually pretty peaceful. Anyway, I find myself a nice place to work and then I start hammering. You know the drill.

Lately, though, I've been feeling restless again. I've been taking some time for myself here this last week or so, in order to go do some of the things I've wanted to do this summer but didn't, because I've been working all the time. Yesterday I went to the Field Museum with Talon and Sara, which was wonderful and helpful and aggravating all at once – wonderful, because museums usually are; helpful, because I did some scribbling in some notebooks while I was there, learning about the Forbidden City in China and Emperor Qinglong, and making notes about designs and textures; and finally aggravating, not only because there's so much interesting stuff in the world to learn about, but because I realized while I was sketching in my notebooks that I was still working.

Now, to be fair, that's part of the joy of my current life arrangement: since I'm getting paid to do the things I'd be doing anyway, there's a pretty decent seamlessness between life and work. That's good. What's horrible, though, is the way clients snark and bark when they can't have their stuff right away, which is what happens when I take the time to do things like go to museums. There's a balance there somewhere, but I'm not finding it yet.

Worse, this morning I woke up and it's September. September! The air is cool and the sky is gray and people are wandering around in jackets. I love the fall, that's terrific, but where did the summer go? Talon's starting classes at DePaul here next week, and somehow all my grandiose schemes to take Kaplan classes and apply to grad school this fall are suddenly way, way behind schedule. Worst of all, since it's the first of the month I've decided to take a little time here and take stock, adding recent work into my portfolio and try to reorient things in order to get back on track. I've had a couple nifty things come down the pike lately – the Untyped art, the Flashery of, and the current ColdFusion integration of MedHire, but none of these things are likely to gain me admission into the high-end grad schools I'm really aiming for. Definitely time to get my nose back to the grindstone – but, as I mentioned at the beginning of this entry, that's the problem.

I feel like all this working is resulting in works that tend to be derivative of one another. Instead of doing experimental stuff, I'm making the same old stuff again and again. In order to improve and go to the next level, I need to change something. I'm just not sure what yet, or how.

Progress report.

Still not king.