Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

January 2009 Archives

An old dream realized.
The Big Lie That Solves Everything
Thanks to the hard work of my old friend Bill Coughlan and our film troupe Tohubohu Productions, I have recently had an old dream realized.

I am now in the IMDB.

The film that got me there is The Big Lie That Solves Everything, the third short film I produced with Tohubohu and our entry for the 48 Hour Film Festival in Washington, DC back in 2005. I gotta say, four years later and I still love this movie. In a way, it's almost a modern-day mashup of the Bible and Arabian Nights – you can see it in its entirety at the link above, or check out the movie, its trailer and its one-sheet posters at its page on the Tohobuhu site.

At some point I'll have a second film on my profile for my work on the Neil Gaiman Live at MIT - the Julius Schwartz Lecture DVD, but right now I'm totally tickled to be on there at all.

Too. Dang. Cool.


Links list: 01-28-09.


[C3] The Future of Entertainment is... Paper?

I have a new post up today over at the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium weblog, "The Future of Entertainment is... Paper?" In it, I basically stare agog at the awesomeness that is PaperCamp, a one-day event that went down on January 17th in London and that I'm kicking myself for having missed. At the end of the piece I start ruminating a little about how PaperCamp and its 'protospimes' tie into my recent thinking on the idea of The Converged Author, which is definitely shaping up to be one of my key research topics of 2009. Check it out!

The Future of Entertainment is... Paper?
Man, I hate hearing about an awesome conference just after the thing's wrapped up. So it is this week with PaperCamp, which went down in London on January 17th. Here's the description of the event from its own webpage:
What is PaperCamp?
A get-together for a day to talk about, fiddle with, make and explore what's possible with paper based on a blog post ( where a lot of people seemed enthusiastic about the idea. PaperCamp is a 'fringe' event to BookCamp, in London's Kings Cross on the 17th January.

What will happen at PaperCamp?
Well, as it's a '___Camp'-type thing, that's largely up to you... we'll have a room, and a grid of timeslots for you to fill with talks, activities, discussions of your making. However, to frame that a little, the original thought behind PaperCamp was 'hacking paper and it's new possibiities'. We do have one thing organised - a 'keynote' if you like from Aaron Straup Cope from a little site called Flickr and more importantly,

Whether that's looking at material possibilities of paper itself, connecting paper to the internet and vice-versa with things like 2d-barcodes, RFIDs or exotic things like printing with conductive inks... it's about the fact that paper hasn't gone away in the digital age - it's become more useful, more abundant and in some cases gone and got itself bionic superpowers...

As I say - it's up to you what you want to make of it, please bring to the event half-formed thoughts, ideas, projects you've done or anything you would like get others exposed to, or even hacking on. These can take the form of straight-forward talks, or, things you want other people's brains and hands to help with... please bring them... along with Paper, pens, RFIDs, soldering irons, Heidelberg Lithos or any other equipment or materials you will need. We will just provide chairs, tables and a projector...
Even just reading that description, my mind is officially blown – and that's nothing compared to reading Jeremy Keith's liveblogging of the event.


Nobody deserves a Newbery!

I'm still hugely pleased that Neil Gaiman has won the Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book, which I would confidently call the best thing he's written since American Gods. (For those of you who don't get the title of this post, 'Nobody' is the name of the Mowgli-esque protagonist, so... Oh, never mind.)

I'm also slightly relieved that the good Mr. Gaiman didn't burst out into profanity to the Newbery committee, the way he did when he won the Hugo. Somehow I doubt that "F**k, I won a Newbery!" would have gone over very well.

GAMBIT presents at GDC!
We're proud to announce that two of our people here at the GAMBIT US lab will be presenting talks at this year's Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco! Postdoctoral researcher Doris C. Rusch will be presenting on "Profound Game Design: a Postmortem of Akrasia" and lecturer/researcher Jesper Juul will be presenting on "Beyond Balancing: Using Five Elements of Failure Design to Enhance Player Experiences". The descriptions for the talks are as follows:

Profound Game Design - a Postmortem of Akrasia

Speaker: Doris C. Rusch Date/Time: TBD Track: Serious Games Summit Secondary Track: TBD Format: Panel discussion Experience Level: All Session Description This presentation provides valuable insights won through the development of Akrasia, a single-player 2D game that was made by seven students in the course of the annual eight-week summer programme at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. The goal of the project was to make a profound, thought-provoking game that fosters reflection and insight. More than that, purposeful experience design should promote game comprehension, and make the game work on the cognitive as well as the emotional level. On the larger scale, the project was intended to test the design approach described in the paper "Games about LOVE and TRUST? Harnessing the Power of Metaphors for Experience Design", which was presented at the 2008 Sandbox conference. It deals with issues related to addiction by way of metaphors. Takeaway Attendees will get insights into the potentials and pitfalls of metaphorical game design - from the importance of a vision guy to the difference between procedurally representing a concept and making it emotionally tangible to players. Intended Audience and Prerequisites Designers and players interested in learning more about games' potential to expand their experiential scope and mature as a medium. An interest in games and game design is desirable.

Beyond Balancing: Using Five Elements of Failure Design to Enhance Player Experiences

Speaker: Jesper Juul Date/Time: TBD Track: Game Design Secondary Track: Production Format: 20-minute Lecture Experience Level: All Session Description This lecture presents a toolbox for improving failure design in single player games. Player research shows that the primary issue is not the frequency of failures, but how failure is communicated, what happens as a result of failing, and whether a given failure design allows the game to be enjoyed within a player's time constraints. Using concrete examples, this lecture will show how failure can play a positive role in games, how players of casual games are actually not averse to failure, and how developers can get beyond balancing to improve the failure design in their games. Takeaway Attendees will be introduced to new research on how players perceive failure in games. A framework of Five Elements of Failure design will be presented. Attendees will be able to use the framework for improving the design, testing, and balancing of video games for different audiences. Intended Audience and Prerequisites Designers, producers, testers, and marketers interested in both rethinking the role of difficulty and failure in their games and in tailoring game design to the preferences and time constraints of their audience. Knowledge of game balancing issues is helpful but not required.

We hope to see you in San Francisco!


On Literature and Comparative Media Studies.

(Note: I should preface this bit of writing with a warning: what follows is a first attempt to set down some things I've been struggling to articulate for the past couple of years. As such, it may be slightly less than ideally coherent, but hopefully out of it some clarity will emerge.)

What is literature?

It's remarkable how explosive three words can be. "I love you" and "this is war" win out in the big picture, to be sure, but among academic circles (particularly in the humanities) "what is literature" can be almost as provocative. When you start mucking about with anything so heated, it's a good idea to start out with definition, or in this case, seven:

  1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays.
  2. the entire body of writings of a specific language, period, people, etc.: the literature of England.
  3. the writings dealing with a particular subject: the literature of ornithology.
  4. the profession of a writer or author.
  5. literary work or production.
  6. any kind of printed material, as circulars, leaflets, or handbills: literature describing company products.
  7. Archaic. polite learning; literary culture; appreciation of letters and books.

Note that the first four definitions all use variants of the word 'writing', definition six specifies printed materials, and definition seven explicitly uses the word books. (I find definition five to be absurdly insufficient: defining "literature" as "literary work or production" is like attempting to define "milk" as "milky work or production".)

And yet, and yet – imagine the outrageous clamor that would ensue if a professor were to suggest that Shakespeare should be banned from the study of literature, despite the fact that Shakespeare's works were not written to be read, but performed. In other words, Shakespeare's creations were primarily performative, not textual.

Such an argument might go as follows:

Shakespeare shouldn't be taught in literature classes, as his work was performative, not textual.

But clearly the strength of Shakespeare's work is to be found in the poetry of his words. "To be or not to be", "I will break my staff and drown my book" – these phrases have lasted for centuries due to the artfulness of their construction.

Have they? Reinterpretations of Shakespeare's works have been around almost as long as the originals; such a reimagining as West Side Story is still recognizable as Romeo and Juliet, even though it deploys none of the same language.

Perhaps this is due to a second strength of Shakespeare, which is also considered a component of literary studies: the structures of storytelling, such as character creation and plot development. It stands to reason that if Shakespeare's work were primarily performative, what should reach down through the ages are not the words and the structures but the actions, such as the dances Bob Fosse created for West Side Story, or the music by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. While both of these are considered exemplary, they do not fall under the definition of literary.

But why don't they? Music and dance moves can be recorded as written marks such as musical notes or dance charts – why is literature constrained to works of the alphabet? If the definition is, as suggested earlier, "writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features", and music and dance moves can both be written down, then clearly music and dance should be included in literary studies just the same as poetry, novels, history, biography or essays.

But they're not narrative.

Nowhere in the above definitions does the word 'narrative' appear.

Perhaps it should?

Poetry is studied as literature, and it's frequently not narrative. Besides, even if the word 'narrative' was included in such a definition, music, dance, film, comics and video games, robots, mobile devices or holographic television all can be used to tell stories.

But that's not their primary purpose.

It could be argued that telling stories is not the primary purpose of language, either.

Yet still, when we use the word 'literature' it remains associated with text in our mind, with language.

Of the elements I listed, only dance feels like it doesn't use language, and even then it's possible to imagine a dance performance that incorporates text or language through music, spoken words, projected text or a libretto.

Perhaps the answer is to be found elsewhere, then. In his Literary Theory, Terry Eagleton suggests that the study of English literature only came about as a way to inject formative philosophies and ideals into the minds of each new generation. Mythologies, legends, folklore, and religions serve as the literature of a culture insofar as they transmit traditions. This partly justifies the creation of a canon that is to be studied, as opposed to arguing that any text is worthy of study.

While that may be true, it fails to explain why works such as Casablanca exist in both the cultural memory and the tradition of film studies, if not literature: it's incredibly difficult to assign a particular moral value to Casablanca, but it does stand as an important work because of how it exemplifies a particular structure of creation. In the same way that The Searchers is worth experiencing as an example of the Western, or All Quiet on the Western Front stands as an exemplar of the war story.

Yet those do display "ideas of permanent and universal interest", as they both deal with the human experience. Even John Wayne's bastard of character in The Searchers can be instructive to audiences as to the dangers of the damaged.

But these are all films – should they be considered literature?

Perhaps, but a huge portion of their value is also to be found in how they demonstrate what can be done in a particular media form. Casablanca, The Searchers and All Quiet on the Western Front are all memorable for their performances and cinematography as much as they are for their dialogue, their characters or their narrative structures.

Which suggests that they should perhaps be studied in both Drama and Literature departments?

Oh, definitely.

But isn't this too narrow, too exclusive? Shouldn't even Literature students be made aware of the import of the performances and cinematography, if only to draw their attention to how important both factors might be?

Perhaps. But this suggests a need to examine what each media form brings to the table, so that anyone opting to write for a given form knows not only how to create great dialogue, characters and narrative structures, but also how to play to the strengths of a given form.

A comparative literature for media, then?


But isn't that just media studies?

It seems to me that just studying what each media form does well, or just studying the effects of media forms, might fall under the rubric of media studies. The notion of comparative media studies might also incorporate this, but under the understanding that the study of multiple media is to be pressed into the service of examining how stories are told, traditions are conveyed, and culture is created in the same fashion as our traditional notion of literature in each of the myriad forms of media being created, consumed and explored in the 21st century is simply an updating of the definition of studying literature.

So this reading of Comparative Media Studies might simply be considered modern Literature?


That's the conversation happening in my brain lately, which knits together my interests in English Literature, Film, Drama, Art, Literary Theory, Comparative Media Studies and the Media Lab's upcoming Center for Future Storytelling. It also describes the lay of my mental landscape concerning my Ph.D. plans, my plans for future books and how I might someday structure interdisciplinary courses taught inside of a Literature department (or whatever exists in 2015 or whenever I actually become The Good Doctor Long). Thoughts?


Upgrades, part 3.
Haven't seen this in a while, huh?
This might seem like a small thing, but it's actually indicative of a bigger thing. Tonight I changed the 'Miscellany' section of this site to Consulting and moved the "Presentations and Lectures" page into the Writing section. Longtime friends and clients will note that, unlike my old consulting site that is (at least for now) up at, my rudimentary Consulting page only includes a very small amount of information: my general background, my areas of expertise, and where to go to contact me.

The reason behind this change? Simply put, the Dreamsbay site doesn't really reflect what I do when I consult anymore. Since I last updated that site (in 2004, yikes!) I've moved away from doing just websites and graphic design (although I do still do that, of course) and into more strategic development, especially in the areas of new media, the arts, education, interactive entertainment, and storytelling in general. You know, real Comparative Media Studies "applied humanities" type of stuff. (If CMS brands itself as "applied humanities", is "applied CMS" redundant?) Essentially I took a page from my friends Derek and Adam and changed my shingle from a big, splashy brochureware site into a subtler section of this one: in addition to my writing, my design, my research and everything else, I'm also available for consulting. It says so now right up in the upper-right of every page. (The eagle-eyed among you will also note that I swapped the order of 'Portfolio' and 'Writing', since I'm hoping that 2009 will see a lot more writing coming down the pike.)

So, yes. My rates are affordable, my skills list and contacts list are both very extensive, and I'm happy to talk to people about their projects. This is an off-hours thing for me, which means I only have a very limited number of openings, but if you'd like to pick my brain please drop me a line!


Upgrades, part 2.

Continuing in the same vein as before, I've now managed to the get Movable Type's new Facebook Connect plugin up and running on this blog. If you've wanted to comment on something here but have been deterred in the past, give this a shot and see if it works for you!

I've also installed Shaun "sIFR" Inman's excellent Mint stats tracking software, which is something I've been meaning to do for quite some time now. The main catalyst for this was the lack of a top-notch iPhone app for Google Analytics, while Mint has a really excellent iPhone pepper that's now sitting comfortably on the home screen of my phone. $30 for Mint is $30 more than Google Analytics, but now that I've got it up and running, I can honestly say the plug-in architecture, the iPhone pepper, and the sheer beauty of the interface make Mint definitely worth it.


Links list: 01-14-09.


Calls for Papers.

A number of intriguing calls for papers have come through my inbox lately, so I thought I'd post the most interesting-looking ones here. Anyone who reads this blog has to have somewhat similar interests...

SFF Critical Book on Doctor Who

The Unsilent Library: Adventures in New Doctor Who

Published by the Science Fiction Foundation
edited by Simon Bradshaw, Antony Keen, and Graham Sleight

The Science Fiction Foundation, which has published a number of books on sf (including The Parliament of Dreams: Conferring on Babylon 5 and Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature) is now seeking contributions for a new book, proposed for publication in 2010, on Doctor Who. This book will focus on the series' revival since 2005. Contributions are invited on all aspects of the new series, including its scripting, production, and reception, as well as links to the "classic" series. A variety of critical approaches/viewpoints will be encouraged.

Potential authors are asked to submit brief proposals (max. 250 words) for chapters by 1st March 2009. Final chapters (max. 6,000 words) will be due by 1st August 2009. Please send proposals to

Contributions should follow the style guide at

Worldcon 2009

The World Science Fiction Society invites papers for the academic track of the 2009 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon): Anticipation. This year's Worldcon returns to Canadian soil for the first time since 2003 and will be held at the Palais des congrès de Montréal in Montréal, Québec (Canada) from Thursday 6 August through Monday 10 August, 2009. This is the first time for Montréal to host Worldcon and only the second Canadian city in Worldcon's lengthy history.

Science fiction has its roots in as much the anticipations of H. G. Wells's scientific romances as Jules Verne's voyages extraordinaires. Anticipation is also a commonly used French term for Science Fiction literature and has bilingual echoes. In honour of our location in the world's second-largest French-speaking city, the suggested theme for this year is "Anticipations in Science Fiction."

The Academic Track is pleased to present Special Keynote Speaker John Robert Colombo, one of the pioneering forces in Canadian SF. Other special guests at Worldcon include:

Guest of Honor: Neil Gaiman
Invitée d'honneur: Élisabeth Vonarburg
Artist Guest of Honour: Ralph Bakshi
Editor Guest of Honour: David Hartwell
Publisher Guest of Honour: Tom Doherty
Fan Guest of Honour: Taral Wayne
Master of Ceremonies: Julie Czerneda

The academic track welcomes fifteen-minute papers (in English or French) on a broad range of themes and topics related to science fiction. Please send 300 word abstract (including any audio-visual requirements) as a Rich Text Format file attachment to both Academic Track Division Heads (see below). Although the deadline is January 15, 2009, we will consider late submissions on a case-by-case basis.

Christine Mains:
Graham J. Murphy:

SFRA 2009

SFRA 2009: Engineering the Future and Southern-Fried Science Fiction and Fantasy
June 11-14, Atlanta, GA (Wyndham Midtown Hotel)
Guest of Honor: Michael Bishop
Special Guest Authors: F. Brett Cox, Paul di Filippo, Andy Duncan,
Kathleen Ann Goonan, and Jack McDevitt

SFRA is currently accepting individual abstracts and panel proposal for its 2009 conference. We welcome paper and panel submissions that explore any aspect of science fiction across history and media and are particularly interested in those that engage one or both of the conference themes, "Engineering the Future" and "Southern-Fried Science Fiction and Fantasy," or the work of one or more of the conference's guest authors.

The 2009 conference's two themes and its selection of guest authors are inspired by the conference's location in Atlanta and its co-sponsorship by Georgia Tech's School of Literature, Communication, and Culture. Atlanta, a storied locale in American history, is also in many ways an international city of the future, home to 21st century information, entertainment, technological and military industries, peopled with 21st century demographics, and prone to 21st century situations.

How is the future engineered in science fiction and how has science fiction already engineered our present? The American south has long been well known for its gothic fiction, but it has increasingly figured in works of science fiction and fantasy too. So it is equally fitting to ask, how has the south been an inspiration of science fiction and fantasy and what will its global future in speculative arts and letters be?

The deadline for proposals is April 1, 2009 at midnight EST. Please submit paper and panel proposals by email to Include all text of the proposal in the body of the email (not as an attachment). Please be sure to include full contact information for all panel members and to make all AV requests within each proposal.

For more information, email . And be sure to check out for more details!

Thinking After Dark: Welcome to the World of Horror Video Games

The research group Ludiciné from the University of Montreal, in collaboration with the Research Group on the Creation and Formation of Cinematographic and Theatrical Institutions (GRAFICS) from the University of Montreal and the NT2 Laboratory on Hypermedia Art and Literature from the University of Quebec in Montreal, solicits your proposals for the bilingual (French/English) international conference titled Thinking after Dark: Welcome to the World of Horror Video Games. This conference will be held in Montreal from April 23 to 25, 2009.

Call for papers

As fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind (Lovecraft), human beings have always taken a malicious pleasure in frightening themselves. If literature and cinema were and still represent good means for the expression of horror, nowadays, the experience of fear is as intense in video games.

While academia has been studying horrific literature and films for a few decades, such an interest for the videoludic side of horror has not, until now, showed up. Yet, since the cinematic staging of fear in Alone in the Dark in 1992, Survival Horror has become a prolific genre offering a wide selection of significant games such as the Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Fatal Frame series. Because it is at the crossroads of diverse cultural heritages and the latest technological
developments, and because it exhibits the ins and outs of the matrix that governs all but a few games (spatial navigation and survival), horror video games require a deeper study.

This international conference wishes to study horror video games (not necessarily labeled survival horror) from an eclectic range of critical and theoretical perspectives. It aims to fill a gap in game studies between general theory and analysis of particular genres and games.

Possible Topics

Here are some examples of relevant themes we wish to explore in this conference:

Historical approach
- Origins and history of horror video games
- Impact of the technological evolution on horror video games

Theoretical approach
- Simulation of horror, fear, terror
- Narratives and themes of horror video games

Transmedial approach
- Transmedial study of horror video games (Games/Films/Literature)
- Remediation in films, literature and video games

Socio-cultural approach
- Transnational analysis of horror video games (United States/Japan)
- Social and cultural meanings of horror video games
- Horror video games and censorship

Analytical approach
- Aesthetics of horror video games (lighting, sound, editing, 1st/3rd person perspective)
- Study of specific games or series (Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil, Fatal Frame, etc.)

The organizing committee remains open to proposals that respect the general spirit of this call for papers.

Please submit your proposals no later than January 15, 2009 at the following e-mail address: . Acceptance and rejection notifications will be sent by the beginning of February.

Your proposal must include:

1. The title of your paper and an abstract (no more that 500 words).
2. Your academic status, your institutional affiliation, your department and your contact information (mailing address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address).
3. A short biography underlining your work related to the themes of the conference (no more than 250 words).

A selection of papers will be published in a special issue of Loading..., the journal of the Canadian Game Study Association.

For further information, please visit our website: .

Organizing committee
Bernard Perron, Conference Head, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Film Studies, University of Montreal
Martin Picard, coordinator, research group Ludicine, University of Montreal
Richard Bégin, Invited Professor in Film Studies, Literatures Department, Laval University
Carl Therrien, research group Ludicine, University of Montreal
Dominic Arsenault, research group Ludicine, University of Montreal
Guillaume Roux-Girard, research group Ludicine, University of Montreal

The Third Annual Science Fiction Foundation Masterclass

Location: University of Liverpool
Dates: June 10th, 11th and 12th, 2009

Class Leaders: Joan Gordon, Adam Roberts, Paul Kincaid.

The Science Fiction Masterclass is held in conjunction with the University of Liverpool. The aim of the Masterclass is to provide those who have a serious interest in sf criticism with the opportunity to exchange ideas with leading figures in the field, and also to use the SFF Collection.

The Masterclass will take place from June 10-12th at the University of Liverpool. Each full day of the Masterclass will consist of morning and evening classes, with afternoons free to prepare. Class leaders for 2009 will be Joan Gordon, Adam Roberts, and Paul Kincaid.

Applicants should write to Liz Batty at

Applicants must provide a short CV of either: academic credentials, essay/book publications, reviews and writing sample (this may be from a blog); all of these will be valued equally as we are looking for a mixture of experiences and approaches. A range of hotel recommendations will be forwarded to those accepted.

Applications will be assessed by an Applications Committee consisting of Peter Wright, Joan Haran, and Farah Mendlesohn.

Completed applications must be received by 31st January 2009.

R.D. Mullen Fellowship

Science Fiction Studies announces the R.D. Mullen Fellowship supporting research in the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Utopian Literature at the University of California at Riverside. Awards of up to $1500 are available to fund
research in the archive during the 2009-10 academic year. Students in good standing in graduate degree-granting programs are eligible to apply. We welcome applications from international students.

The Mullen Fellowship, named in honor of SFS'’s founding editor, promotes archival work in the Eaton’s extensive holdings, which include over 100,000 hardcover and paperback books, over 250,000 fanzines, full runs of all major pulp and digest magazines, and the manuscripts of prominent sf writers such as Gregory Benford, David Brin, and Anne McCaffrey. Other noteworthy parts of the Collection are: 500 shooting scripts of science fiction films; 3500 volumes of proto-sf “boy’s books” of the Tom Swift variety; works of sf in numerous foreign languages, including Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish; a large collection of taped fan conventions and taped interviews with American, British, and French writers; reference materials on topics such as applied science, magic, witchcraft, UFOs, and Star Trek; an extensive collection of anime and manga; and the largest holdings of critical materials on science fiction and fantasy in the United States. Further information about the Eaton Collection can be found online at:

Applications should include a cover letter explaining the candidate’s academic experience and preparation, a CV, a 2-3 page proposal outlining an agenda for research in the Eaton archive, a prospective budget detailing expenses, and two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the candidate’s academic work. Applications should be mailed to: Professor Rob Latham, Department of English, UC-Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0323.

The deadline for submission is January 31, 2009. Applications will be reviewed by a committee of sf scholars, and successful applicants will be notified by March 1, 2009. Any questions should be addressed to Rob Latham at:

Ars Electronica

The 23rd Prix Ars Electronica - International Competition for CyberArts is open for entries.

From its very inception in 1987, the Prix Ars Electronica has been conceived as an open platform for various disciplines at the intersection of art, technology, science and society. More than 3,000 submissions in 2008 have further enhanced the Prix Ars Electronica's reputation as an internationally representative competition honoring outstanding works in the cyberarts.

The aim of the competition is to continually keep the Prix Ars Electronica updated in line with leading-edge developments in the dynamic field of cyberarts.

This year, six Golden Nicas, twelve Awards of Distinction and approximately 70 Honorary Mentions as well as [the next idea] Art and Technology Grant and the Media.Art.Research Award are presented to participants. The 2009 winners will receive a total of 122,500 euros in prize money.

Prix Ars Electronica 2009
Online Submission Deadline: March 6, 2009

Computer Animation / Film / VFX
Digital Musics
Interactive Art
Hybrid Art
Digital Communities
[the next idea] Grant
Media.Art.Research Award
u19 - freestyle computing

More details about all categories and online submission are available only online at:

Please feel free to forward this to all interesting/ed parties.

With best regards,
Bianca Petscher
on the behalf of the Prix Ars Electronica 2009 Team

Hypertext 2009

The Twenty-First ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia

June 29th - July 1st, 2009, Torino, Italy


The ACM Hypertext Conference is the main venue for high quality peer-reviewed research on "linking." The Web, the Semantic Web, the Web 2.0, and Social Networks are all manifestations of the success of the link. The Hypertext Conference provides the forum for all research concerning links: their semantics, their presentation, the applications, as well as the knowledge that can be derived from their analysis and their effects on society.

Hypertext 2008, held in Pittsburgh, was a real success. The number of submissions and attendees was up, a successful Student Research Competition took place, and a rejuvenated social linking track added new ideas and connections to the traditional core of the conference.


* Technical tracks paper submission deadline: February 2nd, 2009
* Notification to authors: March 16th, 2009
* Camera-ready (final papers to ACM): April 6th, 2009


Hypertext 2009 will be held from June 29th to July 1st at the Villa Gualino Convention Center, on the hills overlooking Torino.

The capital of the Piedmont region, Torino lies at the foot of the Alps, the majestic mountains that hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics.

First the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, then one of the European centers of baroque, today Torino is a dynamic city known for its industry, art and culture, sports, research and education, and cuisine.

The timing of Hypertext 2009 provides an excellent opportunity to visit Italy in conjunction with the International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization in Trento (UMAP 2009 -, and the International Workshop and Conference on Network Science in Venice (NetSci 2009 -


Hypertext 2009 will feature two stellar keynote speakers: Lada Adamic (University of Michigan) is a noted scholar of social networking and the winner of the 2008 Engelbart Award; Ricardo Baeza-Yates is Vice-President of Yahoo! Research for Europe and Latin America, leading the labs in Spain, Chile, and Israel.

In the conference technical program, professionals from academia, industry, and the media will present innovative ideas and tools exploiting the broad range of links increasingly connecting people, information, communities, and structures. Research topics will be organized into three tracks:

track 1. Information Structure and Presentation (Chairs: Peter Brusilovsky and Cristina Gena)

track 2. People, Resources, and Annotations (Chairs: Andreas Hotho and Vittorio Loreto)

track 3. Hypertext and Community (Chairs: Mark Bernstein and Antonio Pizzo)



* Mark Bernstein, Eastgate Systems, Inc. (UK)
* Antonio Pizzo, University of Torino (Italy)

The Hypertext and Community track will explore, examine, and reflect upon social cyberculture in electronic media, ranging from literary fiction and creative scholarship to blog and microblog networks, social sites, games, auctions, and markets. Topics will include:

* Hypertext literature
* Theory and practice of expression in wikis, weblogs, and social spaces
* Personal journals, weblogs, and social media
* Net art, literary hypertext, interactive fiction, and games
* Behavioral patterns of social linking

For additional information on the track and the Program Committee, please visit


Papers must report new results substantiated by experimentation, simulation, analysis, or application. Authors are invited to submit papers presenting original, not previously published works. Submission categories may include regular research papers (max 10 pages) discussing mature work, and short papers (max 5 pages) describing preliminary results of on-going work or novel thought-provoking ideas.

All submissions should be formatted according to the official ACM SIG proceedings template ( and submitted via EasyChair ( Accepted papers will appear in the Hypertext 2009 Conference Proceedings and also be available through the ACM Digital Library.


Technical demonstration of new tools and innovative applications of hypertext are solicited. One-page demo descriptions, including a list of any required supporting equipment, should be sent to by e-mail to Giancarlo Ruffo, Demo Chair (

Important Demos Dates:

* March 30th, 2009: Submission of proposals
* April 15th, 2009: Notification to proposers
* June 29th, 2009: Demos day



Ciro Cattuto (ISI Foundation, Torino) and Giancarlo Ruffo (University of


Filippo Menczer (Indiana University)


Santo Fortunato (ISI Foundation, Torino) and Rossano Schifanella

(University of Torino)


Roberto Palermo (ISI Foundation, Torino)

*sociopatterns blurb*

The attendees of Hypertext 2009 will also have a chance to experiment with applications mixing real-world data and on-line data. We will deploy active RFID tags in the badges of volunteers and we will run a data collection platform that provides the real-time relations of physical proximity between the attendees. The data collection and visualization systems will be provided by the SocioPatterns project (, and will expose API methods that allow developers to mash up real-world links between the attendees with other types of linking information from the Web.



One of this site's unspoken functions is to serve as a testing ground for new technologies that I intend to add to other sites for MIT and for my consulting clients. This morning is a great example of that: first I added a custom Google search to my site (now accessible at and then, having ironed out the kinks there, added one to the GAMBIT site at That's the tip of the iceberg, though – last night I also upgraded my own Movable Type Pro install to 4.23 so that I can tinker with things like Action Streams, Facebook-enabled commenting and Twitter notifications. Philip, if you're reading this, consider it a preview of things to come! :)


On Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio.
Winesburg, Ohio
Attempting to ease into my rededication to reading the classics, I decided to start out with a slim volume that I vaguely remember reading before, when I was in high school or perhaps junior high: Sherwood Anderson's 1919 Winesburg, Ohio.

As I read through it, I was struck by the truth of the old adage that you never read the same book twice, for the same reason that you never step in the same river twice. When I was younger, I groaned with disinterest while flipping through the pages, skipping ahead to try and find something in it that would catch my interest. I blame this partly on the dullness of the familiar: Anderson based this collection of short stories on his own experiences in a small town in Ohio, and having grown up in one I can easily name similar characters and situations from my own upbringing, even though they were separated by nearly a century and a half. As an adult, now I have more respect for that very quality of timelessness: while the characters at play in these twenty-four lightly linked tales are very much creatures of their era, struggling with the dawn of the industrial age of farming, the notions of women's liberation and so on, they are also shot through with timeless themes such as the clashing of generations, the struggling with religion (which I can tell you is a very common theme in rural America even now), and the frequently damaging and unfulfilling siren's song of the city.

Another glint of insight provided by rereading this book as an adult: that very quality that weighed the text down for me as a kid, the 'dullness of the familar', is likely to be the same quality that makes the book sparkle for inner-city children intrigued by the strangeness of small town life. Because mine is an inherently multithreaded mind, I'm also reading Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence and enjoying its (admittedly satirical) depictions of the class struggles of early New York, largely because Archer's experiences are so different from my own. It's almost a variant on The Prince and the Pauper itself, a literary case of "the grass is always greener", yet somehow both The Age of Innocence and Winesburg, Ohio seem to me to be "written for city people" in a way that you don't find in many genre works. The advent of urban fantasy seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon (although that too is, I'm sure, something that could stand for some research) with China Mieville's King Rat standing as, perhaps, the most thoroughly urban fantasy work that springs to mind – there is something about Mieville that is unrelentingly inner-city, so much so that when his Un Lun Dun bears a staggering similarity to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere it feels like less of an homage or a rip-off as it does a kind of grittier remix. It's a question of "other" versus "wonder", I suspect, with a certain formula at play as to the nature of the author, the content, and the audence: an author of a place can write about the place for either audiences of of the place or not of the place. Mieville, in his jungle beats and dirty streets, feels like a writer of the city writing about the city for readers in the city, Gaiman feels like a writer of the country writing about the city for readers in the country, and while Anderson comes across as a writer of the country writing about the country, Winesburg, Ohio feels like it's written for metropolitan audiences.

It's not for nothing that Anderson's original title for the book was The Book of the Grotesque; although it's very easy to imagine Anderson drawing inspiration from the caricatures of Leonardo da Vinci (through which grotesques the artist managed to both learn and convey deep underlying connections and truths about humanity in general), there's also an undertone of the carnival at play here, with his characters stretched into such horrific amplifications that they wouldn't be out of place in a traveling freak show. It's these amplifications that make each of the short tales feel less like stories and more like simple character sketches. Most of them clock in at only a few pages – although there are twenty-four tales in the book, most with succinct, one-word titles like "Hands", "Adventure" and "Respectability", the 1992 Penguin paperback I'm reading is a slender 248 pages. Yet the tales are wide-ranging and diverse, so much so that it feels like there might be something for everyone here. The common theme is loneliness, as Malcolm Cowley notes in his introduction:

George Willard is growing up in a friendly town full of solitary persons; the author calls them "grotesques." Their lives have been distorted not, as ANderson tells us in his prologue, by their having seized upon a single truth, but rather by their inability to express themselves. Since they cannot truly communicate with others, they have all become emotional cripples. Most of the grotesques are attracted one by one to George Willard; they feel that he might be able to help them. In those moments of truth that Anderson loves to describe, they try to explain themselves to George, believing that he alone in Winesburg has an instinct for finding the right words and using them honestly.

While this feels like the kind of heroic self-centeredness only a writer can indulge in ("their immortal souls can only be saved through the power of language!"), it is the ways in which these characters are shown to become cut off from the world that makes their vignettes interesting. Further, as I noted before, the range displayed here means that there's a little something for everyone in these pages: were I teaching this book to a class, I might divvy the stories up among them based on their interests: a romantic might be asked to analyze the tragedy of Alice Hindman in "Adventure," while a fan of thrillers might be asked to investigate the horrors of purple-faced Wash Williams in "Respectability".

Another teaching point for the book might be an examination of Anderson's language: the author's sentences are somewhat herky-jerky, not as abrupt as Hemingway but still fairly staccato and occasionally overly simplistic in their structure. (Of course, this is coming from a guy who frequently overuses subphrases and semicolons to string sentences along for multiple lines at a time, so that might be an issue of personal preference.) More disturbing is the gear-grinding manner in which Anderson occasionally leaps back and forth in time from one paragraph to the next. This is done in a fashion not of authorly foreshadowing but more of a storyteller's aside; in fact, there are multiple places in the book where it becomes all too easy to imagine that you're sitting on the front porch of the New Willard House, rocking away beside the author himself as he unspools these tales of this town between puffs of a cigarette or sips of homemade lemonade. The author intermittently slips in a sentence in first-person ("I go too fast", for example) that reminds the reader that these are not events recorded but a stories being consciously and carefully told. It's an interesting approach, an authorial method more commonly seen in England than in American texts (I think; again, this may be an area for future research) but it fits in well with the general age and flavor of the book as a whole.

Do I like the book? That's a difficult question to answer, largely because it varies from story to story. Some of the tales remain guilty of the same overwrought "look at me, look at how tragic this is, isn't this literary?" attitude that I've recoiled from ever since I first started reading the classics as a kid, and there are some places in which Anderson's "lookee at the freakshow" carney barker tone grates on my small-town nerves as an excruciating blend of condescending and pretentious, and the knowledge that Anderson was a small-town kid like me makes me alternate between forgiveness and resentment at his coarse capitalization upon that - our? - way of life. Still, as a reader, writer and teacher I do recognize the value in the text and the value in reading the text, as illustrated above; therefore, while I might not prescribe this book for pleasure reading (except, perhaps, "Responsibility", which was indeed pretty cool) I'd still say that Winesburg, Ohio is definitely worth its admittedly brief required time.


[IAF] Poetry on the Wing.
One of the announcements I've been meaning to make here on this blog is that I've been invited to post occasionally over at the official weblog of the Interstitial Arts Foundation. I just published my first post over there, Poetry on the Wing, which is a pointer to the very interstitial work of Bulgarian artist/poet Nedko Solakov. Click through to the article to find out what I mean when I say his work absolutely soars above the rest...
The NYT and the Globe on "The Public Library Renaissance"

The New York Times' Freakonomics blog is weighing in on the "public library renaissance":

...If nobody seems to be out buying books, movies, and music, what are they doing with their leisure time instead?

Apparently: going to the library. The Boston Globe reports that public libraries around the country are posting double-digit percentage increases in circulation and new library-card applications.

Derrick Z. Jackson's original Boston Globe article, meanwhile, calls libraries "a recession sanctuary" and cites President-Elect Obama's tendency to use libraries as a "rhetorical anchor" in his speeches. The real chewy stuff, though, is in the statistics:

In Kern County, California, where Diane Duquette has been library director for 22 years, library checkouts were up 19 percent in the last quarter. She told the Bakersfield Californian, "We've never had that kind of increase before. Wow. In my time here, we've maybe had a 1 percent or 2 percent increase in good years."

The Boston Public Library is no different. New library cards are up 32.7 percent from July to November of 2008, compared with the same period in 2007. Visits are up 13 percent, from 1.4 million visits to 1.6 million. Checkouts of books, CDs, and DVDs are up 7.2 percent overall over the last fiscal year. More telling is that checkouts have soared between 27 percent and 37 percent at the Egleston Square, Fields Corner, Jamaica Plain, and Orient Heights branches.

New BPL president Amy Ryan said a baby story program at the Copley library has grown from fluctuating between 60 and 80 families to well over 100. Monthly visits to a free Internet homework tutoring service have doubled from 300 to 600. She said anecdotal reports indicate a spike in people using branch libraries to research new careers or returning to school. This is despite the BPL probably facing cuts, too.

What I like is how there's no hand-wringing in the article about the popularity of CDs and DVDs as well as books in libraries, which is how I think it should be. Back home in Wooster, there was a sizable amount of grumbling about how our new library seems to have more space dedicated to computers than books, but had I been in charge of that project I would have devoted even more space to multimedia use, including the creation of as many underground theaters as I could build for people to reserve for the private screening of DVDs, classic films and – gasp! – video games. I'd be sure to do a heavy cross-sell of other media that tie into the items (wouldn't it be nifty to do an Amazon-esque mailing list for library patrons that promoted other works by the creators of the stuff they'd checked out, or similar pieces from other media?) but libraries, like literature, shouldn't be mono-media concepts. If all good things run to the avenue, then the creation and maintenance of libraries as public all-media centers is only logical.

Were Benjamin Franklin creating the nation's first subscription library today, I'd bet my bottom dollar that he'd include every media type he could get his hands on – he didn't get to be Benjamin Franklin by being closed-minded. IMHO, libraries absolutely should have Twilight displays, and they should be accompanied by copies of Stoker's Dracula, books on vampire bats, vampire games, vampire movies like Nosferatu and even classic romances like the works of Jane Austen. At the center of the Venn diagram of what people should want and what they do want is where learning is to be found.

Why the RNC should just give up.
"We have to do it in the Facebook, with the Twittering, the different technology that young people are using today."
RNC incumbent chairman - Mike Duncan

It hurts. Oh, God, it hurts. "Out of touch" doesn't even begin to describe it.

OTOH, "do it in the Facebook" just sounds dirty.

Would Baudelaire hate the Kindle?

I love this new post over at HarperCollins' HarperStudio blog: Would Charles Baudelaire hate the Kindle? As they quote the man himself:

"As the photographic industry was the refuge of every would-be painter, every painter too ill-endowed or too lazy to complete his studies, this universal infatuation bore not only the mark of a blindness, an imbecility, but had also the air of a vengeance. I do not believe, or at least I do not wish to believe, in the absolute success of such a brutish conspiracy, in which, as in all others, one finds both fools and knaves; but I am convinced that the ill-applied developments of photography, like all other purely material developments of progress, have contrib uted much to the impoverishment of the French artistic genius, which is already so scarce....Poetry and progress are like two ambitious men who hate one another with an instinctive hatred, and when they meet upon the same road, one of them has to give place. If photography is allowed to supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it altogether, thanks to the stupidity of the multitude which is its natural ally."
[On Photography, from the salon on 1859]

I'd argue that Baudelaire would have much less against the Kindle than he would against the Internet or print-on-demand publishing in general, since those are really the revolutions that are more of a 1:1 comparison ("X:publishing as camera:painting" would be a nightmare of a SAT question, come to think of it) but I still appreciate the concept, and I love the line about poetry and progress. I don't agree with it by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn't mean Baudelaire's phrasing isn't absolute gold.

OLPC cutting way back to birth the XO2.
Courtesy of my friend and coworker Andrew comes the news that Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) group is laying off half its staff, slashing salaries and ceasing its support of Sugar, the XO's open-source OS to focus on finishing development of its second-generation XO laptop, the (presumably-titled) XO2.

While I'm definitely troubled to see these steps being taken, I'm also secretly somewhat gladdened. This news is long time coming, and to deploy a very geeky metaphor, it feels sort of like the scene in The Dark Knight when the Batpod is launched out of the ruined Batmobile (although the idea of Negroponte as Bruce Wayne is a little disturbing). With luck, the slimmer, nimbler OLPC group will be able to get the XO2 to market, which I've long maintained is the closest thing to a perfect e-book reader that I've seen yet.

(Update: yes, the XO2, not the X-302. Although that would be awesome.)


This is a tiny little thing, but I was thinking this morning about how the GAMBIT website uses funny terminology for each of its sections. Back when Philip and I were first designing it, we wanted to name each section after a component of the gaming experience, so "News" became "Updates", "Careers" became "Join Game", "About Us" became "Campaign" and so on.

This came up because a graduate student writing an article on us pinged me to ask some very basic questions, which would have all been answered by a quick trip to our website. Initially I was irritated because it felt like said student simply hadn't done her homework, but then I wondered if perhaps our funny naming conventions weren't part of the problem. You couldn't simply type in "" and go to our people section, or "" and go to our games section.

Or could you?

Ten minutes later, the GAMBIT site now offers logical redirects at:

Trying to anticipate everything people might type in is a fool's errand, of course, but this is a nice start. Of course, a working search function would be nice too, but that's coming up fast on the to-do backlog.

...Pation. (Didn't want to leave you hanging, did I?)

A literary clubhouse.
A literary clubhouse

Here's one to add to my scrapbook of possible future housing ideas: the New York Times has posted a slideshow and article featuring the salon/home of Richard and Lisa Howorth, who own Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. They have gotten into the habit of inviting authors and other luminaries passing through town to stay with them in their five-bedroom home instead of at a hotel, so almost every week "a best-selling novelist or first-time author is likely to be sleeping in the downstairs guest room". Above, John Hodgman and Joey Lauren Adams hang out in the Howorths' living room. How wonderful would that be? (Photo by James Patterson for the New York Times.)


The root of 'resolution' is 'resolve'.

Well, it's a week into the new year and I've already blown most of my New Year's resolutions. While it's annoying, it's also not that surprising: the biggest issue I have right now is trying to rework my daily schedule into something that can accommodate all the different things that I want – or need – to shoehorn in here somewhere in order to get where I want to be on January 1st, 2010. Since I'm still actively working to make this happen, I'm considering this first week-and-some-change to be the 'planning stage' for the rest of the year, and as such it's still okay that I'm still getting my ducks in a row.

I am writing this from my office in Kendall Square, at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, from which I can watch the construction of MIT's new cancer research building across the street. It's taking the spot of a lovely green space (well, and a parking lot that you would overlook to see the green space) that used to stretch between our lab and Gehry's magnificently quirky Stata Center, which is one of my favorite buildings on campus. It's progress that is encouraging and noble, despite the cost of the disconnect between me and a past favorite thing of mine, and it serves as a reminder that the world is continuing to grow despite the current economic downturn.

Said construction site is providing the soundtrack while I hammer out these thoughts on my lunch hour, and this is reflective of the path I'm currently trying to sort out: it's fitting, although annoying, that my New Year's resolutions are so keenly playing to multiple senses of the word 'resolve'. First, they require a great deal of personal resolve in order to make the lifestyle changes required to make them happen. Two, if they come to pass, then they will go a long way towards resolving a number of issues that I've been wrestling with for years. Three, in order to make them happen at all I need to resolve these issues with my schedule. These are, I think, the issues that everyone has with New Year's resolutions, but it's important to remember that all of this is work, and resource management, and growth, and sacrifice. Just like the construction site across the street.

So, what am I up to? What are these resolutions?

  1. Read more.
    This is a perennial for me. My research last year suggested that I should be focusing on trying to earn a traditional Ph.D to offset the quirkiness of my CMS degree in a largely conservative academic job market, and this just-as-largely makes sense. I have a bachelor's in English literature from a very good school for that, and I have a master's in media studies and new technologies from arguably the best school for that, and I have my eye on a Ph.D program that has a very solid chocolate-and-peanut-butter combination of the two. This is good, since this is what I want to be doing (writing, teaching and consulting on the transmedia franchises that I view to be true 21st century literature – but more on that line of thought later). However, my actual literature background is currently fairly rusty, and I need to read a whole stack of the classics in order to get myself into a place where I feel comfortable applying for an English literature Ph.D (and theoretically feeling qualified to teach English 101). Much like my AFI top 122 films project, I've compiled a list of 200 great books that I want to read, of which I've already read 46. While I'm aware that it'll be impossible to read three classics a week for the rest of 2009, I'm hoping to chew through at least a good portion of the list before submitting applications to graduate schools next December, and then finish up the rest before starting classes in the fall of 2010.

  2. Finish the AFI top 122 films list.
    I'm currently at 92. I am confident that I can do this one, at least. Looking back, this was an amazing project and well worth the time – not only have I discovered a number of great new favorite films, I can now sort of hold my own in a number of film conversations with my film nerd buddies. (This is the same place I want to be with literature classics next year, hence #1 above.) I do have a stack of 32 additional movies from the Criterion collection that I want to watch after this is done, so that means that the final count will be 154 of the best movies out there, but I may wait to hit those until after I'm further through the literature list.

  3. Get back in shape.
    Damn dirty desk jobs. Since enrolling at MIT I've gained over fifty pounds. This will be undone, dammit. I'm already taking great steps to ensure that this happens, including obtaining a really great stationary bike this Christmas (thanks, honey!) and changing my diet to exclude the worst of the foofy coffee drinks, sugary sodas and snacks and replace them with healthier alternatives, but I have a long way to go. (Not to mention a copy of Wii Fit to dust off, which I might wait to do until after I'm sure than damned little thing will stop whining "That's obese!" whenever it gives me my weight. Grrr.) Plus, it ought to help with my whole 'public intellectual' career thing, since more than one place has also suggested that looks definitely play a part when you're trying to break into any industry. There's one piece in a paper here in Boston that explicitly demands to know why, if these bright young novelists are so smart, they're not bright enough to look better. C'est la vie. (Besides, if Jay Lake can shear off 65 pounds, and I'm something like a decade or two younger than he is, I should be able to do the same thing. And I need to do this before I start developing the serious stuff, like heart disease or diabetes. Yay adulthood.) That said, I have great reason to do this, thanks to the next one...

  4. Get married.
    I finally popped the question to Laura on Christmas, and we're set to get the hitching done on Halloween of 2009. (Yes, we're those nerds.) I am determined to look good in that suit, by God. I have a sneaking suspicion this one might rise up and obliterate all the others on the list, as per the snickering of a number of my married friends, but so far so good.

  5. Write more.
    I have a number of writing projects that are gestating but need to be really brought to term and delivered. Although it may be counterintuitive, I suspect that one way to make that happen is to do more regular writing on places like this blog, the GAMBIT blog, the C3 blog, the IAF blog, and other places where I'm considered a regular. I had a scheme all set where I'd blog in one place or another each day every week, but, well, it hasn't happened yet. Again, this first week has largely been planning, mmmkay?

  6. Get fiscally responsible.
    This is something I've been working on for a long, long time and I'll probably still be working on for the next ten years. It's a simple truth that academics – and academic staffs – don't make huge piles of money (with a couple of notable outliers, of course – there are some graybeards here at MIT that are making out like goddamn bandits, but they're rock stars) and that's why so many academic types like myself do so much consulting on the side. My consulting business has been taking off like a rocket ship this year, even though this website doesn't really reflect that yet. Which brings me to my next resolution...

  7. Make more representative of me in 2009.
    Every year for the past couple of years I've just changed the date up there in the corner. (Which I still need to do yet for '09... Fark.) This year I need to really overhaul some of the basics, so that this site does a better job of working for me as a calling card, portfolio space and public laboratory. I need to build up my traffic, I need to conduct some experiments, I need to make more art and upload stuff more reliably. I know I say this a lot, but watch this space.

So there you have it – my seven key resolutions for 2009. Thanks for joining me as I continue to hammer out a more successful state of existence. 2009 is going to be amazing, I can feel it – and, more importantly, I'm determined to make it amazing. Stay tuned.


Support the Interstitial Arts Foundation!

One last shout-out before logging off for the night: a very heartfelt plea to join me in supporting the Interstitial Arts Foundation, an excellent group dedicated to the fine art of boundary-blurring creativity. Here's the official letter from the IAF board:

Dear All,

Only a few nights remain before the turn of the year, providing the opportunity to thank you for your help and support, and to share with you all that the Interstitial Arts Foundation has done during 2008:
  • Interfictions, the critically acclaimed Interstitial Arts anthology, was released in 2007 and quickly named to this year's Tiptree Award honors list. We have the next volume, Interfictions II, underway for publication in 2009 - with hundreds of submissions from all over the world being read this month by editors Delia Sherman and Christopher Barzak.

  • A chapter of the Interstitial Arts Foundation has been started in Boston, with the help and able direction of Wendy Ellertson, one of the IAF's board members. They have begun meeting regularly, and are planning a visual arts-oriented salon.

  • Speaking of salons, we've hosted two exciting salon discussions this year through our website . Lively online conversations have enabled people to explore across disciplinary boundaries, and find new places and ways to connect and express themselves.

  • The IAF was also present at Readercon in New England and WisCon in the Midwest, holding get-togethers with people interested in interstitiality and the arts. Connections were also made with other arts organizations in New York City; Amsterdam; Paris; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Boston, Massachusetts.
Supporting all of this were a variety of activities, including the very successful online auction led by K. Tempest Bradford that led to IAF's own dedicated auctions site at; the launch of our own reading group at and on, and raising funds for and awareness of the IAF around the 'net. Supporting the IAF salons, website, and blog is a newly-formed web committee, made up of volunteers like you.

In February, the IAF Board of Directors met with local IAF supporters and friends in NYC at a tea hosted by Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner, and conducted some long-range planning using the input gathered from attendees.

Throughout all of these activities, we've been reaching out to friends and supporters and getting more people involved in interstitial arts. Our success has largely been made possible by the support we have received from people like you.

In the upcoming year, the Interstitial Arts Foundation has several new programs in the works, including:
  • A new IAF blog and web presence. This will add more views of interstitial art from new voices, and will help us highlight the range of IAF activities across North America and even around the world.

  • An online Art Show is being planned, to build greater awareness of interstitial art that is visual in character and support the work of visual interstitial artists.

  • More salons are also being planned on a variety of topics, including academia.

  • ...and, of course, the next volume of Interfictions.
To make this all work, we need you! We look forward to meeting everyone as we expand across the country and across other boundaries in the arts. We want to invite new ideas, new perspectives, new members, and new and renewed support for the IAF. Your emails, attendance at IAF-related events, volunteering, and financial support have been vital to our success. Please take a moment now and consider making a gift to the IAF, so we can make 2009 as much of a success as 2008 - and thank you for everything you have done already.

When you contribute $25 or more, you become a "Friend of Interstitial Arts." You can make an online donation immediately by going to our Click & Pledge page. If you're making a donation by check, please make it payable to Interstitial Arts Foundation, Inc., and send it to: P.O. Box 35862, Boston, MA 02135. Please include a note with it giving us the URL you'd like us to link to from your name on our "Friends of IAF" page, if you'd appreciate such a link.


Deborah Atherton (Secretary)
Wendy Ellertson
Ellen Kushner (Vice President)
Victor J Raymond (President)
Stephen H. Segal
Delia Sherman (Treasurer)
The IAF Board of Directors

Go, hie thee to their website and sign up. It's a great, terrific bunch of people and an even better cause! (More news from me on this front soon, I promise.)

Packing up.

Every time I leave Ohio it gets a little harder.

Back in Boston on Sunday or so, and regular blogging will resume then. Probably.

Happy New Year, everybody.