Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives

May 2009 Archives

Experiments in aggregation.

For a while now I've been kicking around the idea of how best to aggregate the writing I've been doing in various places. It seems sort of obnoxious (not to mention inefficient) to make a short "check out my new blog entry" cross-posting here every time I post something relevant to the other places I post (such as the Interstitial Arts Foundation, C3 and GAMBIT), so I've been trying to hammer out a different way to go about it. Movable Type 4.25 incorporates their newest product, Motion, which trends towards what I had in mind. I've just spent the better part of the day bolting the Action Streams components of MT4.25/Motion into the templates for this blog, and it's starting to show fruit - although there's still a lot of debugging to do.

The post directly below this one at is evidence of this - it's a syndicated link from my account, as indicated by the foursquare logo by the title. I've bolted in my Goodreads account as well, although it looks like I'll need to post another review over there before it'll show up here. The real goal is still to get something like reblog working to import my posts from the other blogs, but I suspect its current dysfunctionality is due to a faulty cronjob. Or something.

As I said, experiments are afoot - apologies if things look fairly sketchy around here for a while.


On Vooks and Transmedia Resistance.

On April 4, 2009, the New York Times ran a piece by Brad Stone called "Is This the Future of the Digital Book?". In it, Stone writes:

Bradley Inman wants to create great fiction, dramatic online video and compelling Twitter stream -- and then roll them all into a multimedia hybrid that is tailored to the rapidly growing number of digital reading devices.

Mr. Inman, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, calls this digital amalgam a "Vook," ( and the fledgling company he has created with that name just might represent a possible future for the beleaguered book industry.

Inman's been working in the digitally-augmented publishing space for a while now: he's the founder of TurnHere, which creates promotional videos for authors and publishers. In 2008, Inman wrote a thriller called "The Right Way to Do Wrong" and used his company to film 24 short videos to "augment the book's main mystery". While I haven't seen the videos or read the book, based on Stone's piece this sounds like an interesting piece of transmedia storytelling - and as a transmedia storyteller, Inman's in a good place to create a new way for multiple components of such transmedia franchises to be delivered together.

The catch is whether or not the key to transmedia storytelling is in keeping the components distinct.

Based only on Stone's piece, the picture being painted of a Vook is similar to an old multimedia CD-ROM experience. Imagine a book filled with the usual pages of text, but then instead of the occasional half-page or full-page illustration you have a QuickTime window that plays a short video clip, embedded right in the flow of the text. We've been down this particular path before a decade ago, and the results there weren't so magnificient. Such radically compressed switches between media forms felt jarring and largely annoying.

I've described this phenomenon before as 'transmedia resistance', although previously I've focused on this as the reluctance of someone to follow a narrative out of one media form and into another due to a prejudice against the new form. The example I like to use is of a fan of Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer who refuses to pick up the 'eighth season' of the story since it's being told as comics. Some possible reasons for such resistance may include:

  • comics are expensive
  • the fear of dealing with 'comic book guy'
  • comics are "for kids"
  • the stigma against comics as a culture is too great
  • they may not know the mechanics of comics
  • comics aren't television

When the transmedia experience is collapsed into one single delivery mechanism, such a CD-ROM or perhaps one of Inman's vooks, some of these issues are addressed and others remain inherently problematic. The first two simply vanish - the expense is absorbed into the cost of the entire experience, and there is no need to deal with 'comic book guy'. These are both progress.

The second two not only remain, but they may in fact be powerful enough to devalue the experience as a whole. If part of a story for adults is told as comics, then some heavily prejudiced audience members may no longer consider the story to be for adults, or the story may be designed for a 'geek culture' that the audience member wants no part of. These external forces are going to plague transmedia stories until they don't - which is a simplistic thing to say, yet is also accurate. Audiences were prejudiced against superhero movies until a string of really great superhero movies convinced the mass audience that superhero movies could be good; unfortunately comics as a medium is still struggling to prove that it is as accessible to mass audiences as its characters. Listing the reasons for that would make up an entire other essay, but it's possible that such a tide shift may have to be generational. Video games have overcome much of this stigma already due to so many twenty- and thirtysomethings having grown up with video games in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. When kids who grew up with Pokémon and other manga reach full adulthood, the stigma against comics and its associated 'geek culture' may dissipate in a similar fashion - but that remains to be seen.

The last two are particularly troubling, and for pretty much the same reason. An unfamiliarity with the mechanics of comics results in an experience not that dissimilar from trying to follow a conversation that lapses into multiple languages. Even if you're familiar with the multiple tongues, unless you're completely fluent in all of them there's still a mental 'grinding of gears' as your mind shifts from one language to the next. The same thing happens in transmedia stories - and when it happens in the course of an encapsulated experience such as these old CD-ROMs or, possibly, Inman's vooks, an audience member is jarred out of the state of narrative flow. It's a disruption that frequently reminds the audience that what they're experiencing isn't real, but is in effect a mediated experience. People don't like this kind of disruption when they're trying to lose themselves in a fictional world; this is one reason why we don't have concession vendors walking up and down the aisles of movie theaters the way we do at baseball games.

Such disruption is lessened when it comes between distinct chapters, such as at the transition point between the seventh and eighth seasons of Buffy, because the audience member's mind is already out of the narrative world and is simply preparing to re-enter it, but it's still there. When an audience member is used to engaging with the narrative world in one media form, switching to another (as from television to comics) frequently makes the brain whine. "I'm used to experiencing this in this one form," the mind whines. "Why do I have to do work to experience it in another?" This is an important part to note - like all translation, until complete fluency is achieved, such a switch is, in fact, work. People will do it when the perceived payoff is sufficient - and, in fact, they may eagerly anticipate such switches, such as when a television series like Firefly makes the jump to the big screen in a film like Serenity. Such anticipation usually occurs when the audience member is both fluent in the new media form and in the new media form's unique advantages. A fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer who loves the visuals may be thrilled by a move to comics or film, but a fan who's more interested in the internal workings of the characters and their relationships might be more interested if the series were to continue as novels.

Long story short, the key to such transmedia storytelling might be in maintaining a careful balance between consistently delivering good, quality content in distinct forms (always a good idea) and guiding the audience from one media form to the next without forcing it down their throats. Skillful transmedia storytelling, like any sufficiently advanced technology, might be indistinguishable from magic - until all the reasons I listed above are swept away by either fluency or some kind of a cultural shift, there is likely to be a subtle sleight of hand required to overcome such transmedia resistance. Delivering each component in a way that feels incomplete and then making the transmedia switch mandatory - such as reading one chapter of a vook as text and then having the next appear as a video clip - might run headlong into a concrete wall of transmedia resistance, with all the unpleasant results therein.

MIT Enterprise Forum Salutes Henry Jenkins on June 16th
If you're in the Boston area and are a friend of GAMBIT, Comparative Media Studies or GAMBIT Co-PI and CMS Co-Director Henry Jenkins, you're invited to come help send Henry off to USC in style. From 6-8 PM on June 16th at the new Microsoft Cambridge offices, the MIT Enterprise Forum New England Games and Interactive Entertainment SIG is hosting "A Salute to Henry Jenkins: The End of an Era at MIT". The complete details are as follows:
A Salute to Henry Jenkins: The End of an Era at MIT
Games & Interactive Entertainment SIG Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 Time: 6:00 - 8:00 pm Location: Microsoft, One Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139 One Memorial Drive is located on the Red Line at the Kendall Square/ MIT MBTA Stop. Driving directions and additional details can be found here: DIRECTIONS Join the MIT Enterprise Forum New England Games and Interactive Entertainment SIG (NE Games SIG) for an evening celebrating and honoring Henry Jenkins. For more than 16 years, Henry Jenkins has graced the halls of MIT and shaped the New England games industry as we know it. An avid advocate of games culture, Henry has helped to build a deeply collaborative and creative community as Co-Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities at MIT. At the forefront of understanding the effects of participatory media, like video games, on society, politics and culture, Henry is a renowned industry figure and accomplished author/editor of twelve books. It has now come time for Henry to seek warmer pastures as he departs MIT for the University of Southern California. Join the NE Games SIG for this early summer networking event in Henry's honor. Take part in saluting Henry Jenkins with his friends, closest colleagues and your industry peers. The night will be filled with fond farewells and warm memories as we share a collective toast, reflect on his work at MIT and wish him all the best in the road ahead. [Register] [Directions]
We hope to see you there!
Links list: 05-27-09.


Links list: 05-20-09.
On storybots.

Yesterday I had an amazing meeting with several of my friends and coworkers to discuss a new possible project coming down the pike, and although I can't tell you what that project is yet, it wound up triggering some intense late-night thinking.

How do robots tell stories?

We've all seen robots as characters - C-3PO and R2-D2 in Star Wars, Data in Star Trek, the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, Pixar's WALL-E, Number 5 in Short Circuit, and the kid in Small Wonder are just a sampling from Western stories, and the list explodes if you incorporate Eastern stories like Voltron, Robotech, Transformers, Mega Man/Rockman, Astro Boy and so on. But what about robots as storytellers? That list is significantly smaller - we children of the 80s remember Teddy Ruxpin, of course, and Disney's animatronic Hall of Presidents; newer models include the Robo-Mursaki from Japan's Robo-Garage, which gives a performance of The Tale of Genji, and now Violet's Nabaztag robot bunny is getting into the act with Book:z, RFID-enabled texts that apparently make the robot bunnies read the stories aloud. (I haven't tried this yet and the details remain sort of scant on the Violet site, so I may be getting this one wrong.) So far, the answer to "how do robots tell stories" appears, technically, to be "by playing MP3 or other audio files metatagged with particular triggers to activate limited motions and facial reactions at certain points of the story".

But what if?

Nabaztag nano
The new Nabaztag 'ztag' RFID chips enable the Nabaztag 'mother robot' to perform certain actions if a ztag is sensed nearby, such as those embedded in the new Nabaztag:nano mini-bunnies. I've written on toys and transmedia storytelling before (which led to the presentation I gave on a similar topic at the Toy Researchers Association in Greece last summer), which suggested a mechanic for the presence of RFID-enabled action figures to unlock certain episodes inside of a database which could then be streamed via a wi-fi enabled playset hooked up to a screen of some sort - but what if the robot itself was the performer of the narrative? What if the playset was a Ruxpin-like character telling a story triggered by the presence of the RFID-enabled figures - or a new story downloaded each week via podcast or RSS - which had the story chapters tagged with if/then branches dependent upon which action figures were in the presence of the playset? A certain degree of marketing could be embedded in this, of course ("To hear how Stratos wrested the Emerald of Jun-ka away from Trap Jaw, order Stratos and Trap Jaw online at"...) but not enough to be crushingly over-commercialized; educational components could be added to the system organically through the addition of optional educational characters, such as engineers, musicians, scientists and historians. Parents that wanted their children to get a dose of education threaded through their narratives could add those figures to the collection and thus activate the educational mode of the story. Similarly, parents that wanted to deliver strong female role models could load the collections with strong female characters. And not all figures could have their chapters delivered in the same media - one character may deliver its tale in comics each week, and another might deliver its story in a downloadable game. In its ideal state, a full collection of figures could result in a rich transmedia, educational experience, delivered in such a fashion that could deliver an element of performance through the animatronics of the storytelling robot.

The components need not even be action figures - they could be diegetic artifacts placed in the hands of the storyteller bot, like an antique placed in the hands of a kindly grandfather. The robot's eyes go up to the ceiling, one of its hands (the one not holding the artifact) lifts to its chin, the robot says "Let me see... My, this takes me back..." while the file is being wirelessly downloaded from a remote server, and then the storybot begins to unreel its tale. Taking a page from location-based entertainment, if the bot were wirelessly connected to other accessories in the room, it might transform the entire local space into a performance chamber by triggering those devices to come to life when appropriate, filling televisions and digital picture frames with images from the storyworld, or playing music and sound effects through wi-fi enabled radios or surround sound systems. Such performative actions might even be built into the story itself; imagine if the storybot were made to look like Gandalf or Dumbledore, using its magic to trigger these events in the child's own living room. We already see similar technology at use in universal remotes; a storybot could be programmed to work with the devices in a living room (or playroom) in the same fashion as a Logitech Harmony, or an entire platform of devices could be created inside of the storybot's parent brand. I myself have wired up my own living room with remote-controlled lighting using a simple Christmas tree infrared key fob I bought for around twenty bucks at Target; including dimmer switches in the system, or support for existing brands of home automation equipment, would not be overly complex.

On a more personal note, it's also possible that this idea could be mashed up with the Digital Storytelling Movement, using such performative recording devices to tell our own stories, such that a robot in question could be "haunted" by my ghost telling personal stories of my time at MIT to my great-grandchildren, or telling such tales remotely to friends around the world. The digital picture frames in the home could keep up the pictures from my time at MIT to keep the pictures from that particular story up for a week in order to remind the child of the week's lesson as they go about their daily lives. Recording such rich experiences may not be that complicated either - simple motion capture through Wiimotes could be used to 'tag' personally-recorded MP3s to encode the digital performances to be delivered through such storybots, and tagging the MP3s with photos to deliver to the screens could theoretically be not much more complicated than creating a slideshow or Flickr album.

So here's the question - this is possible, yes, but is it sound? That is, does storytelling through robots enable any kind of a advantage over storytelling through a television screen? Would an episode of the newly-renewed (!) Dollhouse be improved by Joss Whedon's voice narrating the whole thing, and being customized based on whether or not you had the figures of Boyd, Topher and Alpha? Or is this its own thing? Are we simply seeing the emergence of a new kind of storytelling, or - better yet - are we seeing the re-emergence of personalized, one-on-one, performative storytelling?

Where do we go from here?


Interstitial Arts Auction - Call for Artists!

This is going to be a very interstitial summer, so it appears - the call has gone out for any interstitial artists interested in making wearable art and donating it to the auction to support the Interstitial Arts Foundation's upcoming anthology Interfictions 2. This could be a very, very cool thing, both for would-be makers and would-be buyers, so heads up!

Here's the full call, courtesy of IAF wünderkind Erin Underwood:

The Interstitial Arts Foundation is pleased to announce the 2009 Interfictions Auction to benefit the IAF and the Interfictions anthology series of new interstitial fiction.

Artists, crafters, jewelers, musicians, designers, anyone who loves to create art - come be inspired by the stories of Interfictions, and bring us your creativity, your boundary-breaking creations, and your really cool stuff!

We invite you to create unique portable and wearable art, based on short stories from the exciting new anthology, Interfictions 2 , or from the first volume. It's a unique opportunity for artists to get a sneak peek at the forthcoming anthology and to put their talent to good use for this year's fundraiser, which will go live concurrent with the publication of Interfictions 2 in November, 2009.

The IAF's 2008 Interfictions jewelry auction was a terrific success, and we're looking to raise even more funds this year by expanding the artwork you can donate. The only limitation is that donated pieces must be easily worn or carried: it could be jewelry, bags, scarves, small paintings, clothing, calligraphy . . . even songs! The key is to think small and/or portable. All we ask is that each be directly inspired by an Interfictions story. Check out the Interfictions 2 Auctions FAQ for more ideas and information.

This is a chance for a unique collaboration between writers and artists, a platform for a dialogue between creators in different mediums, meeting at the conjunction of words and art - and bringing together a community of people who refuse to be categorized. Please help us to fund another year of art and words in the interstices of vision, ranging outside the narrow limits of genre limitation to create something new for all.

Through our network of internet outreach around the auction, your donated work will reach a huge network of people who care, as you do, about breaking boundaries to support Artists Without Borders. In exchange for your donated art work, we offer you the glory and fame that come with having your name and link posted alongside your artwork on our auction page, as well as the sincere appreciation of the IAF, and the knowledge that you are helping to make it all possible.
To learn more about the auction, how you can help to contribute your art, and to find a story from Interfictions 2 to inspire you, please go to the Interfictions Auction Call to Artists web page.

Summary of Links:

I myself am kicking around some ideas, if only I could find a spare weekend or two...

Links list: 05-14-09.

I'm looking into a way to automate this using Delicious, but for the moment my copy of Safari is slowing down to a crawl and I need to close some tabs, so...


Learning vs. learned.

I woke up this morning with an odd thought in my head: is it better to be learning or learned?

Traditionally, scholars and experts are considered to be learned individuals, people who are, in short, paid to know. Yet once you reach a certain level, it becomes rapidly clear that to remain a professional, you must be continually learning - and the most learned individuals are frequently the quickest to say when they don't know something. Those people who attempt to sell themselves as being the be-all and end-all on a subject are frequently lying.

I myself am attempting to become an expert on the art of storytelling both in and across multiple media. I know that there's a ton I don't know, that I still have yet to learn. Yet what is the level of proficiency at which one can be deemed an expert? What is the level at which one is certified to teach? I'm happy to share with others what I've learned so far, and if the reports on my work are any indication, I'm pretty good at the art of sharing. Given all of this, I think I come down on the side of learning being the most important thing.

Sharing what I know frequently takes the form of teaching and consulting and writing - yet all too frequently I get hung up on the issue of sharing what I've learned so far because of another camp of people who thump their chests and proclaim that they know everything there is to know about a subject and anyone who doesn't know as much as they do is radically unqualified and should shut up - and they will shout down anyone who attempts to say otherwise. This is a very proprietary, exclusionary way of thinking, and I'm not sure it helps anyone. Yet I'm also afraid that this may be the dominant way of thinking - and the dominant business model - in the three areas in which I'm trying to make my living, namely writing, teaching and consulting.

On the other hand, I think that the best academics, storytellers and consultants out there right now may be the ones that have taken the learning model to heart. I haven't been writing or blogging as much as I used to because somehow my brain went veering off into this defensive land of "I have to know everything before I can say anything", which now I think has prevented a lot of useful dialogue. It's easy to recognize the wisdom in admitting you don't know everything, but it's a lot harder to actually come out and confess the breadth of your ignorance - and share your attempts to fill in those gaps - especially for me, right now, at this time in my life. I'm trying to reach the level where I can be recognized as an employable expert in my field - yet to get there, and to be a really good employable expert in my field, I need to admit how much I don't know, and share the areas I'm currently exploring.

Moving forward, I'll try and do more of that here on my blog. I'm growing increasingly aware that a blog may be a sort of antiquated technology in the day and age of Twitter, so I'll try and integrate that in some way as well - along with other social tools like Facebook and Delicious, and in increased engagement in conversation on others' websites. I want to try and speak to people, to steal a page from Henry's blog, and to essentially learn in public. My hope is that this shift in model both enables others to learn along with me and increases the value of what I can teach others later on.

Is "professionally learning" the same as "professionally learned"? I'm not sure. Is it as valuable - or employable - to openly admit that you don't know everything, and that you're constantly learning? Perhaps, perhaps not - but as long as you can educate others as you go and do a good job of sharing what you're learning, I suspect that this may be the best, most honest form of academic labor.


If I were in Ohio...

I'd totally be attending P. Craig Russell's appearance tonight at OSU's Wexner Center. Here's the description of the event from the site:

Wayne Alan Harold and P. Craig Russell introduce Night Music: The Art of P. Craig Russell

Night Music provides an illuminating behind-the-scenes look at one of the most acclaimed and interesting comic book artists working today, P. Craig Russell. Director Wayne Alan Harold and artist Russell both offer comments about their experiences in making the film.

Before the screening, come by the Wexner Center Store where Russell will be signing copies of his work, including his graphic novel adaptation of Coraline, at 6 PM.

Born in Wellsville, Ohio, and now living in Kent, Russell quickly established himself as one of the most distinctive artists in the fantasy genre with early work on Doctor Strange for Marvel Comics in the mid 1970s. He has since created mesmerizing interpretations of characters ranging from Conan to Neil Gaiman's Sandman, along with a string of astonishing adaptations of operas (The Magic Flute and Salome among them) and of Gaiman's children's classic Coraline. (80 mins., video)

While I'm not wholly certain I'd call Coraline a classic just yet, this is definitely something I'm sorry to be missing. Hey you Ohio friends, go in my stead, would you? Here's a clip from the movie to whet your appetite:


Calling all NYC Interstitial Artists!

As a member of the Executive Board of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, it is both my duty and my pleasure to announce the first NYC Interstitial Salon, to be held on Thursday, June 11, 2009 at the UnWined Wine Bar and Lounge at Symphony Space between Broadway and West End. Here's the full announcement, courtesy of the lovely event planner K. Tempest Bradford:

The Interstitial Salon - Live!

You are cordially invited to join us at the first NYC Interstitial Salon - an evening devoted to the pleasures of conversation among boundary-crossing artists, writers, musicians, and creators.

The Conceit: The origins of literary and artistic salons go back to 17th century France, when inspiring hosts and hostesses gathered "stimulating people of quality" together to refine their taste and increase their knowledge through conversation. Today there may be fewer wealthy patrons willing to host an event in their townhouses, but there is always a need for artists to meet other artists, to explore other circles of creative influence, to cross borders.

The Hosts: The Interstitial Arts Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the study, support, and promotion of interstitial art: literature, music, visual and performance art found in between categories and genres -- art that crosses borders.

The Special Guest: Delia Sherman, co-editor of the IAF's anthology series Interfictions, will present short readings from local Interfictions authors.

The Time: Thursday, June 11 2009, 7 - 10 PM. You may arrive at any time and go whenever need steals you from our embrace.

The Place: UnWined Wine Bar & Lounge at Symphony Space - entrance on 95th street just west of Broadway (near the Leonard Nimoy Thalia. 1,2,3 trains to 96th St.), between B'way & West End. We have the space along the window reserved.

The Final Instructions: Bring plenty of engraved calling cards (business cards are acceptable, too!). Bring samples of your art, if it's portable. UnWined has free wi-fi, so bring your laptop and show off your portfolio or your tunes. Bring friends, and bring a willingness to mingle with strangers -- who might turn out to be colleagues, friends, or even artistic soul-mates!

Also, please R.S.V.P. here:

As it's on a Thursday night, it's doubtful that I myself will make it in from Boston (drat!) but if you're in the NYC area, I highly, highly suggest that you go and check it out! The IAF are great people doing fascinating things – it should be an absolutely amazing evening.

Days of Poetry and Punk Rock.

I have not been blogging lately. My previous post moaned about not having blogged for a month, and now this post arrives a week later. I've been reading a lot of stuff that I want to get out of my inbox (and my browser windows) and share some thoughts about, and I basically need to make more pots. More on that oddball phrase in a minute, but first up on my to-share list, courtesy of MediaBistro's GalleyCat, is the following interview with poet Eileen Myles, reflecting on the heyday of poetry and punk rock in New York in the 1970s...

That's something I miss - the sense of poetry as dangerous, vibrant, alive, cutting-edge and some basically serious shit. As Myles notes, it made a comeback for a while in the 90s, but I think we've lost it again. I think there's some technical things we could do to seriously shake that up a bit, but that's going to take some more thought.


April: The Month That Got Away. (Kinda.)

Rabbit rabbit!

OK, now that that's out of the way... Great Caesar's ghost, what a month. Alas, the 2009 30|30 project didn't work out, as I'd feared - still, eighteen poems is better than I fared last year, when I petered out at thirteen (yet still not as good as the first year I did it, when I scored the full 30). Besides, I probably could have pulled it off if it hadn't been an utterly insane month otherwise.

Ah, April 2009. Seriously. Where did you go?

On the first weekend of April, my friend Ken came to town, and on Friday night Ken, Laura and I hung out with our mutual friend Ryan, then jumped in the car on Saturday morning to see Aaron and Josh and Amy and Laura Marx and Rob and Laura+Rob's new baby, Scott. Much fun was had by all until late, when we returned to Boston for more Rock Band and general tomfoolery, and I returned Ken to the airport on Sunday.

On the second weekend of April, my parents came to town, both to visit me and Laura and to join us in attending the big Joss Whedon event at Harvard on Friday night. That accomplished, we got up early on Sunday, jumped in the car and headed for Portland, Maine – which was, as always, awesome. We poked around there for a while, then headed north to Freeport to see the home of J. Crew, then traveled further north to crash for the night in a motel outside of Bangor. On Easter morning we got up, traveled into Bangor so I could check "see Stephen King's house" off my lifelong to-do list, and then headed down Route 1A, curving down the coast until we reached Camden. In Camden the four of us stopped for lunch and the best clam chowder, fried shrimp and blueberry dessert I've ever had at this little place called Cappy's. Seriously. If you're ever in Maine, you must go to Cappy's.

Heading into the third weekend of April... On Thursday, April 16th, the Comparative Media Studies brought Chris Claremont to town. Those of you who don't know Chris Claremont's work should know that he is the creator of a huge chunk of the X-Men mythology, including - to quote Wikipedia - "Rogue, Psylocke, Shadowcat, Phoenix, Mystique, Emma Frost, Siryn, Jubilee, Rachel Summers, and Madelyne Pryor", as well as "Sabretooth, Avalanche, Strong Guy, Multiple Man, Captain Britain, Mister Sinister, and Gambit". Those of you who do know Claremont's name will understand how tickled I was to be able to serve as a tour guide of sorts for he and his wife (the lovely Beth Flesicher), running them down to Million Year Picnic for an impromptu signing and then bringing them back for the Colloquium lecture that evening - a long interview with Claremont about his career, which I co-moderated with Henry Jenkins and Lan Le. (There's a podcast of the event available if you're interested.) We hung out at Henry's until late that evening, listening to stories and talking about the industry, and then the next day I hung out with Chris and Beth for a while at the GAMBIT lab. While we didn't name the GAMBIT lab explicitly after Claremont's ragin' cajun, having him hanging around the lab was still extremely cool.

But wait, there's more! After Claremont left, Laura's friend Emily came into town from New York City, and we had a blast hanging out with her - and then, on Saturday morning, we tossed Emily in the car and headed north to Maine again! Laura and I had had so much up there with my folks the weekend before that we decided we simply had to share it with Em - so back we went to Portland for lobster rolls and blueberry sodas, and then up north again to Freeport and a trip to the L.L. Bean mothership. We'd planned to hit Camden as well, but time ran out on us, so we settled for blueberry pie at an inn in Camden and then rocketed back down the coast to grab dinner at Legal Sea Foods at Burlington (not as nice as Cappy's, but still a good sight different from Em's usual fare).

Right. That brings us to the week of April 20-26, which was pretty much spent preparing for the Media in Transition 6 conference. This was a Very Big Deal, since not only was I presenting a new paper ("Play Chapter: Video Games and Transmedia Storytelling", which can be downloaded at for the interested), but I was also moderating a plenary panel on the Future of Publishing which I'd assembled for the event. Although my friend Kevin Smokler (Bookmark Now, had to bow out at the last minute, the lineup of the panel was still a real dream team of speakers: Bob Miller from HarperStudio, Jennifer Jackson from the Donald Maass Literary Agency, Gavin Grant from Small Beer Press and Bob Stein from the Institute for the Future of the Book. I couldn't have asked for a greater group of speakers, nor could I have dreamed that the resulting conversation would go as smoothly and as perfectly as it did. Again, there's a podcast of the event up, although I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that a video version will eventually surface somewhere. In addition to the wonderful panel, I also had the chance to reunite with some old friends - including Jonathan Gray, Jason Mittell, Ivan Askwith and Ksenia Prasolova, although I'm still bummed that I somehow missed Bob Rehak in all the chaos - and met some great new ones, including Geoff Way and Burcu Bakioglu, both of whom are doing some intriguing new research into transmedia storytelling. The conference was amazing, and I'm still coming down.

All of this brings us to this weekend, which is technically the first weekend in May - and later today I'll be loading up a massive timeline of Boston-area video game companies and their creations onto a projector as part of GAMBIT's contribution to the Boston CyberArts festival. A big hat tip to Josh Diaz, Philip Tan and Kent Quirk for being my co-conspirators on this project, as well as to Mike Rapa for hopefully helping out with the technical side of things. I'll let you know how it goes!

So, yes - add to this my continued involvement with the Interstitial Arts Foundation, some possibly very exciting new developments with several writing projects, and preparing for even more crazy stuff coming up in the next few weeks, and "busy" doesn't even begin to describe it. So, again, eighteen poems in the midst of all of that isn't too shabby. I may try and bang out the remaining twelve poems over the next little while to round out the project, but I already have other projects crowding the plate for this upcoming weekend - including some other writing projects and preparations for such upcoming events as the retreat for the Convergence Culture Consortium the weekend of May 7-8, and somewhere this weekend I'm determined to catch Wolverine. Because, hey, I'm a huge nerd and that's how I roll.

May you live in interesting times, indeed. I'm hoping to do a better job of keeping up with this journal in the next month, but, as always, we'll see what happens. Do keep in mind that even if things are pretty quiet around here, I'm likely to be blogging over at the IAF or at GAMBIT, and I'm fairly active on my Twitter account. Stay tuned!