Geoffrey Long
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Free Public Lecture Tonight: Jeff Vandermeer on Transmedia
Jeff VanderMeer

In the Boston area tonight for Futures of Entertainment, or a C3-minded local who can't make it to the conference? This evening from 5-7, the novelist, anthologist and cross-media storyteller Jeff VanderMeer is giving a free, open-to-the-public talk as part of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Colloquium lecture series and the unofficial kickoff to Futures of Entertainment! The talk will last about 45 minutes, after which the anthologist, essayist, NPR commentator and CEO Kevin Smokler will lead the Q&A session.

Here’s the rundown:

Booklife: The Private and the Public in Transmedia Storytelling and Self-Promotion
Jeff VanderMeer with Kevin Smokler

Fictional experiments in emerging media like Twitter and Facebook are influencing traditional printed novels and stories in interesting ways, but another intriguing new narrative is also emerging: the rise of “artifacts” that, although they support a writer’s career, have their own intrinsic creative value. What are the benefits and dangers of a confusion between the private creativity and the public career elements of a writer’s life caused by new media and a proliferation of “open channels”? What protective measures must a writer take to preserve his or her “self” in this environment? In addition to the guerilla tactics implicit in storytelling through social media and other unconventional platforms, in what ways is a writer’s life now itself a story irrespective of intentional fictive storytelling? Examining these issues leads naturally to a discussion on the tension and cross-pollination between the private and public lives of writers in our transmedia age, including the strategies and tactics that best serve those who want to survive and flourish in this new environment. What are we losing in the emerging new paradigm, and what do we stand to gain?

A writer for the New York Times Book Review, Huffington Post, and Washington Post, Jeff VanderMeer is also the award-winning author of the metafictional City of Saints & Madmen, the noir fantasy Finch, and Booklife: Strategies & Survival Tips for 21st-Century Writers. His website can be found at

Kevin Smokler is the editor of Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times (Basic Books) which was a San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2005. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Fast Company and on National Public Radio. He lives in San Francisco, blogs for the Huffington Post and at, and is the CEO of

Presented in conjunction with Futures of Entertainment 4.

The event is, again, free and open to the public – registration for Futures of Entertainment is not required. It begins at 5 PM, runs until 7, and is going down at room 4-231 (building 4, room 231) on the MIT campus. Parking on-campus is a little wonky, but there are multiple parking garages around; a better bet is likely to take public transportation. The Red Line in Boston comes straight to Kendall Square, which is right on the edge of the MIT campus. The lecture location is only a few minutes’ walk from there.


Jeff is currently on tour supporting his new book Booklife, which he describes as “a unique writing guide to sustainable careers and sustainable creativity, the first to fully integrate discussion of the role of new media into topics that have always been of interest to writers”. I just finished reading my copy this afternoon and I can personally testify that it’s full of a wide range of great stuff. Jeff splits the book into two distinct sections, one on the author’s Public Booklife (marketing, PR, social interactions and other public engagements) and Private Booklife (the actions, philosophies, emotions and other internal struggles of the actual act of writing) and both halves - plus the appendices - are packed with thoughtful insights and useful advice. For example, how do writers deal with envy - and what does Francis Bacon have to say about that? To steal a line from an old tomato sauce commercial, “It’s in there!”

5 o’clock PM tonight, Thursday, November 19th, in room 4-231 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - I’ll see you there!


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!


[C3] Whedon's New Business Model 'Horribly' Awesome

I have a new post up today at the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium: Whedon's New Business Model 'Horribly' Awesome. In it I examine a couple of the highlights from the thoroughly exciting interview Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse) gave to Wharton at U Penn last week. Check out both the article and my commentary - from the perspective of a transmedia scholar and someone interested in doing direct-to-Internet video storytelling, this piece is an absolute must-read.


[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!