Geoffrey Long
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2010: The Year We Make Up

This is one of my favorite times, the liminal space between one year and the next. For most people, this time for intense thinking and planmaking runs from Christmas through New Year's, but at MIT this period is extended through the beginning of February. (Yet another reason I love it so much here at MIT.) According to MIT tradition, January is what's known as the Independent Activities Period, or IAP – originally founded (according to legend) in the 1960s as a way for students to take off and protest the Vietnam War all at once, instead of disappearing for random weeks out of the year. IAP has since evolved into a sort of micro-semester crammed in between the autumn semester and the spring semester, a month set aside for students (and faculty and staff) to enroll in courses they might not otherwise have a chance to take, to go off and tackle an externship somewhere, or to simply recuperate from MIT's normal grueling demands. (Another local legend likens an MIT education to drinking from a fire hose, which is truer than might be comfortable. This is, not coincidentally, why my friend Eitan named his new startup Firehose Games.)

I love this time not just for its interstitial nature, but because of the time it affords for reflection and planning. Years ago I launched a personal initiative called the Personal Improvement Project, or PIP (no relation to Fallout 3's pip-boy 3000, although I'm half-expecting a real one of those to show up at CES this week). This is the time of year when I mourn all the stuff I didn't get done in the previous year, and plan furiously for ways to achieve more of those goals in the year ahead. 2009 was a wonderful year, a crazy year, productive in ways I hadn't planned for, but, alas, rather unproductive in the ways that I had. Read the classics? Not so much. Get out of debt? Yeah, no. Get back in shape? Hells naw. To a certain extent, that's the nature of the universe – life is what happens when you're busy making other plans, man plans and God laughs, yadda yadda yadda.

This year, though? This year things are going to be different.

What Happened?

First, why did things go so wobbly in 2009?

For starters, in 2009 I got married. In 2010, I'm not getting married. This should help. Don't get me wrong – I loved getting married, but I love being married much more. For starters, being married is much cheaper than getting married. Further (and, perhaps, better), it's much less stressful. These are two hallmarks of a good marriage – if being married is cheaper and less stressful than getting married, you're doing something right. (Note that this most likely ceases to apply once kids become involved.)

Second, in 2010 I was racing like mad to prepare for applying for Ph.D. programs at the end of the year. Again, not so much. I finally wound up postponing applying to Ph.D programs for another year, which was an intensely difficult decision to make (at this rate, I won't be Dr. Long until I'm in my 40s), but it was the right thing to do. Being a grad student is a wonderful state of existence, but it's not a very lucrative one, and stepping right into that after just investing a bunch of money in my wedding was going to be a nightmare. So, the whole doctorate project is going to have to be pushed back until the fall of 2011 or even 2012.

Third, I took on a lot in 2009. Not just the wedding (although that was big enough), but also a whole mess of travel (Singapore, Germany, Los Angeles, Brazil, Pittsburgh, Austria, Florida, San Francisco...!), joined the Executive Board of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, took on a whole mess of projects at work (including writing my first video game) and am now in the middle of launching Playful Thinking, a new series of short game studies books published by the MIT Press which I'm co-editing with William Uricchio and Jesper Juul. Woof.

So, yes – all of this meant that life in 2009 was hectic as hell, and didn't leave a lot of time for reading, exercise, and not spending money on plane tickets. Fortunate or unfortunate, depending on how you look at it – but not at all a bad thing!

It's a new year now, though, and I'm reconsidering a number of the decisions I made in 2009. (Not the marriage. I'm keeping that one.) Primarily, this year I'm planning to buckle down and do a lot less traveling for conferences. I may do some more traveling for my consulting work (which is directly tied to the whole paying-off-debt thing) but for the most part I think this is the year I really need to write. On a larger scale, though, if you'll permit me to swipe and modify a line from Hollywood, it's starting to feel like 2010: The Year We Make Contact Up.

Need A Little Time To Make Up

The primary meanings of the phrase "make up" deal with either imagination or reparation, which is why this is such a timely phrase right now – and in some kind of weird micro-macro fractal reflection, this applies not just to me, but for all of us, particularly us Americans. For me it's going to be a year of writing (imagination) and paying down debts (reparation), but the whole world is going to have to use 2010 as a year of great imagination and reparation while we reimagine what the next wave of existence is going to be like, and as we pay off the disastrous debts we've incurred during the previous wave.

Right now, it feels like pretty much the whole damn planet is wondering the same things. What is the post-recessionary global economy going to be like? Is it reliant upon new energy sources and green-collar jobs? Is it a post-oil existence? Will America decline while other countries ascend? Will our new planetary society be more of a global village, will it be more hyperlocalized – or is it, in some weird anti-Venn diagram, simultaneously increasingly both? (Based on what I've been seeing during my travels, that gets my vote.)

Those of us in the media industries are worrying about slightly different things. How will the combination of recessionary economics and new technology change the media universe? (I've been thinking a lot lately about Borders' nosedive and the well-intentioned, if ill-executed, Barnes and Noble nook.) Further, in the 21st century, does 'digital' still have any great meaning? What happens when we push past that – what is 'post-digital', and what will post-digital media, entertainment and storytelling be like? One of the things that excites me about transmedia and comparative media studies is that they may be inherently post-digital; we no longer get so hung up on the explicit divide between the analog and the digital, but examine the unique advantages and affordances of each, which enables us to capitalize upon these features as they increasingly blend together – which sure seems to be the way we're going.

Profitability Sustainability Is King

One thing I wonder a lot about right now is whether the twenty-teens (damn, that sounds odd) will see a shift away from rampant profiteering and ridiculous, irresponsible spending and towards not just repaying our debts, but towards aiming for simpler, more sustainable levels of existence. One thing I've been wondering about for a long time is, simply, How much is enough? How does the cost of living in one part of the world compare to another? (I'm somewhat astonished to see that Boston isn't included in's map of the world's most expensive cities.) How much is a house really worth? How much is a thought really worth, or an experience, or one's reputation? How do we handle value in an experience economy, or a reputation economy? (For some insight into the latter, check out the Whuffie Bank, where you can find me at my usual handle.)

What is a model for sustaining a good, solid lifestyle with a decent amount of enjoyment, a relatively high standard of living, a sufficient amount of thought and reflection, a decent reputation, and so on?

It may be me thinking about these things because I'm in my early thirties now and am obsessing over things like families and houses and careers and so on, but it's clear that the 21st century models of success are not the same as the 20th century models. Do you have to have Gaimanesque levels of success as an artist to have a nice house and writing studio in the American midwest? Do you need to go all Hollywood and make ridiculous piles of cash to "make it"? Plus, what's an unsustainable business model for guys like me now? My model has always been to hit the trifecta of consulting-writing-academic, but given today's hyperaccelerated demands, is that still sustainable?

It's possible that the proper response (the "mind like water" response for you GTD-heads out there) to our current scenario is "less is more", or, to put it another way, "less is more sustainable." On my way into campus this morning, there was an episode of The Diane Rehm Show on WGBH where (I think) Allen Sinai, the chief global economist and president of Decision Economics, bluntly stated that we Americans have to get used to a lower standard of living. I think he may be right – as Trevor Butterworth and his 'slow word' manifesto, the 'slow food' movement, and scores of others seem to be indicating, we are on the brink of a society throwing up its hands and surrendering to the impossibility of the ever-increasing demands for more, more, more. The recession may be an overcorrection to the fiscal irresponsibilities of the last decade, but it may also be a chance for many of us to catch our breath and rethink what "enough" means to all of us. You don't need a McMansion to be successful, but you do need enough to live comfortably and, hopefully, put your kids through college. So what does that cost now? How do you get it? And how do you get it without going insane?

Making Up Is Hard To Do

Anyway, that's what I think 2010 (and maybe 2011 and even 2012) will be all about – more so than ever before, at both the micro and macro levels. How do we make up new answers to these questions, and how do we make up enough for our previous errors and indulgences to return to a more stable and sustainable footing? It's not going to be easy, but that's, again, the nature of the universe.

But life is good. And even if things get crazy, life gets better. Here's to a wonderful 2010 for each and every one of us. Onward and upward!


Where in the world is Geoffrey Long?

For those of you wondering why I've been so silent lately, especially when teh Intarwebs have been so wonderfully flush with transmedia storytelling news, I have two responses:

  1. I'm in Singapore. I'm currently on the other side of the planet from my regular home base in Boston – seriously, Singapore is a 12-hour time difference from Boston, which keeps things kind of simple but the jetlag is utter hell – and have had my hands full with GAMBIT-related things. (Such as, for example, the launch of Snap Escape, which is now live on Facebook).
  2. I just launched the new It was an unfortunate scheduling quirk that September 15th, the long-ago announced launched date for the new Interstitial Arts Foundation website and its attached brand-spanking-new Annex of short interstitial fiction happened to fall during this trip. Although I still believe in my heart of hearts that I can work from anywhere, there were some definitely odd things working against me on this one – not the least of which was getting reliable quasi-high-speed Internet connectivity from my hotel room. It's not easy to redesign a Wordpress install in public when your FTP connection keeps breaking every 5-10 minutes. Oy vey.

I will have plenty to say about the recent transmedia storytelling developments once I get back to Boston and things settle down a little bit. Until then, be good – and if you're in Singapore, come hear me talk at the Students Day at the Games Convention Asia 2009 conference on Saturday!


Back, bushed, and befuddled.

Well, I'm back from my recent travels - and utterly exhausted. I've been trying to catch up on my sleep for a week, but that doesn't seem to be actually working. Last night, for example, I slept for a good eight hours and still woke up exhausted. This is disturbing, as I have a long list of requests from friends, clients and fellow travelers that I'm trying to get to (250+ such requests in my inbox greeted my return Stateside with the pitiless chirping of tiny flaming hell-birds) and this lack of energy, simply put, ain't helping. If yours is one of these requests that I've not managed to get to yet, I deeply apologize - it's entirely likely that it's one of the ones that requires some Serious Thought, or perhaps some Intense Labor. Either way, I'm doing my best to get to your request in a timely manner. Please stand by.

In other news, I'm finding myself somewhat befuddled by today's death of Michael Jackson. After Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett, my fiancée and I were discussing how this is sort of how it goes, and how weird it will be when Brad Pitt dies, et cetera et cetera, but Michael Jackson dying is something truly beyond the pale. Michael Jackson dying is like Mickey Mouse dying. The King of Pop was less a person and more of a persona, perhaps; you can almost hear Obi-Wan Kenobi sadly shaking his head over one of Michael Jackson's surgeries and intoning, "He's more cartoon than man now." 'Iconic' doesn't begin to describe it. It's just... Odd. True, the Michael Jackson of recent years had devolved into something truly bizarre, and especially his recent fiscal scenario was a completely befuddled mess, but still... My friend Derek also adds another strange insight into the whole fiaso: "Oh, I forgot. We're not supposed to speak ill of child molesters who bought off witnesses once they're dead. Right." Whether the whole lawsuit was trumped-up or paid off is still a matter of debate (the Wikipedia page on the 2005 case of The People of the State of California v. Michael Joseph Jackson notes that all charges were dropped and the plaintiffs seemed to be a bizarre, lawsuit-happy bunch) but D has a point - Jackson certainly does leave behind an unsettling, surreal biography.

Still... Still, it feels weird to have him gone. I was never a Michael Jackson fan, to be honest - that is to say, I can sing along to "Billy Jean" and "Thriller" when they come on the radio, but I've never owned a Michael Jackson album. Growing up in the 1980s, I had an odd distrust of Michael Jackson and Madonna alike, perceiving both of them as weird. I always preferred U2 or R.E.M., Duran Duran or Genesis, even especially more out-there acts like Information Society. Michael Jackson and Madonna were, to me, oversexed sideshow acts that somehow held the entire world in thrall, and I wasn't interested. Looking back, Information Society may have been even more bizarre than Michael Jackson, but any techno band that sampled Star Trek (, 1988, although this video of "Repetition" is way better) won points in my book - and, for extra nerd points, I discovered InSoc on the CD+G sampler that came with the Sega CD add-on I bought for my Genesis. Aw, yeah. Old-school nerdery, right there.

Like I said, I'm exhausted and now I'm rambling. I'll leave with a quote from Kevin, another of my friends: "I am speechless. A deeply troubled man, sure but what an unbelievable talent... In spite of the rest, he was capable of greatness." If you get a chance, check out the eulogy Roger Ebert wrote for Jackson (and Kevin referred me to), "The Boy Who Never Grew Up". "Michael Jackson was so gifted, so lonely, so confused, so sad," Ebert writes. "He lost happiness somewhere in his childhood, and spent his life trying to go back there and find it."


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!


Playing catch-up.

I've returned from CONATHON09 and am now playing some serious catch-up. If I owe you an email, hopefully you'll hear from me by Friday, if not sooner. I'm also hoping to get a bunch of new photos up onto Flickr and the rest of my videoblog entries up onto here, hopefully before my hard drive fails (as my friend and tech guy Mike at the office is warning me might be the cause of my machine's recent super slowdowns and erratic behavior). As always, stay tuned - I've got some great stories and media coming up.


Where did that month go?

I've just realized, much to my horror, that it's been almost a month since I've posted anything here. Yikes. Sorry about that - suffice it to say that the last couple of weeks have been even more intense than usual, and the next couple of weeks are going to be even more intense than that. My lack of posting any new content here is Not Good, since I hope I'm going to be getting at least a few new visitors to this site after the smoke has cleared from the next two weeks. Let me explain.

On Tuesday, the GAMBIT Review Committee is showing up to go over our lab's progress as we near the halfway point of our initial five-year mission. The goal here is to overwhelm them (shock and awe, shock and awe!) with our excellence, so much so that the report they generate and send back to our funders in Singapore will result in a renewal of our funding, thus making our five-year mission a ten-or-more-year mission. To say this is a Very Big Deal is a fairly large understatement. As a result, I've been up to my neck in slides for the last week or so, hammering out the big presentation that's scheduled to go down on Tuesday morning.

Unfortunately, I don't get to stay around for the whole thing. As has been reported by several websites, on Tuesday afternoon I'm boarding an international flight to Germany, where I'll be presenting a lecture on character design for transmedia franchises at the 3rd Pictoplasma Conference in Berlin, which I'm intensely excited about despite the fact that I speak no German. This should be interesting, to say the least. With a little luck I'll be able to post videoblog entries like I did on my trip to Singapore last year, and I'll post my slides and lecture notes over on my Presentations and Lectures page sometime before the end of the month. Here's the basic synopsis of my talk:

From Plot to Character to World: Some Aesthetics of Transmedia Storytelling
As transmedia franchises such as Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, LOST and Heroes increase in popularity, the ability to create characters that audiences will follow from one media form to the next becomes absolutely critical. Attendees will be shown how such carefully-crafted characters are the key to the success of such transmedia storytellers as George Lucas, Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, Jim Henson and Tim Kring. By drawing on the theories of Henry Jenkins, Stephen King and John Keats, this talk will examine such key aesthetics of transmedia franchises as the skillful deployment of negative capability and the shift in narrative emphasis from plot to character to world.

So I get to see a little bit of Berlin while I'm there, then I'm flying from Germany back to San Francisco, where I'll be attending the 2009 Game Developers Conference until Thursday evening, when I'm hopping another plane to come jetting back to Boston to present at the 2009 American Comparative Literature Association conference at Harvard. Here's the abstract for that talk:

From Horrorism to Terrorism: the New Weird, the New Horror and the War on Terror
On Halloween 2008, the fantasy and science fiction author Jo Walton posted an entry called "Halloween Special: Why I hate horror" to, in which she declared: "...What horror readers want is blood, right away, rivers of it, and scary stuff too, immediately, even before you care about the characters." In the comments to her post, the novelist and essayist Nick Mamatas snarkily quoted this passage with the retort, "Ah, now I know! I also look forward to future posts in which I am told what I like in a meal, and in a sexual partner."

This exchange exemplifies the current shifting perceptions within and without of the horror genre. In the foreword to his 2008 anthology Poe's Children: The New Horror, horror novelist Peter Straub describes a new current horror Renaissance led by authors such as Kelly Link, who have more in common with John Crowley and Jonathan Carroll than with the authors who made up the previous horror boom in the 1970s and 1980s. What separates these generations is a shift away from horror and towards terror, as the terms are described in John Clute's 2005 short lexicon of horror, The Darkening Garden: terror is the revelation that the characters' normal, reliable world does not always adhere to the normal, reliable rules and actually has more wondrous and threatening creatures, places and things in it than one had imagined; horror, on the other hand, is when those threatening new elements actually make good on their threats and rend the characters limb from limb. Under these criteria, terror stories are more psychological and horror is more visceral.

It doesn't take much of a leap to connect the rise of this new psychological type of terror story to the popular mindset and psychology of America (and indeed the world) after 9/11. Terrorist warfare relies on the same basic mental mechanics as terror stories - both rip away our basic assumptions of safety and rely on the negative capability of the human imagination to do the rest; arguably, both are the most effective when the actual horror (the bombs, the dismemberment) never comes. This may be why the 2000s have seen not only the rise of Straub's New Horror but also the rise of the New Weird, as described by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer in their co-edited 2007 anthology of the same name, and the rebirth of the classic Weird Tales magazine under the editorship of Stephen H. Segal. Storytellers working under the banner of either the New Horror or the New Weird frequently have much more in common with H.P. Lovecraft's cosmic horrors than with the splatterfests of the 1970s and 1980s, which includes not only authors but also filmmakers and graphic novelists as well, as evidenced by the recent popularity of Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth and Mike Mignola's Hellboy.

This paper will drill deeper into these observations, pulling examples from fiction, film and comics. It will compare the characteristics of Straub's New Horror to the Vandermeers' New Weird, examine how such shifts may have previously followed global upheavals such as WWI and WWII, and attempt to illuminate how this shift from horror to terror in art reflects the shift in the popular psyche from the fear of a shattered known to the fear of an encroaching unknown.

But wait, there's more! Later in April I'm also presenting a paper at the 6th Media in Transition Conference:

Play Chapter: Video Games and Transmedia Storytelling
Although multi-media franchises have long been common in the entertainment industry, the past two years have seen a renaissance of transmedia storytelling as authors such as Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams have learned the advantages of linking storylines across television, feature films, video games and comic books. Recent video game chapters of transmedia franchises have included Star Wars: the Force Unleashed, LOST: Via Domus and, of course, Enter the Matrix - but compared to comic books and webisodes, video games still remain a largely underutilized component in this emerging art form. This paper will use case studies from the transmedia franchises of Star Wars, LOST, The Matrix, Hellboy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and others to examine some of the reasons why this might be the case (including cost, market size, time to market, and the impacts of interactivity and duration) and provide some suggestions as to how game makers and storytellers alike might use new trends and technologies to close this gap.

Not only that, I'm also chairing a panel on the future of publishing at MIT6, one which will include a number of luminaries from the publishing industry that I'll announce here as soon as I get the lineup completely finalized. Right now, though, I desperately need to get back to those slides. Wish me luck!


And just as suddenly...

Well, that was... Something. The trip to New York was a remarkable success in some regards, an all-out failure in others, and also bizarrely insightful in still others. A quick run-down:

The Successes

  • Getting to stay with Sam and Amanda one more time before their baby arrives

  • Onigiri, cupcakes and other delicacies with Emily

  • Texas BBQ NYC-style with Sam and Amanda

  • Getting to show Laura Rockefeller Square

  • Checking out the Gap / PANTONE pop-up store (mimosa yellow t-shirt GET)

  • Scoring a couple of choice finds at the NYCC

The Letdowns

  • Having the Saturday NYCC tickets cease being on sale online on Friday morning, and then be completely sold out on Friday night

  • As a result, not getting to meet up with David, Ellen, Elizabeth and Stephen

  • Not getting to meet up with Elizabeth on Sunday because I missed her call (Sorry!!!)

  • Not attending a single panel at the Con due to a combination of bad timing, exhaustion and disinterest (the Fringe panel would have been interesting, but getting home before midnight proved more compelling)

  • New York traffic

  • Taking the wrong instance of route 5 off I-91 in Connecticut, thus sending us strolling through Hartford instead of rocketing up the interstate as planned (seriously, 5 crosses I-91 three times and Google maps didn't include exit numbers in its directions – Google Maps FAIL)

The Insightful

  • I went to the Con planning to scour the half-price graphic novel vendors for my missing Cerebus volumes, but when I arrived at their booths I didn't have the dedication to thumb through their massively disorganized longboxes.

  • Instead, I found half-price editions of the second, third and fourth Collected Peanuts editions from Fantagraphics and the Art of My Neighbor Totoro from Viz Media, and was greatly overjoyed by this discovery – proving that my trajectory into comics history and visual artistry continues

  • I had way too much fun tagging along with Sam and Amanda as they went shopping for baby stuff. Not yet, hormones! Back! Back!

  • I'm very glad we went and I had a wonderful time, but it's slightly disturbing that every time I go to one of these things I find myself swearing I'll never go to another one due to the horrifying crowds. As is usual with cons and the like, the best times were had outside of the scheduled programming and off the convention floor.

So, yes. Another NYCC come and gone, and once again I find myself realizing that, at least at this time of my life, Readercon is much, much more my speed.

And now I'm off to begin chugging through the backlog of emails and work requests that flooded my inbox over the weekend. Once more unto the breach, dear friends...


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.


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!


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.)