Tip of the Quill: A Journal
Back from Beyond.

…And that’s why the secret of the universe is a combination of quantum entanglement, interpersonal relationships and the square root of 1,764.

What’s that? The signal cut out? Oh, how embarrassing. Sorry about that – let me try and catch you up.

Over a year ago, I posted that 2010 would be different. Boy, I couldn’t have been more right about that – just not in the ways that I’d predicted. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally bringing this blog (and perhaps the rest of this site) back from the Great Beyond. I’ve got a lot to talk about, but even more that I can’t talk about, which is why this site’s been so abandoned. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.1

From MIT to Microsoft

The first change is that I’m no longer at my dear, beloved MIT. In the fall of 2009, the Convergence Culture Consortium was hosting its fourth Futures of Entertainment conference in Cambridge. I was there as an alumni researcher, moderating a panel discussion on the (now sadly defunct) Purefold project from Ag8. Afterwards, two very nice gentlemen came up to me and asked, “You’re Geoffrey Long, aren’t you?” Before I knew it, we were engaged in a vibrant conversation about the future of entertainment, technology, and how the two were destined to collide.

As it turns out, those two gentlemen were from Microsoft, and in the spring of 2010 I was offered a position in a small think tank working for J Allard, the creative mastermind behind the Xbox 360. My wife Laura and I packed up our things, bid a tearful farewell to all our loved ones at MIT, and set off for the West Coast. Before long we had found a really lovely turn-of-the-last-century farmhouse on Bainbridge Island, just a short ferry ride away from my office in downtown Seattle, and I was learning the strange, arcane language and practices of a Fortune 100 company with 90K employees. For obvious reasons I can’t talk about precisely what I’ve been up to at Microsoft, but I can honestly say that my time here has been the most intensely educational period of my life. The old joke is that an MIT education is like drinking from a firehose, but after graduation I discovered that working at MIT was even worse – and working at Microsoft is frequently like being strapped to a rocket, handed a canoe paddle, and told to steer as you’re fired off into the atmosphere. Since my arrival in April of 2010, I’ve met more amazing people, had more brilliant conversations, and found myself in more unimaginably fantastic situations than ever before, and things are still getting crazier. (Most days, in a good way.) I’m now part of an experimental new team in Microsoft Game Studios, where I’ve been tasked with putting all these theories into practice to build the next generation of entertainment franchises. To say I’m having a blast would be putting it mildly.

The downside to this past year is that the same thing that got me this job – my public work in the transmedia space – was largely put on hold. Although I’ve been doing amazing things, I can’t talk about any of them, or at least not yet. That’s starting to change, which is why I’m bringing this blog (and largely the rest of this website) back from the beyond, so it can serve as an occasional research notebook and journal, the role it had played in my life from – jeez – its original beginnings sometime in (I think) 2001. I should find that out; it would be fun to celebrate a 10-year anniversary for this blog, even given its long absences like this past one.

Who Blogs Anymore?

I’ll admit that another appeal of returning to the blog world is that it’s no longer hip to be a blogger. All the cool kids now seem like they’re just using Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and so on. While I have accounts on most of those services (although not a Tumblr blog yet, come to think of it) there’s something pleasantly old-school about having my own simple journal at my own top-level domain. Further, the people who are still blogging are folks that are really passionate about it, and are doing great things. I miss hanging out with those folks, engaging in that dialogue. I’m sorry I was gone from the party so long, guys – I may not be a regular anymore, but I’ll at least try to show up at the reunions.

For that matter, I’d also like to get back to doing more playful things with this site. Although I’ve been doing a ton of writing this past year, there are a lot of tools in my mental toolbox that have grown sadly rusty. With a little luck this site can be a place where I can knock some of that rust off, and get back to doing some of the stuff I really love. It’s weird that I now have to be so mindful of my affiliation with Microsoft, and so I should be clear:

This site is my personal site, and the opinions and creations and so on and so forth that appear at this site are mine and mine alone, not my employer’s.

The lame pictures of our cats are mine, the lousy poetry is mine, the jaw-droppingly awful music is mine. I’m sure I’ll have to draft up some kind of disclaimer text to run somewhere here too – and I should probably draw up some text for my new workmates and professional contacts who find this site saying something along the lines of, “Yes, I do this stuff too. I really am this lame.” Or something like that. After all, the only way to get less lame is to be constantly improving your work, and one of the best motivations for improving quickly is to do that work in public.

Finally, on a behind-the-scenes note, all of this will give me a chance to kick the tires of WordPress. I started out using Blogger, then switched to Movable Type and happily used that for years and years, but now that Movable Type has turned into something largely unrecognizable I’ve finally made the switch over to WordPress. I should have done this a long time ago, I’ll admit – it’s weird to think that this piece of software that powers so much of the Web now was created by a guy I was hanging out with at SXSW less than a decade ago. Good on ya, Matt – all the accolades you’ve racked up since then are well deserved.

So, yes. Geoffreylong.com is (kindasorta) back. And yes, I lied about it turning white. I was going to turn white, and then I decided that was just too eye-searingly bright. (As they say on the t-shirts, “Come to the dark side. We have cookies.”)

Now, who’s willing to bet me twenty bucks it’ll be 2012 before I post another update…?

Postscript. Yes, I know some things are broken around here. Apologies. I’ll fix them sometime in 2014.