We’ve had quite a bit of writing about literary work using digital computation since the 1990s (e.g., Landow’s Hypertext; Ryan’s Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory; Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck; Aarseth’s Cybertext). But there’s been surprisingly little written about two story generation systems that got their start in the mid-1980s: Minstrel and Universe. They’ve caught my attention recently, so I’m planning to write two or three posts (after this introductory post) about them. I’ll be contrasting them with the best-known story generator, Tale-Spin — which, if memory serves, is written about in all but one of the books mentioned above. (more…)
February 28, 2006
February 27, 2006
On ifMUD I learned about an elegant and geographically-contextualized real-time system for delivering news headlines.
February 25, 2006
How to write sinister computer overlord dialouge?
low voltage # WRONG
Now get this straight, pal - no one User wrote me. I’m worth a couple million of their man-years! I’m bigger than all those little wimps put together! Humans they can’t even keen their social order in one piece. [Continue …]
high voltage # RIGHT
No one has lived in the past. No one will live in the future. The present is the only form of life. It is a state of existence which is indestructible. [Continue …]
February 24, 2006
I wanted to re-read Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit before commenting on Patrick Dugan’s article from a few weeks ago in The Escapist, “An Exit“. I’m glad I did, it’s a fascinating play that I hadn’t read in a long while. (more…)
February 19, 2006
I read a great BBC article on Tactical Iraqi thanks to my U.K. correspondent. You may remember our previous post here relating a bit from Elizabeth Losh’s presentation at DAC about Tactical Iraqi; certainly, if you were at DAC you’ll remember her discussion of it, in which she (as a peace activist) argued against outright dismissal or opposition to the game, explained its workings, situated it with regard to video game genres, and critiqued it in terms of how it dealt with gender, race, and language. The official page on Tactical Iraqi is quite informative about the basics of the system itself.
In the bustle of DAC, I missed noticing that the project’s chief technology officer is none other than my friend Hannes Vilhjalmsson, who I know from the MIT Media Lab’s Gesture and Narrative Language Group! (I did a masters there; Hannes did a PhD.) The BBC article quotes Hannes on gestural differences between U.S. and Arabic cultures, something the program aims to point out to trainees. There are many interesting issues raised by Tactical Iraqi, but the game should remind us that virtual environments don’t erase the body, and that this can make a difference in how we use our bodies in the “real” world, too.
February 17, 2006
This Friday and Saturday (February 17-18) at UC Irvine there’s a free single-track conference in Humanities Instructional Building 135. I’m looking forward to great presentations, given that it’s organized by smart folks (Barbara Cohen and Peter Krapp) and the speakers include Mark Hansen, Erkki Huhtamo, Henry Lowood, Lev Manovich, Tara McPherson, Robert Nideffer, Mark Poster, John Seely Brown, Rita Raley, Jennifer Urban, and other luminaries. You can check out the online schedule, and if you want to catch me I’m presenting at 3:15 on Friday.
February 13, 2006
More big name film directors are getting into games — James Cameron of Titanic Terminator fame will be creating an MMOG for his “completely crazy, balls-out sci-fi” film in development, Project 880. “We’ll create a world for people [the game] and then later present a narrative [the film] in that world”. The game will developed with Multiverse, newly formed by two Netscape veterans to create a MMOG platform for indie game development.
The ELO is hosting a Windows, Mac and Unix re-implementation of James Meehan’s pioneering 1981 story generation system, Tale-spin. Warren Sack re-implemented it in 1992 as Micro-Talespin. Installation instructions are included there.
At this August’s Intelligent Virtual Agents conference in Marina del Rey (submissions due April 7) there will be a GALA — a Gathering of Animated Lifelike Agents. Neat. GALA submissions due June 15, with an award for best student entry.
Mark Bernstein points us to a clever new fiction, Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde. “In this world, it is sometimes possible for people to jump into books and interact with their characters… The books, it turns out, have their own police force which protects the integrity of literature from outside agents…”
February 12, 2006
To those in the area - please come by for this great digital poetry program!
LOSS PEQUEÑO GLAZIER
A reading of digital poetry
hosted by Charles Bernstein
part of the MACHINE series
February 10, 2006
Two brilliant examples of anagrammatic work have come my way today:
Anagrams (mostly) of “Van Helsing” and “Man on Fire” on the Flatbush Pavilion marquee in Brooklyn. (Thanks to Brian Kim Stefans)
An anagrammap of the London Underground. (Thanks to markm on ifMUD)
This fall the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, soon to be the new home of the Electronic Literature Organization, has lined up a great series of lectures focused on electronic literature and digital archives. I’ll be giving a talk, “Wherefore Genre? Categorizing Contemporary New Media Writing” on March 7th, and there are many other talks I wish I could attend, including talks by Johanna Drucker and Jerome McGann, Shelley Jackson, Alan Liu and Joseph Tabbi, and Scott McCloud.
There’s a new (ink and paper) issue of Open Letter all about the work of Kenneth Goldsmith; it just launched at the Kelly Writers House. Kenny’s brand of “uncreative writing” (”typing, not writing”) imports ideas and the determination to follow through on them from the world of visual arts. His recent books include The Weather, which transcribes a year’s worth of radio weather reports; Day, a book of about 900 pages that is a re-typing and scanning of a single day’s New York Times, and Soliloquy, which reproduces in print a week’s worth of Kenny’s recorded utterances. See his EPC author home page for links to online versions of all of these, except the one that’s fit to print.
These techniques have already inspired conceptual digital works of digital writing, such as one letter at a time pieces by Brian Kim Stefans, but Kenny has another connection to the digital realm - he runs UbuWeb.
February 9, 2006
[Update, Feb 16: Beta-testing is complete, and Façade v1.1 is now available for download. The original post requesting beta-testers is below.]
Seeking volunteers to do a quick beta-test of Façade v1.1, sporting the following new features:
- Trip and Grace have been working out and have slimmed down the installer to 164MB — quite a weight loss from the original 800MB fattie! (Thanks to speex.org for the regimen, and Jason Rohrer for some slimming tips.)
- Now with subtitles! When combined with audio muting it makes Façade almost work-safe.
- A relaxed CPU check policy — gone are those cumbersome and secretive shift-F12 hand maneuvers.
- OMFG NOW you can install Façade into ANY DIRECTORY!!!!!!! jesus trip!!!
Send email to info -at- interactivestory -dot- net if you’re able to download and briefly test Façade before Monday, February 13. Thanks for your help!
Coming soon: Façade for Macintosh…
Now’s a great time both to apply for some funding from Turbulence and to offer your support to one of digital media’s most important institutions.
You can get funding by applying (before February 28th) to Turbulence’s New England Initiative II. The first round of this provided the support for Regime Change and News Reader. The new round’s projects will be featured both at the Turbulence site and at Art Interactive.
You can help support Turbulence by participating in their current fundraiser. Turbulence is a decade old this year, and the larger New Radio and Performing Arts project is 25 years old. As with any fundraiser, small contributions from large numbers of people makes a big impression on the folks with deep pockets (like foundations). So if you can give anything, please do.
February 8, 2006
Eurographics 2006 is hosting a “Graphics Meets Games” competition. Submissions consist of small 3D games that showcase a novel form of interactivity and/or novel graphical effect. Doesn’t look like there’s much in the way of prizes, but if you win you can say “I won a game competition.” Details are on the Eurographics website.
February 6, 2006
I’ll be speaking at several upcoming conferences in the coming month, including next week’s Living Game Worlds 2006 Symposium that Michael M. mentioned a few posts ago, to be held at Georgia Tech; the College Art Association’s annual conference in Boston (panel on Global Artistic Practices and Internet2 Technology), and the GDC Serious Games Summit with a great panel of educational gamers. Also of note in April is the International Digital Media and Arts Association and the Miami University Center for Interactive Media Studies “CODE” conference , where I will be keynoting. If you are a GTxAutoer and are at one of these events, come on over and say hello! I’ll be giving a sneak peek of new artworks, essays, and games for ‘06.
The latest issue of Vectors is on Mobility. Each of the flash articles/interactive works explores a different theme related to mobile technology and culture. Two of the pieces are by authors familiar to GrandTextAuto readers, WiFi.Bedouin by Julian Bleeker and PlaceStorming by Jane McGonigal. In WiFi.Bedouin, Julian documents his experiments with setting up WiFi hotspots that are not connected to the public internet, but rather provide local, place-specific experiences. In PlaceStorming, Jane provides a guided cutup mechanism for turning an academic text into a superhero manifesto that is then hidden in a geocache and publicly performed and documeted by the finders of the cache.
February 5, 2006
Remember this mobile game?
It works on most platforms, particularly cushiony ones. It’s designed to be single player, although it can be quite entertaining to watch others play! Tends to take weeks or months to level up though.
I suppose you can play it anywhere, although it’s most fun to just hang in your crib with your homies, er, parents.
A sporty outfit is a plus, but not required.
The Organic City is an Oakland-based site for collaborative storytelling, rooted in a common environment. It’s a project of Seamus Byrne and Sarah Mattern at Cal State East Bay, and it just launched, less than a month ago.
In concept and basic workings, the site is similar to Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, which takes New York and its cityscape, and which Scott discussed in his recent DAC presentation. Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood is an innovative project that has amassed many writers, but that site is about six years old and, in some ways, seems unpleasantly old-school in its interface and its workings. The Organic City project features a story map that looks and works well; there are even plans for mobile access. (Registration is required to add stories, no doubt because the potential for story-spam has been wisely foreseen.) The mobile media page links to several other related projects, too.
February 3, 2006
In a cost-cutting move, Sony is discontinuing its revolutionary line of robotic puppies, the Aibo.
Has Sony screwed the pooch with this move? Aibo generated so much good PR for them over the years. Interestingly, only 150,000 were purchased since its release in 1999, I would have thought more. Then again, it cost $2000.
Clearly, expressive virtual pets continue to have the power to fascinate and generate serious revenue. Maybe Sony has a new robotic creature of some sort in the works to succeed Aibo. If so, W00f.
February 2, 2006
Linden Lab, the creators of Second Life, are offering their first fellowship in visual and performing arts for creative innovation in Second Life. From their annoucement:
This $4,000 fellowship will provide a young artist with a chance to be free for a semester or summer to explore the use of the digital world of Second Life as an artistic medium. In doing so, we hope that we will see Second Life used to even greater potential in the expressive arts to the benefit of both the Second Life culture and the broader world of art.
Applications are due March 15, 2006. The fellowship recipient will be announced in mid-April. Please visit Second Life’s education page for more info.
Molleindustria [English] [Italian] offers brilliant “political videogames against the dictatorship of entertainment.” Over on Water Cooler Games, Ian just wrote up their latest, an anti-McDonald’s game in the vein of the anti-Kinko’s Disaffected! This is a pretty complex one that involves much more than paper-shuffling, as the extensive introductory tutorial (in the style of a managerial PowerPoint presentation) should signal. I can’t comment yet on the long-term playability of McDonald’s Videogame, but the site is definitely worth a visit, and I do recommend at least starting up and playing with all the games. The ones that involve fornication might wait until after work, though.
February 1, 2006
I was tipped off on ifMUD to the discontinuation of Western Union’s telegram service. Stunning, I know. And the telegram took such good care of itself. You can check it out on the site if you don’t beleive it, but it’s a fact: the major United States Victorian Internet provider is down.
It looks like Canada remains online, though.
Also note the Dead Media project working note on the death of the singing telegram, or at least of the Western Union executive who created that means of communication, about a decade ago.
I’m happy to annouce that we’re hosting the second Living Game Worlds symposium at Georgia Tech, on Thursday, February 16th. Last year, the first Living Game Worlds symposium (1 2) was held in honor of Will Wright receiving the Ivan Allen Award. The event was so successful we’ve decided to do it again. This year’s symposium explores what game design can learn from an interdisciplinary engagement with other fields. Will Wright kicks off the event with his keynote Design Learning: How Other Fields Can Inform Interactive Design. Registration is free, so if you’re in the area, drop by. We do ask that people pre-register so that we have a sense of the head count.