The purpose of art is to delight us; certain men and women (no smarter than you or I) whose art can delight us have been given dispensation from going out and fetching water and carrying wood. It's no more elaborate than that. — David Mamet

Jul 18 16 2018

Beyond Villainy

A very interesting problem arose at Hypertext 2018.

We must now assume that the US President, and at least some of the advisors and family members he has appointed, have delivered secrets to Russia. As a result, none of our secure systems can be trusted. For example, we cannot be confident that the passcodes to all electronic medical records are not available to Moscow, WikiLeaks, or the highest bidder.

When our national nightmare ends, we’re going to need to change a lot of locks and reset lots of passwords. When we do so, we we also must assume that any committee or team tasked with doing this might include a mole.

It’s possible to work around the presence of potential moles, but it complicates everything. We’re going to have to start thinking about this now.

Jul 18 6 2018


Here’s the paper I wrote with Dr. Clare Hooper on A Villain’s Guide To Social Media and Web Science.

If we have not yet achieved planetary super-villainy on the desktop, it may be feasible to fit it into a suburban office suite. Social media and Web science permit the modern villain to deploy traditional cruelties to great and surprising effect. Because the impact of villainous techniques is radically asymmetric, our fetid plots are difficult and costly to foil.

This is no laughing matter: much of our recent research in social media is chiefly beneficial to malefactors.

I think this is the most significant paper I’ve written.

Jun 18 14 2018


by Andrew Sean Greer

Pulitzer-award winner, this is a novel about 49-year-old Arthur Less, a man whose long-time partner has just decided to marry someone else. When the wedding invitation arrives, Arthur does the only thing possible: he accepts every invitation to read, speak, retreat, or interview he can find, just as long as they get him out of the country. The chronicle of Arthur’s jaunt around the world is a delight from “Less at First” to “Less at Last.”