Infrequent updates this week; I'm in Erfurt, Germany, for p0es1s. I'll be talking about Card Shark, Thespis, the reason we woudn't want to meet Hamlet on the Holodeck, and the mysterious absence of tragedy and comedy from hypertext literature,
In this emerging community, we've been talking a lot about the world, and we've been talking quite a bit about games and game theory. Sorting one from the other might be hard for a newcomer. And perhaps you're only interested in game theory!
The answer, in Ceres, is simple: create a new page that archives the topic. The page could be built automatically, using Ceres' software agents. For the time being, I'm building technocrit by hand -- dragging aliases of notes into the TechnoCrit page takes only a second or two.
It's much better than copying and pasting items, because you never accidentally copy the wrong text and foul up the HTML, and because it's easy to add new topics and revise the whole architectural scheme.
A fine little movie about the things we do for our children. Fold the laundry, pick up son from school, try to get loan to pay son's extortionist, go to daughter's ballet recital....
Eskillenen writes that viewing games through the prism of drama is "conceptually weak and ill-grounded.... derived from a very limited knowledge of mere mainstream drama or outdated literary theory.
Mamet writes that, "We rationalize, objectify, and personalize the process of the game exactly as we to that of a play, a drama. For finally it is a drama, with meaning for our lives. Why else would we watch it?" (Three Uses For A Knife, p. 11) Indeed, Mamet describes "The Perfect Game" as the archetype of the three-act structure. "The ball game, then, is perhaps a model of Eisenstein's Theory of Montage: the idea of a SHOT A is synthesized with the idea of a SHOT B to give us a third idea, which third idea is the irreducible building block upon which the play will be constructed."
Part of the problem, I think, are the arbitrary scraps of narrative that some game designers tack on to games as chrome: cutscenes, campaign sequences, and so forth. These rarely matter to the game, but it's easy to think they are important because they're so visible.
From the movie site's current home page:
"Of course he has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183 and we're barbarians."
Dave Winer: "From the US, it's damned simple. We don't want our cities to get nuked. It's probably going to happen anyway. Then, what? If not now, when?
Rogert Ebert: Make it green. " If there is to be a memorial, let it not be of stone and steel. Fly no flag above it"
The mood in the US has changed tremendously in the past week -- more, I think, than my friends abroad appreciate. Americans usually don't like change: the American revolution was about resisting new taxes. But, suddenly, change seems better than living with people willing to blow up everything and anything.
Last night, Bush's speech was shown between periods at a professional hockey exhibition. When the speech turned out to be longer than the interval, the crowd insisted on hearing the speech. That's amazing: a hockey crowd that would rather hear a politician than finish the game. I don't think that's happened since William Jennings Bryan in 1892.
People know that there might not be a good answer. They know that military action might not help. That it might make things worse. People don't care about that. People want to try to fix this, and they're convinced that discussion won't help.
Last night, the president of the United States referred to our Civil War as a war against a foreign power. Southerners think this way, but it's heresy: the war was fought because the South was not and could not declare itself a country. For the president of the Union to make this slip was remarkable; nobody noticed.
Americans armies -- aside from the Civil War years have been notoriously good at improvising and famously reluctant to accept casualties. Last weekend, a reporter asked Hilary Clinton about the prospect of casualties; without blinking, she said, "We already have 5000." Hilary is a dove and a liberal, folks, and she takes terribly heat whenever she is seen to be unladylike. People are ready to do something.
People would prefer a clear, productive path to a solution. But, in this mood, people want to DO something. Even if there's no assurance it will work, something with a chance is better than nothing. Maybe, something with no chance of success is better than nothing.
Bush has been inept, bumbling, tongue-tied -- just as you'd have expected. Nobody cares; people accept his limitations. Perhaps they wish they had someone better in the job, but they don't and they're prepared to back Bush.
I don't agree with most people. But I'm part of a small minority, a fringe, like the folks who thought Nixon wasn't a crook.
People are talking about wild things. Completely reconstructing the Middle East. Occupation. Nuclear weapons.
Art Spiegelman 's black-on-black cover of the September 24 New Yorker is wonderful. See it.
(Imagine editing a magazine. Bad things happen: you need to scrap the entire issue and put together a new one with the staff on hand. And who do you have? Hertzberg, Updike, Angell, Sontag, Gopnick for starters. )
I'm rereading The Lord Of The Rings very deliberately: one chapter a night. It's a challenge to read a book you know well.
If your conclusion rests on the contention that Crows are black, and someone raises their hand and asks, "What about Blue Jays?", you're sunk. It doesn't matter that someone else forgot to study Blue Jays, or that Blue Jays are unpopular. It doesn't matter that Blue Jays might have been unknown to science until the bastard in the back row raised his hand. Blue Jays are crows, and Blue Jays are blue, your argument is wrong, and it's time to go back to the drawing board.
Ornithologists study birds. Not just "popular birds" or "birds we like to study at my university" or "birds that made lots of money." Of course, your primary interest might be one family or one species or even one individua bird. Of course, you know some aspects of the field better than others. But you need to be prepared to bring any evidence to bear on your problem.
The same thing holds true for historians: you need to know, and account for, everything related to your subject. Every footnote, every inscription, every source.
Yes, it's hard. Unreasonable. An impossible standard. But it's the only possible standard of scholarship: otherwise, it's just a popularity contest.
Don't get me wrong. Torill is right. So is Markku, for that matter. And so is Justin. This is the site of scholarly discourse nowadays, at least in this field, and we are changing it from within.
An important intellectual problem -- one that the Web should help solve but, so far, doesn't, is finding the best book on a given topic. For example, I wanted to read a biography of Nelson as background to my ongoing affair with O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels. I'm reading Wade's Nelson (1978) because my library had it, and because it looks right. But even knowing what a good source looks like requires some expertise: I know to look at the end of the book so see how the writer treats his sources, but unless you've read a lot of history you wouldn't know this trick.
On a campus, you can always phone someone in the appropriate department out of the blue. I do that occasionally even though I'm not an academic. Casual critical discussion is the currency of scholarship, most scholars are refreshingly willing to take a phone call or answer an email, and there's still a dim, collective memory of the time when simply having a Ph.D. was a sufficient calling card among scholars, whatever your discipline.
But it's still hit-or-miss, error-prone, and expensive for everyone.
I believe Hall's central concern lies elsewhere: Hall questions whether the scholarship behind GameStudies is sound, whether the scholars know the games as well as they ought. When he writes, for example, that one of the authors overlook " two games [that] are a part of an electronic entertainment canon," he's complaining of an absence of scholarship, not an excess of pedantry.
We need a very good speech and we need to hear it soon. The President is the natural choice, but Bush is probably incapable of pulling it off. With luck his staff knows this. He can say a few words and introduce someone who can do the job. Peter Gomes? Gerald Ford? Jesse Jackson? (Why not? He's a fine orator, it's time for him to leave the stage, and what better way to come together than to have Dubya introduce Jesse?)
Bad news will be with us for weeks, months, every day bringing a new revelation of some additional terrible detail. We need the ritual words to set everyone moving toward something worthwhile, toward a new birth of freedom, lest we again descend into bitterness we later regret.
Unfolding in time is much on my mind these days. I've recently started to reread The Lord Of The Rings, a wonderful book that I've read many times but have avoided revisiting for several years. Rereading a very familiar book can be difficult; for this reading, I am being careful to read no more than one chapter a day. So, for the next two or three months, Frodo's journey there and back again will be a constant companion from day to day.
Last night, I saw a clip of members of Congress singing "God Bless America," the Republican Party anthem. That's wrong. First, it's now a partisan song, Reagan's campaign theme.
But, more important, the US has a song for the occasion. It was written the last time something like this happened here. "Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?"
The news media here keep mentioning Pearl Harbor. But that misses the point; Hawaii was then a territory. People have mentioned Antietam, but here in New England they still call it the War of the Rebellion, a fight with rebels, not foreign invaders. The last large-scale violence planned abroad and executed within the United States was, I believe, the Battle of New Orleans, the 1815 skirmish at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Americans have short memories: it's almost as if the last time this happened was Cannae or Agincourt.
May there be peace.
Unlike the recut Blade Runner, which remains quite close to the original release, the new Apocalypse Now is a far broader, more ponderous, and even stranger movie. The experience of seeing an old movie remade is itself a strange kind of remediation, rendered stranger because our attitudes toward Vietnam, toward government, toward madness have all changed. It's changed, too, because we've seen Hearts of Darkness and know so much about how this movie came to be made.
I saw the new Apocalypse at the new Boston Common complex: this is a film that merits the outrageous ticket price ($10!) for true widescreen, first-class sound, and a projector that isn't artificially dimmed.
Microsoft's pending promise to behave has apparently been broken in advance. Reportedly, if you mistype a URL in the new MSIE browser, you won't see an error message. Instead, Microsoft's browser will automatically send you to an Microsoft search page.
Coupled with the recent stem-cell policy, this policy may well lead US research teams to consider moving to institutes in Canada, Europe, and Japan. And look for US Computer Science enrollments to plummet, as students move on to the next big thing.
Yet another Hypertext '01 highlight: spending the afternoon after the conference at Legoland with Marlene Mallicoat and Ted Nelson, discussing multidimensional morphing in ZigZag while Ted videotapes an airport made from a million Lego blocks.
And don't miss Sunshine, a simply wonderful look at a vanished world, refracted through the lives of four generations of affluent Austrian Jews.
Contrast this with telemarketing. Cold calling is even more intrusive than spam, and is much more expensive to screen. Yet I get cold calls all the time for legitimate offers: phone companies, stock brokers, insurance and benefits plans, head hunters, even the foolish minister of the local Baptist church who set his family to cold-calling prospects for salvation one Sunday afternoon during the height of the football season. These may not be exciting advertising offers, but they're genuine propositions; why is spam limited to fraud?
I'm convinced that realistic animation actively harms The Sims, where the near-miss realism causes distraction and encourages players to distance themselves from the protagonist. This leads to the game's ironic, half-mocking tone that is neither quite funny nor quite consistent with the game's ambitions. Still, like Tropico, The Sims was a fine game.
At one level, this is mere consumerism. But it's also the way clothes evolve. Whenever I buy a jacket, I need to choose details (one vent? two?) intended to make you comfortable on horseback. I rarely ride a horse to the office. Decades hence, will people buy clothes with PDA pockets even though PDAs have become an archaic memory?
Someone should take a good look at clustering phenomena in Web logs. For example, consider the interesting and active cluster of media-theory Scandinavian-flavored weblogs from Sjursen, Walker, Klastrup, Frasca, Miles, and others. The Web design community has recently been sharply critical of co-citation practices, which some regard as merely a way for elites to reinforce their influence and which has led to the suspension of dreamless.org and K10K pending the arrival of cooler heads. I suspect, though, that these clusters are more interesting, and less strictly political, than they may seem at first -- perhaps a visible manifestation of discipline-formation in proceess.