Writing Machines is the course website for English 170L at Pomona College in Claremont, California.
"If history is any guide, there is every reason to believe that the old idea of linear motion pictures will not long outlive the invention of the non-linear world of the internet and web-browser (the movie box office is already outstripped by game sales)."
-- The Huffington Post
(a quote on the Onyx Project website)
Is this an accurate analogy? Something about it seemed incorrect to me. There's the initial comparison between the motion picture and a NAV, which is inaccurate. You would never go to a movie theater and watch a NAV - it's a one person experience, where you can make the choices yourself. A more accurate comparison would be between a DVD and a NAV, or Tivo and a NAV, where you are in control of the playing of the movie. I don't know that it would, in fact, end up more popular than, say, a DVD, because a DVD almost always starts out as a full screen theatrical movie, and those that don't usually don't really sell.
I agree with other people who've already posted here and there that Michael Joyce's "Walking Mornings" is a very beautiful piece. I actually liked that he wrote less about the electronic lit world and more about his personal journey as a writer and human being. I was glad that he brought in his experiences as a hypertext author into the piece because it gave me some context to understand his sense of "walking," but I'm also grateful that he didn't solely focus on the hypertext world.
On the GAM3R 7H30RY site, there's an interview with Wark (that, oddly and appropriately enough, is made so it appears that the interviewer and Wark are in the game Halo, complete with sound effects. The form of the interview is quite amusing, so you should check it out if solely for that reason). In it, Wark says that having his book put online and allowing comments is like having people shoot at you. But, he added, the comments ended up being critical in a positive way and helped him. Because of this, he said, "It brings out what writing is anyway, which that you're sort of the DJ of other people's thoughts and ideas, and this just makes it manifest."
Although I'm not sure how well it achieves its goals of collaboration, I really like the ideas underlying the GAM3R 7H30RY project. Like Wikipedia, in theory, it allows users to rule; it privileges the voice of the common man/woman (ok...not really common. By "common", I mean the computer-savvy person reading the book), and it helps break down the boundary between author and reader. (And yes, I think I'm most fascinated with this right now because Scott Rettberg commented on my blog post.) Because of the nature of the comments (which I'll get to in a minute), like Lulu, I wanted to privilege the index cards over the comments. However, because I wanted to look at this as a piece of collaboration, I was most interested in the comments, so I made a deliberate effort to study them.
I talked a little before about format in GAM3R 7H30RY, and now I wanted to comment a little on the actual content.
I enjoyed reading the first few chapters in the "book," but as the author started getting overly theoretical with his ideas and new words like agon, alea, heterotopia, and atopia, I had a difficult time following along. I thought it was interesting that McKenzie chose to talk about these ideas in such an extensive manner and didn't actually concretely define what he meant by each term until the fifth section, "Atopia." By then, he starts defining alea as "chance" and agon as "competition," (card 115) and I literally had to write down all his definitions and constanty refer to them in order to remind myself of what he was referring to.
Going back to an issue Shock and Awe raised in an entry a few weeks ago about form vs. content, I'd like to ask that question again in relation to GAM3R 7H30RY.
I noticed that this week's topic on the syllabus is "the networked book" and GAM3R 7H30RY (which is a huge hassle to type because of the author's decision to alternate between numbers and letters) is our sole reading. I know that this in no way limits our discussion of GAM3R 7H30RY to just issues relating to the networked book because GAM3R 7H30RY itself has a lot of interesting ideas in it about gaming/theory that we could definitely talk about, but I realize that its strange and unique form is a huge topic of discussion in itself and may replace discussion of the content itself. I mean, look at me right now. I'm merely talking about the format rather than the actual content because the format is such an interesting issue.
Did you know you can talk to a Honnold/Mudd librarian online? It was a funny concept to me, yet last Saturday I was eager to do it. The most ironic part of me using this service from the library is that the reason I was using "librarianchat" was that I could avoid having to read online versions of articles and books. That's right: I had found some sources for my final research paper for a class, but I felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown because the only versions I could find were online. So I turned to talking to the librarian over AIM. (Another funny addition to the story is that I'm usually on AIM all the time, but this semester I have been on it less and less, because it is such a huge distraction and I have been bombarded with work.) Anyway, I signed online, talked to the librarian (who used all capital letters, which suddenly made me feel like I was a preteen and should be using them too), and figured out how I could get print editions.
As I explored the social software links we were supposed to read, I first thought how funny it is to read definitions of other social software sites. Does anyone else feel uneasy when they read definitions of AIM, Urban Dictionary, or even (and this is the weirdest of all) Wikipedia's definition of Wikipedia? I'm not sure I can pinpoint what gives me this uneasy feeling. Maybe it's the concept of a site is defining itself (do print encyclopedias have entries on what encyclopedias are?). Or maybe my uneasiness springs from a point that Lulu raised at the beginning of her post and that made me laugh because it's so true: what isn't social software these days? Faceook, AIM, blogging...sometimes I feel like these are my life. Social software seems like second nature to me and, in that sense, undefinable and unable to be analyzed.
Taking social software thinking out of the academic and into the fun, what do people think about Urban Dictionary? With all this talk about how Wikipedia can be a helpful research tool and an innovative way to incorporate lots of different authors, Urban Dictionary seems like its bastard cousin. Though it claims to be a dictionary of common slang (and it definitely has that), the site has also turned into a warehouse for high schoolers (and younger kids) to post entries about their specific high schools, or even trash specific people (which is really pretty awful).
I'm still trying to find my way around social software, and I'm even wondering what isn't social software, because it seems like everything qualifies. To go along with this ubiquitous nature of social software, people are suggesting that forms of this software are becoming more prevalent in the academic sphere, which is of huge relevance to us.
if:book has many articles that talk about networked writing in academia. A few things that struck me as more interesting--
1) Google offers public domain downloads. These days, this isn't anything new, since public domain documents have always been available online, but we--or rather, I--keep forgetting that this wasn't always the case. The book publishing industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and making texts available online won't significantly affect their earnings, but there are advantages for us, the consumers. These days, I don't buy all my books anymore. As an English major, there's lots of books to read, but I often either go to the library, or find downloadable versions online. As a consumer, I'm thankful that books are finally available for free. To me, the idea of putting books online in downloadable format refocuses the attention on the books as material to be read rather than commodities that make profit.