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Education archive at WRT: Writer Response Theory

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I have to confess I’m moonlighting in another world. I’ve started working in the virtual world Second Life as an “embedded journalist”. SLATE Magazine (Second Life Arts & Total Entertainment Magazine) is a new Second Life magazine that covers the arts in SL. There are 14 authors in the collective so far and we’re a […]


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Some of electronic literature is detritus. Residue. Trails of conversations that have become destinations in themselves. Debris that has taken on a kind of historic importance. No doubt the same has been true throughout literary history, like the Person from Porlock who knocked at Coleridge’s door in such an untimely fashion….

What follows is a recap of a discussion that can be found on the discussion blog of that singluar futurist Ray Kurzweil’s KurzweilAI.net. It took place 2/10/2003-2/10/2004. The thread also stretches across the Ai-forum.org (2/13/2003-3/28/2003). Call it reality Internet, call it Internet history, call it eavesdropping, but what I see is a piece of collaborative internet writing that proves to have powerful reverberations with the tension between the myths of AI and authenticity on the internet. What results is a curious chapter (or unit) in the development of chatbots. (I recommend reading the conversation on your own, but I will recount as I go.)

In 2003, ELDRAS shot himself. You can read about here. Jennifer Grizzle announced as much on the Kurzweil A.I. site:

subject: ELDRAS shot himself
posted on 02/10/2003 9:56 AM by jennifer grizzle

I read it on a philosophy post site.

he left a note saying he believe he would be resurrected in less than one minute’s subjective time in the future by human A.I.

RIP

The post comes out of nowhere. It appears in the Mind Exchange (MindX) Forum, “an open forum with a focus on emerging trends in technology and related fields.”


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Children’s hypertext part II

This continues a reflection on New Media and children’s markets.

Why is there so much hypermedia and interactive technology for children? What happens when avant-garde or experimental hypermedia becomes naturalized as children’s entertainment?

At Disneyland California Adventure:

In the Animation building at the park, users can find two prime examples.
1) an interactive book
A number of large-open books surround a room. Upon closer inspection, these are not books, but book-shaped screens. Lumiere is our animated narrator. He is going to give us a quiz to see what Disney character we are most like. A picture snapped at the beginning will later be inserted into the text itself and we will become part of this remediated book.

A typical question asks, Would you rather:
1) Dance and party or
2) Curl up with a good book?

(It seems a trick. I want to be told I’m most like Flounder the fish, but he neither dances nor reads!)

Here interactivity, incorporation into the text, and invocation of the narrative take a page out of the quizzes of glamor magazines.

2) a chatbot turtle
Crush the turtle performs Ray Kurzweill’s Ramona bit from TED mentioned in my post on S1m0ne. He is a real-time animated character (not a chatbot, but an electronic ventriloquest dummy) with whom we can interact. The animated character floats around in a tank on a wall-size screen. He takes questions from the audience and teaches us to say “Totally” with a SoCal twang. Along with a mouth that matches his real-time improvised speech, Crush can move through sequences of pre-set swimming maneuvers. Here is the state-of-the-art virtual marionette.

A recent trip to the Bog exhibit at the LA Natural History Museum revealed a similar bit. Here a Chucky-style head floating in a display tells the story of a little girl’s murder. The exhibit is part-exorcist, part-scary doll from Toy Story. The doll, however, cannot interact, however. The low admission of the museum apparently does not support real-time Bog-person improvisation The museum has caught up with the Hall-of-President’s technology. Of course, it is a history museum. (Nonetheless, I was entranced by the bog girl head and the turtle).

In the first two examples, New Media has been incorporated into the “Magic of Disney.” In the third example, the history museum is trying to compete with the super heroes exhibit next door at the science museum. The one is trying to make its content more sexy with technology, the other drives the technology like one of those toy-size hot-rods. But some how in doing so, Disney has given this “always-already” feel to the technology. Disney presents itself as a kind of on-going world’s fair, with even an inventions of the future exhibit in Tomorrowland, which itself is decorated with worlds-fair rides. In the land of Disney, all becomes packaged and shelved by a magic spell of kitsch.

True, New Media works rely heavily on the gosh-wow factor as do Disney rides. It makes sense that its playful prestidigitation could then be brought to delight children. Is not Kurzweill using puppetry? Does not the success of Ramona rely in part on animation? Do not second person books evoke the tradition of the oral narrative as practiced still in front of children the world over? But the question remains: what happens to that experimental, forward-looking New Media when it stands next to Mickey and Space Mountain. When it becomes something to marvel at in a theme park? Is this assimilation or validation? Should New Media forms seek inclusion in the Electric Lit Parade, develop their kid-friendly, mass-culture instantiation? Alas, Uncle Remus, is appropriation the briar patch or the lion’s den?


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(See collection of profiles of New Media programs around the globe.)
U of California, Los Angeles
Location: LA, California, USA

Type: University

Royce Hall:
Photo: Wikipedia

Student Profile:
Jessica Pressman
Ph.D. Candidate

Undergraduates: 24,811
Graduates: 10,814
Emphases: New Media, Digital Art, Eliterature
Reviewer: Jessica Pressman
The skinny: UCLA’s strength are its world-class researchers who interact across humanities, arts, and science. N. Katherine Hayles in […]


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On Tuesday, May 9, UCLA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsored an afternoon conference entitled “Girls ’n’ Gaming,” focussing on “where girls and women are in gamers and what they want.”  The conference followed a workshop: “Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender, Games and Computing.”  Below are notes from the first of the three panels. 
(Rough notes)
Of […]






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