Photograph by Charles Hutchins shared via TwitterEver since I could finally track reader’s paths through my longer works of electronic fiction, I have been reflecting on ways to motivate readers through my stories, especially when there’s some plot-level pay-off I have written in. On the one hand, it’s a very typical web (and writerly) dilemma: How to keep the eyes on your page. On the other hand, it’s a question that’s unique to long-form electronic narrative, since traditionally that form requires sustained readerly attention, and the medium seems to promote anything but.

Those reader statistics showed me what pages people read, in what order, and how long they remained on each page, or at least kept each page open. Unfortunately, even those who had claimed to have read the entire work, rarely made it past 30 or 35 lexias.

Continue reading ‘The Loneliness of the Long Form Elit Author’

Announcing three events on the Los Angeles horizon where mobile phones and migration collide, hosted at USC.

Mobile Voices of LA's Immigrants

October 20-October 27, 2011
The LA Flood Project on Twitter

Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Mobile Voices of L.A.’s Immigrants
Harris Hall 101
Gin Wong Auditorium

Friday, October 28th, 2011
The Transborder Immigrant Tool: On the Download
SOS 250 12pm

The LA Flood Project (Oct. 20-27)

The LA Flood Project returns to Twitter this Thursday with a week long event. Join in on Twitter as the rains reach epic proportions. To participate, merely tweet your experience of the Flood with the #laflood hashtag. Follow @LAFloodProject to find out all the updates on the state of the Flood. You don’t have to be in LA to play along, but your tweets need to say you are. More information and a map of LA with the latest flood narratives and monologues are here:The LA Flood Project site

Ready for some netprov? Join in this War-of-the-Worlds-style simulation.

The Mobile Voices of L.A.’s Immigrants (Oct. 27)

USC’s Visions and Voices present an evening of performances around the issues of mobile phones and migration, including Voces Moviles, The Transborder Immgrant Tool, and the LA Flood Project. The presentations will be followed by a reading by Roberto Leni-Olivares and a discussion moderated by Josh Kun. Also featured, the photgraphs of Maria de Lourdes Gonzalez-Reyes.

The Transborder Immigrant Tool: On the Download (Oct. 28)

Following Thursday’s performance, the Electronic Disturbance Theater will join us for a conversation about the Transborder Immigrant Tool. Join Ricardo Dominguez, micha cardenas, Elle Merhrmand, and Brett Stalbaum for this intimate discussion of this controversial project. Sponsored by the Center for Scholarly Technology

3 words for your end-of-summer reading: “READY PLAYER ONE.”

Ready Player OneFrom the 8-bit aesthetic of the novel’s cover (or at least the promotional copy) to a mention of Family Ties, Dead Man’s Party, and Galaga within the first 25 pages, “Fanboys” director Ernie Cline’s first novel is like a love letter to adolescent male geek culture of the 1980s or, more simply put, to me. It is destined to become the not-so-guilty pop-rocks and Pepsi reading of the end of the summer and will no doubt inspire rhapsodic talks at academic conferences and nostalgia-fests on message boards.

The premise is simple: in 2044, James Halliday, the gazillionaire creator of an online virtual world called Oasis,has died, but his last will and testament video has presented the real world with a hunt for the keys to his fortune. Inspired by the Easter Egg in Atari’s Adventure, and the structure of that game, he has hidden 3 keys to 3 gates.

What makes READY PLAYER ONE so much fun is one more feature of this quest: Halliday was completely obsessed with 1980s pop culture. So the more you know about the 1980s, the more likely you will solve his riddles and the cooler readers will feel for, say, knowing what the cover of the AD&D Player’s Handbook looks like.

I couldn’t put it down primarily because of my own 80s obsessions and because the Willy Wonka/Ender’s Game story framework gives the plot a video game structure, where characters literally fight over their spot on the leader board and level up. I have reason to believe an ARG is in the works to help promote the book — but really, you will be vector enough for this book’s pandemic.

At this point, I will resist making any literary judgments — just as I did when reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. But if you ever dreamt of owning a DeLorean (like Cline himself), played Ultraman in your driveway, blew a stack of quarters on Pac-Man, or have a special Netflix cue for John Hughes films, you are more than ready for READY PLAYER ONE.

By Rob Wittig and Mark Marino
[Cross-posted at Netpoetic]

On a recent trip to the University of Bergen, we had the opportunity to meet, discuss, and compare notes on some of our mutual interests in Internet art, specifically in a highly performative, “real-time,” spontaneous form of writing that seemed to run through our various projects. As we compared notes, we discovered an emerging genre, which we will begin to detail here. On the eve of another exciting improvisational collaborative project, Grace, Wit, & Charm, we offer some preliminary thoughts on this new form we call netprov.

Grace Wit and Charm

Past Projects
Here are a few of our past projects with varying degrees of improvisation that nonetheless have given rise to our conceptualization of netprov.

Rob’s Projects
Chicago Soul Exchange, online marketplace for past lives (blog, collaborative, performed live over 1 week)
Friday’s Big Meeting, a chatroom novel (faux chatroom, released live over 1 week)
Blue Company, hand-illustrated email novel (e-mailed daily for 1 month, performed twice, 2001 and 2002), which inspired Scott Rettberg’s response/sequel Kind of Blue
Fall of the Site of Marsha, faux-vernacular webpage fiction

Mark’s Projects
The Ballad of WorkstudySeth, Twitter fiction provoked by workstudy students (Twitter & Facebook, during 3 months of 2009)
The LA Flood Project, a locative narrative and flood simulation (Google Map, YouTube on-going, and simulation tweeted during LA Times Festival of Books April 30-May 1, 2011)
The Loss Wikiless Timespedia, Wikinewspaper open to wikizen journalists everywhere (Mediawiki installation launched April 1, 2009).


Netprov = networked improv literature.

Netprov uses everyday social technology plus the ol’ tricks of literature, graphic design, and theater to create stories that unfold in realtime within public mediascapes.

Continue reading ‘Netprov - Networked Improv Literature’

One of the occasional topics at WRT is the way in which digital environments are impacting the writing classroom. In an upcoming webinar, several scholars will be proposing a reconceptualization of composition as an Information Art.

Webinar: Teaching Writing as an Information Art
a webinar roundtable discussion
Feb. 28, 9am PST/12pm EST
50 minutes. Cost: FREE
Online or on campus (@ USC ACB 238)
Twitter: #infoarts

[Watch the archived version of the webinar]

Teaching Writing as an Information Art


Katherine D. Harris (San Jose State U), Elizabeth Losh (UC San Diego),
Mark Marino (USC), and Dave Parry (UT Dallas)

Sponsored by
University of Southern California Writing Program,
The Center for Scholarly Technology,
& The Center for Transformative Scholarship

[The event will be archived online at DMLcentral]

Contemporary writing courses have been taking on computational tools, from word processors to wikis, for over two decades now, and for a large portion of that time, the tools have taken center stage. However, contemporary talk of media “literacies” has changed the place of tools in the classroom — or rather, has reframed the role of language as information. When students begin to study the role of words as tags, metadata, or search optimizing keywords, they are studying not just semantic structures but the logic and rhetoric of the flow of information. This panel discusses the idea of reframing those courses and their lessons under the title of Information Arts.

Come join our round table discussion as we explore the implications of this reconceptualization of the contemporary writing course.
Continue reading ‘Webinar: Teaching Writing as an Information Art (2/28)’

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