When Dick Clark died earlier this week, he was best known as a “New Year’s Eve Icon” from his hosting the annual televising of the Times Square celebration, but he came to prominence earlier as the host of two ground-breaking TV shows, American Bandstand, which aired weekday afternoons and introduced baby boomer teenagers to new records by showing Philadelphia teenagers dancing to the latest releases, and the New York-based Dick Clark Show, which put rock ‘n’ roll performers in front of screaming teenagers for half an hour every Saturday night.
Dick Clark’s success rested upon a change in music distribution platform around 1958 to a new technical standard: the mass-produced 45 rpm vinyl record, smaller and cheaper than the 78 rpm singles that were the previous market standard. Continue reading
Inscription in stone on Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia.
Cable news is obsessed this week over inscription technologies. At issue is whether the political positions taken in primary elections are as erasable as the magnetic writing on an “Etch-a-Sketch,” as the Republican front-runner’s campaign manager imprudently suggested, or written “in stone” as the Republican challenger describes his own unchanging pronouncements.
Politicians would do well to remember that we live in the age of digital media which has disruptive inscription affordances — combining persistent memory with ease of participation by multiple voices of authority.
In the 14 years since the publication of Hamlet on the Holodeck, there has been a rich and diverse expressive practice at the intersection of storytelling and interactivity. This talk, which I gave as part of Georgia Tech’s GVU Brown Bag series in October 2011, surveys some representative examples of computational narrative forms and identifies promising areas for innovation.
In the first wave of digital invention it was a rallying cry to proclaim that “information wants to be free.” Of course what this really meant was that a certain subculture of educated people, mostly in universities, wanted to access and share information without having to pay for it. This cultural attitude has produced useful online resources like Wikipedia and it has also produced high visibility arrests for media piracy and endless litigation against the Google Book Project. We now know whatever “information” may want, rights holders often want to be paid.
Princeton researcher Janet Vertesi studies the cultural context of scientific investigation at NASA.
I was reminded of this change in perspective recently by Janet Vertesi, who was at Georgia Tech speaking about her illuminating research on knowledge cultures at NASA. Vertesi studied two projects which collected very different configurations of knowledge, mirroring the very different social organization of the investigating teams. One team which divided up the ownership of individual instruments and had a highly politicized decision making process collected data with great breadth but little coherence; a second team that shared a common instrument set and made decisions by consensus collected data that was highly integrated and detailed but narrow in scope. Vertesi’s presentation made it clear that there was no such thing as objective data, and that knowledge reflected cultural organization. It was Vertesi’s very sensible position that designers must heed such differences in cultural configuration or risk creating tools that do not fit the user group. Continue reading
I am often asked to comment on the Future of the Book. As someone who has just written a very large book that took a great deal of time to write and that I hope will be useful to many people, I sympathize with the impulse to equate knowledge-transmission-by-print-on-paper with KNOWLEDGE itself. But this is a mistake. Continue reading
Blog of Cambridge University mathematician Timothy Gowers who asks, "Why can't we just tell Elsevier that we no longer wish to publish with them?"
Academic life is characterized by the need to “publish or perish,” but some academics are calling for a boycott of a very prestigious publisher — another example of the disruptions caused by the switch from legacy to digital forms of information transmission.
Television producers are increasingly turning to interactive applications to encourage fans to become more immersed in a series’ storyworld through activities that provoke the active creation of belief.
HBO GO Game of Thrones Application
Active Creation of Belief is a design term I first used in Hamlet on the Holodeck, to contrast with Coleridge’s classic term of “suspension of disbelief” and to refute the notion that narrative pleasures are incompatible with interactivity.
In Chapter 1 of Inventing the Medium I describe the 3 layers that make up any medium of communication: inscription, transmission, and representation
(see Glossary for definitions), and I noted that the new digital medium has introduced disruption at all three levels. Last week’s showdown over SOPA and PIPA, the proposed legislation that would have eliminated piracy by punishing any site that linked to illegal content, is a good example of problem in the transmission layer — and it offers us the opportunity to ask how a more mature medium would handle the situation. Continue reading
A popular and very useful textbook in Interaction Design defines the field with this diagram:
As I explain in the Introduction and especially in Chapter 2, Inventing the Medium is not meant to substitute for the body of knowledge mapped above but to complement and recontextualize it, by drawing on disciplinary methods and craft practices that are absent from the HCI/Interaction Design map of the design process.
Here is how I would express it, using the same diagram: Continue reading
In a previous post I described “transmedia storytelling” as an interim term for an additive strategy of creating a consistent fictional world across multiple legacy media platforms, like TV and videogames. I expressed an expectation that we will see a unified new genre of storytelling native to the new digital medium, as I described in a previous book.
The SyFy TV show Defiance will have an associated MMO set in a different city within the same storyworld.
What would this new participatory story genre look like? Some of its conventions are clear, based on the way people have wanted to connect with existing story worlds and multiplayer games: It will involve an internally consistent but puzzling fictional world, an authored but participatory plot, and an encyclopedically large cast built around a small number of iconic figures. Continue reading