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Saturday, March 29, 2008

assorted stuff

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Heading South

My conference proposal has been accepted, so I will be speaking at the UCLA Southland Graduate Students Conference in May. I've never been to the U.S. before. Nothing sets a plan in stone like booking flights. This is truly exciting, because it is a giant step in the direction I had been hesitantly hoping for a while back.

[I just spent a little over an hour reading my entire blog since last February, searching for a post I could have sworn I'd written so that I could link to it in reference... Did I not write, at one point, about how I hoped to introduce cyberculture studies into my MA program somehow because I wanted to focus my MA essay on it? I distinctly recall writing it, at any rate, whether or not I posted it. As a sidenote, my blog used to be a lot more interesting than it is now.]

Anyway, take my word for it that it's exciting times, indeed. As fate would have it, I'll be in Los Angeles talking about "Unlocking Year Zero: Temporal Dynamics in a New Type of Immersive Text" on the day before Trent Reznor's birthday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Please don't boycott us - we'll give you an ARG

Jane McGonigal (key game designer in I Love Bees) officially announced her newest ARG, The Lost Ring, in a recent blog post on her Avant Games website. I hadn't really paid attention to The Lost Ring before now, but I find a lot of things curious about that post, and about this ARG in general.

First of all, I find an official announcement of an ARG pretty surprising. Granted, the ARG wasn't revealed in this way; it was revealed in the usual ARG-type manner via "strange packages" that were delivered to various people around the world (mainly USA, from what I gather). But in the past, puppetmasters have taken a silent, no-comment approach instead of an in-your-face "here are the steps I recommend you take if you want to get involved." Seriously, she actually gives you steps. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

What's really so odd about this ARG is that it was co-sponsored by the International Olympic Committee. The first sentence in McGonigal's blog post states that the ARG was created for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Well, pretty cool break for Avant Games, to be honest. As McGonigal says, the Olympics brings the world together through sports, and this is a chance for her to make a truly global ARG—this one spans five continents, and all ARG content is going to be translated into eight different languages. That's huger than anything to date. So, as far as ARGs go, this is spectacular. But the fact that the IOC and McDonalds and an interactive marketing company called AKQA are among the big co-sponsors makes this ARG look like a "Come to Beijing! Don't boycott us!" gimmick. Even moreso when we look a little futher...

Those "strange packages" obviously weren't enough. McGonigal said that they soon had 1,000 players, but that they wanted millions. ("They"?) I suppose this is why the puppetmasters spoke out, flashing the big "ARG ALERT" sign. I've seen ads for The Lost Ring on various social networking sites now. Step 1, as it happens, is to watch the ARG's trailer, which is truly cinematic. There is something wrong with the phrase "ARG's trailer." You can't even look at The Lost Ring's website (where a lot of ARG content is located) without first either watching or bypassing the trailer. Watch that trailer, and then compare it to the Year Zero trailer, which was more game content than anything else.

Having said all that, I think all the advertising is just a way to make people aware of the game and bring people to the main site where they can learn more. I've got no head for collective discovery, myself, and there is truly a lot to the game. Trailers and ads aren't part of the game, they're just gimmicks to bring you to the game. And, what do you know, maybe this game is a gimmick to bring you to the Olympics. Funny old world.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What's the matter? Low marker intake?

  • Two new transcriptions: The Fragile (Bridge School version) and 12 Ghosts II. The latter would be best if I waited for the multitracks, but (uncharacteristically) I actually got a request for it. So, the best I can do is post it with a caveat.

  • Low marker intake? The picture (without my added words, that is) makes me laugh every time. I'm tittering right now, just thinking about it.

  • In other NIN news, Trent Reznor recently announced the Ghosts Film Festival. Never lacking in innovation, that one. Incidentally, Radiohead announced a similar deal soon afterward, except theirs is quite clearly a competition with a big prize. It's not that I find it amusing, how the striking similarities in the way NIN and Radiohead are going about things lately highlight their striking differences in values (Radiohead seems to be going to great lengths to maintain their dependence on the "old" model while NIN is very outspoken against that model). I just don't know a better word for it than "amusing."

  • NIN is also playing at the Pemberton Festival this summer. So far it's their only 2008 show listed on nin.com. And it's in Pemberton. How random is that? You can bet I'm going.

  • The Passively Multiplayer Online Game. Not really fun, or game-y. But it's fascinating that once you download the plugin this previously invisible world is revealed, and it's everywhere on the entire web. You find things—crates that other players have stashed, portals to other websites, "lightposts" that other players have put up from which you can take dumb "missions" that are rarely interesting—on many webpages you normally visit. (p.s. if you're interested, drop me a comment and I'll drop you an invitation. You don't need one to join, but this way I can earn a badge... or even three badges, if I invite enough people. And after all, it is a game, and I've got to keep one step ahead of *certain* opponents.)

  • What a crappy week.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

ScribeFarm's 3rd Contest... and GO!

Fun Fact: ScribeFarm's 3rd contest is running as of today, and it's highly fast-paced. The deadline: this Monday! No prompt this time, and hardly any limitations. Take a chance, have some fun. Here are the rules:

1) Work must be original; no scouring the net for something someone else wrote!

2) If you submit a piece of poetry, try to keep it fewer than 1.2 million words. We don’t mind reading what ‘cha got, especially if it’ll win. But try to limit yourself to the length of 3 encyclopedias.

3) If you’re writing prose, well… the same thing applies. Don’t kill the mods!

4) We’re not going to officially state that humor pieces will do better, but the mods tossed around the idea of making this a contest of humor. So…yeah…nudge nudge…

5) The deadline, folks, is THIS MONDAY, the 10th of March, 2008.

6) You can submit up to 3 pieces, and must be sent to scribefarm@gmail.com

7) Lastly, and SRSLY, don’t forget this…you must have your Scribefarm/Fictionpost username at the top of your entry / email / whatever. YOU MUST HAVE IT THERE, and MUST BE A MEMBER OF ONE OF THESE TWO SITES.

Monday, March 03, 2008

1 Ghosts I 7 hours 10 attempts 0 downloads = mobius album

Well, it only took an hour and a half for the Ghosts order page to load, and it's been five hours since then, during which time I've tried to download the album roughly 10 times using the download link I received (which was a "one-time-only" link, and which maxed out once during that time, but the NIN camp had to reactivate everybody's links so that everybody will be able to get the music once the site is stabilized after the addition of more servers). But who's counting, really? I'm sure it will all work out "soon."

In the meantime, I've transcribed 1 Ghosts I. (Ghosts tracks don't actually have names, they're just called "5 Ghosts I" or "15 Ghosts II" or "36 Ghosts IV." It really helps you remember all the songs, I suppose. I wouldn't know. I can't hear them, can I?)

Edit: there's now a 9 Ghosts I transcription up as well.

Edit #2: How I imagine it's going, about now

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ghosts I-IV

Nine Inch Nails self-released a new album today, Ghosts I-IV. 36 instrumental tracks, obtainable in a variety of ways. The site seems to be tragically overworked, and I've been unable to get a download yet.