Thursday, June 14, 2012

Some More Reading List

So, time for me to share something, once again.  This time, it was in response to a request from Roy Christopher, who explained that every year he asks various scholars and intellectuals to provide their "summer reading list" for a post that he puts up on his site.  So, Roy says he'd like to include me, if I'd be willing to write something up.

So, of course, this sort of thing is somewhat artificial, in that I can't list all of the books I would want to read, that would be much too long for the sort of thing he was looking for (and he did point me to last year's entry), but I did come up with what I believe to be a reasonable contribution for him.  It's since been posted on his site under the heading of Summer Reading List, 2012, along with entries from friends like Douglas Rushkoff, and Howard Rheingold, and a number of others.

If you want to read them all, by all means click on Summer Reading List, 2012 and check them out.  And if you look for my entry, it's a little more than 2/3 of the way down.  But not to worry, at least I rank first here on Blog Time Passing, and that's all that really matters to me, because after all, Blog Time Passing readers are the best readers in the whole damn world—give yourselves a great big hand, why don't you?

So anyway, here's what I had to say about some more reading, listed, for the summer:

I’m looking forward to reading Howard Rheingold’s latest book, Net Smart: How to Thrive Online (MIT Press, 2012). Howard’s books combine accessibility with media ecological insight, and in this book, Howard brings a practical, media literacy oriented approach to the great concern of finding balance among the services and disservices of new media.

I’ve been hearing really good things about Terrence Deacon’s recent work, Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter (W. W. Norton, 2011), as it relates contemporary thinking in systems theory (e.g., complexity, autopoiesis) to the question of consciousness, so I just recently added it to my list.

As a media ecology scholar, Elena Lamberti’s new contribution to McLuhan Studies, Marshall McLuhan’s Mosaic: Probing the Literary Origins of Media Studies (University of Toronto Press, 2012), is a must read, and her discussion of McLuhan’s relationship to Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Wyndham Lewis speaks very much to the question of methodology in our field. Christine M. Tracy’s The Newsphere (Peter Lang, 2012), which follows up on some of Neil Postman’s insights about news in the television age, is also on my list.

Speaking of Postman, I will be giving Amusing Ourselves to Death (Penguin, 1985) a close rereading for a new book project I’m working on, and along with it I’ll be rereading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 1932) and Brave New World Revisited (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 1952), and his later novel, Ape and Essence (Dee, 1948), another dystopian vision set in the aftermath of global warfare and destruction.

One book I’ve been meaning to get around to reading is The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath by Joe Lieberman and David Klinghoffer (Howard, 2011).  I’m not sure if our 24/7/365.25 culture is quite ready to reverse its accelerated pace or retrieve the concept of the day of rest, but the Technology Shabbat movement is a response to our overheated media environment, and I’m interested in the topic as a media ecological practice, as well as a spiritual one.

Speaking of spirituality, the new book by Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz, Judaism’s Great Debates: Timeless Controversies from Abraham to Herzl (Jewish Publication Society, 2012) is an absolute must for anyone interested in moral theology or a dialogical approach to religious experience, and it is near the top of my stack of books.

Also in my summer plans are The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake (Anchor, 1997), The Collected Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 1981), as well as an odd little item I picked up in Brier Rose Books in Teaneck, NJ (one of the few remaining used bookstores in the area), Poem Outlines by Sidney Lanier (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908), and another volume I purchased there, Thomas Stanley’s translation of the ancient Greek lyric poet, Anacreon (Merrill & Baker, 1899). And I am anxious to read the next trade paperback collection of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, Vol. 16:  A Larger World (Image Comics, 2012).
And there you have it, that's "my summer reading list" post for you, for what it's worth. If there are books you think should also be on my list, or books that are on your list that you want me know are on your list, by all means, let me know, that's what the comments section is for.

And I do hope that you keep Blog Time Passing on your summer reading list as well!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Robert Priest, Dr. Poetry, and the Viral Verbal Vortex

 So, here's something else that I'd like to call you attention to.  A while back, I was asked if I'd write something about the Canadian poet, songwriter, musician, and writer, Robert Priest, for the online poetry and creative writing journal/magazine, Big Bridge.   And I was very happy to do so, because I like his work a great deal, and I also consider Robert to be a friend.

So, my essay was included as part of a feature on Robert Priest, and that link will take you to the main page, with links to his books, and to my own and three other essays and reviews of Robert's work.  I recommend reading them all, and especially "Robert Priest: Poet/Minstrel in Utter Space" by Sheree Fitch. her piece is great, especially for those of us with an academic orientation!  

There are also links to his viral video, One Crumb,

and to a 2007 public reading of some of his lyrics in the Ontario legislature,

And there's also a link to his bio entry on Big Bridge, where it states

Son of a navy officer and a member of the Wrens, Robert Priest was born in Walton-on-Thames England on July 10 1951 and emigrated to Toronto Canada at the age of 4. Growing up in Scarborough, Priest developed his love of literature from the fanciful stories his mother often told him before bedtime. By the age of 8, Priest had already begun to dream of becoming a writer. In 1970, he entered the University of Waterloo to study mathematics but soon dropped out so that he could put all his energies towards poetry. He released his first book of poetry in 1979 entitled The Visible Man. He has since published 9 more books of poetry, four plays, a children's novel, and a hit song. He is also a rock singer of note, having released several albums and videos which came to prominence in the l980's and 90's. He has also performed his children's songs for Sesame Street. Currently he is preparing his second young-adult fantasy novel The Paper Sword for publication in 2014 by Dundurn Press. A new book of children's poems: Rosa Rose is scheduled for a 2013 publication date with Wolsak & Wynn. He has just released his fourth CD of songs: Feeling the Pinch. He lives in Toronto with Marsha Kirzner and is a regular contributor to Toronto's weekly magazine Now.

The author of ten books of poetry, he won the Milton Acorn Memorial People's Poetry Award for The Mad Hand (1988). In his alias as Dr. Poetry he wrote and performed thirteen segments for CBC radio's spoken-word show Wordbeat. As a songwriter, he co-wrote the SOCAN airplay award-winning number one hit, "Song Instead of a Kiss" for Alannah Myles. His aphorisms have already appeared in The Farmer's Almanac and Colombo's Canadian Quotations. He is the author of four plays, including The Coming, which was co-written with Leon Rooke. Priest's musical play Minibugs and Microchips received a Chalmer's Award. His novel, Knights of the Endless Day (1993) received an Our Choice Award from the Canadian Children's Book Centre. And as for his children's poetry, Daysongs Nightsongs and The Secret Invasion of Bananas and Other Poems (2002) are on the CBC's recommended reading list.

And in case you were wondering, there's a bio entry for me as well, which I won't reproduced here because, well, after all, you know me.  But I will note that it contains a link to Blog Time Passing, of course, of course.  And you can see my essay in all of its natural born glory over on Big Bridge via the following link:  "Robert Priest, Dr. Poetry, and the Viral Verbal Vortex" by Lance Strate.  But I might as well share it with you here—you knew I would, didn't you?

So, here we go:

Robert Priest, Dr. Poetry, and the Viral Verbal Vortex

Robert Priest is also known as Dr. Poetry, which begs the question, if a medical doctor cures diseases of the body, what does a poetical doctor cure? The answer comes readily to mind: He heals the maladies of the word. The symptoms of such sickness include dull and lifeless language, eminently forgettable phraseology, swollen tongues and feverishly belabored sentences that no human ear was ever meant to hear. In response, the good doctor provides medication to counteract the sclerotic hardening of the categories, loosening linguistic arteries so that the verbal flow may bring much needed oxygen to the brain. His poetry is credited with halting an epidemic of influency, and it serves as vaccination against the spread of many orally communicated ailments afflicting creativity. Indeed, it is rumored that Dr. Poetry has discovered nothing less than the cure for the common prose.
I will return to the topic of contagion in due course, but in the interests of full disclosure let me note that I first encountered Robert Priest online, on MySpace back when it was the social network and Facebook was still a gated campus community. My first impression of Robert was that he captured a unique mix of Elvis and the Beatles, with a touch of Monty Python, and a bit of the shaman thrown in for good measure. I should add that his MySpace profile and blog pages were modest, and his interactions with others congenial, in contrast to the heavy self-promotion, competitiveness, and conflicts that characterized many others in this online writing community, amateur and accomplished poet alike. His approach was consistent with Canadian culture, as distinct from that of us noisy, nosy, nervy Americans. But I don't want to discount the individual, personal qualities of a poet who is confident in his ability, content with his success, and convivial in his outlook. Simply put, Robert is a mensch. I would also add that I consider him a friend, by which I mean much more than someone who accepted an online friend request. And we did eventually get to meet offline, when he came down to New York City to participate in a conference I had organized, and his poetry reading met with an extremely enthusiastic response from a gathering of media ecologists.
My first impression, upon encountering Robert's work online, is that he was engaged in the kind of wordplay that would have delighted Marshall McLuhan. In addition to being a media guru and Canada's intellectual comet, McLuhan was a master of the aphorism, with sayings such as, invention is the mother of necessities, the future of the book is the blurb, art is anything you can get away with, and of course, his famous maxim, the medium is the message. McLuhan no doubt would have appreciated Robert Priest's pithy and poetic aphorisms, some of which are collected in Time Release Poems (Ekstasis Editions, 1997), including
Sometimes it is the book that opens you.
Too much time is wasted in the making of clocks.
The teacher is the lesson.
These sayings are excellent examples of formal causality, as discussed in the recently published McLuhan collection, Media and Formal Cause (NeoPoiesis Press, 2011). Robert's ability to reverse figure and ground serves to create new perspectives and understandings for the reader, illustrating McLuhan's argument that poesis can function as an organ of perception. Moreover, one of McLuhan's laws of media is that of reversal, that anything pushed to its extreme will flip into its opposite. Robert's experiments with reversal, published as Reading the Bible Backwards (ECW Press, 2008) were very much in keeping with this principle. In general, his work exhibits a sensitivity to the fact that time and space are relative, human beings can only exist in relationship to one another, and everything exists in the context of interdependent systems or ecologies. Consider, for example, several more of his aphorisms:
Good lovers come in pairs.
If you would see a parent, look in the eyes of a child.
If you change either, you change the other.
Robert's method is entertaining, aesthetically pleasing, and intellectually stimulating, but it also provides keen insights into the human condition. One aphorism that I find especially moving is: People begin as dreams and end as memories. These profound metaphors for infancy and old age can be taken to mean that we begin as inspiration, and end as poetry. Before Freud introduced the notion of the unconscious mind, dreams were believed to come from outside of us, i.e., a supernatural source, and inspiration is very much about breathing life into inert material. And in ancient Greece, Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, was the mother of the muses, and the source of all eloquence. Poetry was understood to be the art of memorable speech, of thinking memorable thoughts to use Walter Ong's happy phrase, and I would suggest that it remains a viable way to define (and evaluate) poetry to this day. From this point of view, Robert Priest is truly favored by Mnemosyne and her daughters.
In the ancient world, aphorisms were part of a continuum that, on the far end, included epic poetry, the classic example being the Iliad and the Odyssey, otherwise known as the songs of Homer because they were, in fact, folk songs; by the same token, poets like Homer were known as singers of tales. It is not surprising, then, that in ancient Greece, the term they used to describe someone as educated and cultured was not literate or urbane, but musical. And in this sense, Robert Priest is truly musical, as a singer of tales, a writer of lyrics, a musician and recording artist. His poetry resonates, it strikes a responsive chord, it echoes throughout the inner landscape of the mind, while tickling the tongue and dancing across the page.
Glimpses of the old, oral tradition can be found in the culture of children, who have yet to have their senses and sensibilities altered by literacy, and the musical quality of language is most readily apparent in children's poems. The mark of a complete poet, I would suggest, is the ability to compose poems and songs for children, and here too Robert Priest distinguishes himself. For example, the poetry published in The Secret Invasion of Bananas (Ekstasis Editions, 2002) invites the reader to sing along. Consider the first stanza and chorus of "Space Spaghetti":
From Aldabran came noodle man
In a saucer on a trip
He went to boiling water
And there he took a dip.
He married noodle lady
In parmesan confetti—
They had a hundred noodle kids
And called them space spaghetti.

Space spaghetti space spaghetti
Look up in the sky
Space spaghetti, space spaghetti,
You'll see some fly by.
There is the requisite fun with food, nature, and science fiction and fantasy themes in this volume, as well as some play with popular culture, such as the poem, "Darth Orange", as you can see from the second stanza:
Darth orange, darth orange
He was such a bad fruit
He came here to conquer
In his orange space suit
But when he saw luke banana
He knew it was no use
Now there's no more darth orange
Just darth orange juice
There is more to Robert's poems for kids then just silliness, however, as he also summons images of beauty and mystery, for example in this last stanza of "Stargirl":
There was no beginning
There will be no end
To other lands
This message send
There is nothing
That can bring delight
Like a silvery ship
That can ride on light
And there is also a conscience in evidence in this collection, in poems like, "In the Next War" which begins
In the next war don't drop the bomb
drop the excess wheat
Drop the sacks of grain and powdered milk
we have too much of
Send our best men over in daring flights
their bombers full
of fish eggs huge cheeses
and birthday cake icings
In medieval Europe, theologians argued that God communicated to humanity through two different books, the book of scripture and the book of nature. This view is wonderfully expressed by the author of Reading the Bible Backwards in a poem entitled "Wild Books":
A dove book it came down
and landed in my hand
and there it sang its song to me
at last upon the sand

A fish book it swam by
I saw upon its scales
memories of treasures
from long forgotten tales

The water book its waves they roared
and carried vessels high
It lifted oars from shore to shore
and fell down from the sky

The sand book it came to me
I turned its many pages
The wind blew and the desert moved
my mind across the ages

I opened up the book of souls
it sang in my hand like thunder
I looked at last in the book of stars
and I stared all night in wonder
Dr. Poetry is quite the pediatrician, but he is also on the cutting edge when it comes to working with viral infections. The metaphor of going viral on the internet is a popularization of a neologism introduced by the biologist Richard Dawkins, and widely adopted within cyberculture, the meme. Dawkins had argued that genes, as self-replicating bits of DNA, are the true units of evolution, and that organisms are just devices genes use to reproduce themselves—talk about reversals! Dawkins also speculated that ideas, phrases, and the like are also self-replicators, using human brains to propagate, and he called these basic units memes. This notion did not get much attention until the popularization of the internet in the 90s, when people could actually see the spread and reproduction of messages through email, bulletin boards, and social media such as MySpace. Doug Rushkoff gave the term meme a more familiar nickname in his popular book, Media Virus! (Ballantine, 1994), and our Dr. Poetry has been working on a series of innoculations that he calls meme switches, and that will be made available in published form in the near future with the title of Splice Mix. This includes, under the heading of "The Spice/Splice Meme Splice" sequences such as
The splice of life
The splice garden
The splice trade
Herbs and splices
Sugar and splice
A splice box of earth
Splice girls
Old splice
Splice it up a little
Some recombinations are quite incisive, as can be seen in this excerpt from his critique of organized religion via the "God/Gold Meme Splice":
There is no gold but gold
Gold is perfect
Jews Muslims and Christians
All worship the same gold
The church is the house of gold
Other memetic edits are delightfully ribald, for example these first few lines from the "Arts/Arse meme splice":
Of late we have seen a decline of the arse
If we as a society cannot support our arse then we are in grave danger
People need arse
A thriving arse scene is a measure of a country's soul

I am a master of the dark arse
I got a fine arse award
I love the arse
I dedicated my life to the arse
These manipulations have an uncanny way of uncovering hidden truths, as when Robert reveals, in "Big Bother is Watching You" that, "all men are bothers, in the eyes of god" or, in his "Iron/Irony Meme Splice" that, "the hull of the titanic was made of solid irony."
I have not emphasized the fact that his switches are reciprocal, so that he gives us "The Poetry/Poverty Meme Splice" that includes "epic poverty," "slam poverty," and the observation that "performance poverty is very popular these days," and also a reversal in the form of "The Poverty/Poetry Meme Splice" that includes remarks like, "as long as there is poetry in the world, I will not rest," and references to "the rising poetry rate amongst people of colour." Clearly if a new goddess has joined the pantheon in recent years, one called Memesyne, then she too favors Robert like no other.
It has been a great pleasure to get to know Robert Priest over the past several years, to interact with him, trade quips, and provide feedback. As a doctor of the poetic, he has cured me of the blues and the doldrums on many occasions, and for that I am grateful. But I must be honest here, and warn you that his medications are quite habit-forming, resulting in an addiction that is almost impossible to shake. And as for his recombinant wordplay, reversals of sequence and meme splicing, they are downright contagious. Robert Priest's poetry represents the kind of epidemic the world could really use. Catch it, if you can.

 And there you have it.  I'm looking forward to listening to his latest feeling the pinch CD, which I'm told is somewhere in transit between Toronto and New York City.  In the meantime, one of his new songs can be heard online, it's got a great, Beatlesish sound to it, but I do have to warn you that it makes liberal use of a four-letter word, in case you are offended by such language.  If not, check it out.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What the Students Said About Westchester's Working With New Media Panel

So, in my last post, Program Launched, I gave you a run down of the new Professional Studies in New Media program that I developed and now am directing on behalf of Fordham University's School of Professional and Continuing Studies, which is being piloted on our Westchester campus.  

And I told you all about our program launch event, a panel discussion entitled Working With New Media, which featured Constantin Basturea, Robin Colner, Chris Cornell, and Paull Young, moderated by yours truly. If you missed that post, or need to refresh your memory, go review Program Launched and then meet me back here.

So, I am also teaching a summer session class for Fordham College at Rose Hill, Introduction to New Media/Participatory Media, and given the relevance of the panel discussion, we arranged to have the students attend the session, which they did.  And several of them posted their impressions of the panel on our class blog, which our students had decided to name (get ready for this one)...  hmmunications.

So, I thought I'd share their response here, while also providing a link back to the original post.

Here's what Liz Moore had to say about it:

Our class attended an event at Fordham's Westchester campus in place of class on Thursday. The event was a presentation to kick off Fordham's School of Professional Studies' New Media program. Four panelists whose careers deal in new media use in marketing and public relations spoke about their experiences, as well as about the importance of social media use for business purposes. The presentations were interesting to hear because this use of social media is so different from the way most college students use social media. When I hear the phrase "social media," my first thought is Facebook and keeping in touch with friends. Each of the four panelists had slightly different experiences, but they all drove home the point that social media is extremely helpful and necessary to drive profits in this day and age, and that a University program that concentrates on New Media will be very helpful for students.  

And now let's hear from

Although the New Media event our class attended last Thursday was catered towards [continuing ed] students, I still found the launch to be very informative. Through their professions, the four panelists explored the multifaceted aspects of social media. I found it compelling the way each professional was able mold the different platforms into marketing tools for their respective clients. Furthermore, I enjoyed that the panelists specialized in different categories of clientele such as small businesses, large companies, and non-profit organizations. Hearing their experiences definitely gave me some perspective of what I plan to do in the future. The panelists' insights made me realize how powerful and valuable social networking could be in the business world, especially on the internet. When social media is brought to its full marking potential, it can bring great success to any business. Information and advertisements concerning businesses are easily accessible, are spread much faster, and can be seen by a vast range of viewers. The idea behind New Media seems to be that internet platforms appeal to the realms of both pleasure and business. 

This past Thursday our introduction to new media class attended a very informative launch for the new program for new media at the Westchester campus. I found this conference very helpful since it shined light on the importance of social media for big, small and non-profit businesses. Each of the four panelists provided great information to help businesses grow. They also stressed the importance of social media and that in order for a company to grow and be known, social networking is of huge importance. Since these media industries are expanding rapidly, this conference showed the significance of keeping up with the emerging trends and media platforms. It also reiterates that the world is becoming much more visual and in order to spark awareness and provide good customer service, a company must be on all of these popular sites.

When I was first told that there would be a special presentation with four professionals involved in new media, I was ecstatic.  When I finish my last year of college in the upcoming year, I would love to be involved in the public relations field, and more specifically involved with new media.  Constantin Basturea, Robin Colner, Chris Cornell, and Paull Young were all very helpful when explaining what each of them do within their company.  I never knew that there were companies out there that help other companies execute social media in the right way, like Constantin Basturea does.  I really liked the how Robin Colner helps those smaller companies who do not have the money and resources to use a company like Constantin's at Converseon.  She teaches the smaller companies how to use the right information and what keeps them moving in the wrong direction, which is definitely something I can see myself doing in the future.  Chris Cornell is also helpful in what he does because he helps companies produce things that the people want.  I think it is a great quality to have to know how to make a company successful through new media.  I am glad that Paull Young went last because his accent was fun to listen to and it was also calming to know that someone as young as him can be successful.  I always thought that I would have to wait many years to become extremely successful, but if there is something out there that I am interested in, Paull Young taught me that I should chase my dreams and do as much as possible to make them come true.  All four speakers were clear in what they were saying and I am thankful that I got to go to a presentation like this one.  Although social networks seem to be primarily to a young audience for entertainment purposes, or at least that is what I think, it is a growing medium used for many big and small companies around the world.  Knowing how to use and navigate through these sites at a young age will hopefully help me when I am looking for a job in this field in the future.  

During the panel discussion on Friday one of the most interesting points made was on how we come upon information and entertainment on the Internet has changed. Sites that aggregate content, such as StumbleUpon, Reddit, Tumblr, and Digg are replacing search engines. What does this mean for the supposedly participatory nature of New Media? While people do make much of this content, such mindless autonomous acquisition could return us to earlier, more television-like, types of acquisition. 


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Program Launched

So, I told you about my new, added responsibilities as Director of Fordham University's new Professional Studies in New Media program, for our School of Professional and Continuing Studies, in a recent post with the rather straightforward title of Professional Studies in New Media.

And in that same post, I also mentioned the launch event, which took place this past Thursday, May 31st, at our Westchester campus, featuring a panel discussion on Working With New Media that I moderated, with panelists Constantin Basturea, Robin Colner, Chris Cornell, and Paull Young.

Well, the event was a great success, or at least I think it was, and I thought I'd share with you the article written by Janet Sassi for Fordham's eNewsroom.  It's called Roundtable Launches Fordham Program in New Media, as you may have guessed, you can click on the link to see it in its native habitat, or stick around and see it here and now.

Oh and here's the photograph, taken by Janet Sassi that was included with the article:


And the caption that came with it reads: "New Media panelists (l to r) Chris Cornell, Robin Colner, Paull Young and Constantin Basturea" (no, I'm not there, I was standing off to the side, which is fine with me).

So, anyway, let me get to the article now, and along the way I'll intersperse some other photographs provided courtesy of Chris Cornell, and I'll use his captions as well.

Four years ago, Chris Cornell ran a picture framing gallery and didn’t know what social media was, or how to set up a WordPress website. Then, in 2008, he found his platform.

“I became a Twitter evangelist,” said Cornell, who created the first Westchester ‘Tweet-Up” in 2009 and who is now social media director for Thompson & Bender, and a columnist for Westchester’s Examiner News.

 Thompson & Bender Director of Social Media Chris S. Cornell
talks about social media during Fordham University's 
panel discussion on new media held Thursday, March 31 
on the school's Westchester campus. Photo courtesy of Andy Goodman.

Five years ago, Paull Young saw a Tweet asking those who cared about clean water to request donations for charity:water in lieu of gifts on their birthdays; he set up an account, blogged it out, and was able to raise enough on his birthday to finance the building of one well in Africa.

Cornell and Young were part of an expert roundtable, organized and moderated by Lance Strate, Ph.D., professor of communication and media studies, that helped launch the Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies’ (PCS) new program, Professional Studies in New Media, on May 31.

Paull Young, director of digital engagement at charity: water 
with Dr. Isabelle Frank, Dean, 
Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

Panelists were unanimous in their view, which was, as social networks proliferate and the cyber universe expands, businesses and institutions need to do one thing to stay competitive: dip in and be there or risk being left behind.

“A lot of people are naysayers to social media, and they don’t see the benefits and refuse to get into it,” said Cornell. “The only way you can really see the full opportunities that social media present is to look at them from within. Every time you take a step, it brings new opportunities to leverage and magnify.”

The PCS’ new program, housed at the Westchester campus, focuses on developing new media expertise through courses such as Digital Design for New Media, Social Media Marketing, New Media Metrics, and Issues and Ethics in Cyberspace.

With the recent IPO of Facebook, and the exponential development of new networking platforms, organizations have untapped opportunities for selling products, tracking customers/followers, raising funds, and building brands, panelists said.

Young, who is now charity:water’s director of Digital Engagement, said the non-profit company does 75 percent of its fundraising on line. The organization, dedicated to bringing clean water to people worldwide, is planning to raise $25 million this year.

He described the power of social media, referencing a blog that was posted recently by a mother who was proud of her daughter for raising $362 for charity work: the girl wrote “Giving up my presents was really easy . . . I don’t need all that stuff.”

He reposted the girl’s comments, and people donated even more.

“That’s a movement. And that is social media amplifying word-of mouth,” said Young, who helped charity:water become the first non-profit to have one million Twitter followers.

Constantin Basturea, vice president for strategy, 
Converseon (social media agency) 
with Digistar Media founder and CEO Robin Colner.

Niche platforms, said panelists Constantin Basturea, vice-president for Strategy, Converseon, and Robin Colner, president and founder of DigiStar Media, are likely to become more valuable resources in the future. Pinterest, said Colner, offers a market that is 87 percent female, between the ages of 24 and 45, and whose time on site is an hour and a half, whereas time on a mass platform like Google Plus is “maybe three minutes?”

The cyberworld will continue to be “very fragmented” said Basturea, which is another reason why keeping abreast of new media is important.

“Is this madness going to end? No. Are there going to be less platforms? Yes, if you consider less being 500 versus 1500,” he said. “You have to figure out if there is value for you or your clients in a platform, and at what point in your client’s development, or the platform’s development, it makes sense to jump on the bandwagon.”

Dr. Lance Strate, the director of Fordham's 
Professional Studies in New Media Program, 
served as moderator of the panel discussion held at 
Fordham's West Harrison campus at 400 Westchester Avenue 
on Thursday, May 31. Photo courtesy of Andy Goodman.

Strate, who directs the Professional Studies in New Media program, said the program will sponsor more roundtables in the fall. For more information on PCS ‘ Professional Studies in New Media, visit the website.  

Westchester digital marketing professional Rhonda Hurwitz (left) 
and Intelligist Group Principal Alan Berkson (right), 
with Paul Young, the director of digital engagement at charity: water.

And let me add that there was a very lively question and answer session involving the panelists and the audience, which included some outstanding new media professionals, such as Rhonda Hurwitz and Alan Berkson, shown in the photograph above.

In sum, it was an energetic, enlightening, and altogether auspicious launch for our new program.  

And, it was only the beginning!

Monday, June 4, 2012

We Create the Conditions that Condition Us

So, I've been at it again as a guest blogger for the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College.  You may recall my previous involvement from my earlier posts, Arendt Come Due and Charlie Chaplin and Hannah Arendt, and if you don't, well go check them out, if you care to.

So my latest post for them is entitled We Create the Conditions that Condition Us, and you can go view it in its natural habitat by clicking on the link, or stick around and I'll share it with you right here and now:

We Create the Conditions that Condition Us

"The human condition comprehends more than the condition under which life has been given to man. Men are conditioned beings because everything they come in contact with turns immediately into a condition of their existence.  The world in which the vita activa spends itself consists of things produced by human activities; but the things that owe their existence exclusively to men nevertheless constantly condition their human makers."

-Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 1958, p. 9

The human condition is the context or situation we, as human beings, find ourselves in, the implication being that human life cannot be fully understood by considering humanity in isolation from its environment.  We are, to a large degree, shaped by our environment, which is why Arendt refers to us as conditioned beings.

We are conditioned by phenomena external to us, and this may be considered learning in its broadest sense, that is, in the sense that the Skinnerian conditioned response is a learned reaction to external stimuli.  It follows that any form of life that is capable of modifying its behavior in response to external stimuli is, to some extent, a conditioned being.

On a grander scale, natural selection, as it is popularly understood, can be seen as a conditioning force.  Survival of the fittest is survival of those best able to adapt to existing external conditions, survival of those best able to meet the conditions of their environment.  The fittest are, quite naturally, those in the best condition, that is, the best condition to survive.  Whether we are considering the effects of natural selection upon an entire species, or individual members of a species, or what Richard Dawkins refers to as the selfish gene, the environment sets the conditions that various forms of life must meet to survive and reproduce.

Such views are inherently incorrect insofar as they posit an artificial separation between the conditions of life and the form of life that is conditioned.  An ecological or systems view would instead emphasize the interdependent and interactive relationships that exist, as all forms of life alter their conditions simply by their very presence, by their metabolism, for example, and through their reproduction.  Darwin understood this, I hasten to add, and the seeds of ecology can be found in his work, although they did not fully germinate until the turn of the 20th century.  And Skinner certainly was aware of the individual's capacity for self-stimulation, and self-modification, but a truly relational approach in psychology did not coalesce until Gregory Bateson introduced a cybernetic perspective during the 1950s.

In the passage quoted above, it is readily apparent that Arendt is an ecological thinker.  In saying that, "the things that owe their existence exclusively to men nevertheless constantly condition their human makers," she is saying that we create the conditions that in turn condition us.  We exist within a reciprocal relationship, a dialogue if you like, between the conditioned and the conditions, the internal and the external, the organism and its environment.  The changes that we introduce into our environment, that alter the environment, feedback into ourselves as we are influenced, affected, and shaped by our environment.

The contrast between using tools and techniques in the most basic way to adapt to the conditions of the environment, and the creation of an entirely new technological environment of great complexity that requires us to perform highly convoluted acts of adaptation was portrayed with brilliant sensitivity and humor in the 1980 South African film, directed by Jamie Uys, entitled The Gods Must Be Crazy.  A good part of the documentary style opening can be seen on this YouTube clip:

The story of the Coke bottle, although fictional, follows the pattern of many documented cases in which the introduction of new technologies to traditional societies has had disruptive, and often enough, disastrous effects (the film itself, I hasten to add, is marvelously comedic, and quite often slapstick following the introductory quarter hour).

The understanding that we are conditioned by the conditions we ourselves introduce was not unknown in the ancient world.  The 115th Psalm of David, in its polemic against idolatry and the idols that are "the work of men's hands," cautions that "they who make them shall be like unto them; yea every one that trusts in them."  Along the same lines, the Gospel of Matthew includes the famous quote, "all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword," while the Epistle to the Galatians advises, "whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." A more contemporary variation of that maxim is, "as you make your bed, so you shall lie on it," although in the United States it is often rendered in the imperative and punitive form of, "you made your bed, go lie in it!"  During the 19th century, Henry David Thoreau notified us that "we do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us," while Mark Twain humorously observed that, "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."  More recently, we have been told, "ask a silly question, get a silly answer," to which computer scientists have responded with the acronym GIGO, which stands for, "garbage in, garbage out."  Winston Churchill said, "we shape our buildings, and thereafter they shape us," and former Fordham professor John Culkin, in turn, offered, "we shape our tools, and thereafter they shape us," as a corollary to Marhsall McLuhan's media ecology aphorism, "the medium is the message."

All of these voices, in their varying ways, are pointing to the same essential truth about the human condition that Arendt is relating in the quote that begins this post.  And to pick up where that quote leaves off, Arendt goes on to argue,

In addition to the conditions under which life is given to man on earth, and partly out of them, men constantly create their own, self-made conditions, which, their human origin and their variability not withstanding, possess the same conditioning power as natural things.

The "conditions" that we make are used to create a buffer or shield against the conditions that we inherit, so that our self-made conditions are meant to stand between us and what we would consider to be the natural environment.  In this sense, our self-made conditions mediate between ourselves and the pre-existing conditions that we operate under, which is to say that our conditions are media of human life.  And in mediating, in going between our prior conditions and ourselves, the new conditions that we create become our new environment.  And as we become conditioned to our new conditions, they fade from view, being routinized they melt into the background and become essentially invisible to us.

Let us return now for the conclusion of the passage from The Human Condition:

Whatever touches or enters into a sustained relationship with human life immediately assumes the character of a condition of human existence.  This is why men, no matter what they do, are always conditioned beings.  Whatever enters the world of its own accord or is drawn into it by human effort becomes part of the human condition.  The impact of the world's reality upon human existence is felt and received as a conditioning force.  The objectivity of the world—its object- or thing-character—and the human condition supplement each other; because human existence is conditioned existence, it would be impossible without things, and things would be a heap of unrelated articles, a non-world, if they were not the conditioners of human existence.

This last point is quite striking.  It is we, as human beings, who create worlds, which brings to mind the moving commentary from the Talmud:  "whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world."  We create worlds, in the sense that we give meaning to existence, we attribute meaning to phenomena, we construct symbolic as well as material environments.  Each one of us, in our singular subjectivity, creates a world of our own, and therefore each one of us represents a world unto ourselves.

But these individual worlds are links, nodes in a social network, interdependent and interactive parts of an ecological whole.  The term condition, in its root meaning is derived from the Latin prefix com, which means together, and dicere, which means to speak.  And our ability to speak together, to engage in discussion and deliberation, to enter into symbolic interaction, constitutes the means by which we collectively construct our intersubjective, social realities, our worlds.

As human beings, we are conditioned not only by our labor, the ways in which we obtain the necessities of life, i.e., air, water, food, shelter, to which Marx sought to reduce all aspects of society, a position that Arendt severely criticized.  We are conditioned not only by our work, which Arendt associated with artifacts, with instrumentality and technology, with arts and crafts.  We are conditioned most importantly by action, which in Arendt's view is intimately tied to speech and the symbolic, and to processes rather than things, to relations rather than objects.

In the end, Arendt reminds us that the human condition is itself conditional, and to be fully human requires not only that we take care of biological necessity, nor that we make life easier through technological innovation, but that we cooperate through speech and action in collectively constructing a world that is truly blessed with freedom and with justice.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

McLuhan Intersections

So, this past November I was in Toronto for the big Marshall McLuhan Centenary conference and celebration, McLuhan100 Then/Now/Next (see my previous post, McLuhan Then/Now/Next Soon), and one of the many events that took place was the McLuhan Piazza, hosted by the Italian Consulate in Toronto, and organized by University of Bologna's Elena Lamberti.  It was a bit of fun, a bit of a throwback to the 60s with drummers and extemporaneous talks, and I was very pleased to be a part of it, having been asked to be one of the participants, talking about McLuhan's context in the sixties, and also about the future.

So, one of the individuals present was the artist, Panchal Mansaram, a friend of Marshall McLuhan's, and he did some videotaping of the event, and that footage was in turn edited and turned into a short YouTube video that's worth sharing with you here on Blog Time Passing, if for no other reason than the fact that I'm a part of it, especially at the end.  It's called McLuhan Piazza - then/now/next, and here it is:

And here's the write-up on the video's YouTube page:

1st International
 Conference on McLuhan

CSI Spadina, Toronto, 
November 9, 2011

Katherine Adams, Marco Adria, Costis Dallas, 
Derrick de Kerchove, Paolo Granata, Stephen Kovatch, 
Elena Lamberti, Robert K. Logan, 
Cristina Miranda de Almeida, Peppino Ortoleva, 
Lance Strate, Dominique Scheffel Dunand, 
Yoni Van Den Eede, Eduardo Andrés Vizer
Voice of Marshall McLuhan

Video by P. Mansaram (

 I should also note that Panchal has an art show up in Canada starting tomorrow, it's called Intersection—Mansaram & McLuhan, and here is the very cool poster for it:

I am told that there will also be a show in New York City later this summer, and I'll be sure to let you know about that.  In the meantime, here is the write-up from the Ed Video Gallery:

Ed Video Gallery

Collages, paintings, and media art by P. Mansaram inspired by and in collaboration with Marshall McLuhan from 1966 to 2012

June 4-29, 2012 with Reception on Friday, June 8 at 7pm

Soon after P. Mansaram immigrated to Canada in 1966, he became friends with the influential media theorist Marshall McLuhan. A productive working relationship developed, leading to numerous collaborations on several projects. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Mansaram’s work inspired and created with McLuhan was exhibited at the Picture Loan Gallery, and he organized happenings at the eminent Isaacs Gallery in Toronto. The Rear View Mirror series of collages, collaborative paintings, films, and audio were exhibited, and later toured the Atlantic provinces and India.  This same work, along with recent projects, will be featured at Ed Video Gallery at Intersection 40 years later.

Featured will be the Rear View Mirror series of collages created between 1966 and 1972. The collection combines elements from both Eastern and Western culture, a central theme of Mansaram’s work and McLuhan’s theories.  Parallels are drawn between the hyper-vivid and frenetic culture of India and McLuhan’s ideas about the complexity and influence of mass media. Intersection also features films and videos, covers he designed for McLuhan’s books, and displays of correspondence documenting their friendship. A surround sound audio installation created from an interview Mansaram conducted with McLuhan in 1967 is the audio backdrop for the exhibition. McLuhan discusses the prevalent ideas of that time - the East’s influence on the West, the hippie movement, the psychedelic experience, and how electronic communications change our perception of time and space.  Mansaram's work captures elements of McLuhan’s prophetic ideas that continue to define and clarify our media-saturated world.

 This sounds downright amazing, as does Panchal's biography:

Panchal Mansaram - Bio and Chronology
BORN- I was born in Mount Abu. This scenic part of Rajasthan, India, is where
Maharajas built summer palaces during Colonial rule. This is also famous for special Rock Formations, and for tenth/twelfth century Delwara Jain Temples, which some think to be more beautiful than the Taj Mahal.
EDUCATION- Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, India 1954-59
1963-64, at the State Academy of Fine Arts, Amsterdam, Netherlands on a Dutch
Government Fellowship.
PRACTICE- My art practice has gone through various phases, and varieties of media, currently working in mixed-media, a special blend which I have termed as Mansa-media
1959- I created ‘Impressions from Nepal’ series (tempera on paper) shown at Jehangir Art Gallery in Bombay, for which I won first prize at the prestigious Bombay State Art Exhibition
1960- ‘Calcutta by Night’ series (oil on masonite) shown at the Artistry House in Calcutta
1966- Immigrated to Canada, where I met Marshall McLuhan and Av Isaacs
1967- Created ‘East West Intersect’, a multimedia concert at the Isaacs Gallery with
encouragement from McLuhan. I also made a five minute long 16mm film featuring Marshall McLuhan for this event
1970’s- Created a mixed media series of paintings, titled ‘Rear View Mirror’ (title
borrowed from McLuhan), including a collaborative art work with Marshall McLuhan.  This series of works were shown at the Picture Loan Gallery in Toronto in 1974, where Marshall McLuhan was the chief guest. In 1971/72, the exhibition traveled to seven galleries in the Eastern Provinces of Canada, and then to India at the Dhoomimal Art Gallery in New Delhi and Jehangir Art gallery in Mumbai in 1975
1970’s- I started working with fabric as collage medium. This eventually became mixed
media using xerography transfer, serigraph, blue prints, etc. These works were shown at the Taj Art Gallery in Mumbai, India House in New York, and Burlington Art Center, Burlington.  During this period I did pioneering work in Xerography, using black and white and colour Xerox and Blue Prints. I became member of International Society of Copier Arts in New York and contributed to their quarterly, featuring member’s creations in Xerography and bookwork.
1975- I had a collaborative exhibition titled ‘Duet’ with American artist Jim Ridlon of mixed-media blue prints on fabric and paper shown at the Art Gallery of Hamilton
1980’s- I did large format lasergraphic works, inspired by my immediate environment such as my backyard and school. I created works such as ‘Moving Landscape’ and ‘At the School Lockers’, a lasergraphic installation, and a series of works titled ‘New York-New York’ shown at the Piramal gallery in Mumbai, India. 
1992- Air India Commission- Air India commissioned me to do a series of images
on India Destinations, to be used for a series of lasergraphic art posters.
1997-2007 - ‘Art on the Rocks’, a sight specific mixed media art on rock formations in Mount Abu, India.
2006- Retrospective at the Print Studio, Hamilton
1999-2008– created images in mansa-media of Indian cities, Pushkar, Delhi, Mumbai.
Banarasan exhibition was held at the Glenhyrst Art Gallery of Brant, and South Asian Gallery of Art in Oakville
2008/09- Created a series on Diversity in Ontario
2009- Created a series on Udaipurto shown at Bougainvillaea Gallery in Udaipur, India
2010/11- ‘Mahal Maharaja and Mansaram’ at Art Square Gallery, Toronto and at South Asian Gallery of Art, Oakville
2012- ‘Intersection, Mansaram & McLuhan’ at Ed Video Gallery featuring video, audio, mixed media works.  Also preparing for future exhibition of collages at JM Gallery in New York City
Art in the collection of: Royal Ontario Museum, Air India, Marshall McLuhan estate, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Government of Ontario Art Collection, National Gallery of Canada, Modern Art New Delhi, and numerous private collections.
Member of: CARFAC, SAVAC, Royal Ontario Museum, Hamilton Artists Inc.,
Colour and Form Society (life Member), Bombay Art Society (Life member), Gallery 44, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Arts Hamilton, The Print Studio

And just in case anyone is harboring any doubts or suspicions, Panchal was kind enough to include a scan of the following letter from the media guru himself:

Truly a living embodiment of media intersections (aka piazzas), the in-between quality of gaps and intervals and all-pervading invisible environments that so fascinated McLuhan, Panchal provides us with an outstanding example of media ecology praxis, putting theory into artistic practice.   I'm looking forward to his Manhattan exhibition in July and August.  It'll be just the cool medium we'll need for a hot New York summer!

Friday, June 1, 2012

On Hypertext

So, I have one more set of remarks to share from the online course I taught for Fordham University this past spring semester, Writing for Online Media.  And as I noted in my last post, these are basic lecture notes in written form for an online class, not original essays.  And at the risk of being redundant, this is the 6th in a series, the previous 5 posts being

  1. Orality and Online Writing 
  2. Reading, Writing, and Rearranging 
  3. Scribes and Scribbles
  4. From Print to Screen
  5. Electronic Writing and Digital Media  
  6. Remediation and the Rearview Mirror

The course is mainly on blogging, and more generally about writing for websites, but we also cover hypertext, a subject that was broached in earlier remarks, and is the focus of this set.

On Hypertext

The concept of hypertext has already been introduced in the readings, so you may want to go back to them to refresh your memory. For a quick overview, read the Wikipedia entry on hypertext

The hyper in hypertext is not meant to suggest hyperactivity, but rather a higher dimension. For example, a hypercube is a four-dimensional object in which every "side" is a three-dimensional cube (impossible for us to fully perceive because we only see in three dimensions), in much the same way that a cube is a three-dimensional object in which each side is a two-dimensional square, and a square is a two-dimensional object in which each side is a one-dimensional line. The novella, Flatland, by Edwin Abbott, is an entertaining narrative that illustrates the concept of dimensionality, and if you're interested, there are YouTube videos on string theory in physics, a theory that posits the existence of ten dimensions. In science fiction, hyperspace is the idea of a space above regular space, again, a higher dimension. So if you imagine a line of writing as one-dimensional, a page as two dimensional, and a book as three-dimensional, hypertext takes us up another dimension in textual organization. 

With hypertext, the distinctions between a line, a page, a book, a series, and an entire library become blurred, as they become part of a hypertextual network. In a more basic sense, hypertext automates the function of footnotes and citations, and cross-referencing in an encyclopedia, letting you jump from one article, entry, or text to another,  and it can also be seen in the unique layout and parallel streams of text of the Talmud, and in the mosaic layout of the newspaper front page. 

Simply put, hypertext is a network of texts or textual fragments, each one constituting a node within the network, each node connected via links. The World-Wide Web is an enormous hypertext, which is why web addresses begin with http, which stands for hypertext transfer protocol, and why the basic programming language is html, hypertext markup language. Because hypertext can include audiovisual content, the term hypermedia is sometimes used as well, but it never quite replaced hypertext in popularity. 

Another way to look at hypertext is that it is a database, consisting of texts or parts of texts, which can be drawn upon and arranged in different ways, just as you might specify, from a database of individuals, only those living in a particular region, or only those fitting certain demographic characteristics. The key point here is that these databases have no necessary, preferred, or singular order, but only take form when the user interacts with them (or a program draws upon them automatically according to some preset parameters, whether random or in response to some outside stimuli/feedback); therefore, while a databade could be compared to a written liss in some ways, lists must appear in some particular order—even if they are later rearranged, there is a fixed order at any given point in time. New media theorist Lev Manovich suggests that a new kind of database aesthetics and logic has replaced the aesthetics and logic of traditional narrative. 

Hypertext narratives generally have been attempts to break out of the linearity of traditional storytelling, and provide a kind of branching set of alternatives that depend on the user's choices, kind of like the "create your own adventure" books where at the end of a page it will give you a choice, like leave or stay, and tell you to turn to one page or another depending on that choice. Often overlooked is the fact that hypertext can also insure strict linearity by not allowing you to go to any other page but the next one in the sequence, whereas with a book we can flip back and forth through the pages, and read the ending ahead of time to see how it all turns out.  In this sense, the bound book is more hypertextual than the scroll (the original book format), and hypertext has the potential to be even more strictly restrictive than the scroll.

Before the web, hypertext narratives were sold on floppy disks or CD-ROMs as self-contained items, and some still are distributed in that form, while others are available online. Like the web, there are individual pages linked in various ways, and certain words may contain hyperlinks, and are usually recognized by being a different color or being underlined. 

Hypertexts can follow the traditional single author, read-only format, although with the reader making decisions about which link to follow, it has been suggested that the reader in this sense becomes an author, or at least a co-author. At the very least, it is possible to read the same hypertext repeatedly and get different experiences depending on the links that are followed. 

 Hypertext can also be used collaboratively, with multiple authors not only editing and adding to the work of others, but adding new pages and links to the hypertext. Perhaps the most extensive example of this kind of hypertext is Wikipedia. All of the links in Wikipedia entries lead to other Wikipedia entries, and external links are only included at the end of the entry, if at all. It is possible to navigate through Wikipedia, browse and surf the site, and some people even engage in races to see who can get from one specific starting page to another designated page fastest by clicking on links in each entry. 

Wikipedia is only one example of a wiki, which is a medium much like a blog. While blogs emphasize sequence over time, wikis emphasize spatial connections, which is true also of hypertext more generally. It is perhaps revealing that while there are a great many blogs out there, there is no one primary example of a blog, in the sense that Wikipedia is the only wiki site that most people go to or even know of, one that involves enormous collaboration and accretion of data and written work. But there are in fact many other wikis out there as well. For example, take a look at wikispaces, and also check out the Wikimedia Foundation. Apart from being a hypertext, wikis also keep track of revisions that are made, allow the user to view previous versions of a page, and revert back to a previous version if desired. 

A great place to start exploring hypertext narrative is on the site of the leading publisher of hypertext literature, Eastgate Systems. You can take a look at their site, and their listings for fiction and nonfiction to begin with. Then check out the resources they make freely available. Of particular interest are Eastgate founder Mark Bernstein's writings in the Cutting Edge category. From the On the Web category, you can go to the Reading Room and look at some of the hypertext works available there. I'm particularly fond of Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce, but please feel free to explore whatever seems appealing to you. If you go back to the On the Web page and scroll down a bit, you'll find a list of hypertexts on the web that you can also explore. 

Another site that offers a selection of hypertexts online is this Hypertext and Hypermedia page from Some of the links don't work, but many do. The Museum is worth a look, and some of the poetry can be interesting. 

Another interesting site to examine is that of the Electronic Literature Organization, both for the organization itself and for the links provided to various forms of e-lit. 

 Of course, you can also do a search for hypertext and see what else you can find. 

 In regard to other possibilities, I recommend taking a look at comic artist and media theorist Scott McCloud's website, and especially his WebComics page, and from that page, particularly take a look at The Right Number, and Zot!. Creative work like this shows how we can break free of the formats that we take for granted, whether narrative or spatial arrangement. 

Coming from the gaming end of the spectrum, text adventure games were introduced in the 1970s, and had a measure of popularity on personal computers during the 1980s, before being displaced by cinematic games, starting with Myst. Most text adventures did not feature especially good writing, but one company, Infocom, went above and beyond the competition, and began to refer to their games as interactive fiction, essentially coming to hypertext from this different direction, and incorporating a touch of artificial intelligence programming to go with it. They experimented with various genres, from science fiction and fantasy to detective stories, comedy, horror, and even romance; humorist Douglas Adams even worked with them on their adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and an original game called Bureaucracy. This site has information about the games, and even allows you to play them online. And here is another site where the games can be played online. In my opinion, interactive fiction was a format that was abandoned prematurely, and still has something to offer—I expect that it will be revived and revised at some point in the future.   And I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but here is a site that says it lets you "Create, play and share text adventure games."

While blogging does not highlight its hypertextual elements, keep in mind that they're still present. A blog can be seen as a database made up of posts, and it's possible to pull up the posts in different ways, in the reverse chronological order that is the basic set up of the blog, beginning with the most recent; or in that same order but based on a particular year and/or month through the archives gadget; or in that same order but including only pages with a given label by clicking on the label at the end of a post or on the labels gadget; or as individual pages in isolation. Also keep in mind that you can include links in a post to one or more previous posts, providing a connection to other parts of the blog (just as Wikipedia does with its entries), deepening the experience, and getting readers to look at older material they might otherwise overlook. I recommend doing this whenever the opportunity arises.