28.11.05

[snow@night]

Either I have a new camera, a lot of time, OR (the capitals here are a hint!) I've never seen so much snow in England!

[before snow, after snow]

Poor little garden gnome. Just minding his own business...until snow appeared.

[snow!!!!!]












Who knew it could actually snow here?!!! And it's only November...does that mean it'll be a snow day tomorrow?!!!!

23.11.05

[ice-floe]







I've just come across this wonderful journal of international poetry from the "far north." Although it requires a subscription several poems are viewable on the site. A must to read is the poem by Mike Burwell (from Alaska) Coma: A Poem for My Son

[mirror and veil?]

The key to blogging, for Serfaty, is that bloggers can write an open-ended multi-linear self which can then be read by others. Additionally, online diary writers (her words) can receive imput from readers. Hrm. I'm not quite sure if this is THE crucial reason blogs are read and commented upon. I'm thinking of Sven Birkerts comments on Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own":

Reading the prose, I confronted a paradox that pulled meupright in my chair. Woolf's idea are, in fact, few and fairly obvious - at least from our historical vantage. Yet the thinking, the presence of animate thought on the page, is striking (The Gutenberg Elegies, 11).

Bloggers and readers of blogs can bear witness to a immidiacy of thought - the thinking process almost as it happens. Of course there are those out there who might write drafts; but blogger etiquette is all about accepting what's on the screen as a first draft - as something which evolved in real time. Blogs which I find interesting and then follow loyally, are those which demonstrate the blogger's engagement with thought. Her or his moulding of it, reporting of it, and finally reflecting upon it. Blogging is not necessarily about coming to any conclusion but seeing significance in the little things...in thinking about them and demonstrating that process.



21.11.05

[book review excerpt forthcoming from the ebr]

A Review of Online Diaries and Blogs in America by Viviane SerfatyDiary: A diary is a book for writing discrete entries arranged by date. It can be used for recording in advance of appointments and other planned activities, and/or for reporting on what has happened over the course of a day or other period.[i]

Blog: an online journal comprised of links and postings in reverse chronological order, meaning the most recent posting appears at the top of the page.
[ii]

While the concepts of diary and blog may overlap they do not merge. Diaries are usually considered as personal spaces where a self-narrative authored by a single individual can evolve. Blogs, on the other hand, live online, thus are far from private. Typically the style is personal and informal and the content though updated frequently need not revolve around self-representation or expression. Additionally blogs need not be written by a one person; groups, organisations, classrooms etc…can take advantage of this kind of publishing forum. Although there are certain key differences between diaries and blogs, Vivian Serfaty has chosen to explore their shared ground. Rather than examining group blogging or the tracking of specific topics or activities through links and commentary contained in blogs, The Mirror and the Veil: An Overview of American Online Diaries and Blogs focuses on those which are employed as ways of sharing personal narratives and life-writing. Furthermore, Serfaty applies this focus to discern more general affinities between “American civilization and diary writing” (1). Naturally, in order to provide such a focused discussion, Serfaty must disregard other aspects of blogging (community blogs, technical blogs, moblogs, newsblogs) but this seems to lead her to make sweeping generalizations likes: “the distinction between diaries and weblogs is increasingly meaningless, as one form seems to have morphed into the other” (22). However, Serfaty does discern a particular difference between print diaries and blogs which comes down to the software used: Weblogs are different inasmuch as the software is in charge of displaying readers’ answers; the blogger has very little scope for editing or deleting answers. Additionally, responding to an entry is usually not done through email but through a form located at the bottom of the page” (66).

[....]
The Mirror and the Veil refer to the “complex apparatus of the computer.” For Serfaty, the computer screen serves two simultaneous functions: “to conceal” (13) and to reflect, thereby allowing “diarists” to “write about their innermost feelings without fearing identification and humiliation” (13).
[...]
Blogs, like diaries, endorse expressive, open-ended, and non-linear versions of the self. They “can be seen as a means to think through the seam between the private and the public self, and as such, they are more attuned to contemporary uncertainties about the self” (29). For Serfaty, though, the crucial difference between print diaries and blogs is the possibility to receive feedback from readers: “where traditional diaries were written for an implied, ideal reader, online diaries explicitly search for an audience and in so doing, turn themselves into a collaborative project” (39–40).

[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diary/
[ii] http://www.blogscanada.ca/BlogDefinition.html

16.11.05

[tunez]

What I'm listening to now: Devendra Banhart

[what i want for christmas]

aibo logoblack aibo dog
Ok, mum, dad, 'chele, steve, and AnYoNe who would like to buy me a christmas pressie....how about a sony aibo.
I met Lassie the other day and can't get over how *real* these dogs are. So, anyone with an extra grand in their pocket I know how you can spend it!!!!
champagne aibo dog

5.11.05

[your writing sucks]

What a great name for a conference. On Thursday, I spent the day in Nottingham at Broadway Cinema, nope, not watching films but learning about the importance of words. The conference; "Your Writing Sucks: Creative and Digital Writing," was hosted by the Digital Arts Forum and 26. Wow.
Today really reminded me how the language we use can tell others a lot about ourselves. Award winning blogger, Mike Atkinson, started the first session off with an overview of how he began blogging and what it means to him. His one caveat: don't post anything about anyone unless you're willing to say it to his/her face. Good point. Mike concluded his presentation with the importance of finding a blogging voice. He has created a character, troubled diva, through whom he writes his (very entertaining) blogs but reminded us that we all need to find a voice that we are comfortable with.
Then came Paul Drury, a video games reviewer. Interestingly his gripe that video game reviewers should review games in the same way book reviewers review books, i.e. critically, is exactly my point about web fiction criticism. Too many theorists out there just describe how the fiction "works" rather than analysing what that might mean and how the plot develops, and, most importantly, what this different way of writing/reading means for literacy. After Paul, playwright Stephen Lowe spoke to us about writing and then read from the Brian Clough tribute, "The Spirit of the Man."

The afternoon was broken up into three parts. First there was another group of three
speakers: Margaret Oscar, Sarah McCartney, and Neil Taylor. Now all three were excellent speakers and Neil's powerpoint was artfully done, but...I found Margaret's intro. really profound. She got to the front. Stood at the podium, and gazed out into the audience. We stared back at her. Margaret continued to gaze at us. We noticed the conference organiser looking a little nervous. Had Margaret forgotten what she had to do? Had she misplaced her powerpoint. Was she very shy? Then, 15 whole long worrying seconds passed - and she s p o k e. She said hello. Then explained that each of us would have made an image of her before she spoke but upon hearing her words, her language, her accent, we would change our image. Language is powerful. It tells others about yourself. If you know how to use language you can sell yourself. Margaret's presentation was amazing. I think her little opening trick is something teachers might use in a class when teaching students that saying "yo" or "innit" just won't hold sway in (for example) an interview setting. Well done Margaret. Then we enjoyed a lunch and I was able to pick Mike's brains for a bit but then had to share him as others were chomping on the bit to share a few words.

The most interesting and fun part of the day would have to be the last session in the
afternoon. Hosted by playwright Tim Crouch and Unilever's Katherine Mellor, we spent the last two hours of the day doing exercises designed to "get words flowing instinctively and creatively, to get us to commit to the written word whilst silencing that inner voice of self-doubt; to appreciate our own intuitive and individual response to words, ideas, and stories."

The very first activity involved us choosing three words from the story Tim read to us, three things we had seen on our journey in, and three people in our life. Then we had to choose ONE of the things we had seen (orange leaves) and write a sentence about it without using the word. This is what I did:

As we billowed past, naked trees sadly looked upon their falling friends.

Then came a range of activities asking us to write a
Guardian-style headling using our word, then write a
Sun news headling, then and advertising slogan:

Leaves: Just Rake Them

There were loads more hilarious activies like writing a story of 26 words using each letter of the alphabet, so the first word begins with an "a," the second word begins with a "b" and the final word of the story begins with a "z." Very entertaining and interesting to hear what other members in the group wrote and then to hear them performed!!! Fantastic. One of my favourites was by troubled diva, a.k.a.
Mike.

Then we were charged with the task of writing another short short story. We were to pick the name of one of the three people we noted (in the very first activity) and that person's emotional state (which we had also picked at the beginning and which ALSO had to begin with the same letter). Here's my attempt using the letter "s":


Steve sees Switzerland. Sweet, significant sunset. Sliding. Setting. Setting. Setting. Simply said: stunning, stark. Saffron strands slither slightly. Still setting. Still suffusing. Still stealthily swell. Steve seizes sight.

The final activity required that we partner up. Gavin and I worked together. No conferring and no collaboration - only one word at a time. I would write the first word of the story, then pass the paper to him, Gavin would write a word, pass it back to me and so on. Tim Crouch gave a few warning notes before beginning this exercise. He warned that each partner might want the story to go in a different way and that we wouldn't want that to happen. He suggested that we let go and experience language...I think we had a great laugh producing this work of art:(I began and Gavin's words are in italics)

Willowy stream courses full-tilt through Scunthorpe. Gazing nuns menacingly reach an intersection; a transition from narcosis to telepathy. I believe. We don't. Luscious life lived!
Thanks to Tim for the enlightening activities. Not only did he give us great hints to battle against writer's (blogger's) block, but he really highlighted the effect words can have and how when choosing words we should really think about why we're using certain words, the sounds they make etc...


3.11.05

[rush hour in leicester]


Today I had an experience of what some non-studenty types would call "real life." Instead of working from home or meandering into my office at uni. at the safe, after rush-hour time, I gathered my wits and prepared to brave the 8:00am mad rush at Leciester rail station. As we pulled into the station car park without having to dodge a million angry Londoners..erm, I mean communters of course, we marvelled at the lack of cars. Hrm, maybe the station had closed for this Thursday, the 3rd of November. Hrm, perhaps not. I ambled into the station without anyone breathing down my neck huffing and puffing at my daring choice to actually look at the departure board. Wow. I qued up to buy my ticket. Only three people in the que and, now this is unbelievable, every SINGLE ticket selling kiosk was actually open and working! That meant that there was hardly any waiting time. No angry, fidgity, nervous people in the que huffing and puffing about being late for work...Wow. Then, now this might really surprise you, the ticket seller spoke!!! He mentioned the unseasonably mild weather, he wished me luck on my conference, he bid me good day. WOW! Now, this would never (ok, maybe once) have happened in busy Londinium. Right. Then I could actually walk to my platform with out zigzagging between grumpy business men and women intent on running over anyone in their path. I found the platform. I then found a chair to sit upon as there was hardly anyone around during this supposed rush hour. Then the train arrived. The digital sign said "Do not board next train." I found the conductor. I asked him. He was helpful. I got on the train. I found a seat. I say again for those of you who haven't travelled on a train, in London (or into London), at rush hour: I FOUND A SEAT. I actually enjoyed my trip in musing at the passing countryside and marveling at this simplier life outside of London.

[mtv europe awards]

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It was very brave of MTV to start the show with a transvestite." - Borat, Kazakhastan media celebrity, on 47 year old Madonna's show-stopping (and super expensive!) performance at the MTV Europe music awards.

1.11.05

[ELO call for works]

Electronic Literature Collection — Call for Works
The Electronic Literature Organization seeks submissions for the first Electronic Literature Collection. We invite the submission of literary works that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the computer. Works will be accepted until January 31, 2006. Up to three works per author will be considered.
The Electronic Literature Collection will be an annual publication of current and older electronic literature in a form suitable for individual, public library, and classroom use. The publication will be made available both online, where it will be available for download for free, and as a packaged, cross-platform CD-ROM, in a case appropriate for library processing, marking, and distribution. The contents of the Collection will be offered under a Creative Commons license so that libraries and educational institutions will be allowed to duplicate and install works and individuals will be free to share the disc with others.
The editorial collective for this first volume of the Electronic Literature Collection, to be published in 2006, is:
N. Katherine HaylesNick MontfortScott RettbergStephanie Strickland
This collective will review the submitted work and select pieces for the Collection.
The editorial collectives for each volume will be chosen by the Electronic Literature Organization’s board of directors. The tentative editorial collective for the second Collection, to be published in 2007, includes Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, Marjorie C. Luesebrink, and Noah Wardrip-Fruin.
Literary quality will be the chief criterion for selection of works. Other aspects considered will include innovative use of electronic techniques, quality and navigability of interface, and adequate representation of the diverse forms of electronic literature in the collection as a whole.
For the first Collection, the collective will consider works up to 50 MB in size, uncompressed. Works submitted should function on both Macintosh OS X (10.4) and Windows XP. Works should function without requiring users to purchase or install additional software. Submissions may require software that is typically pre-installed on contemporary computers, such as a web browser, and are allowed to use the current versions of the most common plugins.
To have a work considered, all the authors of the work must agree that if their work is published in the Collection, they will license it under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License, which will permit others to copy and freely redistribute the work, provided the work is attributed to its authors, that it is redistributed non-commercially, and that it is not used in the creation of derivative works. No other limitation is made regarding the author’s use of any work submitted or accepted.
To submit a work:
Prepare a plain text file with the following information:
The title of the work.
The names and email addresses of all authors and contributors of the work.
The URL where you are going to make your .zip file available for us to download. The editorial collective will not publish the address of this file.
A short description of the work — less than 200 words in length.
Any instructions required to operate the work.
The date the work was first distributed or published, or “unpublished” if it has not yet been made available to the public.
Prepare a .zip archive including the work in its entirety. Include the text file from step (1) at the top level of this archive, and name it “submisson.txt”.
Upload the .zip file to a web server so that it is available at the specified location.
Place all of the text in the “submisson.txt” file in the body of an email and send it to
collection@eliterature.org with the name of the piece being submitted included in the subject line.
The Electronic Literature Collection is supported by institutional partners including the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (CPCW) at the University of Pennsylvania, ELINOR: Electronic Literature in the Nordic Countries, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and The School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota.