DTC Handbook responsibilities

My responsibilities for the DTC handbook final project is the senior seminar section. I am working with Thea on this section and I have already generated the written content for my section of the work we divided up previously. My section is on the structure of the senior seminar and what exactly you do and make during the class.

Because I have already generated much of my written content for my section I am going to be working on supplemental materials and finding graphics and other content to include in our section.

Role in our Final Project

My role in our final project will be working on the DTC senior seminar section. This will entail writing about what the seminar is, why it’s important, what you do, and how your role is determined. Once the copy text is generated I will work on developing the section of the website that displays our content.

I will be working with Thea on this section, and my primary role will likely be web design once we have the text generated. I think that the two of us are well suited to work on this section because we are currently in the seminar and have current firsthand experience with the things we will be writing about. I do foresee some design difficulties related to consistency across the sections in terms of visuals, but I think that we will be able to work out a good solution to that.

Marshall’s Media Madness

Our group’s project is a collection of descriptions and examples of Marshall McLuhan’s Medium Theory. The intent of this project is to provide illustrative examples of what each medium is, and a written description of how its affordances and constraints influence the content of the medium.

My role was web designer and copy-editor. I was responsible for writing the copy text of our sections and coding the template to fit our design.

Link to the project:


Podcast Ponderings

I don’t really listen to podcasts regularly but when I have listened to them I’ve enjoyed Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series which looks at various episodes of history (typically war or some other variety of of conflict) and The Always Sunny Podcast which is hosted by the cast of the show It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. 

image of the logo for Dan Carlin's Hardcore HistoryI’ve listened to these podcasts at different times to get different things out of it. For example I listened to Hardcore History while working a boring office job doing data entry. It was a passive experience, much like listening to a lecture in a class or watching a movie. There weren’t occasions to react with laughter which would have disturbed office tranquility, or calls to answer questions like a lecture would have entailed.

I think that something like Hardcore History is better suited as a relaxing, informative, and reflective experience. The end goal is knowledge is transmitted to you and your role is to relax and absorb it, or be able to work while listening. I think this is one of the great strengths of podcasts and audio as a medium is that it can accompany other activities quite well. With a movie, book, or game your eyes or hands are occupied respectively, restricting what you can do while consuming the content.

image of The Always Sunny in Philadelphia podcast logo

The Always Sunny Podcast has a different purpose for me. I listen to that when I want to be a little more engaged, less contemplative, and laugh a lot. The medium of sound is well suited to this is a different way than the quiet, informative podcast. The nature of the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is almost improvisational, all the characters are bunch of socially maladjusted weirdos. In the podcast it’s functionally like an overheard conversation. Where several very funny people are in place riffing about silly things with each other.

I engage with the Sunny podcast for fun and laughter. It’s a conversational, casual experience that feels like hanging out with friends and shooting the breeze. I engage with Hardcore History for informational and (somewhat) educational content about everyone’s favorite historical subject: war! Overall these thing are similar in that they are audio recordings but they are different in the “intended” emotional response that they produce, and by extension they activity they are suited to accompany.

Multimodal Publication Modalites

Nobody or nothing exists in isolation: everything is an element of a structure. Every structure is in its turn an element of another structure. (Carrion, 5)

I chose this quote because it was closely related to the concept of how mediums build off of one another. Our multi-modal project will be looking at the development of mediums across human history.

My interest in this topic extends from a class I took with Dr. Barber. Specifically the view presented by Marshall McLuhan that all mediums are all shaped and informed by the mediums that came before it. Mediums are structures that contain information, earlier mediums become elements in the structures of successor mediums.

For example the medium of sound is the basis for human speech. The medium of speech becomes solidified and made into visual symbols for the medium of writing. In these ways we can see that the methods of communication in the past are the scaffolding on which modern mediums such as books and films are influenced by the way that they are presented.

In this way I believe that Carrion is commenting on the way that literature has gone through an evolution over time, and that commentary can be mirrored on other genres of communication. An example I think of are movies and how fundamentally the moving visual image has become engrained in global culture.

The clearest evolutionary trend is towards the visual. Many mediums work to create a way to visually represent the information contained in other mediums. For example text represents the words of speaking in a symbolic fashion to extend how long that information can be stored and retrieved.

As the human race has created every more avenues to deliver visual information the complexity and affordances involved in delivering that information has risen along with it. Our study of hypertexts speaks to the synthesis of many mediums that electronic texts hope to achieve.

Hot off the presses, it’s STORIES FROM THE STARS

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Posting with hyper-deep attention

Hayles bring up many interesting points in her article Hyper and Deep Attention: The Generational Gap in Cognitive Modes. I particularly appreciated her attention to AD/HD and how that can be viewed as a parallel to shifting patterns of cognition. (I also appreciated her footnote at the end explaining the difference between the old ADHD and AD/HD)

There is a specific aura associated with high academia, ivory tower, type institutions. There is the image of the frazzled undergrad passed out a library table, surrounded by a dozen reference books while they study for a final. This is the image I believe most individuals associate that image of intense study. Halyes describes that “deep attention … in academic settings is the defacto norm” This study of a single topic to the point of exhaustion is viewed as Real Learning (capitals because it’s very serious) and that there is something lost with other modes.

I think that hypermedia, interactivity, and sharing as components of a text are something that is become more popular but I would say it is essential or integral yet. There are tools like Perusall that work to create public annotations and discussions within a shared reading space, but these are third-party commercial tools, not integrated parts of the learning experience. For my personal study I tend to use a variety tools and interfaces including my laptop, physical copies to highlight text, and my cell phone for quick references. In theory all of those things could be accomplished through unified digital interface.

However the affordances of each item are unique; I am writing this on a laptop with the printed essay in front of me, I have a second screen displaying the prompt for reference, and I took the picture with my cell phone while texting a friend if we are going to meet on campus before class. All of these interfaces afford something unique but they are not all electronic, and frankly I think they fact they are not integrated is useful because it splits up the purpose of each item meaning the work done on each will be focused.

image of a laptop, pieces of paper, and a second monitor

Something I think about that relates back to the DTC major in general is how certain interactions with media are privileged as “better” than others. Hayles mentions this concept in relation to cognition “The riposte is obvious: Better for what?” and I think that is an excellent response. I might stray to being a little broad here but western society is obsessed with classifying, quantifying, and categorizing all kinds of things. Americans in particular are ever searching for “the best one” of whatever tool, idea, opinion, or what have you they might be interested in at the moment. This relates to the concept of forming hierarchies of which mode of cognition is “best”, because I don’t think is a “best” mode cognitions. I believe the reality to be that the best mode of cognition is the one that works for the person cogitating.

This of course does not fit into line with determining which mode of focus is superior, because the answer becomes subjective, which is a terribly unsatisfying answer.

Overall I think that this essay addresses an important point about changing standards and modes of cognition and how those modes are formed in the first place. I was born in 1994, I got most of my K-12 education from books and papers, with a shift towards digital technology coming around the last 5 or so years I was in school. The bulk of my education since high school has been hybrid but I think the reality is that even the digital interfaces I have used for learning emulate the affordances of the book.

While there are some electronic elements, there isn’t much true interactivity to illustrate examples, no moving graphics to show scientific concepts, and no single interface that packages and presents all of these things together. Admittedly tablet computers such as the iPad are working towards this, those things remain luxury items and the alternatives have frustrating limitations. I think there is a great shift that has already happened and more coming in the ways that humans learn, teach, and interact with knowledge.

Spooky Stories

The stories I chose from Project Gutenburg are a series of stories titled Hallowe’en at Merryvale by Alice Hale Burnett and a poem titled Splores of a Halloween, Twenty Years Ago by Alexander Dick.

Hallowe’en at Merryvale: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/17145

This is a series of short stories about boys in a typical American town. This is one in a series of this type of story by the author who said they “are written so the boy may read and understand them and the action faithfully portrays boy life in a small town”  Young adult fiction in the 1910s was very different that The Hunger Games it seems. Less world-changing freedom fighting and more bucolic idyll it would seem. I chose this because I read something similar ad nauseam (the Homer Price stories by Robert McClosky) when I was so this appealed to me.

Splores of a Halloween, Twenty Years Ago by Alexander Dick: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34780

This story was interesting partially for the content, but partially for the author’s foreword about the provenance behind it. Apparently the poem was initially a submission to a newspaper contest soliciting Halloween poems and this one wasn’t initially published. The editor of the paper took issue with the fact that some of the poems were judged “worse” than others and “judged not fit for public recitation” so he decided to publish them anyway and let the public decide. I think that kind of statement associated with this artifact makes in interesting. I can’t help but think that this author and editor would be pleased from beyond the grave that this poem was being reworked in a modern time.

Mini-Essay: Sagacious Satiric Scrawl?

(9/19/53) TODAY on Old Terra archaeological excavations by Micro-Zon Consolidated Holdings Ltd. experts hit paydirt, figuratively speaking. Beneath a massive stone edifice that was thought to contain pre-Unification gold reserves, Micro-Zon CH Ltd. archaeologists discovered something arguably more interesting! Remember the old saying “a screenshot is worth a thousand texts”, well what our experts found are worth millions of screenshots!

Available now in limited quantities are “Books” from before the waters rose! Well preserved within the ancient structure once known as a “Library”, no not where your Micro-Zon CH Ltd. purchases are stored, but a whole building just for these books. Of course it has been 30 long years since the surface of Old Terra was rendered uninhabitable in the Big Mistake and the Exodus began. The need for this ancient style of book disappeared with the advent of Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter. However these ancient artifacts are sure to astound and delight both history and language enthusiasts alike!

So, what are books? Well we are all familiar with the Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter, a lightweight metamaterial tablet used for all purposes. The Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter can be used to watch the latest Micro-Zon CH Ltd. movies and shows, listen to the hottest new music, browse the Net, as well as support for all Micro-Zon CH Ltd. Creative Suite products to unleash your creativity! It seems like the FireStarter does it all, so what do books do?

ai generated image of a book

One of the recovered artifacts from Old New York is a history of all things about books, appropriately titled The Book by Amaranth Borsuk. The simplest description of a book in The Book is “a stack of paper sheets, bound on one end, and encased between covers” (X). And while a book certainly doesn’t have Fast and the Furious XLVII 2 in full QZHD quality like the Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter, the book won’t need more batteries. In fact even as far back as 30 years ago they had something like the FireStarter, described by The Book as “flat, lightweight screens that can show us any volume in a whole library of texts” (X). While that’s not quite what we would use it for, they’ve got the spirit!

This begs the question: “What do you use a book for, then?” Back in the dark days before Micro-Zon CH Ltd. introduced Sirlexa to read to us, a person had to physically hold one of these stacks of paper, a primitive electronic table, or wait for another human to record reading the story out loud and listen to that. Imagine that, you would have to devote your full measure of attention to finicky little letters stuck to sheets or on a screen. This would, of course, render you unable to sort packages or respond to emails, which are core Micro-Zon CH Ltd. values. See: 1

Alright so we know books are meant to be laboriously read. What kinds of things can you expect to find in a book? The Book describes that books contain not only text, but images, and occasionally textures and sounds (IX). Despite the limitations of the book they were wildly popular for hundreds of years before the Big Mistake. Books remain popular with a specific set of intellectuals and history enthusiasts who will bend your ear off about their virtues, ignoring the fact that books never change, they might as well be single use! In today’s world, who has time to manually read the same story more than once when instead you could watch Real Househusbands of Luna Prospekt?

Despite the drawbacks there are those who will extoll the virtues of the book. Proponents like Borsuk will say that books enable a “kind of private, meditative … experience” (53). Frankly, who has time for that anymore? Despite the projections, the Micro-Zon CH Ltd. family will likely be putting in overtime for the foreseeable future to hit our production goals. With the newest edition of Sirlexa, your Micro-Zon CH Ltd. FireStarter will read to you from one of dozens of titles in the company library, free of charge! There’s no need to settle for simple text, let Sirlexa generate the images to fill in the gaps in your head and bring your favorite scenes to life, just as the company designed.

With the wide range of choices from the company library you might wonder if you’d ever need more! According to The Book at one point there were 32,000,000 unique books in the world, with untold copies of each (223). Attempts were made to convert the books to digital versions but unfortunately the Corporate War of FY 2039 led to the digital versions being lost. Rumors persist that these versions exist on Micro-Zon CH Ltd. servers and are being deliberately withheld from consumption. This is patently false. See: 2

The wide selection of titles available from the company library continues to expand through the efforts of emergent AI authors such as Micro-Zon CH Ltd.’s own Sirlexa. Experience the perfectly paced masterworks of nondeterministic fiction written, illustrated, narrated, and published by Micro-Zon CH Ltd. What the company refers to as “Single Source Publishing” is actually a strength and value because it provides a sense of cohesion and unity. The Book itself describes that the very act of publishing is “the true measure of ‘what makes a book, a book’” (241). Despite the concerns that some non-company critics have voiced, these stories are perfectly calibrated to accompany your workday to motivate you to a great outcome! See: 2


The books offered for sale from the excavation vary widely in quality and content and despite their long nap they are just as ready to use as ever! If you don’t have time for a book or once you get bored, the global popularity of the FireStarter and the Net means your entertainment will never be out of reach. If you are concerned about the longevity of your FireStarter on a long tram ride back to the dormitories, consider buying a booster powerpack to make sure you don’t miss the final moments of the big SmashBall game! Worried about durability? Unlike a book that is ruined and can’t be fixed if it gets wet, the FireStarter can be protected under our Micro-Zon CH Ltd. replacement plan to get a new FireStarter in the event it is exposed to water, humidity, dust, or extreme temperatures.

One of the core Micro-Zon CH Ltd. value is that we remain on the forefront of innovation and technological advances. Because of our commitment to this value we are proud to begin offering a new line of products influenced by our latest discoveries. Micro-Zon CH Ltd. will begin offering physical versions of many of the titles in the company library. These will incorporate the latest technology also slated for release in the FireStarter 2. Experience being able to TOUCH the words of your favorite stories about Captain Bezos and little Clippy, SEE the action through the multimedia panes, HEAR the clang of swords and thrum of conveyor belts. All of this and more is made possible through novel applications of lightweight metamaterials enabling an experience similar to but radically different. Like the fun cousin of the static, turgid, stoic books excavated from the “Ew York Public Library”.

Archeology on Old Terra is always full of surprises. On one day, company experts might find the remains of the Great Pyramid and the other they find a load of old dusty books. Fortunately these books are of great value both to the culture of the human race and to Micro-Zon CH Ltd. so the efforts were not wasted this time. Hopefully this primer has encouraged you to set aside some of your wage packets for layaway on a book to take a few hours of vacation to read.

1. (Unstructured free time for leisure is not a Micro-Zon Consolidated Holdings Ltd. corporate value. As such the purchase of these books may be restricted for MZCH Ltd. employees or their families.)

2. (There has been a great deal of concern raised on our rival, BlackRock-GeneralDynamics’ public forums about the availability of movies, shows, music, and literature from non-Micro-Zon CH Ltd. sources for our employees’ consumption. While this no doubt comes from a place of genuine concern, we remind BR-GD representatives and employees that all Micro-Zon CH Ltd. employees are free to leave their housing spires and seek alternate employment at any time if they wish to consume other media. Further comments on this matter from either BR-GD or Micro-Zon CH Ltd. staff will result in a paralegal assault team being dispatched to their locations to deliver a De/Cease and Desist Letter regarding the matter.)

The whole point of this piece is a satire on the way that corporations expect employees to live their lives, how commodification of everything in the world is a toxic enterprise, and how the company will expect you to forget what they said yesterday and consume today, while exploring the affordances and future of the book in an increasingly weird world. If this is absolutely not what I was supposed to write, at least I had fun. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Borsuk, A. (2018). The book. The MIT Press.

A post about post-artifact art facts

AI generated image of a printed book and an electronic book behind it

Mod draws a comparison that illustrates the paradigm shift brought about by electronic publishing in stark terms: comparing the encyclopedia to Wikipedia. Growing up my father had a two volume leather-bound Encyclopedia Brittanica set. When I was younger, maybe 7 to 10, I read those occasionally like the weird little kid I was. I remember thinking about how much time it must have taken to put them together. To spell check, collate, make sure references in the index go to the right pages, etc.

Electronic publishing has not so greatly changed the world that spell checking and formatting aren’t necessary, I’ve been paid to do it, but it’s Mod discussion of the publishing timeline that struck me the most.

  1. We can continuously develop a text in realtime, erasing the preciousness imbued by printing. And because of this …

  2. Time itself becomes an active ingredient in authorship (in contrast to authorship happening in a seemingly timeless place, a finished product suddenly emerging).
    -Craig Mod

Compared with something like Wikipedia the staid tomes that comprise an encyclopedia set seem terribly static and immutable. This might be a consequence of the pace that the world lives at now. Time spent agonizing over the print details of a book that will be out of date by the time the editing, proofing, printing, shipping, and sale are done seems wasted.AI generated image of a book

Like most people born in the late naughts, as Mod put it, I grew up largely in a world of books and paper, with screens being static objects like a television or personal computer. This was changing as I grew up with the proliferation of cell phones, GameBoys, and laptops. Now that smartphones are seemingly ubiquitous and a vast network interconnects all of these devices I think that has fundamentally changed the pace that the world functions at. As the pace has changed so too has the nature of the information we want to access.

On Storm Wracked Seas

“…the page is not a vessel, but an ocean; and the text, tossed on its waves, is a shipwreck in language that draws the reader’s eye across its shimmering surface.”

-Stephane Mallarme, A Throw of
the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance

This quote caught my attention as it relates to the future of books because I’ve always likened the internet to a digital ocean. In this example I would almost argue the opposite for the future of the book with individual words being the water, flowing to fill new forms. There are an ever expanding range of forms to fill, with new kinds of affordances built into them.

Our ability to freely design and display text, images, and videos leads to new layers of complexity that might appear in books of the future. One thing I could see happening would be the integration of flexible digital screens into books like those might appear at the Codex book convention.

Multimedia has become de riguer in terms of both format and content across several mediums. For example new articles, recipes, and blogs are all genes within the new electronic medium that have become multimedia artifacts incorporating text, images, and videos all into one. This blog post is doing that now!

I think that the future of a book might begin to incorporate the affordances of the format in which it is viewed. For example if viewed in a format that supports video like a tablet or computer there could be exclusive parts of the book that only work or appear in that format. This gets more into marketing and business model admittedly but I think that there is immense artistic and commercial potential in multimedia books.

Stories that have become movies or television shows like the Harry Potter or Game of Thrones franchise have already begun to incorporate images from the shows to the printed works. I think it is a reasonable extension that if the electronically published versions of the works become popular enough they might begin to incorporate multimedia as a standard part of the work.

Underpinning all of this are words that make these formats usable. Technology affords new levels of engagement with text and images that can be included in ways that were never possible before.

Mea Codex Ventus

My last post talked about my renewed interest in the writing and the written word in general spurred on by the Hyperion series of novels by Dan Simmons. But this was a renewed interest, what sparked it initially?

Like a lot of kids born in the mid-’90s my induction into literature came from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. While captivating and engaging at the time, I was a kid who liked technology; video games, computers, the New (capital N). So when Rowling constructed literary devices that excluded technology from her series I was disappointed to say the least. (Other inconsistencies notwithstanding, like the claim that wizards can’t conjure food, yet Professor Slughorn does it in the 5th book?)

The books that really hooked me were the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. The first book, Artemis Fowl, is the story of a 12 year old boy (points if you guess his name) whose father is missing. Artemis’ father is the head of a nonspecific “criminal empire”, Colfer likely omitting grisly details for the youth audience. As his father is missing and his mother bedridden from an illness, Artemis is head of the household. Artemis takes it upon himself to restore the family to their previous status and in doing so gain the financial resources to find his father. The way he intends to do this is by capturing a mythical creature, a fairy, using his genius intellect, stalwart companion Butler, and the latest technology (of 2001).

In my mind the original printing of Artemis Fowl is one of the, to use a decidedly unacademic turn of phrase, coolest novels for a young person. Printed in paperback, the image above shows the presentation, mimicking the fairy sacred volume “The Book”. The similarity to the Borsuk reading is funny and I didn’t think of that until writing this. At the bottom of each page was writing in the fairy language, Gnomish. You can see an example on the both the center of the cover pictured above as well as the image of a page below.

Eventually Artemis obtains a copy of The Book and painstakingly translates it, with opposite pages in the center of the novel having the original passage in Gnomish and translated into English. This issued a challenge to the reader: Can you figure out the same thing as Artemis? I said yes. Books draw in readers naturally, lacking images and sounds they force the reader to fill in the gaps, create their own experience. But to me, the cipher was different. Not only was I creating and engaging with the story, I became an active participant alongside the protagonist, doing exactly what he did!

The first editions of the novel are paperbacks with the decorative cover, matching the publishing conventions of the time for fiction aimed towards younger people. What sets Artemis Fowl apart as a book is the way in which it engaged with the reader and presented an opportunity to learn more. You didn’t have to do the cipher to finish the book, it was just a story about a phlegm pot cleaner, but it connected with me not only on a narrative level but on an emotional level. I felt a sense of accomplishment from doing the cipher, something I can’t say I’ve felt from another book, apart from slogging through Capital. 

P.S. Don’t watch the movie. Just… don’t.

Why Digital Publishing?

I’ve always been interested in writing. I think that language is a beautiful, complex, and fascinating phenomenon with incredible power. While language can be used for a variety of purposes; to persuade, scold, explain, soliloquize, enrage, the list goes on, my favorite function is telling stories.

From a young age I wanted to be a novelist, to write the next Harry Potter or Artemis Fowl (my constant companions during ages 8-13). The wonder I felt alongside those characters exploring new worlds, battling to save their own, and discovering themselves was, and in some ways remains, unparalleled in my mind. While childhood wonder accounts for some of that in a way, the evocative power of the word remained in my mind. I can’t say I’ve always worked towards my goal, but recently I’ve started back towards it.

I experienced a re-ignition of that feeling of wonder reading the Hyperion trilogy by Dan Simmons. Heady, complex books blending science fiction, religious musings, and heroic acts of love and sacrifice made me remember what writing was for me. A means to think new thoughts and go on fantastic journeys, gaining and losing friends along the way.

This renewed appreciation for long-form fiction combined with my studies in the DTC program lead me to examine the concept of “the book”, Amaranth Borsuk would be proud. What I had come to realize is that the print codex as the standard of written narrative fiction is limited in a way. I look to the example of Worm by John C. McRae. Worm was published as an enormous web serial from 2011 to 2013. It contains over a million words making it one of the largest pieces of fiction ever published.

And it was published on a website. McRae published lengthy section two times a week, creating a steady stream of what I think of now as content. This was a novel (pun intended) approach to publishing that has since seen Worm turn into several published novels.

It was this approach combined with a renewed appreciation for the power of the written word that lead me to consider digital publishing as an interest. I very much believe that you only need a small, dedicated audience to find a measure of success online. If I can combine my love of the word with not having to sell my labor to a company that doesn’t care about me, sign me up.