GTA redux and Netpoetic.com

After some discussion this spring, the contributors to Grand Text Auto (including me) decided to make a change. We noticed that while Nick Montfort had kept up a steady pace of interesting contributions to the blog, the rest of us (four of whom have become parents in the last two years) have been blogging at a much more occasional pace, to the extent that it was no longer really fair to call it a group blog, since Montfort was pulling most of the weight. Nick started his own blog, Post Position, a couple of months back. This does not however mean the end of GTxA altogether. The format of the group blog has changed, and now has begun life as an aggregator of our individual blogs, including this one. Many thanks to Josh McCoy for doing a lot of work under the hood to make this possible. We’re also keeping open the possibilities of doing other things as a group, such as the exhibition that was recently at the U of I and previously at the Beall, creative projects or distribution of creative projects, symposia and such. And I think the change from a group blog to an aggregator will be interesting. In the past I’ve used this space in a different way from my posts to GTxA. Maybe more idiosyncratically, or personally. The new GTxA will likely be a mash-up of individual blogging styles. I hope that, if nothing else, the new arrangement will inspire me to blog here more than once or twice a year. I should at least be sharing some of the awesome links I share with my friends at facebook.

I’m also going to contribute, occasionally, to a brand spanking new group blog at Netpoetic.com. The new blog is focused specifically on electronic literature and digital poetics. The ringleader of the effort is digital poet Jason Nelson, who has pulled together a diverse group of poets, writers, and scholars, including Alan Bigelow, Brian Stefans, Chris Funkhouser, Davin Heckman, Hazel Smith, Jaka Železnikar, Jason Nelson, John Cayley, Juan Gutierrez, Kenneth Sherwood, Laura Borras, Lori Emerson, Mark Amerika, Mez Breeze, Michael J Maguire, Rui Torres, Sandy Baldwin, Scott Rettberg, Stephanie Strickland, and Talan Memmott, to start with. Each contributor agrees to post at least five times a year, which seems like a manageable commitment. I think it will be a great way to stay in touch with the many ongoing activities of the international electronic literature community.

Communitizing Electronic Literature

Digital Humanities Quarterly 3.2 (Spring 2009) has been published. The issue includes a cluster of articles on finishing digital humanities projects, edited by Matt Kirschenbaum, a cluster of articles on data mining, edited by Mark Olsen, three articles including my piece “Communitizing Electronic Literature“, and a review by Johanna Drucker of Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination.

“Communitizing Electronic Literature” is a revised and expanded version of the talk I gave at the ELO’s 2008 Visionary Landscapes Conference. In it, I try to lay out what I think are the principle issues confronting the field of electronic literature today, and to establish what I think is at stake within it. In placing the article with Digital Humanities Quarterly I am implicitly arguing that the creative and critical practices of electronic literature are a vital part of the field of digital humanities. A version of the digital humanities focused exclusively on applying digital technologies to the literary and historical archives of the past, at the expense of any sustained attention to the digital cultural production of the present is a version of the digital humanities with no future and in effect no imagination.

Abstract

Electronic literature is an important evolving field of artistic practice and literary study. It is a sector of digital humanities focused specifically on born-digital literary artifacts, rather than on using the computer and the network to redistribute, analyze, or recontextualize artifacts of print culture. Works of electronic literature appeal to configurative reading practices. The field of electronic literature is based on a gift economy and developing a network-based literary culture built on the collaborative practices of a globally distributed community of artists, writers, and scholars. This article situates the development of the field of electronic literature within academe, some of the institutional challenges currently confronting the field, and its potential for further development.

Donna Leishman at UiB Nov. 5th

The University of Bergen Department of Linguistic, Literary, and Aesthetic Studies Digital Culture Research Group
is pleased to welcome guest lecturer Donna Leishman.

Wednesday, November 5th, 14:15-16:00, HF-bygget 265

Lecture open to the public: “Dissonance in Multi-Semiotic Landscapes”

Dr. Donna Leishman is Course Leader BA (Hons) Illustration and Deputy Head of Media Arts & Imaging at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, Scotland. Her work combines critical writing and practice-led research in digital art with a particular interest in the intersection of narrative with internet based interactivity. Themes in her research include developing and exploring the role of the participant in these exchanges and developing a canon of practice that questions standard paradigms of behaviour. Her works of interactive animated narrative including “RedRidingHood” and “The Possession of Christian Shaw” can be explored at www.6amhoover.com.

David Wallace

David Foster Wallace killed himself on Sept. 12th, 2008. I wrote a couple of short texts in response to his death — he was my teacher when I was a master’s student at Illinois State University, and he will always be an important figure in the landscape of my life. I’ll post both texts here, in reverse order. I wrote the first piece here a couple of weeks back for his memorial service at ISU, which occurred yesterday. It is included in a collection of remembrances that was bound and given to his parents. The second piece I wrote the night after I heard about his death. It is a bit rawer, darker, and perhaps in some ways angrier than than the one I wrote for his memorial. I posted that piece on Grand Text Auto, and a redacted version was also posted on the McSweeney’s website. It has been a strange process watching the world react to his death (in some ways getting to know him better through the fragments of his life shared by others, in other ways just shocked at the way his postmortem memory has taken on a kind of rock-star hagiography). I have thought about him, his life, his writing, and his end very often since.

So long, David

The first time I met David Wallace, about a week after I started in the MA program at ISU in 1993, I told him that I was excited about working with him. I told him that about a month earlier, I had picked up a copy of The Broom of the System at a used book store in Madison, where I was living at the time, read it twice from cover to cover and thought it was just about the smartest, most fun and engaging book I had read in years. He looked a little pained, made some sort of one-handed adjustment to his bandanna, and told me that I should never tell a writer I had bought his book used. He also said that he had written that book a long time ago, when he was very young, and that he had very mixed feelings about it — it was nothing like the kind of stuff he was writing now. I remember that he was on his way out the door, and he was juggling a tennis racket in one hand as we talked.

The first writing workshop I took with David met the first day of class in one of those awful interior classrooms in Stevenson Hall, a kind of musty box with no natural light and the hum of old-style fluorescents overhead. David hated those lights. The first assignment he gave us was to bring lamps to the next session of the class. When the next week came around, about a dozen students showed up carrying lamps, ranging from clip-on desktop models to things with ceramic bases and flowery shades that looked like they had been plucked from a 1970s parents’ basement. There were not enough plugs in the room, and we had to go to ridiculous extremes to balance the lamps on the slanted surface of the writing desks, so at some point David concluded there was no option but to convene the next class in the house he was renting. The rest of the workshop meetings, both that semester and during the following year took place in his living room. The first meeting he held in his house I remember being fascinated and troubled by the fact that on his bathroom wall he had thumb-tacked up a) a junior tennis circuit tournament chart and b) the wrapper for an Adult Depends undergarment. Being a bit of a smart-ass, when I emerged from the bathroom, I asked whether he was having any incontinence issues. He looked momentarily baffled, then slightly embarrassed, and explained it was just for something he was writing, that it was sort of like research.

I knew David from 1993-1995. We didn’t really stay in touch after I graduated. But I got to know him pretty well during that time. He was my thesis adviser and he taught me a great deal about writing fiction. I mention the fact that he had the grad workshops meet in his home because that’s sort of how he was in a general sense. He let you in his living room. Though teaching creative writing was by no stretch of the imagination anywhere near as important to him as were the thousands and thousands of words of Infinite Jest that he was writing and revising each and every day (his output during this period was insanely prolific), he was nevertheless a great teacher. He taught you to care about your writing on a sentence-by-sentence, word-by-word, comma-by-comma basis. He honestly thought that the project of the novelist was possibly the most important work he could conceive (and that with the job came a kind of terrible responsibility to humanity). Though he always emphasized the fact that he doubted most of us students would ever actually become writers (he suggested we not even begin to think of ourselves as writers until we had written at least fifty stories), he was universally respectful of any attempt to write a story that any writer took seriously. He himself wrote as if his life depended on it, and it probably did. He thought that writing was a kind of cure for loneliness, or at least that it could serve to make a person feel momentarily less alone, more understood.

I probably still haven’t written fifty stories, but I’ve written a few things in the years since I was one of Wallace’s students. Like most of his students I know, I’ll always feel a little like I’m living in his shadow. It is and will always be impossible to measure up to his example. I think of him nearly every time I write. I am grateful for all that I learned from him.

David’s death hit me like a freight train. As a reader, of course, I feel a deep loss. But also, selfishly, I had always thought that I would have a chance to meet David again, to sit down with him and talk, to reunite. I can only imagine what those closest to him, his parents, his sister, and his wife, have suffered in this time, and there is no sufficient way for me to express my sympathies.

By chance, Robert Coover happened to be in town the morning when we heard the news about David. Coover knew David, liked him, respected his work, and had invited him to come to visit Brown. Coover was deeply shaken by the news, distracted enough that he missed his plane from Bergen to London while we traded stories about David, and so we ended up spending the day together with my wife and daughters. It was a kind of Indian summer day in Norway with marvelous, sparkling light, everything around us shining, vibrant, and green. As I watched one great American novelist playing with my girls, happy in the autumn of his years, I couldn’t help but think about another, and all those books he would have written in his forties, his fifties, his sixties, and his seventies. All the joys he might have known. He was robbed, and so were we all. Yet if there is one thing you can say about David, it is that he did not waste the life he lived. He is present in the lives of his students, his readers, his friends, and his family. His works and his life still mean a great deal to the world, and he always will.

* * *

David Foster Wallace was a great teacher, in his own particular way, and he was a gifted writer who maybe got a little hung up on things, on interiority, on the prison of his own consciousness. He could write the shit out of you. He feared and was fascinated by the twisted. He knew grammar and could speak it very well. He knew theory and didn’t want you to try and teach it to him. He was so fucking postmodern that he grew sick of contemplating his own existence. He was not moderate. He wrote long and loved footnotes but hated the fact that he felt compelled to use them. He loathed that he loathed. He told tasteless jokes about death. He managed to write a monument and then he never could quite escape its shadow. He was a genius. He used smilely faces for grades. He was greasy. He would sweat. You would smell him in the room. He was conscious of his own body odor. He would scratch at the side of his face absent-mindedly but not absent of mind, if that makes sense. He would ask you if things made sense in a way that was both sincere and dismissive. The questions primarily rhetorical. He had a great desire to be a good human being. He had acne and feared it. He was athletic. He would see you and wonder if you had once played tennis with him. He had a very intense stare, you could say piercing but that wouldn’t be quite right, it didn’t pierce, it did something else. It worked in conflict with his body language. He loved writing and was humiliated by it. He was sympathetic to any creature in pain and sympathetic to anyone who caused pain. You need to wonder if he might have been better off if he had stayed on drugs. He was large and filled a room with language. He was complex and verbose and often right. He made errors. His eyes were evasive but he would work his way to telling you what mattered. He feared middle age and deterioration. He was a man of his time and he limited it. He feared the image. He loved the idea of celebrity in reclusion. Pynchon, DeLillo, Dostoevsky. He drank those carb milkshakes that bodybuilders drink. He read self help books in order to both help himself and to see how contrived and pathetic and self-indulgent the American mind had become. He confronted each of his addictions, one at a time. He never really learned how to dress himself properly. He sometimes wished he had become a philosopher instead. He studied sentences. He edited mercilessly, but found the text grew longer with each incision, fresh trees sprouting from every wound. He hated fluorescent light, and the buzz of technology. He loved his dog. He was a precocious child, and lonely. Humanity is a difficult subject, a dying life form. He told a string of jokes about the Branch Davidians. He wanted to make you laugh and cry at the same time. He thought that was the problem, that we could no longer get past our by-now-ingrained habits of looking at our own situations from a raptor’s-eye-view of irony, of post-deconstructive psychoanalytic abstraction, from a post which would make everything cool to the touch, that it had become impossible to feel. The need to be cool. The need to be cool consuming and leading to the failure of the heart. The heart has become impossible. The need to disconnect the brain from the heart. The dread. The sound of the tapping keys, the leaky faucet tapping, the reader, the viewer. The fear of the red pen. The jailer. The purpose of the novel to disturb and entertain. The impossibility of the subject. He wished he had chosen to become a mathematician, a physicist. He was devoted to the word and lived within the claustrophobic walls of its temple. He tried to deconstruct manhood. He was trying to explain something in way that even you could understand it. He could not explain. You could not understand. This incredible awkwardness. He feared himself, reclining by a pool, dripping with sweat, completely satisfied and empty. The reductive cockroach, the expansionist lobster. The most complicated problem you could throw at him. Eating a corn dog at the state fair. Interviewing porn stars with an awkward erection. Destroying the television because you are addicted to it. Never really leaving home. He wanted to save something. He thought that life was too short, or ought to be. The desire to find a humorous way to get to something real. The desire to extend. The understanding of the psyche of the man facing the firing squad, the desire to dwell on it. The impossibility of the word love. The impossibility of ending. The metaphor of getting into the ring to fight. The desire to remove oneself from the arena. The trouble with closure. Finding a voice. Finding a note. The decision of whether or not to leave. Recognizing that voice is a sentimentality. The sense of failure. Finally just tired. Leaving a tragedy. Did he think to erase his hard drive? Probably not, you poor bastard. Given the possibility of forensics. Burning the manuscript. Throwing the pages into the fire. The eventual film. The desert. The spider, the variety of it. Diseases that eat the flesh. This move across the dark room, this groping with alien fingers. What one does after being bitten by a brown recluse. Walking in the desert. Remembering the clouds. A ligature. Suspension. Constriction. The most common method after firearms. Read the footnotes. Have you read it, and yet you still don’t get it? The very long joke. The partial weight of the body. The sense of an ending. The conditions related to the event. The argument at hand. The desire to leave a little mess for pain but not so much as to trouble your love. Your sense of love. The awareness that your body will likely shit itself. The contemplation of that shit as you tender the cord. The awareness that you are loved and yet not able to de-abstract it. The occasion an excuse. But deep. You loathe the very idea of the sublime and you want to express it. The rise and the leap. You cannot ultimately communicate. See the notes. Finding the other and still knot. You hear yourself gag and you smell everything as your nostrils flare. Time is relentless and it will not slow for you now. Agency was had. A certain type of determination. A private novel on a machine of one’s own. No intentional fallacy. Flee from me. Reaching for the cord. To pull it away. To scratch at it. The survival instinct. Merciless. Cruel. Inevitable. Brave. Cowardly. Wanting. Full stop.

Call for Papers and Works: Seminar on Electronic Literature in Europe: UiB September 11-13th

Call for Papers and Works: Seminar on Electronic Literature in Europe

September 11-13th, 2008 at the University of Bergen in Bergen, Norway.

The Fall 2008 Bergen Seminar on Electronic Literature in Europe will build upon the work of the e-poetry seminar held in Paris in February 2008 at the University Paris 8, the 2007 e-poetry conference in Paris, the 2007 Remediating Literature Conference in Utrecht, and other recent activity in the field of electronic literature in Europe. The goals of this gathering are:

1) To provide an opportunity for European researchers to share and discuss their current research on electronic literature, e-poetry, and digital narrative forms.

2) To provide a forum for European authors of electronic literature to share, demonstrate, read, or perform their work.

3) To discuss and explore the foundation of a European research network focused on electronic literature, funding opportunities for such a network, and network activities.

The seminar will last three days and will include about 20-30 participants. The day-long meetings during the first two days will consist of short presentations of papers in panel format. Additionally, there will be performances, readings, and demonstrations of electronic literature in the evenings. The third day of the conference will be dedicated to proposing and discussing the formal establishment of a research network on electronic literature in Europe. Paper presentations should be in English. Presentation and performances of works can be made in English or in the native language of the presenter.

Registration for the seminar is free. There may be a fee for a conference dinner only. There will be no simultaneous sessions, so the number of presentation slots available will be limited, but researchers not selected to present are also free to attend. Both electronic literature authors and researchers are encouraged to submit proposals.

CALL FOR PAPERS

Any paper topic related to the seminar theme is welcome. Some subjects might include:

– Close readings of specific works of electronic literature.
– Ontologies and definitions of e-lit forms.
– National or language-group histories (or pre-histories) of e-lit.
– Procedural literacy and electronic literature.
– Relations between e-lit and other literary and artistic forms and movements.
– Issues involved in translating electronic literature.
– Issues involved in recording, archiving, and preserving e-lit.
– Electronic literature in cultural contexts.
– Pedagogy and approaches to teaching e-lit.
– Proposals for research network activities (e.g. archiving projects, publications, establishing a journal, pedagogical resources, etc.).

Presentations of papers should last no longer than 20 minutes.

Researchers should send an abstract of approximately 500 words before June 20th to elit.in.europe@gmail.com

CALL FOR WORKS

Authors wishing to present works of electronic literature should submit the following before June 20th:

1) A 500 word abstract describing the work, how the author intends to present it, and any technical requirements and how long it will take to present your work (max 30 minutes). The title of the work and all authors should be clearly identified. The abstract should be sent to elit.in.europe@gmail.com

2) If the work is published online, the URL at which it is located should be included in the abstract.

3) If the work is a non-web application, is published in other media than the web, or is performance-dependent, three copies of a CD-ROM or DVD including the work or video documentation of the work should be sent before June 20th to:

Scott Rettberg, Associate Professor
Literary, Linguistic, and Aesthetic Studies (LLE)
The University of Bergen
Postbox 7805
5020 Bergen
Norway

What is Electronic Literature?

The term refers to works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer. Within the broad category of electronic literature are several forms and threads of practice, some of which are:

* Hypertext fiction and poetry, on and off the Web
* Kinetic poetry presented in Flash and using other platforms
* Computer art installations that have literary aspects
* Interactive fiction
* Novels that take the form of emails, SMS messages, or blogs
* Poems and stories that are generated by computers
* Computer-enabled combinatory literary forms
* Collaborative writing projects that allow readers to contribute to the text of a work
* Literary performances that use the computer or network to develop new ways of writing

CALENDAR

The deadline for abstracts and works is June 20th. A response will be given by July 25th. Final papers must be submitted by September 1st for online proceedingss that will be published after the seminar. A website with further information will be published later this summer.

REVIEW COMMITTEE

Scott Rettberg, University of Bergen
Jill Walker Rettberg, University of Bergen
Phillippe Bootz, Paris 8 University
Maria Engberg, Blekinge Institute of Technology
Talan Memmott, Blekinge Institute of Techonology
Raine Koskimaa, University of Jyväskylä
Susana Tosca, IT University of Copenhagen

CONTACT INFO

Submission of abstracts and proposals should go to: elit.in.europe@gmail.com. Questions about the seminar should be directed to Scott Rettberg: scott(at)retts.net.


Apologies for cross-posting. Please distribute to anyone you think will be interested in attending.

Jessica’s first new media artwork



Jessica’s first new media artwork, originally uploaded by srett.

Shortly after he received the birth announcement, my friend the digital poet Jason Nelson made Jessica’s first new media artwork. Even better, when I showed it to her she stopped crying.

Jessica Ann Rettberg



Closeup of Jessica, originally uploaded by srett.

Saturday April 19th at 11:40AM in Bergen, Norway, Jill gave birth to Jessica Ann Rettberg. Our daughter weighed 8 pounds, was 50 centimeters long, and is 100% healthy and beautiful.

Lørdag 19.april kl11:40 fikk Jill og jeg en datter: Jessica Ann Rettberg. Hun veide 3655g, var 50 centimeter lang, og det står bra til med mor og barn.

Major League Lifestyle Improvement

Today I upgraded to WordPress 2.5, which has a much nicer backend interface and some smart improvements (though I can’t seem to get the media uploader to work). In the process I also found out my previous theme had somehow been spam-hacked, which explains the new look-in-progress. But the major technological upgrade of the day was my subscription to MLB.TV. We have a DV cable to put the stream through to the TV. At anything over 400K, the image stream is too jerky on my connection, but at 400K, it is a lot like like watching baseball used to be when I was a kid and broadcast television involved rabbit ear manipulation. Still, you can’t beat being able to watch the Cubs live from Norway. Great game, the Cubs beat the Phillies 6-5 in the 10th inning. Well worth $20 a month.
Cubs on my tv in Norway

A Few New Features, and a Lot of Words

The past six weeks have been a busy time. In addition to the 28 things I created during thing-a-day month, I managed to get my application at UiB filed and to complete the drafts of my World of Warcraft chapter and DAC essay. If you look to the right column, you’ll also notice that I’ve been sprucing things up here in blogland as well. I finally transfered my blogroll over from my previous blog (a year and a half later), so there are lots of good links there for the surfing. I also posted links to my new media writing projects and some old media writing projects. When I was going through my files, I even ran across the ms. for Piercing Through, a play I wrote while I was in grad school that was performed as staged reading in Cincinnati a decade ago next month. Not that I’m feeling old or anything. You’ll also find the PDF of The Unknown, an Anthology there, though if you actually want to hold the volume in your hands you should buy a copy from Spineless. I’ve put up some nicely formatted versions of scholarly publications, both published and in progress. The WoW chapter and the DAC essay are both a draft away from finished, but I figured, whatever, someone might be interested in what I’ve been working on lately. And now a momentary sigh before the next wave of deadlines . . .

Whoops, We Lost Your Data

Well I suppose it could be worse. Hurricane Katrina keeps things in perspective, but my hosting company, Acenet, somehow managed to completely crash my site. Everything in the home directory: images, videos, documents, template files, has been lost. Evidently Acenet was not backing up the server and when whatever happened it got corrupted, so my home directory is just gone. Luckily, I suppose, the sql database files were not lost, so most of the blog text is still here. Of course I didn’t have everything backed up as I should have on this end either, so some content is just simply lost. One of the downsides of using WP is that I hadn’t been as methodical about backing up since most of the site isn’t built via ftp. I’m bummed.

Working Backwards, Creating a Richer Archive, Double Posting

I’ve decided to put some energy into to using this site to create a richer archive of my blogging and other web writing. I’m test-driving ecto, a desktop blogging tool for offline editing, which makes posting to more than one blog fairly easy. I’ve decided to post my Grand Text Auto posts here as well as at GTxA, though discussion will be enabled on those posts only at GTxA, which I’ll link from each archived post. I’ll also post some of the articles and book reviews I wrote 1997-2000 when I was doing the Authors site at the Mining Company (About.com). I like the idea of creating a rich, searchable archive of all my serialized webwriting in one place.

It was actually great fun going back through the old posts on this blog and categorizing them. I also printed off the whole blog as a single .pdf — it was kind of an interesting exercise reading through it. I realized that I had never really thought of my blog in any other way than as a single page with ten or fifteen recent entries. It was strange to see the whole thing in one 179 page doc. I’d imagine something like Jill’s blog or GTxA would generate a mammoth file.

Migration in Progress

I’m in the process of getting my old files timestamped and categorized. After some difficulty trying to get my data migrated from Manila, I managed to export the text as an RSS feed and import into WordPress that way, but the timestamps didn’t come through, and the image links have stayed to the files at Caxton. Jill generously spent much of her Friday night helping me restamp dates. Things’ll be in progress for a while, but I’m pretty happy I managed to get the data over, and it’s been interesting reading the old posts and creating categories on the basis of their content. Anyway, that’s why April 1st appears to have been so prolific, and why some very old news is up on the front page.

Update: Part one of the migration is now complete — all the posts from caxton have been migrated and metatagged/put into categories. This should make the blog more accessible than it was in manila, although I wish that categories in WordPress worked more like tags in flickr. I’ve seen a plugin that could change WP to a more tag-based system, but I think I’ll wait until it’s part of the WP core.

I haven't blogged for a while

The frightening part is that I haven't even missed blogging. I've been uploading pictures wily-nily at Flickr, commenting a bit at Grand Text Auto, getting a little bit of offline research-type writing done (nowhere near enough), serving on two search committees (almost done) that took up oodles and oodles of time, and teaching three courses. I should have been blogging, sure, a student chastised me in class today, but ah well. This is not to say that there are not exciting things going on in my life right now. My new media studies and hypertext courses have been going well, good groups both, and I'm meeting my lovely girlfriend in Paris for the weekend, this weekend. We're going to research new media in France. Working holiday. (That's a lie, that's an utter fabrication, we're simply celebrating Valentine's Day a few days late in the most romantic way we could imagine. But if I run across any noveau media, I'll be sure to blog it, or at least throw some pictures up on Flickr).

Blog Books in the Times

I was quoted in an article in today's New York Times about books by bloggers. In the article, I might come across like the resident skeptic (and I'm missing a comma). I was trying to point out that blogs and books are different forms, that a great blog doesn't necessarily make for a great book, that each medium has its own formal qualities. I don't disagree that there are some reasons why publishers would want to publish books by bloggers — successful bloggers are generally people who prove that they can write in a consistent way, that their writing attracts an audience, that their knowledge is up to date, and that their topic areas are relevant. But I do think that the act of sitting down to knock off a blog entry is fundamentally different from the act of sitting down to write a sustained work, whether it be a novel or a long work of non-fiction. Last weekend I was in Providence with the Grand Text Auto drivers. We had some interesting discussions about this very topic. If GTxA does pull together a coauthored book, it will likely have a different flavor both from the blog and from the type of scholarly monograph that any of us would be likely to write on our own. I don't think that blog “shovelware” would make for a compelling book, but there are some characteristics of blog writing which might make for an intruiging hybrid with the traditional academic book.

Eric Rasmussen Online

My good friend Eric Rasmussen now has a blog. Eric is working on his Ph.D. in English at the University of Illinois/Chicago, where he's specializing in American Lit. Eric is one of my favorite in person “ranters” and I'm sure his blog will be chock-full of interesting observations about lit, theory, politics, music and life. Eric and I studied together at Coe College back in the dark ages, and he worked with me at ELO headquarters when it was based in Chicago.

Blog Fiction on the BBC

Jill Walker was interviewed by the BBC World Service program The Word on Blog Fictions, along with Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian, political blogger and Stuart Hughes, a BBC journalist who started blogging while he was in Iraq. The interview is currently available in realaudio at the The Word‘s site. While you’re tuning into radio archives online, an April 7th NPR Talk of the Nation show on the politics and economies of virtual communities is also worth a listen.

This post was originally published on Grand Text Auto.