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Building a Community of Bot Makers

This is an open invitation to everyone interested in the art and craft of bots to join a new community space called Bot Forum.

Its goal is to have a free and open space, moderately moderated to facilitate the sharing of tips, techniques, code, ideas, and bots.

If you encounter any issues with accessing or sharing this Bot Forum, it’s because its URL was apparently once used for evil (spam) and was blacklisted long ago. We are reclaiming it from its previously well-deserved oblivion to create a community of artistic and literary bot makers and enthusiasts.

Upon these condemned ruins of the Web we shall raise a Forum. And unlike the previous bot community I built, it won’t be in territory belonging to our Web’s Roman Empire.

Join us!

Update: the first attempt at this forum was powered by Simple Machines Forum software and it broke after two days. The bot forum is now remade using WordPress and Commons-in-a-Box.

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New Digital Genres: Writing for Social Media

Morpheus meme - Digital Genre

On Saturday, May 24, 2014 I’ll be offering a workshop at the Southern PR TESOL conference titled “New Digital Genres: Writing for Social Media.”

This workshop will focus on teaching writing in genres developed in and for social media, such as memes, micro-narratives, Twitter fictions, netprov, and others. Participants should have Twitter accounts set up before the workshop to dedicate time to creating works in these new digital genres that favor wit, compression, and are designed for sharing.

Access the workshop document here.

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Recruiting for Fall 2014 Digital Humanities Internship

I am seeking to recruit up to 15 interns to help me develop some digital humanities and Web development projects I am currently developing. These unpaid internships count as 3 credits of an elective course (a recommended elective for English majors): INTD 4995, section 001#. The projects are:

Part of the work will involve developing and tagging files with metadata, working on link structures, describing born-digital materials, learning how to use open-source software like WordPress, Drupal, and Omeka to build collections, knowledge bases, and resources, preparing data sets for visualizations using Gephi, and other related Digital Humanities activities. Another part will focus on developing resources for several websites, including I ♥ E-Poetry, the English Department website, Fulbright @ UPRM, and others.

After completing the course, students should be able to:

  1. use software like WordPress, Drupal, Omeka, and Gephi
  2. encode files according to standardized metadata schema
  3. analyze the structure of collections and knowledge bases
  4. become conversant in the discourse of Digital Humanities
  5. develop resources to contribute to the research projects

Students will need to dedicate 8 hours per week to the project, but you’ll be able to do the work wherever you like, as long as you have a computer and Internet access. We will have weekly 60 minute-long team meetings to report on progress and assign tasks.

You can take this course twice for up to 6 credits during your studies at UPRM. For more information, such as the activities being done this semester, visit my internship website.

If you’re interested, contact me (leonardo.flores@upr.edu) and enroll in INTD 4995, section 001#.

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Digital Studies Courses

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I am pleased to announce the launching of a series of courses I will be teaching around a framework I’m developing on campus called digital studies. My short term goal is to develop and adapt existing courses that help develop students’ proficiency and critical thinking about the impact of digital media and technologies. My long-term goal is to develop an interdisciplinary minor that incorporates disciplines such as computer and social sciences, the arts and humanities, engineering, and business administration  to better prepare students for a world that increasingly requires academics and professionals with sophisticated digital media skills.

In order to train a cohort of digital media savvy students, I have offered the following courses this academic year:

Here’s a list of my offerings over the summer and next academic year:

  • Summer 2014:
    • Digital Writing for the Media (ENGL 3268) (see flyer)
    • This course will explore the Web as a platform for organizations to publish information, news, press releases, and other kinds of professional writing. The course will use several UPRM based organizations as case studies, and the students will develop content, Web resources, and shape their online presence as part of their class projects.
  • Fall 2014:
  • Spring 2015:

As writing courses, their goals can be easily achieved with a focus on the impact of digital media on these kinds of writing and expanding their focus to explore emergent genres.

Students interested in following me in this curricular trail should contact me, enroll in the courses, and I’ll show you how deep the rabbit hole goes…

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E-Poetry 2014 Intensive: The Poetics of It

I am pleased to announce that on March 20 – 22, 2014, the UPRM will be hosting the E-Poetry 2014 Intensive, titled “The Poetics of It.” This is the second mini-conference of its kind, organized by Loss Pequeño Glazier, to bring together a small, hand-picked group of participants to have a productive and intensive conversation on their proposed research topics.

Having participated in the first Intensive (May 2012 in Buffalo), I can attest to the benefits of sharing your research with a group of experts in the field and receiving their feedback in a format that is less rushed than the traditional academic conference.

Members of the UPRM community are invited to join us and participate in the event, especially in the public opening, which will feature lightning talks from the participants, providing a sampler of the ideas to be presented more expansively in the Intensive.

“Making Digital: The Poetics of It”

Thursday, March 20, 2014 – 10:30 – 12:00 – Celis 010

Here’s a copy of the complete program. Hope to see you there!

E-Poetry 2014 Intensive PROGRAM

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Scripting the Reader in Electronic Literature – An ASA Roundtable

I’m pleased to announce that they have accepted our proposal to present at the next American Studies Association (ASA) Convention, which will take place on November 6-9, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Here’s some information.

  • Title: Digital Humanities Caucus: Scripting the Reader in Electronic Literature
  • Format: Roundtable Discussion
  • Keywords: digital humanities, electronic literature
  • Participants: Leonardo Flores (chair), Mauro Carassai, Jeff Knowlton, Jeremy Hight, Brian Kim Stefans, Jody Zellen, Samantha Gorman, A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz.

How do writers of electronic literature design, control, cast, or otherwise shape their readers’ experience and interaction? Do they reward certain choices and punish others? Do they design virtual environments with a psychogeography that influences their readers’ dérive? Is fun used as a mechanism for control in a scripted interaction?

This scholar and artist roundtable will examine multiple approaches to constructing, scripting, and controlling ideal readers of works of electronic literature. In Cybertext (1997), Espen Aarseth coined the terms cybertext to refer to works with feedback loops that allowed them to respond to reader input and ergodic to refer to works that required “non-trivial interaction to traverse.” This panel is concerned with ways in which writers, artists, programmers cast the reader’s role in their cybertexts and their strategies for creating meaningfully ergodic e-literature.

  • Leonardo Flores will begin the panel by providing an overview of the reader’s role in e-literary genres, using concepts from Espen Aarseth, Guy Debord, and others as key components in a theoretical framework for interaction.
  • Samantha Gorman’s talk will be about “Rhythms of Attention” in crafting reader/writer edits in cinematic works of expanded textuality. What is the balance between how the reader directs “cuts” vs. the illusion of control established by the author. The novel Pry (http://prynovella.com) will be presented as her practice-based research model for integrating and exploring reader vs. author rhythms of attention.
  • Brian Kim Stefans’ talk is titled “Establishing and Dispelling Ground in E-literature.” The concept of “ground” is important to many fields, including linguistics, philosophy, cognitive studies, film studies, graphic design, poetics and of course the visual arts. After describing “ground,” he’ll discuss his work “Scriptor,” an environment that enables the animation of every element of an individually crafted letterform (as opposed the manipulation of standard fonts).
  • A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz – This talk will explore the “lusory attitudes” (i.e. playfulness) of electronic literature readers. While Bernard Suits used this concept specifically to discuss games, A. J. will apply it more broadly to his own work, to argue that readers of electronic literature only ever abdicate some control, and only need to follow the rules insofar as those rules facilitate playful experiences.
  • Jody Zellen will talk about the relationship between the public and private viewing experiences of installation based works vs net art and mobile apps using personal projects as well as curatorial ideas as examples. The projects she will discuss include web projects “Spine Sonnet” and “Without A Trace” and mobile apps “4 Square,” “Urban Rhythms,” and “Spine Sonnet.”
  • Jeremy Hight’s talk will be about the history of experimental digital literature in relation to space in physical and textual spaces and will range from 34 north 118 west to his work in augmented reality poetry and upcoming narratives running on quantum mechanics.
  • Jeff Knowlton – “Writing in Langue vs. Parole,” or, scripting space and the reader’s movement as they construct meaning in the urban landscape while retaining agency in a structure not of their own making.
  • Mauro Carassai will address reading in digital environments from a philosophical perspective and illustrate how, from the point of view of Ordinary Language Philosophy, e-literary works often encourage users to engage in unusual “language-games” that recast reading into aspect-seeing, critical play, or full body gesturing.

Each panelist will present in 5-7 minutes. For brief bios on the participants, read the complete proposal document.

Thank you Susan Garfinkel for encouraging us to apply as part of the Digital Humanities Caucus.

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Call for International Fulbright Student Researchers

I am interested in attracting one or several international graduate students to conduct research in electronic literature with me at the University of Puerto Rico: Mayagüez Campus. My research in electronic literature is best known through I ♥ E-Poetry, though I am also conducting research in digital preservation of born-digital literature, most urgently with works created in Macromedia and Adobe Flash and Director.

I am especially interested in students who wish to work with me on one or several of the following areas:

  • Representing their country’s electronic / digital literature to English-speaking audiences via I ♥ E-Poetry, under my tutelage, learning conduct media-specific analyses using frameworks such as, critical code studies, platform studies, etc.
  • Developing electronic literature archives using Omeka, which would include learning about, developing, and using taxonomies for born-digital materials to describe the resources in the collections.
  • Researching and experimenting with technologies and frameworks for the creation of electronic editions of born-digital literature, including virtualization, porting, documentation, and other strategies.
  • Developing digital pedagogy materials, including research in teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and STEM with electronic literature and born-digital technologies. Students in this area may wish to enroll in one of our graduate programs, including my English Department’s Master of Arts in English Education program.

The Fulbright Program offers opportunities for international students to apply and receive funding to pursue graduate studies and/or conduct research in accredited U.S. Institutions. Each country has its own Fulbright commissions with slightly different programs and deadlines for its student programs. Please explore the Fulbright programs offered in your country and contact me if there’s an opportunity you’d like to explore.

Atención España: la convocatoria para el programa de Ampliación de Estudios para el curso 2015-16 esta abierto hasta el 10 de marzo de 2014.

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“Cultural Screenings: Re-Situating American Digital Practices”

I am co-editing a special issue of RIAS (Review of International American Studies) with Mauro Carassai.

The CFP has been circulating at UPenn and elsewhere, but as the deadline approaches (February 20), I wanted to make one last publicity push for those who might be interested. Here’s the call for proposals.

Print technology and the discovery of the new world have often played a major role in the construction of our visions of modernity by means of a mass-produced imagery set in motion by the increased circulation of goods, people, and ideas across transcontinental routes. Such characterization of “modernity,” however, too quickly risks erasing the pre-existent in ways that have become utterly familiar to the field of American studies: what is presented as new and innovative, has a history extending already from the conceptualization of the American continent itself as the “discovery” of a “new world.” As Edmundo O’Gorman’s notorious argument highlighted, the act of discovery would have to be recast as “a process of invention” (The Invention of America, 1961)

The advent of digital technology and networked instantaneous communication, globally hyper-linked databases, elusive “electronic elsewheres” of cloud computing and augmented realities, in conjunction with the acknowledgment that many of the top computer manufacturers (Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Apple) are located in America, seem to create the premises for a renewed “invention of America.” As the digital poet John Cayley remarks in “Screen Writing: A Practice-Based, Eurorelative Introduction to Electronic Literature and Poetics”, “the ‘new’ of new media, the ‘hyper’ and ‘cyber’, the ‘digital’ and ‘electronic’, all these prefixes and the characterization they encourage have the effect of removing history and locatedness” (605) in digital creative practices. As a consequence, the American environment too quickly risks appearing as a natural or neutral setting for electronic forms of expression.

Although digital humanists, new media scholars, and literary critics often examine electronic artefacts produced in America and characterized by diversity of topics, concerns, and approaches that can be reconnected with the multicultural diversity of the American continent, they seldom foreground the implications of their cultural characterization. Such tendency generates a need to identify the specific role American digital forms of representation are currently playing in articulating a post-national, post-racial, post-ethnic, post-gender literacy in the electronic apparatus by conflating it in the universalizing interpretation of the post-humanist paradigm increasingly associated with technological culture. Our scholarly project aims therefore at reflecting upon a set of interconnected questions about how an integral understanding of the non-neutral characterization of the digital can be carried out from a great diversity of perspectives that transcend American geographical, historical, linguistic, and cultural boundaries.

To what extent are current digital theories developed in the US driven by a supposedly neutral attention to the medium? To what extent do the range of digital forms of expressions and the methodologies employed in their analysis happen to exceed the alleged paradigm of “media-specific” analysis? And how might the formal and technological approaches to digital poiesis be ideally situated within a history of artistic practices related to (North) American culture?

We welcome paper proposals that explore cultural issues related to American digital and technological modernity from a fluid, heterogeneous, comparative, international perspective. In other words, contributions should deal both with the ways in which international perspectives can re-articulate the cultural logic of the digital and with the specific ways in which digital media studies and digital scholarship (tools, theories, practices) developed in the Americas can be regarded, re-thought, reconfigured, and even questioned from international perspectives.

    We invite submission of abstracts (500-word length max) and one-paragraph bio by no later than February 20, 2014.

We expect final papers to be of 25-30 page length. Essays’ final versions should follow the RIAS Style Sheet.

Please send your abstract and one-paragraph bio to:rias.special.issue@gmail.com

Contact e-mails: mcarassai@ufl.eduleonardo.flores@upr.edu

Editors: Mauro Carassai and Leonardo Flores

Mauro Carassai is a PhD candidate at University of Florida. He holds a Masters of Arts in American Literature and Culture from University of Leeds (UK) and was a Fulbright visiting student at Brown University in 2007-2008. His research combines literary theory, Ordinary Language Philosophy, and digital literatures within the larger frame of American literatures and American studies. His scholarly work has been published in journals such as Culture Machine, LEA Almanac (MIT Press), and Digital Humanities Quarterly. He was a 2010-11 HASTAC scholar.

Leonardo Flores is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico: Mayagüez Campus and the Treasurer for the Electronic Literature Organization. He was the 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen. His research areas are electronic literature, poetry, and preservation of first generation electronic objects. He is the lead writer, publisher, and editor of a scholarly blogging project titledI ♥ E-Poetry (http://iloveepoetry.com). For more information on his current work, visit http://leonardoflores.net.

cfp categories:
american
bibliography_and_history_of_the_book
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ethnicity_and_national_identity
humanities_computing_and_the_internet
interdisciplinary
journals_and_collections_of_essays
modernist studies
science_and_culture
theory
twentieth_century_and_beyond
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Teaching Hamlet in Digital Media

hamletmemesThis semester in my Literature in Digital Media class, I’m experimenting with teaching a unit on Hamlet in a few innovative ways.

Week 1: Hamlet and Editorial Theory

The unit began by assigning an article about the textual history of the play. I divided the class into 6 groups and assigned each group a different digital edition for them to read, examine, and report on. The goal was to dispel the fallacy of texts as singular and authoritative and provide a more flexible notion of a work that can accommodate multiple texts. Here’s a link to the course schedule with the readings for that week.

Week 2: Multimedia Hamlet

After the groups had presented their editions and we had discussed them as a class, I assigned assigned 5 different film adaptations of Hamlet– one to each group (I had to combine two groups)– and asked them to watch the films over the weekend. And to come prepared to discuss the films in groups and with the class. I also had them keep their eyes open for memorable moments in the films that they could screen-capture and creates memes with.

Each member of each group was then assigned an act from the play that they would use to create memes with.  The parameters were to use: an image from the film, text from the Hamlet, and their own text, and “to strive for humor or wit, or some thought-provoking observation about the play, characters, situation, etc.” The goal was for the students to use a familiar form (the image + caption meme) to engage the materiality of Hamlet‘s text and film productions.

The students then worked in groups to develop a pecha kucha presentation that retold their film adaptation of Hamlet using memes (see link for assignment parameters). The presentations allowed the students the opportunity to comment on the film adaptation by focusing on the aspects that stood out to them.

Here’s a link to the course blog entry for that week.

Week 3: Remixable, Spreadable Hamlet

Over the weekend, I sent feedback to my students, reinforcing it in class to revise their memes, particularly if they contained any kind of potentially offensive language choices (there were a few cases) and to edit them for readability and spelling. In addition to the obvious reasons, I wanted them to revise them because they now have the assignment to share their memes on Twitter in a group performance titled “Hamlet: The Meme Edition.” Each day of the week, the students will tweet the memes from the corresponding act (Monday = Act I, Tuesday = Act II, and so on). Here’s a link to the assignment. So far, the #hamletmemes are a hit on Twitter and have been retweeted many times. The compiled tweets, organized by acts are available here.

During the week, we’re discussing other remixes and adaptations of Hamlet, including Twitter bots, a video game, and a choose-your-own-adventure version, all in the context of Spreadable Media by Henry Jenkins’ et al. Here’s a link to the assigned material. The goal is to show my students how Shakespeare’s plays are part of public discourse and are therefore quotable, remixable, spreadable, memorable, and available for all kinds of performances on and off the stage.

This is their Hamlet.

Their reaction?