Introducing Research with the High Priestess of Soul

Although I thoroughly enjoyed the film, I was having a hard time figuring out how to use I Am Not Your Negro in my first-year composition course. This film by Raoul Peck, who is visiting UWM in a couple weeks, is based on an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin. Samuel Jackson's reading punctuates Peck's interpretation of Baldwin's work, a view of the Movement through the eyes of its assassinated leaders, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. Breathtaking as it was, I figured it was too much to ask students to untangle the many strands of the film, to reduce it to research techniques and methods. In desperation, I came across the Netflix documentary about Nina Simone in my watch list. After watching a dozen minutes or so, it was clear that this was a much better alternative than I could have hoped. The title, What Happened, Miss Simone?, was the first clue that this film would work well as...
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SUPERBRIEF: Zork

SUPERBRIEF: Zork

Old School Gamer Magazine I've recently started writing for Old School Gamer Magazine, a recent startup whose first issue should be hitting the shelves soon. My weekly blog SUPERBRIEF, looks at old PC games and interactive fictions. Here's a sample: Opening one of the most legendary of computer games, this seemingly dull pair of statements embodies much of what makes Infocom's Zork so wonderful. Among the many text adventures that were published at the time, the brainchild of Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling is significant for its subtle complexity and status as a bridge between tabletop RPGs and their digital offspring.   While students at MIT, Zork's authors set out to expand on Adventure, a shareware game (surely to be featured at a later date) which was bouncing around academic mainframes during the late 1970s. Named for the term used to describe uncompleted programs, Zork was later renamed Dungeon until TSR, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, threatened to sue. Under its...
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Intellectual Property and the Preservation of Digital Works

In light of October being American Archives Month, I wanted to take this opportunity to consider how intellectual property impacts the preservation of digital works. While it’s tempting to assume that the software publisher or electronic text author will take every measure to secure that work’s existence, the history of media demonstrates that this is not the case. Unlike early cinema, music, and other culturally-driven works that have been deemed worthy of preservation and restoration efforts, those works relying on computational technologies have thus far been overlooked. One of the forms that has gained some attention of late is that of computer games. In recent years, the preservation of computer games has developed into an academic priority. Museums such as The Strong in Rochester, NY posses growing stores of material pertaining to video game culture. At this summer's Computers and Writing conference (conveniently held in Rochester), I shared a project that Dr. Avery Edenfield, archivist Brad Houston, and I had been working...
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The Overpass Light Brigade’s Remediation of Digital Media to Engage Public/Private Spaces

Originally published at MediaCommons After eclipsing print a few years ago, internet advertising has now surpassed that of broadcast media. This saturation of digital advertising is evidenced on nearly every web page or with every check of our personal electronic devices. Since the emergence of graphic design, outreach communications has at times returned to more ironic, “analog” modes to create messages that attract attention though the dense media haze. One of these modes has involved the exploitation of public spaces as forums of public discourse. While many of these modes encroach upon public spaces, they often become blurred within the urban landscape in the forms that includes graffiti, sidewalk chalk announcements, and tagging. Engaging audiences that are simultaneously indeterminable yet highly selective, these media offer an intriguing contrast to the targeted messages tailored to address our IP addresses and the content of our cookie jars. For activism outreach, public spaces are fundamental environments for demonstration and protest. Across America, various factions of the...
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