The street below my temporary apartment was overflowing with laughter, bicycles and nudity. Seventeen floors up, I could just make out rampant swathes of body paint, scattered boas, and lots and lots and lots of doughy, pasty flesh. As the last bits of sunlight were ushered away by the warm Lake Michigan breeze, I regretted not purchasing a telephoto lens. What was going on?
Last month, I refused my grandmother’s Facebook friend request. It was no cavalier decision – we’re talking hours of internal debate. Pros: Better access to pie recipes and regular updates about Mississippi tide levels. Cons: I would have to constantly explain lolcats and Rickrolling, apologize for the lewd comments of my virtual friends, and defend the politically progressive links I tend to post. The tiebreaker came in the form of an e-mail my grandmother sent to the entire family. The subject heading was “Remember those that fought and died for this flag too!” and it consisted of a single URL, which led to a digital history of… wait for it… the Confederate Flag. My mother summed it up best in a one-line reply: “What is wrong with my parents??” What indeed? Clearly I couldn’t have any rogue racists on my Facebook page (I mean, ones I didn’t go to high school with), so I respectfully declined the friend request and swore not to mention the Internet at future family gatherings. But the Facebook refusal has lingered, specifically because my grandmother is not a racist, rogue or otherwise. She’s a beautiful, caring woman and an e-mail like that would have been unimaginable ten years ago. Today though, these types of missives are becoming disturbingly commonplace. Read more
Humans are tribal animals. We carve out teams and we despise enemies and we build fences and we assign names. Our evolved biology is sublimely equipped to nomad ourselves around in groups of about 150, combating other bands of wanderers and generally raising hell. However, as you may have noticed, you live in a city, and us humans will continue to do so in greater proportions as time marches on. All of which is to say our evolved biology isn’t quite as effective at navigating the modern world as it was at navigating the nomadic plains. Now, there are a whole HOST of ways in which this severely bones us (more posts coming in the future), but I want to specifically address how this affects artists. Read more
Those of us who have worked our way into the arts, either intentionally or through a series of questionable life decisions, are familiar with the expected confusion of our peers/family/friends. Increasingly, pursuing an artistic lifestyle is seen as selfish (at worst) and reckless (at best). And, while both of these may be true (what lifestyle ISN’T selfish or reckless these days?), it becomes particularly frustrating to defend one’s chosen vocation when applying for scholarship programs. With that in mind, here is my recent application essay for a high-level public policy scholarship, in which I attempt to defend multimodal thinking, polymathic lifestyles and a general artistic worldview. I’ll let you know how it goes. Read more
My new novel, Fluid is a “digital novel.” That is, it’s impossible for the book to exist in a classic print version. There isn’t really a “core” document or a best pathway, which causes the reading experience to truly be dependent on reader-driven choices. My forward-thinking publisher, Coliloquy, is interested in discovering new ways for readers to interact with longform text – from books with single choice points to fully interactive novels to serialized novellas whose sequels are based around user analytics. There are a multitude of ways to bring expansive storytelling into the modern age but the same question inevitably arises, regardless of the specific medium: What is the best ratio of choice to story? I, for one, like to have conversations, but I also like to be told stories. I like to play video games, but I also like to watch films. There are pros and cons to each type of media engagement, but the consistent thread through all successful storytelling is that the platform suits the story. Coliloquy is devoted to developing books that need their unique platform to reach total fruition, but many of the production entities scrambling to join the herd are clearly putting presentation over ingredients. Since we can now see that the endgame here is nothing short of total connectivity and complete untethered access to everything in the world, I figure it’s a good time to see how the novel has fared (and will fare) against another increasingly popular method of longform storytelling – the Alternate Reality Gaming and transmedia world.