Twisty Little Passages

Nick Montfort’s book on interactive fiction, Twisty Little Passages, describes itself in two ways. The first description (p. 5) reads:

This book seeks to describe some of the intellectual history of the form and its relationship to other literary and gaming forms, and to computing and other computing programs, while critically examining a representative selection of important works and describing their interrelationships.

The second description (p. 14) reads:

Thus this book considers [interactive fiction] works from the standpoint of the narratives they can generate, the way they function as riddles, and their nature as computer programs.

Thus Montfort has promised to present two equally important perspectives on interactive fiction (IF), the first a critical history of the form’s origins, the second a critical analysis of the form’s operations, or to put it in even simpler terms, where IF operates and how IF operates. Given the meagre attention previously given to interactive fiction by scholars, it is this first perspective, the critical history, that is most needed, and that takes a more dominant role in the book.

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SIGGRAPH 2004 recap

Well, SIGGRAPH is done and gone and I should record my thoughts for posterity.
Five days of trekking to the convention center was one day too many, a feeling I get almost every year. I always sense that I’ve missed something, so I end up at the show just one more time to make sure I got it all in.
i. Exhibition
The exhibition was contained in halls H and J of the ginormous [gigantic/enormous] exhibition hall. A big convention, but small for SIGGRAPH. Digging out an old program from SIGGRAPH 2001, also at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the exhibition occupied the entire exhibition hall, halls G, H, J, and K, with registration in a downstairs hall (a carpeted parking garage) and the Electronic Theater held offsite at the Shrine Auditorium.
This year, the exhibition floor, the registration area, and the electronic theater were all contained in the exhibition hall.
There is some serious shrinkage going on with SIGGRAPH. The exhibition is now dominated by 3D tools for the entertainment industry, whereas previously this industry was one of many dominant forces. Kind of like the sole remaining superpower… hey, I think I’ve found my metaphor.

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sitting on the floor at SIGGRAPH

So I’m sitting on the floor near the Emerging Technologies booth at SIGGRAPH, wirelessly connected to the web. Getting wireless working takes a little perseverance, there are plenty of hotspots set up but something, perhaps sunspots or people with Intel laptops or cars with loud stereos, tend to send network connections askew. The most amazing thing about wireless tehcnology is that people are willing to put up with such low reliability with these things — rather than admit that wired connections are simply a better way to live.

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Ban Comic Sans

I recently installed a Windows operating system on a new machine, and one of my first tasks, along with disabling VBScript and removing all those wretched screen savers, was to delete the Comic Sans font.
I guess I’m not alone: Ban Comic Sans website
I’m not just against Comic Sans because it is an ugly font; I am against its painful and inadequate usurpation of comicbook style lettering. Look at that weak ‘a’, and that meagre ‘g’… wait a minute, who the hell uses lowercase comicbook lettering in the first place?


It looks like it is time for my biennial pilgrimage to the Los Angeles Convention Center, where the tigers and zebras of SIGGRAPH 2004 will be frolicking all week. The conference proper started yesterday, the art gallery opens today, and the exhibiiton begins on Tuesday.

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