May 25, 2007

MT Issues

It seems that most of my posts these days have to do with trying to fix MT... and this is a quick note to say, I'm still trying to fix the Wordherder comments, and I'm very grateful for the help that George has been providing.

Hopefully we'll get stuff sorted out soon. I'll keep everyone posted.

Posted by Jason at 6:28 PM | TrackBack

January 9, 2007

Zone of Influence

Matt Kirschenbaum has a new blog, Zone of Influence (, in which he talks about games and, specifically, board wargames. In his "Welcome" post, Matt describes these types of games as ...

cardboard computers; they are instruments for modeling, prediction, and prognostication, but by their nature they are open source with the algorithms laid bare in numerically expressed outcomes on charts and tables. The only “black box” is the designer’s intentions.

He has several posts available already, so be sure to read them all and, of course, leave comments.

Posted by Jason at 7:29 AM | TrackBack


Commenting here has been quirky, so apologies if you're having trouble with it. For whatever reason, the computer I use seem to allow me to comment just fine, so troubleshooting has be problematic.

Posted by Jason at 6:42 AM | TrackBack

December 14, 2006

Get Out the Vote!

Fellow wordherder Chuck is a finalist for a Weblog Award in the (inventively-named) Best of the Top 5001 - 6750 Blogs category. Be sure to congratulate Chuck for being nominated, but better still, help him win -- Vote for him now! (and once a day, per computer, until he wins)

Voting ends tomorrow, so be sure to use many computers today to help him catch up. And spread the word!

Posted by Jason at 6:23 AM | TrackBack

November 29, 2006

Meme Speed

Scott Eric Kaufman of Acephalous is presenting at MLA and is asking for participation in a meme experiment. Here are the details:

1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.) 2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I'm one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.) 3. Ping Technorati.

Help out if you can.

As a side note: I wonder how the nature of the meme changes its growth and distribution. How different would the spread be with this one - rather artificial and requiring little effort - versus one in which you list the third line on the fifteenth page of the fifth book that you open this morning (revealing more about the blog author, and thus functioning as more personal, and requiring more effort).

I would be curious to see Kaufman compare his results with this meme against one that is less self-consciously a call for creating a meme (after MLA of course).

Posted by Jason at 9:46 AM | TrackBack

June 7, 2006


Unfortunately, due to comment spam I've had to start relying on a CAPTCHA - one of those funny image/text verifcation systems (this plugin is SCode). I am well aware of the issues they cause, especially for those with vision problems. Currently, however, I'm just not sure any better way to stop the spam, which has shut our servers down several times in the past weeks. I welcome comments on the change, either through the normal comment feature or via email, which is always accessible: jcrhody AT umd DOT edu. Fellow herders - I sent email around detailing how to implement the plugin. I ask that you choose some effective way to moderate spam (TypeKey, SCode, etc.).

Posting has - and will remain - relatively light for the next several weeks, for a variety of reasons. Once I give it a good spellcheck, I will probably post the talk I gave at Georgetown a few weeks ago. The talk, which I gave alongside Michelle Roper and Mark Sample, was well-attended and enjoyable. After about 50 minutes of presentations, the forty or so audience members, who hailed from GW, Georgetown, UMD, UVA, and George Mason, ran us through our paces with about 70 minutes of Q & A. All in all, a great conversation and enjoyable afternoon.

Posted by Jason at 7:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 8, 2006

Wordherders In Action

Occasionally I like to showcase the work done by various members of the herd; this was a busy week for the Wordherders. MattK gave a talk at UT-Austin on his work on "Textual Forensics of Mystery_House.dsk". I've seen a few variations of this particular branch of his research over the years and it never fails to entertain. Speaking of entertainment, our Natalie (Critters and Spectacles) was the superstar of the week, showcasing her mug on NBCTV4 with West Wing's Bradley Whitford.

Two herders Chuck (The Chutry Experiment) and Marc (Things As They Are) presented at this year's SCMS, joining herd-friend KF (Planned Obsolescence). On this coast, herder CJ presented at NEMLA in Philadelphia.

Jason Jones (The Salt-Box) is hosting this month's Teaching Carnival, so be sure to check back soon and/or contribute to the Carnival.

A good luck to Non-Zombie, who retired his blog "thanks for not being a zombie" this month, after three years of blogging.

Finally, motions are in place to upgrade the Wordherders space. Plans include:

  • upgrading software to 3.2, which should include better template support and better spam control

  • getting a Feed working that compiles the latest entries from all herders (even those not hosted on the herd server/MT install), which brings with it...

  • a better, more user friendly, and more community-centered Wordherder main page.

And don't forget the Wordherder (and friends!) outing to the Dada exhibit on March 18. Details here. Email or comment if you'd like to attend.

[Cross-posted on the main Wordherder news blog]

Posted by Jason at 6:21 AM | TrackBack

January 30, 2006

Grass Green Again

Things should be working again for the herd. Please let me know if you experience any further technical difficulties.

Posted by Jason at 6:14 AM | TrackBack

January 29, 2006

DOS Attack; Herd Currently Not Grazing

The server that hosts many of herders is currently experiencing a DOS attack. Some services may be down (including comments), but we hope to see the storm passing soon.


Posted by Jason at 10:19 AM | TrackBack

August 23, 2005

Feed Digest

Feed Digest - perhaps the feed mechanism for the Herd that I've been looking for...

Posted by Jason at 11:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 10, 2005

Comments Fixed

Commenting is now fixed and the herd is upgraded to MT 1.7.

Posted by Jason at 11:31 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 6, 2005

Wordherders - Comments Currently Disabled Until Upgrade

Hello readers and fellow wordherders -
Due to an avalanche of spam this weekend, our host had to disable our cgi scripts to prevent server overload. I have asked that they allow us to continue using our normal scripts, except for comments.cgi which runs our commenting features, until I upgrade to the newest version of MT later this week.

So, the herders can now post again, but comments will be disabled until I get a chance this week to upgrade the MT build. Meanwhile, since this will be an upgrade, and since by my nature I'm both suspicious and pessimistic, I ask that all herders back-up their data immediately (instructions in the link). I will also backup the mysql database. Obviously, I believe in redundancy.

Sorry for the confusion and frustration. Hopefully MT 3.17 will solve some of these problems and prevent this from happening again.

Posted by Jason at 1:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

Belated Herd-iversary

You would think that the annual notice to renew my domain subscription would jog my memory, but it doesn’t. I missed it again. On June 4th, Wordherders celebrated its second year as the umbrella for our little blogging cooperative. Some of us were already blogging, while others had never heard of this "blogging" before. And now two [1, 2] of our members are within the top ten best Sixty Second Stories.

Who knew what fame would come.

Happy Herd-iversary everyone.

Posted by Jason at 6:24 AM | TrackBack

May 25, 2005

Gathering of the Herd

Reminder to the herd & friends - our Gathering of the Herd is tonight in Silver Spring. Want details? Email me at jcrhody AT umd DOT edu

See you tonight.

Posted by Jason at 10:59 AM | TrackBack

May 20, 2005



GTD (Getting Things Done) TiddlyWiki

GTD Tiddly Wiki is a GettingThingsDone adaptation by NathanBowers of JeremyRuston's Open Source TiddlyWiki. The purpose of GTD Tiddly Wiki is to give users a single repository for their GTD lists and support materials so they can create/edit lists, and then print directly to 3x5 cards for use with the HipsterPDA.

A version that should run off the server

TiddlyWiki Tutorial

Posted by Jason at 5:39 PM | TrackBack

April 5, 2005

New Herder

As I just announced on the wordherder blog, we have a new herder among us - Claire MacDonald is blogging at still just writing.

Posted by Jason at 6:49 AM | TrackBack

April 4, 2005

Comment Delays

Apologies to those of you who commented on recent posts only to have it held up in the moderation process. I haven't had time to update my customized MT 2.6* templates to the 3.* format, and so I'm getting some quirkiness in my commenting moderation.

If you don't see me respond within a reasonable amount of time, please feel free to nudge me by emailing: jcrhody [AT] umd [DOT] edu

Posted by Jason at 8:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 22, 2005

Feed Me

This might be the feed aggregator I've been looking for ... if [insert sheepish grin] I can figure out how to download the freakin' thing.

Really. I'm not *that* inept. Usually.


Do I want the nightly snapshot? Is it me, or is it terribly unclear where an available, stable version of the code resides?

Posted by Jason at 6:34 PM | TrackBack

March 14, 2005


Misc. celebrates its second year today. Like chuck, I've enjoyed having the blog as a space for working through scholarship and musing on the random, the mundane, and - yes - the miscellaneous. With the job, the additions to family, and other things going on in my life, this space has allowed me to keep in touch with both scholars and friends, two categories that I can say with great fortune frequently overlap. Thanks to everyone who has read and commented during the past two years.

And happy birthday to Angry Robot.

Posted by Jason at 1:10 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 19, 2005

Wiki Software Suggestions?

The title says it all. Currently, my front runners are MediaWiki, which runs on PHP/MySQL (and is what wikipedia is built on) and MoinMoin, which appears to run on Python.

Both seem to get good reviews, though I'm currently leaning towards MediaWiki, since I know a little php/mysql.

So, my questions:
1. Am I missing some great wiki software in my list?
2. Do either or both of these support some sort of export (I'm always concerned about my data)?
3. Are they relatively easy and quick to set up and maintain? I don't have time to fuss (and if I do, I prefer to fuss over keeping Wordherders running and up-to-date).

Thanks for any suggestions and/or comments...

Useful article reviewing various wiki software packages.

Posted by Jason at 2:41 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 11, 2005


BlogBib, "an annotated bibliography on weblogs and blogging, with a focus on library/librarian blogs" put together by Susan Herzog, Information Literacy Librarian @ Eastern Connecticut State University.

[via Jeremy]

Posted by Jason at 6:18 AM | TrackBack

January 3, 2005

Wordherders in the News

Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik sat in on the blogger get-together at the MLA conference last week and quoted a number of Wordherders in his article Bloggers in the Flesh. Wordherder quotes came from Matt K., dave(e), Chuck, and Zombie; bloggers Nick Montfort (of GTA fame) and Miriam E. Burstein (of The Little Professor) apparently made up the rest of the group gathering.

I'm curious who refered to who as his "blogparent."

It's also a shame that Scott decided to edit out all the references herders must have made about their Wordherder community. *wink elbow wink*

Posted by Jason at 6:08 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 13, 2004

TypeKey Issues - Advice?

I go to this entry in wordherders and try to comment on George's post. I see that I have to log in to typekey, so I do so. I enter my Typekey and it forwards me to a page that says:

Word Herders Comment Submission Error Your comment submission failed for the following reasons:

The validation failed.

Please correct the error in the form below, then press Post to post your comment.

It took my TypeKey, but seems to want my email address, even though I don't have e-mail as a required component.

Wordherder settings are currently (toggled on):
- Do not accept comments from Unregistered Visitors.
- Accept Comments from Registered Visitors.
- Typekey Token entered properly.
- Automatically Approved Registered Vistors.

What's going on?

UPDATE: I continued to the error page, as described above, re-entered my name, email, and URL (as per old 2.61 comment style) and hit enter. The comment went into moderation. So far, color me unimpressed.

I noted that according to their own documentation, TypeKey has issues w/ IE 6:

Caveats: If your weblog domain is different from the domain of your Movable Type application, commenters using Internet Explorer 6 may have trouble logging in to comment on your site. This is because Internet Explorer 6 doesn't allow your weblog to fetch your cookie information from Movable Type, which contains the logic to decode it. For example, this situation would arise if your weblog was at but you log into Movable Type at

I'm concerned that this might be a problem w/ the wordherders, since we are all on subdomains. Anyone else having these problems?

Meanwhile, when I go to make sure that my comment did in fact go to moderation, I have 5 new nasty-spam comments waiting to be moderated. If I have Typekey only, with no registered users, and they are (according to blacklist when I despam) already on the blacklist, how the heck is the spam getting through?

Posted by Jason at 6:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mind the Gap

As with all upgrades, there's usually a gap between installation and optimization. Wordherders is now running MT 3.12, but we are all still working out some kinks, especially as we try to get our old 2.61 templates in line with the new features. So, please be patient.

A few things I've noticed already:
1. Still some issues w/ commenting. If you leave a comment on a herd blog and it doesn't show up right away, likely it has been sent to moderation. Herders - you can moderate your comments in the new "comments" section under "Post" (in the left toolbar). I believe you can change your preferences depending on how you want comments to work in the Weblog Config section.

Neil Turner has a nice breakdown of the changes in MT 3.* in his review. This screenshot lists the options for configuring your comments.

2. Blacklist no longer has a DESPAM button, which I find slightly inconvenient (especially since I like to despam several blogs at once). Hopefully that'll change soon, so I don't have to go through blogs one by one.

You can, however, use blacklist as you delete comments in the "Comments" section. The link is all the way at the bottom, so it may be easy to miss. Herders - as always, please be careful what you add to the global blacklist. Also keep in mind that the new Blacklist automatically updates via RSS feed (at least, I think it does).

3. In order to get the new features working right (such as commenting), it appears that several new templates need to be included (and I haven't figured out the right combination/secret handshake yet).

4. They dramatically changed the layout of the CSS and template, which makes things a bit tough. Lots of tweaking to come, I think.

5. I can't see trackbacks (on the Wordherders main blog, which is the only place I've tweaked templates so far)

6. [Update] Somehow, a spammer is getting through on one post in Wordherders. This is particularly odd because I have set to Typekey only for the time being. Very weird.

Posted by Jason at 7:15 AM | TrackBack

December 12, 2004


Wordherders is upgrading to the newest version of Moveable Type around noon (eastern) today. There might be some delays, downtime, etc., so please be patient. Members of the herd, as per email request, please do not post after 12:00 Eastern until I post an all clear on the main Herd blog. Thanks.

Posted by Jason at 11:03 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 2, 2004

Out of the last 1000 comments ...

... there are 871 comments on entries for which you have editing privileges that match your current blacklist.

That makes about 2000 comments I have deleted in 24 hrs. I have now hit that threshold where taking care of this mess has superseded the time I didn't have to upgrade the Herd to MT 3.*. So, Herd, watch out - sometime in the next week to ten days, I am making the upgrade. Please keep a close eye on your email for a notice of exactly when. Meanwhile, please take the time to follow these simple instructions on how to export your blog data (instructions repeated after the fold, if you don't feel like following the link). I will be making a full database backup, but as my dad says, "Back up your blog twice, cut once." Or something.

One positive aspect of comment spam? Occasionally it reminds me to review what I've blogged in the past, including fun links like ASCIIWars - Star Wars, all in ASCII Animation.

Instructions, in case you don't follow the link:

In addition to exporting your data from another weblog CMS, you can export your entries from Movable Type itself. This allows you to keep local backups of your weblog content for safekeeping, as well as to transfer data between weblogs, by combining the export and import mechanisms. To export the entries from one of your weblogs, login to Movable Type, then go to the Main Menu for the weblog you wish to export. Then click Import & Export Entries, and follow the instructions under Export Entries.

NOTE: be careful when exporting data from Internet Explorer; all versions of Internet Explorer have a bug where data marked as plain text can be intrepreted as HTML. The symptom of this bug is that all of your exported data will run together onto one line. If this is the case, use Netscape [ed: or Firefox] when exporting data.

Posted by Jason at 6:40 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Game Brains

Game Brains ( has a nice collection of selected video game writing (mostly online news articles, with some blogs).

Posted by Jason at 6:30 AM | TrackBack

October 21, 2004

Things as They Are.?

A hearty welcome to Marc Ruppel, who has joined the herd with his blog Things As They Are.?. Marc is a fellow PhD student at UMD, who ponders all things analog and digital.

As a bonus, he turns phrases such as "Cabbage Patch popular," marking Things as a blog to watch.

Posted by Jason at 7:06 PM | TrackBack

June 4, 2004

WordHerders, Year One is one year old today. In my post on the main Herd page, I offered some comments about how the Herd started, where things are now, and some initial thoughts about directions I'd like to see the Herd take. I hope Herders (and others) will offer suggestions.

As to the joys of blogging - I briefly touched on those when Misc. celebrated a blogoversary in March. Like then, I value blogging for a number of reasons - the ability to keep in touch with old friends and make some new ones, the opening-up of a scholarly community (in a way that I've not always felt with listservs), the occasion to write more frequently in both formal and informal ways, and the opportunity to continue thinking about things that I like to think about: literature, computing, humanities, games, and the social interactions surrounding each.

The challenge, of course, is maintaining the blog without letting it become a distraction. While I share some ideas about the dissertation here, I still hesitate to share the meat of my thoughts - many are still being shaped through continued writing. Too fresh to put on the chopping block. Increased responsibilities at work and with my family have (joyfully, in most cases) constrained my time and so posts have slowed, which is sometimes a frustration, sometimes a relief.

But as to the overall view, I feel better off for having blogged, if for no other reason that to have a journal of thoughts and ideas to review. There are some things I would like to have with my blogging software - private v. public display, for when I want to write some dissertation material but don't want to share it publicly; the ability to create more in-depth category associations; the ability to cross-post on blogs on the same installation (say, the same post here at Misc. would appear on the main Herd page, with perhaps comments shared between the two posts); a better image-management system. With the recent changes to MovableType's pricing structure, I've started looking at other content management software packages to see what might best for me and for the rest of the Herd. As I mentioned in my post on, I welcome comments and suggestions from everyone, but also especially from those who blog in the Herd and those with experience with other content management systems, so that we can make informed and appropriate decisions.

In any case, happy blogoversary Wordherders. Here's to another healthy and fulfilling year.

Posted by Jason at 6:59 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 14, 2004

MT Changes & Wordherders

Jumped over to slashdot for a quick technews fix only to see their post about changes to MT's Payment Schedule - which even with the $149.95 Personal Edition only allows for a maximum of 9 authors and 10 weblogs. The commercial license, which is what wordherders would need at its current levels of support, costs $600.

Ha. I ask herders for $12 a year total just to help offset what I pay for the server space.

Had I known this was going to happen, I would have set things up quite differently, giving each herder their own installation that would have allowed them to maintain up to 3 blogs apiece (but only one author).

Currently, most herders (at least the ones housed on my server space) blog from the same installation, with the same MySQL database. All of this was done for ease of setup on my part, since this was a labor of love done in my "spare" time.

I also wish I had downloaded the most recent patches (2.661) rather than waiting just for 3.0. Anyone have the 2.661 installation?

I will say - I don't begrudge paying for the product and had planned to suggest that we all chip in extra for our yearly wordherder fees in order to send a check to sixapart... but it's frustrating when you set up a certain infrastructure without realizing that future support might prove incredibly costly (either in time, to switch, or money, to upgrade).

I guess we'll stick w/ 2.64 for a while... and hopefully not break any rules in doing so?

[Edit: Wow... quite a string of trackbacks on their announcement post ...]

[Edit #2: scribblingwoman has a thoughtful post about the situation]

Posted by Jason at 11:16 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 19, 2004


Well, I missed it.

I started Misc. on March 14, after my brief attempt using blogger in Feb. Either way, it's been over a year and after about 250 entries and over 500 comments, blogging still seems valuable to me. If anything, it has helped me keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and family as I've moved into a fulltime job, continued working on the dissertation, and joined the ranks of fatherhood.

For someone who used to hesitate before writing anything down - probably a product of getting busted by my mother for some youthful crimes (all relatively innocent) when she looked over a letter I left out (ah, the follies) - I'm pleased to note that writing feels more comfortable for me. In fact, I find myself wishing I had even more time to write, which is generally a good thing.

In any case, happy belated birthday to Misc. May you continue to be a random assortment of facts, follies, and vague claims (and unclear as to which is which).

Posted by Jason at 6:58 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 23, 2004

Feed Test

It ain't pretty, but it might be is working (except for Brandon's - his xml file only has a datestamp for the entire list, instead of each entry, which breaks it for the rest of the herd).

Posted by Jason at 11:20 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

February 22, 2004

Feeding the Herd

As I mentioned before, I want to set up the main Herd page so that the most recent post from each herder shows up on the page - the posts would mingle according to most recently updated, at least in theory.

Tried MT-RssFeed. Not doing exactly what I want. There are actually two different feeds there - the first is just an experiment with chucks rss alone. The second is everyone's.

Going to check out Carp next.

But if anyone has any suggestions or advice, I'm all ears (eyes?).

Here is a (Google-cached) example of what I'm looking for. At the AoIR conference, there was a RSS feed from all people involved in AoIR with a blog. This is the description and this is what it looked like (in terms of form, rather than style).

Posted by Jason at 11:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 20, 2004

Expose a Hidden Side

"Dating" left the following two comments - spam, of course, but oddly poetic in the insertion of random keywords in text mined elsewhere. If I had "HTML Comments" turned on, the words would have been links to Dating's various websites ... without their technological backing, the keywords look to find meaning elsewhere...

This kind of thing is imitated airfare badly and often by others, but Carson's credit card phraseology within poems remains ski vacation her own: "Rotate the husband and car rental expose a hidden side," she urges plane ticket early on
methodology, the deliverance, even) airfare as about a lot of other music - we credit card practiced several flows over the track ski vacation before we actually recorded the raps car rental - the finished product was surprisingly plane ticket credible

Rotate the husband and car rental... expose a hidden side.

By golly, there might not be enough monkeys and typewriters in the world, but spammers might well give us greater evidence of old cliches.

Posted by Jason at 4:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 19, 2004

Memory Card

Mia Consalvo, a game researcher at Ohio University, has started a new blog named Memory Card where she already has an interesting thread about the ethics of researchers using game cheats. [via TerraNova, which has some comments on the cheating thread as well]

Posted by Jason at 7:11 AM | TrackBack

February 13, 2004

5 Elements / Academic Blogging

The 5 Elements of Digital Storytelling by Nora Paul and Christina Fiebich from the U. of Minnesota [via Lisbeth].

Also, Lisbeth's Academic Papers on Blogs

Posted by Jason at 7:06 AM | TrackBack

February 5, 2004

"Online, Anyone Who Types Can Be a 'Writer.' In Theory, That Is."

A friend clipped the following article for me from last Sunday's Washington Post (ah, clipped ... how lovingly old school): iT was a dark stormy Nite . . . ( @ Washpost) by Linton Weeks, a WashPost Staff Writer. The article is presumably about "Neterature: writing on and for the Internet," where (as the subtitle states) "Online, Anyone Who Types Can Be a 'Writer.' In Theory, That Is."

And I hate to be nasty (no I don't), but I kept checking the date, because I would swear that this article, except for its references to blogging, was written in 1998. The article's list of "Neterature's" attributes?

  • Not always in complete sentences.
  • Often with bullets.
  • Not a lot of punctuation but a great deal of self-exploration you know
  • case often lower when should be upper and Vice Versa.
  • Rife with misteaks -- easily corrected but mor often not.
  • Full of attitude and not always kind. Sometimes sinister and fraught with swear words. Othertimes saccharine and spangled with winking, smiley-face emoticons.

i maen isnt That jst Nsane you know?!?!?? ;) ;) :) :-o

Seriously. Even though the article references some popular blogs (such as William Gibson's), the example quoted is by a 20-year-old GW student, described as:

a recent excerpt -- errors and all -- labeled "The State of Our Union Is Lousy"

I don't object to focusing on the student's blog, but it seems to be used precisely to support the article's bullet points of what constitutes "Neterature." Bad spelling, full of errors, someone mouthing off, and terribly unsophisticated. Sophomoric.

Which is, in terms of representation of the whole, one ink splatter on a large Pollock canvas.

Other representations of Neterature in the article, from e-poetics to fan fiction, all get the same type of crappy example. Here's the fan fiction piece Weeks uses:

Here is a short story -- bad punctuation and spelling included -- based on the mindless computer game Minesweeper:

-The Tale of Joe - By Nazi Janitor One day, Joe Schmo, decided to quit his job of being a taco salesman. But, he had no idea what to be. Then he saw an ad in the paper: "DUDE BECOME A MINESWEEPER AND SWEEP MINES. NOTE: YOU MIGHT DIE BUT WHO CARES?!?!?!?!".

"Hyuck hyuck hyuck, this is thuh kinda job I'm looking for, hyuck." Joe said to himself.

Joe was hired. But sadly, he was killed buy a mine because he selected the wrong box. And because he was a smiley, his eyes turned into X's and his face exploded because he sucks at life. The End.

Linton Weeks shows an amazingly sophisticated lack of knowledge about writing online. He could have talked about the technologies that allow bloggers to create social networks, report on wars (did he miss the whole warblogging thing?), and hold discussions on special topics. Or, perhaps, he could have spoken to the increased complexity of interactive fiction and organizations that feature IF, like the ELO, Rhizome, or trAce. Instead of looking at Astonia, perhaps he might have thought to discuss Everquest and its subscribers that number in the hundreds-of-thousands?

The article concludes with the type of fear-driven hype that was, again, typical in 1998.

So even if we want to read -- or write -- more textured, complex prose, we may not be able to. The result is slapdash, small-vocab, shallow, callow writing that seems to be devolving with the technology rather than evolving.

Beware folks - technologies of writing will cause you to write shorter, shallow prose. We're doomed. Oh no.


On one side of the equation, today's engineers have made it eerily easy for writers to write -- certainly more rapidly and, some would say, more creatively and innovatively.

On the other, maybe the easier we make it to write, the worse some of the writing gets.

I didn't realize that engineers had also made it easier to get unsophisticated, ignorant articles published on the front page of Sunday's Style section. I guess at the Washington Post "Anyone Who Types Can Be a 'Writer.' In Theory, That Is."

Posted by Jason at 7:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 15, 2004

Scattered Thoughts

Such is my mindset right now (we're 'in the window' - the baby's due date isn't for another 17 days, but this subset of the rhody clan is rarely on time).

Close Reading New Media: Analyzing Electronic Literature edited by Jan VAN LOOY and Jan BAETENS
[via GTA]

Other close readings: a great group of essays from Matt K.'s graduate class last semester is available at Rob Kendall’s Word Circuits site.

Also, a reminder: the Games Research Bibliography Database, with over 500 entries and an invitation for submissions.
[via GamesNetwork listserv]

Belated thanks for the review of Misc. by a member of Scott Rettburg's class. The link seems to be down right now, but I wanted to make a mental note, before I completely forgot. More once I can look at the review again.

Cheap@$$Gamer is a blog that posts good deals on games at various online and concrete retailers (and I changed the middle word not b/c I'm a prude, but because I like to avoid setting off flags at the office when checking Misc.).

Need to update our installation of MT to fix a few security issues, as well as implement some antispamming techniques (although some might not work well for Herders - more thoughts on why later). Here's a link to the description of the recent patch [thanks George], as well as what's coming in version 3.0.

Personal reminder to backup the database before the update. I also encourage any herders reading to occasionally back up their blogs through the MT interface. Our hosting providers provides backups and I do a database backup every once in a while, but redundancy's never struck me as a bad idea.

Posted by Jason at 7:50 AM | TrackBack

December 10, 2003

Herd Feed?

Ok, so how do I set things up so that the recent entries from all Herders shows up on the Wordherder main page in order (most recent posts first)? And nicely styled, too (just need to CSS the RSS?)?

If someone can show me how to do what I imagine is just a RSS feed (?), I'll set up a small redesign of the main wordherders page, which would have the latest entries from everyone...

I'd just like to see the main page function more as a bridge between the blogs rather than just the relatively lame, static portal that it currently is. It would be nice to get the collaborative blog feel (like they have at Crooked Timber, GTA, TerraNova, or Social Software) while still letting everyone run their own blog space.

Also, is there a way for people to choose when to include something in the feed and when not to?

I'd appreciate any and all advice (and if bored Herders want to look around, I'd appreciate it - thanks!).

[note: post (with some comments) double-posted here]

Posted by Jason at 12:15 PM | TrackBack

October 27, 2003

misbehaving "is a weblog about women and technology. It's a celebration of women's contributions to computing; a place to spotlight women's contributions as well point out new opportunities and challenges for women in the computing field."

Posted by Jason at 11:36 AM | TrackBack

September 30, 2003

Design Update

Ok, so I adjusted things a bit in the CSS to hopefully resolve some issues on monitors set to resolutions less that 1024x768 brought up by several very kind folk in my previous post. Thanks again to everyone who offered feedback.

Did the adjustments I made solve those issues where the right column was sliding underneath the center one? Any other issues?

Also, Kathleen brought up a good question in her assessment:

is there a particular reason (and I'm really asking here -- this is an issue about which I am ignorant) why you've specified pixel widths for your columns rather than percentages? It seems to me that percentages would scale to whatever monitor/window size...?

At the time, I couldn't think of a reason, but a quick look at how I set things up in the CSS to get the white borders to line up (the 'windowpane' effect) reminded me. In order to set exact spacing (to prevent too little or too much white space), I have to create a pixel width for the two columns, and then set the margins of the center column to those pixel widths.

So, in the (newly adjusted) CSS, my left column is set to 190 pixels and my right to 200 pixels. The center column then has the following style:

margin:0px 200px 0px 190px; /* top right bottom left */

with a border of 2 pixels of white on either side. The actual background of the entire page is the darker gray on the left, while the background image is the lighter gray on the right - an image 250px wide and 1px high of that color, and set to only tile on the y-coordinate (vertical) and positioned top right. That gives me the two-tone background.

Ok, I'm convinced I've bored everyone by now ... point being, if I didn't use exact pixels, I wouldn't be able to control the white (or, in this case, gray) space between the columns. In any case, the center stretches with window expansion, while the two outside columns are set with absolute values.

If someone could figure out how to accomplish the same feat with %, I'm all ears (or, er... eyes).

Posted by Jason at 10:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 28, 2003

New Design

Well, I got tired of the old one, which was the default "Trendy" MovableType template. I pretty much decided on the colors and the main image up top a while ago and had been playing with drawings on my morning Metro commute on and off. I drew some useful help from Blue Robot's 2 column template, as well as some inspiration from the CSS Zen Garden (which is where I got the idea of the slight white lines for the window-pane effect, as well as the second green tone).

I've tested the new design in Opera 7.02 and M$ Explorer 6.0 on a PC running Windows XP. I don't have the resources available to me that I used to, so if folks using other browsers on other platforms would be so kind to point out issues, I would be much obliged.

And I, of course, would love to hear what you think - what works for you, what doesn't, etc.

Posted by Jason at 7:49 PM | Comments (21) | TrackBack

September 19, 2003

Comment Spam?

I'm not sure what's going on exactly, but I have to say that I'm less than thrilled with some of the recent comments - especially by so-called "Melanie Griffith" - on my blog. For some reason, the post on Donnie Darko is drawing a lot of attention - some of it fine, but some of it just plain rude and inappropriate.

So, I'm closing comments on that entry and banning the IP of the moron who thinks dropping the f-bomb nine times in a post is amusing (which, I'm sure, is likely to do nothing except annoy regular earthlink or aol users, if the offending jerk was using regular dial-up ... oh well) ... If any regular users suddenly find their IP banned, feel free to e-mail me.

Posted by Jason at 11:44 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 18, 2003

Weather Blog?

I've been following the NWS "Discussions" for a few days now - as Matt points out, they are the best way to get 'real' information about the storm. And you get to appreciate Forecaster Franklin and Forecaster Beven, with their clipped teletype personalities.

But the updates, and (for some reason - I'm not sure why) phrases like "A NEW AIRCRAFT SHOULD BE ARRIVING AT THE CENTER SHORTLY," suddenly struck me as almost personal and blog-like. Which I suppose just forces me to re-evaluate my definition of a blog. I began to wonder how long they had been doing the "conversations" aspect of the alerts ... seems like I need to do some digging...

Posted by Jason at 10:19 AM | TrackBack

September 11, 2003

Blogger Pro For Free

Slashdot reports that BLOGGER Pro is now free (previously, the Pro service cost $35 annually).

Interesting. Definately improves Blogger if you want to use it for educational purposes. They claim to offer daily archives, so hopefully that will help with the problem I often run into when trying to permalink to a Blogger entry...

Posted by Jason at 10:16 AM | TrackBack

September 9, 2003

The Rewards of Blogging?

A lot of intriguing ideas floating around the blogsphere lately. Chuck talks more about blogs as forums for research and as "writing machines". He previously discussed attempting to follow a single "meme" through the blogsphere, tracking how the writing developed - which I think would actually be a fascinating project (in fact, I feel somewhat compelled to experiment with a few tools to see if mapping relationships between blogs is easily possible).

His more recent thoughts spawned from this post at Crooked Timber, where Brian (one of the posters on the group blog) talked about how a paper he recently published came from - at least in part - blogging (both reading and writing). But he wonders:

just how many scholar-bloggers use their blogs to advance their scholarship. Very few have posts directly about their research, and fewer still it seems use their blog as a place to try out ideas, or paragraphs, for forthcoming papers.

To me, blogs are curious creatures - personal scrapbook, creative outlet, public advertisement, scholarly test bed, memory machine, and social connector. And I have used it as all of these things. Since I've taken on a full-time job, I rely on my blog, e-mail, and instant messaging to keep in touch with those people that I normally would grab for a coffee on campus. Blogging, for me, is very much social software. I write with an audience in mind even if and when I know they are unlikely to respond, because part of the time, I just need to force myself to write, and write publicly. To put ideas - no matter how silly or wrong-headed - on paper (virtual or otherwise), so that next time I come back to them, I have a record. Too often in the past, I've had an idea and refused to write it down, convincing myself that I would remember.

And, of course, I don't.

The blog offers a few features particularly useful for the scholar, including a handy search function (how many times have you crawled through your notebooks before tossing them down in disgust?), as well as methods of receiving feedback from friends and strangers alike.

As many have stated before, blogs (like IM'ing, online games, and so on) are a social software system, but they also demand a careful examination as to how they function as social software. Jason's (a different herder named Jason - welcome to the confusion) response to Chuck points out that blogging might be a "peculiarly egocentric mode of discourse" (although I wonder how many discursive models aren't predominately egocentric?).

If blogging is part egocentric self-promotion/self-reflection, and part honest desire for a space to post ideas and solicit feedback, how might they fit within traditional academic spheres? What influence do they really have (or might they already have - good or bad)?

KF, in her post at Planned Obsolescence, finds herself working through difficult issue of the relationship between academic teaching and research - and the systems that rewards (or disdains) one or the other. After finding herself on both sides of the argument in two separate blogs, she writes:

This slip of mine really gives me pause. The origin of my equation of scholarly work and scholarly production is internal, and has everything to do with anxieties about the role of such work in my own life: I had to remind myself all the way through writing my dissertation -- and still have to remind myself, as I'm doing research -- that reading, and talking, and listening, and thinking, are important forms of knowledge-production, despite the fact that not all of this work resulted in writing.

And thus the question gets raised yet again, in another form, of what counts as work in academic lives, what we claim to value versus what we actually reward.

In some respects, I agree with JBJ's assertion that the "blogosphere tends to organize itself into echo chambers" (which he draws from Cass Sunstein's book, which I have not read, although now I want to). KF - in a comment on the same post listed above - has a slightly different concern about an echo - not that it resonates through a singular public, but instead little public at all:

My worry about the blogosphere as the locus of such dialogue, though, is the sense (as one of my colleagues describes it) that I'm shouting down a well -- I can hear my own voice bouncing back at me, but there's precious little other response. This is a public discourse -- but how do you get the public involved?

Her worry is understandable, even though it somewhat ironically came out of a seemingly intense debate between several individuals (no quiet echo there).

Admittedly, several of the blogs that I read are folks that I know personally - one is my dissertation director, others are long-standing friends (some live down the block, while others have moved far away). But several others - even a couple of wordherders - I met only through blogging. Some of my favorite blogs are people I don't even know except through what they write (Invisible Shoebox is a great example of a blog by a complete stranger that I think is incredibly interesting both creatively and academically).

So I wonder - as I try to pull together this three-threaded discussion about research tools, social software, and the academic publishing machine - if blogs, in some fashion, can help us begin to tackle what I see (clearly, as do many others) as an increasing problem in academia: reliance on publication as a reward system while the value of texts, per se, might be said to be on the decline - more books published each year, to an increasingly select audience, while some academic publishers are limiting or closing their humanities publishing departments (in April 2002, U. of California press reduced its humanities publications; other details about University Presses can be found at the Chronicle, including the following interesting article that details problems with University Presses [subscription required, I believe. Sorry.]).

Can comments and trackbacks - in some fashion - lead to a sense of peer review (or do they already)? If not that, what kind of peer review could we imagine if it were facilitated by technology? Clearly, there are issues with ignoring the "blind" review process (and if blogs were the model, blind review would be nigh-impossible); E-Bay style procedures are unlikely to benefit academia, since reputation-based evaluation is hardly an effective measure in an environment that, like so many others, can burn you with a wayward comment. The superstars are unlikely to be criticized, and even the newbies will likely find themselves either coddled (because to do otherwise might ruin their career) or cut [again, the Chronicle has some interesting articles on these issues]. Research on E-Bay (wish I could find the link - anyone have it?) recently shared that their peer-review system was struggling with the same issues, resulting in an inflated grading system (where people hestitated to give bad grades, even for poor service) and a level of fraud large enough to be alarming.

And how would academic discourse benefit or suffer if it began to settle (in part, at least, as it has) into a subtle mix of 0-draft ideas, more in-depth articles, mixed with personal achivements and surprises? What are the rewards and pitfalls of academic blogging?

I have no clear way to end this, so I'll just mention that Ryan just posted a great little piece that somewhat subverts the idealism we sometimes hold in face to face encounters (a response to Chuck's musings, which I already cited above).

[edit: comments closed due to spam; email jason at wordherders dot net if you wish to add a comment]

Posted by Jason at 4:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 1, 2003


i *really* hate it when pings fail.

which leads me to wonder - how many of you rely on blogrolls to tell you if a blog has actually updated? or do you actually check?

there are some great blogs - like invisible shoebox - that don't seem to ping (so they never show as "recently updated"). would be a shame if people pay less attention to them because of a reliance on automation (probably an accurate measure of the cultural effect of computing somewhere in there) ...

[EDIT: comments closed because of spam]

Posted by Jason at 4:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 3, 2003

Keywords vs. Categories

I just discovered (playing with the input interface) that you can also submit keywords with each post. Here's MT's description:

The Keywords field can hold whatever type of data you want to put in it; it is geared for holding metadata or keywords about your entry, and is not normally displayed on your public site (though you can display it using the <$MTEntryKeywords$> tag). It is searched when a user performs a public search on your site, so you can use it to tag entries with words that may not normally appear in the entry body.

You can also set categories to trackback to other posts of yours with the same category. So, if I set up a category called ergonomics, and post with that category, it will also trackback to all other posts with that category.


Posted by Jason at 11:00 AM | TrackBack

July 2, 2003

Is Misc. the largest category?

I'm trying to rethink my categories. In the recent frenzy (ok, two a frenzy does not make, but whatever) of redesigning, I've been toying with blog ideas during my limited free time (and limited it is, these past few weeks ... a post on self admonitions for patience is around the bend). One of the areas that I think that my blog could improve is categorization.

Huh? I thought miscellany was the largest category. Well, alas, I hope so, even if I have to double categorize (yes, cheater cheater, pumpkin eater).

As I'm pushing this writing space to help organize my thoughts and concepts for dissertation writing, I feel like I should be ... well... more organized. My current categories are:


I'm trying to decide if I should narrow focus or create sub-categories for double-listing, such as:

multiplayer (or, online community?)

Certain terms - like "interactive" - I'm not sure would be helpful at all.

So if/when I write my thoughts on Hulk, I would categorize as screen/comics. I'm sure there must be other trends in my writing so far ... I'll have to do a self-search to see what brings up the largest number of entries.

How do you use your categories? Or does everything just fall under miscellany?

Posted by Jason at 7:31 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack