First They Got Sick, Then They Moved Into a Virtual Utopia

When my son was about five, I sat him on my lap and let him explore the world of Riven (the sequel to the point-and-click adventure Myst). I remember feeling his back muscles tense up when he approached a cave and the music got creepy. “Can I go in?” he asked. I told him he could do whatever he wanted. He turned to look at me, as if to assess…

I touched up an intro to hypertext essays from 2000.

When I initially wrote this introduction to hypertext essays in 2000, my assumption was that readers would be experienced writers who already knew what an essay was, so that I could use that knowledge to differentiate between an ordinary essay and a hypertext essay. By 2017, we are teaching “multimodal composition” in our freshman writing classes. Some of the students come in with great writing skills (and I always tell them…

Hacking the Attention Economy

The techniques that are unfolding are hard to manage and combat. Some of them look like harassment, prompting people to self-censor out of fear. Others look like “fake news”, highlighting the messiness surrounding bias, misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda. There is hate speech that is explicit, but there’s also suggestive content that prompts people to frame the world in particular ways. Dog whistle politics have emerged in a new form of…

York Corpus Christi Play Simulator Screencast (PSim 2.1; D.G. Jerz)

Another digital artifact lives. The York Corpus Christi Pageant Simulator was my first serious accomplishment in digital humanities. After I learned all the medieval drama content from a class with Andrea Johnston at the University of Toronto, I made the computer program as part of a humanities computing course with Willard McCarthy in 1994, and published a poster paper and an updated version over the next few years. This simulation…

My 20-year-old Java Program Is Broken!

So a harmless little Java program I wrote in 1997 no longer works, due to security updates in modern browsers. It’s a simulation of medieval pageant wagons in the town of York, England. I wish I’d recorded a screencast of myself demonstrating it while it worked. I imagine it will be possible to get it working somehow, but it will no longer simply work as an app embedded in a…