As CRT Supplies Vanish the Classic Arcade Machine is Virtually Dead

If you understand the environment in which medieval scholars created and used books, you can better appreciate why medieval books look and function the way they do. Understanding the cultural impact of computers requires us to study the development of both hardware and technology. Playing a text adventure game on an iOS device is convenient, but does not capture the physicality of the original games, with their instruction manuals (often…

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…

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…

Why We Fall for Fake News and How to Bust It

Measuring the impact of fake news spread through Facebook or Twitter is more difficult. Did made-up reports of pre-election ballot-stuffing for Hillary Clinton in Ohio before the election change any votes? Perhaps not, but it did lead the story’s original author, a Republican legislative aide in Maryland, to lose his job last week On many college campuses, professors are teaching their students identify and analyze fake news shared on social…