Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Elizabethan Theater

Somewhere during my education I picked upon the meme that “Shakespeare’s contemporaries referred to ‘hearing’ a play, not ‘seeing’ a play,” and I regularly trot it out to emphasize how growing up in an auditory culture meant that the average Elizabethan probably got a lot more out of casually attending a Shakespeare play than the average student gets from studying an annotated script. Practically speaking, I encourage students to listen to an audio adaptation while they read, but I also point out that our task in the classroom is to study Shakespeare’s words and the historical context in which he…

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Blender 3D Flyover of Fantasy Steampunk Spacecraft

When my kids were small, at bedtime we had interactive “blimpship stories,” set in a steampunk world. I would set up the latest plot developments, each child would pick a character they wanted to focus on, and I would play the DM as we role-played for 15-30 minutes. These stories grew amazingly complex and developed story arcs that lasted for years. For a while, the kids were pulling apart their Indiana Jones and Star Wars Lego sets in order to play scenarios from our bedtime stories. As they aged and their bedtime routine changed, they did more reading on their…

He couldn’t get over his fiancee’s death. So he brought her back as an A.I. chatbot

The death of the woman he loved was too much to bear. Could a mysterious artificial intelligence website allow him to speak with her once more? […] There was nothing strange, he thought, about wanting to reconnect with the dead: People do it all the time, in prayers and in dreams. In the last year and a half, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. and Canada have died of COVID-19, often suddenly, without closure for their loved ones, leaving a raw landscape of grief. How many survivors would gladly experiment with a technology that lets them pretend, for a moment, that their…

That Class Where Stanford Profs Projected Hundreds of Zoom Students on a Video Wall

Of course, not all institutions happen to have a video wall that’s 32-feet wide and 8-feet tall. But Stanford already did, in its Wallenberg Hall. So the three professors reached out to the university’s director of classroom innovation, Bob Smith, to see what they could rig up. No matter how big your screen, Zoom can only display up to 49 people in each session. So the class was divided into three different Zoom sessions of up to 100 students each. Then a teaching assistant helped feed all three of those sessions into a fourth room, making it possible to control…

Partisan Pa. websites masquerading as local news threaten trust in journalism, new report finds

People with financial interests to protect and political axes to grind are funding websites that resemble local news outlets, with the express purpose of manipulating the attitudes of the general public. Journalists are far from perfect, and no human being is truly unbiased; however, there’s a big difference between responsible journalism that leans left or right, and partisan propaganda that’s camouflaged to resemble a neutral account of the facts. It’s an uphill battle teaching my students how to determine whether a source is trustworthy. Credibility is determined by examining nine apolitical factors, including not repeatedly publishing false content, regularly correcting…

Texas lawyer trapped by cat filter on Zoom call, informs judge he is not a cat

A Texas lawyer accidentally left a kitten filter on during a video conference call with a judge and was unable to change it, eventually responding to a judge’s query about why he was being addressed by a digital feline by saying: “I’m here live. I am not a cat.” Later, the judge wrote: “These fun moments are a byproduct of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system continues to function in these tough times. Everyone involved handled it with dignity, and the filtered lawyer showed incredible grace. True professionalism all around!” —Guardian

Most Television From Before 2000 Is Trapped in the Uncanny Valley

Just as the technological innovation of the mass-produced book paved the way for the new storytelling medium called the “novel,” technological innovations that allow audiences to rewatch TV shows and binge-watch whole seasons have changed the whole medium of episodic video storytelling. (Babylon 5 did it early and did it well — but the article I’m reacting to barely touches on it.) Here’s what I think is the most important change that happened in the 1990s. TV shows finally got rid of the rule that each episode had to stand on its own. People, and things, no longer needed to…

Motivation Amid Crisis (Autotrophic Bat)

As part of an independent study project, a graduating Seton Hill student wrote a blog about self-publishing her original collection of fairy-tale adaptations. She’s a double-major in creative writing and graphic design, and she freely adapted each story and illustrated each one in a different style. (She’ll be self-publishing her anthology soon, and I’ll certainly post about it.) Here is a reflection she wrote on staying motivated during the pandemic: Writing during a pandemic is nothing new. Neither is writing during a civil rights movement. And of course, the image of a depressed writer writing depressed writery things depressingly is…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In November 2000, I was blogging about the US Presidential election, mirrors, Arts & Letters Daily, and more

In November 2000, I was blogging about Ursula K. Le Guin Why we perceive mirrors reversing things left/right but not up/down Pioneering blog Arts & Letters Daily (just a year older than my own blog) Nick Montfort’s constrained poem “Upper Typewriter Row“ The 2000 US Presidential Election controversy (ballot design, hanging chads, recounts, political cartoons) The Web Economy Bullshit Generator The Onion’s fake “Fontly Speaking” typeface design column. James Lileks’s Orphanage of Cast-off Mascots A Quake 3 gamer who misses solving puzzles in text-adventure games