Thursday, June 14, 2007

Coming Soon to a Theater near You!

Summer is almost here, but it's already time to mark your calendars for next year's conference season. There should even be some interesting sessions about the politics of digital culture at the large meetings of academic professional associations, although I keep wanting to swear off new memberships in disciplines outside rhetorical studies. I think there should be a twelve-step program for those in recovery from their own interdisciplinarity.

Last year I felt like I gave variations of the same talk on three continents (version 1, version 2, and version 3), about computerized simulations of Iraq in military-funded videogames and the way that competing ideologies of instrumentalism and functionalism play out in the politics of game design. This is certainly an important topic, given the war, but there are also many interesting objects of study that represent digital practices here at home. Of course there were two notable exceptions: a paper on "Tim's Podcast" for Project Runway (think queer theory meets copyright meets auditory culture) and a presentation about online social marketing and HIV/AIDS prevention.

This year I'm looking forward to testing out ideas on a range of new subjects.

On August 4th, I'll be in San Diego at the Sandbox Symposium for SIGGRAPH talking about "games of crisis" and "epistemological spaces" in the Virtual Terrorism Response Academy, which is funded by the Department of Homeland Security. I'll be on a "Game Design" panel with Tracy Fullerton and Celia Pearce, and work by Elina Koivisto and Amy Bruckman will also be in the Sandbox line-up. I've posted a draft of my paper here, thanks to the ACM library's relatively liberal copyright policies, which have -- after some faculty battles -- allowed authors to post their work on their own sites.

Speaking of terrorism, I'll be spending the anniversary of the September 11th attacks in Manchester, England for Hypertext 2007, the 18th annual ACM conference on hypertext and hypermedia. George Landow of Brown University will be one of the heavy hitters in the Hypertext, Culture, and Communication batting order. In "Assembly Lines: Web Generators as Hypertext," I'll be talking about a seemingly trivial online genre, the "web generator," like those featured on The Generator Blog, and arguing that we can learn a lot about file-sharing and code-sharing cultures -- along with attitudes about copyright, privacy, and national security -- by looking at these websites that produce digital ephemera.

On October 11, I'll be in French-speaking Quebec at the annual Society for the Social Study of Science conference in Montreal on a panel with Jenny Cool, Tom Boellstorff, and Douglas Thomas, where I'll be talking about doing "fieldwork" on digital libraries and military-funded videogames and the challenges to this kind of research.

From October 17-20 I'll be back in Canada for the Association of Internet Researchers annual conference in Vancouver, where I'll be giving a paper on "'Blogspats' and Digital Images: Race, Gender, and Photoshop in Visual Arguments." Facebook friends Mia Consalvo, Ren Reynolds, and Lisa Nakamura will be presenting at AOIR, along with F2F friend Ian Bogost, so it should be worth a trip to the higher latitudes.

As you can see from the lists of notable names above, many of these conferences also have more favorable gender distributions than the digital conferences of the past. Let's hope this is a trend that continues.

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