Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Backchannel conference

Yesterday's session about "Investigating Multiple Channels For Participation in Online Gaming Communities" at the Digital Media and Learning Conference included Virtualpolitik friend Alice Robison, who discussed some of her work on the function of the backchannel in digital communication and how exclusion and inclusion were still intertwined in the Internet era. She mentioned the game Chatroulette! (now made infamous in this story in the New York Times) along with other more obviously backchannel-themed games.

Of course, the DML had at least one official backchannel site, in addition to Twitter and a number of other channels, but perhaps the most interesting backchannel was the one run by DML-nonparticipant, digital humanist, and Virtualpolitik conference co-lurker Mark Sample.

The Twitter stream on Mark's Digital Humanities 2010 fake conference contained some obvious parodies of goings-on at the DML, which included a closing keynote by "Henri Jenquin," and a few other conferences that I have attended in the past year that have been recorded here at Virtualpolitik. But this hoax humanities conference was also a lovely improvisational narrative based on the idea of having Halliburton serve as the corporate sponsor and a series of increasingly nonsensical paper titles. As the virtual chaos escalated, Lev Manovich, who was also at DML posted entries like "digital natives surround the embassy and demand exit visas" and "we love digital humanities - especially if you take humanities word out." Another talk was given by famed chatbot ELIZA.

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