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   Friday, July 18, 2003  
Results are in from the 2003 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

I'm particularly fond of some of the entries in the romance section, although the science-fiction winner is also good.

(via she sells sanctuary
   posted by *mcb* at 12:29 PM



Drafts, Writing, Proposals

I've done a lot of writing this week- finally got my proposal handed into RMIT (only 18 months late... not bad.) I've also been working on a couple of proposals for various projects I'd like to become involved in. Found out that my abstract wasn't accepted into the RMIT creative media conference which is a bit of a disappointment, although it means that it's one less three thousand word essay I have to write. It's a difficult thing, this getting into conferences. It's pretty much essential if you are at all interested in following an academic path, but it seems very difficult to get a foot in the door. I'm very aware of being inexperienced, and having no papers published or accepted into conferences. But how do you get started if no one will give you this initial leg up? I feel mildly frustrated about it at the moment- I'll be interested to see if the Creative Media conference has at least included one paper about blogging (although, to be honest, I don't really know if this will make me feel better or worse.)

I've also been working on a short story- the short story that will not die. It is so close to death, and I am so, so sick of it, and each time I read it, it seems to get worse. Still, I keep ploughing on, although it puts me in a foul, despondent mood. I'm going to do a story swap with Kathryn, so hopefully I can put the stupid thing to rest, one way or another.

Going to see Harry Shearer at Popcorn Taxi tomorrow with Thieu and La Spin. Should be good.
   posted by *mcb* at 9:15 AM



Diary Networks

I may have blogged this article on The Diary Network in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England" before, but I recently came across it again and was reminded of how interesting it is.
This article suggests another reason for the growth of diary writing during the early modern period; that people influenced one another to keep diaries. The idea of writing this article is the result of trawling through the numerous diaries of the early modern period... and noticing that many of the diarists shared connections. During the course of research into diary writing in early modern England it became apparent that a form of network existed between many of the diarists who wrote during the sixteenth, and principally the seventeenth centuries.
Sound like a familiar concept?
   posted by *mcb* at 8:53 AM



Self Works

An exhibition of diaries, scrapbooks and "other autobiographical efforts. Includes an essay on what the motivation might be for people who create these pieces.
University of Delaware: SELF WORKS

(via ::: wood s lot :::)
   posted by *mcb* at 8:43 AM


   Thursday, July 17, 2003  
MA / conference paper

Blog as Reflective Conversational Tool

I've finally got my "Blog This" button to work again. (I had to re-install it.) How I've missed it. So useful for quick postings during the day.

Sebastian Fiedler has posted a draft of his paper for Blog Talk 2003. I have printed it out to read this evening (hopefully).

The abstract:
This paper suggests that personal Webpublishing technologies and practices can be conceptualized as a reflective conversational learning tool for self-organized learning. Beyond the examination of the theoretical basis for such a claim, initial ideas for specific learning environment designs on the basis of a "conversational framework" are presented.

(via Royby)
   posted by *mcb* at 3:25 PM


MA / interactivity

Fat Cow Motel

Last week Thieu and I watched the first episode of Fat Cow Motel, which is possibly the world's first multi-platform drama. The idea is that elements of the storyline are only revealed to those viewers who take the time to look at the website, and subscribe to receive SMS messages and emails from characters in the show. Apparently the series ends on a cliffhanger and the audience will vote, (on the website?) as to which ending they prefer. I thought it sounded interesting and was worth investigating further.

Trouble is, we thought the first episode was utterly terrible- the most laboured, excrutiating, creaky script, terrible editing and bad acting (although I blame the script for this as I thought Kate Atkinson was good in Sea Change.) Just awful, awful stuff. We were appalled and almost started watching "Greeks on the Roof" until we remembered that it is unwatchable. Without the gimmick of the multiple platform format I would have no interest at all in Fat Cow Motel. Clearly, this is not a good thing- the series should be able to stand alone and I really don't think the first episode indicated that it could.

The website, however, is good, and I've visited it a couple of times during the week, looking for clues, and there actually seems to be quite a few people who are following the story online. I've even signed up for the emails. I wonder who their target audience is?

Fat Cow Motel on again tonight on the ABC, but I'm not sure if I'm prepared to waste another 30 minutes of my life watching it. Maybe I'll just see how much I can follow by looking at the website.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:58 AM


   Wednesday, July 16, 2003  

Battle of the Billboard

There has been a battle taking place on the corner of Smith and Gertrude st which has been amusing me a great deal. This is billboard corner- 3 of them in a row, and are they constantly attacked by vandals, owing to their easy accessibility for passersby.

One of the current billboards is for some tooth-whitening spray and there is a picture of a smug-looking woman, her perfect teeth gleaming out at us. Except someone has blacked out one of her front teeth. Not particularly original, but effective. Then, the next day, someone had stuck a tooth-shaped piece of white contact over the top to turn her tooth back to the desired shade. Who would've done this? It would have to be someone connected with the product, surely. It didn't really work. Her tooth looked like it had been capped.

Then yesterday, the scribbler was back and the capped tooth was re-blacked out. Today, someone had taken to the scribble with solvent and attempted to clean the grafitti off, with only moderate success. The tooth is now grey, and I can't help but think that the model's grin is a little wan, a little wary, wondering what is going to happen next.
   posted by *mcb* at 9:05 AM


MA / animation / comics

Animation, Comics, Collaborations

Scott McCloud has re-started his morning impro where a new panel (or panels) is added every day. I think he sets himself a time limit. Titles (and therefore the starting point) are suggested by readers. There is an archive of previous impros that make for an interesting read.

Michele Salvador has put together a flash version of McCloud's comic "Carl", which he uses in Understanding Comics as a way of explaining how a story can be told in a few frames or in many frames. The flash version allows you to see this in action, expanding the comic from its most basic form (a begining and an end) to a more complex version. It would be interesting if you were also able to expand "upwards and downwards"- taking the story off on non-linear tangents. It would be a good exercise, possibly even one you could do with a group of people.

I've been thinking a lot about group projects recently, especially after revisiting the 1000 journals project yesterday. I read in The Scream Online that one of the journals has returned home.
   posted by *mcb* at 8:54 AM


   Tuesday, July 15, 2003  
MA / exhibition

Video Diary

On Saturday I finally went and saw Sadie Benning's piece, If Every Girl had a Diary (second one on the list), at ACMI. It's a great piece. I stood right in front of it, probably blocking off everyone else's view, in a very greedy manner, and watched the piece in its entirety.

A bit of web-surfing this morning revealed that Benning's father is an avant-garde filmmaker and her mother is an artist and this would help to explain the sophistication of the piece, which Benning started when she was fifteen or sixteen (accounts vary). I'm presuming that a lot of editing and structuring has been done to the piece over the years, (although I'm starting to think that this might not be the case) but it is still a very impressive and thoughtful piece. She tells her story in an uncomplicated, unpretentious way (I shudder to think of anyone reading from my teenage diaries) and she has an array of clever filmic techniques- filming words, for instance, when they would have clearly been difficult or too embarrassing to say out loud. Her bedroom, where the piece is filmed, becomes a vast place, the camera showing us only small sections of it, and of her, at a time.

More on Benning:
Sadie Benning's Pixel Pleasures
Sadie Benning: Pixelvision Priestess
   posted by *mcb* at 8:53 AM


   Monday, July 14, 2003  
diary / writing

Japanese Bath

Miss *Tu recently gave me a gift voucher for a bath and Shiatsu at the Japanese Bath House, and, having nothing else planned, I decided to use go on Friday night. I started to get a bit nervous about it during the day, especially after someone told me that a friend of his, who had recently been to a Korean bath house had found it to be an "eye opening experience." I'm not that keen on eye-opening experiences, especially not those involving nude communal bathing.

When I arrived a young girl started to explain the process and I started to panic. Where was I supposed to hang my stuff again? How many times was I suppose to ritually cleanse myself before plunging into the bathtub? How did I turn on the tap again?

A sign on the doorway said "Inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated at the Japanese Bath House." I felt momentarily reassured by this, but then wondered if hanging your kimono on the wrong hook could possibly count as a transgression.

For the first half-an-hour I was on my own. The water was extremely hot- 41 degrees, and I could only manage to sit in the water for short periods. The rest of the time I spent staring at my chipped toe-nail polish and wondering if if would be innappropriate behaviour to get my book from the locker. Then a group of highly excited women arrived, doing lots of excited shrieking and nervous laughing. Ah, what fun, getting naked with your workbuddies on a friday night. I got out at that point. My small-talk is not good at the best of times, and chatting with naked strangers in a communal bath about what I do for a living did not appeal.

The shiatsu was great. Painful, and vaguely torturous, but great.

On the tram home two drunken guys got on. Casual Friday clothes, spikey-at-the-front fringes. They were talking about a collegue from their workplace, someone slightly senior to both of them.
"Derek's a great bloke." said one
"Oh, yeah, he's great, he's great." said the other.
"Yeah, he's lent me some really good books recently."
"Like what?"
"Like this book on Socrates. I tell you what, Socrates was an amazing bloke."
"Too right. Like, this was at a time when people explained everything by saying that the gods did it. But Socrates, he walked around going "No, mate. Lightening doesn't happen because of Thor messing around with the clouds. It's because of atmospheric conditions."
"And he was not afraid of death. He was like "How can you fear what you don't know?" And so when we was executed they just handed over the cup of hemlock and he chugged it down, not a problem. Because he wasn't afraid."
"That's great."
"Yeah. And have you heard of Epicurus?"
"You mean like the suppliment in The Age?"
"No, mate. But it's the same word. Epicurus was another philosopher, like Socrates. He was this hedonist, that said "So long as you've got good food and good mates, nothing else is important.""
"That's so true."
"Yeah, he was totally on the money. He thought that the point of all our actions was to attain pleasure."
"Yeah, I know! He was totally cool."
   posted by *mcb* at 8:54 AM


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