I started blogging with Typepad in 2003. Later I moved to WordPress and maintained the habit until 2011. I decided recently to return to it, this time with a static site and plain text. The entries below share work in progress. Clicking or tapping a title gives you a permalink. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like more context or exposition.


From Prototyping to Worldbuilding

26 March 2021

Yesterday I gave a talk (via Zoom) as part of Lawrence Technology University’s “Humanity + Technology” series. I spoke about how prototyping (such as the MLab’s work on early magnetic recording and optophonics) might apply to the practice of worldbuilding. The talk was recorded, and I published my slides. Thanks to Paul Jaussen, Franco Delogu, Emily Kutil, and LTU’s College of Architecture and Design for inviting me, and for archiving many “Humanity + Tech” events, including wonderful talks by Alenda Chang and Katherine Hayles.


The Pedagogy of Paper Computers

22 May 2019

This week, as part of Connect U 2019 (HTML) at UVic, I gave a talk on the pedagogy of “Paper Computers,” (HTML) a graduate seminar on tabletop game design I taught last fall. Here are my slides (HTML). They include a rationale for the course as well as some photographs of games that students prototyped. During the talk, I explained how and why “Paper Computers” encouraged students to develop procedural literacy, experiment with low-tech methods, engage histories and cultures of media, understand contexts of play and use, design better games, and connect with communities of practice. I then articulated these six areas with the notion of prototyping the past: in this case, making games informed by literary and political movements from the 19th and 20th centuries. Thanks to UVic for inviting me to speak at this event, and to David Leach (Department of Writing) for joining me. It was a pleasure.


Low-Tech Approaches to Digital Research

26 February 2019

Today I gave a talk for an NEH ODH Institute on “Textual Data and Digital Texts in the Undergraduate Classroom,” directed by Lauren Coats (Louisiana State University) and Emily McGinn (University of Georgia). I titled it, “Low-Tech Approaches to Digital Research” (HTML), with a focus on two questions: how to approach digital research in the classroom without assuming technical competencies in computing, and how to teach core techniques often automated or masked by tools and software. I responded to both by providing instances of low-tech prototyping as inquiry. Examples include the use of Markdown for web development, graphical overlays for data visualization, paper manuals for game design, cardboard models for media history, wireframes for conjectural criticism, remediations for archival work, and zines for science and technology studies. Here are my slides (HTML). Thanks to Lauren and Emily for inviting me to give a talk as part of this important NEH ODH Institute.


Tabletop Inquiry

5 December 2018

I wrote a reflection, titled “Tabletop Inquiry,” (HTML) on my “Paper Computers” (HTML) seminar. It’s intended for graduate students in the course; however, I hope it’s of use to other people, including those interested in game and media studies. It consists of three point-form lists. The first is a series of observations made while studying and prototyping paper computers this semester; it’s meant to document and distill some of our seminar conversations. The second list outlines some questions prompted by tabletop prototyping for project design in the humanities; it’s meant to highlight how tabletop prototyping may apply to a broader set of research practices (not just to games). The third list itemizes types of prototypes for engaging history; it’s meant to provide a working vocabulary for prototyping as a form of criticism. Thanks again to Avery Alder, Nina Belojevic, Whitney “Strix” Beltrán, Anne Burdick, Emily Care Boss, Alexander Galloway, Amy Hildreth Chen, Isaac Childres, Derek Hansen, Matthew Kirschenbaum, Kari Kraus, Michael Lines, Shaun Macpherson, Renee M. Shelby, Nikki Valens, and Lara Wilson for contributing to the seminar as guest speakers. It was a wonderful course to teach.


Types of Prototypes

4 December 2018

I developed a resource titled “Types of Prototypes” (HTML) for people who are curious about how prototyping or “remaking” source materials intersects with the praxis of literary and textual criticism. It lists seven types of prototypes and explains what exactly they help us to better understand. Then it describes how prototyping is, or may be, a form of criticism. Finally, it explains how prototypes “address us.” Inspired especially by Kari Kraus’s research, I’m using this framework to develop some of my research projects.


Before You Make a Thing

15 November 2018

To help students in “Prototyping Pasts and Futures” apply science and technology studies to prototyping and project design, I created a resource titled, “Before You Make a Thing” (HTML; also in PDF). It consists of three point-form lists. The first is a series of theories and concepts drawn from assigned readings, the second is a rundown of practices corresponding with projects we studied, and the third itemizes prototyping techniques conducted in the course. Although the document is grounded in the humanities, I wrote it for students across the disciplines, partly because most students in this particular course are not humanities majors.


Designing Digital Studies Courses

26 April 2018

The University of Washington’s Department of English invited me to speak at the Simpson Center for the Humanities on the topic of designing digital studies courses for graduate students. I outlined several three-course sequences for UW English, and I also created a resource based on the talk. It’s titled, “Locating Praxis in Digital Studies” (HTML). There you’ll find a presentation of my own background and biases with respect to digital studies, my working definition of “praxis,” an articulation of my aims when teaching media, and sketches of three-course sequences in stewardship, computational analysis, design and communication, social justice and transformative media, digital methods, and prototyping. If you’re creating digital studies courses at your university, then I hope you’ll find this resource to be useful. Thanks to UW, including Carolyn Allen, Anis Bawarshi, Brian Reed, and Kathy Woodward, for welcoming me back to Seattle for this talk. It was lovely to be at the Simpson Center again.


Design and Live Methods

25 March 2018

Since early 2017, I’ve been developing approaches to literay and media studies that experiment with not only Daniela Rosner’s notion of “design as inquiry” and Kari Kraus’s “family of subjunctive practices” but also what Les Back and Nirmal Puwar call “live methods.” I shared some early material at the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) meeting at USC back in June and, more recently, during a discussion with Florida State University’s Digital Scholars group. Here are my slides for those two talks: AIGA (HTML) and FSU (HTML). Thanks to Tarez Graban for inviting me to speak with folks at FSU, to graduate students at FSU for responding publicly (HTML) to my talk, and to Kate Sweetapple and Jacquie Lorber-Kasunic for presenting with me at AIGA.


Critical Design, Deviant Critique

15 May 2016

At HASTAC 2016 (HTML; Arizona State University), Kim Knight, Padmini Ray Murray, Jacque Wernimont, and I discussed the relationship between design and critique–or “critical design and deviant critique” (HTML)–in a humanities context. I engaged six particular angles on design during my portion of the discussion: design 1) as an attribution practice, 2) as inquiry, 3) for experience, 4) for responsibility, 5) in-use, and 6) for diffraction. With material from the talk, I produced a resource titled, “Critical Design” (HTML).


Early Magnetic Recording

22 April 2016

Thanks to Rich Rath and David Golberg for inviting me to give a couple of talks at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa this month as part of the Dai Ho Chun Distinguished Lecturer series. It was an incredible honor. One of my talks was on early magnetic recording (HTML), and while I was in Honolulu I appeared on KHPR 88.1 FM Hawaiʻi public radio with Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa (Bytemarks Cafe), Ken DeHoff and Burl Burlingame (Pacific Aviation Museum), and Richard Wainscoat, Eugene Magnier, and Larry Denneau (Institute for Astronomy) to talk about restoring and remaking old tech. You can listen to a recording of our conversation (about 60 minutes) over at Bytemark Cafe’s website (HTML with MP3). I also archived the slides (HTML) for my magnetic recording talk.


Remaking Old Media

6 April 2016

Thanks to Kim Christen and the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation (CDSC) at Washington State University for hosting me this week. I gave a talk titled “Remaking Old Media across the Disciplines” (video) during my visit, and the CDSC recorded and circulated it. Given the importance of historical particulars to this research, not to mention my proclivity for tangents, I decided to read a paper with slides for this one. The video includes my slides as well as the Q&A session. I enjoyed returning to WSU, which I first visited in 2009 to attend a THATCamp.


Prototyping Absence

6 March 2016

I just returned to Victoria after giving a talk on “Prototyping Absence” (HTML) at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. Many thanks to Tim Murray for inviting and hosting me. It was beyond humbling to be in the A.D. White House (HTML) and to discuss my research with scholars there. Here’s my abstract:

“When conducting archival research, historians of media and technology frequently encounter devices that no longer work or existed only as illustrations, fictions, or one-offs. Rather than studying such uncertainty at a remove, this talk outlines ways to prototype absences in the historical record. It draws from examples of remaking old media to demonstrate how prototyping the past affords unique approaches to examining the contingent relations between matter and meaning, without fetishizing exact reproductions of historical artifacts.”


The Pedagogy of Prototyping

25 April 2015

Thanks to Michael Widner and Amir Eshel for inviting me to speak at Stanford (HTML) to the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages’ Digital Humanities Focal Group. The title of my talk was “Prototyping and Pedagogy in the Humanities,” (HTML) and it featured an array of undergraduate and graduate research here at UVic, with some remarks about digital studies courses I’ve designed and taught since 2009.


How to Lie with Computer Vision

16 September 2013

I had the pleasure this weekend of giving a keynote at the University of Kansas’s “Return to the Material” (HTML) symposium. The title of my talk was “Fabrications, or How to Lie with Computer Vision” (HTML; video, too). Whitney Trettien and Colin Allen gave keynotes as well, and all three of us offered workshops. Thanks to the inimitable Arienne Dwyer and Brian Rosenblum for inviting me. “Return to the Material” was a brilliant, timely, and engaging event.


Working with Historical Audio

3 August 2013

This weekend I was a plenary speaker at the “Editing Modernism On and Off the Page” (HTML) institute at UBC Okanagan. My talk was about “Editing, Annotating, and Discovering Historical Audio” (HTML). I drew heavily from material in my dissertation, and after the talk I had the privilege of hearing George Bowering, Frank Davey, Daphne Marlatt, Fred Wah, and Sharon Thesen each read their work. Many thanks to Karis Shearer for inviting me to UBCO.


Dropping the Digital

10 April 2012

The University of Pittsburgh recently celebrated the launch of Debates in the Digital Humanities, published by the University of Minnesota Press. Thanks to Matt Gold (editor of Debates) and Jamie “Skye” Bianco (at Pitt) for inviting me to the book launch (HTML), where I gave a talk about “Dropping the Digital” on a panel with Jamie, Matt, Doug Armato, Elizabeth Losh, and Stephen Ramsay. It was an honor to visit Pitt’s 42-story Cathedral of Learning and to chat with faculty, staff, and students there.


Sketch by Beckett. Used with permission. Content on this page dates back to 15 June 2011. The page was last updated on 18 June 2021.