The Future of the Book, Volume II

The Future of the Book, Volume II

Our second book sprint, at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, explored the future of the book as a system for creating, organizing and sharing knowledge.
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Future Events

  • We are scheduling more events in the future, stay tuned!
  • Cory Doctorow’s Jagged Edges

    Cory Doctorow’s Jagged Edges

    This post is part of CSI’s Thoughtful Optimism and Science Fiction project. To learn more about the project, visit http://csi.asu.edu/category/optimism/. Listening to my co-readers react to the…

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    Cory Doctorow’s Jagged Edges

    This post is part of CSI’s Thoughtful Optimism and Science Fiction project. To learn more about the project, visit http://csi.asu.edu/category/optimism/.

    Listening to my co-readers react to the stories in Cory Doctorow’s A Place So Foreign and Eight More (2003), I’m thinking about how Doctorow’s free-culture politics and Creative Commons distribution schemes shape the way his stories work. We’re marvelling at how he creates a compelling world, with characters who seem to have fully-formed lives that extend far beyond the story, without resorting to tedious info dumps. We’re also wondering why the stories start so many threads and peek down so many avenues that never get fully resolved.

    My theory: Doctorow is writing stories that are meant to be hacked, forked, expanded, adapted and reshaped. Want to learn more about the mysterious alien “Dugouts” in “The Super Man and the Dugout”? Wondering how an entire economic system can be built on donkey-trading in “Return to Pleasure Island”? Write your own answer! Turn it into a play, or a YouTube video, or a graphic novel, or a haiku.

    By the way, the entire book is available as plain text, free to use, share, destroy and rebuild at Cory’s website.

  • Cory Doctorow and Personal Narrative as a Vehicle

    Cory Doctorow and Personal Narrative as a Vehicle

    Time-traveling, a fantasy carnival and superhero fiction. We read a trio of Cory Doctorow short stories from the collection A Place So Foreign and Eight More (2003) – “A Place So Foreign,” “Return to Pleasure Island,” and “The Super Man and the Bugout” – and noticed a common trend between these radically different stories.

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    Cory Doctorow and Personal Narrative as a Vehicle

    This post is part of CSI’s Thoughtful Optimism and Science Fiction project. To learn more about the project, visit http://csi.asu.edu/category/optimism/.

    Time-traveling, a fantasy carnival and superhero fiction. We read a trio of Cory Doctorow’s short stories from the collection A Place So Foreign and Eight More (2003) – “A Place So Foreign,” “Return to Pleasure Island,” and “The Super Man and the Bugout” - and noticed a common trend among these radically different stories.

    A quick summary: “A Place So Foreign” details the adventures of an adolescent boy in 1898 when his father is chosen as the time-traveling ambassador to a futuristic 1975; “Return to Pleasure Island” describes the familial troubles of a trio of ogre brothers who turn young boys into donkeys, a la Pinocchio; and “The Super Man and the Bugout” examines an “alternate history” where Superman landed in Canada instead of Smallville and was adopted by Jewish-Canadian parents.

    All three of these stories are, in premise, radically different from each other and extremely outlandish. However, there is an important common thread throughout all of them – the personal narrative of the main characters is eventually drowned out by the scope and ambition of the worlds they inhabit. Each protagonist faces a personal, intimate, and relatable conflict – one is struggling with the loss of his father, another is torn between familial obligation and personal desire, and another must choose between his morals and his need to survive in a world that increasingly disregards him. Each of these conflicts is subtly interwoven throughout the narratives of these vast and interesting worlds; each builds towards a climax, a breaking point; and each, unfailingly, has its momentum reversed at the last second, with no resolution for the personal narrative, or with the conflict being forgotten altogether.

    Why is this? In these stories, does Doctorow fail to find the balance between detailed, personal stories and the vast, grandiose richness of fictional worlds?

    Doctorow uses these characters and their relatable personal stories to delve into the complex fictional worlds that he creates and structures for us – but it’s as if, halfway down the road, he gets so fascinated by the scenery that he leaves the car idling by the highway. Or, perhaps, maybe his point is that the stories of these characters are ultimately insignificant in the face of the larger mechanics of their universes. Either way, Doctorow’s stories only serve to highlight the growing divide in science fiction: the separation between intimate personal narrative and grandiose speculative world.

  • An Aerialist, Two Clowns, and a Robot Walk Into a Carnival …

    In his 1984 film The Terminator and its sequels, James Cameron imagines a dystopic future in which armies of intelligent robots move with startling suddenness from positions of servility to utter and violent dominance, destroying civilization and driving humankind to the brink of extinction.

    This, of course, is pure science fiction. There’s little reason to believe things will unfold that way. First, they would take all our jobs and wreck our economy.

    This is the nightmare narrative of our future with robots and artificial intelligence. The utopian version of this tale—one accepted by many powerful people in industry and government—involves a …read more

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    An Aerialist, Two Clowns, and a Robot Walk Into a Carnival …

    By Lance Gharavi

    In his 1984 film The Terminator and its sequels, James Cameron imagines a dystopic future in which armies of intelligent robots move with startling suddenness from positions of servility to utter and violent dominance, destroying civilization and driving humankind to the brink of extinction.

    This, of course, is pure science fiction. There’s little reason to believe things will unfold that way. First, they would take all our jobs and wreck our economy.

    This is the nightmare narrative of our future with robots and artificial intelligence. The utopian version of this tale—one accepted by many powerful people in industry and government—involves a …read more

    Source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/03/25/emerge_2014_an_aerialist_two_clowns_and_a_robot_walk_into_a_carnival.html

  • Researchers receive NSF grant to lead Frankenstein Bicentennial Workshop

    Researchers receive NSF grant to lead Frankenstein Bicentennial Workshop

    This item was originally published by ASU News. Three Arizona State University researchers have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a workshop…

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    Researchers receive NSF grant to lead Frankenstein Bicentennial Workshop

    This item was originally published by ASU News.

    Three Arizona State University researchers have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a workshop to build a global, multi-institutional network of collaborators to celebrate the bicentennial of the publication of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.”

    The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project will span from 2016 through 2018, marking the anniversary of the legendary “dare” among Shelley, her husband Percy, Lord Byron and John William Polidori on the shores of Lake Geneva that ignited Shelley’s imagination, as well as the novel’s eventual publication in 1818.

    To learn more about the Frankenstein Bicentennial Project and sign up for updates, visit http://frankenstein.asu.edu.

    The project, officially titled “Informal Learning And Scholarship In Science And Society: A Multi-Disciplinary Workshop On Scientific Creativity And Societal Responsibility,” will bring together dozens of scholars, researchers, science educators, museum curators, ethicists, archivists, authors, performers, artists and technologists at Arizona State University this April to lay the groundwork for the global celebration of the bicentennial, with ASU acting as a network hub and project headquarters.

    “No work of literature has done more to shape the way humans imagine science and its moral consequences than ‘Frankenstein,’” says Ed Finn. “In this single act of imagination, Mary Shelley produced both the creature and its creator tropes that continue to resonate in our contemporary moment and actually influence the way we confront emerging technologies, understand the motivations and ethical struggles of scientists, and weigh the benefits of research with its unforeseen pitfalls.”

    The Frankenstein Bicentennial Project will encompass a vast array of activities at institutions across the United States and around the world, including universities, libraries, laboratories, museums, science centers, theaters and K-12 schools.

    Projects in the planning stages include writing and artistic competitions to commemorate the fateful dare; a global film festival offering the best – and the worst – of the 250-plus films based on the novel; a Halloween costume gala; museum exhibits blending the scientific, artistic and historical; public scientific demonstrations; intellectual salons; theatrical performances; online and in-person courses; synthetic biology projects; new books and special issues of magazines and journals.

    The workshop will be split into eight working groups, representing the breadth and massive public reach of the celebration:

    • Exhibits and Installations: Frankenstein and the Creation of Life

    • Frankenstein: A Critical Edition for Scientists and Engineers

    • “It’s Alive!”: Frankenstein on Film

    • Monsters on Stage: Frankenstein in Theater and Performance

    • “MOOCenstein”: Frankenstein Goes Global

    • Engineering Life: Distributed Demonstrations

    • Reinventing the Dare: Frankenstein, Science Fiction and the Culture of Science

    • Bringing Nonfiction to Life: Frankenstein and Science Writing

    “The project seeks to take advantage of the incredible cultural resonance of Frankenstein to facilitate conversations among scholars of vastly different disciplinary stripes, as well as among all those scholars, artists, performers, and the broader public,” says David Guston, co-principal investigator. “Such conversations are critical for the broad, democratic governance of today’s science and technology.”

    Many other groups at Arizona State University will join in celebrating the bicentennial, including the ASU Art Museum; ASU Libraries; Institute for Humanities Research; Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture; Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics; Center for Biology and Society; Program on Jewish Studies; all research units in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and the School of Arts, Media and Engineering, among others. External partners include the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Bakken Museum.

    Ed Finn, principal investigator, is the director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and an assistant professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and the Department of English.

    Guston, co-principal investigator, is the co-director of the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, the director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, and a professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies.

    Stephen Helms Tillery, co-principal investigator, is an associate professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and a Fellow of Ethics and Bioengineering at the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics.

    For more information on ASU’s Frankenstein Bicentennial Celebration, visit http://frankenstein.asu.edu.

  • Confess Your Digital Sins

    Confess Your Digital Sins

    A voice cries out in the desert:

    “Know thyself, not thy selfies!”

    “Digital media will not save you!”

    “The zero is not whole and the one is not The One!”

    Technically, we’re not in the desert—we’re in a dusty parking lot in downtown Phoenix. And the voice is not coming from the Prophet Isaiah, but from professor Ron Broglio, whom I’ve ordained as a Minister of the Digital Tabernacle. As people wander into the massive circus tent at Arizona State University’s Emerge: Carnival of the Future, they are greeted by a pair of shifty evangelists preaching the analog Word. (Disclosure: …read more

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    Confess Your Digital Sins

    By Marcel O’Gorman

    A voice cries out in the desert:

    “Know thyself, not thy selfies!”

    “Digital media will not save you!”

    “The zero is not whole and the one is not The One!”

    Technically, we’re not in the desert—we’re in a dusty parking lot in downtown Phoenix. And the voice is not coming from the Prophet Isaiah, but from professor Ron Broglio, whom I’ve ordained as a Minister of the Digital Tabernacle. As people wander into the massive circus tent at Arizona State University’s Emerge: Carnival of the Future, they are greeted by a pair of shifty evangelists preaching the analog Word. (Disclosure: …read more

    Source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/03/20/confess_your_smartphone_sins_at_the_digital_tabernacle.html

  • How to Make Music With Drones

    How to Make Music With Drones

    The good thing about performing music with drones is that they always show up for rehearsal on time. The bad thing is that they might suddenly drop out of the air and onto your head.

    I learned all this while putting together a piece called “Drone Confidential” for Arizona State University’s Emerge, a “Carnival of the Future” that was held in Phoenix recently. Emerge is an annual circus of cool new technologies in performance, dedicated to showing how artists and machines can work together to create something awesome.

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    How to Make Music With Drones

    By David Rothenberg

    The good thing about performing music with drones is that they always show up for rehearsal on time. The bad thing is that they might suddenly drop out of the air and onto your head.

    I learned all this while putting together a piece called “Drone Confidential” for Arizona State University’s Emerge, a “Carnival of the Future” that was held in Phoenix recently. Emerge is an annual circus of cool new technologies in performance, dedicated to showing how artists and machines can work together to create something awesome. (Disclosure: ASU is a partner with Slate and the New America Foundation …read more

    Source: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/03/19/how_to_make_music_with_drones.html