ASCII by Jason Scott

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XORcon and Chiptunes —

Spent a nice little day (or part of it) at XORcon, an impromptu (by most standards) conference held in an august Harvard hall, and in which a few dozen people listened to a few other people talk about a range of eclectic subjects.

I took some photos, but they’re pretty universally terrible. Here’s one to give a rough idea of the layout/room:


I was impressed with the setup of this classroom/lecture hall; everyone had their own power outlets and every seat had a microphone from which to speak into if they so chose, allowing immediately back and forth without shouting. It must have been a pretty penny to outfit this room;  I’m so used to the absolute shittiness of educational facilities that this was kind of Utopian for me.

Subject matter was varied, as per the whims of the organizers, and was single track.

Somewhere in here was Kevin Driscoll, who I met previously in various unusual places involving Mark Hosler and free culture and the rest, and who co-authored this neat little thing:

Endless Loop, a brief history of Chiptunes

I question the wisdom of an academic/historical work linking to Youtube, but for the moment all the links function, so you in contemporary time can go ahead and enjoy this spectrum of introduction to the various aspects of Chiptunes, within a videogame context.  (You might also want to read This academic paper by Karen Collins, if you’re into this sort of stuff.)

Miss Diana Kimball gave a talk on the process of archiving, about 15-20 percent of which I agreed with, and A.J. Mazur talked about the depravity of video-game game shows and portrayals of videogame competition in movies. I piped in with my usual historical blather, but I don’t think where he was going with it matched what I was getting at.

I had to leave early because of a work-related incident, which broke my heart, but I did catch part of a talk over the webcast (which unfortunately, had terrible sound and so I got none of it).

In all, an excellent day. I wish more stuff like this happened in my life.

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  1. Joshua Diaz says:

    Hey Jason, thanks for coming to the talk, and I’m glad you appreciated it (and the paper).

    I just wanted to comment a bit on the “wisdom of academic/historical work linking to youtube”. Actually, the use of embedded video in the paper was kind of a conscious point for us. It’s hard to describe music in words, especially for an audience that you cannot expect to have musical training, and providing audio and video clips was rhetorically useful, helping our audience understand the connections we were making.

    But it also provides us with an example of the fair, academic use of video content available online. And I’m sure Kevin and I are both aware of the fragility of those video clips being hosted where they are. In fact, between the time we wrote the paper and the time it went ‘to press’, we had to replace several links.

    Knowing that this was a possibility, we made archives of the data we used, just as we might photocopy relevant illustrations or handcopy text that we wanted to quote, and the folks at Journal of Transformative Works were very understanding and cooperative about working with us on keeping the embeds alive. Hopefully, this will allow us to let the work stay intact, although it might eventually turn to no longer using the youtube-hosted videos.

  2. disambiguated says:

    That must’ve been some kind of big-deal work-related incident, to’ve broken your heart, heh.

  3. Hans says:

    Interesting stuff about the flat second in the paper by Collins. Cheers, Hans