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Sunday, 27 August 2006

Recombinant Media, Chapter 3

Writer Dwayne McDuffie, whose work is the primary subject of the third chapter of Recombinant Media, has expressed curiosity about what I've written. So, here is that third chapter and its notes for handy reference (the notes are included in the complete PDF):

image-based PDFs of Chapter 3 of Recombinant Media

complete (20.8 MB)
notes only (2.7 MB)

Please be patient while the files load
Ctrl/Right-click on the links above to “Save File As . . .”

end of article

Prototype for a Black Cyborg Subject: A Tinderbox HTML Export Demonstration

In the middle of posting this entry, I found out that one of the writers of Marvel’s 1991 Deathlok series, Dwayne McDuffie, was considering purchasing my dissertation. I don’t even know what my royalty rate is. To be honest, I’m a bit freaked out. McDuffie will probably hate what I have to say.

I’m revising the second chapter of my dissertation, Recombinant Media: The Mutation of Subjectivity in a Post-Print Culture, and have been using Eastgate System’s Tinderbox to facilitate my research. The software has a small but extremely dedicated following, and there is a reason for this dedication: the software is amazing. I believe software like Tinderbox (a class of software which includes also Zengobi’sCurio, Devon Technologies’ DevonThink, and Bare Bones Software’s Yojimbo) which are information/content management systems are The Next Big Thing™ in software.1 It will be years before people begin to understand why we need such software and what to do with it. I have been telling my colleagues (George Hartley and Catherine Taylor, in particular) about the features of Tinderbox, a program with an enormously steep and long learning curve. Today, I finally wrapped my head around exporting notes to HTML: here are the results for my article, “Prototype for a Black Cyborg Subject” 2.

Combined with the fact that this material is on my local machine, Tinderbox makes updating my research and making it web-accessible as easy as CMD-Shift-H. end of article


1 About This Particular Macintosh has an in-depth article about Tinderbox (October 2004) entitled “Deep Tinderbox”.

2 The results (as of this writing) are fairly, uh, unpretty.

Works Cited

McDuffie, Dwayne and Gregory Wright. Deathlok. New York: Marvel Comics, 1991. 1.1-1.5 (July-November 1991).

Wilcox, Johnnie. Recombinant Media: The Mutation of Subjectivity in a Post-Print Culture (Thomas Pynchon, Ralph Ellison, Dwayne McDuffie, Gregory Wright). Diss. University of Virginia, 2005. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2005.

Thursday, 24 August 2006


I wish, I wish, I wish I could go back in time to when I was a teenager. My first year.

What passes today for adulthood is enough to wish for infinity. end of article

Monday, 21 August 2006

They keep slipping through!

Clicking downloads a 7.5 MB file.
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Ctrl/Right-click here to “Save File As . . .”

Friday, 18 August 2006

Brekky with Gir

There are few things worth breaking writing silence for, and this is one of them:

If that’s Gir in the video, he’s a young guy with impeccable taste and smart moves. Using an eggbeater’s whine as percussion is only one of the video’s moments of mesmerizing brilliance. The audio track’s cut-beat rhythm and revelrous insipidity reminds me of DMX Krew without the irony and Aphex Twin in a contemplative mood. The follow-up, presuming there is one, is gonna be tough.

I saw the video 6:30 am Eastern, and it made my entire day. For that, Gir deserves money.

See folks in two weeks. end of article

Sunday, 06 August 2006


Faithful readers:

I am going on a little blogging vacation, until at least 1 September. Enjoy the rest of your summers. Shout out if you're inclined.

Big tentacly hug,

end of article

Thursday, 03 August 2006

Net Neutrality: Part 2

There’s a lot of activity regarding Net Neutrality just about now. Today, I received the following email from eBay CEO, Meg Whitman (or at least her automated counterpart):

Meg Whitman, eBay CEODear mistersquid,

As you know, I almost never reach out to you personally with a request to get involved in a debate in the U.S. Congress. However, today I feel I must.

Right now, the telephone and cable companies in control of Internet access are trying to use their enormous political muscle to dramatically change the Internet. It might be hard to believe, but lawmakers in Washington are seriously debating whether consumers should be free to use the Internet as they want in the future.

Join me by clicking here -- http://www.ebaymainstreet.com/netneutrality -- to send a message to your representatives in Congress.

The phone and cable companies now control more than 95% of all Internet access. These large corporations are spending millions of dollars to promote legislation that would allow them to divide the Internet into a two-tiered system.

The top tier would be a “Pay-to-Play” high-speed toll-road restricted to only the largest companies that can afford to pay high fees for preferential access to the Net.

The bottom tier -- the slow lane -- would be what is left for everyone else. If the fast lane is the information “super-highway,” the slow lane will operate more like a dirt road.

Today’s Internet is an incredible open marketplace for goods, services, information and ideas. We can’t give that up. A two-lane system will restrict innovation because start-ups and small companies -- the companies that can’t afford the high fees -- will be unable to succeed, and we’ll lose out on the jobs, creativity and inspiration that come with them.

The power belongs with Internet users, not the big phone and cable companies. Let’s use that power to send as many messages as possible to our elected officials in Washington. Please join me by clicking here right now to send a message to your representatives in Congress before it is too late. You can make the difference.

Thank you for reading this note. I hope you’ll make your voice heard today.


Meg Whitman
President and CEO
eBay Inc.

P.S. If you have any questions about this issue, please contact us at government_relations@ebay.com.

While, on the other hand, Timothy B. Lee (who by not providing his full middle name at least unintentionally exploits the similarity of his name with Tim Berners-Lee) pens an op-ed opinion piece entitled “Entangling the Web” which states, misleadingly,

It’s tempting to believe that government regulation of the Internet would be more consumer-friendly; history and economics suggest otherwise. The reason is simple: a regulated industry has a far larger stake in regulatory decisions than any other group in society. As a result, regulated companies spend lavishly on lobbyists and lawyers and, over time, turn the regulatory process to their advantage.

The problem is that the provision of access to the Internet is already a monopoly industry in most of the United States. Lee admits such is the case but quickly switches his readers’ attention to the fact that

[. . .] enforcing such a “pay to play” scheme might be more challenging than Mr. Whitacre [chief executive of AT&T] suspects. As every music-downloading student knows, there are myriad ways to evade Internet filtering software. Moreover, an Internet service provider that denies customers access to content risks a serious consumer revolt. Unlike a one-railroad Western town, most broadband customers can choose between cable and D.S.L., and a growing number have access to wireless options as well.

A duopoly is only one step away from collusion and conspiracy and the “wireless options” he gestures toward are virtually nonexistent in the United States with the exception of a handful of metropolitan areas.

Tim Lee’s (I’m removing the B. to avoid confusion with the esteemed Sir Tim Berners-Lee) problem is his cynicism about the governmental process. Lee believes it is better to do nothing in the face of clear signals that ISPs want to create a two-tiered Internet. Prevention (not the cure) is construed by Lee as being worse than the disease. He’s wrong because trying to fix things after the ISPs break them is not something that a hamstrung “free” market can rectify. There is no competition for high-speed internet access in most of the United States.

Lee is correct in believing that strictly controlling speeds across the Internet would be difficult, but those are tools best used as a last, not first, resort. American legislators should work quickly to adopt legislation that makes it illegal for Internet Service Providers to prefer Internet traffic of one type over another, whether by type we mean protocol, source, or destination. To encourage this end, I wrote both my (Ohio) senators letters and posted them using carrier mail.

This is the letter I sent:

Honorable Senator [Voinovich|Dewine]:

My name is Johnnie Wilcox. I am an Ohio taxpayer and—as an assistant professor in the Ohio University English Department—a state employee. I undertake my work for the State of Ohio, its citizens, and its residents with pleasure, enthusiasm, and dedication.

I am writing today to encourage you to support legislation that preserves what is commonly referred to as “Net Neutrality.”

My concern is that the long-term interests of the residents and citizens of Ohio, the companies who do business in Ohio, and the persons and entities that are connected to Ohio, that these long-term interests will not be best served unless what is commonly referred to as “Net Neutrality” is preserved. I have written about this issue on my web log <http://blog.mistersquid.com/2006/05/net_neutrality_and_you.html>. You will find a printed copy of that entry enclosed with this letter.

In the popular media, Honorable Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska has been lambasted for his poor understanding of how the Internet works. The mocking to which he has been subjected could have been avoided had he taken the time to educate himself regarding an issue that will affect not only communications within the United States but will also affect the ability of the United States to compete in a global environment that increasingly depends on the effectiveness of digital communications among its citizens. I trust you will not follow in your colleague’s footsteps and (if you have not already) will take the time to understand what is at stake regarding Net Neutrality and why it is important to legislate Net Neutrality before Internet Service Providers destroy something that works so well.

As an educator and a United States citizen, I believe the free flow of ideas and information by means of the Internet can only extend the reach of literacy, education, and democracy. It is no secret that one of two very powerful business interests—Internet Service Providers or Internet-based businesses—will benefit from the adoption or rejection of Net Neutrality legislation. However, I encourage you to keep in mind that Net Neutrality will also help protect the interests of those of us who have modest means and political power through you, our elected representative. Two winners of three is better than one, for us and for you.

Thank you, Senator [Voinovich|Dewine], for taking the time to read and consider my opinion.

I encourage you to write the Congressional leaders in your state and ask them to support the adoption of legislation protecting Net Neutrality. end of article

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