Article

The Day After

invisibles-1

“See! Now! Our sentence is up.”

That’s the last line of the last page of the last issue of The Invisibles, Grant Morrison’s pop magic comic book master work. That final issue came out right around Y2K, but it’s set on the December solstice of what was then the freaky-sounding future year 2012. All this year, every time I heard somebody cracking wise about the Mayan Apocalypse, I thought, “Unless you’re an ancient Mayan, you’re stealing Grant Morrison’s bit.”

I bought and read every issue of The Invisibles as it came out from 1994 to 2000. It’s the only comic I’ve ever followed so religiously. It’s brilliant and fun and a bit of a mess and it meant the world to me. It worked its way into my life and rewired the way I saw things, which is pretty much what it was intended to do. Yes, it’s dated now, but so am I. I can’t be any more objective about it than I could be objective about my twenties.  Read more

Article

Frontiers of New Media 2009

Not 24 hours after I dissed the networking/self-promotion side of blogging, here’s me doing some networking and promotion!

I’m spending this semester as the Simmons Visiting Professor in Communication and History the University of Utah. My family and I just recently arrived in Salt Lake City and once again, I’m bowled over by both the beauty of the place and the friendliness of the inhabitants. One thing I’m doing here is helping to organize the 2009 Frontiers of New Media Symposium. Longtime readers may recall me gushing about the 2007 Frontiers of New Media Symposium, which was one of the smartest, friendliest, most fun academic conferences I’ve ever been to. Now I and the Departments of History and Communication have the modest task of recapturing that lightning in a bottle.

The symposium is just two weeks away, on September 18 and 19. If you’re in the SLC area you should absolutely come out. The keynote speaker is AnnaLee Saxenian, Dean of UC-Berkeley’s School of Information, and we have a great lineup of panelists on the second day. If you’re not near Utah, please visit the website, follow the blog or Twitter feeds, and spread the word to any who might be interested, even via social media platforms I might have disparaged last night. I’ll be blogging at the FoNM site from now until the conference–there’s a neat video there now of UC-Riverside’s Toby Miller on the history and future of television–and doing my best to make our conversations there accessible to people who can only join us virtually.

My inspiration here is THATCamp 2009, which was held back in June and exploded over Twitter and the internet–at least the parts of it I frequent–with such force that I kind of thought I was there. Frontiers of New Media isn’t nearly as big or Tweety an operation, but we will do our best. I even considered disguising the symposium as “THATCamp Rocky Mountains” in order to ride the coattails of the regional THATCamps popping up everywhere. We have a great panel planned on New Media and the Practice of Scholarship, featuring CHNM’s Sharon Leon and my favorite mad scientist historian, Bill Turkel–so that’s plenty THATCampy.

So, yeah. Ignore what I said yesterday about the Hobbesian waltz of the A-list and the long tail. Network! Tweet! Work the room!

Article

2.0

This news has already gone out on other faster, more annoying social networking platforms, but it needs a mention here as well: this is my son Eli, born on Wednesday.

He is beautiful and awesome. His mother is a rock star. His big sister is giving him the benefit of the doubt for now.

Cigars all round.

[Edit: Comments page fixed. Not that I'm fishing--we've already been inundated by good words and well wishes. Thanks, all!]

Article

How I'll Spend My Summer Vacation

OR, why one ought not expect the frequency of posts around here to increase.

I’ve dropped cryptic hints here and there, but I can now announce three happy chunks of news, each one about a fun and challenging project that will be occupying me for the next few months, possibly years, and in one case probably decades.

Read more

Article

Christmas on the Road

On Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, that is:

The orange light of the fire. The boy’s hollowed out face—by hunger and fear. The man handed him something, wrapped in an old shred of newspaper he’d found in what had once been a basement and was now a tomb. He closed his eyes against the rat eaten bodies and worse of his imagination. What is it, the boy asked, looking at the words, trying to decipher an existence he had never known. Take off the paper, the man said. The boy removed the paper carefully, his look more concerned than excited. What is it, Papa? An iPhone, the man said. Oh no shit, the boy said.

Hee. Read the whole thing. It’s too bad Bob Hope and Bing Crosby aren’t around to make The Road into a movie.

I too am having Christmas/Hannukah on the road: we set out this weekend for points South. (I know, Hannukah’s been over for a week, but my daughter doesn’t know that.) Posting here will either be less frequent or more, depending on internet connectivity and post-egg nog energy levels.

The first week of the new year will find me at the American Historical Association’s annual conference in Washington. Drop me an email or a comment if you’re going to be there. I’m posing as a Canadianist on a roundtable about “Writing the Transnational Political History of North America,” though somehow that buzzword “transnational” got left out of the official program. I will try to post a teaser for the session over the next week or so; my contribution will certainly draw on the fine conversations about transnational history we’ve had at Cliopatria and Mode for Caleb over the years.

Edit: Excitement, she wrote! A panel at the AHA sponsored by the Historians of Film Committee features a paper by Cynthia Miller called “Defending the Heartland: Technology and the Future in The Phantom Empire.” What is The Phantom Empire, you ask? Oh, it’s just the insane science fiction singing cowboy serial from 1935 in which (this phrase has delighted me for years, you understand) “robots prepare to torch Gene Autry.”

Robots prepare to torch Gene Autry.

Robots! Gene Autry! Preparation for torching!

Happy holidays.