the stream is the medium

October 8-November 30, 2012.

Online course for creators of all stripes making art on the Web with new paradigm. Ride the shift from page and print thinking to the stream. We'll be creating our own Tumblr sites as part of the process. When complete, the course will be Creative Commons licensed and suitable for learning pods of 3-4 to work through together.

Choose your Participation Level for the 7 Weeks:

An example of using the Tumblr stream as literary experimentation—


Yesterday I found a letter.

I was walking home from the Metra after another bad day at LameJob, so tired. Chicago. I don’t know. It’s not been so great.

And it seemed like the right idea last spring, all that excitement when I decided, when I told J it was…

(via storyboard)

Goes for the Web too—no need to define limit it to any former possibility space.

(via tattooed-fossils)

A Creative-Commons licensed class on transmedia storytelling encouraging feedback via its Tumblr: “As I gear up for a course I’m teaching at Columbia University, I’ve decided to open the teaching process.”

On my way to a Transmedia SF meetup last night, I stopped inside City Lights Booksellers and Publishers. The place is living breathing evolving memorial and an ode to the Beat poets. 

Yes it’s entirely intentional and coincidental that stream is the medium implies the immediacy and rawness of stream-of-consciousness writing popularized by the Beats (and Joyce).

I opened one of Ginsberg’s books, and fell into a Kerouac aphorism that applies here:

“Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy. Submissive to everything, open, listening.”

p.s. Sure, and I had to buy Poems of Arab Andalusia published by City Lights for an upcoming Tumblr transmedia art and labor of love project.

Below is an excerpt from the opening day talk I gave at Business Blog Summit in April 2005. This metaphor applies thoroughly for streams, more so than pages. 

I was at Pike Place Market in Seattle when this metaphor truly crystallized for me.

The blogosphere’s bible is a book called the The Cluetrain Manifesto. And its mantra is: Markets are Conversations. More than half of you here already know that. Yup we can nod our heads in unison: Markets. Are. Conversations. But what if instead of an abstract concept a whole teeming vibrant marketplace and a vivid picture of your stall played out in your mind with all its attendant connotations, images, nuances, smells, textures whenever you thought of the blogosphere.

I was in New Mexico recently. The history book says Spain established Santa Fe as the political capital of New Spain back in 1610. What undeniably established Santa Fe as its cultural capital however was that at the crossroads of the El Camino Trail and the Santa Fe Trail emerged a bustling trading post. Today, Santa Fe hosts the second or third largest art market in the world (depending on if you ask a Santa Fean or Los Angeles native). The Santa Fe plaza stands where the trading post of old saw thousands of traders exchange calico, furs, mules and gossip. [2]

James Cherkoff, a marketing blogger, says: “A single blog can be akin to a ranting madman on the corner. However, when linked together into massive intertwining communities they have the vibrancy and passion of an enormous street market, with information, opinions and whispers exchanging hands at light speed.” In a recent post, Jamespoints to a TIME Europe story on blogs. In the article, TIME  uses the metaphor of the Tower of Babel. James counters, “Bazaar is probably a better comparison.”

Photo CreditsThe photographer Phil Douglis says: “The market often can be at the very core of a city or town’s life – a gathering place where a community really becomes a community. That’s why I feel we can often take the measure of a place from its markets –they are, at their essence, a microcosm of a society itself. ”

One of the most momentous things that can happen to a culture is that they acquire a new form of prose.
T.S. Eliot (via explore-blog)

Last night at the Chorus: A Literary Mixtape spoken word tour, Saul Williams invited all the local poets in the audience up on stage to share. Saul shared that the inspiration for the book came from the Greek theater chorus who according to Wikipedia “comment with a collective voice on the dramatic action.” He was also inspired by many poets and bards in his travels and wanted to “share the page, share the stage.

There’s a singular voice that selected the weave through the hundred voices in the poetic remix (i.e. the book by same name) that’s achieved by the use of lighter fonts—but this post isn’t about book arts.

What I intend this blog and this course (to eventually be offered entirely Creative-Commons licensed) is to be about is using the Internet as an artistic medium in itself—rather than trying to get it to conform to other media standards. I’d also like to include storytellers, actors, dancers, musicians, calligraphers, sculptors, cartoonists, theater ensembles, videographers, urban game designers, urban planners, public art advocates, etcetera (it’s a long list) as I think they can bring to table many new ideas about how creators shape and use the Internet that broadens what the engineers and venture capitalists are conjuring up.

It’s using the Internet for art as art. Not solely as a promotional device for an art object elsewhere or a distribution medium for digital art. Even more interesting is if the two worlds—virtual and palpable meet and fuse.

I’d say that one thing that distinguishes the Internet is how easy can be to drop that fourth wall concept that we see so prevalent in print media, broadcast media, and most performing arts. I’m not saying so much the fourth wall is ‘bad’ or anything, but to allow this new art forms to flourish it helps to be aware of how the medium is innately designed. And the Internet isn’t one-way, although it can be forced that way.

What struck me most is that earlier yesterday, I’d just met a theater person who switched over to the Web design world. And, me, I’m eager to go toward the opposite trajectory: I welcome more of the visceral, artistic, palpable in my life. I’ve been intrigued by the intersection of theater and Internet offered by transmedia, alternate reality games, serious games, and urban games. And now here I was at a Saul Williams show with a stage, and here the rest of us were in the audience silent and rapt, fawning or whatever it is audiences do. Or so we thought.

After about twelve local poets read, Saul recited in his rapid-fire style for a little while. He paused for a drink of water, then took the mic and invited us to a jam session essentially: I’d like to drop “the fourth wall. We can have a dialogue." Or I can just read poetry all night.

I’m not sure the audience was prepared for what he offered us.

jam session, noun 1. a meeting of a group of musicians, especially jazz musicians, to play for their own enjoyment. 2. an impromptu jazz performance or special performance byjazz musicians who do not regularly play together.

I don’t know the crowd, although I do know it was in San Francisco, $21 tickets, and advertised as a spoken word (a.k.a. poetry), so I could make some demographic assumptions, but I’m not sure that’s the point here. I don’t know if anyone anywhere growing up with one-way broadcast style media and the authoritative voice fares any better when suddenly presented with another model, another opportunity at first.

In music, a call and response is a succession of two distinct phrases usually played by different musicians, where the second phrase is heard as a direct commentary on or response to the first. It corresponds to the call-and-response pattern in human communication and is found as a basic element of musical form, such as verse-chorus form, in many traditions. - via Wikipedia

Some folks in the ‘audience’ (or was that ‘chorus’) asked questions that sound like requests and celebrity-awestruckness and not so much striking up a dialogue or jamming—“Could you do that poem ___.” or “Could you curse?” He usually shot back (graciously though), like a true artist, with: “Is that a request? I only do what I feel like doing.”

I’m not sure the majority are yet open to invitations to call-and-response, feedback-styled engagement, transactive mediums, participatory art or just plain dialogue but that’ what entices me.  

Mull over the concepts of chorus, dialogue, fourth wall, jam sessions, call-and-response in order to get the most out of where this ride (a.k.a. this blog) and future attractions are headed.

As for me last night, I was just shy. Or one can consider this a response. 

Photo Credits: Saul Williams Chorus poetry tour taken by OddreydreyAka Pygmy Call-and-Response Choir

Traditionally, we have considered storytellers and technologists as two opposite figures. In today’s transmedia world, they are often two sides of the same coin - the medium and the message are one.
Transmedia SF meetup 9/24/12 “From Coding to Story

Begin anywhere. I’m not a fan of the big blowout splashy launch for streams, nor page-driven websites. The Internet is innately designed for morphing, for reinvention, for changing on a dime, and/or for evolution.

I started my first blog on Dave Winer’s Radio. I fretted and worried over what I’d say so I never really cracked the spine of that journal and got to scribbling. I started my second blog on Blogspot. I worried slightly less, but abandoned it after a few months. My third blog begun in February 2004 still exists, mainly because I embraced the paradox of the Internet. I strategized I would write about technology and culture. I’d travel. I’d juxtapose different innovation ecosystems around the world and the tension between their technological and traditional, spiritual traditions from Silicon Valley to Finland (mobile was still hot there then) to India to Israel. That’s not what ended up happening at all. But at least I wrote the first post. Then another. Then another. Within six months, I had a popular business and marketing blog. (Yeah, I know—not exactly how it started out. And it’s not what the blog is about today.) Don’t overthink it. 

So I totally agree with Bruce Mau and John Cage:

John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

The rest of Bruce Mau’s “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth" is awesome and applies well to the art of the Web.