All posts by ed

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Hieroglyph

I am the co-editor of Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future. The book is the product of a thriving community of science fiction writers, scientists, engineers and many others collaborating on ambitious, technically grounded visions of the near future.

About the Book

Inspired by New York Times bestselling author Neal Stephenson, an anthology of stories, set in the near future, from some of today’s leading writers, thinkers, and visionaries that reignites the iconic and optimistic visions of the golden age of science fiction.

In his 2011 article “Innovation Starvation,” Neal Stephenson argued that we—the society whose earlier scientists and engineers witnessed the airplane, the automobile, nuclear energy, the computer, and space exploration—must reignite our ambitions to think boldly and do Big Stuff. He also advanced the Hieroglyph Theory which illuminates the power of science fiction to inspire the inventive imagination: “Good SF supplies a plausible, fully thought-out picture of an alternate reality in which some sort of compelling innovation has taken place.”

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Future of the Book

What is the future of the book? We are exploring this question through a series of experiments in collaborative, improvisational publishing. The con­cept: a series of “book sprints” that took place in real time at the Frank­furt Book Fair (October 2013), at Arizona State University in Phoenix, AZ (January 2014), at Stanford University in California (May 2014) and at the Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting (June 2016). Drawing together a diverse collective of authors, critics, publishers, journalists and others, we are curating a series of performances, investigations and polemics on the future of read­ing, writ­ing, edit­ing, and the broader systems of literary production and consumption

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Center for Science and the Imagination

I am the founding director of Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, which brings writers, artists and other creative thinkers into collaboration with scientists, engineers and technologists to reignite humanity’s grand ambitions for innovation and discovery. The center serves as a network hub for audacious moonshot ideas and a cultural engine for thoughtful optimism. We provide a space for productive collaboration between the humanities and the sciences, bring human narratives to scientific questions, and explore the full social implications of cutting-edge research.

What if Computers Know You Better Than You Know Yourself?

Our digital breadcrumbs now tell stories about us that are deeply secret, moving, surprising—and often things we don’t even know about ourselves. These days when a computer crunches the numbers and tells you “this is who you are,” it’s hard to contradict because there’s more data about you in the machine than there is in your head. Algorithms are most effective at curating the information that’s hardest for us to hold in our heads: how long we talk to mom or what day of the week we splurge on an extra cookie.

What if Computers Know You Better Than You Know Yourself?, Slate March 3 2014

Science Fiction of Science (DH2013)

Below is the Prezi and some supplementary content for my Digital Humanities 2013 presentation on Project Hieroglyph.

You can learn more about the Center for Science and the Imagination at our website or by downloading our first Annual Report.

On the origins of Project Hieroglyph: you might want to read Neal Stephenson’s inital shot across the bow, Innovation Starvation, or some of the recent press about the project in Wired UK, CNN, the New York Times and elsewhere. You can also follow a site activity RSS feed here.

I’ll add more notes here based on feedback from the talk and any comments you’d like to leave.

You can follow the center at @imaginationASU on Twitter or on Facebook. I’m @zonal. And of course you should sign up for Project Hieroglyph yourself!

The Pencil

Cross-posted from the Center for Science and the Imagination Blog

This past fall I took part in a fascinating event on the future of education here at Arizona State University. It was organized by theGordon Commission and the Center for Games and Impact, and the instructions I got from Jim Gee were simple. Five minutes to give an experimental talk, with a maximum of two slides.

I decided to talk about a creative tool that has done more to unlock the human imagination than almost anything else: the humble pencil. You can inscribe the world with it, from writing poems and tracing inscriptions to poking holes, making music and holding your hair together. Plus most pencils come with an undo feature, so it’s a tool that teaches both sides of the creative coin: authoring and editing, marking and erasing, sharing and hiding. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the pencil. And I close with a question: how can we imagine the future pencil, the new tool that will change how we learn and share?

 

 

Media Literacies and Composition

Last week saw the start of a new semester at ASU and the start of a new course I’m teaching, Media Literacies and Composition. It’s my first chance to teach our Digital Culture students and I’m excited to meet such a diverse group: musicians, film-makers, designers and artists. Oh, and a few writers to keep me company.

We’ll be looking at the ideas of close reading, composition and narrative in across a number of media old and new. And, since this is a digital culture course, the students will be making a lot of cool stuff as we go along. I’m looking forward to seeing it!

First Principles

Newly released: American Dreamers, a collection of “dreams from optimists, inventors and mavericks with ideas for a brighter future.” My essay (online here) leads off the book with a look at the combustible, illuminating nature of good ideas and the unique optimism of the American Dream. It’s also a pretty good declaration of principles for what we are trying to accomplish at the Center for Science and the Imagination.