Using Raugmenter to Map the 1966 Tower Shooting

The UT Austin tower at night

If you wanted to design an augmented reality app, but didn’t have programming expertise, what would you do? Last fall, two graduate students, Felipe Cruz (now, Dr. Cruz), Keith Leisner, and Deb Streusand began working on Raugmenter in the DWRL. This tool was designed to make the augmented reality platform LayAR accessible for people who aren’t developers. The application allows users to build a tour of points of interest by entering data into a form and selecting GPS coordinates from a …

Learning to Learn, Digitally

The image shows the intimidating, green, and translucent head of a man hovering in the air above some sort of altar in what could be a throne room. The man is shouting, and he has an enlarged cranium. Below the floating head is dense smoke. Partially encased by the smoke is a metalic scultupre with fire coming out of its sides toward the camera. At both the left and the right edges of the altar, fire erupts out of short but thick columns. The floor is black, but shiny and reflective. The back of the altar (behind the semi-transparent head) are tall narrow columns that resemble a massive church organ.

A couple years ago, I enrolled in my first digital rhetorics course. I was excited, but also insecure, certain that I was out of my league compared to my classmates, all of whom I assumed were naturals when it came to all things digital. Even though I knew this way of thinking didn’t make sense, I constructed a digital literacy binary of sorts: either you’re naturally techy, or not. A wizard born with magical powers, or not. In a sense, this …

Questing for Choice(s)

aisle intro screen

There is a fundamental issue with how we (as academics, players, and creators) view game narratives. This particular art form leaves room for player intervention, for changes and transformations, however, such interactivity has done little to push the boundaries of storytelling beyond alternate endings and perpetual quests. Is this as far as stories can go? Linear progressions momentarily disrupted by the novelty of easter eggs and yet-to-be unlocked zones? Mark Danielewski’s The Familiar book series – delivered through a traditional …

Cool Tools: Interactive Mapping with Google Fusion Tables

A close-up of a topographical map with a number of yellow sticky notes attached to it. The notes have different people's handwriting on them.

Today, I want to introduce a cool tool I have recently discovered: Google Fusion Tables. The basic idea is simple but powerful: the program will take any spreadsheet it is given, look for geolocation information in it, and display the individual items in the sheet on a map.

The Useful Art of Coding

user versus coder

By the time I finished writing this blog post, I had come to a realization that wasn’t even on my mind at the start: The active function (in as utilitarian a sense as possible) of an object is just as important in creative production as its affective and aesthetic potential.

Writing By Design

The most obvious connection between writing and design is communication. Graphic designers communicate through visual elements, and writers communicate through the written word. Although they make use of different tools, essentially they both foreground methods that bring about an exchange of information. But can learning graphic design help us understand something about writing?

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Twine Games: The Digital Author

In this way is revealed the whole being of writing: a text consists of multiple writings, issuing from several cultures and entering into dialogue with each other, into parody, into contestation; but there is one place where this multiplicity is collected, united, and this place is not the author, as we have hitherto said it was, but the reader. Roland Barthes—The Death of the Author It was 1967 when Roland Barthes first pronounced the death of the author. It was …

Why Historicizing Games Matters

colossal cave adventure intro

You just can’t exaggerate the importance of D&D to all of the many storygames that have followed it. It really did revolutionize the way we look at stories and games and the combination of the two in a way totally out of proportion to the number of people who have ever actually played it. But then, we could make exactly the same statement about Adventure, couldn’t we? Every story-oriented computer game today, including graphical adventures, can trace its roots straight …

Typographic Topography

Before getting to where the Typography Team’s™ cartography project has ended up, it might be a good idea to put these maps in context and point out how we got started down this particular(ly strange) path in the first place. It begins, as so many things do, with a slip. It was the week before the semester began, and I was on a beach working on a tan instead of working on a dissertation. Having just received word from the DWRL’s indefatigable leaders on my specific research …

Cool Tools: Podcasting with Audacity (and beyond)

A close-up photograph of a studio microphone. The microphone extends into the left half of the frame. In the background on the right, and out of focus, is a set of Behringer headphones lying on a white table.

At the beginning of this semester, I gave a little lab-internal introduction to audio recording and editing. Since then, a number of people have asked me to share the materials from this workshop or come to their class and get their students going on podcast projects.