Archive for August 2009

On the rhetoric of the academic geek’s handle

I had an interesting discussion with the esteemed Jim Haendiges yesterday about the rhetoric of handles on the personal websites of geeks who are also academics. Which we both are. It’s tricky, because the goal is to convey insiderdom in both communities. Amongst geeks (and, more specifically, gamers), the handle is the standard way to do name yourself. But most handles involve Netspeak conventions, like numbers instead of letters, carefully placed dashes and underscores, etc. – the kinds of newfangled grammatical constructs that drive your more grammatically and/or technologically conservative academics crazy. Ordinarily, I might aim an argument about the validity of all cultures’ languages their way, but I gotta get a job.

And but so, my handle isĀ  some variation of “critter,” a nickname I got in grad school here at good old WSU. “Critter” is a tricky handle: the word itself is really common (hence it not being my domain name), so it never works anywhere unless it’s altered somehow. Trying to be consistent across various websites and social networks has proven impossible, what with their varying rules about allowable punctuation marks; but for my own site, I wound up going with “Critt-r,” which was Netspeak-y, but only slightly so. But now, contemplating the expectations of the job market I’m about to enter, I think even “Critt-r” is too, well, weird. So I changed it and let font size do all the work.

Waddya think? Did I make the right move, for sound reasons? What handles do you use, and why?

100 reasons fanboys hate PC gaming

I know this is geologically old by Internet standards, but it’s damn funny.

A late eulogy for the late great D.F.W.

Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus, jazzed me enough to read all of D.F.W.’s stuff and write my M.A. thesis on him. Now, as I’m working on my dissertation, I’m rereading it, and on more than one occasion it’s inspired me to get out of bed and write. Maybe D.F.W. will get me through my Ph.D as well as my M.A.

Wired’s Cutthroat Capitalism

So I’m always looking for good examples of procedural rhetoric – Ian Bogost’s theory that a well-designed videogame can inform and teach us about all manner of real life systems. I found an excellent one on Wired this morning called Cutthroat Capitalism, which is “an economic analysis of the Somali pirate business model.” My only problem with the game is that it’s not complicated enough: as the accompanying article shows, the system that’s developed between the pirates, shippers, insurance companies, negotiators, and national navies is truly fascinating in its fucked-up complexity. (Like did you know that the negotiators, who tend to be ex-military types who work for private security companies, are leaving jobs in Iraq because these Somali negotiation jobs are so lucrative?) But the game led me to the article, so it may have done its job anyway.