eBay fiction

Before I left for Europe, Brenden sent me this listing for a haunted wine cabinet on eBay. A few months ago I posted this ghost in a jar on Technoccult (the listing’s not online anymore, though).

I don’t remember what the jar sold for, but the wine cabinet sold for $280. I have no idea what it was worth. But it occurs to me that this sort of writing could be a new way to make money and find an audience in fiction. Taking an object, giving it an interesting backstory, and sell it on eBay. How much of this goes on?

And yes, I suppose the story could be true. I want to believe that there’s a John Constantine out there scouring eBay for magical objects as much as the next guy.

What to do with Winksite

Well, I’ve got this site, and Technoccult, launched as Winksites. But I wanna find some other uses for Wink than syndicating existing sites.

One idea, is to create bits of fiction to be read on mobiles. In “slipstream” are suitable genres. Hmmm… a slipstream literary journal, for cell phones?

(of course, the site wouldn’t be available only to mobile, but would be created with mobiles in mind… It’s easy to use Movable Type to post to the web, RSS, and e-mail. The RSS feed can be used by Wink, and the e-mail can go to a Yahoo! group, which provides its own set of options.)

I would also like to see Wink used for more political stuff… not sure what yet, though. How widely available is WAP in 3rd world countries? Perhaps this would be a suitable environment to begin constructing a set of bookmarks for “digitally divided” countries, as Josh proposed on MW a while back.

Ransoming content

Another idea which it seems like someone must have come up with already: ransoming art/content/whatever.

The idea is simple: a content provider sets up a donation box and publishes material enough money has been made. It seems this may only work for someone with an established reputation as a good content provider, but as long as the goals set are reasonable it could work.

This solves a couple problems: it prevents there from being a toll box on the information superhighway as some people have put it (a real problem considering that what’s a micropayment in the US could be considerably larger in a third world country, where even getting internet access is very expensive). But it also encourages people who have the money to donate it.

I see this working particularly well for big name musicians… what if Trent Reznor says he won’t record another album until he gets a $6 million advance from fans? He’d probably get a lot of the money from just a couple of rich nin fans. Then he could release the album on p2p networks and completely bypass the entire label system.

But it could work for someone like E-Sheep Patrick Farley too. I would donate towards a ransom for a new E-Sheep comic.

Update: from the comments: Abe points to Street Performer Protocol.

Idea-blogging: games as musical interface

I’m gonna do some idea-blogging over the next few days, trying to get some ideas out there for some feedback (or at least so I don’t forget them).

I’ve had this “games as musical interface” idea for a couple years. A number of “generative” and “fractal” music programs out there (check out this listing). Mostly the interfaces consist of typing in numbers, moving sliders around, or dragging something around the screen randomly. These don’t seem like engaging interfaces.

The idea of using games for an interface isn’t new: this guy has a 3D fractal music game: however, I’ve never been able to get it to run on my computer, and now I can’t even find the download on his web site. My idea is to use a series of constantly changing classic games clones – Pacman, Space Invaders, Tetris, etc. The position of different game objects act as the random data for a music and graphics generator, making it easy for almost anyone to create music and visual compositions; even if they’re not good with music or at playing games. It also creates a game in which the goal is not to “win” but to create interesting music. This could also work as a multi-player game, with the data being split between the two players.

One important aspect is that the “voices” should be configurable. Output to MIDI, or to a set of samples (a la MOD tracking programs) .

A bit of a head-trip feature I’d like to see in the game: the games constantly morph into each other. One minute you’re playing Tetris, moving a block around, and then suddenly the blocks you’ve stack start to look like a maze and your block is pac-man. Then ghosts show up and eventually the whole game is Pac-Man. You play this for a while, then it starts to turn into Space Invaders. Which then turns into Astroids. The changes are random, Tetris sometimes turns into Astroids or Space Invaders instead of Pac-Man.

Jeremy Winters doesn’t think Max/MSP is powerful enough to create something like this. I would like to see it done in Flash, but I kind of doubt that’s possible either.

See Also

Audience Participation in Music

More audience participation in music

Audience participation in music

Einsturzende Neubauten had a subscription program through their web site through which subscribers could watch and listen to the band’s studio sessions and then leave comments in a forum. So essentially they were letting their fans have a say in the album before it was completed. This wouldn’t work for a lot of bands, but it makes sense for Neabauten. Pigface should do this as well.

Some things Pigface have done: let audience members call up and leave messages on the office answering machine for use in an album (Feels Like Heaven, Smells Like Shit) and more recently let fans send in tapes and CD-Rs of them saying “fuck [something]” to be collaged on a Pigface record (not sure if that stuff ever got used). Also, they let fans vote online for which songs they wanted to hear on the “best of” album.

I was thinking, someone could setup an audblog and have people upload sounds form their cell phone to be used in collage or glitch projects. Or, mixed live at a laptop gig. I don’t know how modern programs like Buzz or Fruity Loops work, but it would be pretty simple to use an old tracking program (like Impulse Tracker or Mod Plug Tracker) and create some “patterns” in advance and then download samples using a venue’s wifi connection during the show and then plug them into the song. A soundtrack of the world in almost real time.

Writing Game

This message is for Brenden Simpson – I don’t have access to ICQ right now, and I’m never sure what your e-mail address is. But, anyone interested is welcome to reply.

While I’m waiting for the perfect Live Journal narrative idea and video graffiti idea to strike me, how about:

1. We write an outline, with say 10 landmarks (more might be necessary).

2. We setup a content managment system.

3. We take turns writing 250 – 500 word chapters.

4. We plan it out so that we alterate hitting landmarks.

5. The idea is, to make it challenging for the other guy to execute his assigned point on the landmark without doing ridiculous things.

6. Also, keeping consistent with characterization will be a challenge.

7. We should probably write the outline ourselves, but it would be fun to invite more people to play.

8. One chapter a week?

Live Journal as an interactive narrative tool

Thoughts on the Live Journal interactive narrative idea:

1. I don’t want to do “the story game” (where each person writes a piece of the story).

2. I don’t want to do a simple novel serialization like Class of 91 or a “writing in public” exercise like Listener by Ellis or Unwirer by Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross. But, I wouldn’t rule out the idea of doing a project using Movable Type, a wiki, or some other collaboration ware. (Brenden, you game?)

3. I’m thinking of trying to work with non-fiction (to be true to the journaling purpose of the community). But I don’t want to duplicate the Fray or City Stories and the like.

4. I want to find some way to integrate filters, social network features, commenting and so on.

5. Perhaps a sort of non-fiction role-playing game? Or a game with “assignments” to be carried out in real life, and then reported on in the journal?

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