Wednesday, October 27, 2010

American Gods, Neverwhere, and the power of landscape

So this post has nothing to do with AI or apocalypticism, but it's what I'm up to, so I'm blogging it anyway.

This weekend, I'll be in HOTlanta, first for a visit to SEE SEVEN STATES FROM ROCK CITY! with my awesome friend Kimberly and then to participate in the annual conference for the American Academy of Religion. I'm joining the religion and pop culture crowd to present my paper: "A Landscape of the Religious Imagination: Travel and Tourism in the work of Neil Gaiman."

Sadly, I was invited to go to the Neil Gaiman event at the House on the Rock (a place featured in American Gods and my presentation) but not until after we'd bought tickets for the whole family to head to HTL. I would have loved to have joined the HoTR's Low-Key Gathering, but it just didn't work out. Maybe next time. 

Rock City is also part of American Gods and my paper presentation, so I'm excited to go see it and take lots of pictures. Imported knee-high gnomes in a blacklit cavern...what more could you want?

Gaiman's Neverwhere and American Gods are two of the best damn books I've read and I'm thrilled I get to talk about them at the conference. This paper will also be part of a book I'm co-writing with my brilliant and beautiful wife.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

virtual eschaton

Unfortunately, the hotel in Milan where the Transvision 2010 conference is taking place lost Internet access today. That means that in the middle of Natasha Vita-More's presentation, we went through a 15 minute technical intermission that eventually became a complete severance between those of us presenting in Teleplace and those who were on location. For good or ill, I presented my own paper ("The Mythic Power of Transhumanism") prior to that separation. So the European audience had as much opportunity as the virtual audience to think I'm an idiot. Hopefully, it wasn't unanimous.

In brief, I argued that transhumanism has always been religious despite the objections of members of the H+ community and that, by embracing their religiosity, they'll have greater storytelling power than when they reject it. And, since storytelling power is the greatest power in the universe (no matter what the physicists might tell us), I think I gave them good advice.

Irritatingly, the technical delays during Natasha's talk and that subsequently interfered with the gentleman advertising his cryogenics services took up an enormous amount of time, costing us the opportunity to hear from two other speakers. This was very unfortunate, as I was looking forward to hearing them. Lincoln Cannon's talk on the Mormon Transhumanism can be read on his site. I haven't read it yet, but I look forward to doing so.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


So the Chronicle of Higher Education just published a piece entitled "What if we ran universities like Wikipedia?" or somesuch.

Now as a general rule, I like the Chronicle but in a totally non-judgmental way, what I find really odd about the piece is that it reads like its author is a Cory Doctorow fan. After all, it was Doctorow who described the "ad hoc university" system in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Doctorow's book is brilliant and deserves all the awards it got. I love it and have cited it in academic presentations and papers.

On the other hand, I do not take it as a prescription for how to solve the problems of academia (of which there are admittedly many).

I wonder why the folks at the Chronicle have done so.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Transivision 2010 conference in one week!

So we're one week from the Transvision 2010 conference, hosted in Milan by the brilliant Giulio Prisco, the Italian Transhumanist Association, and an advisory board. There's a weekend long set of talks and it should be a fantastic conference. I'm presenting on Saturday night (late by my EST) along with some other really great folks (Ben Goetzel, Natasha Vita-More, Lincoln Cannon, and, I think, a couple of others).

What's that? You don't live in Milan? No problem!

You can attend the conference through Teleplace. You  just need an account. I have no idea how you get one, but I bet you can find out here. I'll be presenting through Teleplace, so I spent a few minutes today logging on for the first time. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to delete all the shared windows of a sample document I had created, but hopefully my mess was all cleaned up when I logged off. :)

Hope to see you there!