so you've got a discussion going -- how do you use it? 05.26.2006, 2:06 AM
posted by ben vershbow
Writers, particularly new ones, are often encouraged and bouyed up by physical writer's groups, in which people co-critique works in progress. Some writing workshops/groups also include lectures from established authors and related well-known people in publishing. In SF/Fantasy, the Clarion SF&F Writers' Workshop is well known and has graduated a number of folk who have gone on to great success.
So, can this model work online? I'm dubious. One of the things that makes a good writers' group, and that makes Clarion the success it has been, is a rigorous screening process. You get into these things not just by having good intentions or a lot to say but by having valuable experience and insights to contribute. It's unclear to me how one filters the mass audience of the Web into something resembling useful wisdom.
This is not a trivial question. Already, it's all Ken can do to keep a handle on the various feedback loops spinning through the site. Separating the wheat from the chaff requires a great amount of time and attention on top of that. If we had unlimited time and resources, it would be interesting to play with some sort of collaborative filtering system for comments. What if readers had a way of advancing through a series of levels (appropriate to the game theme), gaining credibility as a respondent with each new level attained (like karma in Slashdot). These "advanced" readers would then have more authority to moderate other discussions, sharing some of the burden with the author.
On the other hand, perhaps a workshop is the wrong model. Maybe this is more like the writing of a massive wikipedia entry on games and game theory. One person writes most of it, but the audience participates in the edit and refinement process? It seems like that model might produce something more useful.
This is not headed for anything encyclopedic. Ken is still an individual voice and this book ultimately an expression of his unique critical view (the idea of writing any work of criticism collaboratively, the way one writes a Wikipedia aticle, is a little odd). But Ken is getting useful work out of his readers (who, among other things, are good at spotting typos). There's definitely some of that wiki work ethic at play.
Another thing he's after is good testimonials about what it feels like to play these games. We already got a fabulous little description of the experience of Katamari Damacy. Hopefully the first of many. So this is also another way of doing interviews for the book, in the setting most familiar to gamers talking about gaming: an online discussion forum.
bowerbird on May 26, 2006 4:55 AM:
> Already, it's all Ken can do to keep a handle on
> the various feedback loops spinning through the site.
this is what i was referring to back with these these comments:
it will get even more hairy when he wants to go to use the material
he "seems to remember reading somewhere at some time or other".
managing the totality of text will become increasingly difficult...
the "solution" i programmed was to duplicate all of the comments
on a single page, with each one backlinking to its original location.
actually i duplicate them to a _series_ of such cumulative pages,
ordered in different ways (chronological, reverse-chronological,
and by order of their location in the book). these summary-pages
help the author move all the comments offline to their machine...
p.s. it's great for people to start saying that collaborative filtering
is the solution to our information-overload problems! we need to
start building it into _all_ of our communication vehicles, pronto!
rating whatever item you just read should be the _necessary_action_
that cues the appearance of the next item, so rating becomes natural.
ben vershbow on May 26, 2006 9:13 AM:
"duplicate all of the comments on a single page, with each one backlinking to its original location."
We're working on just such a solution, which will go live.....today? Jesse, when's that going live?
"...rating whatever item you just read should be the _necessary_action_ that cues the appearance of the next item, so rating becomes natural.
I think Ken suggested something similar half seriously earlier this week: what if the book chapters were levels, and to advance to the next one you had to leave x number of comments in the current one? It would definitely raise the barrier to participation, but maybe in a good way. Overall though, since this is such unfamiliar terrain for readers, I think the wide-open approach we've taken with GAM3R 7H30RY is probably best, at least for now.
simon on May 26, 2006 12:30 PM:
I am interested in the process going on here:
I do think its like a WIKI on PC Games...
Last night just got into reading a book and posting comments "direct to the author".
I see a few replies today. Thanks.
Actually my problem is simpler: The interface gives me no sense of "have I seen all of the comments"?
Doesn't Microsoft Word allow online collaboration of some sort? Anyone used it in anger?
If work such as this is to be collaborative I think it would be fascinating to do it in real time... e.g. using a chat program like MSN which is why I asked if such conversations with the "collaborator group" was possible on MSN
Regarding "rating" - if we're taking this up a level then lets _rate_ items for readability, pertinence, novelty / originality etc or some such "map" of the territory, not just 1-5 "I did not like" / "I Liked very much"
This idea of reading the book is a game is interesting but this is a personal work: as such I think the author has to remain "in control" I'd respect the author's right to pull the plug and purge the comments altogether if that is what he or she wants to do.
Sally on June 1, 2006 11:12 PM:
Has Wark changed the text of his passages since the launch of GAM3R 7H3ORY? Have reader suggestions (including and beyond typos) informed any of these edits?
when Wark does edit--will the former version (pre-edit) be available any longer? will there be a hint or visual cue that signals when the change was made and why, especially if it were prompted by a reader's post?
That would be an interesting measure of work done by readership!