Notebook of Sand



Curriculum Vitae

• Recent Publications
• Recent Projects
• Conferences & Speaking
"Comparing Spatial Hypertext Collections"
  ACM Hypertext '09
"Archiving and Sharing Your Tinderbox"
  Tinderbox Weekend London '09
"The Electronic Nature of Future Literatures"
  Literary Studies Now, Apr '09
"The World University Project"
  St. John's Col. Cambridge, Feb '09
"Ethical Explanations,"
  The New Knowledge Forge, Jun '08
Lecture, Cambridge University
  Tragedy in E-Lit, Nov '07
Hypertext '07: Tragedy in E-Lit
Host for Tinderbox Cambridge '07
Keynote: Dickinson State Uni Conf
Upper Midwest NCHC'07: Speaker
eNarrative 6: Creative Nonfiction
HT'05: "Philadelphia Fullerine"
  Nelson award winning paper
NCHC '05:
 Nurturing Independent Scholarship
Riddick Practicum:
  Building Meeting Good Will
NCHC '04:
  Philadelphia Fullerine
  Lecture on American Studies
WWW@10: Nonfiction on the Web
NCHC '03: Parliamentary Procedure
ELL '03 -- Gawain Superstar
• (a)Musing (ad)Dictions:

Ideas. Tools. Art. Build --not buy. What works, what doesn't. Enjoy new media and software aesthetics at Tekka.

Theodore Gray (The Magic Black Box)

Faith, Life, Art, Academics. Sermons from my family away from home: Eden Chapel!

My other home: The Cambridge Union Society (in 2007, I designed our [Fresher's Guide])

The Economist daily news analysis

Global Higher Ed blog

• Hypertext/Writing

Writing the Living Web

Chief Scientist of Eastgate Systems, hypertext expert Mark Bernstein. (Electronic) Literature, cooking, art, etc.

Fabulous game reviews at playthisthing.

• Stats

Chapter I: Born. Lived. Died.

There is a Chapter II.

Locale: Lancaster County Pa, USA

Lineage: Guatemala

Religion: My faith is the primary focus of my life, influencing each part of me. I have been forgiven, cleansed, and empowered by Jesus Christ. Without him, I am a very thoughtful, competent idiot. With him, I am all I need to be, all I could ever hope for. I oppose institutional religious stagnation, but getting together with others is a good idea. God is real. Jesus Christ is his Son, and the Bible is true. Faith is not human effort. It's human choice. I try to be the most listening, understanding, and generous person I can.

Interests: Anything I can learn. Training and experience in new media, computer science, anglophone literature, education, parliamentary debate, democratic procedure, sculpture, and trumpet performance. Next: applied & computational linguistics, probably.

Education: Private school K-3. Home educated 4-12. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Elizabethtown College in Jan 2006. As the 2006 Davies-Jackson Scholar, I studied English at St. John's College, Cambridge University from 2006 - 2008.

Memberships: Eden Baptist, Cambridge Union Society, ACM, AIP, GPA.

Alum of the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by the Hershey Company.

June 2006
2004: Earlier | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2005: Jan | Feb | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2006: Jan | Feb | March | April | May | June | July | Aug | Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec
2007: Spring | Summer - Summer 2008 | Spring & Summer 2009 | Now
Diminishing Returns
Friday, 30 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

I have entered that odd recursive zone of sleeplessness and crazy schedules in which the amount of sleep is no longer proportional to the time needed to get things done, but rather is a logarithmic function of the consecutive days spent in focus on sleep-deprived endeavours.

The Chef Timer of Sleelpessness

A simple request, Redux
Tuesday, 27 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

Last night, I posted an email someone wrote me about the possibility of citing my work for an assignment. I suggested she look elsewhere. So she asked the obvious question: "Where?"

It was a tough question:

Thank you for your response! I was wondering if you have any online websites that are good resources for finding quality sources. I searched the titles of the works in your bibliography but found that I had to pay for them. I am taking an online class so I'm pressed for time and don't normally attened the school I am taking the class through so I don't have access to their library.

Of course, the snotty English Student reply would be that my reader should have begun writing earlier. This is true. But then I wondered...could I actually find some good resources online? Here's my reply:

** * **

You may be out of luck, but I hope this email provides some useful suggestions.

The scholarly system usually "produces knowledge" via books and journals. When print technology was the best around, this system ensured the free flow of information. In theory, new ideas would get published in journals, passed around to all those interested, and discussed in further articles. Then, ideas which stood the test of time (or those whose authors had enough social capital) would often be published in book form, then reviewed again, etc... This system ensures that ideas are looked over by specialists in thte field before given too much respect in print. Critics say that this method is job security for drivel-drivers, and that peer review can be totally inadequate, but I think that there's a significant percentage of good thought to be found through this process.

Now we have the Internet. More people want access to this information, and they want it now. Unfortunately, copyright laws and the The Process of Academic Thought(tm) make online publishing quite difficult. The classic books on the topic are all on paper, with the publishing companies rather unwilling to make them available for free. Furthermore, the demand to digitize old works of literary criticism is rather low.

However, there is some hope. Try the following strategy:

  • Electronic Journals: Check with the school with which you are taking the online course. They may provide you with access to electronic journals through their library website. If this is the case, that is your best chance. If you are normally a student at a different institution, check with their library to see if you can do so. Elizabethtown College, my alma mater, provides this service to current students.
  • Nearby University Libraries: This is your second best option. If you can reach a university with an open stacks library, you should be able to use their resources, which will definitely include books and journals on medieval literature.
  • Online resources: This is very touchy. Good, reliable online sources are hard to find. Since you're writing about medieval literature, I suggest you start by looking at the following resources:
** * **

Most of these online sources will not be suitable to cite, since they will not be quality scholarship. They will probably contain summary material written by scholars who want to get the basic information online. Before you cite anything, make sure it has been published in print. If it has only been published online, make sure it has been part of a peer review process. Since you're writing a paper based very much on online sources, you will want to submit an annotated bibliography, which contains your reasons for trusting the sources you cite online.

I hope this helps!

A Simple Request
Monday, 26 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

Feel-good word of the day? Facilitation.

I got the following email today:

I was just wondering if it was alright that I use parts of your essay to facilitate my term paper over Sir Gawain for my World Lit class. Thanks!

I replied with the following email:

** * **

Thank you for asking. That was quite unusual and rather nice. But I have to admit that it's not all right with me. Teachers don't assign term papers because they want you to write a good paper. They assign term papers so you may experience the benefit of thinking through the process of writing a good paper. If you were to copy/paste or even modify my work without citing me, you would be doing more than committing a large breach of integrity; you would be letting yourself out of the chance to learn from this experience.

Of course, I wouldn't recommend you cite my paper at all. Although my Gawain paper was in a sense placed into the scholarly arena via the presentation I gave at the ELL 2003 conference, I highly doubt your teacher would take my word as any sort of authority.

If do you want to benefit from my research, you may wish to look up some of the sources I cite in my bibliography. But make sure you tell your teacher that you're using my bibliography.

Academic integrity is very important to me. This area was where I made many of my major contributions to Elizabethtown college. I hope you are able to adequately complete your assignment while staying true to the ideals of integrity, honesty, and quality research.

I don't know what your situation is, but if you're feeling uncertain about this paper, the following tip might help. Remember: no matter how frustrating or difficult your assignment may seem, your teacher is there to help you. If you're confused or even just behind schedule, the best strategy is always to talk to your teacher. Your teachers are there to help.

Good luck with the paper!

Friday, 23 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

Words come awkward, as if huddling, malconent, in some dissenting portion of of my brain -- one which which disdains the ranks and wheels of my more regimented tenants: lines and lines of code.

Last night, neither the soft embrace of a deep couch nor the smiling words of a dear friend could convince my enervated mind to set aside the cadence of its weary feet.

** * **

But later that evening, my dragging march became a dance. During a rehearsal with the Hershey Symphony, the music soared. My mind had already been spent, my focus drained. But such strains live infused with the vitality of the soul.

** * **

July 4th, the symphony leads an evening of music and fireworks on the grounds of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. I can't wait.

Tinderbox and XSLT
Tuesday, 20 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

After working with some XSLT form-building software at work, I decided to make an attempt to use XSLT to display a Tinderbox file. I was able to make a template to export the text of all notes in the file. I initially started with a Tinderbox version of Helen Keller's Light in My Darkness, but it's under copyright and I can't publish it. So I present: The Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America.

If you're using the latest versions of Firefox, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, or Safari, you should see this document as a regular web document. But if you look at the source, you'll see that it's just a Tinderbox file, except with the following additional line (it should be the second line in your file):

<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="tinderbox.xsl"?>

To serve Tinderbox files on the Web in this way, you just need to:

  • add that line to your Tinderbox file
  • download tinderbox.xsl and tinderbox.css
  • copy them to the same folder as your Tinderbox file
  • upload everything to your webserver

Point your browser to the appropriate URL, and...

screenshot of XSLT transformation of Tinderbox file of Helen Keller's religious autobiography Light in My Darkness

I want to use the XSLT to recreate the hierarchy, but that will probably take another evening, as I'm still learning XSLT. If you have a way of doing it, please modify my XSL file and share it with me.

The Red-Tailed Hawk
Friday, 16 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

I first saw this bird's droppings three years ago, while wandering about and enjoying the marvelous trees on campus. Over the past few years, I have only seen this Red-Tailed Hawk on a handfull of occasions, always in the summer, probably on its migration path.

Ever since I first saw it, I knew I wanted a photo. Now, three years later, I have one.

This massive bird is beautiful in flight.

Saturday, 10 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

A layer of dust lay on the plastic packs of instant coffee which were flopped over the tray in our hotel room. I picked one up.

"I wonder how long this has been here," I noted with disdain. After all, I work as a marketer for a specialty coffee roaster. The owner would have smiled approvingly.

** * **

If every breath is a gift, what right do I have to disdain a gift of courtesy?

Thursday, 8 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

In a few hours, I leave for Tunkhannock, PA, where I will have the great pleasure and privilege this weekend to serve as processional trumpet player and best man for my oldest consistent friend.

Photo by Photo&co
Photo by Flickr's photo & co

And me? Although I have been increasingly aware of the marvel, blessing, and beauty of God's plan for families, I remain firmly in the world of lame excuses, selfish goals, little time, brotherly care, stubbornness, geeky ineptitude, responsibility, and confusion which places me firmly in the "bachelor" category for some time to come.

Although I may never enjoy another person in romantic love, I look forward to continuing to enjoy the deep richnesses and lonely offices of love, for whatever my state, I will always wish to find True love.

The Kite has Landed
Monday, 5 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

I'll post more info (and captions) in the coming days, but I just want to note that "Read for the Sky" was installed this evening.

I have posted the photos to flickr.

An Ominous Experience
Sunday, 4 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

I had just arrived back from a long bicycle ride. After taking off my helmet, I ran my fingers through my hair to remove any insects which might have been caught up in the excitement and come along for the ride.

A beetle, perhaps a centimetre long, fell on its back onto the white counter. Its tiny feet wriggled furiously, and I thought about Die Verwandlung.

I wondered at the urgency of the beetle's gesticulations, leaned my hand against the wall, and looked closer, since I was still light-headed after an intense ride. As my eyes slowly focused, I noticed that the beetle's legs weren't the only thing moving. I blinked.

The scene was quite grotesque. Three very small, reddish spiders were crawling over the body of the beetle, sharply prodding its outer armor with their poised appendages and vigorously applying their mandibles. The spiders were precise, like connoisseurs with coconut, yet they worked at a maddening speed.

Within seconds, the beetle's legs stiffened. The spiders (mites?) had pierced and neutralized a prey more than ten times their combined weight. I left them alone to their meal.

Making Websites in Tinderbox
Thursday, 1 Jun 2006 :-: ["Permalink"]

Someone recently emailed me with questions about making a website with Tinderbox and wondered out loud how I might be able to help. Here is what I wrote back:

** * **

I would be quite happy to provide advice on either a professional consulting basis or a more informal basis. As a paying client, you would have quicker access to me; I could also put time into training you or making templates for you. However, I'm also very content to give you some tips on an informal, unpaid basis. In fact, I'll include some suggestions right now.

( more...)