Looking Forward to 2012, But No More Post-A-Day

This past year, I wrote over 500 posts for dynamicsubspace.net. My primary goal by posting something every day was to write at least one post per day as part of #postaday2011. There were some that were substantial, but the majority were shorter re-postings with only a tiny bit of addition on my part. In 2012, I won’t be doing this.

It was an exhilarating run this past year generating that much content, but I cannot realistically sustain it another year at this point in my life. I am finishing my dissertation, I am looking for work, and I am an officer in an important organization. Also, I tried to post things that I thought were interesting or important, but the need to write something every day meant that I often did not have the time to write a fully fleshed out post. I would like my writings to be more developed than the majority of my posts were this past year.

The thing that I relearn again and again is that I have to prioritize. Dynamicsubspace.net is important to me, but there are more important things in my life right now. Therefore, I am going to return to my earlier schedule of writing a post roughly once per week. These might be intensive writings about a particular piece of news, a review of a book, or a digest of things that I have been up to.

So, there won’t be as many posts as there were in 2011, but I will try to make up for it in greater substance in each post.

Now, back to writing the dissertation and waiting for a call back.

Thank You to My Friends and Readers, Looking Back at Dynamicsubspace.net Site Stats for 2011

First, I would like to thank all of my readers. I appreciate your taking the time to see what I am thinking or working on, and I am also grateful for the comments that I have received from my readers. I enjoy writing on dynamicsubspace.net, and I am thankful that my friends, colleagues, and others find my writing worth spending a little of their time reading.

WordPress.com logs the visits of readers to my blog. I like to reflect on my writing and how it corresponds to these statistics. Below, I present a summary of the site’s statistics with some thoughts about the increase in visits that I received in 2011.

I was particularly interested in seeing how this year’s numbers compared to previous years, because I endeavoured to post more content this year than in any previous year as part of WordPress.com’s postaday2011 project.

My attempt at posting one new item each day has been a phenomenal success. I successfully posted one item each day save once. However, there were many days when I posted two or more items. By month in 2011, I posted 56 times in January, 42 times in February, 55 times in March, 47 times in April, 53 times in May, 42 times in June, 36 times in July, 42 times in August, 35 times in September, 43 times in October, 42 times in November, and finally, 39 times in December 2011. Each month, I consistently exceeded the number of days by the number of posts for a total of 532 posts in 2011. Since I began dynamicsubspace.net in 2007, I have written 1,239 posts.

In the chart above, you can see the number of unique page visits by month and year since I moved the blog from Apple’s mac.com to WordPress.com in March 2007. During the very first month of being hosted on wordpress.com in March 2007, I received 29 visits. So far, I have received 8,191 visits during December 2011. This is a tremendous increase in page views!

Considering the number of visits that I have received from year to year: dynamicsubspace.net received 3,772 visits in 2007, 27,882 in 2008, 32,458 in 2009, 48,245 in 2010, and approximately 76,121 in 2011. This translate to a 639% increase from 2007 to 2008, 16% increase from 2008 to 2009, 48% increase from 2009 to 2010, and 58% increase from 2010 to 2011. I believe that the increased content generation that I have done during 2011 has made the site more interesting to regular readers, and it has also created more content that non-regular readers find via search engines, social networks, and link sharing sites.

Further breaking down the visits to dynamicsubspace.net, the site has consistently increased its average visits per day. On average, the site received 14 daily visits in 2007, 76 visits in 2008, 89 visits in 2009, 132 visits in 2010, and 209 visits in 2011. This translates to a 443% increase in daily visits from 2007 to 2008, 17% from 2008 to 2009, 48% from 2009 to 2010, and finally, 58% from 2010 to 2011. These daily visit increases also, I believe, correspond with the increased content output that I have accomplished this past year.

One thing that I wonder though is how spammers influence these numbers. As you can see in the graph above, my spam filter has caught a substantial rise in attempted spam comments during 2011. It is because of this increased spam over the past two years that I began moderating all comments to dynamicsubspace.net. I would prefer to not moderate on the site, but I don’t want my noncommercial site to become a huge billboard that generates money for others (copiers of my content on other sites present a whole other problem). Also, Symantec reports here that email spam is the lowest in years, but I wonder if spammers are shifting their tactics to plaster the web instead of inboxes.

Here is to another successful year of dynamicsubspace.net. I have hinted at some lose ends that I will write more about in the near future. These will appear as I have the time to think about and write more about them.

The Digital Humanities, Writing Technologies, and Word Processors in the New York Times

Jennifer Schuessler looks at current trends in one area of the digital humanities–to study the way published writers use computer technology to create their works–in her New York Times article, “The Muses of Insert, Delete and Execute.” The take away bit about the field is:

The study of word processing may sound like a peculiarly tech-minded task for an English professor, but literary scholars have become increasingly interested in studying how the tools of writing both shape literature and are reflected in it, whether it’s the quill pen of the Romantic poets or the early round typewriter, known as a writing ball, that Friedrich Nietzsche used to compose some aphoristic fragments. (“Our writing tools are also working on our thoughts,” Nietzsche typed.)

via A Literary History of Word Processing – NYTimes.com.

It is good to see this kind of coverage of the profession in the Times.

Call for Submissions Emanations II: Second Sight

Carter Kaplan posted the call for the next Emanations collection subtitled “Second Sight.” You can read it below or on the official website here.

Carter put together a successful first collection that can be found on Amazon here. He and his contributors do very good work, and I am very glad that I can be a member of the Board of Editorial Advisors.

Read on, and send in your work:

Call for Submissions Emanations II

International Authors and the editors of Emanations are happy to announce a Call for Submissions:

Emanations: Second Sight

Emanations is an anthology series featuring fiction, poetry, essays, manifestos and reviews. The emphasis is on alternative narrative structures, new epistemologies, peculiar settings, esoteric themes, sharp breaks from reality, ecstatic revelations, and vivid and abundant hallucinations.

The editors are interested in recognizable genres—science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, local color, romance, realism, surrealism, postmodernism–but the idea is to make something new, and along these lines the illusion of something new can be just as important. If a story or poem makes someone say, “Yes, but what is it?” then it’s right for Emanations. Essays should be exuberant, daring, and free of pedantry. Length is a consideration in making publication decisions, but in keeping with the spirit of the project contributors should consider length to be “open.”

Our editorial vision is evolving. Contributors should see themselves as actively shaping the “vision” of Emanations.

Send files with brief cover note to Carter Kaplan:

IAsubmissions@hotmail.com

Deadline: April 2, 2012

Emanations is a not-for-profit literary project and contributors cannot be compensated at
this time. All proceeds from the sale of Emanations will support the efforts of International Authors to publish new voices from around the world.

Please post questions, suggestions and ideas. The project is a collaborative effort, and as we share ideas the “vision” transforms, evolves, and grows. When we write stories and poems we hope to bring to bear the entire battery of modern and postmodern literary devices. More simply: we like good, strong writing. Our essays are incisive, precise, keen, challenging, and driven by the writer’s desire to advance an intelligent audience’s understanding of important subjects.

The Fine Print:

1) Submit files as follows: double space, Microsoft Word, Times New Roman 12 pt. The book will be formatted by the editors before publication.

2) No simultaneous submissions (contributors should get fairly quick feedback anyway, especially if their submission meets our needs). Material that is obviously pulled from a file and has nothing to do with the goals of the anthology won’t get any feedback beyond the initial acknowledgement.

3) Word count/line count? See details above. We’re flexible, but contributors should be sensible when considering what they send in. A novella? Well, maybe, and so on…. Rules of thumb: a) Stories: very short to 20-30 pages. b) Poems: send in 5-10 pages. c) Essays: 5-10-30 pages.

4) Published as hard copy only—Emanations will be available on Amazon. Participants who make a substantial contribution of material, editorial work, or art will get a copy. It can take some time to get copies to contributors outside of North America. In the case of our first anthology, for example, it took forty-five days to get a copy to a contributor in to Nepal.

5) In the past, International Authors has made it possible for contributors to purchases copies “at cost” using coupon codes, and so on. International Authors is a consortium, and as such every contributor is a “member” or our community, and contributors are encouraged to help promote the anthology by sending review copies to newspapers, journals and relevant Web sites.

6) Copyright “reverts” to contributors upon publication. That is, after a piece appears in Emanations, the contributor can seek to publish their piece elsewhere. Contributors should understand that Emanations will remain for sale on Amazon indefinitely.

Published By International Authors

Board of Editorial Advisors

Ruud Antonius, Netherlands/Spain
Steve Aylett, UK
Michael Beard, US
Michael Butterworth, UK
Jason W. Ellis, US
Cedric Cester, Spain
Mike Chivers, UK
Mack Hassler, US
Horace Jeffery
Hodges, South Korea
Sushma Joshi, Nepal
Carter Kaplan, US
Devashish Makhija, India
Vitasta Raina, India
Elkie Riches, UK
Dario Rivarossa, Italy
Kai Robb, US
Stephen Sylvester, US

Getting Back on Track with a Writing Exercise

Y and I have been back in Kent for about six days and it feels like I am still struggling to catch up with work and responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is posting something daily to dynamic subspace.net as part of my pledge to create one post per day. While we were away in Europe, I spent one morning creating all of the video game related posts that appeared during our absence. When we had Internet access, I occasionally posted something to Facebook, but I never found the time to do more than that. However, I did do a lot of writing in my Muji notebook during the SFRA conference in Poland. In fact, I filled it from front to back with notes and thoughts during the conference. During the remainder of our trip, I did not have the time or energy to do much more writing than an occasional Facebook update. Taking trains or boats to go places and then walk around all day long left me with little physical much less psychic energy to do some writing. Why all this talk about writing? It is because dynamic subspace.net is primarily a place where I can practice writing while also adding some of my thoughts to the Internet’s ether. I have found it very important to my work as a scholar to write on a regular basis in order to build my skill at writing, which includes the skill of writing at length, on demand. My lack of regular writing during the past few weeks has taken its toll on my writing ability. It took me awhile to develop the wherewithal to write this particular post. However, I am finding it easier and easier as I progress down the page with my incessant typing on the keyboard. I am also wondering about the autocorrection of my writing from within Safari on Mac OS X Lion. I don’t know if this is something perpetrated by the OS or the WordPress backend for my website. I will have to look into this further.

Three Weeks Until SFRA 2011 in Poland

In three weeks, I am looking forward to seeing Pawel Frelik and my other SFRA friends in Poland for the annual Science Fiction Research Association conference. I am in the process of writing my paper now, which is an adaptation of a chapter of my dissertation on cognitive science, cognitive cultural studies, and science fiction. Good luck to the other attendees on your writing for the conference. See you soon!

Pulling an All-Nighter, and the Rain Falls Heavy

I’m pulling an all-nighter to catch up on work, because I have been under the weather this weekend. I am feeling mostly better now, because Y has been taking very good care of me.

I am glad that I am still awake and writing, because I can hear the rain fall in torrents outside. It’s too bad that I am tied to a chair typing or I would go out for a stroll.

College Writing I Syllabus, Theme: Mapping the Brain, Writing the Mind

I am afraid that this syllabus for College Writing I, Spring 2011, “Mapping the Brain, Writing the Mind” lacks the special effects of my previous syllabi, because I wrote it on a Windows XP computer while I was in Taiwan after my iPad died (details here). I didn’t want to lose my work again as I had done with the review of Tron: Legacy for the SFRA Review. Nevertheless, I believe that this class will be exciting and fun for my students, and more importantly, it will address the goals and requirements of the first tier writing class at Kent State University. You may download a copy of my syllabus here: ellis-jason-collegewritingi-spring2011.

Working by a Wood Fire

I am sitting by the fire writing about the human brain and science fiction.

There is something deeply satisfying about the warmth, smell, and flame of a wood fire.

I find the fire soothing and continually restorative while I am writing what would otherwise be stress inducing and draining.

Perhaps fire has worked its way into the human brain. Frances D. Burton and others would probably agree with that.

Patrick E. McLean’s “A Defense of Writing Longhand”

Folks who teach writing should read Patrick E. McLean’s essay, “A Defense of Writing Longhand” (on his official site here, and originally spotted on LifeHacker here). In his essay, he argues that he writes better longhand than computer typing, because longhand enforces a singular focus that we tend to lose when using a computer (I would say even with screen isolating typing software, because you may still think what is going on in cyberspace just beyond your imposed veil).

I tend to agree with McLean. I believe that I write better in longhand than I do by typing. After I have written something in longhand, I type it into my computer and in that process I begin editing. Putting ideas down in writing on the page is a different operation than styling and improving your words through editing. Computers are very well suited to editing, but I have to admit that my computer can be a multitasking nightmare for me. Even with all other applications closed, I still have reminders of backups, wireless networks, the time, and even with the screen blanked only for writing, I can still occasionally hear the click and whirr of my hard drive (even when I used to have a SSD, I could still hear the fans of the computer and a barely audible buzz from the hard drive compartment).

Of course, everyone’s approach to composition is different, but this is exactly the reason I ask my students to use computers and longhand for different assignments in my freshman and sophomore writing classes. This challenges students to use different styles of composition, and it allows students who may have one preference over another to show me what they are capable of in that particular medium.