Angela A Thomas

Entries Tagged as 'digital fiction'

My Digital Fiction Presentation for Futures in Literacy Conference

September 4th, 2007 · 4 Comments

Tags: Virtual Worlds · role-playing · facebook · academic life · fans · presentations · literacy · cyberculture · adolescents · children's literature · conference talks · digital fiction · cross-media storytelling · twitter · new literacies · visual literacy · new video · machinima · ARG · gaming · education · children · linguistics · photography · blogging · media · popular culture · Second Life · identity · fanfiction · avatars · arts · semiotics · publications · youtube · personal

Digital Fiction and a Question about Copyright

August 29th, 2007 · 4 Comments

Digital Fiction

I’m presenting next week at a conference AND giving a lecture to undergrad students about the same topic - Digital Fiction.  A bit of synchronocity for a change between teaching, research and conferencing with the profession. I wish that would happen more often!  I’ve taken a shot from one of my favourite examples of digital fiction for young people as my cover slide - the story of Inanimate Alice. I will be able to show a chapter of the story to the students but the conference venue has … well, let’s just say I had to actually write and request internet access with my reason for request so they could assess the need.  *coughs*

I’m beginning to worry more and more about copyright with my powerpoint slides though.  Until now I have figured that if I am using images for educational purposes in a conference presentation or a lecture it should not raise any objections, and nor will the original artists / publishers be likely to ever see that I’m doing it anyway.  But then if I want to share my slides on slideshare and link to a podcast so other people can see/hear, the liberal use of images probably does matter.  I don’t have time to write to a hundred different people for formal permission every time I create a presentation though.  So to share or not to share, that is the question!

Tags: digital fiction

My NMC Symposium on “Creativity in Second Life” Presentations Next Week

August 9th, 2007 · 4 Comments

Creative Identity Play

Next week the NMC is running an entire weeks symposium on “Creativity in Second Life” There are a number of strands: Machinima, Fashion, Sculpture and Modeling, Virtual Photography, and Teaching Environments, social / arts events, and lots of practical and interactive sessions. I am involved in three sessions, all at (sort of) Australian friendly times. Here are the details of these sessions (in Second Life time):

Fri Aug 17 7pm - Fri Aug 17 8pm

Teaching On the Second Life Stage: Playful Educational Strategies for Serious Purposes


Angela Thomas (aka Anya Ixchel), University of Sydney

Kim Flintoff (Kim Pasternak), Edith Cowan University

Theatrical spaces have historically been places used to teach, purge and shape culture. For over a decade, virtual reality has offered a new kind of theatrical space; now, with the rise of social networking spaces, many more people are using the potential of the web to perform, critique and comment on cultural issues. Second Life provides a new and exciting space where students can explore issues that are both personal and global in significance. Teaching strategies which incorporate dramatic and theatrical components are perfectly suited in the Second Life environment for engaging students in playful but meaningful reflection on such issues. This session will involve participants in role-playing, reflection and discussion. Participants will also be encouraged to brainstorm the possibilities of incorporating such strategies into their own educational programs.

Sat Aug 18 4pm - Sat Aug 18 5pm

No More Business Suits Please: Creative Identity Play in SL


Angela Thomas (aka Anya Ixchel), University of Sydney, Australia

Second Life offers a unique opportunity to refashion one’s self and to play with fictional identities. Yet many of us who work inside Second Life feel trapped in our offline identity roles and conform to traditional discourses of femininity, masculinity, appearance, beauty and fashion. Professionals wear business suits, educators cry out for more modest clothing, and artists wear funky coloured skins. In some contexts, people who resist these discourses are discriminated against. This session explores how we might be able to leverage one of the greatest affordances of Second Life—the avatar—for personal, community and professional agendas.



Sat Aug 18 5pm - Sat Aug 18 6pm

Panel Session: Reflections on Creativity in Second Life


Moderator: Alan Levine (aka CDB Barkley), The New Media Consortium
Lori Bell (aka Lorelei Junot), Alliance Library System
Jo Kay (aka Jokay Wollongong), Illawarra Institute TAFE, New South Wales
Hilary Mason (aka Ann Enigma), Johnson & Wales University
Troy McConaghy (aka Troy McLuhan), ISM Corporation
Nick Noakes (aka Corwin Carillon), Hong Kong University of Science & Technology
Beth Ritter-Guth (aka Desideria Stockton), Lehigh Carbon Community College
Angela Thomas (aka Anya Ixchel), University of Sydney


Tags: the body · role-playing · Virtual Worlds · cyberculture · NMC · new literacies · slcreativity · cross-media storytelling · digital fiction · presentations · ARG · beauty · education · gaming · Second Life · fashion · avatars · identity · semiotics · feminism

ARG Style marketing for “The Dark Knight”

July 29th, 2007 · 5 Comments

I thought the new Simpsons movie had done some great pre-release marketing but The Dark Knight (thanks Andy for the correct title!) tops all, complete with all sorts of teasers and even an ARG style game that occurred via

Tags: new literacies · digital fiction · cross-media storytelling · fans · cyberculture · gaming · ARG · media

We Are The Strange

July 1st, 2007 · 1 Comment


We Are The Strange is a new indie movie being featured at the Sundance Film Festival. Described as “Mosters Inc. meets The Nightmare Before Christmas inside of a retro Japanese video game”, the film is sure to be a cult hit because it is truly… strange… from the snippets I have seen and the teasers on youtube. Here’s one of them:

Here is a review from one of the gaming bloggers, Onder Skall, who saw the movie in Second Life. There’s also some excellent critique of the movie at this site as well.

Here’s the official website.

Here’s the blog.

Here’s the myspace.

Here’s a review in Wired.

What I think is interesting is the mixed media filming techniques, described in Wired as:

a combination of 8-bit animation (think early Nintendo), Brothers Quay-style filmmaking (creepy, expressionless dolls) and the kind of 3-D landscapes gamers inhabit. Strange combined stop-motion techniques (working with dolls, clay and paper cutouts) with 3-D computer animation. He built 15 virtual sets in Cinema 4-D, using Adobe’s After Effects.

I don’t know if I could watch 88 minutes of it but I think the film making is very cool.


Tags: new video · digital fiction · cyberculture · machinima · popular culture · youtube · media

Four Eyed Monsters - the full feature film on youtube

June 22nd, 2007 · No Comments

In February I blogged about the innovative movie Four Eyed Monsters.  Now the young producers have put the entire feature film on youtube, so here it is:

I’m so excited to be able to watch this after missing out on it when it was shown in Second Life.  I love it!

Tags: new literacies · digital fiction · cross-media storytelling · new video · cyberculture · popular culture · youtube · identity · media

Pleasure, Play, Participation and Promise: the audio to my conference talk

June 9th, 2007 · 5 Comments

Thanks to the wonderful Alan Levine, I now have the audio recording to go with my NMC talk, here:

Alan’s write-up of my talk is on the NMC blog here - thanks so much!

Tags: adolescents · the body · Virtual Worlds · academic life · cyberculture · NMC · visual literacy · digital fiction · nmc2007 · conference talks · new literacies · new video · literacy · presentations · gaming · education · linguistics · feminism · media · video games · Second Life · avatars · machinima · identity · semiotics · youtube · art

I’m Heading Off for June to Speak, Research, Speak, Plan more Research etc etc…

May 31st, 2007 · 1 Comment

The major speaking event I have is the featured session at the NMC Summer Conference. I was specifically invited to speak about a “bit of everything” related to my research, so here’s the slides that accompany the talk. I hope I can arrange an audio stream to support the slides for the near future.

And here is the line-up for our panel session at the ECAR conference:


Tags: cyberculture · academic life · literacy · presentations · machinima · Virtual Worlds · children's literature · cross-media storytelling · digital fiction · visual literacy · NMC · fanfiction · identity · linguistics · gaming · feminism · media · personal · education · popular culture · semiotics · youtube · publications · Second Life · music

Youth Online - almost there!

May 22nd, 2007 · 3 Comments


Yay! Here is my final book cover!!!

And here is one of the endorsements:


How lovely of Len Unsworth to write such kind words.

Tags: academic life · Virtual Worlds · cyberculture · literacy · avatars · adolescents · the body · SFL · digital fiction · new literacies · visual literacy · fanfiction · identity · linguistics · gaming · feminism · television · blogging · education · children · semiotics · publications · Second Life · video games · personal

Christy Dena on Multi-Platform Art versus Commodity Intertexts

May 22nd, 2007 · No Comments

I was fortunate enough to listen to Christy Dena today presenting a truly stimulating lecture on Multi-Platform Art versus Commodity Intertexts.  Her point of departure was a quote from Henry Jenkins about transmedia storytelling, which she interrogated by tracing the history of cross-media art forms, from pre-internet media such as Twin Peaks to new forms of 3D animation storytelling/art inside Second Life.  She discussed the relationship and tensions between what is transmedia art and what is marketing, and invoked her own theorisation of the features that genuinely characterise transmedia storytelling.  She raised some really provocative questions about perceptions of what is art, and how some forms are revalued as aesthetic only when somebody renames them as such.  I am guessing Christy will be publishing some of her work so I don’t want to pre-empt that and discuss her theories before she is ready, but you can read more on her blog.  It has certainly helped crystallise some of my own thinking.

Tags: new literacies · digital fiction · cross-media storytelling · Virtual Worlds · cyberculture · gaming · Second Life · arts · television

Machinima as Multimodal Digital Storytelling

April 20th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Finally, the management have enabled the embedding of slideshare slideshows!!  Yay!!!  I’ve been hanging out for this.  So here is *drum roll* the slideshow from my talk about machinima.  If you attended my keynote last year or came along to the seminar presentation earlier this week, then the slides will hopefully make sense :)  I never make slideshows that stand alone as I like to waffle on and ad lib a lot and hate having too much text on the slides.  So without the audio, you’ll just have to wait til the book chapter based on this talk is published.

Tags: visual literacy · new literacies · conference talks · digital fiction · Virtual Worlds · cyberculture · Second Life · semiotics · machinima · presentations · education

My June Plans

April 20th, 2007 · No Comments

I have quite a busy schedule planned for June, with talks, presentations, panel discussions, and research network meetings.

I will first be arriving in San Francisco where I’ll be meting up with colleagues to discuss some joint research project plans (and going to the Ghiradelli chocolate factory, let’s not forget!)

Then its a very busy week in Indianapolis at the New Media Consortium Summer Conference. At this conference I’ll be speaking about my favourite subject:

Pleasure, Play, Participation and Promise: Socio-emotional dimensions of digital culture which are transforming the shape of new media literacies.

Drawing on several inter-related ethnographic studies of multimodal virtual worlds, this session will examine the significance of affect on transformative moments in people’s online lives. These moments, whether filled with great joy and hilarity or laden with angst and sorrow, are all moments which crystallize experience, provide a privileged locus for the creation of knowledge, and have a significant impact upon identity. From younger adolescents who embrace online communities as part of their normal socialization, to the silver surfers, the older generation of converts to digital culture, I will explore the motivations and emotions of a range of individual cases in order to illuminate the key factors which are driving the changing dimensions of new media literacies.

I hope to see a lot of colleagues at the NMC conference that until now I’ve only met in Second Life or via online conferences. It is sure to be the highlight of my year :) Oh and I will get to hear Edward Castronova give a keynote! :)

Next is a panel discussion I’ll be on at the ECAR (EDUCAUSE Centre for applied research) Summer conference in Boulder, Colorado.

At this conference I’ll be speaking about teaching in Second Life. Here are the details:

This ain’t your daddy’s classroom, that’s for sure! Serious(ly fun) living and learning in the virtual world of Second Life

Is serious learning possible in a virtual world? The panelists in this session have each mounted significant and sustained efforts in the virtual world of Second Life™ to explore that question first hand across a variety of disciplines and settings. Collectively they have amassed years of experience in such settings, and clearly measurable successes. Join them as they discuss their projects, the challenges they’ve faced, the insights they have gained along the way, and their recommendations for institutions and faculty considering a virtual world presence.

Larry Johnson, aka Larry Pixel, The New Media Consortium
Phillip Long, aka Radar Radio, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sarah Robbins, aka Intelligirl, Ball State University
Angela Thomas, aka Anya Ixchel, University of Sydney

Then I head back to San Francisco for a little R&R for a few days before the long flight back to Sydney.  The minute I get back I’ll be heading up north to Armidale for a two day mega session with teachers, talking about machinima, digital fiction, and virtual worlds.  And then June will be over.  Phew!  If you are at any of these conferences do come and say hello!

Tags: NMC · new literacies · conference talks · digital fiction · Virtual Worlds · academic life · Second Life · identity · avatars · cyberculture · education

Proposed Book Cover Design

April 17th, 2007 · 6 Comments

Youth Online

This is the proposed book cover design for my book!!!  Yay!!!  Finally its *almost* here.  I am very excited now to be this close :)

Tags: Virtual Worlds · academic life · cyberculture · literacy · adolescents · the body · digital fiction · new literacies · visual literacy · secondlife · avatars · linguistics · feminism · art · blogging · gaming · education · fanfiction · identity · semiotics · personal

love. betrayal. sex. gossip. deception. and that’s just before third period.

March 31st, 2007 · No Comments


So says the teaser for Prom Queen, a new video fiction to start on April 2nd, a story told in several minute video installments over 80 days.  From the creators of Sam Has 7 Friends.

Tags: digital fiction

GooTube Conspiracy: Collaborative Video Storytelling

March 28th, 2007 · 2 Comments


The GooTube Conspiracy is a very funny collaborative video storytelling concept developed by popular YouTuber, Nalts. Here’s a great description from the info site:

YouTube Users Spoof Google’s Acquisition of YouTube With Fake Kidnapping Story

Online video creators are collaborating on the first viral video series that exposes a fictional “GooTube” Conspiracy. The series was initiated by one person, and has evolved into a collaborative storyline. YouTube video creators — who have never met — are participating in the plotline by posting new videos and advancing the plotline.

Philadelphia, PA — December 14, 2006

In an increasingly popular “underground” movement by active members of the YouTube video community, a collaborative plotline has emerged that depicts Google and YouTube conspiring for media domination. The story, “The GooTube Conspiracy,” began when one YouTube user posted a video claiming he was kidnapped by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. Other YouTube creators began submitting unsolicited videos that developed the conspiracy story. Most of the creators have never worked together or even met each other.

“We’re experimenting with a new narrative art form,” says Kevin Nalty, who plays “Nalts,” a character desperately fleeing from YouTube and Google. “I’ve been amazed by how instantly people get engrossed in the storyline and take it in new directions.”

This is very exciting - even if the story doesn’t grab you, the concept is just wonderful.

And here’s a trailer for Series 2:

Tags: digital fiction · cyberculture · youtube

Inanimate Alice

March 28th, 2007 · 2 Comments


Thanks to Jess, I discovered the amazing multimedia graphic novel, Inanimate Alice. Not only is it one of the best pieces of flash fiction I have ever seen, but it’s suitable for children!!!! Hallelujah!!!! The following review explains it better than I could:

‘Inanimate Alice’ is a series of unique kinetic experiences: part game, part novel, part movie that depicts the life of a girl growing up in the early years of the 21st century. Set across ten increasingly interactive episodes the story of games animator Alice is told using a combination of text, sound, music and images.

So far, 3 episodes are available, and they’re just breathtaking in aesthetics and design. Here are a couple more screenshots:



Go check it out!! It’s amazing!! The narrative is wonderful and did I mention that it is suitable for using in a classroom with kids!? Guess what’s going to be included in all of my post-grad courses and workshops with teachers from now on?

Tags: digital fiction

NMC Online Conference: Convergence of Video and Web Culture

March 23rd, 2007 · 2 Comments

Well, the NMC online conference is over and what an interesting experience it was to present in a new way. I’ve really enjoyed the conference talks and guest lectures I’ve given in Second Life, so I wasn’t certain how a java platform would go, but actually it worked great! Here’s a screenshot of me in action:


It’s very interesting really - using the Elluminate platform, which a very nice guy named Mike gave me training to use at midnight one night during the week (it’s all a blur now) - and the shot above shows its capabilities.

The powerpoint slides are shown in the main panel, as were the videos I showed, the audio streamed through simply by pressing the microphone button at the bottom left, and the list of live audience members at top left. Most interesting is the middle left panel of live discussion which scrolls through during the presentation - a side channel of conversation around the talk, and responses and questions along the way.

I really liked the idea of the side channel but when speaking it was a little difficult to follow. So I went back to the recording of the talk and watched the conversation later! It was great that they did a screen recording of each keynote because it meant I didn’t have to get up at 4am to attend! I listened to Cynthia Calongne give a wonderful talk about machinima, and Henry Jenkins speaking about participatory culture and YouTube. Here’s a shot from Henry’s talk:


It was wonderful! I also have to say that I found it very exciting to speak to a new and quite different audience than I usually do (Literacy / English / Linguistics). When I was first invited I felt rather intimidated at the thought of addressing the NMC audience because these people are all at the leading edge of new media studies (and therefore would have extremely high expectations and would know so much more than me!). But actually I think it was very rewarding and it made me spend twice as much time as usual in my thinking / reading / preparation for the presentation.

Tags: new video · NMC · new literacies · conference talks · digital fiction · Bakhtin · Virtual Worlds · youtube · identity · literacy · cyberculture · linguistics

Evocative Spaces and Aesthetic Grabs (My YouTube Talk)

March 21st, 2007 · No Comments

Click the image to go to the slides for my talk at the NMC’s Online Conference on the Convergence of Web Culture and Video

A complete list of all videos mentioned in the talk are included “under the fold”.


Tags: Bakhtin · Virtual Worlds · new video · new literacies · digital fiction · conference talks · academic life · cyberculture · arts · youtube · identity · fanfiction · literacy · machinima · linguistics

Sam Has 7 Friends: Video Podcast Fiction

March 15th, 2007 · No Comments

I really like this new piece of digital fiction - Sam Has 7 Friends. Season one happened at the end of 2006, and there are rumours of a season 2 later this year. The story behind it is fascinating:

“Sam Has 7 Friends” is completely self-financed by the four writer/directors and one producer. They are spending their own personal savings to produce the series and are distributing it for free.

There is no corporate money, sponsorship, or advertising revenue subsidizing the project. The post-roll click-thru advertisements you see at the end of each episode are brought to you by Revver and not SH7F. By clicking on the ad, SH7F and Revver receive literally pennies of revenue - but it is nothing compared to the financial commitment already made by the creators.

This series is the product of hundreds of favors, a budget of less than $50,000, and help from many talented and professional friends behind each episode. It is a show built from the ground up in a passionate attempt to bring a quality production to the internet.

I’ve started watching it and am enjoying it - its so much better than the other attempts I’ve seen at storytelling in tiny bits (i.e. some of the mobile phone fiction and web fiction I’ve looked at in the past). I am so amazed at how many video sharing sites and new forms of “internet tv” channels are just mushrooming all over the place. As I’ve been preparing for my conference presentation next week I have literally been overwhelmed by how much is out there, and every time I think I have something significant to say, I find a new site or a new channel which takes me into new directions of thought and theorising.

Tags: digital fiction · new video

YouTube Fiction: Users Contribute to Narrative through Comments

March 14th, 2007 · 2 Comments

More on this later, just had to upload so I didn’t forget!

Tags: digital fiction · new literacies · new video · youtube