'interactive fiction', a meaningless signifier?

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John Swanson

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Aug 15, 2004, 11:57:39 AM8/15/04
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In a way, a novel in book form is more 'interactive' than, say, Photopia. If
you're terminally ill, and determined not to miss out on the surprise
ending, you can at least read the last chapter first.

With the exception of unconditional reflexes, just about any human action
could be construed of as 'interactive'. 'Interactive fiction' could thus
denote anything from oral storytelling, through the Illiad (you can
'interactively' skip book 2, if you get bogged down at the ship catalogue)
to CYOA. Are we doing humanity a service by inventing a category that
entails almost everything and means almost nothing?

Or is this just the Cadresque way of saying "I write Fiction, not some
kiddie games."?

Matthew Russotto

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Aug 15, 2004, 12:22:56 PM8/15/04
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In article <TJLTc.617$d5....@newsb.telia.net>,

Troll-o-meter: 3


danie...@hotmail.com

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Aug 15, 2004, 1:01:36 PM8/15/04
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Would you classify the statement "Electrostatic forces are proportional
to the cube of the radius" to be Science Fiction? Why do you park in a
driveway and drive in a parkway? etc.

The point is, most terms do not precisely denote what their semantics
suggest, most terms (outside of pure mathematics and certain areas of
science) do not have precise definitions, and most terms evolve in
their meaning over time.

"Interactive Fiction" is a genre which could be roughly defined by
things which are more similar to the old Infocom adventures than they
are to anything else. As for Photopia, part of the point is that you
really don't realize how little control you have over the events until
the end of the story. (And you *do* have some control over the plot --
you can cause the man at the beginning of the story to survive, you can
choose whether Alley's father or the exchange student saves her from
drowning, etc.)

David Kinder

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Aug 15, 2004, 2:25:09 PM8/15/04
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> Would you classify the statement "Electrostatic forces are proportional
> to the cube of the radius" to be Science Fiction? Why do you park in a
> driveway and drive in a parkway? etc.

Don't bother getting drawn in: the poster is a well known and not very
good troll.

David


John Swanson

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Aug 15, 2004, 2:35:22 PM8/15/04
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<danie...@hotmail.com>

> Would you classify the statement "Electrostatic forces are proportional
> to the cube of the radius" to be Science Fiction? Why do you park in a
> driveway and drive in a parkway? etc.

Why isn't there any ham in hamburgers? The suggestion that parkways should
be used for parking is a folk etymology that has little to do with
semantical shifting.

> The point is, most terms do not precisely denote what their semantics
> suggest, most terms (outside of pure mathematics and certain areas of
> science) do not have precise definitions, and most terms evolve in
> their meaning over time.

For a word or expression to be meaningful, it must have semantic boundaries.
'Interactive' has almost none. The problem with "Interactive Fiction" is not
that it denotes an altogether wrong category, but that it denotes so much
that it becomes meaningless. Yes, somewhere in that nebula of "Interactive
Fiction" there is this thing we used to call text adventures, but it's just
a particle of interstellar dust surrounded by things that aren't even
remotely related to it.

> "Interactive Fiction" is a genre which could be roughly defined by
> things which are more similar to the old Infocom adventures than they
> are to anything else.

Even in the very narrow sense you are staking out, "Interactive Fiction" is
a medium, not a genre. But yes, you're right, the people who play text
adventures today know what "Interactive Fiction" means. It's like an in-joke
within the community. We all know the term doesn't mean what is says. It
reminds me of my aunt calling her summer cottage Taj Mahal. Outsiders would
either be clueless, or even worse, take us for pompous cretins.


FB

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Aug 15, 2004, 6:39:38 PM8/15/04
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"John Swanson"

> With the exception of unconditional reflexes, just about any human action
> could be construed of as 'interactive'. 'Interactive fiction' could thus
> denote anything from oral storytelling, through the Illiad (you can
> 'interactively' skip book 2, if you get bogged down at the ship catalogue)
> to CYOA. Are we doing humanity a service by inventing a category that
> entails almost everything and means almost nothing?

"X is interactive" means that you can "converse" with X. Swallowing saliva
or skipping a chapter in a book *is not* interactive. Solving a puzzle by
changing the state of a world model *is* interactive. The player is
"conversing" with the world model. This should be fairly straightforward.

Hmmm... This makes me wonder if the the second part of "Interactive Fiction"
isn't trickier than the first. If I were to write a documentary in Inform
titled "The Last Day in Adolf Hitler's Life", would that still be IF? There
would be a world model (the bunker) and NPC:s (his secretaries and liaison
officers) that you could examine and interact with, but the player would
have no means of changing the chain of events. A bit like Photopia, I guess,
but based on real events and without any fictional elements.

S

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Aug 15, 2004, 11:12:39 PM8/15/04
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"FB" <anna...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> > With the exception of unconditional reflexes, just about any human
action
> > could be construed of as 'interactive'.
>

> "X is interactive" means that you can "converse" with X. Swallowing saliva
> or skipping a chapter in a book *is not* interactive.

Exactly. You don't call a painting "interactive art" -- you can choose
to look at it from the left, closing one eye, etc... but all these things
happen outside the work. They are ACTIONS, not INTERaction.


> If I were to write a documentary in Inform titled "The Last Day in
> Adolf Hitler's Life", would that still be IF?

Yes. Unless the player recreates history precisely, they have generated
a fiction. Even if they choose to recreate history precisely, I would still
call the work-as-a-whole fiction -- the same way a historical-fiction novel
contains elements of fact, but is called fiction. The presence of any
non-fact makes the work-as-a-whole fictional.

S.

David Doty

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Aug 15, 2004, 11:44:42 PM8/15/04
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"FB" <anna...@earthlink.net> wrote in
news:KCRTc.100948$dP1.3...@newsc.telia.net:

> Hmmm... This makes me wonder if the the second part of "Interactive
> Fiction" isn't trickier than the first. If I were to write a
> documentary in Inform titled "The Last Day in Adolf Hitler's Life",
> would that still be IF?

A problem "graphic novels" have been struggling with for years. Some
people come up with alternate nomenclature, but the general consensus seems
to be to accept that "novel" isn't going to fit every work perfectly, but
the phrase "graphic novel" refers to a certain combination of format and
content, even if it actually contains nonfiction, short stories, poetry, or
whatever.

Of course, in your example, assuming that it was interactive, and not just
an abuse, there would be branching alternatives that weren't accurate, and
thus would be fiction.

Huh. That might be interesting. Putting people in a situation in which
the object is to play in a way that makes it historically accurate. It
would need to be something common enough that they would have a vague idea
what the outcome should be, but that they shouldn't be able to know the
correct action in each situation from memory.

Maybe something like the Cuban Missle Crisis, in which you have to navigate
the stormy political waters. The optimal path is essentially a work of
non-fiction. There might be alternate endings that are either better or
(much) worse than the actual outcome, but only one path with accurate steps
leading to an accurate outcome.

Well, I'd be interested. Stop looking at me like that.

Dave Doty

John Swanson

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Aug 16, 2004, 4:49:41 AM8/16/04
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"S" <do...@spam.com>

> "FB" <anna...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
> > > With the exception of unconditional reflexes, just about any human
> action
> > > could be construed of as 'interactive'.
> >
> > "X is interactive" means that you can "converse" with X. Swallowing
saliva
> > or skipping a chapter in a book *is not* interactive.
>
> Exactly. You don't call a painting "interactive art" -- you can
choose
> to look at it from the left, closing one eye, etc... but all these things
> happen outside the work. They are ACTIONS, not INTERaction.

Turning the pages or skipping a chapter is part of a book's interface, just
as the command line is part of a text adventure's interface. If reading a
description of Achilles on a page is an action, but reading the same
description on a screen after having typed X ACHILLES is an interaction,
then the distinction between the two becomes trivial.

The angle at wich you look at a sculpture is very much a thing that happens
"inside the work"; it's an interaction. The reason why sculpture isn't
called "interactive art" is because the plastic arts crowd is more
language-savvy and less insecure than the "IF" crowd.

> > If I were to write a documentary in Inform titled "The Last Day in
> > Adolf Hitler's Life", would that still be IF?

I would quite simply call it a text adventure.


FB

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Aug 16, 2004, 6:54:33 AM8/16/04
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"John Swanson" <same...@com.de>

> "S" <do...@spam.com>
>
> > "FB" <anna...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> >
> > > > With the exception of unconditional reflexes, just about any human
> > action
> > > > could be construed of as 'interactive'.
> > >
> > > "X is interactive" means that you can "converse" with X. Swallowing
> saliva
> > > or skipping a chapter in a book *is not* interactive.
> >
> > Exactly. You don't call a painting "interactive art" -- you can
> choose
> > to look at it from the left, closing one eye, etc... but all these
things
> > happen outside the work. They are ACTIONS, not INTERaction.
>
> Turning the pages or skipping a chapter is part of a book's interface,
just
> as the command line is part of a text adventure's interface. If reading a
> description of Achilles on a page is an action, but reading the same
> description on a screen after having typed X ACHILLES is an interaction,
> then the distinction between the two becomes trivial.

That's like saying that you're "interfacing" with a text adventure when you
switch off the monitor during play. Turning pages and skipping chapters is
part of the interface of the book medium, not the novel. The novel doesn't
have anything that could be meaningfully called an "interface".

When you leave a bookmark in a book, you're interfacing with the book
medium, not the novel. When you type SAVE in Slouching Towards Bedlam,
you're interfacing with the game, not the medium.

> The angle at wich you look at a sculpture is very much a thing that
happens
> "inside the work"; it's an interaction. The reason why sculpture isn't
> called "interactive art" is because the plastic arts crowd is more
> language-savvy and less insecure than the "IF" crowd.

Why do I get the impression that your are trolling?

> > > If I were to write a documentary in Inform titled "The Last Day in
> > > Adolf Hitler's Life", would that still be IF?
>
> I would quite simply call it a text adventure.

Doesn't "adventure" imply "fiction"?


Andy MacDowell

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Aug 16, 2004, 9:27:30 AM8/16/04
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"David Kinder" <d.ki...@btinternetspamnothankyou.com> wrote in message news:<cfo9q5$9ck$1...@hercules.btinternet.com>...


Why do I get the feeling that this is a somewhat touchy subject?

Boluc Papuccuoglu

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Aug 16, 2004, 10:46:54 AM8/16/04
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Should be 10; since it's Jacek.

Andrew Plotkin

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Aug 16, 2004, 12:22:35 PM8/16/04
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Here, Andy MacDowell <and...@samerica.com> wrote:
> "David Kinder" <d.ki...@btinternetspamnothankyou.com> wrote in
> message news:<cfo9q5$9ck$1...@hercules.btinternet.com>...
> > [troll wrote:]

> >
> > > Would you classify the statement "Electrostatic forces are proportional
> > > to the cube of the radius" to be Science Fiction? Why do you park in a
> > > driveway and drive in a parkway? etc.
> >
> > Don't bother getting drawn in: the poster is a well known and not very
> > good troll.
>
> Why do I get the feeling that this is a somewhat touchy subject?

The definition of "interactive fiction" is not a touchy subject -- as
long as you realize that there are many definitions. I've expounded
on my own in the past. I don't expect everyone else to start using it.

Calling it "a meaningless signifier" is trolling, which is typical of
this particular poster.

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

Adam Thornton

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Aug 16, 2004, 12:12:37 PM8/16/04
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In article <Xns9546E75C...@38.119.71.33>,

David Doty <dave...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Maybe something like the Cuban Missle Crisis, in which you have to navigate
>the stormy political waters. The optimal path is essentially a work of
>non-fiction. There might be alternate endings that are either better or
>(much) worse than the actual outcome, but only one path with accurate steps
>leading to an accurate outcome.
>
>Well, I'd be interested. Stop looking at me like that.

Er, "Jigsaw" ?

Adam

Jacek Pudlo

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Aug 16, 2004, 12:48:54 PM8/16/04
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"Andy MacDowell" <and...@samerica.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:225f2c21.04081...@posting.google.com...

Let me tell you something about "touchy". Two years ago I made a rather
innocuous parody of Galatea claiming to be a New England industrialist
intent on making an IF-based action figure. Emily Short responded by posting
a 5k message "demasking" me, listing my "real" name and phone number.
According to Ms. Short I live on a half-deserted island in the Baltic Sea
where I indulge in child molestation and "complex deceitful behaviour". I
suppose that in her impressionable mind I became something of a Dr. Moreau
figure. Had it stopped here, I would have concluded that she's simply a very
self-conscious person, insecure in her writing and deeply stung by parody.

A week or two later the parody post disappeared from Google's archive.
Hacking Google's archive is something of a technical feat, not to mention
that it's illegal.

Before she made her name in IF, with her talking statues and moon ministers
with funny hats, she was already a household name in the X-Files fanfic
community, writing cheap erotic stories with titles like "Scully gives
way..." You might want to check them up, before they disappear mysteriously.

David Doty

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Aug 16, 2004, 12:55:03 PM8/16/04
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ad...@fsf.net (Adam Thornton) wrote in news:cfqmdl$pij$1...@news.fsf.net:

> Er, "Jigsaw" ?
>

Wasn't aware the nonfictional version of events involved a time traveller
going around setting things to rights. :)

Dave Doty

Adam Thornton

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Aug 16, 2004, 12:55:52 PM8/16/04
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In article <Xns95477937...@38.119.71.33>,

Well, you wouldn't've been, now would you?

Adam

Default User

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Aug 16, 2004, 2:50:56 PM8/16/04
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Jacek Pudlo wrote:

> A week or two later the parody post disappeared from Google's archive.
> Hacking Google's archive is something of a technical feat, not to mention
> that it's illegal.


I'm loathe to get involved with this troll thread, but I'll point out
that one need not "hack" google for posts to disappear. Apparently they
are quite willing to delete individual posts and even all posts
belonging to an author when complaints come in.


Now back to your regularly scheduled paranoid screed.


Brian Rodenborn

Dan Shiovitz

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Aug 16, 2004, 3:18:58 PM8/16/04
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In article <Wz5Uc.696$d5....@newsb.telia.net>,
Jacek Pudlo <pu...@pudlo.net> wrote:

(who is Jacek)

>
>"Andy MacDowell" <and...@samerica.com> skrev i meddelandet

(who is also Jacek)

>news:225f2c21.04081...@posting.google.com...
>> "David Kinder" <d.ki...@btinternetspamnothankyou.com> wrote in message
>news:<cfo9q5$9ck$1...@hercules.btinternet.com>...

(in reply to someone who is also Jacek)

[..]


>> Why do I get the feeling that this is a somewhat touchy subject?
>
>Let me tell you something about "touchy". Two years ago I made a rather

I think you're already telling us something about "touchy", Jacek.
Also about "no longer able to get attention via trolling,"
"forced to make up sock-puppets to reply to himself" and "trying to
pretend someone is being annoyed by his efforts."

I dunno, I'm still perplexed why you spend the energy doing this. If
you just want attention, post something to alt.support.childfree about
how selfish it is to not want kids. If you're interested in IF and
trying to make a difference to what sort of material is produced in
the community, there is plenty of work to be done writing the sort of
games you're interested in, or reviewing the kind of games you like to
make sure they get the attention they deserve. If you're envious of
the respect people have accrued, hmm, I don't know of an easy way
to get it, but a good start would be to do procedure two for a while
and eventually there'll be newbies who say "that guy's been doing
that as long as I've been around, he's so awesome".

I guess the final alternative is that you just want to troll but don't
think you can compete with more-experienced trolls on bigger
newsgroups, but considering how much time you spend railing against
this very same attitude from IF authors, it would be kind of
strange for you to adopt it yourself, hmm?

--
Dan Shiovitz :: d...@cs.wisc.edu :: http://www.drizzle.com/~dans
"He settled down to dictate a letter to the Consolidated Nailfile and
Eyebrow Tweezer Corporation of Scranton, Pa., which would make them
realize that life is stern and earnest and Nailfile and Eyebrow Tweezer
Corporations are not put in this world for pleasure alone." -PGW

David Kinder

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Aug 16, 2004, 4:11:24 PM8/16/04
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> Let me tell you something about "touchy".

You have my sympathy.

Oh no, wait: You don't. Let's get this clear: several years of silly
posts unconvincingly pretending to be a range of posters, and that's
the best you can come up with as justification?

David


S

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Aug 16, 2004, 5:21:26 PM8/16/04
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"FB" <anna...@earthlink.net> wrote:

> That's like saying that you're "interfacing" with a text adventure when
> you switch off the monitor during play. Turning pages and skipping
> chapters is part of the interface of the book medium, not the novel.
> The novel doesn't have anything that could be meaningfully called
> an "interface".

Exactly! Well-put.

S.

S

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Aug 16, 2004, 5:24:15 PM8/16/04
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"Jacek Pudlo" <pu...@pudlo.net> wrote:

> [blah blah blah]


> Had it stopped here, I would have concluded that she's simply a very
> self-conscious person, insecure in her writing and deeply stung by
> parody.

Please allow me to sum you up in 7 words:

CONSTANTLY PROJECTS HIS OWN INSECURITY ONTO OTHERS.

Have a nice day.

S.

mike...@hotmail.com

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Aug 16, 2004, 5:52:53 PM8/16/04
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"Dan Shiovitz"

> I think you're already telling us something about "touchy", Jacek.
> Also about "no longer able to get attention via trolling,"
> "forced to make up sock-puppets to reply to himself" and "trying to
> pretend someone is being annoyed by his efforts."
>
> I dunno, I'm still perplexed why you spend the energy doing this.

To be honest, I rather like it here. It's warm and cozy. Adam Thornton
getting drunk and blaming everyone except himself for his lack of academic
success. Magnus Olsson threatening to leave and never to return, only to
return shortly after, three times in row. Andrew Plotkin and his
self-defeating crusade against crossposting, making him one of the major
crossposters of r*if. Emily Short getting so stung by a parody that she
invents this persona of a perverted madman living on a half-deserted island
in the Baltic Sea (Emily, in your fantasy, do I live in a castle with a
hunchbacked servant? Are Scully and Mulder there? Really, I'd love to
know!). Adam Cadre expounding on why the world would be a better place if we
were to replace BC with BCE. Even you, Dan, being so understanding,
addressing me with my christian name, as if you were admonishing a naughty
child. It's all one big dysfunctional family.

I rather enjoy being the clown who has the courage to say what others only
dare to think.

Jacek Pudlo, John Swanson, FB

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Aug 16, 2004, 5:59:59 PM8/16/04
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"S" <do...@spam.com> skrev i meddelandet
news:9q9Uc.9786$Tr.4...@news20.bellglobal.com...

Thank you.

I would also like to thank all of you who participated in this thread,
including my personas: John Swanson, FB, Jacek Pudlo and
mike...@hotmail.com, who stumbled in for no apparent reason.

Adam Thornton

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Aug 16, 2004, 5:58:38 PM8/16/04
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In article <V0aUc.101068$dP1.3...@newsc.telia.net>,

<mike...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Adam Thornton
>getting drunk and blaming everyone except himself for his lack of academic
>success.

Dearest Jacek, or Mike, or whichever persona you're being today,

I think you might be thinking of someone else. The getting drunk part
is correct (I'm happy to report that I survived the two weeks of drought
at the start of the Atkins diet[*] and I am now able to have hard liquor
with my red meat), but the second part is not me. I think I've pretty
much said that my lack of academic success was because I stopped liking
the academic work I was doing, and both the pay and the fun level were
much higher in IT. If there's blame to be assigned, it's all mine: my
advisor and program were really about as good (and good to me) as it
gets in the world of graduate school.

No, *I'm* the one you claimed equated Islam with gang rape. Does that
help you remember whom you actually meant to attack?

>Emily Short getting so stung by a parody that she
>invents this persona of a perverted madman living on a half-deserted island
>in the Baltic Sea

You know, you still haven't actually *denied* that you're a pedophile
huddling on a windswept rock in the Baltic. And to forestall your
predictable rejoinder, yes, I *do* deny that I equate Islam with gang
rape.

HTH! HAND!

Adam

[*] Hint: "fat carnivore" is likely to be accurate, if you're looking
for some truthful invective.

Jacek Pudlo

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Aug 16, 2004, 6:55:38 PM8/16/04
to
"Adam Thornton"

> Dearest Jacek, or Mike, or whichever persona you're being today,
>
> I think you might be thinking of someone else. The getting drunk part
> is correct (I'm happy to report that I survived the two weeks of drought
> at the start of the Atkins diet[*] and I am now able to have hard liquor
> with my red meat), but the second part is not me. I think I've pretty
> much said that my lack of academic success was because I stopped liking
> the academic work I was doing, and both the pay and the fun level were
> much higher in IT. If there's blame to be assigned, it's all mine: my
> advisor and program were really about as good (and good to me) as it
> gets in the world of graduate school.

Adam, there is no need to defend yourself. You just haven't made the leap
from IF to adult life yet. You're a late bloomer.

> No, *I'm* the one you claimed equated Islam with gang rape. Does that
> help you remember whom you actually meant to attack?
>
> >Emily Short getting so stung by a parody that she
> >invents this persona of a perverted madman living on a half-deserted
island
> >in the Baltic Sea
>
> You know, you still haven't actually *denied* that you're a pedophile
> huddling on a windswept rock in the Baltic. And to forestall your
> predictable rejoinder, yes, I *do* deny that I equate Islam with gang
> rape.

I am a Moral Man. My lasciviousness extends to grazing animals only, such as
goats or sheep, never to bipeds.


Adam Thornton

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Aug 16, 2004, 7:01:25 PM8/16/04
to
In article <KXaUc.101072$dP1.3...@newsc.telia.net>,

Jacek Pudlo <ja...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>I am a Moral Man. My lasciviousness extends to grazing animals only, such as
>goats or sheep, never to bipeds.

Oooh. Then I've got a game I think you'll *really* enjoy. It's called
"Stiffy Makane: the Undiscovered Country," and it's got a *moose* in it.

Adam

P.S. Well, OK, it's a *bipedal*, anthropomorphic moose. But still a
moose. I think you'll find it very erotic.


Jacek Pudlo

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Aug 16, 2004, 7:32:19 PM8/16/04
to
"Default User"

Default, I don't think that you fully appreciate the gravity of the
situation. Not only did Ms. Short's hacking/hysterical campaign of
complaints/whatever remove the lets-make-a-Galatea-action-figure-post from
the archive, but also all other posts that were even remotely insane. How
will my future biographers deal with this? Bear in mind that my semi-sane
posts from this period have remained intact, creating the illusion of a
polite, almost likeable person.

Dan Shiovitz

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Aug 16, 2004, 10:04:36 PM8/16/04
to
In article <V0aUc.101068$dP1.3...@newsc.telia.net>,
<mike...@hotmail.com> wrote:

(ie, Jacek)

>"Dan Shiovitz"
[..]


>> I dunno, I'm still perplexed why you spend the energy doing this.
>

[..]


>were to replace BC with BCE. Even you, Dan, being so understanding,
>addressing me with my christian name, as if you were admonishing a naughty

I don't know why you say "as if", but yeah.

>child. It's all one big dysfunctional family.
>I rather enjoy being the clown who has the courage to say what others only
>dare to think.

Right, I know this is the persona you try and put on, I'm just saying
it seems like a waste of energy to me, since you aren't really any
good at it. I guess in some sense it takes courage to make up stuff
and then say it with a straight face, but it's not as though you've
ever changed anyone's opinions, or amused anyone, or united the
community in opposition, or really accomplished anything at all. So I
get back to my original puzzlement -- it seems like there must be
something you'd rather be doing with your time.

Schattenjager

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Aug 17, 2004, 2:54:09 AM8/17/04
to
> Adam, there is no need to defend yourself. You just haven't made the leap
> from IF to adult life yet. You're a late bloomer.

Ok, I realize that the whole "discussion of IF", per se, is finished,
and as a non-usual poster I'm probably a bit east of everything and
may even have mis-read the previous sentences...

...but aren't they BIG evidence of utter lack of respect for IF (or
however you want to call it), by making it "kid's stuff", which is
what everyone has been trying to fight (and which graphical
adventures, in which I'm more comfortable, to tell the truth, only
really achieved in Gabriel Knight) for a long time?

If I have misread the sentences, please forgive me. If not, I can only
say that YOU, whoever you are, have no right to post here if that's
your view of things.

(Ok, so everyone has a right to post everything, including how they
disagree on something, but to question the origins, whatever they may
be, of the name of the whole genre this group discusses, and insult
almost everyone along the way... I'm not familiar with the term
"troll", in this context, but it certainly seems fitting.)

Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Aug 17, 2004, 7:04:23 AM8/17/04
to
"Dan Shiovitz"

> Right, I know this is the persona you try and put on, I'm just saying
> it seems like a waste of energy to me, since you aren't really any
> good at it. I guess in some sense it takes courage to make up stuff
> and then say it with a straight face, but it's not as though you've
> ever changed anyone's opinions, or amused anyone, or united the
> community in opposition, or really accomplished anything at all. So I
> get back to my original puzzlement -- it seems like there must be
> something you'd rather be doing with your time.

Dan, I'm not here to amuse you (plural). You (plural) are here to amuse me.

Sometimes, your reactions are beyond my wildest expectations. I mean,
imagine what a litany of hysterical complaints Emily must have flooded
Google with, just so they would remove a harmless little skit from the
archive. How much trolling does it take, do you think, to make Magnus Olsson
enter his Bugfucker Mode? Isn't Andrew Plotkin cute, in a gimpish sort of
way, when he enters a troll thread only to inform us that the definition of
IF is a subject he has "expounded on his own in the past", but that he
"doesn't expect everyone else to start using it"? How gracious and modest he
is! How much work did I have to put in to make Adam Thornton wish I'd slerp
shit and die? I hardly know the guy, and he wants me dead.

So don't talk to me about "bigger newsgroups", Dan. This is it. There is no
place on Usenet where I could find an audience as grateful as you people.

David Whyld

unread,
Aug 17, 2004, 1:41:14 PM8/17/04
to
Why don't people just ignore this idiot? He's only doing it for the
attention after all.

"Jacek Pudlo, John Swanson, FB" <ja...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:z7aUc.101069$dP1.3...@newsc.telia.net...

Default User

unread,
Aug 17, 2004, 1:54:44 PM8/17/04
to
Jacek Pudlo wrote:

> Default, I don't think that you fully appreciate the gravity of the
> situation.

Oh I think I do.

> Not only did Ms. Short's hacking/hysterical campaign of
> complaints/whatever remove the lets-make-a-Galatea-action-figure-post from
> the archive, but also all other posts that were even remotely insane.

Again, I doubt there was any hacking involved. More likely complaints to
google resulted in a removal.

> How will my future biographers deal with this?

Why would anyone care?

S

unread,
Aug 17, 2004, 11:37:07 PM8/17/04
to

"David Whyld" <m...@dwhyld.plus.com> wrote:

> Why don't people just ignore this idiot? He's only doing it for the
> attention after all.

Point taken.

S.

Adam Thornton

unread,
Aug 18, 2004, 12:05:09 AM8/18/04
to
In article <XClUc.101087$dP1.3...@newsc.telia.net>,

Jacek Pudlo <ja...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>How much work did I have to put in to make Adam Thornton wish I'd slerp
>shit and die? I hardly know the guy, and he wants me dead.

Well, that's true, but, to be honest, I *do* feel that way about a lot
of people.

Adam

Arthur Chu

unread,
Aug 19, 2004, 4:14:40 AM8/19/04
to
"John Swanson" <same...@com.de> wrote in message news:<K1OTc.621$d5....@newsb.telia.net>...
> <danie...@hotmail.com>

> For a word or expression to be meaningful, it must have semantic boundaries.
> 'Interactive' has almost none. The problem with "Interactive Fiction" is not
> that it denotes an altogether wrong category, but that it denotes so much
> that it becomes meaningless. Yes, somewhere in that nebula of "Interactive
> Fiction" there is this thing we used to call text adventures, but it's just
> a particle of interstellar dust surrounded by things that aren't even
> remotely related to it.

Erm. So? The primary meaning of "interactive" might be, broadly
interpreted, something that applies to everything -- most broad,
interesting adjectives have that quality. Often literary genres are so
hard to describe succinctly that we just use convenient words for
their secondary, connotative meanings, not their primary denotations.
What on Earth distinguishes a "fantasy" from any other kind of
non-factual thinking and storytelling? Wasn't Charles Dickens
fantasizing when he wrote the florid descriptions in A Tale of Two
Cities? And since more or less everything that happens is a part of
"history", what defines "historical fiction"? Why is a book that takes
place in 1995 less historical than a book that takes place in 1005, or
more historical than a book taking place in 2004, or in 2995?
(Everything before 2004 in the backstory is the "history", everything
after it the "fiction".) Where's the dividing line between historical
fiction and alternate history? A book about America losing WWII may
diverge from recorded historical fact, but it nonetheless uses
recorded history, with just some added fiction; most historical
fiction is about fictional characters who diverge from the historical
record anyway...

What's a romance? Must anything called that involve an emotional
sexual relationship, and does every book that has one of those count
as a romance? What is horror? Is any book that generates a negative
emotional reaction horror? What is mystery? Is any book where all the
facts are unknown to the reader or most of the characters and must be
discovered a mystery? And so on.

"Interactive" does have a useful, subjective meaning. Everyone I've
tried to explain it to instantly knows that interactive fiction means
something different from ordinary fiction, something *more*
interactive -- a novel that doesn't just respond to the rate at which
you read it but whose actual written text changes in response to your
actions, pretty much. You can interpret that different ways --
everything from CYOA books to Mad Libs to a storytelling circle to a
pen-and-paper RPG to an Infocom text adventure could be interactive
fiction (just like there are a million alternate ways to say what
exactly "fantasy" or "science fiction" or "mystery" or "romance"
means), but it's definitely a term that means something like that and
does not include all fiction.

> Even in the very narrow sense you are staking out, "Interactive Fiction" is
> a medium, not a genre. But yes, you're right, the people who play text
> adventures today know what "Interactive Fiction" means. It's like an in-joke
> within the community. We all know the term doesn't mean what is says. It
> reminds me of my aunt calling her summer cottage Taj Mahal. Outsiders would
> either be clueless, or even worse, take us for pompous cretins.

*shrug* It's more like your aunt calling her cottage "the family
summer retreat"; outsiders might not be clear on exactly what it
means, and *might* find it pretentious if they happened to already
know of it by some prosier name (and protest that "the family summer
retreat" is really "the old gray cottage"), but I don't see people
being reduced to helplessness or irate disapproval at the term. I've
had plenty of friends whom I've introduced to IF (most of whom haven't
been that interested, a few who have) and no one has ever really had
trouble with the *name*. Going on about "Why isn't this interactive
too, then?" or "I can think of a better name than that" is something
only Internet trolls do.

Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Aug 19, 2004, 7:34:59 AM8/19/04
to
"Arthur Chu"
> "John Swanson"

> > <danie...@hotmail.com>
>
> > For a word or expression to be meaningful, it must have semantic
boundaries.
> > 'Interactive' has almost none. The problem with "Interactive Fiction" is
not
> > that it denotes an altogether wrong category, but that it denotes so
much
> > that it becomes meaningless. Yes, somewhere in that nebula of
"Interactive
> > Fiction" there is this thing we used to call text adventures, but it's
just
> > a particle of interstellar dust surrounded by things that aren't even
> > remotely related to it.
>
> Erm. So? The primary meaning of "interactive" might be, broadly
> interpreted, something that applies to everything -- most broad,
> interesting adjectives have that quality.

'Interactive' is as "broad and interesting" as 'holistic'. It's one of those
words that mean almost nothing, which makes them so attractive to
politicians, salespersons and PR-people. "I promise you, that I will take a
holistic approach to economic policy!" What does that mean? These words are
meaningless, and therefore non-committal. "These vacuum cleaners have
interactive interfaces, you can push them around while cleaning!" As opposed
to granite boulders, which tend to have "passive interfaces".

Yes, I agree that "interactive fiction" is a much more appetizing candy than
the rather dull and annoyingly precise "text-based adventure game". But the
sad thing here, the real tragedy one might say, is that 'interactive' is
going out of fashion. These fashionable words have a life-span of
approximately a decade. Today's fashion word is "global". Doesn't "Global
Village" sound *much* better than "The World"? Isn't "globalization" much
easier to throw around than, say, "increasing internationalization of
markets"? Now that we have such a broad and interesting adjective as
"global", we don't need to sprinkle our speech with "interactive" in order
to show that we belong to the in-crowd.

[...]

> > Even in the very narrow sense you are staking out, "Interactive Fiction"
is
> > a medium, not a genre. But yes, you're right, the people who play text
> > adventures today know what "Interactive Fiction" means. It's like an
in-joke
> > within the community. We all know the term doesn't mean what is says. It
> > reminds me of my aunt calling her summer cottage Taj Mahal. Outsiders
would
> > either be clueless, or even worse, take us for pompous cretins.
>
> *shrug* It's more like your aunt calling her cottage "the family
> summer retreat"; outsiders might not be clear on exactly what it
> means, and *might* find it pretentious if they happened to already
> know of it by some prosier name (and protest that "the family summer
> retreat" is really "the old gray cottage"), but I don't see people
> being reduced to helplessness or irate disapproval at the term. I've
> had plenty of friends whom I've introduced to IF (most of whom haven't
> been that interested, a few who have) and no one has ever really had
> trouble with the *name*. Going on about "Why isn't this interactive
> too, then?" or "I can think of a better name than that" is something
> only Internet trolls do.

Human thought has labored for thousands of years to make useful
distinctions. "Interactive", "holistic" and "global" are muddle-words that
spill from our mouths as easily as saliva, but distinguish nothing.

CyberCypher

unread,
Aug 19, 2004, 7:57:24 AM8/19/04
to
Jacek Pudlo wrote on 19 Aug 2004:
> "Arthur Chu"
>> "John Swanson"
>> > <danie...@hotmail.com>
[... Somewhat interesting discussion of IF snipt]

> Human thought has labored

Thinkers labor; thought is the product of their labor. That's a useful
distinction.

> for thousands of years to make useful distinctions.

That was a number of lifetimes ago. Almost nobody cares about
distinctions anymore. Almost everybody wants to eliminate distinctions
as discriminatory and exclusive and to embrace an empty egalitarianism.

> "Interactive", "holistic" and "global" are muddle-words that spill
> from our mouths as easily as saliva, but distinguish nothing.

As is true of all abstractions, in case you hadn't noticed. Great
thinkers have labored for thousands of years in a vain attempt to
define "the good", "right", "democracy", "freedom", "equality", etc.

This kind of pointless semantic bickering can be avoided by stipulating
definitions before using empty terms. Even dictionary-endorsed
denotations need to be stipulated because not all dictionaries have
exactly the same definitions, and not all readers understand all words
to have the same denotations and connotations.

Unless the meanings of the terms of discussion are first agreed upon,
the discussion as well as the signifier is meaningless, IMHO.

--
Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor.
Posting from AUE, where this thread exploded in medias res.
For email, replace numbers with English alphabet.

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Aug 19, 2004, 11:39:02 AM8/19/04
to
In rec.arts.int-fiction, Jacek Pudlo <pu...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> 'Interactive' is as "broad and interesting" as 'holistic'.

This poster likes to crosspost articles unnecessarily, to start
arguments. Please do not crosspost replies to him.

(Followups reduced.)

--Z

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*
* Make your vote count. Get your vote counted.

CB

unread,
Aug 19, 2004, 12:15:43 PM8/19/04
to

"Andrew Plotkin" <erky...@eblong.com> wrote in message
news:cg2him$lmt$1...@reader1.panix.com...

> In rec.arts.int-fiction, Jacek Pudlo <pu...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
>
> "And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."
> *
Aren't borogoves trefflich? How could Aholibamah bear them?
CDB


Jacek Pudlo

unread,
Aug 19, 2004, 1:08:13 PM8/19/04
to
"Andrew Plotkin"

> In rec.arts.int-fiction, Jacek Pudlo <pu...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > 'Interactive' is as "broad and interesting" as 'holistic'.
>
> This poster likes to crosspost articles unnecessarily, to start
> arguments. Please do not crosspost replies to him.

Whether crossposting my article was "necessary" or not, is irrelevant. The
point is that if crossposting is wrong, it's wrong no matter who does it or
why. By your standards, your complaint against my crossposted article should
have been posted only in the ng you normally inhabit, not crossposted to all
of them. You ought to clean your own house before you try to trash others',
who you fault mainly because you disagree with them.

Default User

unread,
Aug 19, 2004, 1:41:10 PM8/19/04
to
Jacek Pudlo wrote:

> Whether crossposting my article was "necessary" or not, is irrelevant.


I've decided this is necessary, and I recommend others do the same.


*plonk*

Brian Rodenborn

Arthur Chu

unread,
Aug 19, 2004, 3:12:06 PM8/19/04
to
"Jacek Pudlo" <pu...@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<Df0Vc.101246$dP1.3...@newsc.telia.net>...

My gosh, this is ridiculous. "Interactive" and "holistic" are words
that have meanings, even if they are abused. Do you think that there's
no such thing as a meaningful *increase* in interactivity of an
interface? That, say, using your computer to browse the Web is no
different from watching over-the-air TV? That, when a major leap in
technology that allows increasing interactivity in user interfaces --
the invention of personal computers -- is still growing in influence
in our lives, it's not meaningful to divide media into "interactive"
and "non-interactive" (even if we mean "more interactive" and "less
interactive")?

So you think that people are just boondoggling you when they talk
about stuff like "interactive" or "reactive" lighting? That because
regular lights can be turned on and off manually with a switch they're
no more or less interactive than lights that turn on and off as you
move through a room, or can be lit in complex, preprogrammed patterns
to follow a certain moving object?

This is one case where comedy writers have done us a disservice; yes,
politicians and marketing flacks overuse words, but that doesn't mean
the words are meaningless swindlers' cant. Words like "proactive" do
mean something, and it is possible to tell the difference between a
proactive strategy and a reactive one, if only subjectively. Just
because everyone recognizes that proactive is good and reactive is bad
and hurriedly tries to portray themselves as proactive (even when
they're not) doesn't mean "proactive" itself is a meaningless term.
That's like saying "fair" or "just" or "virtuous" are meaningles
terms, just 'cause no one likes admitting to being unfair or unjust or
unvirtuous.

> Yes, I agree that "interactive fiction" is a much more appetizing candy than
> the rather dull and annoyingly precise "text-based adventure game". But the
> sad thing here, the real tragedy one might say, is that 'interactive' is
> going out of fashion. These fashionable words have a life-span of
> approximately a decade. Today's fashion word is "global". Doesn't "Global
> Village" sound *much* better than "The World"? Isn't "globalization" much
> easier to throw around than, say, "increasing internationalization of
> markets"? Now that we have such a broad and interesting adjective as
> "global", we don't need to sprinkle our speech with "interactive" in order
> to show that we belong to the in-crowd.

For gosh sake, how is "text-based adventure game" more precise than
"interactive fiction"? You do realize the term "adventure game" was
never chosen for its precision or accuracy; "adventure games" are
called adventure games because they're descended from a game that was
entitled "Adventure". Assuming that "adventure" itself is a meaningful
term -- how many of those same PR execs that you hate talk about going
on a "shopping adventure", or "the adventure of higher education", or
whatever? -- in what sense is "adventure" a distinguishing feature of
IF? Super Mario Bros. or Half-Life feel a lot more adventurous to me
than Galatea or Tapestry. There's no way that the primary meaning of
the word "adventure" has *anything* to do with what IF is, and you
know it.

Never mind that to make your term sound a bit more precise you've
actually lengthened it to four words. The traditional term "text
adventure" would, after all, force us to include books like Treasure
Island if we were to take it literally, as you seem to insist on
doing. If you wanted a precise, accurate technical term, the best term
might be "text-parser-driven computerized fiction" or something
similar. Whatever it would be, it'd be a mouthful; when naming things
absolute precision is often sacrificed for ease of use, as it should
be, since names are invented and used by people who care more about
working with the stuff than pedantically trying to define its
boundaries.

Anyway, no one on this newsgroup invented the term "interactive
fiction". Maybe the Infocom fellas picked it because of 1980's-era
buzzwordmania; it doesn't matter, it's the term we all use now, and no
one gets a little rush of belonging to the in-crowd by using it
anymore than anyone feels cool for using the word "globalization";
people primarily use it because that's the word everyone knows it by,
and railing against them for how they're being manipulated by
marketing trends is a huge waste of breath.

"Text adventure" does have a very different set of connotations from
"interactive fiction", and the reason IF was picked as a term,
buzzwordmania aside, was that the Infocom Implementors really did feel
like the stuff they were doing in the era of Trinity and A Mind
Forever Voyaging was substantially different from Zork I and Colossal
Cave and themselves weren't comfortable with lumping everything into
"text adventure". You may or may not like the term they picked, but
most of us here agree that there is a break between IF and text
adventures, or that IF is a term that encompasses what used to be text
adventures. It's the same reason why the term "role-playing game"
eclipsed the term "fantasy wargaming" -- or do you also regard the
term RPG as needlessly pretentious and insist that people who play
Shadowrun or Vampire are just another kind of "fantasy wargamer"?

> Human thought has labored for thousands of years to make useful
> distinctions. "Interactive", "holistic" and "global" are muddle-words that
> spill from our mouths as easily as saliva, but distinguish nothing.

*sigh* You might try making assertions based on actual empirical
evidence of how words affect real human beings outside the laboratory
space of your own head. In your mind you might have worked out how
"interactive" is a meaningless term, but this just plain isn't true in
the real world -- people actually do have a pretty clear idea of what
makes something interactive and something else not (or less
interactive), and the reason the term was overused was that people
were so excited about the fact that computers in the '80s were greatly
increasing the interactivity of the tools they used that marketers
started trying to convince them that lots of things were great leaps
forward in interactivity when they weren't. The term was usually
associated with electronic technology that let you tweak the function
of an appliance more than you could back when appliances had on/off
switches. Despite the contempt you seem to hold for the common
consumer, people weren't told that a vacuum cleaner was interactive
because you could push it around; they were told it was interactive
because, rather than having one way you could affect it (turning it
on, turning it off) there were many. You could switch motor speeds for
different surfaces, switch between a huge set of different
attachments, etc. '80s appliances are so confusing because they prized
interactivity over ease of use; washing machines with enormous banks
of buttons that allow you to precisely time every event in a wash
cycle, and so on. Though they don't like to advertise the fact using
terms like "non-interactivity", much marketing today is focused on
decreasing interactivity for ease of use, hence new buzzwords like
"simplicity" and "intuitiveness" of interface -- witness the iMac,
portal sites, etc.

It's the same with your other terms; skeptics of holistic health
practices defend conventional health processes on the grounds that
they are "scientific", "empirically provable", "rational" -- i.e.,
reductionistic, not holistic, believing the parts of a process can be
separated and analyzed. Politicians use "holistic" as a buzzword
because (getting on my soapbox) it means a particular kind of policy,
usually one where a politician tries to foster an attitude or level of
awareness through PR rather than spending money on the material causes
of a problem, assuming that the problem is not reductionistic -- that
the politician can't figure out what actually causes the problem and
fix it, so tries to steer the system in a different direction in a
general way (which I think is very irresponsible in most cases, but
I'm not a holist). And I can't comprehend why you think "global" is a
meaningless term at all -- it has a very clear meaning, even if you
think it's a trendy replacement for "international" or "universal".
Well, fine, then global means international or universal, but it's not
meaningless, as evidenced by the fact that there are very specific
policies that people defend or attack when talking about
"globalization", and "global" has a clear opposite, "local", and
either one can be negative or positive depending on the person's
attitude, showing that "global" is not just another word for "good".
(You really think people are spouting vague generalities when they
tell you to buy local, not global?)

FZ

unread,
Aug 20, 2004, 11:43:10 AM8/20/04
to
TEXT-BASED

Arrival. Lock and Key.

ADVENTURE

Shade. Rematch. Delusions. Spider and Web.

GAME

Photopia. Ramses. Shrapnel.

Etc.

Steve Breslin

unread,
Aug 20, 2004, 11:47:57 PM8/20/04
to
> In a way, a novel in book form is more 'interactive' than, say, Photopia. If
> you're terminally ill, and determined not to miss out on the surprise
> ending, you can at least read the last chapter first.

In "interactive fiction," the term "interactive" does not mean that a
human can interact with the text. I'm surprised if anyone finds this
genuinely confusing; it's quite commonplace that a word develops a
specialized meaning. Journalism does not imply that the text is in a
journal.

I recommend figuring out what a term means by looking at the things
conventionally categorized by the term.

David Doty

unread,
Aug 21, 2004, 12:21:29 AM8/21/04
to
ver...@hotmail.com (Steve Breslin) wrote in
news:f407dc2b.04082...@posting.google.com:

> I'm surprised if anyone finds this
> genuinely confusing;

No one does; he's a troll pretending it's confusing. And you fed him, and
I fed him by responding to you. He's a pretty smooth troll, so it's easy
to get taken in; I did not to long ago.

Dave Doty

Schattenjager

unread,
Aug 22, 2004, 6:11:23 AM8/22/04
to
> Journalism does not imply that the text is in a
> journal.

Come, come, we'd have to go back to the word's semantic origins for
that. That's a bad example, because in Portuguese, for instance,
journalism is "jornalismo", and "jornal" means newspaper; "telejornal"
is the TV news. So what may be not very logic in one language may be
in another, closer to the word's semantic roots. I believe this
particular one comes from Latin, so it's bound to make more sense for
Portuguese, Hispanic, French, Romenian, Italian (and so on) people.

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