consider the penguin


so my memories of Club Penguin are mostly to do with watching it over the shoulder of a younger cousin, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the saga of the iceberg. what a good and pure bit of internet. basically: there was an urban legend that a mysterious iceberg could be flipped, and after 12 years the developers finally made it happen for realsies as a farewell to the platform.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how creator relationships with their audiences are increasingly strange and uncomfortable for me, as both a creator myself and as a fan. the increasing amount that I’ve seen the word “parasocial” floating around in tweets and memes the past few months seems to indicate that it’s a concern for other people too, this blurring of the lines between people whose work you like and people you think of as friends. a person can be both, but the former really technically owes you nothing (besides basic human decency) and the latter is a much more complex relationship of mutual giving.

the iceberg saga, in this current moment where it seems like creators feel obligated to constantly engage with fans in an unhealthy way, is a sort of a playful best case scenario. fans imagined something better than the creators had planned, the creators let them enjoy the fantasy, and the whole thing ended on a perfect collaborative gag.

I don’t exactly know how to make art on the internet work more like Club Penguin and less like people feeling burned out and weird on Twitter, but flipping the iceberg gives me some kind of hope.

(h/t to Gisela for the subject suggestion and link to the mini-doc!)


Promotional image for Coded Bias, featuring a mask covered in a tracking map.

all of y’all should watch Coded Bias (and/or make your loved ones watch it), and it’s about to be a lot easier to see it. it’ll be on Netflix globally on April 5, so make some time for this one ASAP! you can also book a screening if, say, you’re an educator, here via Women Make Movies. if you thought that Netflix-produced doc about social media sucked, this is the remedy.

CodeAcademy has been producing a livestream series on creative coding and archiving them to YouTube. I haven’t checked them out myself yet, but you can check out the first one here.

Julia Evans is extremely good at using her own quests for understanding to produce really accessible guides to some tricky computing topics. this new blog post is a lovely practical guide to how to figure out how things work and how to use that understanding effectively. bookmark this one and revisit it the next time you’re feeling totally blocked and frustrated with your processes!

are you still dying for more boat content? here’s a project by Garrett Dash Nelson that lets you put the Ever Given anywhere you want it, and it’s remixable! fork that thing and put the big thing of your choice on the location of your choice.

this love letter to PlayOnline is an interesting meditation on what is missing in our contemporary web and what might have been, particularly with regards to sound and music. u no I love some net nostalgia, but this essay also feels like a call to action to find and make new little gardens on the web. recommended!

educational opportunities!

An eyedropper selecting a lovely shade of yellow from a painting of a field.

School of Machines, Making, and Make-Believe’s spring catalog is LIVE and (shameless self-promotion) features a new course by ~ * yours truly * ~ on Color and Accessibility. want to nerd out with me for 5 weeks about color theory?? we’ll be looking at historical uses of pigment and color to learn how make better palettes for digital experiences! very relevant! as always, all of the courses look great, and I’d love to have some of you in my course in particular!

Gray Area’s Creative Code Immersive for spring 2021 is still open for applications! this is 12-week course on creative code and interactive art that covers a foundation of core techniques while creating an environment for collaboration and exploration. it was personally very helpful for me last fall to have some space to recenter my creative practice and shake out some bad vibes from working in commercial tech spaces. the session begins on April 6 and applications are due by April 4. learn more and apply here.

open calls!

the Processing Foundation has extended their open call for the 2021 Fellowship Program to April 9! they sponsor artists, designers, activists, educators, engineers, researchers, coders, and collectives in projects that conceive a new direction for what their software and community can do, and fellowships are open to both US-based and international applicants. you can learn more about their priority areas for projects and apply here.

!!Con is back for their eighth year and they want YOU to submit a talk proposal. yes you! their whole vibe is bringing the love and joy back into computing by getting people to talk about what makes them actually excited about technology, a vibe we very much need! learn more and submit here by April 8.

submissions are open for A MAZE./Berlin 2021 until April 30! they’re looking for games and playful media based on meaning, story, expression, change, interdisciplinarity, social/cultural/political impact, aesthetics and fun. fully finished works, demos, experiments, and prototypes are all welcome so no excuses that you haven’t quite perfected that thing you’re making yet. learn more here.

the Queer Games Bundle is an initiative to collaboratively support as many queer indie/micro/art devs and makers as possible! entries are open until May 3, and the bundle will run during the month of June for Pride. learn more about the bundle here.

the Ars Electronica Festival 2021 has an open call for Chilean artists living in Chile or abroad to propose innovative projects at the nexus of art, science, and technology until April 19. you can learn more about the open call here.

CultureHub has an open call for yearlong residencies tethered in either NYC or LA that will include a $2500 stipend, access to a studio, equipment, and technical support, and assistance with documentation and promotion, among other nice benefits. learn more and apply by April 18 here.

upcoming events!

Abstracted images of textures and dots, as promotion for Gray Area's Displacements event.

tonight, April 2! 7:00PM UTC-7! “for ‘Displacements,’ sound artists and electronic musicians Annie Aries, Brian House and Marcel Zaes revisit the experimental beats that they made as a part of their collaborative installation, Metric Displacement.” sounds great! if you can’t make it tonight, the event will be rebroadcast on Saturday. learn more here.

April 2-4! Uncommon Hacks is a hackathon for university and high school students to come together and build innovative, zany, and entirely uncommon technical projects. learn more and register here.

A tiny sprout emerges from the ground, just like you'll emerge more confident with the command line after this workshop.

Sat, April 3! 3:30PM UTC-4! are u a lil scared of the command line? it’s ok to admit it. Tech Learning Collective are running a workshop this weekend on command line basics that is sure to help you get past that initial anxiety to a place of feeling more in control. as always, they’re offering reduced price admission for queer-identified, femme, and BIPOC people. learn more and register here.

also Sat, April 3! 10:00AM UTC-5! curiouslyminded are running another Twitch stream exploring shader code with ray marching. check out their new website here and save the date!

Sun, April 4! 3PM UTC-4! the next Babycastles Academy will be a workshop with composer Gavin Gamboa on how to set up your own personal wiki as a digital garden for non-linear research. this sounds 1000% up the alley of many of you loyal readers, I just know it. tix are sliding scale and available here.

It's DOOM but with QWOP bear!

Sun, April 11! 3PM UTC-4! another Babycastles Academy gem – learn to love to mod DOOM and honor its history of copyleft and free remix culture. if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a real professional game maker mention that they got started by modding, I’d have many nickels. get ur tix here!

April 29-30! the 2021 Computer Mouse Conference will feature lectures, video performances, panel discussions, writing, a live zine, and an actual mouse tear-down workshop. learn more and get tix here.

just for lulz!

* ~ housekeeping ~ *

if you have anything in the works that you are excited about (an event, a workshop, a new project), please send me all the details. if I didn’t respond to your email or did and nothing happened, I totally forgot and you can feel free to bug me again. if you wanna share links or chat, there is now a Discord server that you can use here.

You May Also Like

round 1: fight!

hello friends! thanks so much for signing up for this journey! I hope to make this newsletter a…

totally tubular

hoo boy who else felt like they had like 8 different kinds of nausea last week?? there are…

All hail the Water type!

hey all! I’m flying into NYC tomorrow, in part because I’m optimistically running in the NYC triathlon on…