Category Archives: mitchell_stephens


The following was posted on Sunday by Mitch Stephens on Without Gods (for those of you still unfamiliar with it, Without Gods is the public work diary for Mitch’s forthcoming history of atheism, which we’ve been hosting for the past eight months — wow, has it been that long?!).

The quality of the comments here lately has seemed, to me, extraordinarily high.
One of the purposes of blogging a book as it is being written is to have ideas tested and, possibly, sharpened, transformed or overturned. This has repeatedly occurred — although I have not often weighed in with comments of my own acknowledging that. Please take this as a blanket acknowledgement and expression of appreciation.

GAM3R 7H30RY may be flashier, and more technically ambitious, but in many ways Without Gods has been a more revelatory experiment in networked writing. As Mitch acknowledges, the sustained activity, and quality, of the comment streams has been impressive, and above all, interesting to read. It’s fascinating to follow this evolving collaboration between author and reader, and to watch Mitch come into his own as a skilled moderator of blog-based discussion. It remains to be seen how these conversations will end up shaping the finished book, but for some examples of a tangible collaboration taking place, take a look at these recent “Author Needs Advice” posts (part 1, part 2), in which Mitch asks for feedback on specific sections of the work-in-progress. Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that this reconfiguration of the writing process is yielding real rewards.

holiday round up

The institute is pleased to announce the release of the blog Without Gods. Mitchell Stephens is using this blog as a public workshop and forum for his work on his latest book which focuses on the history of atheism.
The wikipedia debate continues as Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine weighs in that people are uncomfortable with wikipedia because they cannot comprehend that emergent systems can produce “correct” answers on the marcoscale even if no one is really watching the microscale. Lisa poses that Anderson goes too far in the defense of wikipedia and that blind faith in the system is equally disconcerting, if not more so.
ITP Winter 2005 show had several institute related projects. Among them were explorations in digital graphic reinterpretation of poetry, student social networks, navigating New York through augmented reality, and manipulating video to document the city by freezing time and space.
Lisa discovered an interesting historical parallel in an article from Dial dating back to 1899. The specialized bookseller’s demise is lamented with the introduction of department store selling books as lost leader, not unlike today’s criticisms of Amazon. As libraries are increasing their relationships with the private sector, Lisa notes that some bookstores are playing a role in fostering intellectual and culture communities, a role which libraries traditionally held.
Lisa looked at Reed Johnson assertion in the Los Angeles Times that 2005 was the year that mass media has given way to the consumer-driven techno-cultural revolution.
The discourse on game space continues to evolve with Edward Castronova’s new book Synthetic Worlds. As millions of people spend more time in the immersive environments, Castronova looks at how the real and the virtual are blending through the lens of an economist.
In another advance for content creation volunteerism, LibriVox is creating and distributing audio files of public domain literature. Ranging from the Wizard of Oz to the US Constitution, Lisa was impressed by the quality of the recordings, which are voiced and recorded by volunteers who feel passionate about a particular work.