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Exploring Interactive Texts through IFComp


Every year, a number of game designers and storytellers share new works through an annual Interactive Fiction Competition, IFComp. Interactive fiction is, broadly put, any type of story that allows the user to take a role or control the narrative experience. There are several interfaces for this type of narrative: parser based IF uses verbs and nouns as a way to enter commands, and parses them into action, while hypertextual IF offers links and is often compared to Choose Your Own Adventure boo…

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What Are You Reading These Days?

Reading a bookRead, read, read.

It’s what most of us spend a lot of time doing, whether it’s our students’ or colleagues’ work, books that we’re teaching in class, or books for leisure reading.

We don’t necessarily talk much about what we’re reading, though — at least, I don’t — which is unfortunate, I think. I’ve been the lucky recipient of some good reading recommendations in the past when others have shared what they were reading, and those recommendations have often been for books I might not have discove…

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Batch Convert Word Documents to PDF in Google Drive

pile of paper

PDF format is very useful for any documents that are going to be shared with others, whether by posting online, via email or printed as hard copies. Using PDF means that you can control not only the content but also the presentational formatting, and ensure that what you create will remain consistent for your audience. PDF was designed to be cross-platform and is accessible from a variety of machines and devices.

Recently, I was reminded of a simple approach to batch converting Microsoft Word d…

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Weekend Reading: Winter’s Come Early Edition

5431511948_42ebae7119_z Happy Friday, ProfHackers! We hope that where ever you are, you are staying warm as much of the United States is grappling with unseasonable cold and snow.

For your weekend reading, you might be interested in the resolution that Hachette and Amazon reached this week. The conflict began in January. Author Douglas Preston provides another perspective on the resolution in Salon.

If you’ve been online at all this week, you’ve probably seen or at least read about Paper Magazine’s attempt to “break t…

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Prioritize your Activities by Gain and Pain

cover of Decide

Most ProfHacker readers have more things they would like to do, and more things they need to do, than they have time for in a given day. Prioritizing to-do items (or projects and next actions, if you follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology) is one of the areas that causes academics and other professionals the most stress.

Many popular ways of sorting and prioritizing your action items for the day, week, or month, involve assigning some kind of importance label to them (A, B, C) and…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Harvard, Attendance, and Acountability


Last week, Harvard made the news thanks to a study conducted through secret photographs of lecture halls as a way to monitor attendance. The debate over ethics in the study is ongoing, and of course the reality is that with all the course management tools dominating our education system we’re all subject to much more monitoring than we are aware of. However, this study made me think about something I’ve struggled with in my first semester at a big university: what does a great attendance policy…

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#AcWriMo, #DigiWriMo, #NaNoGenMo and November Writing Sprints


November is, for many of us, a month of deadlines, pre-final anxiety and grading, and the inevitable incursion of the holidays. It is also an incredibly popular month for writing sprints and challenges, which thoroughly embrace the spirit of “fail faster” as a way to try something new or get further in a stalled project. The spirit of November is best expressed through NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, an event that brings together a huge community of writers telling stories. The same…

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Evernote and Markdown: Two Tools that Work Great Together

Evernote and Sublime Text togetherSometimes, I come across ideas for posts quite by accident.

Early this afternoon (November 6), for instance, I was looking at the wiki that we use for scheduling our posts, trying to figure out my posting schedule for the next few weeks. I was also wondering whether I’d be able to post something for the week of November 10. We try to have our posts in by midnight on Thursday of the week before the post runs, and I was, quite frankly, drawing a blank on post ideas.

I’d pretty much concluded I’d h…

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Weekend Reading: Trick or Treat Edition

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Happy Halloween ProfHackers! We hope that your day is full of treats and light on tricks.

For your weekend reading:

Apparently, Craigslist is not just for hook-ups and used furniture anymore. The Atlantic reports that people are also using it to list cemetery plots: “Shopping for Secondhand Graves on Craigslist.” While we are on the topic of burial, NPR ran an interview with mortician Caitlyn Doughty, author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory, a couple weeks ago. I…

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Digital Distractions: ARGs and Endgame

A new book by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, Endgame: The Calling, launched earlier this month. The book chronicles twelve players representing ancient cultures who are trying to save their societies with the fate of the world at stake. If you picked it up without knowing the full story, it would seem like a disappointment as a book: the players are presented with clues, but the puzzles and mysteries are left unsolved. This is because Endgame isn’t so much a book as the launching point fo…