Book suggestions from fellow K-Staters

A long time ago (let’s say 2010),

in a galaxy not really that far away (let’s say our own),

a program of epic proportions was created (let’s call that program The K-State Book Network, and fondly refer to it as KSBN).

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ReadyPlayer One Interactive

Spinning_Dancer- Wikimedia Commons

As I read Ready Player One many themes and ideas came to mind but the ideas of Identity and the element that Chance plays in our lives were the two that I focused on for the Ready Player One Interactive project.

Each dancer is unique but often in dance the dancers are required to move in unison – all together in the same time and taking the same amount of space even though some might be taller or shorter than others.

For this piece I wanted to incorporate each dancer’s creativity and individuality. I gave them the same movement problem:

Imagine you are inside a 3-D cube formed by the 26 letters of the alphabet. Spell the following sentences by touching the corresponding letter in the cube with any part of your body:

Be who you are

I am different

You are unique

I am me

Each dancer spelled these same sentences a different way. This became their signature movement phrase (sort of like each avatar’s individual costume).

Then, the dancers taught their movement to everyone else – this is similar to everyone playing the same game but with their own approach and flair.

While the dancers were in the studio creating movement in silence two composers were writing movement phrases based on these ideas. Separate in time and space but with the same end goal – sort of like the quest in the Ready Player One where everyone is trying to find the keys.

In a game, there are unknown elements of chance that can change the outcome of the game. The audience is the unknown element in this performance event. Members of the audience will chose the sequence of phrases that each dancer will perform as well as the order in which the musical phrases will be played.

We plan to perform the dance at least twice with the two different pieces of music written by K-State music composition students. Each time different groups in the audience will select the order of the music for the musicians and the sequence of dance phrases for each dancer. If the audience members and performers are having a good time, we can try a few other variations during the presentation.

There are seven basic elements; five dance phrases and two musical compositions. These can be combined in many different ways. For example the audience members could select the following sequence for their “Avatars”:

Dancer/Avatar 1 – ABABC

Dancer/Avatar 2 – EBCDD

Dancer/Avatar 3 – CDEAB

Dancer/Avatar 4 – AEECB

Dancer/Avatar 5 – DCABE

Music/Avatar 1 – DCECA

 My math isn’t that great any more but I think the formula for the above set of 5 dancers and 1 musical ensemble is 5 to the 6th power in terms possible versions that could be made for the dancers and musicians to perform. Any math wizards want to chime in with exactly how many options there are?

In most dance and music performances the ensembles practice a specific set of phrases in a specific order and that is what they perform for the audience. For this event the performers must be willing to deal with the unknown in the moment of performance. The musicians and dancers will know the structured elements (the musical and movement phrases) but audience members will set the sequence immediately before each performance of the piece. Then, we will all see how it “plays” out!

This is similar to a football game where each team has specific “plays” they’ve practiced (in dance we call them movement phrases and we rehearse them). During the game both teams interfere with and try to mess up by the each other’s offensive maneuvers. The players have to improvise within the structure of their “practiced plays” to reach the goal of making touchdowns or field goals.

Join us on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 7:00 p.m. in Forum Hall for this event. The evening will be informal with opportunities for the audience to dialogue with the performers about the process.


Laura Donnelly is an Assistant Professor in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance




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OASIS vs. Reality – Are MOOCs the next step?

The future portrayed by Ernest Cline in Ready Player One is bleak: hunger, poverty, unemployment, war, environmental disaster. But one element remains positive – access to education. In Cline’s dystopian world, everybody gets to attend public school through the OASIS, a massive virtual reality environment. Even Wade Watts, the story’s poverty-stricken protagonist, attends classes through a government-issued OASIS console until he graduates from high school. For Wade, attending school virtually allowed him to hide his perceived physical flaws behind an “avatar,” or graphical representation of himself in a virtual environment. His time in school also allowed him to temporarily escape abuse and neglect at home.

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Ready Player One – Quest for Identity

This book is perfect for incoming college students because college is the place and time of a young person’s life to find their identity, which is a central feature of the novel. It is also a fun and engaging novel for readers and non-readers alike. In the novel “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline, the theme of fining one’s identity is explored as the reader follows the protagonist’s quest for fortune. Wade’s character embodies all of society’s struggle to find their place in a world that is physically and figuratively falling apart. Wade, just like everyone else, has the opportunity to become someone else through OASIS, which appears to be a much happier life with a substantially greater chance for self-improvement and altogether the pursuit of happiness…. Read the rest of this post here.

Lindsey R. Moser is an undergraduate at K-State

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Ready Player One and Open Access

In Ready Player One, Parzival refers to the OASIS as an “open-source virtual utopia”. While the OASIS may not be a true open source platform (since true open source requires the code to be freely available), the conflict between IOI and heros of the book is a good allegory for the Open Access movement.

Open Access is universal and unrestricted access (via the internet) to peer-reviewed scholarly works. Just as IOI in the book wants monetize the OASIS by requiring a monthly user fee and adding advertisements, commercial publishers try to monetize the scholarly output of a university such as Kansas State University.

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I’m a gamer

I’ve been a gamer my whole life, or at least those portions of my life I can remember (and frankly, while I was alive before receiving my first Nintendo, was I really living?).  So let’s just stick with my whole life – there.  Now, a lot of gamers, game designers, instructional designers, teachers, and increasingly sage and important folk, are talking about what games can teach us. Any kind of game teaches us that it’s okay to fail and try again – in fact consistent hitting a game over through risk-taking and experimentation to find the way to succeed is the best way to make progress in a game.  They teach problem solving and critical thinking. They teach strategy-based approaches to problems. And, according to Jane McGonigal, they teach us more than a little bit about how to become our best selves.  If that sounds a little grandiose, well, you don’t have to take it from me – you can watch Jane’s TED Talk, read her book, or check out her bonafides and see if that convinces you.

Dan Ireton is an Undergraduate/Community Services Librarian and Assistant Professor at K-State Libraries

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Ready Player One Speaking to Our Generation

The allusions within Ready Player One, not only captivate people who grew up in the 80s, but everyone since that time as well. The kids that grew up in our generation not only played video games, but some would argue that we were raised by them. When I was growing up, I was forced to read, and as a reward for reading a book, or finishing a challenging article, my parents would give me time to play on my Gameboy… Read the rest of this post here.

Sam Metivier, undergraduate at K-State

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I Love the ’80s: Dystopia, Nostalgia, and Ready Player One

Ready Player One book cover

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is a dystopian novel.  Can a dystopian novel be nostalgic?

For those unfamiliar with the term, dystopia is the opposite of utopiaUtopia comes from Thomas More’s 1516 work of the same name, and it imagines an ideal society.  This Utopia is the ideal republic towards which we should all strive.  And, as such, it offers a commentary on what’s wrong with society — it points to what should be improved or changed. How can we make society better?

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Philip Nel is a Professor in the Department of English


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Flashbulb Memory, it happens to everybody

Every generation seems to have its epochal moment that everyone vividly remembers.  In the 1860’s, it was Lincoln’s assassination; one hundred years later another president (John Kennedy) was shot and killed.  People recalled these events for the rest of their lives, being able to recite even the tiniest details of learning about the event (where they were, whom they were with, etc.).

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On the Quest for a College Degree-Be Sure to Use the Right Keys

Three keys open three secret gates

Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits

And those with the skill to survive these straits

Will reach The End where the prize waits

-p. 6

Attention Gunters:

You’re something called a ‘human being.’ That’s a really smart kind of animal” (p. 16) and that is why you’re here.

The quest in which you have just begun is different from that of your friend Wade Watts, affectionately known as Parzival. It is different, because your quest will not necessarily end with a prize of two hundred forty billion dollars, and also, because you are not in Oklahoma and it is not yet 2044.

Instead, it is September, 2013, in Manhattan, Kansas. Your schedule may start to feel routine and you may be comfortable with your environment, and that is my hope. But as a fellow Gunter, I know that the quest for a college degree is not necessarily an easy one. Instead, it’s full of riddles and challenges and game-changing context.

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