About Joseph Matheny

Some of the things I have achieved as an inventor, creator, product manager, CEO, CTO, writer, and artist include: Playing a role in establishing and evangelizing standards and practices such asPDF, DVD,  Podcasting, ARG and digital video. I am an inventor. I have designed apps for iPhone, iPad and other mobile platforms [1] [2] [3]. I am a published author of screenplays, white papers, technology, sci-fi, marketing and gaming books.

My pioneering work in Transmedia is chronicled in the University level textbook: Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat – University Press of Mississippi (May 17, 2011) Also see here. My transmedia work, Ong’s Hat, is known throughout the gaming industry and academia as the first, proto-ARG. (Alternate Reality Game)

I have also been the executive producer and originator of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival Podcast the first film festival to podcast from the event and the executive producer/director of the Los Angles Film Festival podcast.

I was one of the two founders/curators of the Greylodge Podcasting Company, an Independent film review site covered on MSNBC, Wall Street JournalBoing-Boing, Dangerous Minds and Torrentfreak as well as a founder of Piltolite/Hukilau.

I  was the podcast editor at TheNervousBreakdown.com.

I have staged and orchestrated very successful, large-scale, mass media Alternate Reality Game/Transmedia style projects since the mid-80s, utilizing print, phone, fax, email, Internet, advertising, video, film, audio, CD ROM, DVD, and on-demand media. My work has been featured on CBS Marketwatch, CNN, CNET TV, Kiplinger’s, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NHK, MTV, PBS, LA Times, Clear Channel Radio, BBC, MSNBC,  Boing-Boing, and many other weekly newspapers, trade magazines, local and regional radio, television and newspapers.

My work was profiled in Games(TM) magazine, where it was said of my work, Ong’s Hat:
Ong’s Hat was more of an experiment in transmedia storytelling than what we would now consider to be an ARG but its DNA – the concept of telling a story across various platforms and new media- is evident in every alternate reality game that came after.” Ong’s hat/Incunabula is universally recognized as the prototype for  Alternate Reality Games.

The Incunabula Papers CDROM was recently included by invitation in the BNF (Bibliothèque nationale de France) digital art collection.

Also, Slate recently profiled Incunabula as did Gizmodo. If you want to know “what it is“, these are probably the best profiles to date.

Postscript: If you’re one of those people that still do not “get it” as  far as what my work was and what I was attempting to achieve, I suggest reading this bookthis bookthis one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one will help you get a better handle on it.

For a more complete list of ideas, see this document that was included in the Original CD ROM of the interactive ebook (99) that was the starting place for the gameplay and which I referenced in the original  2001 game conclusion announcement.



Latest Articles and News

Latest Interviews and Reviews

Incunabula/Ong’s Hat Specific Interviews


Audio Works

Theater/Video Works

Transmedia Works 



List of books as archived by Goodreads (doesn’t include audio/video works)

List of books and A/V as archived by Amazon (does not include some collaboration and out of print works)

Various media works archived on Archive.org 

“For a start you scramble the news all together and spit it out every which way on ham radio and street recorders. You construct fake news broadcasts on video camera… And you scramble your fabricated news in with actual news broadcasts.

You have an advantage which your opposing player does not have. He must conceal his manipulations. You are under no such necessity. In fact you can advertise the fact that you are writing news in advance and trying to make it happen by techniques which anybody can use.

And that makes you NEWS. And a TV personality as well, if you play it right. You want the widest possible circulation for your cutup video tapes. Cutup techniques could swamp the mass media with total illusion.

The simplest experiment consists in playing back a scrambled message to subject. Message could contain simple commands. Does the scrambled message have any command value comparable to post-hypnotic suggestion? Is the actual content of the message received?

Let us say the message is fear. For this we take all the past fear shots of the subject we can collect or evoke. We cut these in with fear words and pictures, with threats, etc. This is all acted out and would be upsetting enough in any case. Now let’s try it scrambled and see if we get an even stronger effect.

I have frequently spoken of word and image as viruses or as acting as viruses, and this is not an allegorical comparison. It will be seen that the falsifications in syllabic Western languages are in point of fact actual virus mechanisms.” – William S. Burroughs, The Revised Boy Scout Manual

“Do you know, darling? When you became involved with others you quite possibly stepped down a level or two, but If you become involved with me, you will be throwing yourself into the abyss.”- Franz Kafka, Letters to Milena

“We were fed up with the way in which everything that came over this new magic box, the radio, was being swallowed. People you know do suspect what they read in the newspapers and what people tell them, but when the radio came, and I suppose now television, anything that came through that new machine was believed. So in a way our broadcast was an assault on the credibility of that machine. We wanted people to understand that they shouldn’t take any opinion predigested, and they shouldn’t swallow everything that came through the tap whether it was radio or not. But as I say it was only a partial experiment, we had no idea the extent of the thing… -Orson Welles, re: War of the Worlds Broadcast

History has developed by means of absurdities; people have constantly set their hearts on chimeras, and have achieved very real results. In waking dreams they have gone after the rainbow, sought now paradise in heaven, now heaven on earth, and on their way have sung everlasting songs, have decorated temples with their everlasting sculptures, have built Rome and Athens, Paris and London. One dream yields to another; the sleep sometimes becomes lighter, but is never quite gone. People will accept anything, believe in anything, submit to anything and are ready to sacrifice much; but they recoil in horror when through the gaping chink between two religions, which lets in the light of day, there blows upon them the cool wind of reason. – Gray, John: The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myth


The first study of the man who wants to be a poet in the knowledge of himself, complete. He looks for his soul, inspects it, tests it, learns it. As soon as he knows it, he must cultivate it! It seems simple: in every mind a natural development takes place; so many egoists call themselves authors, there are many others who attribute their intellectual progress to themselves! — But the soul must be made monstrous: in the fashion of the comprachicos [“kidnappers of children who mutilate them in order to exhibit them as monsters”], if you will! Imagine a man implanting and cultivating warts on his face.
I say one must be a seer, make oneself a seer.
The poet makes himself a seer by a long, gigantic and rational derangement of all the senses. All forms of love, suffering, and madness. He searches himself. He exhausts all poisons in himself and keeps only their quintessences. Unspeakable torture where he needs all his faith, all his superhuman strength, where he becomes among all men the great patient, the great criminal, the one accursed — and the supreme Scholar! — Because he reaches the unknown! Since he cultivated his soul, rich already, more than any man! He reaches the unknown, and when, bewildered, he ends by losing the intelligence of his visions, he has seen them. Let him die as he leaps through unheard of and unnameable things: other horrible workers will come; they will begin from the horizons where the other one collapsed! -Rimbaud


Et in Cascadia ego

“I’ve seen horrors… horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that… but you have no right to judge me. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face… and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember… I… I… I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized… like I was shot… like I was shot with a diamond… a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God… the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men… trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love… but they had the strength… the strength… to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment… without judgment. Because it’s judgment that defeats us.” –Apocalypse Now: Col. Kurtz’s monologue on war and horror

“Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
― Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huck Finn

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

“But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. I had—for my sins, I suppose—to go through the ordeal of looking into it myself. No eloquence could have been so withering to one’s belief in mankind as his final burst of sincerity. He struggled with himself, too. I saw it—I heard it. I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear, yet struggling blindly with itself.” –Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad

In the folly and self-torture of trying to say what cannot be said lies nothing but ruin. This is why the greatest of writers have in the end always forsaken words for silence. As George Steiner said: “The true masters are those who relinquish their vocation.” In this regard, he mentions Tolstoy. I would summon Dante, Rimbaud, Pound, Beckett. It was Rimbaud who saw the light earliest, quitting the racket six days before his twenty-first birthday, to run guns and coffee in Africa. But it was Pound who put it best, after fifty-seven years’ work on his Cantos: “I have tried to write Paradise / Do not move / Let the wind speak / that is paradise.” – Me and the Devil, Nick Tosches

All my works dedicated to the memory of my dearly departed friends: The members of The Formless Ocean Group (*) – Nina GraboiElizabeth GipsPaddy LongBetsy Herbert, and Robert Anton WilsonAlso to my departed friends: Mikey Hollenberg, DaveDW CooperDr. Hyatt (Alan) and humdog.

Photo of Joseph Matheny by Nick Herbert
Photo by Nick Herbert, Aug. 1, 2019 (Click to enlarge)

ars est celare artem | Monty Cantsin | Luther Blisset | Reality Hacker | Artisanal Legend Crafter | Feral Scholar | Collarless Dog | Gamecaller | Mytho-Poetic Bricoleur | Labyrinthos Mythologicus Architect | Transgressive Storyteller | Caput Gerat Lupinum

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