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Corrections to Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid Podcast About Ong’s Hat

The first thing one learns upon becoming a subject of press interest is that there’s actually very little one can generally do in the face of inaccurate or even malicious press coverage. – Barrett Brown

The tl;dr version 

(I urge you to come back and follow the referenced links to verify the validity of the information)

There’s a podcast/website called The Skeptoid that is run by one Brian Dunning. The website seems to consist of a collection of transcriptions of the Skeptoid podcast, links to the podcast and a personal vita for Mr. Dunning. I learned that recently, Brian Dunning ran an episode of the Skeptoid titled: Ong’s Hat, which was, predictably about the Ong’s Hat literary game.

Brian Dunning claims that his podcast, “Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena is an award-winning weekly science podcast. Since 2006, Skeptoid has been revealing the true science behind popular misinformation and urban legends.” His words.

While I haven’t sampled any of the other offerings on that Skeptoid website, I did read the text transcription of Mr. Dunning’s “investigation” into the Ong’s Hat urban legend and found it dismissive and misinformed in the following areas.

Robert Anton Wilson is was a participant in the Ong’s Hat project

The Skeptoid, aka Brian Dunning, starts with the following basis for his analysis:

Skeptoid says:

To explain what happened, I’m going to lay some groundwork by referring you back to someplace unexpected: last week’s episode #657 on the Illuminati. When we see pop stars and other celebrities today holding their hands up in the triangle symbol — possibly hoping to persuade their fans that they are members of the Illuminati which they believe to be an ancient, all-powerful sect — we learned that this legend really only goes back a few decades, to a little piece of cultural engineering dreamed up by a few writers at Playboy magazine. Robert Anton Wilson created the reader feedback campaign in the magazine and co-authored a novel trilogy, that essentially created the entirety of modern belief in a powerful shadow cabal called the Illuminati. It was a fascinating example of how a well-planned and well-executed cultural engineering campaign can effectively create whole mythology which not only survives but actually flourishes and persists for decades. Today, intelligent people honestly believe that the Illuminati exist — thanks mainly to Robert Anton Wilson.

When we look into the background literature for Ong’s Hat, guess whose name we find: Robert Anton Wilson. That should set the tone for where we can expect the rabbit hole of Ong’s Hat to lead. Wilson is mentioned several times throughout Joseph Matheny’s writings. In his book, Matheny wrote of having lived in Santa Cruz, California with a group of academics, authors, and pioneers of the psychedelic movement — a group who called themselves the Formless Ocean Group. Among them was Robert Anton Wilson. It was from these folks that Matheny — according to his legend — learned of and first read a collection of documents titled The Incunabula Papers. Supposedly, these papers are how he first learned of the experiments at Ong’s Hat.

I reply:

I won’t bother with critiquing the theories regarding RAW and his role in the modern belief in the Illuminati that Mr. Dunning holds. I’ll leave that to the RAW fans out there. I am not here to teach a history lesson.

I will, however, correct the erroneous and confusing assertion that RAW’s name somehow appears in “background material” for Ong’s hat.  While RAW was aware of the Ong’s Hat project he was not a participant. Yes undeniably, he was a mentor to and influence on me, but what one has to do with the other is tenuous at best. Correlation does not equal causation. I’m not sure what “background” literature Brian is referring to, but Bob’s name never appears in any of the Ong’s Hat material. Where Bob ‘s name does appear is on my website in conjunction with other projects we did together. I think Skeptoid is experiencing some information drift.

Anyway, that is a minor aside.

On to the meat of our corrections.

Skeptoid asserts that my dearly departed friends, The Formless Ocean Group, never existed

Skeptoid says:

The Formless Ocean Group — which never actually existed outside of Matheny’s fiction — appears to have been based on other similar groups of counterculture intellectuals who came together, lived together, worked and wrote together, got high and broke new ground. Think of the free-living occultists who lived at Jack Parson’s house in Los Angeles called the Parsonage and founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as described in the book Sex and Rockets; or those who gathered at the New Jersey property of paranormalist Ivan T. Sanderson called the Farm and refined the New Age mythologies of ley lines, ancient aliens, and the Bermuda Triangle.

In a nutshell, the entire story of Ong’s Hat was a fictional work, created mostly if not entirely by Matheny. Nothing about it checks out. There are no corroborating reports of any group ever calling themselves the Formless Ocean Group, and no record of any of its members living at its given address in Santa Cruz. There never was an Institute for Chaos Studies at the ashram; indeed, there never was a Moorish Science Ashram. No acres were ever purchased in the Pine Barrens in 1978. No group of runaway boys ever lived there. About the only thing that does have a grain of truth is the name of the place itself, Ong’s Hat.

I could even draw a full circle, from Matheny’s Formless Ocean Group to Ivan Sanderson’s Farm, to the Bigfoots and other cryptids that Sanderson pursued, to the Jersey Devil, to Daniel Leeds, and right back around to Matheny’s ashram. The fabric of our cultural legends is richly interwoven indeed.

I reply:

Brian Dunning via The Skeptoid claims that the group made up of now mostly late friends of mine, never existed. The group was an informal salon-style group of people who met in Santa Cruz in the early 90s, primarily meeting in Nina Graboi’s and Elizabeth Gipps living rooms. Nina lived downstairs from me at the 2nd street apartment complex. This was pre-Internet, and the group never was formal in any way, it pre-dated public Internet activity, which explains why Mr. Dunning was unable to find any reference to it. This, of course, could have been deduced by the timeframe, clearly referenced by me in several places and the acknowledgment that this as an informal group but of course, if something isn’t on the Internet, it never really existed. Right?

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to Ong’s Hat the Beginning, print edition:

Becoming a resident of 321 Second Street acted as a nexus point for me. Nina was fond of entertaining various counter-culture figures as they came through central California in her “parlor.” Eventually, a semi-organized group formed out of these salon sessions and took a name: the F.O.G., Formless Ocean Group. By the way. of association with Nina, Bob, and the F.O.G., I was brought into contact with many of the psychedelic figureheads of the time…

You notice in no way did I allege that everybody in the F.O.G. Group lived at the second street complex. However, I did, Nina Graboi did, others did, and at various times people came through and stayed with us or stopped by for a visit. It was, as I have said several times, a location that acted as a nexus for various people in the scene to stop by and mingle. The F.O.G. actually grew out of the impromptu salon that formed around Nina’s living room, which was downstairs from my apartment.

For example, here’s a photo of Bob and I in Nina Graboi’s garden (that’s Nina with her back to us). This photo was taken in 1991. At that time, Bob was living in LA but soon after he and Arlen moved to Santa Cruz to be near their children. As I said, that place was a NEXUS.

T=Robert Anton Wilson, Nina Graboi (back turned to camera), Joseph Matheny at the 2nd Street compound, 1991

Here’s just one person remembering the group on Erowid a few years back after Elizabeth passed: http://www.changes.org/remembering/nina_hollenberg.html

Funny aside, Bruce Eisner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Eisner) who ran a more formal group called the Island Group,  nicknamed the F.O.G. “Friends of Gips” since we were all part of Elizabeth’s extended family. I recall F.O.G. being started in part as an informal alternative to the Island Group. The F.O.G. members had little to no regard for formality or structure.

Here’s another photo of another salon style hangout, upstairs on the deck of the 2nd street complex.  On this day we comingled with another slightly more formal group from Stanford (but annoyingly formal) called Millbrook West. A lot of the people pictured were also attendees at a lot of the FOG meetings.

From the Left: Purple shirt- I forget, bottom row- Nick Herbert, Nina Graboi, Jenny the Angel Lady, Ralph Abraham, Pink Sweater- I forget. Back row from the left- Elizabeth Gips, Paddy Long, Joseph Matheny, Ted and two friends from Millbrook west. The end, the pink sweater I forgot her name, end, pink vest with a blue shirt, Betsy Herbert.

What follows next in Skeptoid’s “analysis”  is a lot of unfounded extrapolation that the living room salon group I hung out with in the early 90s is in fact somehow drawn from Parson’s Pasadena “Parsonage” and some place called the Farm which I had no previous knowledge of. (See Skeptoid quote above).

I would point out that none of this speculation is presented in the language of such by Mr. Dunning, but rather presented as a foregone conclusion.

Anyone who has followed my work knows that I have always dedicated my work to the F.O.G. The group dissolved by the early nineties, I had gone off to Silicon Valley to pursue my interests in technology and art, eventually, one by one all the elder members passed on. These people meant a lot to me and my time with them is still one of my fondest memories.

Ong’s Hat Was Not a Game

Skeptoid says:

Some say Matheny was trying to create a game; a type called an Alternate Reality Game, a kind of real-world adventure where people follow a storyline, find clues, and solve puzzles. But there really aren’t any puzzles or solutions in Ong’s Hat. It’s just information, the fabric of a detailed urban legend, which you can choose to believe or not; you can take a deep dive and research thoroughly, or you can laugh it off as a silly story. Either way, Matheny did pull off a feat of cultural engineering by inserting the Ong’s Hat mythology firmly into pop culture.

I reply:

This one is really hard to digest because there is no basis in fact and no real reason why he would make this assertion unless he is simply skimming and half reading things to draw his conclusions. I guess it must be awfully hectic trying to throw a show together every week or whatever his publishing cycle is.

I’ve said it a hundred times or more, I reiterated it in 2001 when I closed the game and I have repeated it multiple times since in print. THIS WAS A LITERARY/GAME HYBRID EXPERIMENT. Therefore, I’ll simply give you these links, rather than continuing to flog a dead horse. If you’re really interested, you can read them or you can repeat the opinion of someone who clearly did not.

The short answer is, many qualified people recognized it as a game because it was a game. It was designed to be a new style of game, one that blended literary style with video and RPG style narrative, and structured, ala, gameplay, to advance the narrative. It also attempted to use an infinite game structure as much as possible, playing for the simple joy of playing, rather than zero-sum game style. I think this is the part that baffled people most. Structure and feature wise, I took a swiss army knife approach and again I recognize that this could confuse some people. However, this approach has allowed it to pivot over time and therefore contributed to its longevity. Just because something isn’t a game as you understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t a game.

Sometimes I think I need to write a book about everything that went on in the background to make this work. Other times I feel like I should just stop trying to explain it to people who have shown no interest in understanding the work on its merits. I meet people all the time who instinctively get what I was attempting. I have also met people who have already made up their minds even in some cases telling me they had “no interest in hearing me out.”  Anyway, back on point—

Some examples of people “thinking it was a game”:

Games Magazine, 2013 https://josephmatheny.com/2013/05/16/the-rise-of-the-arg-games-investigates-alternate-reality-games-and-what-the-future-has-in-store-for-the-curious-experiment/

“ With Ong’s Hat, Matheny took the concept of ‘legend tripping’ – that is, the act of venturing to areas of some horrific and supernatural event aIa The Blair Witch Project- and shifted it online. “I set up this mythos, and hid elements of it all over the internet,” he remembers. “There were phone numbers that you could call, and you would get strange voice mail messages; you might even get a call back from one of the characters. Everybody would come at it from a different angle. It was not a zero-sum game. The whole thing was set up to be an infinite play, so different people would get different things out of its persistence.” This element “People who are interested in this kind of experience are interested in working together. It’s what the community calls the ‘collective detective’ scenario,” says Matheny. “One of my influences was also the murder mystery theatre things that they used to do … I think that people like that kind of stuff. They like to feel that the story is crossing the proscenium and they’re immersed in the story -even to the point of being a character in the story. of the experience, with players reassembling the scattered elements of the story in order to determine exactly what it all meant, would go on I think that’s the hook with ARGs.”

Put a pin in the above because it also dovetails into a future point.

The ”gameplay centered around two things. One the eBook and two the Darkplanet forum. The ebook has a lot of built-in rollover states and hidden clickable areas.

Download the ebook, here https://archive.org/details/inc-iso for just one example. Navigate to the page (seen below) and roll your mouse around. You will see some still functioning pop-ups and click states. Even though this ebook was designed in a very early version of Adobe Acrobat, a lot of the effects still somewhat function. Some of these used to lead to pages on Incunabula.org (now retired) with more solves required to move forward. I also used to set up “pop-up” pages on the website that would appear and then mysteriously disappear. Steganography was used on some of the images on the website and many times cryptic messaging was scattered across a fleet of interlinked websites. There were also geocaches, bookcrossings and dead drops. Why am I even explaining this?  Oh yeah…

Example of clickable image form ebook.

Here’s a quote from Dave Szulborski’s book, This is Not a Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming https://jmatheny.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/tinagqua.pdf (download the full chapter on Ong’s Hat)

Like any good narrative, the Ong’s Hat story actually intertwined two distinct plots or sequences of events: the events in the Ong’s Hat Ashram in the 1970s that the “Incunabula 83 Papers” allegedly detail, which served as the story level of the narrative, and the discovery and distribution of the documents sometime later, which served as the discourse level of the narrative. So, undeniably, the Ong’s Hat experience had the aesthetic elements of a story required to make an ARG an immersive experience. Additionally, Ong’s Hat: Incunabula, by using the various real-world communication methods available on the Internet at the time to tell its story, and by requiring players to interact at a critical point of the discourse, also incorporated the game elements that traditionally make up and define an alternate reality game. At the very least, like House of Leaves, referenced earlier in this book, it was a literary/digital crossover, utilizing Xerox, BBS and later Internet technology, CD ROM technology, and even traditional print publishing as it’s various mediums. In fact, one of the creators of the original CD ROM has said that it included 23 intricate puzzles, most of which were never solved!

And one more for good measure, although far from the only clear signs of the game and puzzle aspects of Incunabula/Ong’s Hat.

Chronicle of Higher Education review of Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/pageview/the-surprising-online-life-of-legends/29221

In Legend-Tripping Online, he describes how his observations led him to a bizarre Internet phenomenon, the main focus of his book: an “immersive” online experience—part mystery, part game, part who knows what—known as both the Incunabula Papers and Ong’s Hat. Those were the abbreviated titles of documents that someone—probably a group of four provocateurs—posted on The Well, a pioneering Internet social site in the late 1980s.

The Incunabula Papers/Ong’s Hat was, or is, a “many-threaded, open-ended interactive narrative” that ”weds an alternate history of chaos science and consciousness studies to conspiracy theories, parallel dimensions, and claims that computer-mediated environments can serve as magical tools,” Kinsella explains.

Fortunately, he elaborates: After sitting largely dormant on the social Web site for a decade, the documents provoked a widespread “immersive legend-trip” in the late 1990s. Via Web forums, participants investigated the documents—manifestos—which spun up descriptions of brilliant but suppressed discoveries relating to paths that certain scientists had forged into alternate realities. Soon, those haunted dimensions existed in the minds and fantasies of Ong’s Hat’s many participants. That was evident as they responded to the original postings by uploading their own—all manner of reflections and artifacts: personal anecdotes, audio recordings, and videos—to augment what became “a really immersive world, and it was vast,” says Kinsella.

Then there’s the matter of this document which was included in the Original CD ROM (99) of the interactive ebook that was the starting place for the gameplay and which I referenced in the original  2001 game conclusion announcement.

Stick a pin in this as well for our last point.

Rather than continuing to flog a dead horse, I refer you to multiple articles that can be found on my site: https://josephmatheny.com that clearly demonstrate that Ong’s Hat suffered from acute gamification.

I Am Still Being Cryptic About the Origins Behind Ong’s Hat

Skeptoid says:

What does Matheny himself have to say? Well, he’s as cryptic as ever — stating that he’s kind of done talking about it, but he’s not yet giving any hint that he might have made it all up.

I reply:

What follows is a small sampling of the many items prominently highlighted on my site. Does this looks like someone who’s being “cryptic”? I see that Mr. Dunning has a copy of a link to the Salon piece at the bottom of the article on Skeptoid, but I wonder if he actually listened to it? Well, I advise you to and then ask yourself, “Does this sound like a man being coy or cryptic?” Before you say it, the Salon article came out months before the Skeptoid article.

Wikipedia: Ong’s Hat was one of the earliest Internet-based secret history conspiracy theories created as a piece of collaborative fiction (aka Incunabula) by four core individuals, although the membership propagating the tale changed over time.

This Wikipedia entry was not made by me but I have never contested it nor tried to disavow it. It is correct and it has been in place for a very long time. I even link to it from my site, on the opening page.

Decoder Ring: The Incunabula Papers  (October 2018- before the pub date of the Skeptoid article) https://slate.com/culture/2018/10/decoder-ring-explores-the-interdimensional-conspiracy-theory-known-as-ongs-hat-the-man-who-created-it-and-the-new-form-of-art-it-birthed.html?via=section_features

Or even more recently, Gizomodo: Ong’s Hat: The Early Internet Conspiracy Game That Got Too Real https://gizmodo.com/ongs-hat-the-early-internet-conspiracy-game-that-got-t-1832229488

Also, see

Chronicle of Higher Education review of Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/pageview/the-surprising-online-life-of-legends/29221 

This and Kinsella’s book, published in 2011 is something that I have not only never contested by have actively promoted on this site and others.

Remember when I said to put a pin in this?

“The response of Joseph Matheny to Legend-Tripping Online suggests the success of Kinsella’s read on the Incunabula Papers. On his Web site, Matheny wrote that Kinsella “did an excellent job and only missed the mark with two or three of his conclusions,” which Matheny said he would clear up by writing a complimentary account.”

Read the rest at your own leisure and tell me, does me promoting these items sound like someone who is being “cryptic?

Games Magazine, 2013 https://jmatheny.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/games-arg1.pdf Remember when I said t put a pin in this

“I set up this mythos, and hid elements of it all over the internet,” he remembers. “There were phone numbers that you could call and you would get strange voice mail messages; you might even get a call back from one of the characters. Everybody would come at it from a different angle. It was not a zero-sum game. The whole thing was set up to be an infinite play, so different people would get different things out of its persistence.” This element “People who are interested in this kind of experience are interested in working together. It’s what the community calls the ‘collective detective’ scenario,” says Matheny. “One of my influences was also the murder mystery theatre things that they used to do … I think that people like that kind of stuff. They like to feel that the story is crossing the proscenium and they’re immersed in the story -even to the point of being a character in the story. of the experience, with players reassembling the scattered elements of the story in order to determine exactly what it all meant, would go on I think that’s the hook with ARGs.”

That should be pretty self-explanatory,

A few more for the road.

Yes, I already hear the objections but check the dates of those articles. ALL of them precede the publication date of the Skeptoid article, with the exception of the Gizmodo piece.

My Conclusions Regarding Brian Dunning and The Skeptoid Podcast

All in all, if I were a fan of Skeptoid I would unpack a few episodes besides this one and see if Brian is on point with other of his self proclaimed  “Skeptoid style investigations”. I mean, after all, he is encouraging us to be skeptics, right? I see from a simple search that this isn’t his first error or even his second or– well you get the point. One can only hope he is a sincere actor and learns from and admit to his errors.

As I said before, be careful who you allow as the curator of your “truths” on the Internet Because after all, it is 2019 and it is the Internet.

One of the things I always wanted to do in 2001, post-Incunabula/Ong’s Hat was host to a conversation about what’s real and how perception can be weaponized and used against you. I was not allowed to do this mainly because the conspiranoia crowd had such a violent reaction to my “admission” that a far-out story like Ong’s Hat was actually a modern Borgesian fairy tale. Too bad, because considering all the things that followed, like Pizzagate and Q-Anon, that may have been a useful conversation to have had that early in the process. That part of it was always intended as an act of closure, it just never happened due to irrational hysteria that shouted down any attempt.

I fully support the stated mission statement of Skeptoid but at least, in this case, it seems they do not really live up to the promise.

In conclusion, I’ll remind you, gentle reader, be a critical thinker, be a skeptic, by all means, but please, if you’re going to critique something, take the time to actually read and/or listen to the material you are critiquing. Otherwise, your critique is neither a critique nor is it skeptical inquiry. It is merely dismissive opinion and frankly, looks like click-bait.

It’s fine to be critical and skeptical of someone’s work. Just do so based on the facts and not based on supposition or a pre-constructed narrative or heaven forfend,  on incomplete research and therefore, misinformation.

Be well and stay safe. Lots of mind virii are afloat these days. Always remember to wear the cognitive condom of critical thinking and always, TFYQA.

ALSO, SEE-

BRIAN DUNNING ON THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE: A MASTERCLASS IN BAD SKEPTICISM

The Worst Thing Brian Dunning Has Done for Skepticism

Joe Rogan and Brian on Twitter

Brian’s “Shell Game”? 

Some of Brian’s “Greatest Hits” 

Skeptoid’s Dunning: The Story of a Man Who Hoodwinks Unskeptical Skeptics*

 

Not a particle of disgust, rather a wave, goodbye.

“Sometimes, in bookstores, I experience waves of nausea when I think about adding even one more word to all that fucking print.”  -Hakim Bey, the 1993 audio from the T.A.Z. conference.

“To paraphrase Hakim Bey; sometimes when I look at the Internet, I experience waves of nausea when I think about adding  even more more pixel to all that fucking noise.” – Joseph Matheny

2018: AKA the sweet taste of of validation. I told you all this was emerging. Note the original pub date of this article. ‘Nuff said

tl;dr: I am not now, nor have I ever been a “believer” in conspiracy theories, in a general sense. Of course, I am aware that there are conspiracies every day that have a myriad of goals and objectives. I am talking about this wacko milieu that’s grown up on the Internet, and which is nothing more than an entertainment vertical. I have used, what I perceived as the modern American myths, i.e. conspiranoia as content for a literary method I was perfecting because it was (formerly) entertaining and pervasive. It was an art project, nothing more. We have entered a new era and I have moved away from being associated with the conspiracy milieu since it has become toxic and counterproductive. The low crypto-fascist rumbles I have heard first hand in that milieu and that  I’ve been warning about since the late 90s have fully blossomed now. They no longer even try to hide it. The Incunabula/Ong’s Hat project was an example of how reality is malleable and can be shaped and even manipulated, either for your own benefit or used malignantly against you. This is why I called it to a close and outed myself in the end. This is also why I fought so hard against those who wished to use it for their own personal gain or as a tool of exploitation against others. What follows is a poetic screed.

“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


Innovators and creators of the world, this is to put you on notice. Your creations, the results of your inspirations will eventually be co-opted and used as tools for exploitation. No matter how hard you try to design around this inevitability, the gut maggots (and there are many)  will find a way, they always do.

Multiple mixed metaphor alert

The parasites have taken over the asylum. The systems were designed by them, so naturally, they were designed to favor them. It’s the casino principle. The house always wins. Even when the occasional dupe slips through the cracks, they are paraded around as marketing material, to show all that “You too can win”. Just keep the faith! Even in this simulacra of winning, one becomes the bait.

They will take your creations, born of sweat and tears, agony and ecstasy, notes from that rare congress with “the other” and twist them, weaponize them and utilize them as cogs in the great machine to feed themselves and grow fat upon that inspiration by vampirizing others who, sensing some original kernel of transcendence in the ghost of your work, will chase a phantom carrot which has long since been replaced with the sign of a carrot pointing to the place the original liminal message used to occupy. Sign>signifier>ghost dance. They will build grotesque and macabre temples to the ghost to entice as many as possible to worship it.

Continue reading Not a particle of disgust, rather a wave, goodbye.

Finally, uploading podcasts to Archive.org

special-g-spot-interlude-mtw-in-the-studio-part-2-32433919-250

Sorry it’s taken so long to update the old podcasts, but I’ve finally begun uploading them to Archive.org. You can watch for them here on this site and I promise to try and upload on a regular basis.

Watch this URL for the current upload cycle of The G-Spot archives.

All podcasts will be in this category.

Audiobook- The Incunabula Papers: Ong’s Hat and Other Gateways to New Dimensions

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Above image used with permission of the artist.  Courtesy of James Koehnline : http://www.koehnline.com/

Available now:

A professional version of The Incunabula Papers: Ong’s Hat and Other Gateways to New Dimensions is currently available for Audible.com, Amazon.com and iTunes.com. (coming soon) It is narrated by the inimitable James Lewis.

REVIEWERS: Contact me for a free review copy. Just let me know what podcast/show/blog you intend to review it for.

Note to creatives reading this: If you have any audio v/o projects and you want to work with a consummate professional and all around nice guy, you can’t do better than James.

Of course, the free radio play version P. Emerson Williams and I did years ago remains and will always remain available for free in the commons

Here’s a sample of my conversation with Nick Herbert, read by James, so you can get a sense of the quality (Click the blue “Listen” button below to hear the sample).

Listen

Transmedia: Who Invited the Lobsters Anyway?

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A new piece, the first in a long series I’ll be doing for my friend Nick Belardes new literary start-up. Wherein, I don the mantle of Jack Smith, reborn!

Transmedia: Who Invited the Lobsters Anyway?

http://www.nicholasbelardes.com/transmedia-who-invited-the-lobsters-anyway/

And since I wrote this article, it looks like someone took my advice.

Also just noticed this article which just showed up on Reality Sandwich: http://realitysandwich.com/216411/in-beautiful-dreams-nurturing-narratives-and-the-forgotten-potentials-of-digital-culture/

And this one at French magazine Internet ACTU: http://www.internetactu.net/2014/02/11/transmedia-de-la-rebellion-a-la-recuperation/ (you’ll need to translate)

That IMDB Thing

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Apparently some of you have a Google Alert for the term “Ong’s Hat” and therefore have seen the recent addition to IMDB. Specifically this listing (you’ll need IMDB Pro to see complete information).  I had planned on doing a full interview with the two people responsible for this new venture when they return from shooting in Europe and I still plan on doing that. So, you’ll have to wait for that post for more info, but in the meantime, I’ll fill you in on a few “who and what”  details.

Continue reading That IMDB Thing

Taking Back Transmedia

From the Eyeless Owl

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“Might we contrive one of those opportune falsehoods … so as by one noble lie to persuade if possible the rulers themselves, but failing that the rest of the city.”

– Plato in The Republic

“If you read it, you will be infected. If you are infected you will be InFicted. If you are InFicted, you will get UnFucted. “

– Joseph Matheny

Those who entered the digital world in the late 80’s and early 90’s were introduced to a nearly unfathomable host of possibilities for media and creativity. DVD’s offered the potential for integrative experiences that tracked user preferences and allowed for multiple story formats which changed with each viewing based on previous use, virtual reality models held the possibility for turning these experiences fully immersive, cell phones and wireless technology promised an unthought of openness to it all, and the internet allowed everyone to dream of a fully connected, creative global conversation that synchronized each aspect into a beautifully coordinated whole. Looking back on those dreams in light of growing concerns over surveillance, advertising, neuromarketing and the like one might wonder what happened to turn the dream into a lousy cold war sitcom.

Continue reading Taking Back Transmedia

Free Versions of Ong’s Hat: Incunabula

Disclaimer: While I am quite proud of the framework I created to deliver the OH story (as outlined here, here, here and other places) I can no longer endorse some of the ideas used in the actual story content (co-created) or some views held by some of the people behind those ideas. I’ll leave it at that  since I also despise gossip and those that traffic in it. This is not intended as Internet drama. I merely leave this as a historical record.

 

Another Mirror at the End of the Road

I have an article on Mel Lyman and the Lyman Family in the next issue of “Another Mirror at the End of the Road” sometime in November/December (depending on when it makes it to your mailbox).

If you don’t know about “Mirror” I highly recommend it as a magazine of “High Weirdness”. I read every issue, cover to cover when it arrives in my mailbox. It is a print only publication and handily comes with a  standard three hole punch so you can collect them all.

Check out Coincidence Control Network pilot episode

Welcome to the pilot episode of CCN, a weekly show that examines emerging countercultures, fringe science, Magickal happenings, and other strange blips on the social landscapes that we all occupy.

This week we examine: The Occupy Movement, Metallica and Lou Reed, killing for Star Wars toys, the occult significance of the Statue of Liberty, and The Exegesis of Phillip K Dick.

Personel – Joe Nolan, Kim Monaghan, and Ken Eakins.

Check it out at Sitting Now or Alterarti.

I’ll be on the next and other episodes of this show. (Had a GMT/PST brain fart). I also came up with the name.

On Whistleblower Radio: Archive

Had a great time talking to my old friend Kerry Cassidy last night on her show, Whistleblower Radio. Here’s an archive of the show, in case you missed it. http://www.americanfreedomradio.com/archive/Project-Camelot-32k-091411.mp3

Also YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSVGxG_bANY

Ong’s Hat eBook Now on iTunes

Ong’s Hat: The Beginning is now available on iTunes for your iPad, iPhone and other ePub compliant readers. It is reasonably priced at$4.99 USD.

I will also be releasing an official audiobook through Audible.com later this year.

All this is in preparation for a new Ong’s  Hat spin-off novel (a sort of meta-sequel) that is in the works for release early next year.

In the meantime, enjoy the “beginning” in your favorite format.

Get it here

THE BUSINESS OF STORYTELLING: PRODUCTION OF WORKS, POACHING COMMUNITIES, AND CREATION OF STORY WORLDS

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THE BUSINESS OF STORYTELLING: PRODUCTION OF WORKS, POACHING COMMUNITIES, AND CREATION OF STORY WORLDS
by Bakioglu, Burcu S., Ph.D., INDIANA UNIVERSITY, 2009, 402 pages; 3373494

Accepted by the Graduate Faculty, Indiana University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

pdficon_largeA paper [PDF] that uses copious quotes from This is Not a Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming and has  section about the Ong’s Hat project.

Abstract:

My study is an analysis of the divergent ways the materiality of works affect the process of meaning-making across various media and investigates how it influences the production of works. A work born in media convergence inevitably elicits hybrid forms of story-telling that offer immersive and interactive environments in which users are expected to perform certain activities. In such an environment, I argue that storytelling becomes a collaborative, and more importantly, a participatory process. My dissertation, ultimately, interrogates the nature of performativity and collaboration in works that extend across various media. I develop the model of performative narratives to refer to works that encourage and rely on such activities for the formation of their texts, such as experimental novels, YouTube videos, Alternate Reality Games, and multi-user virtual environments that are based on user-generated content such as Second Life. As such, my study investigates how works become sites of struggle because the stories that they narrate are in a state of constant negotiation between its producers/creators, the medium of the work, and the communities that these works mobilize.


Thriving Underground Website Anonymously Markets Illegal Drugs

I’m cited as an “expert” in this article by my old friend David Jay Brown. It’s about Bitcoin and Silk Road.

Read it here: The Silk Road website uses an anonymous browser, untraceable currency, shifting servers and an encrypted Web address to allow for a thriving illegal drug trade on the Internet.

To learn more about Silk Road, and about the Bitcoin economy that fuels it, I interviewed transmedia writer/artist Joseph Matheny, who is an expert on computer encryption and the underground Internet economy. According to Matheny, ordering from Silk Road is generally safe, if you know what you’re doing and take the proper precautions.

Now see me blather and spew on Kindle as well!

Just an update: Some titles I wrote and/or contributed to are now available on Kindle.

Robert Anton Wilson Remembered

Robert Anton Wilson Remembered [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

get it on:

UPDATE: This collection is now availabe on Archive.org

by Douglas Rushkoff (Author, Narrator), Antero Ali (Author, Narrator), Tiffany Brown (Author, Narrator), David Brown (Author), Zac Odin (Author), Joseph Matheny (Author, Narrator), Alan Meridian (Narrator)

 

New Book Coming Out: Rebels and Devils

Rebels & DevilsRebels & Devils

The Psychology of Liberation

edited by Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D. introduced by S. Jason Black foreword by Nicholas Tharcher contributions by William S. Burroughs Joseph C. Lisiewski, Ph.D. Timothy Leary Ph.D., Robert Anton Wilson, Austin Osman Spare, Genesis P-Orridge, Aleister Crowley, Joseph Matheny, Peter J. Carroll, Israel Regardie, Jack Parsons, Phil Hine, Osho, and many others.

I feel honored to be included in such rebellious company. Available Now.

Hukilau’s Slate Application is available for the iPad and in the store today

Hukilau SlateHukilau Slate

By RightSprite

Open iTunes to buy and download apps.

View here

Description

Version one is a simple and easy to use movie slate that allows you to type in the values for all the standard fields like “scene number”, “production name” , etc. Shaking the iPad will result in a realistic clapping sound. Version two, slated to come out in a week or so, will have a running LED clock, a scene incrementation button and few stylistic improvements. We encourge users to download it, try it out and send us ideas for features, design and improvements. (*created by Rightsprite from my idea and with my direction)

Robert Anton Wilson: The Lost Studio Session and other titles

51k5t+1ylpl._sy355_ Robert Anton Wilson: The Lost Studio Session

By Robert Anton Wilson
and Joseph Matheny

UPDATE: All RAW audio and video titles now available for free on Archive.org

First recorded in Chicago in 1994, this previously unreleased audio session with the renowned Robert Anton Wilson has been stored away for fifteen years…and almost lost entirely. If Bob knew how many synchronicities surround the rediscovery and release of this “lost” studio session, he would be chuckling in that half jolly, half mischievous way of his. If you believe in any kind of afterlife, maybe you can imagine him laughing right now. I like that image: Bob the laughing Buddha, still having one over on us from the great beyond. -Joseph Matheny (from the liner notes)

Continue reading Robert Anton Wilson: The Lost Studio Session and other titles

Black Book Omega: CIRQUE APOKLYPSIS

Black Book OmegaBlack Book Omega
CIRQUE APOKLYPSIS

by Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D. Joseph Matheny, Nick Pell, Calvin Iwema, Wes Unruh, Antero Alli

Illustrated by P. Emerson Williams, Joseph Matheny and MobiusFrame

Product Information: 56pg Booklet

ISBN-10: 1-935150-75-8
ISBN-13: 978-1-935150-75-6

At Original Falcon

Someone put a digital copy up on Scribd.

Pilotlite/DPRGRM Bringing Podcasting to LAFF

Los Angeles, CA June 1, 2009–Award wining immersive media artist Joseph Matheny has announced that his companies, Pilotlite and DPRGRM will be producing the official podcast for the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival. Matheny, with his companies, Metalepsis and DPRGRM pioneered film festival podcasting in 2006, with the first ever “from the floor” podcast with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.  (Archive link: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/01/prweb337659.htm)  The SBIFF podcast produced segments that were picked up by major media sources, like Variety, E! and Starz, putting SBIFF on the map.

“We’re proud to bring the ‘from the carpet and from the floor’ experience to Los Angeles and aim to achieve even better results than we did with the SBIFF” said Matheny. “Piltolite/DPRGRM strives to always be on the cutting edge of the evolving media landscape. We’ll be pushing out audio-video podcasts, click to play, and still image archives of seminars, talks and red carpet events. This will “virtualize” the event for those who attended to revisit their experience, as well as offering a taste for those who might not be able to attend this year, but hope to in the future. Virtualizing events lengthens the “knee” of the bell curve for live events. This will be the first year for a official podcasting station at the LAFF and we’re proud to be breaking ground once again and to be providing a valuable service to the independent film community.” Continue reading Pilotlite/DPRGRM Bringing Podcasting to LAFF

Farewell to a friend

Friend and long time supporter of Incunabula, El Centro, Greylodge and Alterati, Dave Szulborski has passed away after a long and incredibly courageous battle with leukemia. He leaves behind his wife Marianne, his baby son Tyler, and many many friends both on-line and in the real world.

As many of you know I collaborated on several projects with Dave over the years, sometimes playing characters in his productions, co-writing productions together and even contributed and collected pieces for his books. I considered him a friend and a stalwart individual and he will be missed in my life. Catch ya l8r bro.