I specialize in media history and media archaeology, with a particular interest in the material culture of analog and early digital technologies.
My current research occurs at the Residual Media Depot (RMD), a research and teaching collection associated with the Media History Research Centre (MHRC) in the Milieux Institute at Concordia University. The focus of the Residual Media Depot’s collection is early video game consoles (1972-2002), and modified versions of those consoles.
As far as I can tell, the RMD holds the largest institutional collection of boxed video game consoles in Canada. The Depot’s collection is unique in that it also includes the largest institutional collection of modified (“modded”) consoles in the world, specifically, those that have been modified to output RGB and HDMI signals. We also have a wide range of upscalers, signal processors, converters and custom-made cables to use with these consoles, and a modest collection of video game arcade cabinet marquees.
The RMD collection provides material for a range of intriguing research projects. You can read about them in detail at the Residual Media Depot’s own site.
My most recent completed nonfiction book is Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg, for the University of Toronto Press Canadian Cinema series.
My first academic book was The Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting. I’ve written or cowritten five other books about technology and culture, including the Canadian bestseller Internet Directory 2000 (with Scott Mitchell); Commonspace: Beyond Virtual Community (with Mark Surman); and FREE as in speech and beer.
I’m also the author of four books of poetry: NICHOLODEON: a book of lowerglyphs, the first book printed by the newly revived Coach House Books in 1997; the tapeworm foundry, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Prize in 2000; apostrophe (with Bill Kennedy), the first book ever written with a search engine and the first book of Canadian poetry published under a Creative Commons license; and Update, a sequel to apostrophe, also written with Bill Kennedy, using Facebook status updates as its source material. And, just to keep ourselves amused, Hal Niedzviecki and I wrote The Original Canadian City Dweller’s Almanac.
I am an Associate Professor in the English department at Concordia University, and Affiliate Faculty in the department of Communication Studies, the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture. I teach courses on contemporary literature, video games, and, at the graduate level, media archaeology, media history, and research methods. My current courses include Media Archaeology (January 2020) and Video Games and/as Theory (January 2020).
Editing and Design
From 1998 to 2002, I was the senior editor at Coach House Books, the first press in the world to simultaneously publish full-text editions of its entire frontlist online and in paper. I’ve also served on the Board of Wilfrid Laurier University Press, and done a few odd editorial and/or design project for Coach House and other small presses. The most recent of these are Laura Broadbent’s Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is It Raining?, Steve McCaffery’s Verse and Worse: New and Selected Poems 1989-2009, and The Alphabet Game: a bpNichol reader, which I co-edited with Lori Emerson.