This podcast is part of the Bodily Transgressions in Fantastika Media Symposium.
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Podcast by: Tom Ue
Information Overload in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One
Every day, Wade Watts, the central character of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, checks the Hatchery, “one of the more popular gunter message forums” (32). There, he “scan[s] the most recent message threads, taking n the latest gunter news and rumours”: “The usual gunter clan flame wars. Ongoing arguments about the ‘correct’ interpretation of some cryptic passage in Anorak’s Almanac. High-level avatars bragging about some new magic item or artifact they’d obtained” (32). My central arguments, in this presentation, are that Cline offers powerful warnings about information overload, the accounting for what truly matters, and the use and misuse of information. As Henry Jenkins writes, “the age of media convergence enables communal, rather than individualistic, modes of reception” (26). Jenkins takes, as his case study, the consumers and the producers of the reality television series Survivor (2000-present). With the advent of online forums, participants more readily “share their knowledge and opinions” (28). Jenkins follows Pierre Lévy in arguing for the might of collective intelligence: “Collective intelligence refers to this ability of virtual communities to leverage the combined expertise of their members. What we cannot know or do on our own, we may be able to do collectively” (27). Jenkins’ terms, we suggest, can dexterously be applied to our reading of the gunter communities. The Hatchery and other forums sustain Wade. He visits, amongst a number of forums, Samantha’s blog “Arty’s Missives,” which “had become one of the most popular blogs on the Internet, now logging several million hits a day” (35). Wade reasonably assumes that Samantha’s blog is ripe with “misdirection and misinformation” (35). He is nevertheless hooked. By looking at Wade’s interactions with archives, we show how Cline offers particular insights into more meaningful engagements with data.
About the Authors:
Tom Ue is Co-Editor of Film International and Assistant Professor in Literature and Science at Dalhousie University. He is the co-author of The Worlds of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (Routledge, forthcoming). Ue has earned the prestigious Frederick Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship and a 2022 Dalhousie University President’s Research Excellence Award for Emerging Investigators. He is an Honorary Research Associate at University College London.
James Munday read Mathematics and Physics at Dalhousie University, where he earned the University Medal in Physics and the Sir William Young Gold Medal in Mathematics. While his academic studies have concentrated on STEM, he is co-author of the forthcoming The Worlds of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One (Routledge), and he has written and presented a number of essays on Cline’s and Tolkien’s oeuvres.
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