Update: You can follow Deena's adventures in South Africa here. She also writes, apparently in answer to numerous inquiries, "no, I have not yet seen an elephant here."
Original posting: Hypertext author Deena Larsen will be spending this coming summer in South Africa. (That's their summer, the Northern Hemisphere winter.) Her life threatening medical conditions will be helped by the additional sunshine and rest, and she will be working on a new version of her classic Marble Springs.
If you are a South African digital artist or educator, below I'll list reasons why you might enjoy meeting with Deena, having her address your class, or collaborating with her. But first, for friends and fans...
This year's Deena projects
In addition to coding Marble Springs 2.0 (with Leighton Christiansen), planning for Marble Springs 3.0, and holding down her day job, Deena also finished the coding on A Modern Moral Fairy Tale, co-authored with the late MaJe Larsen, and completed another large chunk of Chronic Bio, another of her many works that have involved inventing new ways of writing and therefore reading. (Let me know if you'd like to see a slide show about plans for unleashing this work on the world.) She invites all sister/brother hypertexters and their friends/families to stay with her next summer at a natural hot spring 8000 feet above sea level where she intends to complete the third and final section of Chronic Bio.
Speaking of her day job, Deena originated the idea for the brochure Federal Workers Keep America Running, Every Hour of Every Day, (mirrored here by me), wrote/edited the countless versions necessary to get it approved by her union and her work group, and then fought through the additional layers necessary to get it published...and in this climate of relentless budget cutting it was picked up by the Washington Post...
For those who don't know her, here are my opinions about...
Why it's fun to work/play with Deena
(1) Deena can push any digital platform beyond its limits and use it in new (usually unintended) ways that we can all learn from.
I vividly remember how she created a new work on Trellix, along with a "wish list" of about sixty new features that she would like included in future releases, in a single day. Her successes in pushing the boundaries of HyperCard, StorySpace, Flash poetry (e.g E:Electron with Geoffrey Gatza), games (The Princess Murderer with geniwate), and so on are even better known.
(2) Deena's brain is not normal. She stores information and makes connections differently than we neurotypicals do, in extremely interesting ways. Another way to say this is that Deena seems to use more of her brain than most people. You will not be bored. (Having said this, she is sensitive to NT issues and consults frequently to make sure students and collaborators are getting what they need.)
(3) Deena is generous and inspiring and down-to-earth. She tends to leave people with a sense of new possibilities for their own work...
Due to a chronic condition called MHE (which is not her most severe medical problem, but it's the one I have a Wikipedia link for), Deena has some issues with mobility and chronic pain. And she is face-blind, so it's helpful to remind her of your name every time you change your clothing (once a day, in the morning, does it for me), at which point she will be fine. She totally knows who we all are, she just can't identify us by our faces. And she blasts right through all of these problems in teaching rhetorical techniques for interactive literature or whatever else you might find helpful.
Deena herself is contacting South African teachers and artists. I am happy to provide references for her if necessary, but the strongest references are the works themselves. Deena, I hope you have a wonderful second summer and I look forward to working with you again upon your return.