Posts Tagged ‘chicago’

Textfyre now has the beginning works of an MVP (minimal viable product) and our primary goal this year is to complete the MVP and look for funding.

One of the places we’re looking to for cash our federal and private education grants. We just missed a couple of federal grants in February. There just wasn’t enough time to prepare the type of proposal that’s expected. An RFP from the Gates Foundation was recently publicized and we’re making a concerted effort to complete a proposal for this grant.

In the area of product development, we’ve brought in a new team member that has a learning science and assessment science background. We’re working to redesign existing processes to ones based on IF constructs. This process has just begun.

This has led me to think about our business model. We’ve been discussing the possibility of offering all of our content for free and charging for the assessment and reporting features. These are the features that teachers and administrators would use to evaluate their students progress in areas that can be measured against the new Common Core State Standards. What do we gain by offering our stories for free? What do we lose? These are the questions we’re asking ourselves.

In other news, I am going to add maps and hints to the existing online version of The Shadow in the Cathedral and make it permanently apart of the Textfyre learning structure. It will remain free. I also plan to promote it towards classroom supplemental reading use.

One of our other team members is actively working relationships with teachers to test our service. This is an ongoing struggle since teachers have very little time. If you know a teacher that would be interested in helping us work through piloting, please send them my way. We’re focused on 4th through 8th grade.


So I’ve been attending an entrepreneur conference in Chicago this weekend and I’ve found the whole thing very interesting.

First there was the keynotes, which underlined the nature of Chicago’s seeming up and coming start up nature. And then a couple of sessions I attended were quite volatile.

The Education 2.0 session had very passionate people arguing about content and censorship, about rural Internet access, and that the start up world is looking at web 10.0 as opposed to the schools systems just sort of figuring out and having meetings on web 2.0. I ended up getting contact info from a VP at Britannica and the CTO of the Chicago Public Schools. Both seemed genuinely interested in reviewing IF and helping us work in classrooms.

Saturday morning I attended a session on responsive web design, which essentially showed how you can use the @media screen tag to create alternate views of your site based on max width, resolution, and other criteria. Very helpful if you want to create HTML for multiple devices and have it change based on CSS criteria alone.

Another morning session was on social data and this too seemed to catch people’s attention. The general concern is that there could, and already is, a sort of “character rating system” which will compile data on all of your purchase history, your social history, employment history, financial records, and allow someone to segment the population by who should be provided an easier path to wealth than others. Do you go to the library or the bar? Do you purchase healthy foods? Do you read comic books or economic journals? Do you maintain a savings account? What sort of things to you say on Facebook or Twitter? This seems both inevitable and deeply frightening.

The last session for Saturday was about Gamification and the panel was made up of iconic game designers involved in Mortal Combat, Tony Hawk, Call of Duty, and more. The discussion talked about rubberbanding games and then using social media and various kinds of rewards to keep people at a website.

I’m taking Sunday off to decompress and assimilate everything. I had not planned to attend the Monday sessions, but it looks like it has most of the entreprenurial content. It looks like a must-attend day from Textfyre’s perspective.

Last night at the Harold Washington Library we kicked off the Chicago Interactive Fiction Group with its first ever meetup. The attendees included Peter Nepstad and two newcomers: Edward Blair and Steve (forgot his last name). Steve is a complete lurker in that he reads Google Groups, but has never posted. Ed was at PAX East and was five people away from getting into the writing discussion, but made it into Get Lamp. He stopped by the IF Suite on Sunday, but it was so packed, he never came in.

We talked about a lot of things, but mostly on how to get more people interested in IF. Ed is very much into the indy zine/comic/music scene in Chicago and he has some great ideas. Peter has a table at the Printer’s Row Book Fair and will be selling 1893 again. There are indy bookstores in Chicago and the Chicago Underground Library that seem like good places to leave promotional CD’s and flyers.

One of the things that came up with the promotional CD is that we need to make it a dual Mac/PC CD. Even the PC side could use an upgrade from its current HTA (HTML Application) format.

The consensus was that we need to put as many games on CD’s as possible and hand as many out as possible.

We went out for a beer afterwards and I had someone take a picture, but it didn’t turn out for some reason.

Before the meetup, I stopped by the YouMedia center again and this time talked to Taylor Bayless, the gal that introduced Zork to the kids in a retro-gaming session. They do these on Mondays from 3:30pm to 5pm. I’m going to try to join in a session and show the kids Inform 7. She was excited about the idea of getting the kids to make their own games.

All in all it was a great start. Hopefully we can get more people to come down next month. Since Peter is going to be at the Printer’s Row Book Fair, there’s an idea of having the next meetup there, on a Saturday.

Remember to check the group’s website for more information.