Nick Montfort is assistant professor of digital media in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned a Ph.D. in computer and information science from the University of Pennsylvania and masters degrees from MIT (in media arts and sciences) and Boston University (in creative writing — poetry).
The digital media writing projects Montfort has undertaken include the blog Grand Text Auto, where he and five others write about computer narrative, poetry, games, and art; ppg256, a 256-character poetry generator; Ream, a 500-page poem written on one day; Mystery House Taken Over, a collaborative "occupation" of a classic game; Implementation, a novel on stickers written with Scott Rettberg; The Ed Report, a serialized novel written with William Gillespie; and several works of interactive fiction: Book and Volume, Ad Verbum, and Winchester's Nightmare: A Novel Machine. His work has been presented in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Irvine, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, and Washington D.C. and in Brazil, Canada, England, Mexico, Norway, and Spain.
Montfort edited The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1 (with N. Katherine Hayles, Stephanie Strickland, and Scott Rettberg, ELO, 2006) and The New Media Reader (with Noah Wardrip-Fruin, MIT Press, 2003). He wrote Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction (MIT Press, 2003), and, with William Gillespie, 2002: A Palindrome Story (Spineless Books, 2002), which was acknowledged by the Oulipo as the world's longest literary palindrome. He is now investigating narrative variation in interactive fiction and the role of platforms in creative computing. With Ian Bogost, Montfort wrote Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. This will be the first book in the MIT Press Platform Studies series, which the two are editing.
Computational writing and other sorts of writing in digital media are important for the same reasons other types of writing are: They provide aesthetic beauty, help us understand language and narrative better, give us a special space and mode for the imagination, and generally offer a way of inquiring about thought and the world. Writing allows a type of inquiry that is different from what mathematics, philosophy, science, engineering, business, and the other arts provide, so it can lead to us to new understandings. And, new media writing allows for different sorts of investigation than do other types of writing. Whether we write in forms given to us by digital systems and industries (Web pages, email messages, SMS messages, and so on) or make special use of the computer's capabilities as an interactive, multimedia machine capable of processing, we also have a unique ability in this type of writing to address the transformations that our society is undergoing due to computing and the network.