On May 1, 2021, IFTF’s board of directors more than doubled its size with the election of five new members. This fulfills the task the board gave itself at the start of the year to grow and redefine its role within the organization. As the executive body that provides strategic oversight to IFTF and its various programs, the board today aims to keep a broader, more diverse, and more regularly rotating membership than it held over the organization’s first five years.

Have a look at our updated board page, and meet the new directors! They include Hugo Labrande, Jan DeLozier, Jedidjah Julia Noomen, Kofi Oduro, and Lydia Pauly. The five represent a broad swath of personal and professional backgrounds, representing many different approaches to the study and creation of interactive narrative.

Among a wealth of new experience and expertise, the new directors add a refreshing international perspective to IFTF’s board as well. Since its founding, all of IFTF’s directors have been American, and almost all lived near the organization’s home city of Boston. With membership now stretching between Western Canada and Europe, the board now stands more able to serve an interactive fiction community that has long spanned the whole globe.

IFTF has published its 2020 transparency report as a six-page PDF.

From the summary:

As a small nonprofit of modest goals and thin overhead costs, IFTF spent the world-wide annus horribilis of 2020 able to keep all its extant public-service programs running more or less as usual. All the programs found success sticking with their respective missions, though the conference program did face some particularly significant challenges.

IFTF itself didn’t grow or change in any obvious fashion, but did use the energy of suddenly ubiquitous global teleconferencing to engage in the most intense long-term planning since the organization’s founding four years earlier. These discussions led to some fairly radical decisions about the maturing nonprofit’s ideal structure, the effects of which we expect to see unfold in 2021.

On March 15, 2021, I will resign from the board of directors of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation. I plan to continue serving as chair of the Twine committee (and to continue my association with IFTF in general), and in fact a large part of the reasons behind my resignation relate to that duty.

I chose this date because it’s exactly five years after I began in the position—and five years, more or less, after IFTF itself began. But I am choosing to do it now because this past year, I found that I had overcommitted myself. It is a lot of work to serve on the board of directors of a nonprofit. It’s also a lot of work to chair a committee. And, honestly, I don’t think I was able to do both effectively at the same time. I found myself choosing to prioritize one over the other over the course of 2020, which meant I neglected the other role. I would like to say that I balanced things so that one role never became too neglected, but I don’t know that that was always true.

Deciding between the two roles was not hard. Twine is my priority, in an IFTF context and outside it. But more than that, I am confident that IFTF is on solid footing. I wouldn’t be resigning if I didn’t believe so. And I am very excited to see where the efforts to expand the board lead this year. It is time for more voices, and more varied voices.


[We are deeply grateful to Chris for his help over the past five years, and we are excited to see Twine continuing to move forward under his guidance. We’ll have more news in the coming months about bringing new people onto the Board and into all of IFTF’s projects. Signed, the rest of the Board.]

We’ve got three big pieces of news about IFDB, the Interactive Fiction Database:

  • In 2021, the new “IFDB Committee” of IFTF will adopt IFDB from its founder, Michael J Roberts.
  • We’re planning to move IFDB from its home at ifdb.tads.org to ifdb.org. The new site isn’t ready yet. We’ll redirect old links to the new website when it becomes available.
  • The source code of IFDB is now available on Github; we’re open for pull requests!

We’re Adopting IFDB

Michael J Roberts founded IFDB in 2007, with the goal “to make IFDB a one-stop shopping site for IF.” Today, thanks to Michael’s heroic work over 14 years, IFDB is a thriving database of community-sourced metadata, bibliographic information, and reviews of interactive fiction. IFDB makes it easy for everyone to find, play, and review interactive fiction.

This week, IFTF has chartered a new IFDB committee. In 2021, this new committee will adopt IFDB, overseeing its operation, maintenance, and improvement.

IFDB Is Moving to ifdb.org

We’re planning to move IFDB from its home at ifdb.tads.org to ifdb.org.

The new site isn’t ready yet. We’ll redirect old links to the new site when ifdb.org becomes available, so you won’t have to update links from the old site to the new one.

Hack on IFDB’s Source Code with Us

For the first time, IFDB’s source code is now publicly available on Github.

You can download it and follow the instructions in our README to set up a local, private copy of IFDB from the comfort of your own laptop, and file pull requests to make enhancements to the code.

(Our setup guide will automatically download a copy of IFDB’s MySQL database from the IF Archive.)

We have a bunch of ideas for major improvements we could make to IFDB. We’re currently tracking those big ideas in a separate IFDB Suggestion Tracker.

We’re looking forward to your suggestions and your pull requests!

(This post originally appeared on the forum; discussion continues there.)

As seen in our recent and first-ever open call for new board members, IFTF wishes to expand the size of its board of directors beyond the five seats that it’s held since the organization’s founding in 2016. A larger board can be a far more diverse one, allowing a wider range of voices to define IFTF’s strategy in the years ahead, and a broader spectrum of perspective to help make sure that all IFTF’s activities stay true to its mission.

As part of this effort, IFTF’s board needs to redefine and better focus its own role and responsibilities within the organization. Over the last year, consultants we’ve worked with have advised us that current expectations for board membership make recruiting new directors more difficult, limiting our available talent pool.

Specifically, IFTF has from its founding had a “working board” that meets several times a month, with most members putting in volunteer hours each week to manage the organization at every level. Starting in 2021, this changes. The board will continue to serve as IFTF’s executive body, providing oversight and strategic leadership. The day-to-day labor of running the organization, however, will fall to a new steering council comprising IFTF’s officers (including its president) and the chairs of all its program committees.

We expect this new separation of responsibilities to have two positive effects. First, it reduces the minimum workload required from any board member. Instead of essentially taking on IFTF management as a volunteer job demanding continuous time and attention, board members can now choose to budget as few as a couple of hours per month—just enough to attend meetings and follow relevant news—and still participate meaningfully in keeping IFTF on-mission. We hope that this change makes the role more accessible and palatable to a wider spectrum of candidates, with many different backgrounds.

Secondly, shifting the responsibility of day-to-day management to the nonprofit’s officers and program leaders acknowledges that those programs run the public services and resources that transform IFTF’s mission from a short paragraph on a website into actual, world-improving work. In a real sense, these programs already run the show, and have for years.

With this official recognition of the fact, the leadership of IFTF’s programs continue to do their jobs just as they have so far, only now with greater voice in conducting IFTF’s day-to-day affairs. The addition of IFTF’s officers—the president, the treasurer, and so on—gives this group the power to actually implement tactical decisions and take care of ongoing overhead: paying the bills, and such.

Starting in February 2021, the board will ask IFTF program leaders—all members of this new council—to begin sending brief, monthly reports to the board. These can be as short as “No news to report”, when there isn’t any; otherwise, programs can go into as much detail in these internal reports as they please.

This changes the current state of affairs, where the board itself tried to pay attention to every program’s monthly activity, and then discussed it internally at every board meeting. While this made sense in IFTF’s earliest days, even just a little bit of organizational growth has resulted in a lopsided amount of additional work for board members, while keeping programs unnecessarily cut off from communicating their own news to the board. This change addresses both of these problems.

We plan to start effecting these changes within the first three months of 2021. As always, please follow our blog or our Twitter account for news, and do consider signing up for our quarterly newsletter as well.

The Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation (IFTF) seeks to expand its board of directors, adding as many as six new board positions in 2021. To this end, we are issuing this open call for new board members, welcoming self-nominations from throughout the interactive fiction, hypertext, and narrative-game communities.

The board provides IFTF’s strategic leadership, making sure that all its programs fulfill the organization’s mission and adhere to its values, while evaluating new projects and directions as well. Serving a two-year volunteer term on IFTF’s board represents a terrific and highly visible opportunity to advocate for, support, and preserve interactive fiction as an art form.

Serving on IFTF’s board does not require any previous board or nonprofit experience. (In fact, most of our co-founders and current board members had no such experience prior to IFTF!) It requires a time-commitment as small as a couple of hours per month.

Please direct all inquiries to board@iftechfoundation.org, and read on for further details about this opportunity.

Reasons to serve

Service on IFTF’s board gives each member a voice in the organization’s management and direction, including the allocation of resources to public-service programs benefiting interactive fiction. It becomes a real way to personally assist, encourage, and shape this art form.

Participation in a nonprofit board such as IFTF’s provides experience in leadership, business, and philanthropy. You will have the opportunity to build name recognition and forge relationships with leaders in narrative gaming.

While service on IFTF’s board of directors carries no direct remuneration, the organization does financially compensate for administrative support, travel, and accommodation costs in relation to board members’ duties.

About IFTF

IFTF is a charitable nonprofit corporation that helps ensure the ongoing maintenance, improvement, and preservation of the tools and services crucial to the creation and distribution of interactive fiction, as well as the development of new projects to foster the continued growth of this art form.

For more information, please see IFTF’s homepage:

https://iftechfoundation.org/

About this position

The board of directors provides leadership and strategic governance to IFTF. While the organization’s day-to-day work happens at the program level, the board works as partner and advisor to the committees that operate these programs. It also provides executive oversight, assuring that all IFTF program work stays true to the organization’s mission.

As with any other nonprofit, IFTF board members also contribute to the organization’s culture, effectiveness, and financial sustainability. They serve as public ambassadors of IFTF and advocates of IF.

Duties

Board members help the organization in multiple ways:

  • Assuring that IFTF meets all its legal and fiduciary responsibilities—this includes approving IFTF’s annual budget, audit reports, and material business decisions.
  • Overseeing and regularly reviewing IFTF’s growth efforts, including donor acquisition, mailing list subscriptions, and program participation.
  • Ensuring IFTF’s ongoing commitment to a diverse staff that reflects the communities that IFTF serves.
  • Serving as a trusted partner to committee leads as they develop and implement IFTF strategic plans.
  • Partnering with the organization’s president and other board members to ensure that board resolutions are carried out.
  • Serving on committees or task forces and taking on special assignments.
  • Representing IFTF to stakeholders and acting as a public ambassador for the organization.
  • Assisting the president and officers in recruiting new board members.

Expectations

Board membership requires as little as two or three hours per month, with room to expand that for members choosing to adopt further roles or responsibilities.

These are among the commitments that board members are expected to make—though no one board member is expected to satisfy all of these at all times:

  • Attends monthly online board meetings and quarterly organization-wide strategic meetings, or engages in active asynchronous participation if scheduling prevents attendance.
  • Volunteers for assignments, and completes them thoroughly and on-time.
  • Stays informed about board matters, prepares themselves well for meetings, and reviews and comments on minutes and reports.
  • Gets to know other board members and builds a collegial working relationship that contributes to consensus.
  • Is an active participant in the board annual evaluation and planning efforts.
  • Participates in fundraising for the organization, either directly or through advocacy and referrals.

Qualifications

Ideal candidates will have the following qualifications:

  • Commitment to and understanding of any of interactive fiction’s many communities of interest.
  • An affinity for cultivating relationships and persuading, convening, facilitating, and building consensus among diverse individuals.
  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility, and a passion for improving the lives of IFTF’s community members.

IFTF wishes to foster diverse voices in interactive fiction. As such, we strongly encourage people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and other members of marginalized or underrepresented communities to apply.

Furthermore, we encourage candidates from all over the globe to participate. We will accommodate differing time schedules as needed.

Nomination Process and Timeline

Anyone may self-nominate by emailing board@iftechfoundation.org between January 1, 2021 and January 30, 2021. We will accept only nominations for yourself.

Please include a one-page statement of interest that includes the following:

  • Personal statement: Why do you want to join the IFTF board of directors?
  • Any previous contributions to IF you’d like the board to consider—these may be volunteering, authorship, advocacy, or previous IFTF-related work. None is OK!
  • Any notable experience relevant to non-profit administration. This could include financial/bookkeeping skills, legal training, previous non-profit or board positions, or technical expertise. None is OK!
  • (Optional) If you identify as a member of a marginalized group, you may provide that as part of your personal statement.

The IFTF board of directors and advisory board will review applications through February 28, 2021. We will review all potential candidates and identify and develop a slate for consideration for “in-person” (remote video) interviews. All candidates will be notified of their submission status by March 15, 2021.

At the conclusion of the interview process, the board of directors will vote to extend invitations to join the board. This is expected to be on or about April 15, 2021.

Please share this!

Feel free to share this open call with anyone you’d like, or on any other forum, blog, or discussion space around the internet. We would love to have this call go out to as broad an audience as possible.

We also welcome any questions about this opportunity at board@iftechfoundation.org.

Thank you very much!

After many years, the official Twine wiki will be retiring at the end of 2020 in favor of the Twine Cookbook. The reason for this is that the Twine Cookbook has proven to be a much more successful resource than the wiki has been, and now that the most recent version of the Cookbook has incorporated almost all content that was in the wiki, there’s little reason for the wiki to continue.

An archive of the wiki will be created before its retirement and uploaded to the IF Archivefor reference. The Cookbook continues to accept contributions from the community through pull requests to its source repo, and in fact is currently seeking volunteer editors to help review PRs and otherwise maintain the Cookbook. If you’re interested in helping with maintenance of the Cookbook, please contact IFTF.

The IFTF conference committee has this month published two reports regarding NarraScope 2020:

Our thanks go to the IFTF advisory and conference committees for their patient review through this reporting process.

The reports are also permanently linked from https://2020.narrascope.org — along with lots of other interesting stuff about the 2020 conference, such as videos of all of its talks, and and the results of its game jam.

In 2020, work on the Twine Cookbook will turn three years old—although its first published version was in January 2018, work on it began in mid-2017. It was one of the earliest projects that the IFTF Twine committee undertook, and it sought to remedy what had been a long-standing issue in the Twine community: a lack of hands-on documentation describing how to do common tasks with Twine. The Cookbook began with 59 Web pages and has grown to 162 in its 2.0 release this past May.

At least in my estimation, it has been a stellar success, and this is thanks to contributions from both the Twine committee and the larger community. I feel it truly has been a collective accomplishment. But among the many contributors the Cookbook has seen, I think credit above all belongs with Dan Cox, who has served as editor and maintainer for the Cookbook since its inception. I am deeply grateful for the work he’s done for the community.

Circumstances have called for Dan to take a less active role on the Cookbook in the near future, however, and so the Twine committee needs to find a successor for the role of maintainer and editor. As part of our efforts, I’d like to put out a call to the community to see if there is interest. If you would be interested in serving as maintainer, please contact IFTF. Dan and the rest of the committee are committed to a smooth transition process, and are more than willing to work with a new volunteer to help them get up to speed.

A short update on the NarraScope transparency report that was previously mentioned on this blog. As the conference committee worked on the report this past week, it became evident that more time is needed to prepare a complete retrospective on the event. As a result, the planned publication date of the report has changed to Monday, August 3. We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding.