Friday, March 31, 2017

Biddle 223 at UPJ

I decided to use a Facebook page for my location-based narrative, which struck it down a peg for originality but allowed it to be both cohesive and open for exploration.  The nature of Facebook timelines is such that the pieces are a bit scattered, which is an accurate representation of the space.  My experiences in Biddle 223 are scattered throughout time, and it's rare for everyone I see there regularly to be there at the same time.  There are four people I see most often in the second-floor Biddle meeting room, and those four people got little Humans of New York-style photos with captions.  With digital technology, I was able to assemble a group of photos and bunches of text that represent my typical interactions in Biddle 223 over a short span of time.  The room cannot be both empty and full at the same time in physical space, but it can be in the digital.

I chose Biddle 223 for my project because I've been spending a lot of time there the last three semesters.  It's where I hang out with my French friends, my best friends on campus.  I made a few acquaintances before meeting the three students pictured in my narrative back in Intermediate French I, but I've definitely spoken with these three the most since then.  There are a few other people who I regularly spend time with in Biddle 223, but these three are there the most.  And as for the pictured professor, I'm in his office at least once a week.  He has great office hours.  I've learned from the feedback I received in class that there are many other students who have come to love this room on campus during their time at UPJ.  If I were to expand this project for my final project in the class, I would expand the project beyond simply my experience with the room, including perspectives from other students, as well as more photos and captions.  The project as it stands represents Biddle 223 when it is empty and when it is subject to my presence, but I think the meaning of the room is deeper than that. This page ought to represent everyone who has had the privilege of passing through Biddle 223 at UPJ.

Search for Comedy Gold

I feel like comedy is beginning to fade out of popular culture.  Which is surprising.  I suppose satire is on the rise, but straight-up comedy has been declining the past few years.  It makes sense, with the economic climate improving slightly and the political climate descending swiftly.  Still, I think there's a place for comedy in our current culture.  But it can be a little difficult to find the right jokes for the moment.

Like for some of my past ideas, I have no clue how to execute on this project, but I have an idea for an app or website called Search for Comedy Gold.  Based upon the prompt below, it will allow users to type one word into the search bar and find jokes that contain that word or a very similar word.


With Search for Comedy Gold, you'll be able to find a joke on any subject in seconds.  There would be some censors to prevent clearly-offensive jokes as well as to prevent users from getting any results for clearly-offensives words such as (what, did you think I was going to actually give an example?!).  This resource would allow for easier access to the comedy you want in the moment.  Auf Wiedersehen.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Working Title: This App

Communicating with aliens could get pretty tricky if they don't know any Earth languages.  And by the same token, it can be very hard to communicate with other people who don't know any languages we know.  Sometimes, we might not even know what language or languages the people near us know.  This gave me an idea: What if there were an app that would detect the language most chiefly spoken in proximity to your location?  I don't have nearly the skill-set necessary to execute on this idea, but I'd like to lay it out here.

Above you can see a photo of an exercise from the Steal Like An Artist Journal.  As I wrote at the beginning, lack of language knowledge could ultimately render such a letter moot.  Unless the aliens learned how to read English or designed some sort of program to translate for them, they wouldn't be able to read it.

Say that you're backpacking through Europe and you stumble into Switzerland.  Well, Switzerland has a lot of language diversity.  You could always Google the names of towns to figure out what language they spoke most chiefly, but in certain places, that language might vary depending upon the neighborhood.  Even in the U.S., it can be unclear in certain cases whether you're in a predominantly English-speaking or predominantly Spanish-speaking "part of town," at least at first.  If you want to have the highest chance possible of communicating with the people around you in these cases, you'll want this theoretical app (once it, theoretically, exists).

This app would also work with dialect.  Type in something you would like to say in your native or favorite language, and the app will use GIS systems and databases (or something) to determine what language and dialect is utilized most often within, say, half a square mile of your location.  The app would then translate what you type in into that language and dialect and help you pronounce it.  You could also just point your talking phone at someone, but that might be rude to some people.  This app could also offer some culture tips to help you avoid unwitting offense to the local populace.

With this app (Working Title: This App), communicating with people in your immediate proximity just got/will get/could plausibly get easier.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Nuclear Family: Remixed by Patrick Stahl (and You!)

(You can read about the spark for this project here.)

The first story that came to my mind when I decided that I wanted to make an interactive remix story was "Nuclear Family."  After asking author Alex Shvartsman for permission to use it, I went ahead with my piece.  I crafted twenty-seven pages in Sublime Text 3 using HTML and CSS coding.  Then I uploaded the files to my UPJ server space with WinSCP.  "Nuclear Family: Remixed by Patrick Stahl (and You!)" contains twenty-six remixes of "Nuclear Family," some with subtle changes and some heavily rewritten.  The first four sentences are maintained throughout the piece.

Some of the remixes of this story are meant to be manipulative to the user, making them think there will be major changes when really there aren't.  This story is pretty brutal, and often the remixes are too.  It's possible that none of the remixes are quite as horrifying as the original, but I think a couple might be even worse.  Several, on the other hand, have a relatively happy ending.  Still not great, but sometimes more comical or soft.  Certain remixes are based upon differences in situation or character, while others change effects by changing causes (like the first option on Page 3AA aka D.html).  I made many of my specific decisions for this project on the fly.  Some remixes are more entertaining within the context of this project than as stories standing on their own.  In fact, many of them probably are, and that was my intention.  I think this project turned out just as well as I had hoped.

Sorta Pie Memes

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word "meme" is: "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."  Most of the time, memes are presented as images overlaid with words; however, this need not be the case.  The idea that I am about to present borders on memehood.  The individual pieces may not all be memes, but some of them would convey parcels of culture, and some could potentially enter into popular culture themselves.  Below is the exercise I was inspired by:

This exercise was left undefined.  There are pie charts that are wont for labels.  So I labeled them.  I tried to take them and turn them into charts of frequency.  The proportions are approximate.  Then the one broken to thirds forced my hand.  I've cut cat food into various pieces, but when I first started it was always two cans, each split into thirds.

Check out this cool pie chart that, coincidentally, exemplifies my idea!

I think it could be interesting to start a new sort of "sorta meme" site.  Have a "Sorta Pie Meme" generator that allowed users to break a pie into as many pieces as they wanted (up to maybe ten), each in whatever size they would like (with the minimum being a one-pixel line).  Different sorts of ideas could be conveyed in this manner than can be conveyed by standard memes.  I don't have the technical know-how to execute on this idea right now, but it's possible that I will some day.  I sorta like it.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Of a Thing Writ

The entry I did for today's post (for my Writing for Digital Media course) is a Moby Dick black-out poem.  The Steal Like An Artist Journal printed two pages from the classic novel with the request to black out words to make a poem.  I only ended up using the first page.  You can see it below.  (I've also typed it out at the bottom of this post.)

I used this prompt as inspiration for my idea for my next project in the class.  The project is an interactive narrative.  I'll be selecting a flash fiction piece or a passage from a longer story (or even a poem, perhaps) to use as my base.  To start, there will be a few words, phrases, or sentences toward the beginning of the base that'll be hyperlinked.  Clicking on the hyperlink will dissolve those words on the next screen, as well as change the text that follows, based upon the absence of those words.  That next page will also contain options for the second round of transformations.  The transformation process will repeat at least once more.

This project will require a good number of pages.  I believe I will be using HTML and basic CSS to make them.  Because of the time required to rewrite the text and determine where the hyperlinks should go, I'll probably limit myself to around 25 total pages, maybe a few more.  This idea takes the interactivity of a black-out poem and strips it of some of its freedom, but instead allows the player to look into the writing process, to see how decisions made in storytelling affect a story as one writes.  It should be interesting and entertaining as well as interactive.

Below is the poem from above, typed out for easier reading:

see a space
the light to spread
faster than
top-gallant sails
kept on 'tis but
the rush
pertinacious pursuit
into night, and through
no means
confidence great
observation of
circumstances, pretty
for a time
while out of sight

losing of a coast,
return again,
this pilot
of the cape
with the whale
gently daylight,
wake through the
darkness sagacious mind
of a thing writ in
water, a wake
steadfast Leviathan