I Can’t Believe It’s Not Journalism!

“It’s like journalism–only better.” (pg. 6, slide 3)

This is bad

My Second Rodeo

So….that Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is some story, right? Some great work of far-off, far-fetched fiction, right? Like, could you even imagine living in a world like that???? Wild, right?

nervous laughter

I’m dying

WildHelp.

Alright, alright. Enough thinly veiled references to the blazing “hugest” dumpster fire politics in the greatest country in the world have become. However cathartic it may be…. 

I’m ready for Ashton Kutcher to pop out and reveal America’s been punked.

I remember when I first read Stevan Živadinovic’s Hobo Lobo a few years back, during election year, I believe. I was blown away, then, by how poignant the piece seemed. The allusions to socio-political points of contention such as xenophobia, nationalism, and big news media corporations (like Fox News) seemed so clear and so powerful, especially when paired with the invocations of Big Brother and the Fourth Estate. These complex, complicate, and, often, dark concepts seemed such a contrast, too, to the storybook, Dr-Seuss-esque elements used to convey them. It was shocking to see these elements so overtly packaged for consumption by the youth. Indoctrination is supposed to be subtle, you know?

Hobo Lobo seemed to be as much a modern reimagining of The Pied Piper medieval folktale as it was scathing commentary on contemporary politics, the 24/7 news cycle, and the effects of late-capitalism on the US.

Now, the work is f*cking horrifying.

the horror

If Hobo Lobo was too close for comfort before, now it’s a living nightmare.

I mean, look at this face:

Dick's bulbous head.png

Could use more orange….

Nightmare fuel.

And, that’s just the imagery. When paired with the actual language used in this work, Hobo Lobo becomes highly unsettling. In fact, despite this work being ELit, I found it very difficult not to read it as I would a traditional narrative. The work, though, I think lends itself to that kind of reading–being modeled after a hybrid of the standard design of a pop-up storybook and the typical design of comic books. Unlike comic books proper, though, pages shift fluidly into each other, elements of both language and imagery flowing from one “panel” to the next, creating a “poly-linear timeline” and a kind of “infinite canvas”. Time seems to progress as the work “flows” from one event into the next. Persistence of narrative occurs in that the imagery of each page coincides with the lexia beneath it, nothing de-contextualized about it. In fact, everything seems embedded in a thinly-veiled context–i.e a not veiled at all one #didn’teventry~ The pieces of propaganda strewn purposefully in the background of most panels seem to reinforce a socio-political reading.

1st screen_LI

I mean, you can’t reference Big Brother and not expect the ghost of Orwell to ruin the party. That’s his thing.

Hobo Lobo is a work that is meant to be read. Even the pages that do not make use of lexia, use images and sound–like pipe music and the laughter of children, the resolute thud of stone against earth–to convey not-totally-illusive narrative.

Click to view slideshow.

I mean, these images are narrative. Even if I did not have the accompanying limerick to direct my interpretation, I think I could figure out the story. 

Anyway, regardless of what contemporary parallels I draw from the content, I believe  Živadinovic’s Hobo Lobo is a compelling work of Elit, whose language, design, and aesthetic all work in tandem to immerse readers in this upside-down, surreal-but-hyper-real, topsy-turvy caricature world.  It’s combination of whimsical, folktale, Dr. Seuss-esque with snarky, political satire is both charming and revealing of the dark truth of indoctrination: that it’s all child’s play until the stone bites the dust and you’re swallowed whole.

Click to view slideshow.

References How I know my sh*t:

Elmcip “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin”

I ❤ E-Poetry “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin”

****

~Till next time~

hannibalwinkingsexilygif

 

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin/Blog 3

There is, once again, hope for a relationship between myself and eLit thanks to Hobo Lobo of Hamelin by Stevan Živadinović. This comic boasts intriguing imagery, rich language, a classically relevant story line, as well as mechanics that allow the reader to see a 3-D world on a 2-D screen. I was captivated from the very first panel.

Not only is the imagery in Hobo Lobo of Hamelin intriguing, but it is dynamic as well. The art style is newsy, the color purposeful. It starts off mysterious at first, with yellows and pinks that give the audience a glimpse about what kind of town this is. The color then jumps to mostly greens and then blues in the rising action of the story, signifying the carefree life of Hobo Lobo. However, the blue abruptly changes to red in the 3rd strip, after Hobo Lobo had led all the rats to their death. As the story progresses, the mayor can be seen with an increasing amount of red splatter on his body and face.

The language in this story was rich and varied. The opening line was, “Once upon a time, in an age long forgotten because it was somewhat boring and contrived, there was this picturesque hamlet full of God-fearing wholesome people.” The author intrigues his readers with a statement that this was a time that was “boring and contrived” in a place that was “picturesque.” It’s almost as if he’s enticing his readers to keep reading to find out where is the conflict that they know is coming. And in another part of the story, the reader finds basic language such as, “You see, they had all these coked-up rats running around the place, freaking everybody out.” This is more the language that an audience would expect to see from a comic. However, the author continually bouncing back and forth between language forms, with precise timing to emphasize the tone in all the right places.

Hobo Lobo in Hamelin has a story line that is relateable to countless stories before it. We have heard the story time and again of the “nice guy” being taken advantage of by the “bad guy.” However, the story works because it is still relevant. Millions of people around the world break their backs for pennies while those higher up the ladder take the credit and make millions for it. CEOs make more money than they could ever spend while the average retail employee has to work two, three, four, or more jobs just to make ends meet. Reading a story about the same thing happening to someone else brings us comfort that we’re not the only ones, while also hopefully having a happy ending to look forward to… (ahem MR. ŽIVADINOVIĆ) .

Another aspect of this story that makes such an old rhetoric so relateable is the mechanics of the story. This is absolutely my favorite aspect, as well as what makes it eLit. The author manages to create a 3-D effect on a 2-D platform using layers, similar to what you would see on a Broadway stage. The back layers scroll across the screen the slowest, and the front layers the fastest, in order to give the impression that the reader is traveling on a journey with Hobo Lobo. The basic color platform is used in such a way to help the story progress; very basic at first, then more varied later on. Even the sound effects are presented in a scrolling manor. On slide 3, at the beginning of the slide only nighttime sound effects can be heard. Then as you scroll to the right, a playful harmonica increases in volume, leading the rats on a playful march to the unknown. Abruptly, the music changes, as well as the color, to a low church bell and steady low bassoon(?) note, signifying the death of the rats. The scrolling is not the only motion in this piece, however. Most of the slides boast small “slideshows” or single object that have movement. This sparse movement, outside the general side-scrolling, is always used intently in order to emphasize certain objects or feelings. In the first slide, the only object to show movement is the magical crystal ball. At the end of the second slide, Hobo Lobo wipes his hand off on his coat after shaking hands with the mayor. At the end of the third slide, there is a lot of movement which, when paired with the low musical tones, creates a feeling of foreboding for the reader.

This piece of eLit leaves me with only one question… when is the author going to finish?!

Hobo Lobo Hamelin…Interesting

 

The electronic literature piece that I read this week was Hobo Lobo of Hamelin by Stevan Živadinović (http://collection.eliterature.org/3/work.html?work=hobo-lobo-of-hamelin). When I began to read it, I assumed it was going to be a “regular” story. It started off with “Once upon a time…” and almost sounded like a children’s story. I got comfortable and sat up in bed while continuing to read it. It caught my attention because it was something familiar to me, unlike electronic literature.

However, for some odd reason, I could not figure out how to navigate the story. I kept clicking the next page and then ended up at a part of the story that was nothing like the last page I read. I ended up on a part of the story with cricket noises that, to be frank, scared me. That is when I realized there were more parts of the page at the top that I had to click on first. So I continued to read the story and I said to myself, “Alright, this is good so far”. That is when I reached a part of the story that I almost could not finish. I had to stop reading, click out of the link, and went to catch my breath.

I get scared very easily. Between the sounds and the images, it was just frightening and not my cup of tea. However, once I collected myself I went back and finished reading the rest of the story. I will be honest in this blog post, I did not understand the story. However, what I loved about this piece was that it was similar to an electronic pop-up book. I never saw something like that before online while reading literature, which really caught my attention. I also thought it was interesting to use music and sounds to go along with a piece of literature that was so animated. The other part that I loved was that you could read this in French or Spanish. I think that is an important part of literature is incorporating different languages. I could maybe recommend this piece to other people that would love this, but for me, I don’t think I could read this piece again.

#Elitclass close readings: Bots & Reconstructing Mayakovsky

Bots

At the start of our last class, an intense rain was falling hard outside, and this seemed to spurn some campus-wide wi-fi funkiness.  In short, the conditions put a damper on our connectivity, which really disrupted Stephanie’s overall plan for presenting the world of creative bots.  Still, we soldiered on, and it finally worked itself out after some frustration.

As Stephanie shared with us, Twitter bots are computer programs that tweet of their own accord.

“Short for robot, a bot is a computer program designed to operate autonomously, performing scheduled, responsive, or real-time operations in a computer, through the Internet, and/or on social media networks. What distinguishes bots from other kinds of software is that they interact with and/or produce content for humans, often assuming a human persona.” – ELC, Vol. 3

While people access Twitter through its web site, bots connect directly to the Twitter mainline, parsing the information in real time and posting at will; it’s a code-to-code connection, made possible by Twitter’s open application programming interface, or A.P.I.  Everyone who uses twitter has seen a spambot or two.  These are used mostly for public relations and commercial use.  But there is also a growing population of creative bots that consume, remix, and contribute to a broader internet culture.

Despite the wi-fi hiccup, Stephanie was able to show us some resources and give everyone a glimpse of the world of creative twitter bots

In addition, you can check out this recorded “Studio Visit” conversation about bots and electronic literature in general  (featuring Dr. Leonardo Flores, Prof. Alan Levine, yours truly, and several Kean University students).

Reconstructing Mayakovsky

Next up was Kelli’s thoughtful presentation on Reconstructing Mayakovsky.

This complex hybrid media novel gives us a trace-glimpse of a world from the future – a dystopia where uncertainty and discord have been eliminated through the corporatized promise of “freedom” and the power of technology.  Reconstructing Mayakovsky revisits the past to make sense of our chaotic present. Author and digital artist, Illya Szilak, uses a variety of medias and methods, including manifestos, texts, animations, podcasts, music, and data visualisations. Her interactive multimodal multivalent mediascape-come-novel employs a variety of fiction genres to bring to life Vladimir Mayakovsky – a Russian Futurist poet who killed himself in 1930 at the age of thirty-six.  It is worth taking a bit of time to read Kelli’s blog – a thoughtful analysis of all that is at work in this complex and layered work of art.

For next week:

1. Please read the Hobo Lobo of Hamelin from Electronic Literature Collection (Volume 3).  Christina will present a walkthrough and lead our discussion on this provocative piece.

2. Please read ScareMail Generator from Electronic Literature Collection (Volume 3).  Justin  will present his walkthrough and offer an analysis of this web browser extension that makes email “scary” in order to disrupt NSA surveillance.

3.  Please write your third #elitclass blog post:  you can write on one of the above two selections or both texts if you feel inspired.  Don’t forget to tweet your blog post using the #elitclass hashtag and check out your classmates blogs! Some questions to get you started with the reflection: -What are some of the significant textual elements?  -How did you choose to navigate these texts?  -What visual, sound, interactive elements left an impression?  -What overall effect do these texts create?  -What themes and symbolic language emerge in navigating the text?  -What is literary about the text?

And please…enjoy this beautiful autumn weekend!

See you Tuesday for #elitclass,

Dr. Zamora

 

 

 

 

Bots/ Blog #2

I think it is because that I have not read enough E-lit till now, E-lit always surprise me when I read a new one. To illustrate, the Bots collection. At first, when I clicked the buttons and open the websites, I did not realized that those twitter accounts were the contents of the Bots collection as a E-lit. Therefore, I clicked and opened all of the twelve bots that were included, then I found out that this E-lit is made up with those twitter accounts. That is interesting!

Station 51000 exists as a unmoored buoy drifting in Pacific Ocean. The author of this E-lit gives life to this adrift buoy, endows it with personality and emotions, and tries to tell a story from the perspective of a buoy. The stories being told and the existence of the account itself combines realistic with ridiculous. Although some of the accounts is difficult to figure out how and where to start reading for me, I was able to kind of get the meaning and the idea the author were trying to convey. Similarly, there are some accounts exist as “objects” in Weibo, which is a social media common used in China. Many people leave their comments on those objects’ account, telling their stories and expressing their feelings.

On Bots

I missed a week of my Digital Alchemy class one week earlier this year. Think I wasn’t feeling too well, maybe the bed was too comfy, maybe a combination of both. But either way, I figured that I was mostly caught up and therefore could just come back the next week and pick up on the Twitter discussions in the meantime.

Big mistake.

For the next several days, I kept getting mentioned on Twitter by members of the class. Aw man, they kept me in the know! But the Tweets quickly turned from interesting, to nonsensical. Uh, just why did they need to send me that article over Twitter? Why are they asking me about how I felt about the idea of social media selling our private information to advertising? Is this what typical Twitter conversation had become in the one week I wasn’t there?

Turns out it wasn’t so dramatic after all. The class that week was just experimenting with bots, was all.

Bots are one of those few things that bring us closer and closer to Skynet every day; artificial intelligence programs that are designed to think and act a certain way, or even worse, like us. Sometimes they’re just simple automated programs, designed to make retweeting or simultaneous social media posting easier.

Reading through the Bots section of the Electronic Literature Collection however, felt significantly less mechanical then I would’ve thought. Several of the bots were Twitter bots, which I mentioned before. But these weren’t necessarily just scheduling Tweets, these were a little more advanced than that. Instead, each bot had a particular task it was put up to, and some were a bit more coherent than others. “Pentameteon” for instance, Hailing from “Stratford-upon-Internet”, as if the Shakespeare profile picture wasn’t obvious enough, is an algorithm designed to find phrases in Tweets and other words that compose a rhyming scheme that modern Eminem would be proud of. The Tweets don’t necessarily make sense when they rhyme, but sometimes there are some memorable combinations to be had.

Rap bars of the year.

On the opposite end of the bot spectrum is “ROM TXT”, who’s sole goal according to its Twitter profile, is “Searching video game ROMs, looking for words and sometimes finding them. For beauty.” And while the premise sounds simple enough, the actual execution results in a fragmented, almost creepy line of words and letters that don’t necessarily have any meaning to them.

Cryptic warning, or unused game text from Ecco The Dolphin? Maybe both?

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about these Twitter bots is just how normalized they seem to be just by being on Twitter; they have followers and followings, retweets and likes. The visual interfaces never force us to struggle, only the content they have presented.

Overall, this isn’t my first run-in with bots, but it always becomes more and more fascinating to see just exactly what they can be capable of. While Skynet is hopefully still just a fantasy, these guys are getting smarter and smarter, and hopefully they’ll continue to be used for the good fights…..and not Skynet.

This bot is programmed for fighting the good fight.

On Bots

I missed a week of my Digital Alchemy class one week earlier this year. Think I wasn’t feeling too well, maybe the bed was too comfy, maybe a combination of both. But either way, I figured that I was mostly caught up and therefore could just come back the next week and pick up on the Twitter discussions in the meantime.

Big mistake.

For the next several days, I kept getting mentioned on Twitter by members of the class. Aw man, they kept me in the know! But the Tweets quickly turned from interesting, to nonsensical. Uh, just why did they need to send me that article over Twitter? Why are they asking me about how I felt about the idea of social media selling our private information to advertising? Is this what typical Twitter conversation had become in the one week I wasn’t there?

Turns out it wasn’t so dramatic after all. The class that week was just experimenting with bots, was all.

Bots are one of those few things that bring us closer and closer to Skynet every day; artificial intelligence programs that are designed to think and act a certain way, or even worse, like us. Sometimes they’re just simple automated programs, designed to make retweeting or simultaneous social media posting easier.

Reading through the Bots section of the Electronic Literature Collection however, felt significantly less mechanical then I would’ve thought. Several of the bots were Twitter bots, which I mentioned before. But these weren’t necessarily just scheduling Tweets, these were a little more advanced than that. Instead, each bot had a particular task it was put up to, and some were a bit more coherent than others. “Pentameteon” for instance, Hailing from “Stratford-upon-Internet”, as if the Shakespeare profile picture wasn’t obvious enough, is an algorithm designed to find phrases in Tweets and other words that compose a rhyming scheme that modern Eminem would be proud of. The Tweets don’t necessarily make sense when they rhyme, but sometimes there are some memorable combinations to be had.

Rap bars of the year.

On the opposite end of the bot spectrum is “ROM TXT”, who’s sole goal according to its Twitter profile, is “Searching video game ROMs, looking for words and sometimes finding them. For beauty.” And while the premise sounds simple enough, the actual execution results in a fragmented, almost creepy line of words and letters that don’t necessarily have any meaning to them.

Cryptic warning, or unused game text from Ecco The Dolphin? Maybe both?

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about these Twitter bots is just how normalized they seem to be just by being on Twitter; they have followers and followings, retweets and likes. The visual interfaces never force us to struggle, only the content they have presented.

Overall, this isn’t my first run-in with bots, but it always becomes more and more fascinating to see just exactly what they can be capable of. While Skynet is hopefully still just a fantasy, these guys are getting smarter and smarter, and hopefully they’ll continue to be used for the good fights…..and not Skynet.

This bot is programmed for fighting the good fight.

Bots/ Reconstructing Mayakovsky

I really enjoy walking through the bots collection. Glancing the Twitter accounts was so different from reading printed literature. The pattern, form, the way to display the texts, are unique. Everyword is like an E-dictionary that collects every English words. Real human Praise looks like a joke as it is ironic, but provides so much space for readers to think. I love the space created in every bot. All bots are not directly convey stories and plots. They are pieces of thoughts. These bots remind me of a similar kind of form of text in China. In the social media “Weibo” platform, there are also many accounts that were established for some particular and specific purposes and themes. Like a clock account, a forest account, or an account that only reports fake news.

Reconstructing Mayakovsky is a novel of future. The design of the visual effect gives me a sense of virtuality. Every text is gained through a innovative method. By clicking a cloud of keywords, I can enter different mechanisms. The author divides the narrative texts into several mechanisms such as “texts, audio podcasts, video and a live Google image search based on intangible keywords” (Michael Stevens, 2013). This exploration makes me feel surreal to some extent, but the postmodern attitude of this work is seen by this way.

The second experience in Elit improved my understanding of it further. There are much more innovative elements in Elit.

 

Works Cited:

Michael Stevens. http://scalar.usc.edu/maker/english-507/stevens-granulations-page1

Illya Szilak. http://www.reconstructingmayakovsky.com/

Bots. http://collection.eliterature.org/3/collection-bots.html