#Elitclass close readings: Bots & Reconstructing Mayakovsky


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