Analysis – Bots and Trope

The concept of Bots intrigued me on some level as I had some experience writing a computer-generated bot of sorts for one of my art class finals. A lot of work goes into writing a series of code that must operate independently or with the input of someone, generating a series of responses and effects that lend to it a sense of autonomy or a basic understanding of it.

“Real Human Praise” was the first I clicked on. It introduced viewers the idea of generating a random assortment of positive tweets and constructing them at a fast rate, making sense half of the time and others don’t. Clicking on it brings one to a suspended Twitter account (that I want to talk about later), so one must watch the accompanying video to understand how it works. A snippet of a clip shows the Twitter feed and all of its content, all tagged with #PraiseFOX.

The important thing to remember is that everything is done through Twitter, an online platform everyone has access to. It is a place of where almost every type of person occupies, sharing or arguing with others on their ideals, hobbies, news and the like. I mention arguing because Twitter is notorious for people creating something called “bot accounts” to generate false information or praise to support a claim of sorts. This made me think about the purpose of “Real Human Praise”, as it feels like a satire of this very concept. The fact that it can generate random buzzwords that read like a normal sentence, almost mirroring other bot accounts strengthen this perception I have. It is entirely experienced by visuals alone, meaning the reading of these absurd tweets is the important component. It seems almost spam-like, which might be the intention when reading the author’s statement and how it wants to flood search inquiries with this random assortment of text. It could be seen as noisy and mindless, but it speaks volumes on how a lot of people operate online because it is no different from other tweets I’ve seen.

The actual literature of the text isn’t the most important think to consider, it’s the manner of how it operates and what it says about online society. The tweets add nothing to an overall conversation, they are just random statements that anyone can stumble upon. The fact that the account is suspended says a lot on the affect it had on people, the tweets got to a point where enough people were annoyed enough that the account was reported for “violating the rules”. Is that not most of the online experience however? How is this different from buzz-word articles and twitter spams that are still prominent now?

“ROM_TXT” was next. This one I had the most interest in checking out because I was highly familiar with the concepts of ROM files, I tinkered with those files with friends all throughout high school and still do to this day. The naming convention is surprisingly similar to editing/naming documents on MAME, a software engine most commonly associated with arcade cabinets. Like the bot I observed before, it relies on the basis of randomly generated texts but the ones I found here are more chaotic in nature. It’s a series of random texts and characters placed together, all ending with the file type of a game system for classification (which is how ROM files are labeled on a computer). I’m honestly not entirely sure on what to make of the overall piece, but it makes me want to take out my Raspberry Pi3 and create my own parsed texts.

Is this meant to have a similar affect like “Real Human Praise”? It seems like most of the intention was to create twitter noise and clutter Twitter feeds who look up the posts (everything has a hashtag of a popular console name, so it would be no surprise if anyone stumbled upon these). Unlike the first bot, this Twitter account is still around so it has longevity going for it. A lot of it reminds me of these pages taken from a Raspberry Pi3 menu running RetroPie:

I had more I wanted to say about Bots, but I wanted to move onto my experience with Trope. This one I was also interested in because in some ways it reminds me of the article I am to read and dissect later in class.

Briefly reading the abstract, Second Life caught my eye. I’ve never interacted with the software, but I was made aware of it years ago when I stumbled upon a documentary about people using it, and thus I’ve always had a passing interest in learning more about it. Knowing that it played a hand in the creation of this piece made me anxious but interested in understanding it.

Tone is entirely reliant on auditory senses, almost like Noise Music. Assortments of phrases and words uttered by computer generated voices and whispers flooded my headphones like a tidal wave. Parts of it even seem atmospheric, like there are moments where I can close my eyes and feel more ‘involved’ with the piece. I listened to it twice – once in a lit room with my eyes on my computer, and a second one with all the lights off and my eyes closed. I think the experience is more enriching with the latter method because it forces you to only interact with Tone. Thinking back to Second Life and how people use it as an online space to occupy, I can almost say I had a similar experience. Was this the intention, to suck someone away into a virtual space that doesn’t feel ‘right’? “I’m not going to the dentist until the apocalypse arrives” had to be my favorite line, it is so absurd yet it makes me think about the context of the sentence. It’s moments like that and the random shifting of mood that made me appreciate my time with this piece. Like Bots, I’m not sure the words being said are important, but rather the delivery of them and how you are reading these without necessarily ‘reading’ anything.

My Thesis Progress Continued…

Kudos to Marykate for such an insightful and informative presentation! I know she is a soon to be first time mother, full time teacher and graduate student, just turned thirty and she always looks so put together and flawless to boot! How does she do it all?! If that was me, I would be in my wrinkled pajamas all day, with my hair sticking out in all directions, like I had stuck my finger in a socket, total hot mess express. Seriously, so Marykate, you are my #goals! On a serious note, learning that Marykate is also a fellow OCD sufferer like myself, made her story and YA novel even more potent for me. I think we are both great examples of the fact that serious mental illness doesn’t have a “face” or a certain “look” to it. I’m also humbled and proud to say that we are both examples of how a person can overcome, thrive and continue to live a happy life while living with a mental health disorder. It’s not easy, and the road is long, and harrowing to say the least. I’m sure we both still have good days and bad days. But through both of our heartfelt MA thesis contributions, we are showing that their is in fact hope, encouraging all sufferers to try and cling to faith, and believe that the good days will soon outweigh all the bad days. I’m praying that our contributions, even if in the smallest of ways, can help to normalize and destigmatize mental illness. Also I’m touched that Mary Kate’s audience is for young adults. When I was growing up there was never such literature found about my struggles, or mental health disorders. Even in school anxiety was just a passing word, on a page in a health book chapter, there was no turning back to learn or ask for more information. Again, I pray that both of our thesis projects can help bring a little more hope, to those who feel hopeless. Thanks again Mary Kate for sharing your story with us all. Excited to read the final product! Xo

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“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”– F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I LOVE this time of year, my favorite season is upon us. There is something poetic, and magical about the crisp fall air, the falling leaves, the change of colors and life. Oh and lets not forget the yummy pumpkin spiced lattes! This time of year makes me feel a sense of rebirth. Sounds cheesy I know, but it’s true. As a small child I was way too prissy, a girly girl, to jump into a pile of yucky leaves. Or maybe my Italian, ever so on high alert Mother was right there behind me to caution me not to jump. But today as a grown woman, I’m less hesitant, less afraid to jump into the yucky pile of unknown. This journey of my final two semesters in graduate school (say it ain’t so) is a lot like jumping into the leafy pile. So many things I don’t know, need to know, and hope to learn, within these last couple of months. This past weekend was a productive one for me. I prioritized my time well, making sure to put thesis on the very top of my to-do list. I hope for the same results this weekend. My plan is to continue on, full steam ahead with my literature review voyage. It’s important to note, life is all about balance, so I try my best to work as hard as I can, but to also be mindful of taking some time for play. A fellow Writing Studies student Kate who I became fast friends with over our virtual summer classes together, told me she envies how I balance it all. Huh? Envy me? The hot mess!? No way! But when she said it, it felt so very nice to hear. I guess without realizing it, I’ve been forging a path that has been a healthy balance of both work and play. No easy feat for me, the chronic over thinker and worry wart. Thank you Kate for the compliment! Again I’m so lucky and blessed to have met such amazing new people, and some who I can easily call friends, through my MA journey in this program. Thank you again Dr. Zamora for who you are, and all that you do.

Lastly, I’ll sum up what I researched and found so far in my literature review adventure. Let’s start with the boring stuff, the more clinical side of OCD and anxiety. To be honest I learned a lot about what I already know. Being a diagnosed sufferer for half of my life now, there is not much I don’t know about my disorder. Or is there? Luckily I’ve found some amazing new articles and research that dive deeper into the complex intricacies of OCD. I chose articles for my literature review that highlight the genetic component of OCD, the complicated familial relationships that develop due to the disorder, the different types of therapies to treat it, many of which I’ve experienced first hand. It was also important for me to take a closer look at the critics of such therapies. I mean there always will be critics, but maybe they have a point? I’m ready to dig deeper and explore more to find out why some leaders in the field do or don’t believe in certain therapies used to treat mild, moderate or severe OCD. I made sure to also include scholarly, peer reviewed articles that dealt with pediatric OCD, and young children in particular. Although I was diagnosed with anxiety at a young age, my OCD diagnosis did not come until many years later, while in my early twenties. So it’s important for me to understand and research the impact this disorder has on young children, because I was suffering all along and didn’t even know it. On a brighter, less clinical note, the other interesting part of my research that will be included in my literature review, will be memoir based stories of people suffering from anxiety and OCD. I’m writing a non fiction memoir for my MA thesis, so I need to know exactly what this genre is all about before I continue writing my story. I would feel like a complete hypocrite if I went into writing this blindly, not thoroughly researching what makes for a truly compelling and authentic memoir. So this weekend will be spent reading the real life struggles and triumphs of my fellow anxiety and OCD. I feel like I know them all already. I’m looking forward to the readings, for more self reflection and introspection, with my pumpkin spiced latte in hand, while the leaves are slowly falling and changing colors in the background. Good luck on your research guys! I hope you find what you are looking for! Don’t forget to take some time to enjoy this lovely time of change and renewal! Ciao, ciao! 🍂🧡☕

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QUEERSKINS AND HIGH MUCK A MUCK

The first thing I noticed about High Muck A Muck was how much setting and scenery this story was going to entail. As a visual learner and a person who learns and gets captivated by pictures and videos easily, I was intrigued by all the different settings such as the towns and cities. The navigation was pretty self explanatory. I loved the whole concept a map on the back of a person. It made it more personal because I feel like we all carry our own map on our back of everything we have been through in our lives that made us the person we are today. The map reminded me of a tattoo. Permanent and tells a story. I enjoyed getting to know each character on a personal level.

To be blunt, Queerskins messed me up. Emotionally. I was so sad reading this piece. I think I felt this story so heavy because I could relate to Sebastian’s relationship with his father. His father sounds like my father a lot. Disconnected emotionally. He has no relationship with me or my brother anymore and we don’t even mind it because we would rather not have the toxicity he carries in our lives. My mother and him are still married but only legally for financial purposes. There is no love, which sounds a lot like Sebastian’s parents.

The “sophisticated look” of the story when you first open it up kind of threw me off because of how the story was so emotional it is with the death of Sebastian, the toxic parent/child relationships, the sensitive topic of sexuality and AIDS. The audio clips really sucked me in and made me feel the story. I felt every emotion the characters in this story felt. Reading Sebastian’s writings… hearing his personal thoughts. What really struck a nerve with me was the ending. God Loves You. It was like after all of Sebastian’s life of not being accepted by those closest to him, when he made it to heaven he finally got that and that warmed my heart. As a LGBT+ alley, that is all I hope for anyone in a similar situation to Sebastian.

Pressman and TwelveBlue

Before reading Navigating Electronic Literature, I wasn’t fully aware of what Electronic Literature was and how it was different then other forms of literature. I assumed it was just literature you read online if I am being honest. The essay by Jessica Pressman really opened my eyes onto how to successfully read, understand and dive in to electronic literature.

Electronic Literature takes the reader on an adventure which adds a layer of creativity and depth. Because of this layer, Electronic Literature can be interpreted in different ways. It all depends on the reader. I also think the way you read Electronic Literature has a lot to do with your learning type. I think this genre covers and aids to visual learners due to the viewing of the story on a digital device and looking at some pictures and drawings that will come along with some of the stories as well with a video here and there.. Auditory learners can learn from Elit because some of these stories will come with sound and audio. You can also have the story read to you on most elit works which is definitely beneficial. Elit is definitely beneficial to tactile learners as you physically need to navigate through a piece of Elit work and gives those learners the hands on approach.

The hyperlinks can be a little much at times. Clicking one then another will bring you back and forth in different directions. I like it though. Its different. It makes the reader excited to read. It makes the piece exciting.

The Essay really helped me dive into the reading of Twelve Blue. When I first opened up to Twelve Blue, I was a little taken back and found it difficult. In other words, it was A LOT to take in at first as it was really the first piece I was going to really dive into and try to understand on my own. I had to take notes the entire time just to keep track on what I was reading. However, I didn’t find myself getting uninterested which I usually do when I look at a screen too long (I get horrible screen fatigue). I was very captured in the reading. Being interactive. I was the reason the story was moving along. Clicking different hyperlinks kept me engaged because I wanted to see everything there was to offer. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Interactive fiction is deff one of my new fave genres. Such a change. I was very into this reading. It relaxed me once I got really into it and found my flow.

All About Kaitlyn

Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Kaitlyn McDermott. I am 22 years old and my birthday is June 16th. (Gemini!) I am in my last semester of undergrad majoring in English with Writing. I have gone to Kean all of my college career and have loved my experience here. I was born in Brooklyn, New York but only lived there until I was 2 and then moved to Union, NJ which has been home all my life.

I plan to get my masters in Writing Studies because I want to become a journalist. It has been a passion of mind since high school. I discovered my passion are journalism my freshman year of high school when I joined the newspaper. My sophomore and junior year of high school I was promoted to editor and then senior year I obtained the position of Editor-In-Chief.

To be honest, the school newspaper was the only thing that kept me sane in high school. My high school experience was very toxic. I was in a mean girl group and I was the target. They all pretended to be my friends but would constantly talk down about me In front of me and when I wasn’t around. After graduation, I cut them out and found real friends in college. I am so grateful I got out of that toxicity.

NOW ON A BRIGHTER NOTE, lets talk about the things that make me who I am. I am an 100% Irish girl and LOVE being Irish. I also am a dog mom to an 11 year old Yellow Lab named Hunter who is my CHILD lol. He’s getting old and it is breaking my heart but he is still in perfect health which is the bright side. I am also a big sister to an 18 year old brother named Daniel.

In my spare time, I love to workout. I go to the gym 6 days a week and also am a yoga instructor there on the side. Yoga and working out definitely keep me sane. I suffer from bad anxiety so it is my way to destress. I also am a big TV show binger and movie watcher!!! My favorite TV shows are Grey’s Anatomy, FRIENDS, Boy Meets World, and One Tree Hill. (My other guilty pleasure TV show is What Would You Do?) My favorite movie is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I LOVE Audrey Hepburn.

Music also helps me cope with my anxiety. My favorite pastime is going to concerts (Thanks COVID for taking that away). I like all music for the most part. My favorite artists are Ariana Grande, The Jonas Brothers, Carrie Underwood and of course my absolute favorite… Justin Bieber (Belieber for life lol).

That is me in a nutshell! Hope you enjoyed!!

ELit as experience

What a wonderful read through all of your blogs this past week. I must say that I had a clear feeling that many of you “turned a corner” in terms of your “warming up” to electronic literature. With the special pieces selected for consideration this week, you experienced elit a-new. While the field continues to push categories/boundaries, it has become for many of you a more immersive and emotional experience. And despite the formal innovation in terms of storytelling, you also expressed a newfound relatability and accessibility in your experience of elit work. You expressed the feeling of “being in the story” and awareness that elit can be a full “experience” rather than simply a reading assignment. I am very happy that this has become apparent to you so early on in our time together.

Our agenda slides:

High Muck A Muck & Queerskins

We opened class with the beautiful hypertext poem entitled High Muck a Muck, – a stunning collaborative work.  High Muck-a-Muck: Playing Chinese is an interactive poem, consisting of a website and eight videos which explore the narratives and tensions of historical and contemporary Chinese immigration to Canada. High Muck a Muck is most intriguing especially because it was formed through an interdisciplinary collaboration of nine Canadian artists and programmers including Fred Wah, poet, Jin Zhang, composer; Nicola Harwood, project director and designer; Thomas Loh and Bessie Wapp, video artists and performers:, Hiromoto Ida, dancer; Patrice Leung, filmmaker; Tomoyo Ihaya, visual artist and Phillip Djwa, creative technologist.  The convergence of so many gifted practitioners has produced an exceptionally rich and complex piece, which definitely pushes beyond the traditional confines of “text”.  

We walked through many of the most significant images/tropes of the piece while sharing a sense of the diverse options for navigation.  The piece explores the multi-lenses of diaspora and globalism while provoking us to think further about the impact of dreams steeped in the challenges of exile or migration.  We could all see the way in which embodiment (the body) is wrapped up in conflicted pasts and presents, and how the myths of immigration are often a gamble with many different resulting outcomes.  The final tone of the work is ambiguous and dispersed, with a haunting lack of resolve.  In other words, there will always be loss despite gains in this journey to a new world.

Thank you to Patricia for her thoughtful walkthrough of the haunting and emotional piece by Illya Szilak called Queerskins. A painful story of thwarted love and loss, Queerskins tells the story of Sebastian, a young gay physician from a rural Missouri Catholic family who dies at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Queerskins is a collage of remnants from Sebastian’s life. The reader “rifles through” the trace(s) of his life through multimodal artifacts-as-puzzle pieces. Themes include the human urge for transcendence via love, religious faith, suffering and redemption, sexual ecstasy, storytelling, and technology itself. Patricia had us consider both the way in which we navigate this work, the way we can read the meaning of the work, and the profound tragedy of a life clipped through familial repression, cruelties, and denial.

Your to-do list for next week:

Please read the “Bots” section of Electronic Literature Collection (Volume 3) and check out some of the BOT features in the mini-collection.  Kevin will present some bots and generate a discussion for us about generative literature and bots.

Please read Trope from Volume 2. Orella will present a walkthrough and discussion of this Second Life piece as well.

Please write your fourth blog post for #elitclass. Write on one (or both) of the two selections from Kevin & Orella. 

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, just another reminder to tweet your blog posts to the class hashtag #elitclass each week and any other #elit reflections that you think are worthy of public notice.